Margo Warren

Margo Warren was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

My memories of the Wildcat are a mix of hilarity combined with hard work and punctuated by some pretty great accomplishments. Cynthia Lancaster and I revealed mismanagement at a student-run bar called Merlin’s and won first place in the state for investigative journalism. For this story I had my very own “Deep Throat” who would meet me in secret and hand over bags full of revealing documents. I remember going out on assignments with a cute photographer named Darr Beiser, whom I later snagged as my husband.  He was fascinated by my ability to use a typewriter without ever breaking one of my long fingernails. He would sit and stare in awe.  I remember being surrounded by brilliant funny people:  Merl  Reagle changing all our of bylines into anagrams for the April Fool’s edition;  Salley Rayl landing an interview with  Paul McCartney that led to her job at Rolling Stone;  Arlene Scadron, eight  months pregnant, doing intensive investigative writing on the resignation of a department head at the College of Medicine;  Mark Ochs writing headlines like “Rock Hounds Roll into Town” for the annual Gem and Mineral Show, and Fitz, being Fitz, having a toga wedding.

I remember drinking endless enormous cups of black coffee; and endless pitchers of beer when we celebrated the close of the week starting at noon on Friday at Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow or Gentle Ben’s and ending sometime on Saturday. In my feature writing days, I worked on a story about a taxidermist where I described  drawers full of eyeballs and whiskers and ended the story with the groaner that my brother-in-law the accountant has never forgotten: “ The only things you have to do in life are die and pay the taxidermist.”  After failing to be rushed myself, I got my revenge when I reported on the scandalous decision of a sorority that pledged one identical twin and rejected the other.

My writing abilities were honed over in the J department, where I learned unforgettable lessons: “’Over’ is what clouds do” and the answer to the question about how long a story should be:  “How long is a piece of string? As long as it needs to be.”  I learned to copyedit like a champ from Charlie Burkhart.  We competed, he with his pipe ashes, and I with my sunflower seed husks to create the biggest mess.

When I graduated in 1976 I couldn’t find a job in journalism thanks to Woodward and Bernstein who had  made journalism the most popular and glamorous career in the universe. So I ended up going to the dark side, public relations, considered  at that time the work of Satan by journalistic purists —Don Carson, I mean you.  But it was George Ridge, on the steps of the journalism building who, at the end of my senior year said: “Margo, got a job yet?” and when I said no, handed me the announcement about the community relations job at City Hall. I never looked back. Who’s laughing now, print journalists?

I have spent the last 23 years of my career in public affairs at the National Institutes of Health, a place crawling with M.D., and  Ph.D’s, ( Some of them  have both; I call these the overeducated.)  Armed only with my BA from UA, and thanks to the Wildcat and the J department, I can go mano a mano against these Ph.D’s from MIT when it comes to writing.  Much of their work would be circled with big red automatic E’s.

I cherish my memories of the days at the Wildcat. I made friendships that I hold to this day, and built my career on the real-life experience and knowledge I gained there.  And, oh yeah, Darr and I finally remembered to have children, and Peter, 17 and Franky, 15 have the Wildcat to thank too.

Margo Warren is the Branch Chief of the Health Education and Public Liaison Section in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health.  As the project officer for a major communications contract with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, she oversees the national public education campaign Know Stroke, Know the Signs, Act in Time. The campaign has received several prestigious awards, including the Gold World Medal from the New York Festival Film and Video Awards, and the Golden Eagle Award from CINE for a film on stroke; and awards for the Know Stroke materials from the National Association of Government Communicators and the NIH Plain Language Committee. She has played an active role in stroke education for the past 15 years, from the press conference announcing the institute’s groundbreaking study on the first treatment for acute stroke to the planning and execution of two national symposia for health care professionals on how to deliver acute stroke treatment.

In addition, Margo coordinates the institute’s press activities for a broad range of neurological diseases, working closely with the media to garner coverage for scientific findings.  She does extensive technical editing and writing, and advises scientific staff on how best to communicate with the media and public.  She also manages special events for the institute.

Margo has worked at the National Institutes of Health for 22 years, and previously served as communications director for The National Water Alliance, a Congressional coalition headed by former Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini and  as assistant director of community relations for the City of Tucson, and the Tucson Film Commission.

She graduated with honors with a double major in Journalism and Latin from the UA, where she was an award-winning investigative reporter and feature editor of The Arizona Daily Wildcat; and a member of Mortar Board.  She is married to USA Today photographer Darr Beiser, also a Daily Wildcat alum.

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