The Vienna town government’s director of communications and marketing, Lynne Coan, has spent the last five years ushering in multiple upgrades with one goal in mind: improving how the town government connects with its constituents.
“I try to make sure that we present information in a friendly, clear, concise kind of way, without bureaucratic language that can sometimes infiltrate government communications,” she said.
Coan will step down April 14 and five days later take a new post as the communications specialist for the city of Rehoboth Beach, Del. That city seems massive and crowded during its tourist-packed summer season, but actually is fairly compact (1.6 square miles) and has about 2,000 residents, or about one-eighth of Vienna’s population.
“I’ve not worked in a community that’s been a tourist destination,” she said. “I’ll need to communicate with residents as well as visitors.”
Rehoboth will provide some new challenges, said Coan, who added that the chance for professional growth also was why she left her job as spokesman of the city of Suwanee, Ga., to come to Vienna in November 2015. While working in the town, she has taken advantage of leadership opportunities such as working on Vienna’s strategic plan and serving on the town’s budget committee.
“Vienna, in my experience, is unique in terms of the passion that residents have for their community and the level of engagement,” Coan said, adding that she hopes to facilitate similar public involvement in Rehoboth.
During her tenure in Vienna, Coan has initiated branding efforts, spearheaded the creation of a new town Website, held a competition to produce a new town logo, undertaken a marketing study and improved the town’s calendar and monthly newsletter.
The newsletter upgrade swapped a sparsely illustrated, just-the-facts publication printed on light-yellow paper for a full-color, feature-laden, professionally designed newsletter printed on glossy paper and renamed the Vienna Voice.
“With the Council’s support, we brought the newsletter into the 21st century,” Coan said.
When she came on board in Vienna, efforts to produce the annual town calendar were behind schedule, and Coan wondered if printed versions really were necessary. The response from residents was a resounding “yes.”
“My phone rang off the hook with people wondering where their calendar was,” recalled Coan. “It’s a very prized publication in the community.”
Coan later gave the calendar a makeover that made it more colorful and attractive, with photos and artworks supplied by local groups.
Coan also led efforts for two national community surveys, the second of which had a 45-percent response rate. The surveys allowed the town to benchmark how it was doing compared with communities across the nation, she said.
Coan and her husband, Carl Coan III, already have bought a house in Rehoboth, with the intention of retiring there. Her husband will retire from his law firm in June, but “I’m not ready to retire yet,” she said. “For the past 20 years, I’ve worked for local communities and I really love feeling like I can help contribute to a community’s sense of togetherness.”
Coan said she especially will miss her co-workers. “We have a great team here, people who really care about the community and care about providing good service to residents,” she said.
Vienna officials said they were sorry to see her go.
• “I’m pleased for her, though. It’s a great opportunity,” said Vienna Town Council member Howard Springsteen, adding that Coan had been responsive and tech-savvy in her role.
• “Lynne had a very good way of telling Vienna’s story,” said Town Manager Mercury Payton. “She really cared about making the residents aware of all of the good things going on in town.”
• “I think one of Lynne’s best initiatives was revamping, renaming and colorizing the town newsletter,” said Mayor Linda Colbert. “She has done a great job with press releases and worked hard to complete the new town Website.”
• Vienna Town Clerk Melanie Clark said working with Coan was an “absolute pleasure.”
“She was always very responsive to Council as well as my office,” Clark said. “She is a very professional and conscientious worker, a team player and a dear friend.”
• Council member Steve Potter said the town will miss Coan and her dedication for keeping residents informed. Coan is dedicated and a “great asset to the town,” added Council member Nisha Patel.
• Vienna Town Attorney Steven Briglia said Coan has been the “face of Vienna” for many residents and has done a “fabulous job.”
“She will always be a ‘Vienna person’ in my book,” Briglia said.
• Vienna Finance Director Marion Serfass said Coan became a Washington Nationals fan after arriving from Georgia, to the chagrin of her Atlanta Braves-loving son, and is a capable editor.
“I write all kinds of dull stuff about the town’s finances, and Lynne edits them and makes them more readable,” Serfass said.
• Natalie Monkou, the town’s economic-development manager, said Coan has been a “great co-worker, leader and office neighbor.”
“She’s been very instrumental in overseeing one of the town’s biggest communications projects: creating and transitioning the town to a brand-new Website,” she said.
Vienna officials now are searching for Coan’s successor. The town’s Website lists a job opening for a public-information officer, which would pay between $87,621 and $141,071 per year. Officials will accept applications through April 25.