40 Under 40 2017: April Slayton

Assistant director for communications, National Park Service, 39

Whether she’s explaining the dangers of mad cow disease or urging citizens to visit their national parks, April Slayton has demonstrated a passion for communicating the role of government to Americans.

Slayton has spent more than 14 years in public service and has found ways to energize the comms operations in every position she’s held by inspiring confidence, establishing a positive and creative workplace culture, and allowing each organization’s best attributes to shine through.

At the National Park Service, Slayton led a comms strategy to celebrate the federal agency’s 100th anniversary. Her team gave the organization’s website a facelift by expanding national content and improving trip planning. She also teamed with the National Park Foundation to create the successful public engagement campaign, Find Your Park, with assistance from Grey Group. The campaign used a modern energetic approach to public engagement while staying true to the culture and identity of an agency with a 100-year history.

Before joining the National Park Service, Slayton served as the chief of staff to the United States Ambassador to Australia in Canberra, Australia, where she organized and led a successful congressional delegation of eight U.S. Senators in meetings and events across several Australian states. She also played an integral role in President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia in 2012, earning a Meritorious Honor Award for that work, and a Superior Honor Award for overall service to the embassy.

Slayton’s career also included a stint at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, where she supported media and public comms in 2002 when the first U.S. case of mad cow disease was identified.

  • Slayton oversaw the Find Your Park campaign, which garnered more than 16.5 billion impressions with an ad value of $250 million, using only earned media.
  • She serves as a mentor to several young women working in public affairs and developed a roundtable for working mothers that identifies new approaches to work-life balance, particularly in the field of public affairs.
  • During the development of the 2008 Farm Bill, she forged relationships with reporters and industry comms experts, providing thoughtful information and analysis about complex farm programs and policy issues.

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