University names alumna new Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
Friedman is an alumna of Washington University, where she earned a Master of Business Administration from the Olin Business School in 1999.
Since graduating, her résumé has included working as deputy chief of staff for former governor of Missouri Mel Carnahan and serving as a senior vice president of Fleishman-Hillard—one of the world’s largest public relations organizations.
“I am so excited to have been selected for the position,” Friedman said. “I am truly honored and look forward to being part of the public affairs team and coordinating a wonderful institution that’s here at home.”
Henry Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration, said that her knowledge of the University as both a student and a community member, combined with her broad work experience, will allow her to make important contributions to the Office of Public Affairs.
“[Friedman has] looked at the University very closely,” Webber said. “She brings great knowledge, and she’s also looked at us from the outside.”
Webber and Provost Edward Macias formed a 10-member committee to search for someone to fill the vice chancellor for public affairs position. The committee, which consisted of deans, faculty and public affairs heads, partnered with Opus, an external search consultant, in a two-stage search process.
“We widely advertised, as well as networked,” Webber said. “There were two candidates that emerged from that process as very strong candidates, and we invited those two candidates back to campus to meet with the chancellor, Provost, and all of the leaders on campus, [including] deans that were not part of the initial process.”
Kent Syverud, dean of the School of Law, chaired the committee and was responsible for organizing the search process and generating a selection of candidates for Chancellor Wrighton to choose from.
“Every member of the committee was conscious that Washington University had one of the great leaders of public affairs in Fred Volkmann,” Syverud said. “His retirement was the end of an era for the University, so we had the daunting responsibility of finding a successor that, after such a great predecessor, would take us to the next level.”
Friedman, who moved to St. Louis when she was two years old and graduated from Clayton High School before earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont, said that Washington University has been a part of her life since she was young.
“[My] closest family friends are affiliated with Washington University as professors and administration, so I have a long, very close and personal, relationship with Washington University,” she said. “I’m very passionate about this, and I’m really looking forward to being part of the team because Washington University is so important to me personally, I recognize and have a very deep respect for how important Washington University is to our community.”
Friedman said she hopes to spend the month before taking office learning from professionals in the Office of Public Affairs and across the University. She said she wants to utilize an assertive public affairs program to focus on the University’s brand and spread the brand’s reputation.
“We will be looking for new and cutting-edge ways to connect with really important stakeholders, like younger people, who communicate in new ways these days,” she said. “There are more opportunities for the University to engage in new and impactful ways through new channels.”
Webber noted that the Office of Public Affairs has an important role in shaping the University’s image and informing people—both in and outside the community—about the school.
“Some of that is informing [others] about the University as an institution…some of that is informing them about the great work of our students and faculty,” Webber said. “We have many people at the University who do communications work of a variety of kinds. This office serves as the glue that keeps that together and makes sure that people are working in the same direction.”
He believes the Office of Public Affairs will continue to maintain Washington University’s image under Friedman’s leadership.
“We’re at a place where the success of the business school makes arts and sciences better and the success of arts and sciences makes the business school better, for example,” Webber said. “One of [Friedman’s] big goals is to make sure that the very talented people in each of the schools are contributing to a set of common themes and making the whole stronger.”