Consolidated High School District 230 Director of Communications Carla Erdey was named 2014 Illinois Distinguished Communicator by the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA). The award is the most prestigious honor presented by INSPRA for a career that exemplifies the professional practices of school public relations and for an outstanding body of work sustained throughout time.
In presenting the award, INSPRA President Peg Mannion said, “Carla truly typifies how excellent communication, public relations and partnerships can make a difference in education. She raises the bar for school public relations and inspires each of us to reach for the next level.”
Erdey was recognized for her contributions over the past 18 years in leadership roles for educational organizations focused on community and business engagement, public relations, marketing and administration.
Among the professional contributions honored is her work with District 230’s award-winning Successful Schools Successful Students (S4) engagement initiative that connects business and community leaders with students and staff at Sandburg, Stagg and Andrew High Schools. The S4 engagement program began with creating a shared vision of what it means for students to be career and college ready. It has expanded to include one-to-one, small group and large scale events that have resulted in program development and partnerships, guest speakers, job shadowing and internships for students on the three campuses. The S4 initiative earned the INSPRA Golden Achievement - Award of Excellence in 2010 and has resulted in invitations for Erdey and Superintendent Dr. James M. Gay to share the engagement process at state and national conferences.
Erdey was also recognized for her work in creating strategic plans that resulted in successful passage of two referenda campaigns totaling $412 million to build 16 schools for Plainfield School District 202. Both referenda were the largest in state history at the time of passage and support the education of 29,000 students on 30 campuses. These campaigns included collaboration with staff, community and business leaders to develop a shared vision and generate support for students.
Erdey’s contributions to INSPRA were also a factor in earning the 2014 Illinois Distinguished Communicator award. During her tenure as President, INSPRA earned two National Mark of Distinction Awards for social media and professional development efforts. She served as Chapter Chair when the National School Public Relations Association national conference was held in Chicago. This three-year commitment included securing sponsorships, pro-bono event planning services and overall coordination of events for NSPRA members from across the country and Canada. In addition, she served as INSPRA Regional Director for Greater Cook County for two years and has been Chair of the Midwest Education Foundation Conference.
“In the years I have worked in school public relations, I have come to rely on my INSPRA colleagues to share their knowledge, passion for education and compassion,” Erdey said. “I could not ask for a more supportive group of individuals to help me grow in the profession. I have learned from their examples and experiences. I have sought their guidance and reassurances. And, I hope, I have given back a little of what I have gained over the years.”
Sharing her experience is something Erdey prides herself on. She has been a Mentor for INSPRA colleagues since the 2009-10 school year and regularly serves as a guest speaker for the University of Illinois College of Media Crisis Communication class in Champaign.
Always looking for ways to grow professionally, Erdey is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Further information about INSPRA is available at inspra.org.