In 2011, Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA) President Patrick Gallaway began his journey in school communications by accepting a position with the Ohio Department of Education. It wasn’t long before he would leap directly into a school district. In 2012, Gallaway took the position of director of communications for New Albany-Plain Local Schools in central Ohio. It wasn’t long before he was thrust into service with OHSPRA.
“My superintendent sent me off to Chicago for my first NSPRA National Seminar my second week on the job, and that is where I first met many of my colleagues from OHSPRA,” shared Gallaway. “About a month later, there was a vacancy on the OHSPRA Board for a director of membership, and the president at that time, Shane Haggerty, asked me if I would be interested in serving in that capacity.”
The rest is history. Gallaway began his time on the OHSPRA Board in the fall of 2012, working to increase membership in the association. Later, he would become president-elect, and in 2018, he began his term as president. As if history was repeating itself, Gallaway was then approached about furthering his service in the profession. This time, at the national level with the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).
“Several factors contributed to my decision to run for the position of Mideast Vice President with NSPRA. I had developed a relationship with the person who was the current VP, Tom Scheidel from Michigan, through my service as state president. Tom was coming to the end of his three-year term, and he first approached me about it. Another former Mideast VP & NSPRA President, Ron Koehler, reached out to discuss it with me as well,” Gallaway said. “I also bounced it off several OHSPRA members, Patti Koslo and Shane Haggerty, who have extensive knowledge and have served on the NSPRA board in the past. Lastly, I had the full support of my superintendent, Michael Sawyers, which ultimately helped me decide to go for it.”
Gallaway won his uncontested election in 2019 and officially began his three-year term on the NSPRA Executive Board in October. Executive board members must attend three meetings each year, two at the NSPRA headquarters in Maryland, and one before the National Seminar each summer. Gallaway attended his board orientation and first meeting this past November.
“It was a flood of information, and I was a little nervous going into it, but the existing board is incredibly friendly and helped ease me into the work very quickly. The thing that I have found to be the most rewarding with one meeting under my belt is the instant camaraderie that developed. This is much like the experience I have had getting involved with OHSPRA but now on a national level,” Gallaway offered. “I am in awe of some of the experiences that the other board members bring to the table. They are all dealing with somewhat similar issues in their regions that we do in Ohio, but many on a much larger scale. I am learning a great deal, and I feel like I have an additional go-to for support and networking when anything may arise, and that has always been one of the things I value most about OHSPRA and our connections here.”
In his role as the NSPRA Mideast Vice-President, Gallaway serves as a liaison to NSPRA for the state chapters that are included in the region. This includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. He requests updates from each chapter three times throughout the year and then compiles a report to NSPRA on the activities of these chapters. The board also identifies any ongoing issues that their members may be dealing with, challenges, and other opportunities for support from NSPRA.
Gallaway’s term on the board will be filled with an unexpected experience with the recent announcement that long-time NSPRA Executive Director Rich Bagin will retire in 2021.
“The Board has begun the implementation phase for a new Executive Director and will devote much of the March meeting to plan the work,” said Gallaway. “We have established four committees, and all have taken on assignments. The work will be a heavy lift to fill the shoes of our Rich, and the committee will focus on the search process and launch, stakeholder engagement, transition, and so on. It will most likely resemble a search for a new superintendent for a district.”
While Gallaway is busy with his job and his duties as OHSPRA president, the unique opportunity to garner additional knowledge and resources for statewide colleagues is one of the reasons why he is willing to volunteer so much time to advancing the profession.
“I am excited to be in this role at the national level and hope that it helps us back here on the home front in Ohio to stay better connected to NSPRA and other colleagues across the country and internationally,” offered Gallaway. “I am also looking forward to sharing the great work that is ongoing here in the Buckeye State and the other state chapters in the Mideast Region at the national level.”