2024 National Communicator

2024 National Communicator

Bernadette Toye-Hale
Director of Marketing and Recruitment
Owensboro Community & Technical College
Owensboro, KY

For more than two decades, Bernadette Toye-Hale worked as a staff of one at Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC). Currently its director of marketing and recruitment, Toye-Hale made do solo for so long by making it easy for marketing-friendly folks to volunteer their time. She convinced other college leaders to let their employees help out with events or graphics. Dr. Kevin Beardmore, the then-vice president of student affairs, even agreed to share an employee half-time.  

“The more that people helped, the more people got used to nice stuff and more stuff, so we grew from there,” she says. “Dr. Beardmore was a good advocate with the rest of the leadership team to encourage further investments in marketing.”  

A good leadership tip: Do good work, and others will figure out how to help you keep it up.   

It’s one of the reasons Toye-Hale is the 2024 Communicator of the Year, which is one of NCMPR’s most prestigious awards. It celebrates a member who’s demonstrated leadership and ability in the area of college communications and is awarded annually in NCMPR’s seven districts. District recipients compete for the national award.  

In July 2021, OCTC further invested in marcom, and Toye-Hale hired two full-time positions. An IT employee with videography experience helps as needed, too, and Toye-Hale has a part-time retiree who writes for the department. This staff growth is partially thanks to OCTC’s enrollment numbers: For eight straight semesters coming out of COVID, OCTC saw enrollment grow, due in large part to digital marketing efforts, which resulted in over 38,000 prospective student leads for the entire college system in Kentucky, of which OCTC is a part.   

Initially, Toye-Hale met with resistance from other system colleges who didn’t want to allocate the majority of their marketing budgets to lower-funnel digital efforts, but Toye-Hale provided the leadership to bring all colleges on board.  

“Even though community college budgets are always tight we were able to make the case that digital marketing and marketing in general is something the college needed to invest in,” she says. 

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