American Printer's mission is to be the most reliable and authoritative source of information on integrating tomorrow's technology with today's management.


Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM

         Subscribe in NewsGator Online   Subscribe in Bloglines


Over the past ten years, the OutputLinks Communications Group has recognized 72 presidents and CEOs, senior managers, educators, consultants and other industry professionals as Women of Distinction. Selection is based upon industry experience, leadership skills and participation in HVTO associations and events.


Kathleen McHugh, a 2011 Woman of Distinction, has scaled both the heights of the graphic arts industry and the Great Wall of China. Last fall, Kathy, as her friends call her, spent about four hours traversing a tiny portion of this landmark, which spans 4,300 miles.

“As you get closer to top of the Great Wall, the steps are irregular,” she says. “You’re literally body to body with people as you are trying to move up.”


Kathy launched her graphic arts career with Eastman Kodak in 1984. She went on to serve as vice president and regional business manager of Eastman Kodak’s U.S. and Canadian Prepress Solutions. From 1998 to 2005, she held high-level strategic and marketing roles in Kodak Polychrome Graphics, a joint venture between Eastman Kodak and Sun Chemical. In 2008, she joined Presstek as Vice Presi­dent and Chief Marketing Officer, a position she held until a December 2011 restructuring.


Her interest in the graphic arts goes back to her undergraduate days at the State University of New York at Oswego. Originally, she enrolled as a Communications major with an Athletic Coaching minor. She planned to teach and perhaps coach softball and field hockey, too.

But when she returned to school for her sophomore year, she changed her major. She still planned to be a teacher, but she decided to concen­trate on the graphic arts. “Oswego had a major in industrial arts educa­tion and a comprehensive program in printing,” Kathy explains. “I took classes in offset, typesetting, letter­press, screen printing, photography and graphic design. Once I graduated, instead of a teaching job, I was offered a position with the Singer Corp.’s Education Division in Rochester, NY, writing educational filmstrips for graphics and specifically targeted for vocational education programs.” 

Being in Rochester practically guaranteed two things:

  • Cheering on the Buffalo Bills,
  • · Working for Eastman Kodak, the town’s largest employer.

Kathy remains an ardent (if long-suffering) Bills fan with fond memo­ries of the Jack Kemp and Jim Kelly glory years. Over the course of her twenty-three-year tenure with Kodak, she assumed ever increasing responsi­bilities in sales, marketing leadership and business strategy. While living and working full time in California as a Regional Sales Manager for Kodak, Kathy enrolled in the Executive MBA program at the University of Cali­fornia at Irvine’s (UCI) Paul Merage School of Business. “UCI recognized a long time ago that the demographics, population and improving education­al levels of countries such as China were going to have a major impact on the future economic picture (which, of course, has proven to be absolutely correct),” she says. “It was especially interesting visiting Hong Kong as it was just prior to its transition back to China, and there was so much anticipation about that. China’s economy has come so far since then.” 

In 1984, there weren’t many women working in the graphic arts. “Over time, and with the digitization of print production processes, many more women joined the industry and are having a tremendous impact,” Kathy says. “I think diversity of any kind brings a broader perspective and openness which enables change to occur. Today, that’s very impor­tant for our industry.”


Kathy cites her parents as lifelong inspirations: “I have met and worked with many very special and tal­ented people throughout my life and career, but, as cliché as it may sound, my parents were my greatest sup­porters and teachers. While neither of my parents attended college, they have been very successful in their own right and are blessed with a natural street savvy and business acumen. I could always count on them for coaching and guidance.”

Kathy’s dad, Ted, is a well-known craftsman. In 1970, he founded McHugh Art Studio, which special­izes in new stained glass windows and the repair and restoration of turn-of­the-century windows. From country churches to city cathedrals and even a Las Vegas casino, Ted, assisted by Kathy’s brother Patrick, has tackled all kinds of projects. “No job is too big, and no window is too high,” Ted McHugh told a Buffalo newspaper.


The Women of Distinction are com­memorated annually with a $5,000 university scholarship, funded by OutputLinks and administered by EDSF, the international non-profit organization dedicated to the docu­ment management and communica­tions industries. When asked about advice for the student winners, Kathy quotes Minor Meyers, Jr., the late president of Illinois Wesleyan University who said “Go into the world and do well; but more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

“That’s one of my favorite quotes,” says Kathy. “What better vehicles to do that with than print and communications?”