November 7th, 2017


Jonathan Blackwell, graphic designer, Patti Wade, director of marketing and communications, and Rachel Eason, interactive media coordinator, work with JA’s website, social media, magazine, weekly newsletter, print material, advertising, and the news media.


Once upon a time there were three people who had a story to tell. The very worthwhile story was told through channels called the website, social media, the magazine, the newsletter, advertising, and news media. The storytellers made the website informative, wrote and produced the weekly newsletter, photographed over 300 events per year, responded when the media called, developed print and digital advertising, and produced JA’s magazine. They drafted creative daily and weekly posts to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’d like to introduce you to these storytellers and help you know which person to contact for what request.


Jonathan Blackwell

Graphic designer Jonathan Blackwell came to JA in May with 17 years of experience in print design and 10 years experience in website design. He is a well-rounded communications professional who has worked most recently as senior art director with The Gibbes Company, an agency in Ridgeland. He was selected Designer of the Year by the American Advertising Federation of Jackson in 2009. Jonathan holds a Bachelor of Science in graphic design from Mississippi College and an Associate of Arts from Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Jonathan and his wife, Beth, have a one-year-old daughter, Cora, who looks forward to being a JA Raider.

What attracted you to JA?

I have always heard good things about Jackson Academy and thought it would be a great place to work, but from a design standpoint, I was attracted to the prospect of being a part of establishing and promoting the school both visually and creatively. My past experiences in advertising have allowed me to work on numerous projects, but never any one brand for an extended period of time. In considering JA, I saw the challenge of working for an organization to promote its character, values, and uniqueness from the inside.

What has been the biggest surprise to you about the environment here?

Having never worked in education, I was initially surprised by how much each department is interconnected with marketing and communications.

What are some of the things you look forward to doing while at JA?

I’m looking forward to utilizing my creativity and expertise to help elevate the visual identity of the school. I am also looking forward to seeing the finished product of the new website redesign.

What is a “little known fact” about you?

A couple of little known facts about me are that I played in several (rock) bands throughout college and after, and I’ve run 4 marathons, including the 2013 New York City Marathon.

What is something that you feel is one of your strengths that you look forward to utilizing in your new job?

I believe one of my greatest strengths as a designer is looking for unconventional solutions to solving design problems. I like the idea of finding inspiration in unlikely places and transforming those ideas into creative solutions.


Rachel Eason

As interactive media coordinator, Rachel Eason coordinates JA’s social media and photography as well as supports the department’s initiatives that include the Tuesday Raider, news distribution, advertising, and website content. Rachel arrived at JA in June after completing two years as an admissions counselor at Belhaven University and the recent completion of a master’s degree in communication at Mississippi College. She earned her undergraduate degree at Belhaven University in 2013. Rachel is originally from Huntsville, AL. She is an accomplished instrumentalist who plays the viola and ukulele.

What attracted you to JA?

When I finally looked up from my graduate research to the horizon where I would need a job, I asked God for three specific things; I asked to have a job and mentor in the field of marketing and communications, because navigating in a headwind is far more challenging than in the safety of a classroom; I asked for a job that allowed me to serve a community, because I know my purpose is ultimately always people; finally, I asked for a job that allowed me the freedom to learn new skills. All of these were met at JA, where a thriving community that pushes to learn and grow has welcomed me, and where Patti Wade and Jonathan Blackwell are patient teachers and mentors to the newest member of our marketing team – me!

What are some of the things you look forward to doing while at JA?

I look forward to hearing and sharing stories from the students, staff, faculty, and alumni who create the amazing environment here at JA.

What is a “little known fact” about you?

The great thing about being new is that everything is a “little known fact”! I can be pretty quiet, but don’t be fooled – I love to try new things! From bouldering to flying planes, or more tame past-times like sushi-making, I will hardly ever turn down an opportunity to explore the world around me. I like to say that my comfort zone is getting out of my comfort zone.

What is something that you feel is one of your strengths that you look forward to utilizing in your new job?

I love to learn. Media is changing daily, and our school and students are always finding new ways to push innovation. Learning will never be optional in this role. I couldn’t be more thrilled!


Patti Wade

Jonathan and Rachel join Patti Wade, director of marketing and communications, who has been at JA since 2013. She has 20 years experience in higher education, having served in faculty and staff roles at Millsaps College and Copiah-Lincoln Community College. Patti holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public relations from The University of Southern Mississippi, with additional MBA coursework from Millsaps. Patti is the incoming president of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi and current vice president of education services for the Southern Public Relations Federation, an association of  PR professionals from Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana. She obtained the accredited in public relations credential (APR) in 2013. She and her husband, Frank, have two daughters who graduated from JA in 2010 (Rachel) and 2013 (Sarah, better known at JA as Swade).

What attracted you to JA?

We first became interested in JA when we moved to Flowood in 2002 and our girls were elementary age. Of all the schools we visited in the Jackson Metro area, JA offered the opportunity to have both children on one campus. I was working at Millsaps College, so being able to get to campus quickly and participating in the girls’ activities were very important to us.

What do you value about the environment at JA?

JA is a positive place to work. Many times in my first year, Peter Jernberg or Cliff Kling would stop by and thank me or comment on how well we had done on something we had just produced. To be genuinely thanked so frequently really made an impression on me. Although my nature is to do my best anyway, to have someone verbalize that they recognized the work was uplifting. Research shows that to be thanked is one of the top five things a leader can do for employees to increase job satisfaction.

What has been the biggest surprise to you about the environment here?

As a parent I really valued the JA atmosphere, but I was not aware of how much prayer and thought went into decisions by the school leadership until I joined the staff in 2013. We open our administrative team meetings with prayer requests and pray for those in our JA community and beyond who have illnesses, injuries, or other life challenges. The group prays for wisdom in decision making.

What is a “little known fact” about you?

I love watching the Accents, cheerleaders, and all our spirit teams dance because I was a member of the Dixie Darlings dance team at USM. It brings back fun memories. Through the field of public relations, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of interesting individuals including scientist and animal rights activist Jane Goodall, author Greg Iles, and National Geographic producer Jeremy Zipple.

What is something that you feel is one of your strengths that you use in your job?

I come from a background of journalism and organizational communication so writing, editing and promoting events are natural to me, yet I have learned that I enjoy managing projects and helping move initiatives forward for an organization. I am looking forward to coordinating the new website redesign with our team and helping envision how JA might celebrate its 60th anniversary.


Where to direct questions:

General requests can be made to However, if you have specific request about any of the items below, you can contact the staff member directly at, and

Marketing & Communications Project Examples