My name is Sandra Boone (she/her). I am a communications professional with 15 years of experience working in communications and research roles in public sector, nonprofit, and political settings. I am currently at the University of Oregon’s Communications & Media Studies Ph.D. program. Prior to this, I managed communications at the University of Minnesota’s Housing and Residential Life, Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, International Student and Scholar Services, and Immigration Response Team. I graduated with a Strategic Communication MA and Literacy & Rhetorical Studies minor from the University of Minnesota in 2020 and previously earned a Political Science BA.
In my academic research, I focus on equity and power concerns for public relations/strategic communication, and all communications professionals. I seek to challenge the ways that organization-first thinking allows communicators to ignore the responsibility they have to society along with the people they communicate to and about. I seek to create bridges between the functionalist and critical perspectives in public relations research in order to challenge practitioners to think more deeply while also helping them have the answers about what that means for their day-to-day work.
In my communication work, I strive to bring an audience- and equity-centric lens to my work as I ensure organizations give supporters the information they need, at the time they need it, and in ways they understand. To do this, I provide advice and counsel on communications strategy, message development, and stakeholder management to leadership and teams. I also ask questions and make recommendations about what an organization must do to authentically live its values — both externally with stakeholders and internally with staff.
My work on equity concerns for communicators
I passionately believe all communicators must understand the immense power and responsibility that comes with our roles as storytellers and gatekeepers of information. This belief comes from times in my career where I’ve recognized I was assuming I could do whatever I wanted with my organization’s stories and pictures (as long as the person had given permission once) — an idea that turned the people in them to little more than props or characters to be used for my organization’s benefit.
This interest led me to focus my final MA Capstone research around the need for the use of ethical/equitable storytelling practices by strategic communication and public relations professionals. To focus my inquiry, I examined the communications practices of anti-trafficking organizations, and I then created lists of recommended work practices for communicators working with victim-survivors of trauma and in all settings.
Since graduating with my MA, in addition to working and enrolling in a Ph.D., I have led workshops/conversations and written blogs about ethical storytelling and DEI concerns for communicators along with the need for changes in our sector and scholarship. I focus on using examples from my work when doing these conversations to help encourage reflection and give permission to others to admit their mistakes.
I am always happy to connect with others to discuss new opportunities or to connect with others wanting to talk about communications, working for nonprofits, or equity. I am also available to discuss leading/co-leading workshops, giving presentations, and writing about equity concerns for communicators.
University of Oregon
Communication and Media Studies Ph.D. (September 2022-Present)
University of Minnesota
Strategic Communication MA, Literacy & Rhetorical Studies minor
University of Minnesota
Political Science BA
University of Minnesota’s Housing and Residential Life
University of Minnesota’s Global Programs and Strategy Alliance
Communication Specialist (focused on International & Student Services and the Immigration Response Team)
Mark Ritchie for Secretary of State
UMN Communicators Forum
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
(Co-chair, 2021-2022; Member, 2020)
UMN Diversity Community of Practice
Communications Committee Member
Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota
Board and Finance Committee Member
Equity Incubator Member and White People Accountability Group Co-leader/founder
The Theater of Public Policy
Social Media Intern
Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities
Board Secretary, Board Member, Managing Blog Editor