Telling the stories of students, teachers and staff is the goal for Joshua ISD’s first communications director.
Zoheb Hassanali, 32, was approved as the district’s first communications & public relations director by the board of trustees in December. His first day was Monday.
The Cedar Hill native has many years of experience in the journalism field as a news/photojournalist while working for TV stations in Ottumwa, Iowa; Colombia, South Carolina; Waco; and San Antonio.
For the past three and a half years, he worked as a communications specialist for Manor ISD, which is just northeast of Austin. While there, he said he was tasked with updating the district’s website and launching a video series documenting students and staff.
“Then this past November, we passed our 2019 Bond by almost 70 percent, which was the highest approval rate in Manor’s voting history,” he said. “And we also had the highest voter turnout.
“A large part of that was because we went out into the community and held a lot of town hall meetings. We livestreamed everything and answered all the questions and tried to be as transparent as possible for what they’re getting with their bond.”
Moving to Joshua was a no brainer for him and his family since it was closer to his parents. He and his wife have a 1-year-old son.
Being from the north Texas area, he also heard about the growth coming to Joshua and wanted to be a part of it.
“From everything I’ve heard, the community and the board of trustees’ support is amazing,” he said. “The district just needed someone to tell the stories and be the voice of the great things happening here.”
He will be in charge of updating the district’s website over the next couple of months, with plans to unveil it at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. He also plans on creating promotional videos and for the district to have more of a social media presence online.
“I’d love to work on more graphics, things like that, and just have a stronger presence overall,” he said. “Being transparent whenever we have a major initiative in the future and being very informative.”
JISD Superintendent Fran Marek said Hassanali was the right person for the job.
“We knew one of the biggest projects coming up was going to be the redesign of our website,” Marek said. “We needed someone who had the experience to be able to do that. Zoheb has that experience and the knowledge of what needs to be done.”
She also likes that he has experience with social media and promotional videos.
“We have a lot of great things going on here in this district,” Marek said. “I think he’s going to do amazing. Our board is very excited. They were very impressed when they met Zoheb the night that we hired him. I’m just excited to see where Zoheb in his position will be able to take us as far as telling our story and helping our district.”
Having an online presence is important for parents, community members and other stakeholders, she said.
“I think that Zoheb will be able to also bring a big, big positive there for our district,” she said.