Gerald “Jerry” Michaud was appointed Executive Director, Office of Communications in the Veterans Health Administration on September 29, 2019. He leads VHA Communication programs and activities, including media relations, volunteer services, and digital and internal communications. Mr. Michaud is an experienced strategic communications and marketing executive, with expertise in multi-channel outreach, public relations, advertising, branding, graphic design, direct mail, database management, research, social media, publications, nonprofit management, fundraising, message development, online marketing, event production and project management.
As Vice President of a consulting firm, he has provided services to such organizations as National Federation of the Blind, Roll of Honor Foundation, World War One Centennial Commission, Congressional Medal of Honor Society, American Disabled Veterans Memorial, March of Dimes, National Guard Youth Challenge Foundation, and the National Museum of the US Marine Corps. He assisted the Department of Veterans Affairs in standing up the Center for Acquisition Innovation and the Acquisition Academy, and he created a branding program for the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2). He also provided public relations and creative communications services for the Department of Defense America Supports You campaign – aimed at generating public and corporate support for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Michaud served as Creative Director of Rapp Collins Worldwide, the world’s largest direct marketing firm at the time, and was Chief Marketing Officer for Memberdrive, a cause marketing company that formed collaborative fundraising relationships between national nonprofits and commercial marketers.
With actor Jeff Bridges and other celebrities, Mr. Michaud founded the End Hunger Network, a nonprofit organization focused on raising public awareness about childhood hunger through innovative campaigns, participation and utilization of celebrities and the entertainment community. He established the U.S. Presidential End Hunger Awards, a White House ceremony honoring “hunger heroes,” in coordination with USAID. He was associate producer of the Live Aid Concert – the first and largest global televised music event that reached more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, raising $145 million for hunger relief during the 16-hour broadcast.
Mr. Michaud has Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy and Journalism) and Master of Arts (Religious Studies) degrees from the University of Detroit, as well as certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP). His creative awards include the Gold MAXI Award (Direct Marketing Association), Gold Pioneer Award (Creative Guild West), New York International Film & TV Festival (Silver and Bronze awards), Marketing Excellence Award (Printing Industries of America), Bronze Quill Award (International Association of Business Communications) and the United Nations Peace Medal (U.N. Non-Governmental Liaison Service) “for public education for alleviating world hunger.”
The VA Office of Communications is deeply involved in pushing out messaging to vet patients and does so through social media, email, apps such as the MyHealthyVet portal, telehealth services and other tools. This session will focus on the lessons learned by the Communications office in rolling out COVID-19 messaging, with a focus on how unique messaging is necessary to allay the fears and specific needs of the veteran community during COVID-19.