Jean Palmer Heck
Class of 1974
To this day, Jean has many lasting memories of Xavier; Manresa, her freshman roommate Mary Schwartz (with whom she's lost contact), doing a sports radio cal- in show (with the help of Tom Stevens and Joe Collins), and cooking tuna noodle casserole in a popcorn popper in my dorm room for Mike Cutler and Tom Cooney during summer school are just a few of her favorites. Aside from the fun times, Jean majored in communication arts and graduated summa cum laude in 1974.
After Xavier, she started working for WLQA FM radio in Cincinnati and moved to Indianapolis in 1975 to an all-news radio station, WNTS. She eventually moved into television, the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, and became a consumer reporter and anchor. When the television station wanted Jean to sign a three-year contract, she felt a disconnect with the ethics of the industry and her Xavier education and personal belief system. She was offered a position in corporate public relations at the same time. Jean said that moving from the "quick and dirty" coverage of news to a pharmaceutical company with a mission to save lives was the smartest thing she did in her career. Jean worked for Eli Lilly & Company as a spokesperson on controversial issues and women's health concerns. Eventually she was promoted to head their global communications department.
Next, in 1985 Jean moved with her husband and two young children to Kobe, Japan, where she did consulting work with a Japanese company. Upon returning to Indianapolis in 1990, she began doing consulting work in media relations, employee communications and executive presentations. Her business, Real-Impact, has worked with world-wide business leaders. She feels privileged to have met brilliant people, who want to communicate more effectively with their audiences.
Jean then began writing books and producing learning resources at the request of her clients. The result is numerous materials on public speaking, presentation skills, media relations and visual communications. Currently, Jean is the author of several books, audios and videos, including the recently released book Tough Talks in Tough Times: What Bosses Need to Know to Deliver Bad News, Motivate Employees and Stay Sane. Her latest book is the result of a year-long research effort into understanding the best way to have a difficult conversation. In addition to speaking and consulting on this topic, Jean is an international communications advisor and has worked with clients from 32 countries.
In her free time, Jean enjoys traveling the world and experimenting with videography. Her favorite trip was an African safari where she got magnificent shots of lions eating their prey and the Great Migration in Kenya. In addition, she was involved with missions in the slums of Nairobi.