Sandra Allen, director of Public Relations Studies in the Marketing Communications department at Columbia College Chicago, where she is also an assistant professor. As a professor, she combines academic experience with professional expertise.
With more than twenty-five years of public relations experience, Allen has held executive-level positions in the aviation, airline, financial services and electric utility industries. She has practiced in both the public and private sector.
In 2002, Allen founded S. Allen Communications and has provided strategic communications advice and counsel to retail and business-to-business clients, including Perot Systems, Inc., Chicago Sun-Times and W.W. Grainger.
In the public sector, Allen served as the key executive leading public and media relations at the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington, DC, where she was the Agency’s communications liaison with the White House and members of Congress. Additionally, Allen collaborated directly with then-Vice President Gore and his staff to develop a communications program related to the Administration’s initiative to realign the FAA to more closely resemble a private corporation.
As the chief spokesperson for the FAA, she orchestrated crisis communications, and directed media relations during five major airline accidents. When Mike Wallace (Sixty Minutes), Ted Koppel (Nightline), Sam Donaldson, and Brian Ross all “came calling” upon the FAA for participation in various television newsmagazines, Allen devised media strategy, trained operational executives for on-camera appearances, and handled the interview.
Allen was the highest-ranking female executive in a Fortune 500 company where she led corporate communications. Allen’s know-how includes designing and implementing internal communications programs that align change management concepts with business objectives to transform corporate cultures.
She earned a MBA at Pepperdine University. Her Master’s degree is from University of Texas at Dallas. She has lectured before graduate students on communications-related topics at Chicago’s Northwestern University and at the American University in Washington, DC. Her teaching experience includes stints at Harold Washington College, one of Chicago’s city colleges.
Accredited by PRSA, Allen was awarded the Silver Anvil, the highest award presented to public relations professionals, for a marketing communications program commemorating the thirty-fifth anniversary of Budget Rent-a-Car.
She regularly presents her communication-themed research and reports at education conferences. Articles in print have appeared in academic, national trade, and communications publications.