Catching up with a Grad: Christine Moravec Schunk, ‘99

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BIO

Christine Moravec Schuck attended Flowery Elementary and then Altimira Middle School. She was part of SVHS’s varsity cheerleading competition team and was involved with leadership all four years.

“I like to say I earned my credentials in college, but my career path was carved through internships and real life experiences,” says public relations executive Christine Moravec Schunk, SVHS ‘99.

While Schunk describes herself as a very involved and engaged kid, growing up in Schellville and throughout her time at Sonoma Valley High School, by the time she graduated in 1999, she was ready for a change.

“I was so ready to leave Sonoma and spread my wings,” she said. “While I love the town, I just wanted to go.”

She arrived at U.C. San Diego – the first person in her family to attend college – and describes the transition to a big city “as awe-inspiring and completely, totally intimidating.”

“It was the first time I got a C in class, which was absolutely humbling to me,” she said. “But in a good way. I found my place and while it was sometimes uncomfortable, I challenged myself.”

She studied abroad in New Zealand where she took courses in integrated marketing communications and backpacked her way across the South Island.

“I found a lot OF value and confidence in myself as a young adult through that experience,” she said.

Back at UCSD, she found her communications major to be very theoretical and she wondered where the major could take her. To answer the question, she decided to pick up internships anywhere and everywhere she could – from event companies to talent agencies to a marketing firm. She even did a stint at Sears Point learning about sports marketing.

Her advice to current students who think they want to go into a career in communications or public relations is to not stop at what’s offered at your school. “Look around and find the opportunities,” she urges.

After college, Schunk started out at a small three-person public relations firm in San Diego.

“It was a great foot in the door,” she said. “But after about a year, I decided that if I am going to really dig into my career, I want it to be closer to home.”

She got a job at a midsize PR agency in San Francisco where she started working on bigger clients with bigger PR budgets and decided that the agency life was what she wanted to pursue.

“There’s something about the hustle of a PR agency that I just love - having multiple clients, 10 balls up in the air, doing so many different things. I thrive off of that,” she said.

She landed next at Fleishman Hillard, a global PR agency with close to a hundred offices and several thousand employees, where she has now been for 13 years. She works for food, wine and agribusiness clients of the firm’s Sacramento office.

In the early days at Fleishman Hillard, that client work involved a lot of travel.

“I flew around the country doing product launches and media events and that was the glamorous side of it,” she said. “It was perfect for my 20s.”

But she laughs when asked if PR is a truly glamorous profession.

“People associate it with Hollywood for some reason but it is really about marketing strategy and branding,” she said. “Getting into the psyche of a brand is really what intrigued me.”

BIO

Christine Moravec Schuck attended Flowery Elementary and then Altimira Middle School. She was part of SVHS’s varsity cheerleading competition team and was involved with leadership all four years.

The other aspect of public relations that Schunk thinks is cool for young people to consider is that it’s ever-evolving.

“It keeps me on my toes,” she said. “The media landscape is always changing and part of my job is staying hip to what’s legit, what’s gonna stick and what’s not.”

When Schunk starts with a new client, the first job is to help it to define its brand and to work on its messaging.

“We help them to tell their story organically and appropriately, using the right channels to spread the word,” she said. “PR is broad – it includes both external and internal communications and there’s different audiences and stakeholders that you need to communicate different messages to via different media.”

It was right after her move to San Francisco that Schunk met a boy and fell in love. He happened to be from Sonoma.

She has now been married to Will Schunk, class of 1998, since 2009. He is now a captain at Cal Fire in Santa Rosa.

Today, Schunk works from home, for clients of Fleishman Hillard’s Sacramento office.

“When I first started in PR, I didn’t realize how flexible a career it could be but the ability to do it remotely has emerged over time,” she said. “Once you put in your time and gotten experience, there’s the opportunity to work remotely.”

The couple loves Sonoma but chose to raise their family in Windsor.

“A tight-knit community was really important to me in deciding where to live and raise our family,” she said. They chose Windsor because of how family-oriented it is. Schunk recently served on the board of the Windsor Parks and Rec Foundation and, more recently, she helped to found the Windsor Parent Action Committee.

In their spare time, Christine, Will and their two young children love to spend time outdoors.

“We are kind of camping machines,” said Schunk. “We have an old 1986 Westfalia Van and take our kids out to state parks… Joshua Tree, to the Coast, up to Oregon, anywhere that nature calls. We make it a priority to unplug in our spare time.”

“I’m living my dream with my career and my family and my work… and I don’t take it for granted,” Schunk said.

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