Following a national search, Chancellor Gary S. May has selected Dana Topousis to be UC Davis’ chief marketing and communications officer, effective Oct. 1. In this capacity, she will report to Associate Chancellor and Chief of Staff Karl Engelbach.
Topousis brings to UC Davis deep experience in the federal, nonprofit and private sectors, and seasoned leadership in strategic communications and managing people and programs.
“I’m pleased that Dana has agreed to take on this role because she has demonstrated strong leadership and developed solid partnerships here,” Chancellor May said. “I’m appreciative of her persistence and vision to raise awareness about the value and impact that UC Davis has on the state, nation and world.”
Most recently, Topousis has served as the interim lead for Strategic Communications and executive director of News and Media Relations at UC Davis. In that capacity, she led the university’s strategic messaging effort, oversaw a national advertising campaign, led crisis communications, and facilitated stronger collaboration across the Davis and Sacramento campuses. In 2017, her team was recognized with three national Circle of Excellence awards (gold, silver and bronze) and seven regional awards (three gold, one silver, three bronze) from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE.
“Being a part of UC Davis, with its reputation for excellence in so many areas, is an honor,” Topousis said. “I’m proud of the efforts my talented team has made in the last couple of years. I can’t wait to keep building on that foundation.”
Prior to joining UC Davis in June 2015, Topousis worked for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia, for more than eight years. She completed her career there as the acting head of the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs and as public affairs director, a position she held for five years. Under her leadership, the NSF launched and expanded social media channels and the Science360.gov platform, created the agency’s first free iPad app, and developed its first public communications and media policy. Her years at NSF included accompanying journalists to the McMurdo and South Pole research stations in Antarctica and participating in the launch of Sikuliaq, a $200 million research vessel.
Topousis also served as communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Center, where she helped develop and gain broad stakeholder support for a national system of MPAs. While working as an account supervisor at Fenton Communications, her client portfolio included environmental health, climate change, alternative energy and social justice issues.
She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, where she provided training for Pride Africa, a microcredit organization. Upon returning to the United States, Topousis was deputy press director for the Peace Corps, which included accompanying People magazine to visit volunteers in Guatemala.
Topousis has a master’s degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in management and communication from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.
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