VERONA — Augusta County has filled the newly created position of communications manager, hiring Mia Kivlighan of Staunton.
Kivlighan comes to the county from Eastern Mennonite University, where she served as the marketing and public relations manager at the Harrisonburg school.
As communications manager, she will assist the County Administrator’s Office with public information, media and community relations needs, according to the county.
Administrator Timothy Fitzgerald said the county added $76,729 in the current fiscal year budget for the position, which includes money for salary and other costs associated with starting up the office. At this time, Kivlighan will be the only person in her department.
Fitzgerald said 40 candidates applied for the position and staff interviewed about a half-dozen people for the job. She started Aug. 16.
“It was a very competitive pool,” he said. “We were pleased we were able to hire Mia with her experience. ... She is what we were looking for. We are tickled to have her.”
Kivlighan, who grew up in Richmond, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. She did media relations, marketing and admissions work for a local private school and communications and design for an art publishing company in Seattle before coming to EMU.
Fitzgerald said the need for timely communication, particularly in the realm of social media, had grown to the point where Augusta County could no longer get by without someone whose sole job was that. The hope, he said, is to “really engage our citizens better.”
“What we had seen was a real need. The county had grown so much and the expectation of our citizens is they want to be informed,” he said. “Quite frankly, we didn’t have the staff to focus on social media.”
In addition to managing Augusta County’s social media platform, Kivlighan’s duties will include answering questions from the public and working with other departments, including the Board of Supervisors, to get the word out on meetings, events, speaking engagements and achievements on the part of staff and the county. She also will coordinate efforts to inform residents during crisis management situations, such as major weather events.
Among her most immediate tasks, Fitzgerald said, will be updating on how Facebook is used.
“Next week or so, folks who follow our Facebook page will see a change,” he said. “Now, there will be a whole lot more interaction.”
Kivlighan is the mother of two daughters, Isabel, a postgraduate student at UVa, and Hannah, who’s starting her second year at Virginia Commonwealth University, and 16-year-old Jimmy, a junior at Staunton High School. Her husband, Jim Jr., is a Staunton native.
Kivlighan, who’s lived in the area for about 20 years, found the chance to work in her new role to be an exciting opportunity.
“I liked the idea of working for my community,” she said. “There are a lot of good stories [about the county] I think the public wants to know. I hope to share the good work Augusta County has done and is doing.”