NAU alumna returns as chief marketing and communications officer

Carla Andrews-O'Hara

As Rita Cheng‘s first year as president comes to a close, her leadership team continues to take shape with the addition of Carla Andrews-O’Hara, who will return to NAU as its chief marketing and communications officer. The NAU alumna and former marketing director will begin Aug. 3.

Cheng announced the selection after a competitive national search. As chief marketing and communications officer, Andrews-O’Hara will spearhead a project to assess, streamline and unify the university’s marketing and communication efforts, an initiative that began in the spring.

Cheng said Andrews-O’Hara’s background in higher education marketing, communications and development, and a demonstrated commitment to NAU’s mission, provides her with a strong foundation for the role.

“Carla offers a breadth of professional experience and a deep, personal knowledge of NAU,” Cheng said. “Her entrepreneurial spirit, innovative thinking and keen understanding of strategic brand messaging will significantly contribute to our overall communication and enhance our enrollment, research and fundraising efforts.”

Andrews-O’Hara served as director of NAU’s University Marketing department from 2003 to 2007, where she led an integrated campaign to develop a new graphic identity system and implementation of a new website. She also oversaw communications and marketing for Extended Campuses and was part of a coalition that promoted the newly opened High Country Conference Center. Following Andrews-O’Hara’s time at NAU, she launched her own marketing and strategic planning consulting company, worked for Johns Hopkins University and served in several fundraising and communication roles at the University of Maryland.

“I’ve spent my career working with a number of universities as a marketing, communications, and development professional and have gained tremendous insights into the rapid changes taking place in higher education on a national level,” Andrews-O’Hara said. “I look forward to returning to my alma mater and sharing that knowledge with the campus community as we build on the university’s rich history while also facing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Andrews-O’Hara earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, telecommunications and film from the University of Utah and a master’s in English, rhetoric and composition with a graduate certificate in professional writing from Northern Arizona University.

Andrews-O’Hara is the latest to join the president’s leadership team, which since August has welcomed:

  • James Coleman, provost (begins mid-August; Dan Kain serving as interim)
  • Bjorn Flugstad, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness
  • Joanne Keene, executive vice president and chief of staff
  • Jane Kuhn, vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
  • Betsy Mennell, interim vice president for Advancement
  • Ricky Roberts, interim chief information technology officer
  • Isa Rueda, assistant to the president

NAU will launch national searches for a chief technology officer and a vice provost for the Center for International Education. Harvey Charles, the center’s current vice provost, announced he will leave his position in late summer. Liz Grobsmith will serve as interim.