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The New Jersey School Public Relations Association announces Heather Daniel, Director of Communication and Policy at Edison Township Public Schools, as their 2024 Communicator of the Year. This annual award recognizes exemplary leadership and commitment to enhanced communication and relationship-building between public schools and the stakeholders they serve. NJSPRA President Paul Zeller, and Maren Smagala, NJSPRA’s President-Elect and 2021 Communicator of the Year, presented Ms. Daniel with the award during the organization’s Spring Workshop on March 12th.

Both Ms. Daniel's current Edison Township Public Schools Superintendent and her previous Superintendent at Wall Township Public Schools submitted nomination letters. Edison Township Superintendent, Dr. Edward Aldarelli, stated, “Ms. Daniel is an exemplary leader who inspires and empowers her team and our staff to excel. Her strong leadership skills, combined with her strategic vision and attention to detail, have been instrumental in driving the success of our communications department along with our curricular and school expansion initiatives.” Dr. Tracy Handerhan, Superintendent of Wall Township Public Schools, wrote, “Her outstanding leadership, creativity and passion for enhancing communications have had a long-lasting impact on the culture and progress of the district.”

Learn more about Ms. Daniel here. Ms. Daniel will be recognized as the NJ state chapter winner at the NSPRA National Seminar in July 2024.

Heather Daniel, Director of Communication and Policy at Edison Township Public Schools (2nd from left), accepts the NJSPRA 2024 Communicator of the Year Award from Paul Zeller (l), NJSPRA President, and Maren Smagala (r), NJSPRA President-Elect and the 2021 Communicator of the Year. Edison Township Superintendent, Dr. Edward Aldarelli (2nd from right) joins the celebration.

About the NJSPRA 2024 Communicator of the Year Award

Effective 2024, NJSPRA restructured our Communicator of the Year Award to align with the newly developed National School Public Relations Association's (NSPRA) School Communicator of the Year Award. To be eligible for the national award, a person must be their respective State Chapter award winner. Restructuring our award to align with the NSPRA criteria and timeline will allow our award winner to be considered for the national award. We announced our state winner at our Spring Conference on March 12th, in time to submit the national award nomination due on April 1st.

Two important criteria considerations for nominees are:

  • The person must be an NJSPRA member in good standing.
  • The person must be employed as a full-time, practicing school communications professional in a school district or educational service agency, and plan to remain in this position.

*Please note that based on the new NSPRA guidelines, the following individuals are no longer eligible for the NJSPRA Communicator of the Year Award:
- Superintendents and other district/school administrators for whom communication is not their primary responsibility
- Employees of private PR agencies

For questions, contact Sandy Cokeley, APR at


    2023: Dr. Nicholas Diaz, Superintendent (shared), Franklin Township School District and Union Township Schools
    2022: Barbara Wilson, Public Information Officer, Cherry Hill Public Schools
    2021: Maren Smagala, District Communications Coordinator, North Hunterdon-Voorhees Regional High School District
    2020: Dr. Matthew Murphy, Superintendent, Ramsey School District

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