Forty Under 40: Rachel Putman

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 2,077 views 

Class of 2023 Forty Under 40 Rachel Putman Director of Communications University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Fort Smith

It was a tragic event in college that showed Rachel Putman the power of communication. She was a staffer with the Daily Tar Heel, the University of North Carolina student newspaper.

The student body president was murdered. Daily Tar Heel staff gathered to develop a plan to cover the tragedy — to provide information, answers, and hopefully, solace.

“So I saw firsthand what journalism could do and how journalism could make as much a difference as arts or politics,” Putman said.

She graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UNC and eventually landed in Fort Smith with the Southwest Times Record.

She was hired in 2014 as lead photographer at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith (UAFS), where she moved up the ranks to become director of communications.

Putman continues to try to help others during tough times. One of her efforts was to develop a broad social media strategy to help students with mental healthcare awareness and access to help students find safe spaces. The campaign would be recognized with the Grand Gold Award from the Council for Support and Advancement of Education — the highest award in the category.

“You are competing against several thousand from around the world. … It was an award for a landscape changing [program],” Putman said.

Putman said her success is tied to the support of UAFS Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley.

“Seeing that a woman can be a chancellor and be so bold and strategic and smart, but she also meets my expectations as a former journalist and being so transparent,” Putman said.

Putman says her mental health relief is travel and photography.

“I love to make art when I’m traveling.”