Ease your student supervision speed bumps.

Bringing Swiftie Energy to Higher Ed with Rachel Putman

With this episode kicking off our new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about time and energy. Balancing time between your work life and home life, investing time in students, time with family, and all the time we lost to the pandemic. Our guest has also been thinking about it today as she reflects on grief and prioritizes time spent in different places. But also the fun and freeness that being a Swiftie brings.

After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, Rachel Putman close to a decade as a journalist, and joined the world of higher education in 2014, finding her passion at the intersection of story-telling and education. 

Today, Rachel is the Director of Communications at the University of Arkansas. She manages a team of incredible student workers on the UAFS campus each year who run BeReal, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook campaigns. 

We chat about the power of Taylor Swift, having partners in the music industries, learning grief while building a career, working at regional public colleges. We also get into the good marketing stuff, gushing over UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley, Rachel’s award-winning student social media outreach campaign Mental Health Monday, and bringing students on board to help with social media.

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Josie and the Podcast is produced in partnership with University FM, a podcast agency dedicated to higher education. University FM works with leading colleges and universities to tell stories on campus that build branding, drive engagement, and connect communities. Reach out to team@university.fm to connect on podcast strategy, production, and growth. We look forward to talking with you!

Element451 is a proud sponsor of Josie and the Podcast. Element451 is an AI-powered, all-in-one student engagement platform, helping institutions create meaningful, personalized, and engaging interactions with students. Our platform harnesses the power of Artificial Intelligence to seamlessly tailor content for each individual, bridging the gap between broad outreach and personal touchpoints. Fueled by intelligent automation and deep data insights, teams are free to focus on what matters most — building real connections with students. Learn more at Element451.com. 

Notes from this Episode:

More About Rachel Putman

Rachel Putman is the Director of Communications at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, where she oversees digital and social media strategy, external communications direction, public and media relations, internal messaging, crisis management, and executive communications.

After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, she spent close to a decade as a journalist, and joined the world of higher education in 2014, finding her passion at the intersection of story-telling and education.

She manages a team of incredible student workers each year on the UAFS campus who run BeReal, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook campaigns. With her student team, she’s claimed a number of social media impact awards, including a CASE Grand Gold award in 2022 for a direct to student social media outreach campaign titled Mental Health Monday.

Offline, Rachel mentors her students with an open-door policy that lasts well after they’ve graduated. She is an advisor for the IDEAL Women student organization, which combats bias against women of color in the professional world, and is active on multiple university committees, including the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Campus Climate committees This fall she was elected to her third term on UAFS Staff Senate and named to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Forty under 40 class.

She spends her time at home with her musician husband Cory, their two children, Sara and Kyler, their German Shepherd dog, Atticus, and an ever-growing slate of foster puppies.

Connect with Rachel Putman

Transcript

Rachel Putman 

Publishing Date: Jan 5, 2024

 

[00:00:00] Josie: Josie and the Podcast is produced by the rocking around the tree rockstar team over at University FM. They are the higher ed podcast agency, helping communicators build community, share research, and inspire thoughtful discussions with stories that resonate. Related to what we talk about today, they also offer podcast coaching for students, too. Strategy, production, marketing, monetization, they can help you do it all. Podcast with ease and elevate the stories of your institution today. Go to university.fm or click the link in the show notes to start.

What if your team of two could do the work of 20? Don’t we all wish that? Well, Element451 is the leading student engagement platform for higher education. It combines AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants, workflow automation, and modern marketing tools to hyper-personalize student communication and boost team productivity.

The easy-to-use platform can help you optimize the entire student journey, from application to graduation and beyond, ensuring that every exchange between your institution and its learners is meaningful, personalized, and engaging. Go from noise to relevance with timely, personalized communication on every channel. Welcome to the era of student-centric engagement. Visit element451.com for a demo and join the future of student engagement.

Hello and welcome to Josie and the Podcast. What does it mean to lead in the digital space with heart and humanity? On my podcast, Josie and the Podcast, I spend time answering this question with some good old heart, soul, and lots of substance. My goal is to share conversations that encourage you, empower you, and maybe even entertain you to rethink digital strategy for yourself and the organizations you support.

All right, let’s get to know today’s featured guest. After graduating from UNC Chapel Hill, our guest today spent close to a decade as a journalist and joined the world of higher education in 2014, finding her passion at the intersection of storytelling and education. Today, Rachel Putman is the director of communications at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. She manages a team of incredible student workers each year on the UAFS campus who run the apps, BeReal, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook campaigns.

With her student team, she claimed a number of social media impact awards, including a CASE Grand Gold Award in 2022 for a direct to student social media outreach campaign, titled Mental Health Monday. Offline, Rachel mentors these students with an open door policy that lasts well after they’ve graduated. She spends time at home with her musician husband, Cory, their two children, Sarah and Kyler, and their German Shepherd dog, Atticus, and an ever-growing slate of foster puppies.

You can follow us both on all the socials found in the show notes. Find the podcast on X, Threads, and Instagram. And I’m everywhere @JosieAhlquist. And Rachel is @RachelRodemann.

Everything we talk about, from the resources, people, and posts, is found on my website, josieahlquist.com/podcast.

Rachel, welcome to Josie and the Podcast. I feel like I’m a morning emcee announcer. I’m really excited to have you. We got to spend a whole bunch of time. You were my roomie at AMA higher ed.

[00:04:28] Rachel: Yes.

[00:04:29] Josie: You know, we don’t need to talk about my poor packing skills.

[00:04:34] Rachel: Not poor, just excessive.

[00:04:37] Josie: I’m in a constant state of improvement. We’ll also talk a little bit, though, about what we presented on and lots of goodies that we’ve been collaborating with lately.

I just kick off every show unpacking people’s Instagram bios, and yours has a lot in there. So, it reads, “Higher-ed strategist with a heart for justice, the Tar Heels & Taylor Swift. Classically trained artist. Former journalist. Wife, mom, & dog rescuer.” And then there is a link, normajean/ We’ll link it in the show notes.

So, what’s a couple of things you want to let us know more about why you put it in your Instagram bio?

[00:05:20] Rachel: Yeah. So, that bio goes like exactly to the character. So, I have, like, I have really thought about what to include in it because it is really up to the character limit. I think about what shapes me and who I am. And I think, for me, obviously, that starts with my family, my husband, my kids, and what we do as a family.

