After two years without its own communications chief, Shelby County Schools has hired a former teacher and school communications director from Palm Beach County, Fla., to the cabinet-level job.

Natalia Powers
Natalia Powers

Natalia Powers’ new position adds family and community engagement to the district’s leadership team.

In her new role, she becomes the voice of a school district that, since the merger, has been challenged by budget cuts, school closures, enrollment declines and low-performing schools, while also overseeing significant initiatives to attract, retain and develop high-quality teachers and turn around struggling schools through a growing Innovation Zone.

Specifically, Powers will oversee internal and external communications, media relations, digital and print publications, social media, television and radio broadcasting services, and community outreach functions.

For the last 13 years, Powers has risen through the ranks of the School District of Palm Beach County, the nation’s 11th largest school system. There, she served as a translator and interpreter, teacher for English language learners, program coordinator and head of communications and community engagement.

“With more than a decade of experience in public education, Mrs. Powers brings a knowledgeable and practical perspective to our communications and community engagement team,” Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said in a statement released Wednesday.

Powers’ immediate goals will be to establish a long-term approach to the district’s public relations, communications and community engagement work, as well as create new educational programming with the broadcasting team, enhance the district’s social media presence and establish more community partnerships with organizations, colleges and universities, according to the district’s statement.

Her annual salary is $136,500.

Powers’ hiring follows a nationwide search. In the interim, the district has leaned on the services of KQ Communications, a Memphis public relations firm, and its president, Renee Malone.

 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the district has been without a communications chief for two years instead of two a a half years, and to include additional duties for the new position.