Spotlight: Greg Hedgepeth, IEI’s new Communications Director

Greg Hedgepeth talks with his hands.

It’s like the energy he feels for communications and the Institute for Emerging Issue’s mission can’t be contained in his voice alone.

As a first-generation college student, and a child of Roanoke Rapids, N.C.’s mill culture, he knows firsthand the importance of connecting all of North Carolina’s communities and their citizens to their greatest potential. It’s a mission that has given him purpose, even before he recently stepped into IEI’s Hunt Library offices as our new communications director.

“To shine light on anything that’s progressing our North Carolina communities is awesome,” said Hedgepeth, who graduated with a degree in economics from East Carolina University with hopes of returning to his native Halifax County and helping the struggling area.

However, a job happened first, a full-time job as a graphic and web designer at ECU. Hedgepeth found the marketing and communications work invigorating, and merely a different way to revitalize—by helping people tell their stories.

The ECU position led to a string of communication leadership positions that most recently saw Hedgepeth serving as the chief communications officer/ director of marketing, communications and technology for the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Florida Atlantic University.

At the South Florida institution, Hedgepeth managed a team of 10 marketing/communications professionals, and built the team from scratch—the first ever communications team serving that division.

Building the team from ground up challenged and inspired Hedgepeth daily.

“I learned there will always be good, bad and ‘howevers’, but within every challenge there’s opportunity,” he said. “What I loved was being able to create.”

This positive attitude was instilled in Hedgepeth by his hardworking parents, who spent most of their lives working long, tedious hours in Roanoke Rapids’ various mills. They wanted a better life for their son, and even when he was a kid, they hammered into him the idea of living with purpose, creating a legacy and leaving the world a better place. 

For Hedgepeth, those lofty ideals start simply: with building relationships. “Relationships are what drive us,” Hedgepeth said, noting that if you could understand where someone was coming from—what made them “tick,” so to speak—you could better communicate and work with them to reach a common goal.

Hedgepeth noted that IEI’s upcoming civic engagement-focused forum “ReCONNECT to Community” is all about building relationships. The forum, which examines ways to increase community engagement around the state, was postponed due to Hurricane Florence and is now being held Nov. 27 at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel. The “ReCONNECT to Community” forum kicks off ReCONNECT NC, IEI’s broader, three-year initiative that will include six forums around the state each examining a different way to “reconnect” North Carolina civically, socially and economically.

Hedgepeth’s excited about the upcoming forum, as well as a chance to start creating communications opportunities around IEI’s other initiatives.

When Hedgepeth isn’t working he’s “connecting” to hobbies like bowling, basketball or reading. Favorite books include “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” “How Do I Deal with Difficult People?” and “How Successful People Lead”

He also enjoys spending time with his wife Amy, another eastern North Carolina native who he met at ECU and his two young daughters: Arden, 6, and Jordyn, one month.

Hedgepeth holds a master’s degree in management and leadership from Webster University and would like to pursue a doctoral degree in the near future.

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