School communications director recognized for dedication and public serviceDec 14, 2020 15h12 ● By Katy Whittingham
Susan Thomas of the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind and her family. (Photo courtesy Susan Thomas)
By Katy Whittingham | [email protected]
Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind PIO and Communications Director Susan Thomas received the 2020 Governor’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding Public Service.
Superintendent of USDB Joel Coleman nominated her for the award because of her dedication to the education of Utah’s children who are deaf or blind and their families.
“Susan has been a game changer at USDB,” Coleman said. “Previously, we were concerned that there were students throughout the state who were still not getting adequate services if they were deaf, blind or deaf-blind. Although we have good partnerships with other school districts and social services, some families do not realize the excellent system we have to help them in Utah.”
Thomas was actually one of these people herself. She has a son with hearing loss, and they struggled throughout his entire K-12 education without any awareness about the services from USDB. Her mission of spreading the word is a personal one, as well.
"Working at USDB feels more like a joy than a job,” Thomas said. “The students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind are pretty awesome and lucky me, I have been able to meet and work with so many of them. I'm impressed by their beautiful personalities, their bold courage and their many abilities.”
Coleman said that in addition to her personal experience, Thomas is a talented, experienced, and highly successful communications professional. “Her innovative approach and her tireless work ethic, combined with her willingness to work with every individual at USDB has made all the difference,” he said. Thomas spent years as a news reporter and anchor before deciding to pursue public relations. "I've worked for such a variety of good causes, it has been such a blessing, from the Kimball Art Center, to the American Red Cross, I even served as a weekend PIO for the Utah Highway Patrol troopers for a few years,” Thomas said.
"I was very surprised and honored to learn Superintendent Joel Coleman nominated me for this award, but I feel like he is the one who really deserves the award. When it comes to the importance of PR, social media, and storytelling, he gets it,” Thomas said. She also credits Todd Keith, the USDB Media Production Specialist, as an especially talented photographer and coworker. Keith said of Thomas, “Susan is the hardest working person I have ever met. She is very deserving of this award.”
Thomas has worked for USDB since January 2018. When not working she loves to swim laps or ski the Cirque at Snowbird with her husband Joe Ozimek and two sons, John Luke and Joey.