Happy New Year!
Our January #ExpertWithInsights is Deana Callipare, Director of Communications at the Environmental Charter School (ECS). Deana’s focus will focus on Communications and her posts include:
Building an effective communication department from the ground up through research, analysis, and little luck.
Leveraging media monitoring to ensure a healthy and safe school environment
How young professionals can continue professional growth and development even as the sole communication expert at an organization.
As the Director of Communications at the Environmental Charter School (ECS), a small K–12 public school district in Pittsburgh, PA, I am responsible for serving as the organization-wide owner of all communication efforts. This includes all internal and external marketing, advertising, branding, public relations with an emphasis on media relations and crisis communication, and digital and online mass media. Simply put, I am the organization’s storyteller, and I take difficult-to-understand concepts and package them in an easily digestible manner for stakeholders.
Over the course of my three years with ECS, I have held three roles: Communications Coordinator, Communications Manager, and Director of Communications (the first for the district). As a pioneer of the position, my goal is to identify needs and execute communications about the ECS experience in an equitable, just, authentic, and socially responsible manner with stakeholders’ best interests at the forefront of the decision-making process. I am fortunate to provide communications consultation for c-suite leadership, and while the ECS “Communication Department” was a one (wo)man show for the majority of my ECS career, I have created and developed foundational procedures that provided a smooth transition to onboarding a part-time individual.
About Environmental Charter School (ECS)
ECS is committed to educating for sustainability, being a place for all students, and establishing strong relationships between staff and students while educating the whole child by supporting students’ social and emotional needs in addition to their academic careers. The organization focuses on growing active, engaged, and thoughtful global citizens. Through a unique out the door education focused on real world problems and systems thinking, ECS offers a program that develops students into critical thinkers, thoughtful innovators, and well-rounded scholars. By using the built, social and natural environments as a lens for instruction, ECS provides students a context in which to explore ideas and observations, to practice inquiry, and to actively problem solve. Throughout their academic career, students build core skills across all disciplines, and then actively apply these skills to support the impact of learning and supports them in becoming flexible thinkers, creative problem solvers, and effective leaders.
My #Experts Focus
Working at a school district means that I never know what each day will bring. It also means that I wear a lot of hats and often have to juggle several projects, crises, and one off, spur of the moment to-dos. Like many communication professionals, I am tasked with being the organization-wide communication #Expert and the all inclusive provider of communication needs. It’s an overwhelming task at times, and deciding where to begin isn’t easy.
My #Experts series will focus on communication professionals who do it all. I’ll discuss how staying organized, planning strategic communication efforts, and analyzing data and applying it to future campaigns is the key to success, especially for young professionals, new to the industry.
More About Me
On a more personal note, I am proud to work for an organization that focuses on an individual's quality of work instead of years of experience. As a young professional, I find myself challenged daily by the role I play in ECS’s strategic plan and trajectory. With less than five years in the professional communication field, I have learned and grown at lightning speeds, but know that I am far from perfect and have a lot to learn from those who have come before me. In that same vein, I understand the challenges young professionals face as many of us compare ourselves to individuals who have several years of experience (and suffer from crazy imposter phenomenon). This is one of the many reasons I have dedicated myself to being a lifelong learner and a thought partner for other young communication leaders; never doubt the important work that is contributed because of years of experience.
My first post is on Jan. 9. I look forward to providing my insights and connecting through shared experiences.
Feel free to reach out on my LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deanacallipare/