Susan O’Brien is associate vice president for State Government Affairs at UMUC. For more than 20 years, Susan has managed advocacy campaigns and media relations for state agencies, the Governor’s Office, nonprofit organizations and other small businesses. Susan began her state service with the Maryland State Highway Administration and also worked for the Maryland departments of Transportation and Natural Resources, as well as serving as assistant press secretary for former Governor Parris Glendening. Prior to joining UMUC, she served as vice president for Public Affairs for the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, the state’s largest association representing long-term and rehabilitative care providers.
For several years, Susan worked for the region’s largest environmental nonprofit organization, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. She successfully helped place more than 1,000 editorials, newsprint stories, Web stories and broadcast packages to gain coverage of the Bay's water quality issues and environmental education efforts. She also managed the organization’s media plan to support the 2004 Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (Flush Tax). Susan has an extensive background in developing public education campaigns, framing messages, and crafting media relations strategies on public issues and policy. She managed media relations and advocacy efforts for both the Maryland Stem Cell Research Act of 2006 and the Maryland Clean Indoor Air Act (indoor smoking ban) of 2007, as well as other public health and environmental protection efforts. While serving in the Glendening administration, she managed hundreds of interview requests from radio and television reporters for the governor. She has garnered thousands of media stories on issues such as smart growth, Program Open Space, Maryland state parks and forests, wildlife and fisheries management, environmental protection, and bay health. She also served as a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Police, providing 24-hour, on-call assistance for natural resource emergencies, environmental disasters and crisis communications management. She also served as a media relations trainer with Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations and has trained MANO's Advocacy Leaders Program participants in how to use media relations and grassroots outreach to achieve legislative success.
A devoted champion of public education, Susan is a graduate of Baltimore County public schools and Towson University.