Pat Kiah returns home to share her life's story

  • Saturday, February 21, 2015

    Pat Kiah & Alpha Kappa Alpha membersPRINCESS ANNE, MD- (Feb. 21, 2105) - Pat Kiah, a Princess Anne native with roots in the UMES community that date to the early 20th century, delivered today's keynote address at the second annual Richard A. Henson Honors Program Leadership Forum.   

    Her message: "I came from a family that said you can do what you want to … and instilled in us the importance of education and self-determination."   

    Kiah grew up on the UMES campus, the daughter of Maryland State College education professor T. Waldo Kiah and his wife, Lois. Her grandfather, Thomas Henry Kiah, was the fifth leader of the institution when it was known as Princess Anne Academy.   

    She traveled cross-country from her job in Los Angeles, where she is the art department coordinator for the popular CBS drama, NCIS, to share with UMES students "My Journey from Social Work to Show Business."   

    A Morgan State graduate with a degree in sociology, Kiah talked candidly about challenges she faced in her first job as a social worker who struggled to help people down on their luck, constrained by burdensome regulations and limited resources.   

    "I was looking for something more creative," she told a gathering of some five dozen UMES underclassman and a handful of childhood friends.  So she moved to New York, the heart of the fashion industry, where she could nurture a need to find "visual stimulation."   

    "It was fun. It was exciting. It was bloody hard work," she said.   

    That experience led her to a new career path as a photographer agent, and a move to London, where she met her husband of nearly 30 years. Andy Shuttleworth is a widely respected camera operator in demand from producers of television shows and film, so the couple eventually moved to Los Angeles, where steady work in that specialized profession is more reliable than England.   

    Kiah has worked behind the scenes in the art department for 10 years on "NCIS, one of broadcast TV's most popular shows since it went on the air in September 2003. "This is where the fun happens," she said.   

    She tracks the spending by four departments responsible for daily production, a crucial task in the highly competitive industry of entertainment television.   

    Also among her job responsibilities is coordinating intense research, and fact-checking details in scripts based on current events. She said she has to ensure each scene a viewer sees has been vetted so images used to convey realism do not violate copyright and trademark restrictions.   

    Juliette Bell & Pat Kiah lay a wreath the Kiah family gravesiteShe displayed personal photos of her posing informally with several of the show's stars, but also included images of African-American co-workers that viewers never get