Candidates for the Executive Board

NSPRA is governed by an Executive Board comprised of 12 officers: a president, president-elect, vice president for diversity engagement, seven regional vice presidents and two appointed vice presidents at-large. The annual election of officers is conducted in August unless a race is uncontested. In the event of an uncontested race, NSPRA Bylaws allow the Executive Board to affirm candidates by acclamation.

During the Annual Meeting and Celebration of Achievement at the NSPRA 2021 National Seminar, the Executive Board will affirm the following approved, uncontested candidates by acclamation as officers-elect of the board: 

  • President-elect
    • Cathy Kedjidjian, APR, Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, Glenview (Ill.) School District
  • Northwest Region Vice President
    • Phillip Campbell, Community Relations and Communications, Bonneville Joint School District 93, Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Southeast Region Vice President
    • Cindy Warner, APR, Public Relations and Community Education Supervisor, Shelby County School District, Columbiana, Al.

Affirmed and elected officers formally take office each year on Oct. 1. The president serves one year in office, and the president-elect serves one year in office before assuming the presidency. Regional vice presidents and the vice president for diversity engagement each serve a three-year term, while vice presidents at large each serve a two-year term.

While serving on the Executive Board, elected officers must fulfill their duties in accordance with NSPRA Bylaws. These duties may include:

  • Doing whatever may be necessary for the furtherance of the purposes of the association, the attainment of the purposes of the Articles of Incorporation, and the study and teaching of its ideals, its ethics and its unique features or organization;
  • Assisting the president in preparing programs for the Annual Meeting and other meetings of the association;
  • Authorizing appointment of all committees;
  • Formulating policies for the program and services of the association; and
  • Directing the Executive Director in the depositing or investing of such moneys as the association may receive and in business arrangements made on behalf of the association.

Get to know all of the 2021 Executive Board candidates by reading what they have shared below about their professional backgrounds and thoughts on school public relations. All candidates were invited to submit a brief biography and statements in response to the same three questions.


One Candidate for President-elect:

Cathy Kedjidjian, APRCathy Kedjidjian, APR

Director of Communications and Strategic Planning
Glenview (Ill.) School District

 

Cathy Kedjidjian, APR, is director of communications and strategic planning for Glenview School District 34, an elementary district in suburban Chicago where 750 teachers and staff serve more than 4,500 students and their families. She has worked in school public relations for more than 10 years. Since joining District 34 in 2018, Cathy led the district through strategic planning, rebranding and a successful capital referendum. Prior to working in education, Cathy was a freelance writer and communications consultant with experience in healthcare, wellness, nonprofits and political campaigns. Cathy was NSPRA’s vice president at large for communication technology and innovation from 2018-2020 and has served in several roles for the Illinois School Public Relations Association (INSPRA), including as president in 2016-2017. She has presented on internal communications, HR-PR partnerships, social media and technology in communications at the NSPRA National Seminar and at chapter events. Cathy (@cateked) builds the school PR community as co-moderator of #k12prchat, the Twitter chat for school communication professionals, and connects school PR walkers, runners and joggers through #k12prfit and #k12pr5k at the NSPRA Seminar. 

1.     How can school PR professionals best advance our role as communication leaders, demonstrate communication accountability and build understanding of communication as a core management function?

The previous year put a spotlight on the value of school PR professionals as necessary leaders in our districts and, beyond the walls of our schools, throughout our communities. As a profession and as individual professionals, we need to be intentional and strategic in maintaining our visibility and status—our collective seat at the table. School PR professionals must continue to serve as strategic counsel to superintendents, Board of Education members and other district and community leaders. One key step that every member of NSPRA can take to elevate our profession is to pursue your accreditation in public relations (APR). The strategic thinking developed in the APR process provides the knowledge, skills and confidence to lead and, in turn, the APR designation becomes widely recognized as the sign of an effective, successful, respected communications leader. NSPRA’s move to directly and strongly guide members through the APR process will bring value to the members who access that support, their districts and communities, and to our profession. NSPRA also can support the broader efforts to raise recognition of the value of school PR in continuing to strengthen our network with AASA, NSBA and other leading educational organizations. 

2.     What do you consider to be the major communication challenges facing districts/education organizations today, and what qualifications, skills and expertise will you offer as an Executive Board member to help NSPRA support members in addressing these issues?

