UW-Madison: Hires new director of community relations

Contact: Leslie Orrantia, orrantia@wisc.edu, 608-263-4062; Charles Hoslet, charles.hoslet@wisc.edu, 608-890-4685

Madison – Leslie Orrantia will become the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s new director of community relations starting Aug. 10. Orrantia has experience in community relations and business administration both on and off campus, though most importantly, she has a passion for bringing people together.

“I believe the university needs to be relevant to the community and the community needs to be relevant to the university,” Orrantia says.

Orrantia has been on campus for four years, serving since 2012 as assistant director for the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network within the School of Education. Prior to her work with UW-Madison, she served as a caseworker in Madison for nearly five years, collaborating with area nonprofits, government institutions, community organizations and local media to best address client needs. It was her work as a caseworker that really taught her the value of listening to others.

“People need to be listened to and validated,” Orrantia says. “Listening is critical to inform how we can engage, respond and generate a positive impact.”

Orrantia grew up in southern California and has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

As director of community relations, Orrantia will be a primary point of contact with local community and nonprofit organizations and will be responsible for developing strategies to ensure the university is engaged with these organizations and the broader community.

“We are excited to have Leslie join us in this role,” says Charles Hoslet, vice chancellor for university relations. “Her knowledge of campus and her connections with the community will help the university continue to engage our community partners in meaningful and substantial ways in the best tradition of the Wisconsin Idea.”

As director, Orrantia will also be the primary campus point of contact with, and will act as a liaison between, UW-Madison and the Madison mayor’s office, Madison city council, the Dane County Executive’s office, Dane County Board of Supervisors, and other local government leaders and legislative bodies. The director will also have responsibility for maintaining strong relationships with local school districts and business organizations.