Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

Pathways and Pipelines of Campus Marketing Executives


What is the career path of campus marketing and communications professionals into executive roles? What models can we learn from? What roadblocks vs. sponsorship exist? 

What happens when very talented social media managers are ready to take on more responsibility and leadership, but the organizational chart keeps them specialized?

These are just a few questions that I’ve been noodling over. For a few reasons:

  • Marketing and communications in many industries, especially higher education, significantly lack diversity – especially BIPOC professionals.
  • We are losing digital communication professionals, primarily tasked with social media, due to burnout, lack of resources, and limited opportunity to move up. 
  • At the same time, we will continue to see marketing and communication leaders become presidents and chancellors. 

So what is the pipeline? Because right now, it seems to be fractured at best.

We need both organic and formalized strategies to change this. And it starts at the top. 

I started to round up a Twitter list of Chief Marketing Officers, Vice Presidents, Associate VPs, and even directors that I could find. It was harder than I thought. 

The Career Paths for Current Campus Marketing Executives 

From publicly available info via LinkedIn, I’m highlighting pats to the CMO, VP, and AVP roles. These pathways offer various breadcrumbs to follow for job seekers and those that one day aspires to a VP or CMO role. Keep in mind, their tenure in marketing goes far deeper than the positions, as I’m featuring just the last 10 years.

As you read – are there one or two women leaders (yes, all are women) that resonated with you? Reach out to them – and tell them I sent you 😉 

Adrienne Nazon (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Vice President External Relations and Communications at the University of Illinois System (May 2021 – Present)
  • Vice President of Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer at The Ohio State University (October 2015 – May 2021)
  • Executive Director of Marketing at The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business (January 2005 – October 2015)
Angela Polec (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications at La Salle University (February 2021 – Present)
  • Vice President of Marketing and Communications at La Salle University (June 2020 – February 2021)
  • Assistant Vice President of Strategic Communications and Marketing at La Salle University (April 2019 – June 2020)
  • Executive Director, Marketing and Communications at Montgomery County Community College (November 2014 – April 2019)
Jaime Hunt (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Vice President and Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Miami University (Sept 2020 – Present)
  • Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications and Chief Marketing Officer at Winston-Salem State University (July 2019 – August 2020)
  • Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at Winston-Salem State University (September 2015 – July 2018)
  • Director of Web Strategy and Interactive Media at Radford University (October 2010 – 2015)
Jenny Petty (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Vice President Marketing Communications at University of Montana (March 2021 – Present)
  • Director of Enrollment Marketing at University of Wyoming (January 2019 – March 2021)
  • Content Strategist at University of Wyoming (January 2015 – January 2018)
  • Digital Marketing Manager/Brand Manager at International Game Technology (August 2012 – January 2015)
Kin Sejpal (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Associate Vice President, Marketing and Creative at Rochester Institute of Technology (May 2019 – Present)
  • Assistant Vice President, Marketing and Branding at Rochester Institute of Technology (May 2017 – April 2019)
  • Senior Manager Marketing Research at Purdue University (April 2015 – April 2017)
  • Manager, Alumni Relations at The Washing Center (November 2012 – June 2013)
Kirsten Jensen (Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Chief Marketing Officer at Minnesota State University Moorhead (January 2019 – Present)
  • Founder/Digital Strategist of Next Action Digital (July 2016 – Present)
  • Director, Digital Marketing at Onsharp (Jun 2013 – July 2016)
  • Director of Digital Marketing Strategy at Sanford Health (June 2010 – June 2013)
Laura Jack (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Vice President for Communications at Colgate University (January 2017 – Present)
  • Vice President, Development & Alumni Relations at Howard University (January 2016 – December 2016)
  • Interim Vice President, Development & Alumni Relations at Howard University (August 2015 – January 2016)
  • Assistant Vice President, Marketing & Branding at Howard University (September 2014 – January 2016)
  • Assistant Dean for Admissions, Marketing & Communications at Johns Hopkins University (September 2012 – September 2014)
Melissa Richards (TwitterLinkedIn
  • Vice President for Communications and Marketing at Hamilton College (September 2019 – Present)
  • Vice President for Communications and Enrollment Management at Sweet Briar College (July 2017 – August 2019)
  • Vice President for Communications at St. Lawrence University (January 2015 – July 2017)
  • Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Publications at Virginia Tech (March 2009 – January 2015)
Myla Edmond (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing at California State University-Dominguez Hills (April 2021 – Present)
  • Marketing and Communications Director at University of California Education Abroad Program (July 2015 – April 2021)
  • Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University (August 2012 – June 2015)
  • Fall 2011 Alumni & Development Coordinator Semester at Sea (August 2011 – December 2011)
  • Assistant Director for Alumni Relations at University of Indianapolis (February 2007 – August 2011)

The Pipeline: Directors of Marketing and Communications to Watch

It’s not just the top-level marketing professionals that are carving out and telling the story of the pipeline for marketing professionals, especially leading social media. In this bonus section, I’d like to feature director-level pros so that we can keep tabs on their career paths going forward. I’m not a betting woman, but I would for their bright future possibilities. 

