Staff Spotlight: Blame it on the Henne
Photos Courtesy of David Henne
With a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s in writing, a valiant effort to teach, a knack for humor and no plans for the immediate future, David Henne returned home to Deer Park, New York in 2007 in search of any job that would offer him a position. He has now found his home in Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication (LHSC) as the assistant director of content strategy and student media engagement, but his journey here was not a straightforward one.
“I went to SUNY New Paltz for secondary education, and the plan was to teach high school English but when you’re 20 and teaching people that are a few years younger than you, you really don’t feel like you have any authority over them, and so I went to get my master’s degree,” Henne said.
Henne embarked on a journey to Coventry, England to pursue his master’s degree in writing at the University of Warwick and fulfill both his passion for writing and desire to travel.
“When I got back in 2007, I really had no idea what I was going to do. I was just applying to places and was willing to go to whoever hired me. I was a copywriting intern at Zimmerman Edelson [in Great Neck, New York] and eventually worked my way into a full-time position and made my way up to a senior copywriter,” Henne said.
During his time as a copywriter at Zimmerman Edelson, Henne also wrote humor articles and has been published in McSweeney’s, Splitsider and Robot Butt. He accredits his ability to write humor articles to his father.
“My dad made me someone that is comfortable putting their personality out there. I grew up in Deer Park, New York, which is a pretty diverse location, so I had a good mix of personalities and cultures, but I was also studious and that mix of personalities around me really contributed to the person that I am today,” Henne said. “My dad was the foundation. He is my inspiration. He has always been unapologetically himself and he’s never worried about being embarrassed, and that’s really why humor has always been a part of my life and why I am able to write humor articles.”
Henne’s father, along with some interesting odd-jobs, provided him with his first award-winning story that assisted in the takeoff of his humor-writing career.
“Between graduating from SUNY New Paltz and heading to England for my master’s, I spent a summer as a Mr. Softee ice cream driver,” he said. “That provided a slew of incredible stories that I wrote about and submitted for publication. I learned some invaluable lessons about time management, hard work and most importantly portion control. Unmitigated access to soft serve ice cream definitely destroyed my digestive system and contributed to my lactose intolerance, but I wouldn’t trade a single sundae for the world.”
In addition to slinging soft serve, Henne held jobs as a fast food chef, middle school custodian, painter and bartender.
“I served Drew Barrymore and the drummer for the Strokes once in, like, 2004. She approached the bar and asked for change of a dollar for the pool table. I thought, ‘This is my moment.’ So, I replied, ‘No, Drew Barrymore, you cannot have change of a dollar,’ with expert dramatic affect. She didn’t really react. I blame her for my failure as a witty bartender.”
Henne continued to work at Zimmerman Edelson until July 2011 when he was offered a position as senior writer at St. Joseph’s College.
“A colleague of mine was hired as the senior writer at St. Joseph’s College and his editor unexpectedly left the college and moved on to another institution. I was asked to come in as the new senior writer as my friend took the open editor spot. I went to St. Joseph’s and started doing some long-form features and putting together magazines. I got to interview some really cool people around Long Island and Brooklyn, from writers such as Junot Diaz to notable politicians and alumni.”
Henne helped create St. Joseph’s College’s news website and began producing content for the school. His time at St. Joseph’s shooting video, writing long-form features and managing social media provided him with the experience to continue creating content and assist Hofstra students with improving theirs in the School of Communication.
“When I started here in January 2018, I was hired into a position that had basically just been created. I think my predecessor was more orientated toward back-end website creation and design. I actually didn’t know that the School of Communication was like its own entity that did its own sort of advertising and marketing for student projects. Before, there were, like, a hundred individual websites for the productions coming out of this school.”
Henne has since produced video content and photography for LHSC to promote their events as well as for student-run media organizations to encourage student involvement, along with updating the LHSC website and social media pages.
Henne’s long-term goal is to collaborate with the students of LHSC to assist in content creation, instead of simply advising students on how to theoretically produce and create.
“I’ve always worked in a shared, collaborative space, so this ‘one-person four-wall office’ is not for me. I want to be that person that’s not in the office,” Henne said. “I want to be out interacting with students and helping them in any way I can as much as I can.”
“What’s so great about being here is that all the students here want to be involved and it makes it so easy to be collaborative. I emulate you guys, and I’m constantly inspired by the work that all of you guys put into this school,” he said. “Hofstra Votes Live was not a small thing and I think Dean [Mark] Lukasiewicz, who is also relatively new to the School of Communication, had this sort of vision of how it would go and to see that kind of collaboration with all these forms of media take off really emphasizes the fact you guys are learning how to be these well-rounded multimedia journalists. You guys really are inspiring.”