KASB hires director of new Member Engagement Department

Austin Harris said his K-12 education in Tonganoxie helped make him into who he is today and he wants to give back to public education to help students now and in the future.

Austin will get the opportunity as KASB’s new Director of Member Engagement.

“Education has always been a passion of mine and driven me,” said Austin, who will begin his assignment on Mon. Aug. 3.

At 25, Austin already has a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Baker University and a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Washburn University.

For the past three years, he has been the director of worship and communications at First United Methodist Church in Topeka.

At KASB, Austin will help lead the new Member Engagement Department, which is tasked with connecting school board members statewide with the many valuable programs and services that KASB offers.

The Member Engagement Department, which was approved by the KASB Board of Directors after an organizational study, will also help provide a clear and consistent messaging and branding process led by data analytics.

“Austin, in his young career and education, comes to us with creativity and experience in leading change,” said Rod Spangler, assistant executive director for Risk Management and Member Engagement.

In the position, Austin will also oversee development of staff communications and develop and implement association-wide plans for each department to engage their target audiences.

KASB also is in the process of hiring additional employees to the Member Engagement Department, including a Member Engagement Specialist, Member Engagement Field Specialist and Digital Media Specialist.

Austin said he and his brothers were the first generation of their family to graduate college. His public school experience, including extra-curricular activities, such as forensics and golf, classroom experiences and relationships with educators, Austin said, built up his confidence to help him establish himself in the community.

“I always hoped to repay that gift,” Austin said.

As he starts with KASB, Austin said he expects to travel around the state to visit with education leaders. He said he wants to help the education community access the tools necessary to present a consistent message.

“It takes time,” Austin said, while he also noted he wants to remain as flexible as possible because of the many issues surrounding education. “It’s a crazy time right now and no one knows what is next,” he said.

In his spare time, Austin likes to build furniture and play golf, especially with his grandfather.

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