The greatest communication challenge for school districts and educational organizations is addressing teacher and staff wellness. Teachers who are stressed and anxious simply aren’t available to educate, support or encourage their students. And, quite literally, they may not be available because so many good teachers are so overwhelmed and emotionally unwell that they are leaving the profession. In order to provide the best education for the children in our schools, we need to directly, publicly provide care for teachers, and ourselves. As NSPRA members, their districts and our country grapple with the traumas of the past year—the pandemic, political climate, racial unrest and violence—NSPRA can be a source of healing. My area of expertise is internal communications and staff wellness: supporting teachers and staff and building a strong, positive district culture through communications. I have shared my experiences in presentations at the NSPRA Seminar and chapters, on podcasts and in individual conversations with colleagues. I have worked with other school PR professionals nationally, including Kristin Magette, APR, and Shawn McKillop, APR, leaders of the #k12prWell initiative, to find ways to effectively address the issue within our profession. NSPRA can embrace and enhance #k12prWell and other initiatives to create a culture of wellness in our profession—and keep colleagues from leaving the industry.

3.     What do you hope to contribute to our profession as an NSPRA leader?

NSPRA’s new strategic plan provides a clear path of growth in its support of members and, in turn, its impact on public schools and students. My expertise in strategic planning will allow me to play an important role in working with the Executive Board and NSPRA staff to guide the plan’s success. I also will bring experience in building community, connection and care to our profession. Through my leadership on NSPRA and INSPRA boards, I have established systems of support that encourage learning, exploration and relationships. In #k12prchat on Twitter, and during #k12prfit and #k12pr5K events, school PR professionals share ideas, learn from each other and make connections that extend beyond Twitter, beyond the NSPRA Seminar, beyond work. We have a network of true, loyal friends, who help each other during a crisis at work or home, who readily send resources to help with projects, and also send cards and exchange gifts for birthdays or holidays. Together, and with NSPRA’s support, we make each other better, and we have created a community that elevates our profession and improves public education and outcomes for the students we serve.

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One Candidate for Northwest Region Vice President:

Phillip CampbellPhillip Campbell

Community Relations and Communications
Bonneville Joint School District 93
Idaho Falls, Idaho

 

Phillip Campbell joined Bonneville Joint School District 93 in 2014 after spending 14 years in television. Phil worked for KPVI in Pocatello and KSNV in Las Vegas during his award-winning television career. From anchoring sports to running the newsroom, Phil did a little bit of everything before retiring from television and joining D93. Phil brought his video expertise to D93 and immediately began using this platform to connect with patrons and the community. This has resulted in an eight-fold increase in D93’s Facebook following and reach.

Phil puts the community in community relations. He has served on the Museum Board at the Museum of Idaho and also on the Ucon City Council, all while aggressively pursuing transparency in D93. Phil has been part of many successful levy and bond campaigns, helping to bring in more than $150 million since joining the district in late 2014.

Phil received a bachelor's degree in mass communications from Idaho State University in 2011.

Work Experience at D93/IDSPRA

After seeing the success of neighboring NSPRA chapters in Oregon and Washington, Phil made it his mission to restore the Idaho Chapter of National School Public Relations Association (IDSPRA). Phil served as president of IDSPRA from 2016-2018. He helped start an annual conference for the chapter, which is held each year in June. Phil recently concluded a two-year term as vice president of electronic communication for IDSPRA.

Phil also serves as a liaison between OSPRA and IDSPRA, and is a regular participant at OSPRA conferences in Oregon. Phil and his D93 communications partner, Samantha Williams, presented at the OSPRA Fall Conference in 2017. More recently, the two have presented at the annual IDSPRA Conference in Boise, the 2019 TSPRA Conference in Austin, and they are currently scheduled to present virtually to TSPRA in October.

This two-person communications team uses a variety of resources to connect with their community. They have found great success through the use of video. D93 has earned multiple Honorable Mention awards from NSPRA, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. This visual storytelling platform has also resulted in positive results for multiple bond and levy elections in D93. Phil and Sam work hard to encourage and promote positive engagement and support for all stakeholders in the District through skilled communication and a collaborative culture of trust, through open and honest communication.

1.     How can school PR professionals best advance our role as communication leaders, demonstrate communication accountability and build understanding of communication as a core management function?

School PR professionals can best advance our role as communication leaders by being an advocate for the communities we represent. It’s critical that we have a finger on the pulse of what matters to our patrons. More importantly, we need to make sure that the complex issues (i.e. school finance, etc.) can be understood. That’s why we have placed such an emphasis on educational videos to help our community understand.

2.     What do you consider to be the major communication challenges facing districts/education organizations today, and what qualifications, skills and expertise will you offer as an Executive Board member to help NSPRA support members in addressing these issues?

The major communication challenges facing districts/education organizations today is a general distrust of government at all levels, including local school districts. The polarization of our country has trickled down to even the most local levels. It is more important than ever to build trust and one of the best ways to do this is through transparency.  You can start by live streaming your board meetings. This doesn’t take a lot of work. You can literally stream with a smartphone. Your community will appreciate your efforts. The net result will be a greater understanding and trust of your school board.

