Angelita Plemmer, Editor-in-Chief

Message from the Editor-in-Chief

It is my pleasure to introduce you to the new online version of Justice Matters. We've also redesigned the print version of Justice Matters, featuring a cleaner, less cluttered layout with vibrant graphic elements to create a magazine feel. I think you’ll also find it makes the publication easier to navigate and more pleasant to read.

Why the makeover? Since Justice Matters was launched in 1997, the content of the newsletter has expanded, and we now have the ability to incorporate technology into the online edition by expanding stories that appear in the print version, adding video and photography slide shows, and creating additional tools and interactive features.

We hope our online offerings will serve as a starting point for ongoing improvements, as well as an opportunity to attract new readers—inside and outside of the Judiciary.

My talented team of writers, editors and graphic and Web designers welcome your feedback and suggestions. Please send your e-mails to justicematters@mdcourts.gov. We hope you’ll give our new look a try!

Angelita Plemmer, Director, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

 

An Interview with the New Director of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Angelita Plemmer joined the Maryland Judiciary in October 2008 as the new director of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs (formerly the Court Information Office). Prior to her arrival, she worked as the director of communications for the National Association of Attorneys General in Washington, D.C., for seven years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in rhetoric and communications studies with a minor in English and a concentration in French from the University of Virginia. She also graduated with a Master of Science degree in journalism from Columbia University. She recently sat down to answer a few questions about her background and plans as the new director.

Q. Welcome to the Maryland Judiciary. Tell us a little about your professional background. How has your experience prepared you for your new role with the Judiciary?
A. I started my first job working for my local newspaper when I was 15 years old as a “copy boy,” writing obituaries and compiling weather statistics, answering the newsroom phones, and proofreading. I continued working for the newspaper on weekends and holidays through college while also working for my daily college newspaper. After college, I interned at several newspapers, including the Carroll County Times in Westminster, the Greensboro News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and finally the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where I was hired to cover general assignment news, police, fire, and court beats. Several years later, I returned to Roanoke, Va., as the public information officer, serving as the city’s spokesperson and overseeing the operations of the municipal television station. I was quickly hired away by the city of Alexandria, Va., as the assistant city manager for public information, handling crisis communications, and creating strategic communications plans and public education campaigns. I finally landed at the National Association of Attorneys General, where I worked for seven years on national communications campaigns, managed the association’s publications and Web site, initiated the marketing launch of the association’s new research and training arm, and served as a liaison with federal agencies and other interested stakeholders.

All of these career moves provided me with tremendous opportunities for professional growth, prepared me for leadership positions, and helped me to develop a vision for successful strategic communications, public education, and marketing initiatives.

Q. What are some of your goals for the office in the next year?
A. The Office of Communications and Public Affairs is a talented group of professionals dedicated to enhancing the local, state, and national reputation of the Judiciary. My goal is to lead the department in collaborative efforts to develop strategic communications and public affairs initiatives using emerging technologies and other tools to support and promote the mission and values of the Maryland Judiciary.

This year, I intend to tackle an analysis and redesign of the Judiciary’s Web site. I’d like to take a closer look at the site’s current navigation, usability and use of graphic elements. I believe Web sites should be refined and improved on a regular basis in order to engage visitors consistently and ensure that the organization’s messaging and branding is consistent throughout the site. I also believe in looking at upcoming trends in technology and social media to determine how the Judiciary might integrate those to enhance our current communication and public outreach efforts.

Another example is this very publication, Justice Matters, which has now been expanded to incorporate various forms of multimedia. The entire staff has worked together to enhance the print version of Justice Matters with artistic photos, varied writing styles, and a new layout. But Justice Matters now incorporates videos, photos, and audio features in a new and improved e-newsletter version. This improves the Judiciary’s ability to tell its own stories using multiple mediums. The goal is to appeal to a much broader audience and increase readership across the state.

In addition, I am really looking forward to working with the members of the Access to Justice Commission to develop a comprehensive communications plan that will allow the Commission to engage the public in a meaningful discussion of how to expand access to and enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for persons who encounter barriers in gaining access to Maryland’s civil justice system. In the end, the OCPA wants to use its collective expertise to help educate and inform the public about the diversity of resources and solutions available to assist them in their interaction with the civil justice system.

Q. What do you think are some of the goals of the Judiciary that the Office of Communications and Public Affairs can help with?
A. The current fiscal landscape offers the biggest challenge, but the office’s biggest strengths are its staff’s innovative spirit and creativity that will be critical in developing new opportunities, products, and services that require little or no funding.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of your job?
A. I love working with creative people and creative projects. I enjoy the diversity of communications work and my interaction with the public.

Q. Are you a native Marylander?
A. I am native of Durham, N.C., but I grew up in Roanoke, Va. Located in southwest Virginia, it’s a small city of less than 100,000 nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The city’s claim to fame is that Wayne Newton, also known as “Mr. Las Vegas,” is a native.

Q. What are your outside interests?
A. I work out with a personal trainer three times a week, lifting weights and doing cardio.  I’m very active in my church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, and I’m a novice golfer. I’m also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

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