Fresno Unified hires Florida woman as communications chief

The Fresno BeeOctober 9, 2013 

The Fresno Unified School Board voted 6-1 Wednesday to hire a public schools spokeswoman from Palm Beach, Florida, to fill the district's top communications slot recently vacated by Jamilah Fraser.

Natalia Powers will take over as chief information officer at Fresno Unified in mid-November, earning between $113,000 and $138,000. Superintendent Michael Hanson declined to give her actual salary, saying he hasn't yet shared the figure with Powers.

Wednesday's vote was made behind closed doors, during part of the meeting reserved for discussing hiring, legal issues and labor contracts. Trustee Michelle Asadoorian, who cast the only "no" vote, said hiring someone from across the country could mean they don't understand or might not be vested in the Fresno community.

Powers is the public affairs specialist at the School District of Palm Beach County, a job she's held for more than four years. In that position she handled media and public relations for 45 schools and worked as a liaison between the district and community groups.

She's also worked as a teacher for English language learners and as an interpreter for the Palm Beach school district.

"She's bringing tremendous skill," Hanson said. "She is bilingual, she has great skill I think in social media, video and related matters. She was the No. 2 in that district, but worked very closely with a number of community outreach projects and a number of big communications strategy issues."

Hanson said he recruited her by networking with the Council of the Great City Schools, a national organization of urban public school districts. In all, 10 people applied for the position.

She graduated with a bachelor's degree in international business from Boca Raton-based Florida Atlantic University in 2005.

Her LinkedIn profile says she specializes in educational law, social media and community and business partnerships.

Powers is one of four new hires in the district's communications department. Amy Idsvoog, recruited by Hanson and hired this summer, is one of the district's new communications analysts. Justin Grayson, communications analyst, and Brian Dvorak, communications manager, were also hired in recent months.

Dvorak fills a new position. Grayson takes over for Shana Kemp, who left her job as analyst with Fresno Unified this summer. Both Kemp and Fraser, who resigned in late August after nearly a year and a half on the job, now work at Medgar Evers College in New York.

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

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