Colleen Penhall will join UNC Charlotte as associate vice chancellor for University Communications and chief communications officer, effective Monday, Aug. 19. In this role, Penhall will lead UNC Charlotte’s communications and brand strategy, including media relations, issues management, news and information, broadcast and digital media, creative services, advancement communications and communications operations. She will report directly to Niles Sorensen, vice chancellor for University Advancement, and also serve as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet.
Penhall has more than 20 years of experience managing corporate reputation, brand and social responsibility for Fortune 100 companies. She most recently served as a vice president at Lowe’s Companies Inc., a Fortune 50 home improvement company, overseeing both corporate communications and corporate social responsibility functions. During her tenure at Lowe’s, Penhall had leadership responsibility for corporate and brand public relations, crisis communications, employee communications, executive communications, digital content, corporate events, corporate sustainability, community relations and Lowe's Charitable Foundation. Penhall is credited for leading Lowe’s award-winning communications strategy globally recognized for supporting a purpose-led transformation impacting 310,000 employees.
"Colleen's record of accomplishments at three Fortune 100 companies speaks for itself. Her experience, enthusiasm and deep understanding of the best practices in communications will have an enormous impact on our ability to advance the goals of the University’s strategic plan,” said Sorensen. “We are thrilled that she will join UNC Charlotte’s senior leadership team."
Prior to Lowe’s, Penhall was senior vice president, corporate communications, at Bank of America, supporting global risk management communications. She began her career at Philip Morris USA and its holding company, Altria Group, and held various leadership positions in corporate communications, public affairs, corporate responsibility and sales/brand management.
“As we approach our 75th anniversary, plan the opening of the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and work to meet the demands of our region and state, we will have unprecedented opportunities to tell UNC Charlotte’s story,” said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. “I am delighted to welcome a professional of Colleen’s proven caliber to UNC Charlotte.”
An alumna of Elon University, Penhall earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and broadcast communications. Currently, she is a member of the Elon University School of Communications Advisory Board and was named Elon’s Outstanding Alumni in Communications in 2018. She also is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, the world’s leading association for communications professionals of Fortune 500 corporations, agencies and academia who have distinguished themselves in the communications field.
Additionally, Penhall is on the board of directors for Our Towns Habitat for Humanity serving North Mecklenburg and Iredell counties.