Jill D. Friedman, vice chancellor for public affairs at Washington University in St. Louis, will leave her position effective Dec. 31, according to Chancellor Andrew D. Martin. A national search will be conducted to find a successor for Friedman, who has served in the role since 2012.
“I’m grateful to Jill for her leadership of the public affairs function over the past eight years,” Martin said. “She has brought great passion and creativity to the role, and has moved our public relations and communications efforts forward immensely during her time here. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Friedman came to Washington University from Fleishman-Hillard, where she served as a senior vice president and partner in the firm’s public affairs practice at its world headquarters in St. Louis. She previously had held positions working for the late Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan, including deputy chief of staff, director of policy development, and director of Missouri’s Washington, D.C., office. She also spent five years on Capitol Hill as a professional staff member for U.S. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Friedman earned her MBA from Washington University in 1999.
During her tenure as vice chancellor, Friedman has been instrumental in transforming the Office of Public Affairs to adapt to emerging opportunities, changing technology and best practices. In addition to serving as a trusted counselor to university leadership on strategic communications and issues management, she also led proactive communications strategy for high-profile university events and initiatives, including the 2016 presidential debate; the record-setting Leading Together capital campaign, which concluded in 2018; and the transition following Chancellor Martin’s appointment as Washington University’s 15th chancellor.
A priority focus under Friedman’s leadership has been bringing definition to Washington University’s narrative and broadening appreciation for the university’s stature as a world-class research institution. She and her team in the Office of Public Affairs have modernized the university brand and deepened collaborative efforts to tell the university story, especially through an enhanced web presence, social media, multimedia and the written word. The Office of Public Affairs has been recognized with many accolades, including, in 2015, a Silver Anvil award from the Public Relations Society of America — one of the highest national honors in public relations — which the team received for its communications and community engagement efforts following the Ferguson unrest.
“Jill is a talented public affairs professional, and we have benefited greatly from her time here at Washington University,” said Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor and chief administrative officer. “We have been extremely fortunate to have her strategic counsel, eye for great design, and knack for developing talent. Our public affairs team — and the university in general — are better in many ways for her having been here. I’m grateful to Jill as a colleague and a friend.”
“Washington University has been in my DNA since I grew up just few blocks from campus, with a father who served on the medical school faculty for 30 years and a mother who earned two WashU graduate degrees. It has been such an honor to work on behalf of this incredible institution and to lead the very best public affairs team in all of higher education,” Friedman said. “I am exceptionally proud of my colleagues and the work we have done over the past eight years. I am confident that whomever takes over the reins will have a great opportunity to build on our shared success and take public affairs to even greater heights. The sky’s the limit for this team.”
A search committee to identify Friedman’s replacement will be announced next spring. Julie Hail Flory, associate vice chancellor for university communications, will serve as interim vice chancellor for public affairs during the transition.