Toni Shears brings to PRG more than 30 years’ experience telling the stories and raising the profiles of higher education and nonprofit organizations. She has broad expertise across the full spectrum of print, digital, and social marketing communications. She excels at synthesizing complex or technical information into clear, accessible summaries and tailoring messages to target audiences.
As the managing director of communications for the University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute, she developed and executed a strategic communications plan that raised awareness of a new institute, building and engaging an audience of more than 14,000 with a robust schedule of e-newsletters, videos, events, and media relations. She played a key role in managing the renaming and rebranding of the institute. Recognizing an opportunity to preserve and promote the rich legacy of University of Chicago economics, she strategized and steered the development and installation of a mini museum highlighting that history.
Toni directed executive communications at the American Osteopathic Association, partnering with the chief executive officer and physician leadership to create and implement key messages, communicate a major market-driven change to a key product offering, and support advocacy. She advised a national working group on crafting messages that more clearly defined osteopathic medicine and co-authored a journal article to disseminate findings from this work.
Toni successfully elevated public relations and media efforts at Erikson Institute, a graduate school in early childhood development, by engaging an online audience and adopting cutting-edge technologies. Previously, in nine years at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, she held various editorial, website management, and marketing roles. A prolific and versatile writer and experienced editor, she managed and published staff and alumni publications at University of Michigan Medical Center and the U-M Law School while handling extensive media relations.A consultant since 2017, Toni has handled change management communications for the University of Chicago Shared Services office and provided marketing and editorial services, web management, research, and analysis for clients ranging from a civic governmental watchdog organization and early childhood advocacy group to an economics research project and a boutique marketing firm.
A former journalist, Toni is a proud alumna of the University of Michigan.