The City-County Communications & Marketing Association announced city of Santa Clarita spokeswoman Carrie Lujan as the winner of its 2021 Communicator of the Year award.
A communications manager is the protector of their agency’s reputation, storyteller, cheerleader, creative force, motivator, innovator and they always have their ear to the ground to hear the community’s desires and concerns, taking action and providing needed information during emergencies and tragedies — and creating and innovating to build a sense of community during the best times, according to a 3CMA news release.
This year’s Communicator of the Year has fulfilled all of these roles and more over the last two years, informing and engaging the residents of the community she serves through arguably the toughest times in its history, all while creating a strong sense of community and pride, 3CMA officials stated.
In October 2019, the devastating Tick Fire broke out in Canyon Country, burning 4,615 acres, damaging 45 structures, destroying 29 and forcing the evacuation of 40,000 residents — the largest evacuation operation in the city’s history.
From the city’s Emergency Operations Center, Lujan gathered updates from the command post and partner agencies and delivered timely, verified information to residents and media members, ensuring that clear communications reached those who needed it most, according to 3CMA.
Just 10 days later, a student at Saugus High School pulled a handgun from his backpack and shot five of his classmates — killing two — before turning the gun on himself.
Lujan again reported to the command post, assisting with evacuations and reunifications and organizing a press conference, along with a community vigil, which brought nearly 15,000 community members together and was viewed by more than 50,000 on Facebook Live.
These tragedies took place just months before Santa Clarita and the world plunged into a global pandemic.
Lujan quickly pivoted and embraced the technology available to safely continue outreach and engagement with the community and city staff, producing regular Facebook Live updates from the mayor to inform the public of the latest developments and answer questions and working to honor essential workers, according to 3CMA.
3CMA assembled in a conference in St. Louis on Sept. 9 to present Lujan with the 2021 Communicator of the Year award.