Kiara Dunston makes a difference in her community every day through her work as a Communication(s) Specialist at Greater Bergen Community Action, Inc. Dunston said that in her role, she creates and disseminates strategic, high-quality communications for the agency that “raise the profile and reputation of Greater Bergen Community Action as one of the Northern NJ region’s leading anti-poverty agencies.”
Her responsibilities in this role include: written content for press releases, media alerts, website content, social media posts, newsletters, blogs, youth thought-leadership content; producing videos that tell compelling stories including script writing, filming and editing; assisting in creation of key messaging and positioning statements; acting as Greater Bergen’s Social Media & Community Communicator; managing Greater Bergen Social Media Accounts, including crafting copy for posts, responding to comments, answering questions, and engaging with users as the Greater Bergen brand.
“I have responsibilities that span across many different aspects of communication, and having learned about each of these aspects at SC&I really helps me to fulfill my responsibilities in a way that is congruent with best practices in the communication field currently,” Dunston said.
Dunston credits the Master of Communication and Media degree program for preparing her for such a demanding role. “I have responsibilities that span across many different aspects of communication, and having learned about each of these aspects at SC&I really helps me to fulfill my responsibilities in a way that is congruent with best practices in the communication field currently,” Dunston said.
Greater Bergen Community Action, Inc., according to their website, is the federally designated anti-poverty agency of Bergen County, New Jersey. It offers programs, services, and initiatives that “serve as solutions to current and persistent challenges that impoverished communities face.” Programs include early childhood and adult education, financial assistance, housing assistance, and utility assistance. Greater Bergen also provides their programs and services in Jersey City and Paterson.
Most recently, Dunston, who was just promoted to her new role, has also been assisting Greater Bergen in their COVID-19 Vaccine Equity initiative, which provides vaccinations to Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color in underserved communities who have not had equal access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Dunston said as a part of the initiative she works to communicate Greater Bergen’s equity efforts externally and internally and market their assistance to other community partners, organizations, and vaccine providers.
“My role highlights the importance of communicators because without communication(s), information can’t be curated, communicated, disseminated and transferred,” Dunston said. “In a society that is inherently evolving, and even more so during this pandemic — it’s critical that we ensure emerging information is communicated, not only educate people but to also create dialogue in efforts to dismantle systems that perpetuate inequities and to positively impact and change lives.”
Growing up in Englewood, New Jersey, which is located in Bergen County, Dunston said she was inspired to work at Greater Bergen after seeing the impact the organization has made in her community.
“Greater Bergen has been in the community I’ve grown up in for more than 50 years and has helped people I know in many different ways,” she said. “I’ve always felt that through the gifts I have been blessed with, specifically the ability to communicate in a way that resonates with and considers all people, that I would serve others and help make an impact. And what better place to start than in my own community.”
"I learned to be a multi-faceted communication professional at SC&I,” Dunston said. “This has really helped me at Greater Bergen and I’m certain it will continue to have the same impact throughout my career, because communication is the foundation of just about everything — with a unique ability to enlighten and encourage people. I’m just happy to be formally educated in it.”
After completing her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from Hampton University in 2014, Dunston worked in various roles in the communication(s) field before deciding to pursue her master’s degree at Rutgers.
“I was researching communication graduate school programs in New Jersey and was happy to learn that Rutgers had one because it is the #1 school in NJ,” she said. “I knew that I’d get the education I was seeking at Rutgers, so it was an easy decision.”
Dunston said her favorite SC&I faculty member is Teaching Professor and Director of the MCM and Master of Health Communication and Information (MHCI) programs Richard Dool, and she also enjoyed taking the class Digital Media Production with Teaching Instructor Neal Bennett and Organizational Decision Making taught by Part-Time Lecturer Kenneth Mizrach.
“I learned to be a multi-faceted communication professional at SC&I,” Dunston said. “This has really helped me at Greater Bergen and I’m certain it will continue to have the same impact throughout my career, because communication is the foundation of just about everything — with a unique ability to enlighten and encourage people. I’m just happy to be formally educated in it.”