By Fatima Bangura
Like many college students, Al Orendorff did not stick with his initial major. He began in meteorology, but made the switch when he got a taste of the journalism pie. He worked in radio and television on campus at Illinois State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications in 1977.
Orendorff attributes the jumpstart of his career to an internship opportunity he had his junior year in college. He says “I was hired part time immediately after my internship ended and full time a couple of months after graduation. It got me started.” For 6 years, Orendorff worked as a public affairs reporter, sports producer, and anchor at WEEK-TV.
As Public Information Director at Bradley University, he developed award-winning public relations programs to support ongoing fund-raising efforts and the institution’s first capital campaign.
Orendorff had his longest career opportunity—14 years—as the Media Relations Director for Allstate Insurance Company. He made sure Allstate was ‘in good hands.’ He collaborated with executives in “integrating community relations, corporate philanthropy and media and strategic relations.”
In the early 2000s, Orendorff briefly returned to news reporting when he was recruited by WGN Radio to cover President Obama’s historic 2008 inauguration in Washington, D.C.
Currently, Mr. Orendorff continues his success as the Senior Vice President of Public Relations at Genworth Financial. He has strengthened the company’s public relations infrastructure and maintained industry relationships with renowned publications such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
He is, of course, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists; but is also a member of the Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators.
I had the honor of meeting Mr. Orendorff at the Richmond African American Scholarship Fund Seminar in Richmond, Virginia. He exemplifies Black excellence in media and is beyond worthy of journalistic recognition.