College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Louis M. Thompson

Louis M. Thompson

By Tania Boyer

Greenlee School alumni travel in various directions.

Graduate Louis M. Thompson, class of 1961, spent his life experiencing the many different facets that a career in journalism brings, from work as assistant press secretary for President Gerald Ford to work as a consultant for two separate firms—partner with the Genesis consulting firm and also managing director with Kalorama partners.

Thompson’s career began when he joined the ROTC, while an undergraduate student at Iowa State University. He also received his commission there.

“At the time, the Berlin Crisis began and the wall went up. President Kennedy placed everyone involved in the military into a lock for three years," Thompson said. At this point he was sent off to Vietnam for a year. "I served as executive officer for the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) Office of Information (1969-70) in Saigon. When Nixon resigned (1974) I took off my uniform, resigned my commission, and went to the White House as an assistant press secretary to Jerry Ford.”

“After that experience,” Thompson goes on to say, ”I went to work at the American Enterprise Institute Public Policy Research [where] I set up their communication program. I was [also] the first public relations director for the over-the-counter drug industry," said Thompson. Then, after 18 months he went to work for the National Association of Home Builders for four years.

In 1982, "I was recruited by Russell Reynolds, a national search firm, and hired by the Board of Directors to be President & CEO of the National Investor Relations Institute, the only professional association for corporate investor relations officers and consultants. This job,” Thompson claims, was one of "the best experiences" he had in his career.

I asked him how he thought the state of the people in America has changed. "I went to my first caucus in Ames and it was held in the home of one of the political science professors, and we had a ton of students there; I mean they were hanging out the windows, they weren't even eligible to be there, it didn't matter. And they voted to throw the professor out of his own home because he was not in the same vein as they were on the issues, but there was a lot of passion about that," says Thompson.

"I don't sense that the generation that we have in colleges today are as passionate. An example, the Vietnam War was a very big deal. You just don't see that anymore. You don't see people in the streets demonstrating even though there is the same level of discontent for Vietnam as Iraq. There seems to be a disconnection from what is going on," says Thompson.

Some advice Thompson leaves us with is to "take advantage of your time at Iowa State. Really get as much good writing experience as you can and explore all of the different opportunities and course work that are offered there because what you want to come out with as a journalist is a good well rounded education. And curiosity, ask questions, ask the hard questions. Ask your professors the hard questions. Journalists have to have curiosity otherwise the public loses if you're not asking hard questions, the good questions."

Thompson currently resides in Orange, Virginia with his family.

2007-11-28, posted 2007-12-10