Vice President of Admissions and Marketing Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo | SCSU JRN ’84

Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo, SCSU JRN ’84, is the vice president of admissions and marketing for Chapel Haven Schleifer Center. She is also an adjunct instructor for the Journalism Department. Previously she worked as a news reporter for the New Haven Register and the director of communications for the City of New Haven under former Mayor John DeStefano Jr. 

Interview by Danielle Campbell, SCSU JRN ‘21. Answers have been condensed and edited in 2021.

What made you interested in public relations? 

I was always a person who liked to write, going all the way back to my younger years keeping a journal and then writing poetry and going to an arts high school. I loved having my byline and telling stories that thousands of eyeballs would see. And I feel that public relations is really no different. You still are telling stories. You still are marketing and doing your thing.

How did studying journalism help with your career? 

I was pushed to work for the Southern News by the chair of the Journalism Department at the time, Robin Glassman, and I didn’t think I would like it. But it turned out that I loved it. And I immediately switched from an English major to journalism. And I had to go cover town meetings. I remember I had to go downtown and cover a Board of Aldermen meeting and write about it. So, I think that Southern’s journalism program is very practical, and it gets you out into the world, doing the skills that you need right away, getting those clips together, and just getting the ability to tell a story and be accountable right away.

What do you like about your job now?

What I’ve learned about myself is I’ll never be able to work for the corporate world or work in advertising. My passion is to represent organizations and people who are movers and shakers and to help tell the story. And so, working here at Chapel Haven, where we are helping adults with varying abilities become independent every day, just having the ability to tell that story, and to be a part of the amazing things that are happening here at Chapel Haven, has been wonderful. 

What was it like to come back to your alma mater as a teacher?

(Professor Emeritus) Jerry Dunklee asked me to come and speak to a class, which was a lot of fun. So that kind of led me into a new direction of being an adjunct at Southern which I’ve been doing for many years. It’s really a point of pride for me. 

I have to say that I think the journalism program at Southern is top-notch, I had an amazing education. Back in the day I was taught by New Haven Register editors, and ESPN folks, and just had a great experience. So, I felt very well prepared when I left Southern with my journalism degree. And I just love teaching and being back at Southern. I like to be part of that story.