Winner: Patrick Riccards, Partner, Collaborative Communications Group
Patrick Riccards’ Twitter handle “@eduflack” is a modest way of expressing his contributions to education reform in Connecticut. In a single year as the CEO and spokesman for the state’s leading education advocacy not-for-profit, ConnCAN, he has tripled the amount of media coverage it receives, constructed a significant reform network of superintendents, school boards, principals, parents and other stakeholders, established a website to aggregate all education-related news in the state, led the creation of a landmark report on how Connecticut can close its educational achievement gap, and transformed ConnCAN from a research-focused insider group into a center of public engagement.
Perhaps most important, he helped secure the most comprehensive education reform package in the state’s history, focused on preK, teacher evaluation, school turnaround, school choice, and improved management.
ConnCAN’s efforts sparked opposition, which Riccards dealt with by building a communications and engagement network on the fly. He built a communications feedback loop that let him quickly evaluate new messages and tactics, moving forward with those that were most effective. He coordinated an aggressive media relations effort among more than a dozen organizations, speaking for them on a daily basis with radio, television, the Internet and print media.
Riccards also established a “report card” to track the legislature’s implementation of the new law, to make sure it’s being implemented properly and on schedule.
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