Cara McDonough

Strategic Communications

 Cara McDonough

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, family and pets… anything goes! 

I grew up in Northern Virginia near Washington D.C. and me, my brother, my mom and dad frequently visited the city, including many trips to the National Mall and Smithsonian. My favorites were a huge, hanging blue whale in the Natural History museum and riding the merry-go-round over and over. We talked lots of politics in our family — which I still do! Today I live in Hamden, CT, with my husband, Justin — who also works at JAX — my three children and our dog, Maisie. We love cooking, going to concerts, hanging out with friends and family, visiting museums, seeing plays and arguing for half an hour over what movie we are going to watch before finally settling on something. My husband and children are artistic and musical, and there is often drawing, piano or guitar playing going on in our house — or a good album on the record player. I don't have a musical bone in my body, but love to sit on the couch with the newspaper and a cup of coffee and listen!

What hobbies or interests do you enjoy in your free time?

Reading has always been a great escape and while I do it less than I'd like these days, it's still a favorite hobby. There's nothing like losing yourself in a great book! Prior to working at JAX, I was a freelance writer and for me, writing is a passion and necessity. I've always enjoyed capturing the most ordinary moments in life best — the feelings and experiences that connect us to one another. Food and travel! I love cooking, trying new restaurants and gathering with a hungry group around some shareable spread. And I'm always eager for a good trip... to see the world and soak up traditions, history and culture. Finally, while you wouldn't really call it a "hobby," I love people! Talking, listening and getting to know what makes people tick... spending time with people I know well — and those I don't yet! — is one of my favorite ways to process this crazy world.

Tell us about someone in your life who inspired you or helped you become who you are today.

My parents. My mom and dad taught me by example to be kind, respectful and considerate, to explore - and to stay curious. My mom showed me that fretting is never as useful as doing, and that retail therapy is real. My dad, who passed away in 2017, showed me that's it's possible to take an afternoon nap AND be incredibly productive on any given day, and that there is nothing better than talking to strangers.

What motivates you or helps you feel fulfilled?

There are much more meaningful answers I could give here, but I've gotta say that nothing gets me more motivated than making an enormous to-do list on a clean page in one of my many notebooks. 

Is there something you want to do, but haven't done yet?

Someday I hope to publish a book of essays!  

How do explain your current work to others? What’s your favorite thing about it?

I love being part of a communications team dedicated to sharing JAX's amazing research with the outside world — and I love explaining to others what I do, and why it feels so important! As a former journalist who is now working in public relations, it's so much fun to be on the other side of the coin, pitching stories to writers and thinking through the most exciting ways to tell our stories. Plus, I adore problem-solving and brainstorming with a such a fun, creative and thoughtful group of seriously awesome people.