CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Chris Payne, Union’s new associate chief communications officer, stands with Chief Communications Officer Gretchen Haas-Bethell, whom he will replace when Haas-Bethell retires on June 30.
Courtesy Union Public Schools
Chris Payne has been named Associate Chief Communications Officer for Union Public Schools.
Payne, who previously served as Director of Communications for Tulsa Public Schools, will replace Chief Communications Officer Gretchen Haas-Bethell, when she retires June 30.
Payne comes to Union with more than 25 years of experience in public relations and strategic communications experience. He and his wife, Susan, have a daughter who is a senior at Union High School. His wife is a minister at First Christian Church in Tulsa.
Payne began working for TPS in 2011 where he was instrumental in the success of Project Schoolhouse, a campaign which consolidated a number of schools resulting in more than $6.3 million in savings. Payne also helped TPS pass a $415-million school bond initiative – the state’s largest – as well as a $33-million technology bond in 2013.
Before joining TPS, Payne served as vice president and general manager for the Tulsa office of Saxum, an integrated communications firm. Prior to that, he served as senior manager of corporate communications for Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc., the parent company of the Thrifty Car Rental and Dollar Rent A Car brands. He worked at the company for nearly 17 years, having started as a manager of corporate communications for Thrifty Car Rental. Previously, Payne spent four years working in Dallas for public relations and political consulting agencies, leading a number of regional and national accounts.
In 2014, Payne was one of 15 people in the United Sates to be named to the College of Fellows, Public Relations Society of America. He also won a 2014 National PRSA Silver Anvil and a 2012 National PRSA Award of Excellence for his work on Project Schoolhouse.
He currently serves on the board of directors for the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and has been actively involved in The Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program in Tulsa, which provides live art experiences to TPS students in kindergarten through the eighth grade.
He is a past board president of Tulsa’s Susan G. Komen for the Cure and past president of the Tulsa Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. He has also served on the marketing committee for the Tulsa Area United Way.
Payne has a master’s of arts degree in mass communications from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. He is accredited in public relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America and is a member of the National School Public Relations Association.