Kim Lessner, TJC vice president for operations and chief operations officer, has been named District 4 Communicator of the Year by the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR).
NCMPR is the leading professional development association exclusively serving those working in communication at two-year community and technical colleges. District 4 comprises institutions in Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.
The Communicator of the Year Award is one of the most prestigious awards presented to an NCMPR member who has demonstrated leadership and ability in the area of college communications. It is awarded annually in each of NCMPR’s seven districts, and district recipients automatically qualify to compete for the national award.
Lessner recently received the award at the NCMPR District 4 conference.
“The College is very fortunate to have a leader with the vast amount of experience that Kimberly G. Lessner has,” TJC President and CEO Dr. Juan E. Mejia said. “As Vice President for Operations and Chief Operations Officer, Vice President Lessner has been instrumental in leading numerous strategic priorities, all focused on student and community success.”
Mejia added, “We at Tyler Junior College wholeheartedly join the National Council in celebrating Vice President Lessner for being the recipient of this very prestigious award.”
In her role, Lessner provides leadership over comprehensive communications with various stakeholders including students, employees and community members. She ensures the audiences are identified and the needs of those individuals are appropriately met. She champions collaboration, transparency and integrity, and values data-driven decision-making.
Lessner has set the example for TJC’s practice of customer service, which includes a caring approach to help guide students throughout their educational journey. She leads several administrative divisions of the College and is a strong proponent of mutual respect among teams.
The result of this style of communication and approach has been consistent branding and messaging, record enrollment, development and promotion of the Cultural Arts District, and successful management throughout the COVID crisis.
“While I know this award was intended as an individual achievement, I actually view it as a team award and a reflection of the great work being done at TJC,” Lessner said. “It has been my privilege to tell TJC’s story but also to empower each member of the TJC community to share their stories because I truly believe everyone is a communicator and marketer.”
Prior to entering higher education administration, Lessner held corporate business positions focused on market strategy and business development. Her experience includes Nissan Motor Company in Los Angeles; Wharton/Chase Econometrics in Washington; and Verizon Communications in New York, where she served as executive officer and vice president of marketing.
In 2012, she retired from her corporate career and relocated to Tyler with her husband, Bob. Soon after, she began working as development director for the nonprofit, People Attempting to Help (PATH). In May 2015, she joined TJC as director of the College’s Earth & Space Science Center, and was named executive director of marketing, media and communications in January 2016. The following year, she added the responsibilities of enrollment management, and was named vice president in 2019.
Lessner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Missouri at Columbia. She has served on the Smith County Alzheimer’s Alliance Board and has been a member of the Women’s Fund of Smith County. She and her husband have two sons and one grandson.