We rescue dogs. We travel. We do all sorts of fun stuff, and then, what made me into the professional that I am. So, I think a lot of my career has been shaped by my thinking that I would be an artist or a journalist, which, in the end, was just a passion to tell stories and to share things with other people.

So, I get to do that now in a different way than what I imagined when I was small or when I was in my 20s. It’s a little less dangerous than the life I imagined in college, which was being a war correspondent or a National Geographic reporter.

[00:06:19] Josie: Oh, wow.

[00:06:20] Rachel: Like, changing the world wasn’t theoretical to me as a young Tar Heel. And then, of course, I just left Taylor Swift. Now, I think what guides me is justice. So, all the things. It was really a boiling down of all the things I could think of, like, what makes me me.

[00:06:38] Josie: Yeah. It’s such like a values exercise, too, sometimes. So, yours was a great example of that. Well, for those that aren’t following you yet, they need to go out and do it. and for those that aren’t, or because this is a podcast, we can’t visually show it, what is something you recently posted on social media, whatever app you want to choose? And let us know a little bit about it, why you shared it.

[00:07:04] Rachel: So, I think that I really use my Instagram as a place to just demonstrate what it’s like to exist in the world. And so, on LinkedIn, I’m thinking a lot about my content and curating what I think is helpful for my career, but also for all the students who I have mentored and all of the people I’ve spoken to at conferences who are, maybe, looking at, at me as a mentor or someone who can give them advice or models and behavior.

But when I look at my Instagram, I’m thinking about who I am in real life, day to day, and how I can present that and show others that it’s possible to do that. So, I think about the Barbie party that we had at AMA, which is, you know, at the time this airs, a few months ago. But I have gotten so many comments about that coming back to campus. What it’s like to have a network of women, and do I know all those women, and what is that like to have so many mentors who are women and people I respect who are great women leaders and innovators?

And I just feel so lucky to have that. You know, one of the things about being a Swiftie is not being afraid to lean into this very fun and free and feminine energy. And I think Barbie captured that this year. But the party just felt like that in real life.

So, coming back to campus and talking about building connections with my colleagues about, you know, finding your place in the industry, it doesn’t have to be just right here on this, you know, little three-mile block of the world that we call ours. Your community can be all of these people who influence you and answer your texts, like, “Oh, my gosh, are you seeing this?” Or, are there for you in the middle of the night, or just like your Instagram posts. So, that’s one that I think was very engaged online, but also offline. And I like when that plays together.

[00:09:05] Josie: Absolutely. It’s like the icebreaker to, like, deeper conversations. So, it sounds like you connect with your students on multiple platforms, and that’s allowed… you’re like literally role modeling for them 360, right? Because they’re figuring out the tools and how to be a person in this world, too, which is, kind of, how you started. So, I think that’s really interesting.

[00:09:28] Rachel: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s so important to be real and be present when you’re a mentor. Not every student you hire is going to think of you as a mentor. I don’t think that’s necessary to have a student who is excited to learn. But most of mine have. And so, modeling a behavior of, this is how you present as a professional, but you should also be presenting as yourself, that’s really important to me. So, I connect with them on everything. I also don’t, don’t post anything that I wouldn’t be okay if they saw.

[00:09:58] Josie: Mentorship and marketing. I, I mean, that could just be our whole episode, but that’s got my wheels spinning. So, talking about sharing, There was a post that we rounded up, which was, like, a throwback post of you with an IBM technology tool. Your grandpa worked at IBM.

I wanted to bring it up because I always ask, like, what’s your earliest memory of tech? Maybe it’s not that, but that’s, kind of, like, really cool that, like, he actually worked for that company. But if you have an earlier memory of your first technology experience, you can share that one, too. But I wanted to talk about that post.

[00:10:38] Rachel: Yeah, that’s a really great picture. I, I asked my mom to send me photos for something. And, you know, it’s always, like, a toss-up when you ask your mom to look through old pictures of you. And I don’t think she was actually successful in finding the picture I was thinking of. It was for something very different. It was about animals or something. But she sent that one and she was like, “Oh, you make this face still.” And it’s just me, kind of, giving the side eye from my computer, which is what I look like at work all the time, unintentionally.

And so, that picture is me on an original Macintosh in the ‘80s. So, my grandfather was an IBM executive way before that. And after he retired, he loved Macintosh computers and Apple and the way tech and art, kind of, intersected in this, this way he understood from a tech perspective, but was, sort of, mystified by from a marketing perspective and a beauty perspective.

So, I’m a millennial and an elder millennial at that. But when I hear about Gen Z being digital natives, I resonate with that, too, because I can’t remember a time before we had a computer. We had a computer in the ‘80s, a home computer, a Macintosh.

[00:11:53] Josie: Right, yeah.

[00:11:55] Rachel: So, you know, I’ve been brand loyal for a very long time. Having a grandfather who was local and I saw every weekend, who was so in, in the industry and interested in tech at a time before everyone was, was so transformative. And it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized not everyone had computers even then. And I’d had computers since I was, you know, old enough to remember them.

[00:12:21] Josie: Well, I mean, you even brought up the intersection of art, which also I just, well, I love to follow your Instagram, because I just got so many ideas of, like, we can talk about this and that. And so, we’re going to dig into some of those fandoms, fur babies, and just overall fangirling. I was like, “We have so much in common, Rachel. Let’s be friends.”

[00:12:45] Rachel: I know.

[00:12:45] Josie: You mentioned earlier about what, deeper down, all the layers, not, like, we’re not going to unpack what does this number mean on a Swift song, but, like, what do you… I’m assuming you, you would identify as a Swiftie.

[00:13:00] Rachel: Yes!

[00:13:00] Josie: But, like, what does that mean? And what about her or the Swifties brings you joy?

[00:13:08] Rachel: Yeah. So, I think I grew up with Taylor Swift. The life she was experiencing was, of course, very different than mine, but we were experiencing it at a very similar time. So, when I was first meeting Cory, my husband, I was seeing her in concert opening for Rascal Flatts in the early 2000s, and, you know, singing about falling for someone, and then she was singing about how hard life was when you’re becoming an adult with, like, White Horse, you know, “I’m not a princess, and this isn’t a fairy tale.” And then, you know, we get into midnights, and she is drinking wine in the bathtub. And, you know, I feel like we, kind of, grew up together. So, I think that is really fun for me. Like, that’s a very niche experience to someone my age. And I am a little bit older than her, but that, sort of, life experience, you’re experiencing it in, sort of, a block of time.

