Elizabeth Latenser was just like any other college student. She played intramural basketball, met her best friends just a few dorm rooms over and came to school blissfully unsure about what she wanted to do with her life.
“I refereed for intramural sports for a little while, but I could tell I was not going to pursue a career in flag football refereeing,” Latenser said.
After years full of hard work, the Prairie Village, KS native graduated from Creighton in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and now works as the Manager of Media Relations at Sundance Institute.
Journalism wasn’t always Latenser’s plan. After fainting during a surgery while she was shadowing a veterinarian, she realized she loved animals, but that wouldn’t work out as a career choice. During an introductory meeting during enrollment, Latenser met with Eileen Wirth, Ph.D., and Journalism Department Chair. Latenser told Wirth that she loved working with people, creativity and wanted a variety of opportunities in her future career.
“I recall her as being extremely earnest and lots of fun to teach,” Wirth said. “You’d make a suggestion for something she could improve on and she would be all over it. She knew how to get things done and worked well with everyone.”
Latenser took her passion of telling people’s story all the way to Sundance Institute. Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that discovers and supports independent film and theatre artists from the U.S. and around the world and introduces audiences to their work.
“I was inspired to work at Sundance Institute because of the mission of the organization; it’s entire focus is helping independent filmmakers tell their story,” Latenser said. “I feel lucky to play a small role in helping to elevate an independent filmmaker’s visibility and to help them reach his or her target audiences.”
In a normal day, she sends press releases, contacts members of the media and manages volunteers. One of her duties is monitoring the general press email inbox. To her, that is the most entertaining part.
“I receive lots of love letters to Robert Redford,” Latenser said.
Latenser’s main focus is Sundance Film Festival related duties and working on the community relations in Utah, where the festival is held. The Sundance Film Festival is the biggest undertaking and Latenser’s biggest challenge. However, there are some cool perks.
“Imagine a year’s work boiled down to three months,” Latenser said. “I am very luck to be able to see the movies that come through the Sundance Film Festival. It’s exciting to digest the content of a film and draw connections to the community.”
Before her job at Sundance Institute, Latenser worked at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. She said she worked hard to prove herself by building relationships, pitching ideas and relying on the public relations principles she learned at Creighton.
“You may not get your dream job right out of the gate, so gaining experience is important,” Latenser said.
Latenser’s sister, Leah Latenser is the Program Coordinator in the Dominican Republic for the Ilac Office at Creighton. She said Elizabeth’s work ethic, dedication and persistence landed her the position at Sundance.
“She told me after graduation she did not want to take just any old job, she wanted a job that made a difference and contributed to the greater good,” Leah said. “She has stuck to that, but it hasn’t always been easy.”