New Hanover County’s Communications & Outreach Department serves as the focal point for external relations for the county. The department works to effectively tell the county’s story by collaborating with county departments and community groups that are working to support the county’s mission. The department is responsible for outreach efforts, media relations, legislative affairs, web content, social media engagement, and management of the county’s television station, NHCTV.
Ruth Ravitz Smith joined New Hanover County in September 2015 to lead its external relations as the county’s first Chief Communications Officer. Her role encompasses media and government relations, outreach to community organizations, oversight of NHCTV – the county’s public television station, and marketing and branding of county activities and services.
Smith’s background of over thirty years of external relations experience includes government service at the federal, state and county levels, global responsibilities at major corporations, and representation of companies, associations, and non-profits.
In addition to owning her own consulting business, Smith has worked for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, GE Oil & Gas, Alstom, The Travelers, Northeast Utilities, and the Aerospace Industries Association. She also ran the State of Connecticut’s office in Washington, DC.
Smith is widely recognized for her business and political acumen, strategic leadership, successful advocacy, and for building and sustaining strategic relationships that allow organizations to meet their business objectives around the globe.
Smith received a M.B.A from Marymount University, and a B.A. in Law and Society from Hood College. She is certified to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), serves on the board of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area, is a participant in the 2018 Leadership Wilmington program, and is an active mentor to college students and young professionals.
Jessica Loeper joined New Hanover County in February 2016 as the Communications & Outreach Coordinator. As a native to the area, Loeper has a great passion for New Hanover County and the many programs and services offered to residents. Her role includes media and social media coordination, website oversight, community outreach, and promoting the county’s activities.
Loeper’s background is in communications and development for nonprofits in both Wilmington and Charlotte. She previously served as the Director of Communications and Outreach for Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, handling media relations and community outreach for the organization. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a concentration in Public Relations.
Loeper is a graduate of WILMA’s Leadership Institute, the UNCW/NHC SERVE Professional Development Academy, and UNCW’s Academy for Strategic Management. Among the many wonderful things to do in our county, Loeper loves going to the area’s beaches and being on the water with her family.
Kate Murphy joined New Hanover County in February of 2017 as the Community Services and Facility Coordinator for the Department of Social Services before joining the Communications and Outreach Department in October of 2018 to coordinate hurricane recovery communications.
Prior to joining New Hanover County, Kate worked in communications in the health and human services field. As public affairs officer at a regional Managed Care Organization, Kate helped guide the Cape Fear community through two mental health system mergers, trained first responders in mental health crisis response and worked with local media to increase awareness of mental health issues and policies. As media relations manager at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Kate helped educate citizens across the state on health and safety matters, and served in the NC Emergency Operations Center during Tropical Storm Joaquin, Hurricane Matthew, the Colonial Pipeline gas shortage and several winter weather events. After serving in the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center during Hurricane Florence, Kate now turns her focus to assisting New Hanover County through the hurricane recovery process.
Kate received a B.S. in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations from Western Carolina University, where she currently serves on the Alumni Board of Directors. She loves spending time outdoors at the county’s parks and area beaches, and checking out the ever evolving food scene.