- Communications professional with experience developing and executing high-level media strategies, writing press releases and speeches, cultivating relationships with local and national media, and serving as the chief spokesman for the nationâ€™s third-largest school district.
- Skilled reporter/editor with 12 years of experience at major and mid-sized news organizations.
- Regular collaborator with digital partners, as well as radio and television.
- Adept at crisis communications, and building relationships with internal and external partners to deliver a message.
Chicago Public Schools Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â November 2013 â€“ September 2015
Chief Speechwriter and Director of Internal Communications
The Districtâ€™s primary speechwriter for Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool, Chief Education Officer Janice K. Jackson, members of the Chicago Board of Education, department leaders and high-ranking cabinet officers. Leads the Districtâ€™s efforts for all internal communications for nearly 40,000 employees and 400,000 students and their families.
- Wrote or edited the CEOâ€™s speeches and talking points for Board of Education meetings, national conferences, community events, policy briefings and political rallies.
- Led high-level communications strategy and planning sessions within the department.
- Responsible for editing or writing all District correspondence within Central Office and its 664 schools.
- Member of the Districtâ€™s Senior Leadership Team.
- Designed and implemented a new internal communications strategy to better serve District employees, parents and stakeholders.
Director of News Affairs
Chicago Public Schools’ spokesman and chief liaison between the District and high-ranking officials at City Hall, including top advisers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Responsible for day-to-day operations of the department, all external communications with media and the public, and helped develop the overall communications strategy for the District.
- Led a team of four, including press secretary and three deputy press secretaries.
- Worked directly with the CEO and top officials to prep for interviews and public appearances.
- Actively led high-level communications strategy and planning sessions.
- Coordinated the media roll-out strategy for large District initiatives.
- Worked with local and national media on all types of stories, influencing coverage to deliver our message.
- Responsible for writing or editing all District press releases, talking points and op-eds.
Reporter, Chicago Tribune Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â November 2007 â€“ September 2012
General assignment reporter for the largest media organization in the Midwest, with an emphasis onÂ environmental issues and conservation. Promoted in January 2011 to investigative education reporter.
- Spearheaded Chicago Public Schools beat during the transition to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and through theÂ landmark teachersâ€™ strike in 2012. Reporting set the tone for coverage across the nation.
- A frequent contributor to WGN radio and television leading up to and during the teachers strike. Also aÂ guest on national platforms, including National Public Radio and Wall Street Journal Radio.
- Lead reporter/writer on team that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for breaking news in 2011 for the coverageÂ of two Chicago firefighters killed in a South Side fire.
- Led the newspaperâ€™s coverage of the Asian carp controversy, writing extensively about the scienceÂ behind invasive species and their threat to the Great Lakes. Followed the twisting story from the halls ofÂ the U.S. Supreme Court to the river bend where new control tactics were being tested.
Reporter, South Florida Sun-Sentinel Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â September 2005 â€“ November 2007
General assignment reporter for the second largest media organization in South Florida. Wrote extensively aboutÂ environmental topics, including land use, conservation and waste. Also wrote about the quirky ways of life in theÂ Sunshine state, from alligator hunting to air boat legislation.
- Won multiple awards from the Florida Press Association and was part of a team that was a Pulitzer PrizeÂ finalist in 2006 for coverage of Hurricane Wilma and its aftermath.
- A frequent contributor to the newspaperâ€™s media partner, WLS radio.
- Wrote about the perils of invasive species in South Florida, water conservation efforts critical to the stateâ€™sÂ ecology and the drive to protect the regionâ€™s historical Indian artifacts from theft.
Reporter, Modesto Bee Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â November 2002 â€“ August 2005
General assignment reporter for a 95,000-circulation daily newspaper in Northern Californiaâ€™s Central Valley.Â Began as a sports writer and outdoors columnist, focusing on environmental issues, hunting and fishingÂ legislation. Later promoted to covering county government and politics.
- Won multiple awards from press associations in California and on the West Coast.
- Reported on topics as varied as the dangers of anorexia in womenâ€™s athletics to the fight to halt ChronicÂ Wasting Disease in local deer populations.
- Spearheaded finance-based investigations, including accounting practices of youth sports organizationsÂ and salaries of county officials.
Sports Writer, Los Angeles Times Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â August 2000 â€“ September 2002
Sports writer for a daily zoned edition of the Los Angeles Times in the Inland Empire. Wrote extensively on issues critical to prepÂ athletics in the sports-crazed eastern suburbs of Los Angeles.
- Won multiple awards from Southern California press associations.
- Reported on hard-hitting issues such as concussions in high school football and on lighter topics like 100-mile ultra-marathon runners.
Public speaking: Partner of the News Literacy Project in Chicago, a non-profit organization working inÂ classrooms throughout the city to help middle school and high school students better understand media and toÂ separate fact from fiction in the new digital age. Also a guest speaker in a number of CPS schools, on topics such
as environmental issues and urban education.
Vice President: Board member for the Chicago chapter of the University of Oregon Alumni organization,Â responsible for outreach, recruitment and communication with members via social media.
Freelance writing/editing: Contributes to the Chicago Tribune and other publications as a freelance writer and serves as a ghost writerÂ and editor on book projects.
B.A., Journalism, with an emphasis in newspaper and magazine writing, University of Oregon.
Freedom of Information laws â€¢ AP Style â€¢ Microsoft Word â€¢ Word Press
Smart phone technology â€¢ Social media â€¢ Audio/video production â€¢ Internet research.