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NextGen Higher Ed: 15 Women Shaping the Future of Marketing and Communications

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education marketing and communications, a new generation of women is poised to lead the charge. 

These innovators are brimming with fresh ideas and a passion for making a difference.  Whether you’re a student, faculty member, administrator, or simply interested in the future of education, learning from them can be incredibly valuable.

This post spotlights 15 remarkable women who are the next wave of higher ed marketing and communications leaders.  They bring diverse expertise and experiences to the table, offering insightful content, inspiring stories, and practical advice to tackle the challenges of  higher education today.

Get ready to meet the future – these women empower, inform, and inspire me — and I know they will for you, too!

1. Krista Boniface

Krista, Senior Social Media Strategist at the University of Toronto, is definitely someone to keep an eye on. With a background in both established institutions and creative start-ups, Krista’s a master of all things social media strategy, content creation, and community engagement. She’s got a knack for crafting engaging messages across platforms, from email marketing to eye-catching video.

Not only does Krista manage social media for a top university, but she’s also passionate about sharing her knowledge. She’s a faculty expert for the Digital Community Cohort, helping our participants build thriving online communities. 

2. Morgan Campbell

Morgan isn’t your average social media manager – she’s passionate about creating a welcoming online space for students at Purdue University’s Daniels School of Business. Why? Because social media was her lifeline as a student, and she wants others to feel that same sense of belonging.

While Morgan crafts engaging content that connects students and fosters a supportive online community by day, her skills go way beyond witty captions. She’s always tapped into the latest tools and strategies to build relationships, manage online communities, and even run successful ad campaigns. 

Fun fact: Morgan is a coach for the Student Social Media Academy and a Graphic Designer for #TeamJosie. I am so thankful for her talent and skill.

3. Ellen Doepke

Ellen weaves award-winning digital stories for Michigan State University. As Director of Social Media, she steers the ship on MSU’s strategy, ensuring the Spartans Will brand conquers the digital space. They’re already champions – MSU boasts one of the top social media presences in higher education — casual brag.

From the CASE Circle of Excellence to MI ADDYs, her social media campaigns and storytelling abilities are award-worthy. In 2023 alone, Ellen’s team brought in five awards for their Congratulations Class of 2022 and Fall 2022 Welcome campaigns. 

4. Meaghan Milliorn Fikes

Say hello to Meaghan Milliorn Fikes. Meaghan currently leads the charge as the Director of Digital Strategy at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

With over 13 years of experience under her belt, Meaghan brings a wealth of knowledge in digital marketing, web content, social media, and strategic planning to the table.  

Described as a “creative communications professional” on her LinkedIn profile, Meaghan’s expertise spans web communications, digital marketing, and the ever-evolving world of social media in higher education. Look for her insights and leadership shaping the digital landscape at UA Little Rock.

5. Jenny Li Fowler

Jenny is not just a dear friend, but an incredible voice in higher ed social media. As Director of Social Media at MIT, she has a ton of knowledge in the space, and shares it well in her recent book, Organic Social Media: How to Build Flourishing Online Communities

In addition to her role at MIT and as a published author, Jenny also hosts Confessions of a Higher Ed Social Media Manager, a podcast by Enrollify. And, as if she didn’t have enough going on, she’s a valued faculty expert for the Digital Community Cohort — teaching the Cohort about all things social media strategy.

6. Karla Fung

University of California, Davis, found a gem in Karla Fung! This seasoned marketing and sales pro isn’t just about selling – she’s an internet generation whisperer, wielding social media, communication, and organization skills.

Karla has a whole toolbox full of talents: crafting amazing content, editing with eagle eyes, and building lasting relationships. She’s also an expert at ad design, fundraising, and logistics, making her a master of everything from website layouts to marketing plans and even persuasive proposals.

Karla’s dynamic approach keeps UC Davis’ social media engaging with the community and aligning perfectly with the university’s goals.

7. Sarah Goldfarb

Sarah Goldfarb is the Managing Director of Digital & Social Media at RW Jones Agency, tackling everything from social media management to website tweaks and email marketing.

Her team helps universities navigate the ever-changing digital landscape, offering services like building momentum, reaching the right crowd, and creating compelling content. Strategy workshops, influencer marketing, paid advertising – it’s a one-stop shop for all things digital.

Sarah’s also the mastermind behind “The Social Minute,” a popular newsletter keeping everyone in the loop on all things higher ed and social media.

Prior to RW Jones, she served as the Director of Digital Communications at the University of Delaware, bringing a wealth of experience to the table. 

8. Liz Harter

Meet Liz Harter, Senior Social Media Manager at University of Notre Dame, with an impressive 11-year tenure.  

Liz’s journey wasn’t conventional – she describes herself as a “social media autodidact,” meaning she honed her skills through self-directed learning and experience. This self-motivated approach is coupled with a strong foundation in writing, editing, and proofreading, ensuring Notre Dame’s social media channels are not only engaging, but also polished to perfection. 