And then, thinking about what it means to embrace what’s fun. I spent so much of my early career, and especially as a journalist, you know, you’re very serious. And a newsroom is so fun and insular. And it, kind of, reminds me of a marketing suite. You know, everybody’s just, kind of, talking and it’s gritty, and you all have the same passion to just be curious and find things out. But I am small and fun, and I have a very young face. And so, it was really hard to be taken seriously when I was a journalist, especially since I moved across the country for my first job, which I think most journalists end up doing.

And so, finding a place where I felt comfortable, embracing the fun, and I think shake it off, was a moment where Taylor Swift was able to explain. You can say all of this, and it’s fine. But I’m just going to be me, and this is who I am. And I dance, kind of, badly. And I am a little bit silly. But that’s me, and that’s okay.

And so, you know, I love that about her. I love that about what she brings out in other women. I love seeing the Eras Tour, of course, was incredible. I went twice because I am a Swiftie. I paid like a normal person price for tickets, not resale price. But she has this moment when she starts the Lover Era when she starts a song, The Man, which I always have loved and is so beautiful. And it just hits you in the heart as a woman professional.

And she starts it with this introduction of wherever she is and the things she’s done there that no one’s done before. And so, in Dallas, she said, “You’re making me feel like I’m the first person to sell out Cowboy Stadium three nights in a row.” And watching her just say it and not be embarrassed and not laugh after, and she does this sort of big gesture where she, you know, flexes her bicep, which is tiny… and she, she, you know, she’s just proud of herself. And we don’t get to do that very often. It’s almost off-putting, still.

I think a lot of fans were like, you know, struck by it. And I just was caught off guard by how much I admired that. Like, “Here is a place where I am performing for the most people I have ever performed for. And I get to say that, and I’m going to say that to every one of these 70,000 people right now.”

[00:16:44] Josie: Yeah. At that point, it’s hard to still stay relatable or that. I mean, like, literally, you’re performing, but she has… I mean, it is art, not only her music, but just her transformation. And I mean, I’ve got my little Swiftie bracelets over here, our friendship bracelets. And, like, I mean, I saw yours, like, get there. I mean, obviously, friendship bracelets existed before that, but, yeah, there’s so many layers to her.

And you just threw out 1 million quotables. And also, right now, there’s quite the buzz about her and her little beau. You and I and our beaus, our partners, our partners in crime, whatever,  they have some things in common, which puts us with some interesting things in common. On my Facebook page, actually, my bio is like, “I’m the original EpicLLOYD fan girl because, like, I knew him before that.” So, your partner is a musician. He’s a public figure. You go to shows. You’re like in the sidelines. At first, when I saw that, I was like, “Where is she? Maybe, she’s taking photos of this thing.” I was like, “Oh, no, she knows this person.”

[00:17:52] Rachel: That’s so fun.

[00:17:56] Josie: What is it? What is it like on the other side? I mean if… I don’t know, you don’t have to tell us, like, your love story, unless you want to. But our families, our relationships also bring us, because you came from journalism, that could bring you such a unique perspective into your work in higher ed, too. So, I don’t know. That was a million questions, but…

[00:18:17] Rachel: Yeah. So, you started talking about Taylor’s love life, and I feel like you and I have such a funny relationship with that, because we are experienced in being the spouse or partner of someone who was in the spotlight. So, I think a lot about the narratives that surround her and her love life and how difficult that is. And I find it very relatable when she talks about fame.

My husband, who’s a musician, is always like, “I just don’t feel bad for Taylor Swift.” And I’m like, “But they’re all looking at her.” He’s like, “Yeah, it’s just part of it.” And so, I think she’s able to, sort of, verbalize something that we experience, which is being looked at. And I have always thought it was so cool that Cory does the thing that he loves and that I also get to do the thing I love. And when our kids were young and, sort of, exploring what they loved, it was always so cool to go to parent teacher conferences and talk about how we really do want them to live their dream, because we got to, because we are still living our dream.

You know, Cory was in seventh grade playing a guitar in the basement until he fell asleep. And that’s all he did. And all he ever wanted to do was just be a musician. And he has, not just been able to do that, but been able to make it his career.

And so, yeah, I think the way you described it as the ultimate fangirl, like, I am the ultimate… Cory Brandan is his stage name. I’m the ultimate Cory Brandan fangirl. It’s so fun to see the person you love, like, have all of this joy and love what they’re doing. I think, for Cory, it’s also really impactful, because so many people will come up to him after shows when we’re just, you know, kind of, cooling down after the show, because it is very hot in all of those venues, and tell him that they, they saved their lives. Like, that their music saved their lives. And, and they mean it. And they’ll tell these stories. I remember Cory played a local show. And so, at a local show, I’m a lot more around because I’m also, sort of, running errands and doing all the things right.

[00:20:45] Josie: I know that well. Sure, I will sell your merch.

[00:20:49] Rachel: I am not trusted to sell merch. I’m not fast enough. I’m just not fast enough. I can’t keep up with it. I’m like, “Oh, that’s so sweet. Let’s talk about it.” And Cory’s like, “You’ve got five people who need shirts. You got to, you got to get someone else to do this.” But because I’m not allowed to sell merch, because I am too interested in talking to everyone, I get to hear all the good stories.

And so, a guy who is local came up to us and said, “You know, I, I own this painting company. And I’m, I’m doing this really cool stuff. And I have this…” I think he had a guitar that he wanted Cory to sign, but maybe it was a record. And I was like, “Oh, of course, we’ll do this.”

And so, I was walking around, kind of, trying to find Cory around this venue. And he was telling me his story, and he was with his wife, and he said, “You know, I was in prison. And I had enough money in the commissary to buy one CD. And I picked out a Norma Jean CD.”

[00:21:37] Josie: Oh, wow.

[00:21:38] Rachel: And it was what, you know, he said, “It was what God needed me to hear to get me through that time and to,” he had struggled with addiction, “and so to help me get clean.” And that’s, you know, not exactly what the lyrics are about. But they’re about hope and life and how things are hard and how you have to power through. And so, when these people are telling him or me that he saved their lives, they mean it. And that’s just, it’s just wild.

