In her two-plus years at Bradley, Renée Richardson has led the team responsible for telling the university’s stories — and for building and maintaining its brand.
Her team, housed in Comstock Hall, includes media relations, web development, graphic design, internal/crisis communications, social media, videography, photography, community relations and editorial staff.
She came by her communications skills naturally. Richardson was born in Cuba, where her father was responsible for communications for the government, military and civilians at Guantanamo Bay.
“He was director of publications on the U.S. Naval Base,” she said. “The family was evacuated during the Bay of Pigs, but he stayed behind.”
What’s her favorite part of working on the Hilltop?
“Bradley students are really impressive. They’re articulate and well rounded. I love the family atmosphere here. There’s a vitality associated with working with students.”
Though Richardson spent most of her career at Caterpillar Inc., the adjustment to academia was smooth. “Bradley functions like a city,” she said. “I always call Nathan (Thomas, vice president for student affairs) the mayor.
“And leadership is about engaging people, making them feel rewarded and appreciated,” she said. “It’s also about trying to exceed your goals with limited resources.”
A crucial aspect of her role, Richardson said, is deciding how the team will respond to and disseminate breaking news to keep the university, parents and the public informed. “The immediacy of social media means our reaction times have to be faster,” she said.
At Caterpillar, she led the global marketing services department, a 340-member team managing the brand, digital channel strategy, creative services, customer experience, and recruitment and training of marketing talent.
Richardson previously served as Caterpillar’s district manager in Amsterdam, leading dealer performance across eight countries in Northern Europe. Earlier, she was the district manager in Seattle, focused on dealer performance in five states in the Pacific Northwest and the U.S. rental operations manager assisting dealers in the development and operation of the Cat Rental Store.
A self-confessed foodie who loves to travel, her favorite destinations include Tuscany and Willamette, Ore., where she attends an annual wine gathering. She’s the youngest of seven girls in a close-knit family scattered all over the country. “We have a frequent group text going,” she joked.
“ Leadership … is about engaging people, making them feel rewarded and appreciated.”
Richardson adopted Keegan, nicknamed Dr. K., a little black rescue dog, in 2018. “He’s half lab, half Chihuahua,” she said. “He’s my bodyguard. Follows me around anywhere I go.”
If she hadn’t gone into corporate management, she would have liked to go into the wine business, owning a shop or working at a winery. She became interested in wines shortly after finishing college at Loyola Marymount University, when she and her friends would drive up to wineries near Paso Robles, Calif.
“I was always interested in the process of it,” she said.
Her advice for those who don’t know where to start in choosing a wine at a restaurant?
“If you order it by the glass, you can ask for a taste first, before you commit to it.”