School Division Announces New Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer

School Division Announces New Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer


Helen Dunn

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia)—Dr. Helen Dunn has been appointed Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer for Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS), effective immediately. Dunn has served as the interim communications officer since mid-December, following the retirement of Phil Giaramita.

“I’m thrilled about this opportunity to continue the important work of advocating for the students, employees and families of Albemarle County Public Schools,” said Dunn. “I care deeply about the future of this school division, and I find great joy in partnering with students and their families, colleagues, community members, members of the media, and legislators to help support, promote and celebrate the incredible work that happens in ACPS.”

Dunn joined the Office of Strategic Communications in 2018 as the division’s Legislative & Public Affairs Officer, and in 2022, became the division’s first Deputy Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer. During her time with ACPS, Dunn has been a staunch advocate for legislation that benefits public education, including successfully lobbying for legislation allowing the installation of stop-arm cameras on school buses, a long awaited win for the safety of the school division’s bus riders. Over the last five years, she partnered with now-retired communications officer, Phil Giaramita, to build a robust public information strategy resulting in as many as 200 annual media interviews describing school division policies, programs, accomplishments, and public participation opportunities. Dunn has served on multiple division-level and community-based project teams, tackling such critically important work as strategic planning, equity and inclusion, crisis communications, school safety, and teacher recruitment. She also played a significant role in organizing and launching the Albemarle Foundation for Education, the school division’s first-ever foundation committed to raising supplemental funds specifically to support ACPS students, educators and families.

As Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer, Dunn will be responsible for the division’s overall communications strategy, including public information, media and marketing, legislative affairs, social media, web services, and video and digital media production. As a member of the Superintendent’s Cabinet, Dunn will work with the superintendent and other school division leaders to support and advance the priorities of the Albemarle County School Board and the ACPS strategic plan.

“Helen has been an incredibly valuable member of our team for more than five years now, and it’s exciting when the exemplary candidate for a leadership position is someone you’ve gotten to know and respect and someone whose work you admire,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Matthew Haas. “I look forward to collaborating with the Communications team under Helen’s leadership to move our division forward in creative, dynamic and effective ways.”

Prior to joining ACPS, Dunn was the Assistant Director of Global Programs and Program Manager, M.S. in Global Commerce, for the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce from 2015 to 2018. From 2004 to 2015, she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in French grammar and literature at the University of Virginia, including five years (2010-2015) as an instructor for the university’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, where she taught beginner-level French to Community Scholar students, and a year (2010-2011) as Assistant Director of the UVA in Morocco study abroad program. Dunn also served as an adjunct professor of French at James Madison University from 2013 to 2015.

Dunn earned both her Ph.D. and a Master of Arts in French Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. She double-majored as an undergraduate, completing a Bachelor of Arts in French Studies and in Psychology, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Pictured: Dr. Helen Dunn

CONTACT: Jennifer Butler, Senior Communications Analyst
PHONE: 434-260-4634