And so, you see him on stage, singing, like, how could I not be the most proud and excited, we call ourselves, tour wives? The other tour wives will sometimes get behind-the-scenes videos of me, and I am just all in it. I know every word to every song. They have 10, maybe 11 albums now. And I know every word to every song.

[00:22:29] Josie: Wow.

[00:22:30] Rachel: And I’ve heard them all be written.

[00:22:32] Josie: I appreciate you sharing a little bit more about your layers. I think there are so many layers to us, whether we show those show up on social media or in private conversations. That’s what makes us relatable. Going back to Taylor Swift…

[00:22:48] Rachel: Yeah.

[00:22:49] Josie: This podcast season, last season was about mental health, which we all need to focus on, but this one is about life and career transitions or, like, pivotal moments. You know, it’s the good stuff. It’s the really hard stuff. Like, I easily… we could talk about how you were named 40 Under 40 for Northwest Arkansas, which is amazing. And when I saw it, I was like, “Of course, she was.” But you’ve also gone through some pretty gritty stuff in grief. And we chatted a bit to make sure you’d be cool chatting with that. Everyone’s going to lose someone at some time. Is there any, kind of, like, what that was lessons, insight, especially if anyone’s going through loss or, or will be?

[00:23:41] Rachel: Yeah. So, when I was a journalist, my kids were able to come to work and be in the newsroom. We had, like, a way too big newsroom because we were, sort of, in the middle of that downsizing time in journalism. And so, they had their own cubicles. And they loved it. And they called it their office. And so, I, I hadn’t experienced this big disconnect from family, because my parents lived far away. And so, we would visit when we could. But the family I had that was close, I was always able to spend time with.

And then, I transitioned to higher ed, which was, you know, even more flexible than journalism. And my parents moved to Arkansas when they retired. And within a year of them moving here, my dad passed away really unexpectedly. And so, I thought a lot at that time about prioritizing relationships and work and understanding that I see this office and this desk more than I will see my mom, like, ever for the rest of my life until I retire, I guess. Like, I am here 40 hours a week. And so, that leaves me a small amount of time to spend with the people that I love most.

And so, after my dad died, I really took a look at, okay, how am I prioritizing that? And I had just stepped into a more leadership role, not as much as the one I’m in now where I have a team, but, you know, I had student workers, I was doing a different job, I had gotten into PR. And, you know, I was thinking about how I was climbing this ladder and, you know, thinking of yourself as breaking glass ceilings. And I was so excited, and he was so proud that I hadn’t ever stepped back from it. You know, my parents visited campus, and they were just floored to meet, like the people in the foundation office who are always so well-dressed. And to meet our police chief who bragged, like, how much he loved their daughter.

And so, they always loved that I loved my career. But now, I am very intentional about the time I take and making sure I have time for my mom. My husband just lost his dad about a month ago. And it was no question that I was going to take time off to be there to be at the house to handle anything that needed to be handled. It was no question for my kids that they were going to take time off, because they knew that that’s more important than anything that is happening at work.

And so, I think, looking at that and having a tough time where you have to, kind of, grapple with a new normal and all of the things you wish you’d done, you set new expectations for yourself or you, kind of, live in guilt. And I just, I don’t believe in that. I don’t think you can be healthy in that way.

I know last season you talked a lot about therapy. And I, I’m one of those, too, like, therapy, therapy, therapy. You have to be healthy. You have to be healthy to be a good leader. You have to be healthy to be a good parent. You have to be healthy to be a good spouse. And that means taking the time you need and prioritizing what’s important in your life.

So, I encourage my students to do that, too. I always tell them, if something important in your life is going on, make that your priority because you don’t get that time back. Right now, I have a student whose dad was one of my co-workers, and he was working here when he died. And his son was very little at the time. And now, he works for me. And it’s so funny to see him and just, like, see this blossoming man who is now a history major and so smart and a very capable writer and just remembering when his dad worked in the office next door to me, and he would, like, pass little notes under the door.

[00:27:40] Josie: So cute. Yeah, time is a trip. I mean, that also is, kind of, the theme. I stumbled on this article called The Pandemic Skip, where it’s just like we woke up and, like, okay, where are we? But your comments about really looking and prioritizing time and people, I think this time of year, we always are looking ahead. What are our goals? What are we going to accomplish? What didn’t go right? But it can also be as simple as, like, right now, right this moment, how are you spending your time with people that you love, the things that you want to do? More Taylor Swift concerts, more puppies. So, I really appreciate you sharing that experience.

[00:28:20] Rachel: Yeah.

[00:28:21] Josie: You want to dig into work stuff? I feel like you should.

[00:28:26] Rachel: Yeah. I was like, I-

[00:28:29] Josie: I don’t know if these…

[00:28:30] Rachel: I thought about what we would talk about. It’s, it’s a lot of not work.

[00:28:34] Josie: Oh, it’s so funny. No, that’s good, though. I bet you’ll have all kinds of people reach out after this, because, you know, we shared, we shared the real stuff. Well, so what’s interesting, your LinkedIn is different. What you’re doing there is a little bit different than Instagram. And there was a quote in your About section that really stood out to me. And you write, “I believe in the power of regional public institutions to empower students, build communities, and break barriers. And I’m proud to do that work at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.” I am also a product of a regional public. So, for those listening that work at regional publics or might be interested, what are some unique aspects that you love? Why did you write that? Well, it might be some tougher parts that you might expect to navigate.

[00:29:25] Rachel: So, I think a regional public plays such an important role because it is a right fit for people who are in this region, at least UAFS is. We’re built for the people of the region. Everything we do. Every new concept we invent is to better serve people who are right here. And I’m right here.

And so, I know these people. I know the moms. You know, I sit next to the moms of our students at church on Sunday. Or, when we’re eating at a restaurant, I see my students or their parents or their little siblings. And it’s a community. And so, when we’re serving exactly those people and we’re serving them well and we’re developing curriculum that will get them jobs here and that will empower the companies that have chosen to build their workforce here, we’re doing something so important.

I went to a big R1. A regional public wasn’t my experience. And I really loved my university, you know. It’s in my Instagram bio. But one of the things that I did there that was so transformative in my thinking what I might do after journalism was participate in the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Journalism. I was a very small part. I wasn’t a faculty member. I was a student who helped because I was working at The Daily Tar Heel newspaper at the time. But seeing those young people and how eager they were to learn, even from someone just, you know, I think at the time I was four years older than any of them, maybe five, and they were so eager to learn and there was so much that we had to offer as this little insular community that could build them up. And here, it’s like all of that, but you see them grow and they stay here. I don’t know anyone that I went to college with that is in the same place. And here, I get to have lunch with my students. You know, I was a part of one of my graduate’s weddings a few weekends ago. I had lunch with a student who’s now working on her master of social work at Baylor just a few weeks ago. I have students who are working at our med school and doing marketing for community colleges in our region. And I get to catch up with them and see them because they believe in the place that is right here.

And I think that’s so cool to get to build. And it’s so unique to get to tell that story of why you exist to serve a region. And so, I think we are really good at it. We have a really innovative and transformative chancellor, who you know, Terisa Riley. And, you know, I think everybody in, in leadership believes in that mission. And that’s so cool to work at a place… You know, when I left journalism, I wasn’t sure I would ever work in a place again, where everyone believed in what we were doing.

And that, I mean, I don’t think that’s normal for every job. You know, you, you see tons of jobs where you don’t have to have a belief system to work there, but here I do. And, and that’s so amazing.

[00:32:41] Josie: People ask me a lot, like, why don’t you work with other industries? And I mean, some, I would, but higher ed is just always so, like, values-driven. And then, it’s the kind of people that then you get to work with. Having that common focus, you mentioned your chancellor who… this’ll be the first time I think I’ve had two people from the same institution on the show. So, y’all are breaking, breaking barriers. She really is a delight. We’ll link to her episode. And you and I have presented together about how to support a chancellor. And you’ve worked with a variety of different executives, from those that are very active online to those that are running in the opposite direction down the hallway from you, I’m sure.

So, what does that relationship look like, if anyone’s listening that is trying to serve in that capacity as what you and I, kind of, called coaching? Your executives, well, it might be something that you could leave them with.

[00:33:43] Rachel: Yeah, I think marketing and communications and this whole area of higher education is so fun because we get to talk to the very highest levels, well, if it’s done right, I guess, talk to the very highest levels of leadership at our campus, but we also get to work with students who are just coming straight in the door.

So, working with our chancellor, Dr. Terisa Riley, is incredible. She is so innovative and fun. And I think one of the first times you and I talked was when she was appointed our chancellor. And Liz Gross said, “You should talk to Josie. I know she knows her.” I was like, “Tell me everything. You just said, ‘You’re going to love her.’” I was like, “No more. Tell me more.” And you just said, “No, really, you’re going to love her.” And I do. I love her. I am so obsessed with her and her leadership and who she is as a person. She’s honest and transparent, and she believes in things.

Yesterday, I posted on Instagram something. It was a meme about taking mistakes personally. This woman slid in my DMs, this chancellor of a university, slid in my DMs and said, “You need to be kind to yourself, Rachel. You’re always harder on yourself than anyone else. You need to be kind to yourself.” Like, that’s the kind of leader she is. It’s not because she thinks I’m so special or so toxic to myself, but she believes in talking to people and being honest and telling them to care for themselves. And I know she messages with students. And so, she’s great on the internet because she is not afraid to say, “I’m thinking about you.”

And a few days ago, she posted her own little meme that was about this time of year. And it was a, like, Muppet that was frazzled. And she said, “I see you, and you’re doing better than you think.” And that’s the kind of leader she is. So, to get to communicate for someone like that is so easy.

But I think, you know, if the podcast season is about change, I think a change in your leader is one of the hardest changes you can go through. There’s so many unknowns. There’s so much anxiety, like, me texting a stranger and asking them to tell me about my new chancellor. But I think if you are a communicator who believes in listening and believes in talking, which I think most of us do, there are a lot of ways you can set yourself up for success that start with listening. What is your new president’s mission as a person? Who are they? What do they want? Why are they a president?

And when you know that, you can build your comm strategy around who they are. You can start using the words that they use. You can build content that centers their belief system about higher ed and about your institution from the ground up. You don’t have to post them talking at every event. But you can start incorporating some of that mission-centric language and, sort of, make it feel natural that someone new has taken over.

I think it’s funny that you read that from my LinkedIn bio, which I maybe haven’t looked at in a minute, because that is very shaped by her leadership. And writing in that way is shaped a lot by writing with her and about her. And we have a new mission and vision statements that are very aligned with that, serving our region and empowering the social mobility of our students so they can go on to be good leaders and innovators here in the River Valley of Arkansas.

[00:37:20] Josie: I don’t think she’s active on X anymore, but, like, she’s replied to students that they’re loved or, again, like, using the language and making her on her own. And she actively used those tools. And I think she’s one of the few that you… I don’t know if she still uses BeReal, but I think both ways, like you being able to build the trust and relationship with her, but she also already valued the work of marketing communications I was willing to share. So, I wrote her a little thank you for, like, getting you to AMA and all those things. And she’s like, “We’re just so blessed to have her.”

[00:37:58] Rachel: I know.

[00:37:59] Josie: Yeah, Rachel!

[00:38:01] Rachel: She’s so good. And she’s so… she really does value everyone here. And you don’t always get that in a leader. You know, sometimes you get someone who wants to do a good job but isn’t warm and fuzzy. And she is. And that’s so fun. But, you know, you have to work with people in your career who aren’t warm and fuzzy.

[00:38:23] Josie: Yeah.

[00:38:23] Rachel: But I believe that, if you have made it to be a president in higher education, there is something about it that is meaningful to you, because it’s so hard. It’s so hard and it’s thankless, and…

[00:38:36] Josie: Oh, my gosh. Yeah, there was an article the other day that, like, a college president is one of the most challenging executive roles you can take right now.

[00:38:45] Rachel: I’ve read a lot about the exodus of higher education presidents and how they’re leaving the industry altogether because it’s just so hard and it’s so scrutinized and communicating is so hard and they’re expected to be moral pillars, in addition to running a small city, even at a regional public our size, it’s like running a small city. You know, you’re operating these facilities and managing these people and making sure everyone has the resources they need. And then, you’re a CEO. And then, you’re managing student relationships and people relationships. Like, most CEOs don’t have to manage their client relationships.

And if you’re in higher ed, you are managing their relationships with every single person who chooses your college. And she’s so good at it. You know, when the students see her, they hug her. They call her Mother Terisa. Oh, yes. Our parody Twitter account, which was, like, @UAFSTrash, would post memes about her. Like, we don’t have to worry about whether we’ll have a snow day.

[00:39:52] Josie: That’s the ultimate compliment, is your meme account?

[00:39:57] Rachel: Yeah. When your meme account loves your chancellor, you know she’s doing a good job.

[00:40:02] Josie: Oh, my gosh. Okay. Well, the last topic I want to talk about is students. We could keep talking about Terisa, I’m sure, but I feel like you… I felt kinship with you right away, well, for 1 million reasons, but, like, you are student-centered. So, I come from student affairs. I’m like, “One of us. She gets it.” And it’s not just the output of how you do marketing and speak to students. Like, it’s the internal, like, how your philosophy is, whether it’s one of your students that’s supporting you behind the scenes or just, like, what you’re here to do for in higher ed, period. So, of course, like, I… that’s why I ask you, like, all the time to do projects with me. And you keep saying so… I do give you permission to set boundaries if you need to say no.

Before we get into the projects we’ve been digging into, let people know just how you currently integrate any kind of student into your work in marketing communications. I mean, you’re such a storyteller. You’ve been telling stories this whole time. But if there’s been any, like, really transformative or good stories about how you incorporate students and what it’s done for them.

[00:41:16] Rachel: So, I think that it is inherent in this work to include students in the work that we’re doing, to include students in telling the story. And I was thinking about this on my drive into my office today. What story are we telling if we aren’t including the students? This is an institution, but it’s not walls. It’s not our Maple Grove, it’s our students. And it’s our faculty and our staff, of course, and our leaders.

But I was thinking about how, it might be because I have a journalism background, you don’t get to tell your own stories when you’re a journalist. You know, you process information, and you analyze data, and you make things readable and digestible. But you aren’t quoting yourself. You don’t get to be the source of your own stories.

So, when I think about bringing students into the work, that was natural to me. There was never a time I did this work without students. I wasn’t someone who had to build up a student program. It was just inherent to me that a student would take on this work. And so, as soon as I took over social media, I had a student worker who was excited. We met at Cub Camp, which is our first-year welcome program. And she saw me in Starbucks when I was buying my son, who was also a first-year student, a coffee. And she said, “Oh, I saw you at Cub Camp.” And I said, “Yes, what is your major? What do you want to do?” She said, “Well, I’m marketing or maybe media communication. I just really want to work in social media.” And I was like, “Okay, call me after your first semester is over,” because I don’t like to hire first semester freshmen because I think they need that time to get grounded. Student work comes first being a student. Finding your place is really important.

But she called me as soon as she was ready for the next semester, as soon as she’d registered for classes. And she was my first social media student. So, I maybe went three months doing social media without a student worker, and then she joined our team. And we blossomed that team from one student to two and then three. And now, we have six. So, it’s growing. And they all have different jobs and different tasks.

I think one really transformative project we did was we won a Case Grand Gold Award for a project, me and one of my students who is now entering the student affairs profession, she really is one of us, called Mental Health Monday. And it was at a time when we really noticed that our students were struggling.

And, you know, one of the magical things about being a regional public is that you’re so small, you really can survey your students. If you’re doing good social listening, you can really see what they’re talking about and you won’t just find one little pocket, because they’re so invested in your campus and in your region.

So, we started this project called Mental Health Monday where we would post these interactive stickers, asking students how they were doing. And it was really informed by Rebekah Tilley’s work at the Tippie College of Business at Iowa. And we were blown away at the response. It still, kind of, gives me chills to think about how students would respond to this little Instagram sticker on a little picture of the trees that said, “How are you doing today?” And some of them would… you know, it was a slider, I think, the first one. And they would drag it down to, like, the crying face. And my student, Drieke, and I would reach out and we would say our names. And we would say, “This is Rachel. I work on the UAFS social media accounts. I noticed you said you were sad. How are you doing?”

We had students who would tell us that they were feeling suicidal, who would tell us they had lost a loved one, that they were struggling, that they were having a hard time being away from their parents or their dog. And we worked with our mental health system, because we are not professional counselors, but we were able to create this system where, if it was too much to call, we could have our mental health counselors call them. If it was too much to make an appointment, we could take their information and they would send them an appointment time and just say, “Hey, how about this?”

And so, we created this really unique place where our students could feel heard. We also created a unique place for our students like Drieke to get involved and see what it’s really like to manage in higher ed, to manage accounts, systems… you know, she’s in student affairs now, what it’s like to be in student affairs.

So, it was incredible. And the CASE recognized that was really great. But I think, if no one had ever heard anything about it except us, it still would have been just as successful, in my mind, because I think we did some really good work. And then, in January, we had a student comment on one of our Mental Health Monday posts that said, “Tell us something, you know, how you’re feeling or something.” It was an open response box. And they commented, “You know, it’s pretty hard right now.” And I wrote back, “Hey, I’m Rachel. How are you feeling? You know, I know this time in the semester can be difficult starting out and after the holidays.” And he said, “Yeah, you know, I just really love that this account is still open.” And I said, “Oh, great. Well, just so you know, we have free mental health care. And if you need it, let me know. I can help.” And he’s, “Oh, yeah. As soon as I started following this page, I saw that. And I got into counseling.”

And I was like, our Instagram connected a student to counseling who wasn’t one of the ones that we did that one-on-one interaction with, you know, someone who was just seeing it, seeing that we posted about resources. And that’s just one way you can be student-centered, you know. It’s not always mental health. It’s not always something you can take on, you know. You just mentioned boundaries. Like, I have the mental boundaries to know when I can do that and when I can’t.

[00:47:21] Josie: Yeah.

[00:47:22] Rachel: We don’t post a Mental Health Monday post if we aren’t capable of answering every response that comes in. And so, I’m not saying everyone should do that, but it was really beautiful to get to do it.

[00:47:33] Josie: But, like you mentioned, it’s needed. Every month of the year and the immediacy and the continued relevancy of that in marketing speak campaign, but it’s really an intervention. Like, of course, we want to recruit great students to come to our campuses and then get them to events and then get them jobs, but I’ve been just always such an advocate for student affairs and marketing to be in the same sandbox, because you’re seeing sides and can holistically help students. In some way, student affairs can, but anyway, it’s like we need to. And some institutions do that really well. So, I really appreciate that example.

So, you’ve grown your team to six. And it’s so fun to always see people with their students and the stories that happen. I know you disagree with me, because every time we present together, you’re like, “I don’t like this.” I’m like, “You’re great at this.” But I recruited you as a coach for the Student Social Media Academy. I had 100,000% belief in you because you took on one of the modules, which I find is really common for… like, everyone’s trying to teach students about, “This is our brand. This is our voice. This is our tone.” You can’t just, like, throw them the brand guide and then be like, “Oh, why aren’t they following it?”

[00:48:59] Rachel: You just have to gamify the brand guide, right?

[00:49:02] Josie: Yeah. Well, it’s more than that. So, what is your philosophy and guidance? I mean, it could be big picture about you’re including students in helping you and/or, because a lot of times y’all get asked to go present to students, like leaders or groups about social media, about how you could fill that challenge of getting students to be “on brand” when they’re running an institutional account.

[00:49:29] Rachel: So, we start at UAFS with being present. I have six students, but I also have a professional staff, two other people on my team. And then, we have a full marketing team, too. And so, we’re present. I mean, we go to the events. We attend club meetings. We attend athletic events. We attend Greek events. We make sure that we’re meeting students where they are. And then, we’re identifying students who are already heavily involved and really active, not necessarily extroverts, you know, not necessarily the kid who is always in front of the camera. But the students who are invested. And you can see those students right away when you’re present. It’s really obvious which students are invested. It’s not just the SGA president. It’s the one in their small seven-person club who is just rallying to make their club a success or who is standing on the sidelines, taking photos of their philanthropy event, because they’re just so excited to share the work they’re doing, doing a food drive.

And so, I have always had success finding students in that way and then coaching them up. I don’t expect my students to know marketing. Some of them have been marketers, and those students had a, you know, a slower learning or a less deep learning curve because they already understood the marketing principles. But I’ve had engineers. I’ve had art students. I’ve had graphic designers. And they all come on board because they understand why it’s important, and because we build a trusting relationship where they know they have the authority to tell me if I am having a bad idea about something to do on social, they know they can bring me something that is a problem on social media.

If some students are talking in a closed group about a problem on campus, they’ll bring it to me. So, it’s like they’ll bring me, like, “Oh, I think this is really cool. I think this thing that is going on in this club is awesome.” Or, “I heard that these students are trying to start this new club. Could we profile them, even though they’re not really a club, yet?” And having those students on the ground and building that trusting relationship, then when you’re talking about things like brand and color or photo style, even, they know you’re not just trying to convert them to your style.

So, you know, I have photographers who work on my team and they all have their own personal style. And it’s almost never the university style, right? We have photo journalistic style that’s very editorial. And our colors are blue. It’s a series of blues, is our color palette. So, we always turn up the saturation in the sky, or we try to make sure that things are, kind of, tilted up, so you see the sky because it’s blue and we are blue. That’s not how every student shoots, but when we talk about it, we can talk about it in this way. This is how this helps me meet the goals, but it’s also how we create this image. And they’re part of it. They’re part of creating the image. They’re involved in creating the brand and continuing the brand and being part of the voice. So, it doesn’t feel like rules, I hope. It feels like a part of the journey that they’re on, too.

And so, we also talk about, does our mission feel like the school you chose? Why or why not? You know, I think, for our students, they all feel like it does, especially with a new mission that is written, you know, kind of, with them in mind. But that is in the Student Social Media Academy, too, is, is finding, not just your mission and vision and values, but thinking about it critically as a student. Does this feel like us? Is this why I chose this school?

And once they have, kind of, thought about that and wrestled with that, okay, our colors are navy and sky and slate, it doesn’t feel like just, “I really wish I could use green.” It feels like identity. And they get that. And they’re digital natives, so they understand identity online. They inherently understand that.

[00:53:39] Josie: I think the way, well, you say coach up. I really liked that phrase for students or presidents. And then, unpacking the layers of something at, like, brand. It’s not just, “Let’s memorize the mission or the brand, whatever, or the colors.” That was such a visual representation of, like, “Well, this is why we might…” Oh, like, the sky example. I was like, there’s been so many things you’ve said today. Like, I visually see it in my mind. I’m like, you’re in your life’s calling, Rachel.

[00:54:10] Rachel: I’m just an artist, that’s all.

[00:54:13] Josie: But the critical thinking piece is huge that, again, it’s not just telling students, “This is what you’re going to do,” but, “We’re going to unpack it together,” and allow for dialogue so that I find that in, like, a pedagogical sense, it sinks in and then they actually apply it and, hopefully, pass it down.

So, all right. Well, I’ve had so, such a great time chatting with you. I got to get to the final questions. If you have any resources, goodies, I’ll include them in the notes of the show. But we’ve talked about a few platforms that you’re on, but where can people find you to connect-

[00:54:50] Rachel: Yeah, if you…

[00:54:51] Josie: … other than a Taylor Swift show, if you’re going to a third one?

[00:54:54] Rachel: Find me at a Taylor Swift show covered in glitter. If you want to follow me for, like, my career thoughts, you can find me on LinkedIn, at Rachel Rodemann Putman. And if you want to find pictures of me with my family or forcing my grown kids to wear matching Halloween pajamas or see a bunch of puppies that we foster, you can find me on Instagram, @RachelRodemann.

[00:55:17] Josie: Awesome. So, my last two questions I always end with is, if you knew your next post on Instagram or LinkedIn was going to be your last, what would you want it to be about?

[00:55:30] Rachel: I know I would want it to be about my family. I would want it to be a picture of my kids. They’re so fun. And I just love them so much. And being part of a family is so much bigger than your career and anything else, you know, finding your meaning in life. But I also hope that it would be a post that was gracious, that talked about being grateful for the things you have and the people you have.

Not everybody gets, you know, to jump into a family with two kids and a husband and live your dream and everything, sort of, works out the way you hoped. It’s hard, sometimes. And so, I would hope that my last post would be about being grateful for the things that you have when you have them and being present in the moment. And I hope that it would inspire people to not delay gratitude. I think you, you can put off writing a thank-you note or it can feel like it’s been too late, or you might be weird if you sent a thank-you note just for a conversation. But I don’t think you should ever delay gratitude and sharing with the people that you’re thankful for that you’re thankful for them. You never need to wait to do that.

[00:56:46] Josie: I saw some, like, meme or quote or something about, like, “Tell your friends you love them. Make it weird. But just, like, remind them.” Like, I don’t know. Like, make it really… or friends and family or whatever, say the thing, do the thing. Yeah, like you said, don’t delay it.

[00:57:02] Rachel: I’m a little extrovert. And so, I always had friends over. And my dad told every single one of my friends that he loved them by name every night if we had a sleepover. So, he would say, “Good night, Rachel. Love you. Good night, Lenny. Love you. Good night, Katie. Love you.” And I do that with my kids and with their friends and with my friends. I think I end calls pretty often in the office, you know, people will hear me, I’ll be like, “Okay, I love you. Bye.” And that’s just, if I love someone, I’m going to tell them because it could always be your last chance. And I’m really glad I was raised that way. I’m really glad I got to raise my kids that way, and that we aren’t afraid to say “I love you” and make it weird.

[00:57:45] Josie: That’s awesome. Well, for now, you’re rescuing all of the puppies. You are raising kids and going to concerts and making a mark in the industry. What do you hope, just like by being on these platforms, is making an impact in the world? In other words, what’s your why for leading online?

[00:58:08] Rachel: I think we started with this. And so, I’m, I’m glad to end on this note, that I want to remind people that it’s okay to be yourself. I think it’s so exciting that I get to tell students that they can be themselves, and that in this work, I get to help students be themselves and show off their fellow students. And I hope that my online presence reminds people that who you are is valuable and important to the world and to your people and to your industry. And don’t be afraid to just be you and, and say the things that you like and do the things that you like and go to a Taylor Swift concert and wear a sparkly dress.

[00:58:51] Josie: Or a heavy metal concert and, and throw your hair around.

[00:58:56] Rachel: Yeah.

[00:58:58] Josie: Headbang.

[00:58:59] Rachel: Yeah. Do the things you’re into. And it’s okay to do both things.

[00:59:03] Josie: Yeah.

[00:59:03] Rachel: It’s okay to be married to a heavy metal musician and go to a Taylor Swift concert and raise kids and rescue puppies. And it’s okay to be a heavy metal musician who holds the tiny little baby puppies. We’re all multitudes. And I hope my social presence reminds everyone that all of their multitudes are valid.

[00:59:25] Josie: Oh, I love that. Thank you so much for coming on. This was… I was really looking forward to our conversation. We’ve had plenty, but now this one’s actually recorded and shareable. And I appreciate you and I love you.

[00:59:43] Rachel: I love you.

[00:59:47] Josie: This conversation with Rachel was so fulfilling. And so, I’m hoping it’s filling your buckets, too, into this new year. There was plenty that we got into, from students and strategy, and also, what we do in our all-holistic worlds, whether if it’s in our eras or in our households.

I also had to ask her if she was cool talking about her partner. Us having both public figures in our families, which for her and I connects us. And even when we were at AMA, we got talking about some of the behind-the-scenes realities of that. And while they get to go out and live their dreams, so do we. We get to live ours out in the higher ed space, building communities and making the difference in students’ lives. And Rachel and I’s philosophy is very much aligned in our approach, both in strategy and how we approach our work with students.

With the season theme of being about grappling with time and change, we got into that with Rachel sharing about how she processed grief with the passing of her father and how she looks at prioritizing family and work with the concept of time.

She says, “I am here 40 hours a week, and that leaves me with a small amount of time to spend with the people that I love most. I am very intentional about that time that I take and making sure I have time,” for example, with her mom.

And she does this also very strategically with students. She says, “I always tell them, ‘if something important in your life is going on, make sure that’s your priority because you don’t get that time back.’”

And especially, as this episode comes out into the new year, we, many times, get thinking about time, how we spend it, how we want to spend it differently, more or less or new things or what we’re not going to do. But we’re still also recovering from what we lost in time over the pandemic. And that article that I keep asking people about is about that pandemic skip. And we really do need to value the time, even while we are trying to make sense of it.

So, how are you thinking about time right now? Rachel and I, of course, get talking about supporting students in higher ed who are supporting us and the institution with social. And I have pulled her into a number of projects, including the Student Social Media Academy, since she is such an advocate for students and an educator.

And so, she talked about, as I read her bio, the award that they received from CASE, when she talked about this project, gave me goosebumps about Mental Health Monday. And just because we are out of “the pandemic times” does not mean that the mental health crisis has gone away. And how they use interactive sticker posts on Instagram, something so simple to get some interaction, but then strategically replied back. So, it’s having, not only putting content out, but the anticipation of engagement and then connecting students with resources, that they took the time to respond and tracking students that were dragging that slider, maybe, closer to that quite sad mark, and how she made a difference in students’ lives by connecting them with university mental health systems and counselors.

And this is where I really start to get, honestly, like, alive in my work, is it’s not just about the metrics. It’s not just about going viral or making our grids look really great and branding. It’s digging in deeper to our purpose and what we’re really here to do and what students really need right now. Mental health is just one of those. We need our students to access these resources in a timely way. In addition to academic resources and achievements and career and all those other elements that we have such a hardcore focus on, those also need to be the core curriculum and strategies within social media.

As Rachel said, within that strategy, we created a unique place where our students could feel heard. And where I’m going to be digging a lot more into is how our strategies can tie even stronger into the work of belonging.

I just want to give a big thank you to Rachel. You were a great roommate. You were a great presenter. You’re a great co collaborator and a podcast guest. And I just always love to getting to know you more and all of the cool things that you’re doing in the world. But next time, seriously, can we go to the Taylor Swift concert together?

Thanks, all, for checking out this episode. Make sure that you are subscribed, you’re liking it, you’re loving it, you’re sharing it. I would be so appreciative. It’s your gift to me in the new year to give a little review, whatever podcast app you are using, five stars. Say hello. It means the world to me.

Make sure we’re connected also. I’m @JosieAhlquist. The podcast is also on X, Threads, and Instagram. Remember, all those show notes can be found on my website under the podcast.

I am doing all kinds of cool things in 2024. This spring is already quite full, but if you are looking for strategy for speaking, for education into the mid to late spring into summer, please keep me in mind. Small groups, big keynotes, but also keep in mind, something that you could get going on right away is the Student Social Media Academy or the 2024 Digital Community Cohort. We start the second week of February. There’s only 30 spots available.

And then, of course, that book is always floating out there, if you want to dig into that too, Digital Leadership in Higher Education.

Thank you to my podcast sponsors, University FM and Element451. Make sure to go check them out. I would be so appreciative of that.

I’m sending digital hugs, lovesm and waves to whatever corner of the world you’re listening in from. A very happy new year! This has been Josie and the Podcast.

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.

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