Town Communication Coordinator
Jennifer Dexter became the Communications Coordinator for the Town of Fort Myers Beach on Monday April 6. This is a brand-new position for the Town, and her responsibilities will require her to be the Social Media Coordinator and Public Information Officer as well.
“I am originally from Hillsboro, Ohio,” she offered, noting that she prefers “Jenny.” “That is a very small town in the Appalachian part of the state near the Kentucky border. I attended Eastern Kentucky University where I earned my Public Relations degree, with an accreditation through the Public Relations Society of America. After graduating college, I moved to a suburb of Cincinnati near the Kings Island Amusement Park, where I could see their fireworks every night! I am single, with a 23-year-old son, Garrett, who is a proud graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a Marketing degree from its Business College. Garrett just married in January. My 86-year-old Mom, Marilyn, is up north, but the plan is that she will stay with me during the winter months, and I have a sister, Paula.”
Prior to Fort Myers Beach, “I was Communications Manager for the City of Fairfield (Ohio),” Jenny explained. “I was there three-and-a-half years and, like this position, was their first Communications Manager. Before that, I spent 15 years with the Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services where I did community relations, social media, website, and publications, including raising money for and running its levy campaigns. Prior to that, I was with the Warren County Mental Health & Recovery Services, doing much those same things, including the levy campaigns. My first job out of college was with ABX Air, Inc., in Wilmington, not far from Hillsboro, that was a package delivery company that is now an aircraft maintenance facility, so up until now, I spent my entire career in Ohio.”
Promoting the Town
With Garrett now out of college employed and married, “I was at the point in life where I could see what else was out there,” Jenny said. “I was looking around the web, thinking about places like Chicago or California, when I saw the job for the Town and the description fit me perfectly! I wasn’t deterred that it was a brand new position, because every one of my previous jobs were that way as well, so I have experience in being a trendsetter, and who wouldn’t want to work for a beach town, so I applied. The Town offered me an interview in January, either via Skype or in person, so I flew down to get a better feel for the Town and they me. I received the offer toward the middle of February but I needed to wait until near the end of March, to qualify for my 25-year pension with the State of Ohio as well as to wrap up an 18-month branding campaign for Fairfield, so the Town was nice enough to hold off my start until April 6. When you add everything together, this was meant to be, so I purged most of my belongings, packed up what I had left in a small U-Haul, brought my two little dogs, and here I am!”
Her duties for the Town include its website management, Jenny explained. “I am super impressed with how so many of my staff colleagues did such a good job with it already, considering it is not a part of their job descriptions and they already have so many other duties! I will do content management and redesign the website, but fortunately, the current content management system is the same one used by Fairfield, so I am already familiar with it. I will reorganize and add to the Town’s Facebook presence and launch new ones, such as Instagram and Twitter, and expand social media for the Mound House and Bay Oaks Recreational Center.”
Jenny will continue to expand the use of the new Town logo “that the Council adopted during my hiring process, and I very much appreciate how Council is throwing its full support behind it. One more crucial concept will be the implementation of ‘TextMyGov’ that is a public information tool we will introduce in the next week or two. All these are essential aspects in building a comprehensive plan to positively promote the Town to move forward, and that is particularly important now due to the coronavirus. I am excited to be on the job, grateful for the support I am already receiving from Council and my coworkers, and eager to get to it.”
New & Exciting
Jenny had some previous familiarity with Fort Myers Beach. “My parents actually wintered in Fort Myers about 20 years ago, for about seven years, so I vacationed in the area. One of my all-time favorite family photographs is of Garrett when he was around two-years-old, as his first experience with the ocean was right on Fort Myers Beach! I am holding him by his armpits, with his feet kicking away, as he is so excited to get to the water, so that is pretty cool!”
While still new to the beach community, Jenny already encountered several nice surprises. “What I did not expect and has really struck me is how much the Town and its residents love and respect their history! I knew nothing about the Mound House that I visited for the first time last week, and it is such a marvel and so impressive! I know the Mound House has its own marketing campaign but I am excited to assist them in any way possible. Other new elements to me include the Mooring Field, and I can’t wait to learn more about Bay Oaks. Because of COVID-19, in my off-hours, it has been a challenge being out-&-about, but I soon look forward to getting to know the island’s many restaurants and shops.”
She finds the beach “amazing” and enjoys “magnificent sunsets” almost every evening. “While I am doing a lot of walking with my dogs, I look forward to exploring the Town’s other natural resources, as I am just now learning about its parks, the back bay, and how our citizens value the nesting shorebirds and sea turtles. This is completely new to me, after spending so many years in the suburbs of Cincinnati, and so exciting!”
Due to the coronavirus and all its various restrictions and precautions, Jenny is well-aware that her Fort Myers Beach career begins at a bizarre time, not only locally but nationally and internationally. “I am a people-person, but must social distance from my new coworkers, and have yet to even meet in person all the Town Council members, so all this is unusual for me, but we now live in an unusual time for us all. When I first started, Town employees were on ‘A’ and ‘B’ work weeks, so it was tough to learn not only names but titles and their responsibilities, but a cool thing was that I worked out of a desk that is outside my normal area, so I was able to hear staff working on projects like permitting, zoning, and short term rentals, and was able to start to pick up on those things and that is very helpful.”
Public service is a family tradition for Jenny. “Mom was a public school teacher and Dad was a director of a government agency that served people with disabilities in the town where I grew up, and I had two uncles and an aunt in government service, so it is deep within our family to make a positive difference for the people in our communities. To me, being a public servant means that we are totally cognizant that we serve the public, to provide them with the best quality of life available to them, and that we wisely allocate the moneys they entrust to us. Most of us in government work long hours; far more than people assume, and we do not come in at 9 or leave at 5, but when you have a passion for service like I do, you do that gladly.
“It is a privilege to work for you and that is a responsibly that I and my coworkers take seriously, to ensure you can enjoy the best possible life. I am really excited to be a part of the Fort Myers Beach community and look forward to working for and with you for a very long time, as being here, for me, is a blessing and a gift!”