Payne named director of communications

Leah C. Payne, a veteran communicator with more than 25 years of experience in media, public relations and marketing, has been named director of communications for Marshall University.

A native of Charleston and two-time graduate of Marshall University, Payne joined the university in 2005, working first as a public relations assistant and then as a broadcast specialist. After completing her master’s degree in public relations, she was named director of public affairs for the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the Marshall University School of Pharmacy in 2012.

"We are very excited to welcome Leah as our director of university communications," said Ginny Painter, senior vice president for communications and marketing. "She brings extensive experience in communications, marketing and public relations, all of which will help us expand our efforts in telling Marshall University’s stories."

Payne started her career as a radio news journalist at WTCR in Huntington before moving to Lexington, Kentucky, where she served as midday news anchor for WVLK-AM. She also worked as a news producer for WKYT-TV in Lexington and as a broadcast information specialist for the University of Kentucky.  She and her family moved back to West Virginia in 1996 and she worked as a freelance journalist and then in advertising before joining Marshall.

During her tenure at the school of medicine, Payne was responsible for the rebranding of University Physicians and Surgeons Inc. to Marshall Health, which included new logos, a new website and collateral materials.  Additionally, she managed marketing for 250+ physicians and health care providers, two retail pharmacies, and all communications and policy development for a tobacco-free campus. Moreover, she directed communications for the academic units of the schools of medicine and pharmacy.

"I am very excited to begin working with the talented team of writers and digital media specialists at University Communications," Payne said. "I’m enthusiastic for the future and what we will accomplish working collaboratively to promote Marshall University, its places, people, and programs."

Payne has been honored for her reporting on mental health issues as well as her community relations work. In 2010, she was recognized as a Star Volunteer by the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce for her work with the chamber’s Downtown Live Committee.  She also recently served as a member on the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Group on Institutional Advancement Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs Conference Advisory Group.

Payne’s appointment was effective June 25.