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New Board Members Elected

Two new board members have been elected to serve two-year terms on the NCSPRA Board of Directors and a third board member has been re-elected. Tahira Stalberte, APR of Union County Public Schools and Ashley-Michelle Thublin, APR of Asheville City Schools were both elected to serve on the NCSPRA Board of Directors. Molly McGowan Gorsuch of Henderson County Public Schools was re-elected to another two-year term on the board. All three will begin their terms of office on June 1, 2021.

NCSPRA members also elected officers to lead the organization. Ken Derksen of Wayne County Public Schools was re-elected to another term as NCSPRA President. Stacia Harris of Buncombe County Schools was elected to serve as Vice President. Wanda Edwards of Guilford County Schools was voted to the position of Secretary, and Valerie Newton of Bladen County Schools was elected as NCSPRA’s Treasurer. All of the officers will serve one-year terms beginning June 1, 2021.

We have included more information about each of the  board members and officers below.  

 Tahira Stalberte, APR

      Tahira Stalberte, APR

Tahira Stalberte, APR – Union County Public Schools

Tahira Stalberte, APR, is the Assistant Superintendent of Communications and Community Relations for Union County Public Schools. She has 25 years of experience in communications and public relations, and has worked in four of the largest school districts in North Carolina—Guilford, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Durham and Union.

Stalberte has served on a number of community and state boards, including NCSPRA from 2009-2011.

Career highlights:

  • Presented best practices for crisis communications during COVID-19 to school system professionals and presented at the 2017 NSPRA annual seminar.
  • Named one of the 21 most influential African American leaders in Union County.
  • Led a successful school bond campaign in 2016, resulting in 71 percent of residents voting in favor of the bond.
  • Earned national and state awards for marketing, special events, digital media and video production. 
  Ashley-Michelle Thublin, APR – Asheville City Schools


Ashley-Michelle Thublin, APR

Ashley-Michelle Thublin, APR is serving in her 8th year of School PR and 4th as Asheville City Schools’ Executive Director of Communications.  She has been an active member of NCSPRA and NSPRA since 2014.  She currently represents the Southeast on NSPRA’s Communication Technology & Innovation Project Team and received the distinction of NSPRA 35 under 35 in 2017.  Under her leadership, ACS has earned 27 NCSPRA Gold Awards & 3 Best of the Bests.  Additionally, Ashley-Michelle presented at the NCSPRA Fall 2018 conference about ACS’s strategic communications plan, #TheACSWay, and at NSPRA 2020 with the topic “Your Superintendent Just Resigned.  Now What?”  Ashley-Michelle is a proud graduate of New York University and obtained her Accreditation in Public Relations in September 2020. 
  Molly McGowan Gorsuch – Henderson County Public Schools


    Molly McGowan Gorsuch

Molly McGowan Gorsuch is in her seventh year as public information officer overseeing district communication activities for Henderson County Public Schools.

A member of NCSPRA and the National School Public Relations Association since 2014, Molly has served on the NCSPRA board from 2019 and its Media Team since 2020. Molly has coordinated mentoring events and presented at NCSPRA statewide events, facilitated member outreach in online conferences, guest hosts the “Drive Time” podcast, and supported the 2021 rebranding effort.

Molly has guest contributed to the #k12PRwell newsletter and Rhodes Branding blog and represents School PR as a charter member of the PRSA WNC Chapter.




             Ken Derksen


Ken Derksen – Wayne County Public Schools

Ken is the Communications & Public Relations Officer for Wayne County Public Schools and the current President of NCSPRA. Ken has 23 years television news and school public relations experience. He has been a member of NCSPRA/NSPRA since 2005. Ken joined the NCSPRA Board in 2014, has served in all officer roles, and has had the privilege of leading a forward moving Board and representing NCSPRA on the NCDPI COVID-19 Communication Team throughout the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

As the department supervisor of four staff, Ken directly handles WCPS media relations, information requests, community relations, crisis communications, etc. Ken also coordinates the WCPS Partners In Education Program and facilitates the district’s Volunteer of the Year program. Ken holds a bachelor’s degree in communications/public relations and a master’s degree in English/Technical & Profession Communications.  


           Stacia Harris

Vice President:

Stacia Harris – Buncombe County Schools

 Stacia Harris has extensive experience as a communicator in TV news and marketing. A graduate of Wake Forest University ('01), Stacia worked in the Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County Schools communications department following graduation, then transitioned to commercial TV news and promotions. In 2015, Stacia joined the Buncombe Co. Schools communications department, becoming director in 2017. She earned a Master’s in Management and Leadership (MSML) from Montreat College ('19) and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University. Stacia serves on the NCSPRA Media Team and co-produces the new podcast, #SchoolPR Drive Time. She's enjoyed her time serving on the NCSPRA board and hopes to continue to be an advocate for school PR practitioners across the state!



          Valerie Newton


Valerie Newton – Bladen County Schools

Valerie Newton is the Public Information Officer for Bladen County Schools in North Carolina. She has served as the PIO in Bladen County since 2006, working under five different superintendents.  Additionally, Valerie has served on the North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA) Board as State Coordinator and as an Officer on the Executive Board as Secretary and Treasurer.  She has been a member of NCSPRA and NSPRA since 2006. Valerie has served on the Executive Board of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) since 2019.

Valerie received her bachelor’s in marketing and a minor in organizational leadership from North Carolina Wesleyan where she graduated magna cum laude. She also received a certificate in social media management from North Carolina Wesleyan. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Beta Delta academic honor societies.


          Wanda Edwards


Wanda Edwards – Guilford County Schools

Wanda currently serves as the Director of Communications for Guilford County Schools, a position she has held since 2015.  Overseeing a staff of seven communications specialists, she is responsible for internal and external communications, media relations, volunteers and community outreach, social media, special event planning for the district  and GCSTV, the district’s 24/7 television station.  She and her team have won numerous state and national awards and continues to ensure the best communication possible across the district that serves 73,000 students and 10,000 plus employees.

Prior to joining GCS, Wanda worked at her alma mater, Bennett College for more than 20 years, in various capacities including Director of Public Relations and Communications.