Helaine Klasky, Yale’s chief spokesperson and director of public affairs, will leave the University in July to join her husband in Washington, D.C.
Klasky and her husband, William Wechsler, were married while colleagues at the Treasury Department in 2000. The next year, Klasky came to work at Yale and her husband followed her to Connecticut. Now, as Klasky put it in an e-mail to friends and colleagues, it is her “turn to follow him.”
Wechsler recently began work as the deputy assistant secretary for counternarcotics and global threats at the Department of Defense; Klasky will step down from her duties on July 17 and move south, along with her two boys, in August.
“I’ve feared this since President Obama was elected,” University President Richard Levin said in a phone interview. “Helaine is fabulous and I’m going to miss her intensely.”
Although the Office of Public Affairs reports to University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer, Klasky also holds the title of special assistant to the president. In that capacity, she works directly for Levin and sits in on meetings of the University’s officers.
Klasky said in a phone interview that she hopes her successor will do more than just “continue with the drumbeat.” Even still, the drumbeat these days is quite loud: Klasky’s office, which has more than doubled in size during her eight-year tenure, is actively marketing Yale’s internationalization efforts, along with its sustainability programs and construction projects. In recent years, OPA has placed special focus on raising awareness of scientific research conducted at Yale.
Over the next few years, Yale will continue to develop a strategy for raising its profile as a leading scientific research center. Klasky said her successor will also take a lead in exploring ways Yale can harness viral and social media outlets.
Lorimer said a national search would be conducted to fill the position. While Levin said Klasky was hired in 2001 in part for her experience with international media, he said not even the University’s goal to gain further recognition for its scientific and medical and engineering activities would define the search this time around.
“We just want a really outstanding communications professional,” he said.