Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Our New Top Messenger

CPA president/Austin communications director Helen Osman tapped for US Catholicism's top media-relations post.

Fresh off the wire:
WASHINGTON—Helen Osman, Communications Director, Diocese of Austin, Texas, has been named Secretary for Communications for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Osman is also Editor of the Catholic Spirit, award-winning newspaper of the Austin Diocese, and President of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada (CPA).

As USCCB Secretary for Communications, she succeeds Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco who returned to service in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, last fall.
The appointment, effective August 1, 2007, was announced by USCCB General Secretary Msgr. David J. Malloy.

“Helen Osman has done outstanding communications work in Austin and in her many duties with the CPA,” Msgr. Malloy said. “She has great vision about the constantly developing use of all forms of media in the apostolate of the Church. I am confident she will provide extraordinary leadership to the communications ministry of the Conference.”

In Austin, Osman coordinated communication efforts for all major events sponsored by the diocese. This included contact with outside media, internal communications with parish staffs, and message development for diocesan media.

She fostered the diocese’s relations with outside media, including providing an in-depth briefing prior to the U.S. bishops’ meeting in Dallas in June 2002, and nearly constant communication with local media throughout the bishops’ meeting, and developing extensive background material for local media prior to the death of Pope John Paul II.

Osman served on a team that developed risk management policies and then implemented an education program on ethical conduct for church workers, with an emphasis on prevention of sexual abuse of children, which has served as a model nationwide for Catholic dioceses and other faith communities.

She initiated and then directed implementation of a communication system for the diocese’s 30 internal offices and 125 parishes, using e-mail and a Web site to improve both the speed and content of information exchanged among offices and parishes. This effort was begun in 1995, when many nonprofit organizations had not yet realized the potential of the Internet for communications and outreach. It now includes two weekly e-newsletters to key stakeholders and a content-driven Web site.

While Communications Director for the Diocese of Austin, Osman has continued to serve as editor of the Catholic Spirit newspaper, which has won international awards. She saw the circulation of the paper rise to nearly 100,000 and supervised implementation of a Web-based database for circulation that also served the information needs of parishes and the diocesan development office.

Helen Osman was Board member, Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, 1997-2006, Secretary, 2002-2004, and President, 2004-2006.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, magna cum laude, Drury College, 1982, and has been a member of St. Thomas More parish in Austin since 1983.

She has been married to John Osman for 25 years and is the mother of four children (with three either attending or graduated from Catholic universities and the fourth preparing to do so).

As Secretary for Communications in a reorganized USCCB, Helen Osman will head a department whose “Communications Cluster” will include offices for Media Relations; Publishing; Catholic Communications Campaign, including CCC production and distribution, and Internet Content Management; Film and Broadcasting; and Catholic News Service (CNS).