More than 25 years of communications leadership experience
Serving as the college’s first Chief Communications Officer (CCO), I oversaw all aspects of communications, with primary responsibility for developing and executing a communications strategy that furthered the College’s strategic goals—in admission, advancement and alumni relations, internal communications, and more.
I re-structured and expanded the staff to develop a 20-person division that encompassed institutional news, media relations, graphics design, web development, the alumni magazine, campus events, sports information, social media, video and photography.
I oversaw a comprehensive perceptions study, the complete re-design and re-writing of the website, a new approach to internal communications, and a new literary festival, as well as partnering on a new admissions viewbook. We also addressed multiple crises, from sexual assault cases to changing the college mascot.
I initiated, built and led Bucknell’s first comprehensive communications division, a 40-person team with responsibility for all communications channels plus printing and mail.
We developed and implemented a comprehensive communications strategy grounded in extensive perceptions research, and redesigned all media to bring the strategy to life, including the website, alumni magazine, admissions and fundraising collaterals, and more.
I played a key leadership role in planning and implementing the $500 million comprehensive campaign, including serving as executive producer for the launch weekend that featured Norah Jones and Walter Isaacson. I also wrote and produced a multimedia and theatrical dinner event in New York City for top donors, plus a campaign theme song and the campaign video.
As the first head of communications for this $600 million scholarship foundation that was then in its infancy, I established the communications operation and brand identity, including the messaging, website, and print collaterals. I also managed media and public relations in support of scholarship recipients and their secondary schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and graduate schools nationwide.
For this $1 billion international science foundation that had just then been established by the Republic of Ireland, I developed the communications strategy, co-developed the institutional strategy, and oversaw the creation of all branding, messaging, the website, and print collaterals plus media relations. I did all executive writing for SFI’s director general, and managed public relations with grant recipients across Europe, the U.S., and Asia, as well as Ireland's universities.
This is where my communications career began. I was the president's director of communications as he turned around an institution experiencing a crisis of integrity and identity. I hired and trained the office’s writing team and served as the president’s writer, speechwriter, communications advisor, and crisis communications consultant. I wrote the institutional strategy, advised senior executives across the institution's eight campuses on communications, wrote about 100 speeches a year, and was part of a senior team that worked through every challenge from joining the Southeastern Conference to campus crises that drew national media interest.
For the University’s $500 million campaign, I wrote the case statement and co-wrote or edited all national collateral and fundraising materials, including co-writing and co-producing the campaign launch and other major campaign events.
I earned my Ph.D. in 20th-century British literature and literary theory from the University of South Carolina (1995). My book, Chaos Theory and James Joyce’s Everyman, was published by the University Press of Florida (1999), and is now in its second printing. It explores Joyce's Ulysses through the lens of chaos physics and explains how chaos theory offers a sound argument for free will and a fresh, humanistic understanding of Joyce.
What does this academic interest have to do with my passion for strategic communications? I’ve thought about that a lot over the years. I think it comes down to this: Chaos physics and Ulysses propose an underlying order to human experience and natural events. In a similar way, strategic communications strive to bring clarity and organization (plus creativity) to the presentation of complex ideas. I have also always felt this academic background deepened my respect for faculty, and for the importance of presenting their work soundly and well.
I earned my M.A. in film studies and my B.A. in English and legal studies from Case Western Reserve University (1986). I completed both degrees in four years, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. I've thought often of the care with words that my majors ingrained in me, and have drawn on my film studies while writing and producing institutional and campaign videos.