Communications Pro Kelly Mella Joins WCER as Director of Communications and Marketing

Mella held similar job for UW–Madison Surgery Department

July 5, 2023   |   By WCER Communications

Kelly Mella starts at WCER on Aug. 14.

Kelly Mella starts at WCER on Aug. 14.

Kelly Mella, who has more than 30 years’ experience in communications as both a college professor and a practitioner, will join the WCER leadership team on Aug. 14 as WCER’s new Director of Communications and Marketing.

An accomplished communications professional with proven leadership skills and rich experience in the academic world, Mella comes to the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), part of the School of Education, from a similar job for the UW–Madison Department of Surgery, where she has worked since 2020 supervising a team of five.

She also was a tenured associate professor of communication studies from 2006 to 2020 at Edgewood College—leading her department as chair for 10 of those 14 years—and before Edgewood held a variety of communication industry jobs in government and education.

Those posts included communications manager for the Madison Department of Public Health for a year; senior communications specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for 7 years; and managing editor for 2 years for The Journal of Sex Research, a peer-reviewed, international academic journal where she edited manuscripts, corresponded with authors and reviewers, and coordinated the editorial and printing processes.

Mella earned all of her degrees from UWMadison: a bachelor’s in agricultural journalism, a master’s in life sciences communication, and a PhD in mass communication focused on social marketing campaigns and communication for culturally diverse audiences. She also has worked as an instructor/lecturer at UWMadison and Madison Area Technical College, teaching courses in scientific communication, college success, and introduction to communication.

Mella will lead the WCER communications team in developing, executing, and measuring strategic communication and marketing campaigns, while producing news stories about center happenings and advancing WCER research through channels including email, web, print, video, and social media. This position also will oversee media relations and bolster brand development in keeping with WCER’s strategic goals around integrating diversity, improving services, operating as a learning organization, promoting high quality, community-connected research, and helping to expand and diversify center funding.

Hailing from a family of teachers, Mella says she has always found the most satisfaction as a professional communicator when her work provides educational or informative value. She says she was drawn to the WCER communications job due to the center’s focus on equity and the opportunity the job provides to impact education practice positively and contribute broadly to society.

WCER Director Courtney Bell and Chief Operating Officer Hanna Blazel look forward to working with Mella to achieve those goals and are confident she will thrive at WCER.

“Kelly has the training, talents, and experience to bring strategic vision to our communications efforts, creating a comprehensive plan for supporting researchers in publicizing their work and bringing research findings to target audiences through relevant communication channels,” Blazel says.

“Kelly will lead multichannel communication efforts through data-driven messaging and innovative digital experiences that maintain and grow WCER’s position as a national and international leader in education research,” says Bell.

WCER leaders also offer sincere thanks for the hard work of the search committee for this job, led by School of Education Associate Dean for Communications and Advancement Marianne Spoon, with members Janet Trembley, Rebekah Novak, Corinne Burgermeister, Rodee Schneider, Kevin Lawrence Henry, and Sarah Gagnon.