Sara Tanner will join Campus Life on Feb. 6 in the recently created position of executive director of communications and strategic initiatives, bringing 15 years of experience in multiple disciplines, including advertising, creative production, and public affairs.


Tanner will develop and lead communications strategies and content development to elevate awareness of Campus Life’s work to internal and external audiences, including students, donors, friends, faculty, and staff. She will serve as a strategic and analytical thought partner to executive leadership, reporting to David Clark, vice president of Campus Life, and supervising Office of Communications staff.

“We are extremely pleased to have Sara joining the Campus Life team,” said Clark. “She will bring a unique breadth and depth of experience and insight to our already outstanding communications program and contribute greater dimension to our strategic planning initiatives. That will make her an invaluable partner in our continuing commitment to both Student Flourishing and Staff Flourishing.”

Tanner is looking forward to joining the Emory community and the Campus Life family. “Emory is a very special place, filled with staff and faculty who are committed to enhancing the student experience and championing the university’s mission and values,” she said. “I am excited and eager to build partnerships across campus to amplify the work of this incredible Campus Life team.”

Strong background in higher ed strategic communications

Since 2013, Tanner served as director of marketing and strategic communications in the Division of Student Affairs for the University of Florida, a public land-grant research institution with more than 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students. She led an internal creative agency-style department with a $1.4 million-dollar operating budget and a team of 13 full-time and 26 part-time staff.

In addition to her role as director, during the past two years, Tanner served as chief of staff to UF’s vice president for Student Life, acting as a senior advisor and strategist on issues such as crisis response, community relations, organizational development, and brand positioning. Over the years, she has engaged with dozens of committees and other activities at the university, as well as a variety of community and professional organizations.

Earlier in her career, Tanner worked with a boutique production company, Straw Hat Visuals, helping to produce documentary projects for clients such as BBDO, ESPN, Nikon, and Sports
Illustrated. Her work in media production and higher education communications has been recognized by more than a dozen organizations, including the American Advertising Federation, National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and National Press Photographers Association, among others.

Tanner earned a master’s in digital arts and sciences, a bachelor’s in journalism with a specialty in photojournalism, and a second bachelor’s in political science with a minor in environmental studies from the University of Florida. She also holds a certificate in digital marketing from Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education.

As a fourth generation Floridian, Tanner loves to be on or near the water and even has a sailing license. She is a self-described pop culture news junkie and makes an effort to watch all the Oscar-nominated films before the awards show. She enjoys live music, traveling globally, hiking, and baking