UAT profiles: meet Salena Kitteringham

17 March 2022

In this new series, get to know some of the people who have taken on new roles as part of the university's operating model.

Salena Kitteringham

  • Current position: Director, Communications and Marketing Partnerships
  • Time with the university: 18 years (not counting my time as an undergraduate)
  • Former position: Director, Communications and Marketing, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

What do you like most about your current position?

I am inspired by the power of partnerships―how we can achieve so much more with co-creation, collaboration, and coordination than we can working solo or in silos. This is what called me to the role in the first place and continues to fuel my passion for the hard work we are doing. It is exciting to play a trailblazing role and help transform my beloved alma mater at this pivotal moment.

It has been amazing to join such a strong senior leadership team of directors in strategic communications under the helm of our brilliant AVP, Jennifer Pascoe. I am learning so much every day working alongside these fierce female leaders who are so generous with their expertise.

Another aspect of my role that I find rewarding right now is acting as a coach and mentor for the Senior Partners and Partners. I have worked in the diverse areas of fine arts and health sciences, so I have extensive faculty-based experiences to draw on and some wisdom to impart.

I'm also keen to learn more about all the portfolios we serve. Facilities and Operations. The Provost Office. University of Alberta International. Human Resources. Finance. Our organization is complex and this fascinates me.

How was the transition into your new position?

I would describe the fall as a "fast and furious" pace!

I'm grateful to the HR partners for their support and guidance as we designed countless interview panels to recruit into the new organizational structure. I had to make some tough decisions. The internal talent pool that we drew from was vast and deep. We had a lot of strengths and talent to leverage and deploy. Recruiting the Partner Network was a privilege that I took to heart.

Maximizing the teams we have put in place is our focus right now. I am really looking forward to working more closely with the new Marketing and Creative Directors with AVP Sonia Piano as they continue to onboard their staff, as well as the Alumni Relations, Events, Development, Government and Community Relations teams. 

Has your unit experienced any successes or progress as part of the UAT initiative?

I will happily highlight our work to support the Intergovernmental Plan release on Climate Change as a successful case study. It is a great example of how we hope academic units will engage with our teams to achieve great strategic communications results to enhance our reputation with external stakeholders and drive us up in global university rankings.

Researcher Sherilee Harper and Dean Shanthi Johnson, both from the School of Public Health, gave us plenty of advance notice and context on the key research alignment with global partners to help us maximize exposure. This allowed us to strategize with the editorial and media relations teams.

We were open about our capacity at various points and worked within and between teams to resource the project in a fluid, open, and one-team, one-University manner.

Together, we were able to earn significant media coverage in the Globe and Mail, on Global National, CBC Quirks and Quarks, and Real Talk with Ryan Jespersen, as well as interviews with big American outlets such as ABC, the Washington Post, and others.

What aspect of UAT has been more challenging than you expected?

While the majority of our Partners have been in place since December, not all the Centres of Expertise are fully staffed. I am thankful to the academic and administrative leaders for extending us goodwill and patience as we've been standing up the model.

When you think of the U of A of Tomorrow, what are you most looking forward to?

After more than two years of continuous, rapid, and complex change, I am looking forward to renewing and restoring our vitality as a strong and proud U of A community.

Directors of Service Partnerships are a new role to the university. They report to the AVP of their respective function and lead and engage a client-focused service partnership team that creates and reinforces trust and value for their function university-wide. The Director of Communications and Marketing Partnerships will work with the senior partners for the three colleges plus the vice-presidential portfolios alongside the faculty service partners and communications associates who round out the team.

If you'd like to be featured in the UAT profile series, or would like to nominate someone, please contact