Member Spotlight — Elise Shelton


On a continuous basis, IABC Nashville spotlights one of its diverse members through a Q&A feature. We are pleased to showcase Elise Shelton, Chief Communications Officer, Clarksville-Montgomery County School System

IABC:            What is your background?

SHELTON:     Organizational communications and daily newspapers.


IABC:            How did you get started in your business?

SHELTON:    I left the Nashville Banner in 1987 after working in newspapers for almost a decade. After newspapers, I began work in corporate communications, first at a magazine printing company, then a Nashville hospital and now for a public school system.

IABC:            What is your current position and business affiliation? How long have your been in this role?

SHELTON:     I am Chief Communications Officer for Clarksville-Montgomery County School System. I just started my 20th year here.

IABC:            What makes your business/organization stand out?

SHELTON:     Public schools are at an unprecedented time of scrutiny, accountability and competition. Communications during this time is critical.

If you could describe yourself in three (3) words, what would it be?

SHELTON:     According to my StrengthsFinder assessment, my strongest characteristics fall into these categories: Arranger (detail person/control freak), Communication and WOO (Winning Others Over, which should help offset any friction I create when I’m ‘arranging’).

Tell something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

SHELTON:    I’m pretty transparent, but some may not know that I taught at a bilingual school in South America right after college.

IABC:              What lesson(s) have you learned along the way that you believe has made you a better communications professional?

SHELTON:     There’s always something new to learn so be open and never assume someone has nothing to teach you. And, just because you have a sarcastic wit doesn’t mean you should use it.

What makes an effective communications leader?

SHELTON:     Recognition of the powerful responsibility of this position and using it wisely. You can be the translator, the trust-builder, the sense-maker, the strategist, the barrier breaker and so much more.

IABC:            What do you feel is the greatest benefit of IABC?

SHELTON:     Keeping up with communication trends and access to the thoughts and teachings of international communication leaders.

IABC:             What prompted you to join IABC?

SHELTON:      When I started work at St. Thomas in 1989 to replace Elizabeth Latt, Liz had been an IABC member and encouraged me to join. It has been IABC love ever since, leading me to join the board, become president and be involved on the IABC District level. As a seasoned communicator, I continue to see value in this organization and have encouraged others to become involved.


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