Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass announced Oct. 1 that he has named Toni Konz Tatman chief communications officer for the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
Konz Tatman had been serving the department in an interim role since Jan. 16 and has overseen KDE’s Division of Communications throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She came to the agency through a memorandum of agreement with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), where she had been working in the communications office for the district. She was asked by then Interim Commissioner Kevin C. Brown to assist the department through the Kentucky Board of Education’s (KBE) search and transition to a new commissioner.
“I am beyond excited to have Toni on board long-term as we continue to offer support to all of Kentucky’s 171 school districts,” Glass said. “Over the past several months, KDE has issued many guidance documents, held countless webcasts for our constituents and highlighted the important work taking place inside our schools. Toni’s contributions to this work have been invaluable.
“As our schools implement their reopening plans, it is vital that KDE continues to communicate effectively with them. Since joining the department, I have heard from many of our district leaders that they have been overjoyed with the communication stemming from Toni’s office. I look forward to that continuing as we all work toward a new normal in our Commonwealth.”
In her role, Glass said Konz Tatman will continue to provide critical supports to districts as they navigate through the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, she will direct all internal and external communication strategies for the agency and oversee all digital and print communication.
“It has been an honor to be part of and work with the talented KDE Leadership Team in the interim,” she said. “I am excited to be a permanent part of this team during a time where the focus has been on not only ensuring each and every student has access to a quality education, but also committing to the important work of racial equity in our schools.”
Under her leadership, KDE’s Division of Communications oversees social media and graphic design efforts, publishes the department’s flagship publication, Kentucky Teacher; assists with the development of innovative online tools, serves the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council and oversees all statewide student and teacher recognition programs, including Teacher of the Year, Milken Award and U.S. Senate Youth Program.
Konz Tatman said she expects Communications to do far more to support the department, the commissioner, the KBE and the Commonwealth’s school districts as the agency shifts to a new normal beyond COVID-19 and pledge of commitment to racial equity and anti-racism in our schools
“Kentucky educators are experiencing all new levels of stress and responsibility. They should be as empowered and supported as much as possible as they do work that has truly never been done in Kentucky before now,” Konz Tatman said. “I have spent my entire career as a storyteller dedicated to K-12 education and I am looking forward to working with my incredible team as we listen to our students, school employees and school leaders so we can do more to highlight the strengths and triumphs of our public schools.”
During her time at JCPS, Konz Tatman played critical roles developing and implementing programs to increase awareness of key district initiatives among internal and external audiences. She worked with the media on stories that highlighted students, teachers and schools, helped manage the district’s social media channels and provided communications support to employees daily. She created the district’s first monthly e-newsletter for families and assisted in the development of a social media strategy to share vital information with district stakeholders. She also worked directly with Jefferson County’s 33 Accelerated Improvement Schools on ways to strategically improve both internal and external communications and boost climate and culture. The result was increased community exposure for the many great programs within the schools and highlighting student and teacher successes.
Prior to joining JCPS in 2017, Konz Tatman was an education reporter in three states over 16 years, including more than 10 years in Louisville at the Courier-Journal and WDRB-TV in Louisville. Before that, she was the education reporter for the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American.
Konz Tatman is a native of Milwaukee and a public school graduate. She is a 2019 Bingham Fellow and recipient of numerous journalism awards, including an Edward R. Murrow Award. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Konz Tatman lives in Louisville with husband J.D., and two dogs, Griswold and Oscar. Their son, Cameron, is a 2020 graduate of Atherton High School (Jefferson County) and is now a freshman at the University of Louisville.
Konz Tatman’s salary will be $115,000 annually.