Utah Department of Public Safety
Director of Public Affairs
Motivational, Engaged, Dedicated
Joe Dougherty is probably the most well-known public information officer (PIO) in the entire state. He trains new PIOs and has been a critical part of the Utah PIO Association. He has always made himself available to help others who are facing a communications crisis and he makes a regular effort to meet new people and engage with them. If something big happened and you needed help or guidance, Joe is the one you would want to contact.
Joe spent nearly ten years as the PIO for the Utah Division of Emergency Management. During that time, he provided public information support and coordination for a wide variety of incidents – fires, floods, and earthquakes, as well as funeral coordination for first responder funerals. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake hit in his last month on the job, bringing even more focus to the annual Great Utah Shakeout event held the following month. His efforts in preparing for earthquakes helped many to be ready for when this event happened.
In April 2020, Joe became the Director of Public Affairs for the Utah Department of Public Safety. Almost immediately he was temporarily reassigned to work directly with the Governor’s Office to coordinate messaging for the COVID-19 pandemic. That included planning for and writing the governor’s talking points for weekly press briefings, conducting weekly briefings for cabinet level communication directors, and crisis communication planning for the pandemic. He led the team undertaking a massive language interpretation effort. In the midst of all that, Joe also provided disaster recovery information for an earthquake, civil unrest, and a hurricane-force wind storm.
At the 2021 Utah PIO Association’s annual conference, Joe gave a presentation on “”communicating in a wicked environment.”” This detailed what was going on behind the scenes of the state’s COVID-19 task force and the many lessons learned. It was just the most recent of the many trainings and workshops he has given over the past decade.
A Funeral Response Guide for the Public Information Officer was created by Joe after providing support during several funerals for officers killed in the line of duty. This document and the support of the Utah PIO Association during these high profile events has made these types of crises more manageable.” Joe has been impressive in his constant desire to keep learning. He regularly attends training locally and nationally. Meeting him at a national government social media convention absolutely changed my life and helped me to see that I wanted to keep working in local government. Several of us have threatened to create a PIO Joe fan club.
The 2021 Top 100 Influencers List is made possible by ELGL’s partnership with CivicPlus.