Members of the Forest Park District 91 Board of Education voted unanimously to hire Scott Dunnell as the district’s new public relations and communications manager at a meeting on September 13. Dunnell replaces Rebecca Latham, who left D91 in August for Deerfield District 109.
Dunnell, 65, is an Oak Park resident, although he has previously lived in Forest Park. He comes from a family of educators, with his wife, daughter and son all working as teachers in nearby suburbs, and father even serving as principal of Field-Stevenson Intermediate Elementary School from 1965 to 1968, he said. Although Dunnell holds a certificate in teaching elementary education, he has spent his life working in advertising and communications, and the last decade marketing higher education institutions.
“My goal is really to do what I can to expand awareness of the things that make the Forest Park school district special and unique,” Dunnell said. “Whether you’re talking about diversity, whether you’re talking about the ability to have one-to-one technology, innovative learning, innovative instructional design, all of those things I think are well kept secrets for a district that may not necessarily have the right perception of what it can be and what it can do.”
Dunnell said he plans to build up the district’s brand by partnering it with community institutions, including the village, Howard Mohr Community Center, Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and more. He said he also plans to improve the functionality and navigation of forestparkschools.org, as well as add more videos and stories to the website so as to maximize the D91 site’s search engine optimization. That will bump the website’s ranking to a higher position when people search for information about the district on Google. Dunnell also said he’s currently working with D91 administration to develop communications forums and a newsletter for parents.
“Getting parents more involved in all these activities, I think that’s important,” he said. “Ownership to me is important, and I think branding, to me, that’s what it’s all about—that everybody has ownership in it. Because it’s one thing to design a logo—and they’ve done that successfully—but it’s another thing to really build the brand and have brand equity.”
Dunnell has previously served as executive director of marketing and admissions at Resurrection University, where his work guiding Resurrection through a rebrand from West Suburban Hospital School of Nurses won numerous marketing awards, according to his LinkedIn. He also held top marketing posts at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. He will receive an annual salary of $55,000, according to Jeannette Barnes, D91 executive secretary.
“I want to make sure that Forest Park gets the recognition that it deserves and gets the information out about the school district that’s important,” Dunnell said.