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KNOXVILLE — Gina Stafford, former News Sentinel reporter and most recently public relations manager for Blount Memorial Hospital, has been named director of communications on the University of Tennessee System staff.

Gina Stafford

Stafford, who joined Maryville’s Blount Memorial Hospital in 1999 after six years as an award-winning journalist with the Sentinel, assumed her new role Sept. 6, helping to lead UT’s statewide communications efforts.

“Gina Stafford’s broad-based knowledge and experience in public relations and print reporting will make her a key person on our team,” said Hank Dye, UT’s vice president for public and governmental relations. “We are pleased that she’ll be joining us in our efforts to tell the UT story.”

Dye said Stafford would be a part of his office, helping coordinate communications activities with the five campuses of the UT system.

He said Stafford’s appointment will not change any of the responsibilities of the Knoxville campus communications operations. Rather, it will provide additional resources to coordinate the combined efforts of system and campus groups.

Before her promotion to PR manager at Blount Memorial in 2003, Stafford worked as a public relations coordinator with the hospital for four years. Her efforts garnered awards from the local chapters of the Public Relations Society of America and the Tennessee Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations.

Stafford began her career as a journalist at the News Sentinel in 1993. She covered health care and general assignment news for six years. She also wrote a twice-monthly fitness column. Her work received several awards. Most notably, she won a “Best of Show” at the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Awards in 1998 for her work on the team that covered the Pigeon River cleanup.

She has a bachelor’s degree in English-journalism from Tennessee Technological University and is pursuing a master’s degree in communication from UT.

She volunteers for the Knoxville Habitat for Humanity and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is a past board member and president of the Tennessee Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations.

The University of Tennessee system consists of campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, as well as the Health Science Center at Memphis, the Space Institute at Tullahoma, and the Institute of Agriculture and the Institute for Public Service, based in Knoxville.

Karen Collins (865-974-5186)