3.     What do you hope to contribute to our profession as an NSPRA leader?

I hope to contribute to our profession as an NSRPA leader by being a liaison between the local chapters in the Northwest Region. My local Idaho chapter of NSPRA (IDSPRA) wasn’t in the best of shape when I joined this profession in 2014. It has come a long way since. I had to lean on the great chapters in Oregon and Washington to help grow IDSPRA. These relationships have put me in a great position to help grow the region’s presence with NSPRA. During my term, the annual NSPRA Seminar will be returning to the Northwest for the first time since 1995. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to showcase this beautiful area of the country while creating a wave of excitement for the region I’ll represent.

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One Candidate for Southeast Region Vice President:

Cindy Warner, APRCindy Warner, APR

Public Relations and Community Education Supervisor
Shelby County School District
Columbiana, Al.

 

Cindy Warner, APR, has served as the public relations and community education supervisor for the Shelby County School District since 2002. She has over 30 total years of combined experience working in the media, and in non-profit and school public relations. In her job role, she serves on the district’s leadership cabinet and coordinates all public relations and marketing efforts, including internal/external communications, media relations, crisis communications and social media. She also coordinates and supervises all Community Education activities, including 15 after school care programs and adult and youth enrichment. She is actively involved in the Alabama School Public Relations Association (ALSPRA), where she has served three terms as president. Warner, who earned her APR in 2015, is currently serving on the NSPRA Accreditation Committee and as a facilitator for the online APR Cohort study course. She is also an active member of the Alabama Community Education Association (ACEA), where she is currently serving as president of the board of directors. Warner is a past recipient of NSPRA’s Gold Medallion and Golden Achievement awards.

1.     How can school PR professionals best advance our role as communication leaders, demonstrate communication accountability and build understanding of communication as a core management function?

The very best advice I received as a new school PR practitioner was from my mentor, the late Nez Calhoun, APR, a true school PR legend and former Barry Gaskins award-winner who served 42 years in education. You could always count on Nez to give solid advice, and the best was given to me on the first day I met her. “Get involved in the National School Public Relations Association and our local state chapter.”

Over the course of my 20-year career in school PR, I have discovered the resources and professional development offered through NSPRA and my state chapter, ALSPRA, have been instrumental to both my personal and professional growth. 

NSPRA’s new mission statement is very true in that the organization is committed to helping its members “develop into strategic thinkers who help build trust and foster positive relationships in support of their school communities.” In order to elevate our profession, we must advocate to our members the need to constantly improve and evolve their skills, stay current with the ever-changing PR landscape and constantly lead by example with honest, transparent and ethical communication practices.

2.     What do you consider to be the major communication challenges facing districts/education organizations today, and what qualifications, skills and expertise will you offer as an Executive Board member to help NSPRA support members in addressing these issues?

Without a doubt, I feel the multitude of issues facing all educators are tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most school districts, despite their size or availability of resources, struggled with challenges created by the pandemic. Whether a district was able to offer in-person or hybrid instruction or was forced to provide only virtual options, there are so many areas where two-way, transparent communication with key stakeholders is going to be needed to undo the damage that was done. Regaining the public’s trust, encouraging family involvement once it is safe to let parents back inside buildings, assisting students in overcoming learning loss, and helping employees with pandemic-induced fatigue and burnout, are all areas that will require strategic communication strategies to address.  This is especially true of the nationwide teaching shortage and helping reduce the mass exodus of young teachers who are leaving the profession early. 

I feel that my 20 years of experience in school public relations, coupled with my expertise as an accredited PR professional, lends itself well to joining the NSPRA Executive Board to support members in prevailing over these overwhelming challenges. NSPRA must (and does) have experienced, proven leaders capable of providing solid, strategic advice serving on the Executive Board. I believe I have the skill-set and necessary background to join my colleagues already serving on the Executive Board in making an impact on the organization’s future.

3.     What do you hope to contribute to our profession as an NSPRA leader?

I feel I have already contributed much to the profession throughout my career, especially at the state level. However, I want to lead in a larger capacity at the national level by serving on the Executive Board.  For the past two years, I have served on the NSPRA Accreditation Committee, which has recently developed an online cohort course for our members seeking their APR. It has been very rewarding to see this work come to fruition and make a tangible difference in the lives of the first 50 members, who are currently enrolled in the course.

I also have had the pleasure of mentoring several colleagues through the APR process. Seeing them learn and grow in their knowledge and ultimately pass the examination and earn the APR is such an amazing feeling! Having never been a classroom teacher, I can only imagine this is what it must feel like when they see their students succeed. Mentoring allows me to be in the role of servant-leader, helping share my skills in order to see another colleague be successful.

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