The Columns

Washington and Lee Announces New Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs

— by on February 26th, 2016

Jessica L. Willett has been named executive director of communications and public affairs at Washington and Lee University.

Dennis Cross, vice president for advancement at W&L, announced the appointment of Willett, who had served as assistant director of communications and public affairs since 2012.

“I am delighted that the university will have Jessica’s leadership and talents in this key position,” said Cross. “Throughout her tenure in communications, Jessica has demonstrated that she manages well with creativity and vision. She has been instrumental in developing our electronic communications strategy and is a proven partner with all areas of the campus community.”

Willett is a 1995 honors graduate of Washington and Lee where she majored in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

She began her career at Random House, Inc. (now PenguinRandomHouse), in New York, where she held a number of positions with the international publishing house, eventually moving into the organization’s new media ventures. She was manager of promotion and new media for Vintage/Anchor Books from 1998-2000 before being named director of new media and online marketing for the Knopf Publishing Group. She returned to her alma mater as a web writer and editor in 2002, later serving as web editor and the director of web communications.

Throughout her tenure at W&L, Willett has been instrumental in creating the university’s online presence. She has overseen two comprehensive website redesigns, implemented a University-wide web content management system and created the University’s award-winning student social media team, wluLex.

In her latest position as assistant director of communications and public affairs, she managed a team of technical and communications professionals responsible for content strategy, information architecture, website design, user support and training, social media and multimedia for the university’s websites.

Willett serves on numerous university committees and has also been active in the College Communicators Association of Virginia and the District of Columbia.

In her new role as executive director of communications and public affairs, Willett will oversee an office that comprises digital communications, news and media relations, publications and graphic design, alumni magazines, photography, videography, sports information and WLUR radio station.