Featured Member

Spotlight On Dawnie Slabaugh

In fourth grade: She wanted to be a nurse when she grew up 
Favorite Quote: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no” 
CCPRO Buddy: Peter Griggs at Shasta College

Meet Dawnie Slabaugh, Director of Public Relations and College Foundation at College of the Siskiyous, located in Weed, California –the northernmost community college district in the state bordering the state of Oregon.

Dawnie has been a member of CCPRO since 1999 when she attended her first conference in Monterey with her predecessor, Dawna Cozzalio. While pursuing and earning an Associate Degree in Business from College of the Siskiyous, Dawnie began her career there as a student worker straight out of high school, progressing from Office Secretary, to Admin. Secretary, Admin. Specialist, then interim director, to her current position approximately 5 years ago. In that time she has worked for five of the college’s 12 permanent presidents.

Before being hired as a student worker, Dawnie had various part-time jobs in retail roles where she
honed her customer service skills, which have served her well. She admits that one challenge she faces is staying current with technology as it evolves and changes so quickly as well as the current trends and legislation that needs to be followed. “I have to be prepared for any kind of situation that comes up, be
it Public Relations or the Foundation. I deal with a lot of different people with different personalities and backgrounds,” she shared.
But talk about challenges – Dawnie was onsite in her current position when the Boles Fire broke out on September 15, 2014. That fire burned 479 acres, destroyed 150 homes and eight commercial businesses in the City of Weed, a community of approximately 3,000 residents. Miraculously only one person was injured throughout the entire six-day conflagration. And as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

But talk about challenges – Dawnie was onsite in her current position when the Boles Fire broke out on September 15, 2014. That fire burned 479 acres, destroyed 150 homes and eight commercial businesses in the City of Weed, a community of approximately 3,000 residents. Miraculously only one person was injured throughout the entire six-day conflagration. And as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Images of some of the destruction in the aftermath of the 2015 Boles wildfires that consumed much of Weed, California

Dawnie rose to the occasion and took on a communications leadership role throughout the ordeal. Housing options for residents and students were lost. The K-8th grade school closed as well as the town’s high school while some of their students were evacuated in a school bus heroically “four-wheeling” out of danger where no roads existed. Phone lines went down and there was, “complete and total chaos,” says Slabaugh.

And, while College of the Siskiyous closed for one week, when its doors first reopened it served as a safe place where the many displaced residents and students were able to go. Dawnie stepped up to find resources for the community and as such the community came to see the college as communications central – the “Town Home” meeting place for city people, fire fighters, college leadership, and the media. The College also became the temporary home for two of the churches destroyed in the fire as well as the local community food pantry and various other businesses lost in the fire.

While trying to attend every CCPRO conference she can, Slabaugh admits that with her limited budget and dual role in Marketing and Foundation work, she belongs to three organizations and has to carefully pick and choose which conferences she can attend each year. “If CCPRO’s conference isn’t being held in Northern California it is more difficult for me to get to it… especially when flying. Our nearest airports are an hour north or south and if I have to travel out of state it is often better to drive 3.5 hours to Sacramento to take a more direct and affordable flight,” adding, “my experience at conferences has always been positive, whether attending workshops or networking,”

And what advice would Dawnie give to a new member attending a conference for the first time? “I would encourage them to talk to a lot of people. Ask questions, share demographics, similarities, and differences. Network and use it as a resource. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.” And she shares that between conferences she makes good use of the PIO-all listserv and puts out questions that she is pleased to have received a large number of responses.

Born in Northridge, Southern California, Dawnie moved at the age of three with her extended family to the Siskiyou mountain region community of Big Springs, which at the time had a a meeting hall and an elementary school, but has now grown to include a church and and a grocery store. Growing up as the oldest of five children and with four cousins in the mix, they had complete run of her grandparents 25 acre farm with all kinds of animals. And her name? While on her birth certificate is says “Dawn,” having an uncle named Don and a supervisor named Dawna, the nickname “Dawnie” evolved to help establish her as a unique individual.

In parting, Dawnie Slabaugh wanted to share that while most people think of San Francisco, Sacramento, or Napa as “Northern California,” there is a whole lot more north of those cities. “We are different from the rest of Northern California, with beautiful views, clean air, and good people. It’s a rural frontier and we have the best of everything we could want.”

Dawnie at Halloween time a few years back with Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dr. Zachary Zweigle.