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New York School Public Relations ASSOCIATION

Executive Board

Krystyna Baumgartner, APR
President, 2023-2025

Krystyna M Baumgartner, APR, is a strategic communicator who has been practicing public relations, communications, and community relations since 2006. She is passionate about helping to craft strategies for telling stories, sharing information, engaging audiences, and managing crises. She began her career working with elected officials and government offices, including as Communications Director for a Member of Congress. Krystyna has worked in school public relations since 2015, when she became the Public Relations Specialist for the Bay Shore School District (New York). She has helped the district to “open the window” into their schools to engage families and community members through storytelling on their website and social media channels, and through printed materials and events.

Krystyna has presented at various conferences, including the National School Public Relations Association, the New York School Public Relations Association, the Long Island School Public Relations Association, and the Texas School Public Relations Association. She is the current President of the New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA). She previously served as the Vice President/Suffolk County for the Long Island School Public Relations Association (LISPRA) and on the National School Public Relations Association’s (NSPRA) Communication Technology and Innovation Project Team. She is a two-time recipient of the SCOPE Support Staff Service Award. She was the 2021-2022 National School Public Relations Association Front-Runner for the Northeast Region.

Krystyna is a proud graduate of Stony Brook University (Go Seawolves!), where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science Magna Cum Laude with Departmental Honors (2007) and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. She received the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award and the Stony Brook University Provost’s Award. She earned a Master of Arts in Public Policy (2008) from Stony Brook University. She also holds a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law (2013), where she served on the staff of the New York Litigator Law Journal, received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Labor and Employment Arbitration, and was named a Robert Nobile Scholar for Excellence in Labor and Employment Law. She recently earned an Advanced Diploma with Merit in Local History from Oxford University (2022).

When she is not at work, Krystyna enjoys reading, traveling, watching baseball, rooting for Georgia football, and going to the gym. She is a lifelong resident of Long Island.

Michelle Verna
Vice President/President-elect, 2023-2025

Michelle Verna is an award-winning journalist who has worked in PR and strategic communications consulting since 2006, representing public officials, political candidates and small to mid-sized businesses. She joined the world of School PR at the most opportune time- in 2020- and represents the Scarsdale Public Schools. She has experience in crisis communications, public speaking, website planning and development, event planning and communications plan development. Recognitions include 2022 NSPRA Golden Achievement Award, 2020 NYSPRA Award of Excellence, 2016 Aide, Peekskill St. Patrick's Day Parade, 2013 Westchester Business Council 40 under 40 nominee,  2003 Special Recognition: Features, New England Press Association, and 2002 3rd Prize, Associated Press Managing Editors Association for work following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Michelle was the first woman president of the Hendrick Hudson Lions Club, serves on the Board of Directors of the Hudson Valley Irish Festival, and is a former Board Member of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce. When she's not nerding out about communications, Michelle enjoys sharing stories about her experiences in the funeral industry as a way of encouraging people to talk about their end-of-life plans with their families.

Bonnie Russell
Treasurer, 2023-2025

Bonnie Russell has worked in school public relations since 2005. She has been the School Information Officer with the West Genesee Central School District (WGCSD) for 18 years, and as their website coordinator for 21 years, where she gained experience with communicating within a suburban/rural community. She also held the position of Adult Education Director for four years. 

Through her work at WGCSD, she has earned numerous awards from the New York State School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA) and the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for multiple social media platforms, electronic and hardcopy newsletters, and websites.

Bonnie has held leadership positions in multiple volunteer organizations, including the position of NYSPRA Treasurer from 2013 to 2015. She has been a member of NYSPRA and NSPRA since 2006. Bonnie was First Vice President of Finance for Campfire USA, Central New York region from 2001 to 2003. 

She was the President of New York State PTA from 2014 to 2016. Since 2005, she held numerous positions on the NYS PTA board including time as a Region Director (and prior to that as Region Treasurer), Editor, Publications Specialist, Website Specialist, Vice President of Communications, Social Media. She has created and presented numerous workshops on diverse topics that include communications, advocacy, newsletters, finances, and social media and has coordinated NYS PTA Conventions and other statewide Leadership Conferences. She continues to serve as Convention Technology Coordinator. In addition she was a National PTA Governance team member through 2022.

Sapna Kollali
Secretary, 2023-2025

Sapna Kollali is the Public Relations Coordinator at Madison-Oneida BOCES, supporting the communication work of both the BOCES and local school districts. She came to the world of school PR in 2009 after a career at daily newspapers in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, covering education and local governments. A writer by trade and planner and listener by nature, she strives to demonstrate the value of communication to education leaders through crisis response support, strategic planning, education advocacy work and effective social media guidance. Sapna holds a bachelor’s degree in newspaper journalism and political science and a master’s degree in Cultural Foundations of Education, all from Syracuse University. She credits her master’s work for solidifying her commitment to working in the education field and her interest in equity issues of all shapes and sizes. She previously served on the board of the India Community Religious and Cultural Center of Central New York and a parent advisory committee to create a new middle school in the Syracuse City School District. Outside of work, Sapna is often creating something in the kitchen, reading a book or out for a walk, and she loves to travel and play with her kids. She lives in Syracuse with her husband and two daughters.

Steve King
Immediate Past President 2023-2025

Always passionate about storytelling, Steve has established himself as an innovative and recognized leader in the area of social media and digital communications among public education PR professionals across the country. He is a manager for the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service and has over a decade of experience helping school districts build trust and credibility with their publics. He regularly provides strategic communications and social media guidance to school districts and educational organizations throughout New York state and has presented to audiences around North America. In 2016, he was named a “35 under 35” Next Generation Leader by the National School Public Relations Association. Away from work, Steve is a co-host of A Podcast for Creatives, an audio experience creatives and thinkers in all fields. He lives in Saratoga County with his wife and son.

Twitter: @thesteveking

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