NSPRA Front-Runner: Shawn McKillop, APR

NSPRA Front-Runners are members identified by the NSPRA Executive Board as emerging leaders who are doing outstanding work for their schools, their chapters and for NSPRA. They have demonstrated professional leadership at the state and national level and/or have been recognized for innovation and excellence through NSPRA award programs or presentations. See all past Front-Runners.


Shawn McKillop, APR
Shawn McKillop, APR

Current title: Manager of Communications and Community Engagement, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Hamilton, Ontario

Alma Mater: Wilfrid Laurier University (Go Hawks!)

My PR motto: Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to feel supported. Everyone has a story to tell.

I am inspired by...the relationships made in the work we do. Every part of communications impacts others and makes connections with staff, students, parents and community members.

Favorite professional fantasy: That all requests and plans line up perfectly with strategic planning and there will never be an issue or interruption to implementing those plans.

Current communication tool I use the most is...Twitter: @shawnmckillop #shawnstruck #shawnslodge #shawnsbowls #schoolpr #k12prchat #ewanmckillop (my son) #princeewanisland, #futureschoolpr @HWDSB (my district) #HWDSBReimagined #HWDSBproud

Communication tool I rarely use anymore is...my office phone. Call or text my cell or DM me on Twitter.

Greatest PR success: Implementing the “Be Well Campaign” in Grand Erie District School Board is my greatest PR success to date as it helped students know where to get help and how to be well. The campaign opened the conversation about mental health, gave people a new perspective to think wellness rather than illness and inspired hope and action. The campaign was close to my heart because it contributed to me earning my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) and receiving an NSPRA Gold Medallion award.

Greatest communication challenge: Doing the research to truly understand, listen and engage with the various audiences — including diverse communities — who all contribute to public education. I wish I could talk to every single person and ask, “Did you get the information, did it meet your needs and do you feel supported?”

Principals in the Public
Principals in the Public
The research is clear — public engagement is a must for all successful school leaders. Developed by NSPRA Executive Director Richard D. Bagin, APR, Principals in the Public is an easy-to-use guide that will enable principals to become skilled communicators as well as community leaders.

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A strong communication program supports student success by...raising awareness, inspiring action or changing attitudes on important topics that transfer knowledge and opportunities to students to achieve and be well.

My favorite part of my job is...is working with students, sharing student stories and seeing the impact that the communications work has made on them.

I believe school PR/communications is...the light that guides our students home. When we see our work in school public relations as being agents to deliver wellness and to inspire hope, we’re doing our part in heroic work to save lives.

Joining NYSPRA helped me...stay connected on trends and build a network of support.

I’m an NSPRA member because...the professional development, mentorship and support received through NSPRA has enriched my career, opened doors and allowed me to learn and grow. The friendships also mean the world to me. #NSPRALoyal

My epitaph: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou