The University announced last week that Lorraine Voles, an alumna with more than a decade of communications experience in D.C., will be the school’s first vice president of external relations – a new position that oversees both public affairs and lobbying activities.
Voles, who graduated with a BA in journalism from GW in 1981, has served as Sen. Hillary Clinton’s director of communications, chief spokesperson for former Vice President Al Gore and deputy press secretary for former President Bill Clinton during their terms in office. She is currently senior vice president of communications and marketing at Fannie Mae.
The external relations position merges the duties of the vice presidents of communication and government relations. Former Vice President of Communication Mike Freedman is slated to run the newly formed Global Media Institute, and former Vice President of Government, International and Community Relations Richard Sawaya stepped down last spring.
Sawaya served as GW’s chief lobbyist both on Capitol Hill and in Foggy Bottom, while Freedman oversaw media relations, advertising, University events and corporate media partnerships.
Voles said the consolidation of the two departments will allow her to work on building a “unified GW brand.”
University spokeswoman Tracy Schario called Voles a “home run” for GW.
“It was a very competitive search,” Schario said. “Lorraine brings a tremendous number of strengths to the table.”
In an interview with The Hatchet last week, Voles said she believes uniting the University’s communications departments will ensure that GW is “saying the same thing to all of its audiences.” And Voles will be catering to a number of diverse audiences – from Foggy Bottom community members to government officials – after the merge.
Voles remembered her undergraduate years in Foggy Bottom fondly, including her days working at the University’s radio station and nights serving pitchers of beer to thirsty classmates in Ratskeller, a restaurant and bar once located in the Marvin Center. Voles also worked as a residence adviser in Mitchell and Thurston halls as an upperclassman.
Schario said Voles’ extensive government connections were particularly attractive to the University as it seeks to grow research opportunities and grants. Highlighting the University’s research work will be a key component of her new job, especially with the recent appointment of Leo Chalupa as the first vice president of research.
Voles said she also hopes to expand the University’s communications with congressional leaders.
“We want to communicate not only with members of Congress already affiliated with GW and members who are local, but to all of them,” Voles said.
Voles, a former D.C. resident who now lives in Chevy Chase, Md., will begin her work at GW in February.
This article appeared in the January 12, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.