Strategic Communications

The Strategic Communications Department collaborates with partners across the university to tell Mason’s story internally and externally.

Our team of writers and editors works with leadership, faculty, staff, students and community partners to align the university around core themes and messages and spotlight our success through news stories, features and other forms of communication. We share those stories through online and print publications, as well as through media outreach. The team also assists leadership with university-wide communication, presidential communication and crisis communication.

If you have a question about a story on the website, please reach out to the writer. If you have a general media inquiry or a question about the university, please email​

Melanie Balog - Executive Director of News and Content

Photo of Melanie Balog

Melanie Balog is the Executive Director of News and Content. She supervises the communications officers, oversees content for the Newsdesk and The George, and works with media to tell Mason’s story externally. She came to Mason in September 2014 after more than 18 years as a newspaper reporter, columnist, and editor, including at the Northwest Herald newspaper in suburban Chicago and the Charleston, S.C.-based Post and Courier newspaper.​​

Phone: 703-993-8785​


Damian Cristodero - Director of Communications Projects and Multimedia

Photo of Damian Cristodero

Damian Cristodero is the Director of Communications Projects and Multimedia. He produces Mason's Access to Excellence podcast, writes video scripts and oversees video projects, and supervises our communications interns. He also works closely with media to help tell Mason’s story externally. A graduate of Hofstra University, he joined Mason in 2015 after a long career as an award-winning sportswriter for organizations including the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) in Florida, the Gannett News Service and Newsday in New York.

Phone: 703-993-9118


Colleen Kearney Rich – Managing Editor and Senior Writer

Colleen Kearney Rich is the managing editor of Mason Spirit magazine and Mason Momentum, the university’s quarterly research newsletter. She joined Mason in 1988 and has held a variety of jobs on campus over the three decades. In addition to a journalism degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, she has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mason and helped found the feminist literary journal So To Speak while she was a graduate student.

Phone: 703-993-8805


Shayla Brown – Communications Officer

Shayla Brown

Shayla Brown is a Communications Officer. She covers news about the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Health, the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and manages the Strategic Communications social media accounts. Before coming to Mason in July 2022, Shayla worked as a staff writer and social media content creator for the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington, D.C., and as a graduate assistant for James Madison University’s Office of Alumni Relations. Shayla earned an MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication from James Madison University, as well as a bachelor’s in journalism.

Phone: 703-993-5118


Sarah Holland – Communications Officer

Sarah Holland

Sarah Holland is a Communications Officer. They cover news including the College of Education and Human Development, Honors College, School of Business, and University Life. Sarah earned their bachelor's in English from Susquehanna University and MA in English Literature from Marquette University. Sarah also earned a graduate certificate in folklore studies from George Mason University. Sarah came to Mason in 2019 as the marketing specialist for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, having prior experience with a boutique marketing firm in rural Virginia.

Phone: 703-993-8813


Lauren Clark Reuscher – Internal Communications Manager

Lauren Reuscher

Lauren Reuscher is the Internal Communications Manager. She is the managing editor for the weekly faculty and staff announcements (Around Mason), the Friday Edition of The George newsletter, maintains the People Finder directory, and works with campus partners to distribute information and announcements to faculty, staff, and students. Lauren came to Mason in 2009 and worked in the College of Education and Human Development until moving to the Office of University Branding in 2013. She is a Mason alum (MA History ’12) and earned her BA in history from James Madison University.

Phone: 703-993-8993


Cristian Torres – Videographer/Photographer

Christian Torres

Cristian Torres is a Videographer/Photographer. Cristian captures and edits photos and videos for Mason’s digital platforms. Before coming to Mason in 2022, Cristian worked for six years as a videographer in the Office for Integrated Communications at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and as a robotic camera operator for CableVision in San Juan, assigned to Puerto Rico’s Capitol building. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Digital Production from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico.

Phone: 703-993-8782


Preston Williams - Presidential Communications Manager

Preston Williams headshot

Preston Williams is the Presidential Communications Manager. He works with University officials on internal and external communications and serves as a liaison between the President’s Office and the Office of Strategic Communications. He joined Mason in 2013 as a Communications Officer. He previously worked for 15 years as a staff writer at The Washington Post and, prior to that, wrote for other newspapers in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.

Phone: 703-993-9376