California College of the Arts

Marketing Leadership Consultant (Sept. 2018-Dec. 2019 & July 2019-Sept. 2019)
Interim Vice President, Marketing & Communications (Jan. 2019 – June 2019)

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Founded in 1907
  • 1,500 undergraduate + 450 graduate students
  • College of art, architecture, design and writing

Challenge

For more than a century, California College of the Arts (CCA) has educated the leaders of tomorrow to shape culture and society through the practice and critical study of art, architecture, design, and writing. The college is in the midst of transformational change while building a new campus, and the Office of Marketing and Communications has gone through a great deal of transition in recent years. They hired me to complete an organizational and operational assessment for this department.

California College of the Arts logo

Solution

Our initial contract included reviewing and redefining the mission and purpose of the department to more closely align with institutional priorities, determine if the existing organizational structure best supported their mission and purpose, make recommendations for staffing changes and how to fill open vacancies, and assess their internal workflow. I met with each staff member and dozens of other key stakeholders throughout the college, reviewed and updated all job descriptions in the department, and developed a long-term staffing plan within their existing budget. In addition, I assessed their workflow processes and supporting technology with the goal of creating an efficient, strategic Marketing Communications operation. 

Toward the end of this contract, the Vice President for Marketing and Communications announced her departure. The college asked me to assume the role of Interim Vice President, working mostly remotely from my home base in New York. While in the role, I assisted with the search for their new VP, and led communication efforts and planning for the college’s Unification initiative, which will bring their two campuses in Oakland and San Francisco together in San Francisco in the coming years. I oversaw extensive budget management, managed ongoing employee relations, hired three new staff members and two contractors, planned and prioritized summer and fall workload, and partnered with the VP of Human Resources and other Senior Cabinet members on internal communications, and worked with an external PR firm to develop key messaging and talking points.

Once the new VP was hired, I guided the onboarding process and stayed on three additional months to continue assisting with strategic projects, including employee performance reviews, enrollment marketing, advertising planning, and screening candidates for four open positions.

Rachel worked at California College of the Arts for nearly a year as a consultant and subsequently Interim VP for Marketing and Communications. Her blend of experience and skills helped us manage and bridge a critical leadership change in that area. In all aspects, Rachel was a keen strategic partner for me, and a sharply productive member of our senior leadership team. She is smart and focused, knows how to prioritize competing needs, and unfailingly collaborative. She was a joy to work with and I enthusiastically recommend her. 

Stephen Beal

President, California College of the Arts

I am pleased to post an enthusiastic recommendation for Rachel Reuben. I worked with her continuously for 11 months. Throughout, she was a tremendous asset, and her professionalism helped the college weather a challenging time of transition in the MarCom unit. She is very knowledgeable about higher ed marketing and communications — tried-and-true best practices as well as leading-edge trends. She is smart, organized, and driven yet flexible, friendly, and fun to work with. She understands big picture challenges and opportunities and how to address them on a tactical level. She learned the culture of our school, operated well within it, and had the respect of the president, provost and other senior leaders.

I’d hire her again as a project-based consultant or an interim leader. I don’t know how we would have managed the leadership transition in that department without her expertise and steady hand. Her professionalism was an essential component in helping staff and faculty work through the opportunities and challenges CCA faced in marketing and communications this year.

Rachel, you’ve set CCA up for success. . .  Thank you again for devoting so much time and care to CCA during a time of transition.

Susan Avila

Senior Vice President, Advancement, California College of the Arts

Rachel is one of the most tireless, focused, organized, strategic, and reliable people I have ever worked with—and she does it all with a graciousness and good humor that makes her a delight as a colleague. Rachel served as interim VP for Marketing & Communications at CCA before I was hired into the position permanently, and I had the luxury of working side by side with her through a thorough onboarding process. Her knowledge, expertise, collaborative nature, and organization enabled me to dive into the complex role more quickly than I have with any new position previously, and her breadth of knowledge and ability to learn any system almost instantly enabled her to flex among several key projects quickly, from writing a comprehensive crisis communications plan to untangling and deploying a complex digital marketing strategy. I’m beyond grateful to have worked with her, and will wholeheartedly recommend her to any organization in need of a top-tier marketing & communications executive! 

Ann Wiens

VP Marketing + Communications, California College of the Arts

Rachel can do it all. She excels at leading and managing a huge range of tasks, teams, and budgets with professionalism and empathy. She is at once firm and thoughtful. I worked with Rachel at California College of the Arts and she was a rock for our team during a transition of leadership. I was impressed with her ability to maintain high quality standards while juggling numerous stakeholder and staff interests (and keeping colleagues calm in the high-stress environment that change can create). Rachel is always asking the right questions, and, even better, pursuing them until she lands on a multi-faceted solution. I learned a lot watching her lead and advocate for her team remotely. Her skills in resourcing, content strategy and development, and multi-channel marketing also deserve a hat tip. Whether you have Rachel’s high-level consulting skills helping you streamline your team’s workflow, or her on-the-ground management skills tackling the day to day nuances, you’re in great hands. 

Jackie Mantey

Senior Editor, California College of the Arts

I had the pleasure of working with Rachel in her role as Interim VP of Marketing and Communication at the California College of the Arts. We worked together on the staffing of many openings on the team including the successful onboarding of a new VP. Rachel skillfully managed a very complex budget and navigated some complex employee team dynamics. She was a great partner, and someone I really enjoyed working with. Any company would be lucky to have her on their team!

Maureen Middleton

Senior HR Business Partner, California College of the Arts