Spreading the News
Brunswick County Communications Director Meagan Kascsak is a pro at getting the word out.
Arriving in Brunswick County just in time to watch the pandemic become reality, Meagan Kascsak experienced what could truly be described as the proverbial baptism by fire. As the county’s communications director, she is front and center in communications from the county to its citizens as well as internally among county employees and departments.
Kascsak brings with her nine years of experience in communications with the City of Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she was responsible for several initiatives that give her a solid base to implement Brunswick County’s communications needs. In the year since she’s been in Brunswick County, she has greatly expanded the county’s use of social media for getting the word out quickly and regularly on everything from COVID to hurricane awareness.
“There’s so much growth here, so much potential, Kascsak says. “Obviously [the county] is blessed with natural resources. I’m excited about the growth.”
Engaging with members of the community and with fellow employees, Kascsak was involved with Blueprint Brunswick 2040, the joint effort between the planning department and the parks and recreation department to determine citizen needs.
“This is a multiphase project to solicit input from the community,” she says.
Data from citizen input and research will help officials develop a comprehensive land use plan and a plan for parks and recreation.
“This will be our leaders’ guide for the next 20 years of our development,” she says. “We can focus our energy based on research and citizen input in the process.”
The 2020 census was a big topic in Brunswick County, as elsewhere, and Kascsak did a lot of social media advertising and billboards to spread the word.
Hired as a one-person shop, Kascsak plans to expand her department, newly renamed Department of Communications, by hiring “another team member to help us expand our engagement opportunities. I value strategy and building campaigns, looking at the different pieces. What tools are available?”
Among those tools are alliances with community partners including municipalities and organizations. Getting the word out has depended upon these alliances, she says.
Internally, a branding initiative that had been discussed before her arrival will move forward. “This is specific to our organization,” she says. “What does Brunswick County mean to our employees? Who are we as an organization? What services do we provide?”
Having gone through a similar process with Stillwater’s government, she’s excited about being involved with the process here.
As the pandemic continued, Kascsak worked with the health department to update and inform citizens of the availability of tests and vaccinations. This included launch of a dedicated web page by the health department as well as coordination with state and federal governments. She also regularly updates the county’s vaccine information on the county’s website at brunswickcountync.gov/coronavirus.
Born into a military family in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kascsak attended kindergarten there before her father was transferred to Whidbey Island in Washington state. When he retired, the family moved to Waco, Texas, for his first civilian job. She completed high school there and decided to go to Oklahoma State, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism and obtained her first public service job with the City of Stillwater.
“I love working in local government,” she says.
After seven years there, she started looking for advancement opportunities. When the public information officer job in Brunswick County was advertised, she applied. “I was honored to be interviewed,” she says. “When I learned about the region, it was spectacular. I’m glad I’m here; I’m enjoying my time here.”
Before leaving Oklahoma, Kascsak was accepted into UNC Chapel Hill’s online public administration master’s degree program. She expects to complete that in 2022.
“It’s a fantastic program specifically for local government,” she says. “It has been instrumental in opening my eyes about topics I might not have gotten to until much later in my career. I wanted to expand my knowledge and have opportunities to connect with peers in local governments and state governments. I have aspirations to be a city or county manager so it’s giving me a lot of experience I didn’t have before.”
Kascsak says she values education and any opportunity to learn something new. She has participated in several leadership and supervisory academies. The experiences have taken her out of her comfort zone and expanded her horizons, she says. “As a communications person not only do you work with partners outside your organization, you work with all departments and serve all departments.”
Her supervisor in Stillwater encouraged her to take the supervisory course. “I was at a point that I supervised some part-time staff. It was a valuable opportunity to explore system design and to see how much time and effort it takes to be a supervisor.”
Key to the experience was learning how to support employees in a manner that helps them to do their jobs well and efficiently. It was also a good exploration of her strengths and weaknesses and how to improve herself, she says.
Although it was cut short due to COVID, Kascsak credits the Leadership Brunswick County program sponsored by local chambers of commerce with rapidly increasing her knowledge of the county and the relationships needed for success. “You realize how much is regional, not just county.”
In the Leadership program, she learned about the state port system, county industries, real estate, healthcare, local governments and their role in the overall community.
“I enjoyed going to Brunswick Community College,” she says. “It was fascinating to see what they’re doing, the way they support businesses including the incubator space and networking and coworking space. I love the Brunswick Guarantee. It’s lovely to see that kind of investment in the county. It makes me proud to be a part of the organization. It’s exciting to live and work in a county that offers so much potential.”
Photography by Bill Ritenour