Author: Rachel Perry
Rachel is part of UWW’s Brand Marketing & Strategy’s new Strategic Communications Team. She’s bringing her communications, public affairs and community impact experience to bear in developing the most compelling ways to tell the story of United Way improving education, financial stability and health.
From 2009 through 2012, Rachel served as Director of Education Strategy and Engagement for UWW’s Impact Priorities Department. She led education mobilization work, including authoring an online toolkit to help United Ways galvanize their communities around reading, crafted national education issue campaigns and worked with cross-functional teams to enlist and enroll individuals and organizations in United Way’s education work.
Rachel has also led UWW’s business engagement work, providing strategy, counsel and tools to help local United Ways engage business leaders as early childhood education champions in ways that support year-round donor engagement, volunteerism, marketing/communications and policy advocacy strategies. And she spent 4 years as United Way of America’s Success By 6 Communications Director, where she was an architect of Born Learning, United Way’s national early learning public engagement campaign. Born Learning has reached 15 million parents with $190 million worth of public service ads by the Ad Council, a line of research-based parent education materials and online tips and tools at www.BornLearning.org. The campaign has equipped more than 1,600 United Ways and their partners to add velocity to their school readiness work, and is now being adapted by United Ways in Latin America and Australia as the backbone of their education work.
Rachel brings 25 years of public affairs and communications strategy experience to the table, having advised governors, congressmen, university chancellors, nonprofit leaders and Fortune 200 CEOs on making lasting community change. Her background includes 7 years as communications and policy director for former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, with a focus on K-12 and early childhood education. In that role, she crafted communications campaigns and oversaw policy development to increase teacher recruitment and retention, boost teachers’ national board certification, create afterschool programs for middle schoolers and launch Smart Start, the nation’s first early childhood system.
She’s also been a national education communications consultant; managing partner of North Carolina’s largest public relations firm; a congressional press secretary; and a newspaper reporter. She’s overseen 12 statewide issue campaigns, including the nation’s largest university and community college bond referendum, with successful strategies built on public opinion polling, research-based public awareness (advertising and media relations), opinion leader outreach and grass-roots coalition-building.
Based in Asheville, NC, Rachel is on the executive committee of the new Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. She’s a former United Way board member and marketing committee chair, and served on its 2010 task force to shape its first education impact initiative. She is also an active volunteer in her children’s schools and her church. She and her husband Tom are the parents of Thomas, 19, who is high-functioning autistic, and Grace, 16, both adopted from Siberia in 1997.