Eddie Francis (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Director of Communications and Marketing at Dillard University (October 2019 – Present)
  • Talent Acquisition Partner at Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (April 2019 – October 2019)
  • Recruiter at Cielo Talent (November 2015 – March 2019)
  • Recruiting Consultant at Career Resource Services (August 2013 – July 2015)
  • Director of Communications at Paul Quinn College (January 2012 – July 2013)
Jenny Li Fowler (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Director of Social Media Strategy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (July 2019 – Present)
  • Manager, Social Media Strategy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (November 2015 – July 2019)
  • Web Editor and Social Media Manager at Harvard Kennedy School of Government (August 2011 – October 2015)
  • Editor in Chief of the Auto Learning Center Website sponsored by State Farm Insurance (August 2009 – August 2011)
Kimberly Stern (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Executive Director of Social and Digital Media at Colorado State University (November 2021 – Present)
  • Director of Social and Digital Media at Colorado State University (March 2014 – November 2021)
  • Public Relation Coordinator/Social Media Specialist at Colorado State University (July 2006 – March 2014)
  • Presidential Intern at Colorado State University’s University Relations Office (August 2004 – June 2006)
  • Development and Marketing Intern at Denver Center for the Performing Arts (2005 – 2006)
  • Assistant Producer at Rocky Mountain PBS (May 2004 – August 2004)
Rebekah Tilley (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Director of Strategic Communications at Tippie College of Business at University of Iowa (November 2021 – Present)
  • Director of Communications at Tippie College of Business at University of Iowa (May 2020 – October 2021)
  • Communications & Social Media Specialist at Tippie College of Business at University of Iowa (February 2018 – April 2020)
  • Communications & Social Media Coordinator at Tippie College of Business (July 2017 – February 2018)
  • Writer/Editor – Office of the Vice President for Research at University of Iowa (July 2016 – July 2017)
Tony Dobies (TwitterLinkedIn)
  • Senior Director of Marketing at West Virginia University (March 2019 – Present)
  • Social Media Director at West Virginia University (July 2016 – Present)
  • Social Media Strategist at West Virginia University (February 2015 – Present)
  • Senior Writer at West Virginia University (July 2011 – February 2015)
Tyler Thomas (TwitterLinkedIn
  • Senior Director of Content + PR at Hudl (September 2021 – Present)
  • Senior Director of Integrated Content at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (July 2018 – September 2021)
  • Director of Integrated Content at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (February 2018 – July 2018)
  • Social Media & Content Manager at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (November 2012 – February 2018)
  • Associate Interactive Project Manager at Swanson Russell (January 2012 – November 2012)

Who would you add to this list? Who else should I know about? Please reply and let me know about them!

Your Path, Your Purpose, and Finding Your People

The pathway to whatever career goal you have was not meant to be carried out alone.

This is part of the reason I began the Digital Community Building Cohort. This two-month professional development program is a mastermind-like format that educates and supports higher ed professionals tasked with social media – whether full-time or ‘other duties as assigned.’

What is coming up repeatedly in our gatherings is not just what ends up posted publicly on campus pages. Many entry and mid-level pros are trying to navigate and communicate up, currently in their roles and their careers in the future. 

This is why I started thinking about career paths, pipelines, and the people – who I’d tell my current cohort to learn from. However, it’s not just in higher ed marketing and communications divisions that need to have this conversation. It’s in enrollment, athletics, student affairs, and more. 

What has been your career pathway – and what’s next on the horizon? Who are your mentors, sponsors, and pivotal professional development experiences that elevated and empowered you? Are you in need of more of this, and/or are you in a place where you should be reaching back to lift others? More likely than not, it’s probably a little bit of both. 

Find your people – that will lift you and light up your path. But just as important, carve out, make room and invest in those behind and all around you.

P.S. If I can ever be a cheerleader, coach, or career path light for you – I’m just a reply away.


*This post was originally created for my newsletter, Digital Leadership Download. Subscribe and keep up with everything I’m writing, podcasting, and speaking about!

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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