Harris to temporarily lead communication efforts

Search underway for next executive director

| Author: Aaron Mills

Ari Harris
Ari Harris

John Veilleux, vice president and chief marketing officer for Central Michigan University, today announced that Ari Harris, associate director of executive communications, will temporarily assume the responsibilities of executive director of communications until the position is filled.

Harris, who joined University Communications in December 2017 as an assistant director of communications, will temporarily serve in the position left open by the departure of Heather Smith, whose last day is Feb. 4. Veilleux said a search is underway for Smith’s replacement.

“Ari is a tremendously talented communications professional and has amazing connections across campus, which position her well to lead our communication efforts during this time of transition,” Veilleux said.

In this capacity, Harris will be the primary point of contact for CMU’s communications team, including internal and external communications, crisis and issue management, media relations, and campus partner communications.

Throughout her time at CMU, Harris has been instrumental in telling CMU’s story, influencing leadership communications and strengthening the university’s brand. As assistant director, she wrote stories about exciting accomplishments throughout the university and fostered positive relationships with media across the state.

Harris began her current role in March 2020, in which she provides counsel and communications guidance to President Davies and other senior leaders regarding internal and external messaging. She also has played a key role in the university’s crisis and issue management for several years.

Harris also has led University Communications’ internship program for the past four years. In this capacity, she hires, trains, manages and mentors future communications professionals.

Prior to joining CMU, Harris served as director of leadership annual giving and alumni affairs for the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Eshelman School of Pharmacy and director of development for the College of Health Sciences at Appalachian State University. She also held roles in community outreach and education, volunteer management, and development with the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte and Easter Seals UCP North Carolina.

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