Ex-Clinton aide heads communications

New Vice President for External Relations Lorraine Voles has tapped a former colleague from Capitol Hill to oversee the University’s communications operations.

Sarah Baldassaro, former director of communications for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, will join Voles, a former co-worker in Clinton’s office, as assistant vice president for communications. She will oversee the communications end of the external relations office, which includes media relations and University publications.

“All of the skills that I’ve gotten in political communications – because I’ve worked not only on the Hill but I’ve worked in the Clinton administration and I’ve worked as a consultant in Washington as well – all of those skills and experiences apply here,” Baldassaro said.

Baldassaro and Voles are both veterans of political communications, working in the Clinton presidential administration and Hillary Clinton’s Senate office, as well as holding other positions inside the Beltway. They said they want to use new media to help craft a recognizable brand for GW around D.C. and across the country.

“I will also be taking a look at our communication operation and capabilities and really looking at what we can do to enhance the visibility of the University,” Baldassaro said.

Baldassaro replaces Chris Kormis, former assistant vice president for University Relations, who left the University after nearly 20 years to take a job as associate dean for marketing and communications at the Georgetown School of Business. Baldassaro and Voles’ backgrounds differ from the previous head of University communications, former Vice President for Communications Mike Freedman, who was a veteran journalist before coming to GW.

Voles, who took over the newly created vice president for external relations position this winter, praised Baldassaro for her innovative communications strategies.

“She brings a fresh perspective, an interest in the power of new media, a myriad of media contacts and an ability to focus on message and the importance of communications planning,” Voles said.

Drawing on her Capitol Hill experience, Baldassaro said one of her goals will be to connect professors at GW who are experts in particular fields with legislative assistants on the Hill to help them gain visibility by testifying at hearings.

“One thing that I would really like to do is look at how we can better communicate with the audiences around Washington – Capitol Hill, the [Obama] administration. What can we do to highlight the faculty that are here, the expertise that is here and everything the students are doing?” Baldassaro said. “I have heard so much about how involved students are in service and I believe that’s one thing that should be widely known. And I do want to elevate the profile of both the faculty and what the students have to offer and what they are contributing in Washington.”

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