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Southerland directs communications, development for county schools

John Southerland is working as Director of Development and Communications for Madison County Schools. Geraldine Tibbs retired from a similar position in late 2014. (CONTRIBUTED)
John Southerland is working as Director of Development and Communications for Madison County Schools. Geraldine Tibbs retired from a similar position in late 2014. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON COUNTY – John Southerland has been named Director of Development and Communications for Madison County Schools.

The position’s public relations responsibilities were expanded to include development. Southerland will use experience with local companies and organizations “to cultivate partnerships between those industries and Madison County Schools.”

“I will also work with our schools to help promote the great accomplishments of our students, teachers, administrators and schools,” Southerland said.

“The major driver for me (to apply for the position) was the hope that I could positively impact this school system that my kids attend,” he said. The job description intrigued him, considering his background in marketing, business development and communications.

Since 2007, he worked for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County. First, he was director of communications, then economic development project manager and director of Cummings Research Park. He promoted “Huntsville Metro as a great place to live, work and play.”

He also worked as FPMI Communications vice president. At Scottsboro’s “The Daily Sentinel,” he was a reporter, sports editor and eventually managing editor.

Currently, his chief challenge “is getting caught up on the schools and programs in Madison County Schools. For someone who hasn’t been in the business of education, there’s a lot to learn, but I’m enjoying getting immersed in this world,” Southerland said.

Southerland describes his welcome from the school district as “fantastic. People I’ve talked with are so passionate about education.” Seeing that passion by teachers and administrators has been the most enjoyable aspect of his new job.

He is a graduate of Leadership Huntsville/Madison County and volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach. He is an Auburn University Research Center board member and served as advisory member for Cyber Huntsville.

Southerland earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Auburn University. His wife Monica works an engineer for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal. Their children are Olivia, 14, a Buckhorn Middle School student, and Eli, 11, who attends Riverton Intermediate School.

The Southerlands own two Siberian huskies, Loki and Kahlan.

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