Liz’s dedication to continuous learning and her expertise in strategic communication contribute to her award-winning work. Beyond social media, her skillset extends to areas like WordPress management and video editing, showcasing her well-rounded skillset in the ever-evolving world of digital marketing.

9. Chelsey Bentley Holts

Chelsey brings a wealth of experience and passion to her role as Director of Content Strategy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She’s a proven leader with a knack for crafting engaging content that gets noticed. Whether it’s generating national media attention or developing custom campaigns that showcase the best of UNC, Chelsey is full of strategy — and it’s evident through her thoughts on LinkedIn and in her work. 

Chelsey is a generous leader who shares her expertise both on campus and beyond.  She consults with teams, offers campus-wide training, and inspires others through speaking engagements and publications.

Plus, her CliftonStrengths include Positivity, Strategic, Includer, Developer, and Woo. 

10. Sydney Jones-Wright

Sydney Jones-Wright isn’t your average communicator. Currently, she’s the Associate Director of Executive Communications at Vanderbilt University, basically a communication quarterback for the Chancellor and Provost.

Sydney juggles internal and external communication for the Provost, keeps their social media game on point, and wrangles the messaging of all six academic deans. She’s the glue that keeps Vanderbilt’s communication strategy singing in perfect harmony.  In short, Sydney’s a master communicator who’s helping Vanderbilt tell their story to the world!

11. Dayana Kibilds

Dayana Kibilds, Strategy Director at Ologie, is a force for breaking down barriers in education. 

Focused on clear communication and simpler admissions processes, Day champions accessibility for all. Beyond strategy, she’s an international speaker, “Talking Tactics” podcast host, and email marketing expert (with a book coming in 2024!).  

A passionate advocate for a healthy planet, Day prioritizes sustainable living and enjoys exploring her city by bike. This lifelong learner, juggling motherhood with French lessons and trombone practice, is an inspiration, using her diverse skills to make a difference.

You can hear more from Day in a recent Josie and the Podcast episode titled, “Talking Human-Centered Tactics.”

12. Katelyn Mills-Erickson

Katelyn is definitely one to follow in the world of higher education marketing and communications. The last five years have seen her hone her storytelling skills into a fine art, crafting messages that bring universities to life for students who might not have considered them before. 

Currently, Katelyn manages Admissions Communications and Marketing at the University of Iowa. You can find her on LinkedIn sharing her insights on connecting with students through email, web content, and social media. 

13. Liz Pittman

Liz doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She shares her knowledge as an Instructor at the University of Victoria, teaching social media marketing and digital communication online and in person. She’s also a Curriculum Developer and Instructor at Assiniboine Community College, where she built three courses to help people become proficient in social media marketing. She was also the Digital Communications Specialist at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for over three years. 

Also a freelance digital communications specialist, Liz helps businesses of all stripes conquer the digital world. She crafts winning social media strategies and creates engaging content.

Liz’s passion is clear: empowering the next generation of digital marketers. She creates interactive learning experiences that get students pumped about the ever-changing world of online communication.

14. Teddi Tostanoski

Let’s introduce Teddi Tostanoski, a force for positive change in higher education communication. Her LinkedIn tagline, “Higher ed and digital community builder by helping people communicate more inclusively,” perfectly captures her mission.  

As the Senior Social and Digital Media Strategist for CSU President Parsons, Teddi brings over a decade of experience across various industries to her role. Described as “a deeply curious, strategic, and inclusive digital communications practitioner and educator,” Teddi doesn’t just build online communities, she fosters them through inclusive communication. Her expertise lies in crafting transparent, timely, and effective marketing strategies that bridge the gap between institutions and the communities they serve. 

Beyond her strategic mind, Teddi is also a leader who believes in coaching and empowering her team, making her a valuable asset in any environment.

15. Maya Wesby

Meet Maya Wesby, a rising star in the world of higher education marketing. By day, she manages the social media presence of the prestigious Harvard Graduate School of Education. But her influence extends beyond the Ivy League walls. 

Maya is also a Faculty Expert for the DigiCohort, sharing her knowledge and passion with community builders. It’s been a joy watching her dive into this role feet first.

If you follow her on LinkedIn, you’ll be treated to insightful content, delivered with a healthy dose of enthusiasm (just check out her love of exclamation points and that cheeky emoji! 😛).  This Harvard journalism grad student is a self-proclaimed “nerd” about user behavior and smart insights,  and a strong advocate for mentorship.


This is just a taste of the incredible women shaping the future of higher education. From social media experts to curriculum developers, these are just a few of the many women making a difference.

Want to keep celebrating phenomenal women? Check out more in last year’s Influential Women in Higher Education blog to discover even more inspiring stories. 

Sending all the digital hugs, love, and light for an impactful and inspiring Women’s History Month.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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