Chris Poynter (’94) named NAGC 2017 Communicator of the Year
The National Association of Government Communicators recently selected Chris Poynter (’94), Director of Communications for the Office of the Mayor of Louisville, Ky., as its 2017 Communicator of the Year.
The NAGC Communicator of the Year Award recognizes a government communicator who fostered public trust and personifies the role of government communicators by delivering accurate, timely and meaningful information to the public -- sometimes under extraordinary circumstances. Poynter earned the award for his leadership and ingenuity while helping the city and the world celebrate the life of the late Muhammad Ali immediately after the death of Louisville’s beloved native son.
Over seven days in June 2016, Poynter rallied his team to honor Ali with a series of events that put Louisville in the global spotlight. Although they had extremely short notice, Poynter and his team organized a flag lowering ceremony outside Metro Hall shortly after the announcement of the boxing superstar’s death. They staged an event called, “I Am Ali,” a festival for children and families that drew 15,000 attendees. In addition, the team organized a tribute bike ride and an outdoor showing of the movie “Ali.” In the midst of all of those activities, Poynter and his team created and enacted a social media campaign to tell the story of the week’s activities through images and videos, reaching millions of people across the nation and around the world.
“Chris’ efforts earned accolades from across the globe for the way Louisville handled such a momentous event, including from Ali’s widow, Lonnie,” stated Mayor Greg Fischer. “That week was an exceptional circumstance, and Chris helped us maneuver through it beautifully. A global media audience learned that week what those of us within Metro and our local media already knew: Chris Poynter is a steady, trustworthy, knowledgeable source. He is nimble, creative and reliable. And he knows how to tell our story.”
Poynter received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from WKU in 1994. “At WKU, I learned how to be an effective writer and communicator and, most importantly, a critical thinker,” he said. “The experience I gained on the Hill has served me every day in my professional career and my personal life. I am especially grateful to retired College Heights Herald Adviser and Journalism Professor Robert Adams. Mr. A has influenced generations of students, and I’m honored to call him mentor, professor and friend.”
An NAGC panel of judges selected Poynter from a field of impressive nominees from across federal, state and local government agencies. “The nomination highlighted Poynter’s ability to recognize the opportunity to showcase the City of Louisville on a global scale across a broad-spanning application of public affairs strategies and tactics,” said NAGC President Kathryn Stokes. “What set him apart from other candidates were the metrics of impact his team had on the local and global communities who wanted to be a part of recognizing Muhammad Ali.”
Poynter, who received his award during the 2017 NAGC Communications School, June 13-15, 2017, in St. Louis, Mo., is the city’s primary spokesman, and oversees all aspects of internal and external communications and special events for the Mayor and Louisville Metro Government. Prior to taking this position in 2011, he was the Director of Communications at the Campaign to Elect Greg Fischer for Mayor. From 2007-2010, he was the Deputy Director of Communications at Louisville Metro Government. He has a background in print news working eight years as a writer at The Courier-Journal and four years with other newspapers. He is a Past President of the Louisville Society of Professional Journalists.
As NAGC’s Communicator of the Year, Poynter joins a prestigious group of noted government communicators who have exemplified the ethic of good communication and good government through their professionalism and superior performance in serving the people of the nation. The principal purpose of NAGC is to advance communication as an essential professional resource at every level of local, state, tribal and national government.