Jeff Nash once aspired to become a superintendent. But he could have never predicted the other opportunities his career would bring.
Nash, now the former communications officer for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, recently concluded his 30-year long career in education, spending nine years at CHCCS.
Nash reached his retirement eligibility in February, but said he decided to delay his departure until late August to ease the transition for new CHCCS Superintendent Nyah Hamlett.
Nash’s early career
Though Nash has spent the past 20 years practicing public relations, his original ambitions were much different.
“I didn’t start in communications,” Nash said. “I started as a teacher. I was an elementary and middle school teacher, a coach, a department chair. Then I moved to administration.”
Nash later took on a position with the Wake County Public School System's Office of Student Assignment. He said it was there that his career changed.
“Back when I was there, there was a lot of confusion as to, 'How do we register for school? Where do we go?'" Nash said. “We have these questions, and at the time, we had one lady who sat at the front desk. There was no way one person (could) handle the volume of all that was happening.”
In search of a solution, Nash suggested the district open a welcome center that would allow the community to come and ask questions to better understand enrollment procedures.
“I just said somebody should do that, never thought that was my goal,” Nash said. “But, the superintendent heard that comment, and he’s like, ‘We’re going to do that. And guess what, Nash — you’re somebody.’”
After working in Wake County, Nash worked in communications for Durham Public Schools for two years before accepting a position with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in 2012.
‘Your Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’
Robin Nucilli, communications specialist for CHCCS, said what she remembers most about Nash’s time with the district was his continual efforts to promote fellowship.
“He would always say, ‘from your Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools,’” Nucilli said. “He wanted everybody to own and realize they have an impact on the school district, whether you are a parent, a student or staff member.”
Nash always had creative ideas, Nucilli said. One project in particular stands out — a short video newsletter campaign titled “60 seconds."
“One of the things we had been doing was a weekly staff email,” Nucilli said. “When he started, he found only 15 percent of the staff were reading it. So, the idea was, if they’re not going to read something, maybe we can do a short video every week.”
Though the district has since returned to the newsletter format, Nucilli said the weekly videos were successful and appreciated by many.
Beyond his district employment, Nash has served in several leadership positions with the North Carolina School Public Relations Association, an organization for school communications and public relations professionals with the state.
In 2018, Nash was a recipient of the Barry Gaskins Award, the NCSPRA’s highest honor. The distinction is awarded to those who demonstrate exceptional contributions to school public relations.
Ellen Boyd, executive director of the NCSPRA, said that Nash was a “perfect fit” for the honor.
“He is such a visionary thinker, but he has given so much to the North Carolina School Public Relations Association,” Boyd said. “Virtually everybody in the association would know Jeff Nash’s name. He was almost synonymous with the organization, so it just made sense he would be given this award.”
Nash was also a longtime supporter of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation (PSF), which provides additional funding for original programs and projects to support local students and teachers.
“Our organization has grown tremendously since 2013, and the impact we’ve been able to make on the schools has grown,” said Madeline Blobe, executive director of the PSF. “I think a portion of that can be attributed to the support we got from Jeff over the years to promote our events and celebrate our accomplishments.”
Andy Jenks, former chief of communications and community engagement for Henrico County Public Schools in Henrico, Virginia, will fill Nash’s position on Sept. 13.
Nash said he plans to put his extra time into the American Association of School Customer Service, a company he began that provides customer service training and auditing.
Boyd said Nash's influence on the district will continue to be present even in his absence.
“He will be greatly missed,” Boyd said. “Not only in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, but across the state. Pretty much everybody knows Jeff Nash.”