Fresno Unified's top spokeswoman resigns

The Fresno BeeAugust 30, 2013 

Fresno Unified School District's chief information officer has resigned after nearly a year and a half on the job.

Jamilah Fraser, who will stay until sometime in September, said Friday her decision is based on a desire to be closer to her family on the East Coast. She said she's accepted the position of vice president of communications and public relations at Medgar Evers College in New York.

"I just decided it was best, I miss my family," she said.

She said she's bringing along Shana Kemp, a communications analyst at Fresno Unified who initially came to Fresno with Fraser when they both left communications jobs in the School District of Philadelphia. Fraser said Kemp was also hired at Medgar Evers, but didn't elaborate.

Fraser came to the district in April 2012 after about two years as the top-level communications person for Philadelphia schools. She previously worked at FEMA, where she helped rebrand the agency in the wake of its roundly criticized handling of Hurricane Katrina aid.

At the time she was hired by Fresno Unified, she was being lambasted by education advocates in Philadelphia. They criticized her for leading what they called a propaganda-like campaign about the then-superintendent Arlene Ackerman who was taking heat for how she handled budgets and other issues.

The Philadelphia controversy followed Fraser to Kentucky, where she declined a job offer at another large school district after she was confronted with community criticism.

Even so, district Superintendent Michael Hanson said Fraser's experience in disaster management and emergency communications made her a perfect fit for a large urban school district such as Fresno Unified.

Fraser said she "came out here with a purpose in mind" and is leaving knowing she's created a stronger communications plan.

Hanson said she's leaving big shoes to fill.

"I've been looking nationwide since last Saturday," he said. Hanson didn't outline a timeline for finding Fraser's replacement.

Fraser's current salary is $138,456. She declined to disclose how much she'll be paid in her new position.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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