More accolades for departing county spokeswoman

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Jenny Tan’s work as Yolo County public information officer has not gone unnoticed. Her once daily — more recently, biweekly — COVID-19 video briefings have kept the county informed about everything from testing to vaccinations to changes in health orders since last spring, and she has been hailed as a key partner during the pandemic by officials from other jurisdictions, as well as those with Healthy Davis Together. Earlier this year, Tan was honored as a “Woman of the Year” by the California Legislature for her efforts during both the COVID-19 pandemic as well as during devastating wildfires. And last week she was named to the National Association of Asian Pacifics in Politics and Public Affairs “Top 40 under 40” list, which honors the top Asian American Pacific Islander political operatives and public affairs professionals under 40 years of age. Now comes more recognition: Tan has been named senior manager of public affairs for the California State Association of Counties, meaning counties across the state will now benefit from her expertise. The bad news for Yolo: Tan’s last day as county public information officer will be June 4. “It was a hard decision for me,” she said, “since I love Yolo County so, but CSAC is offering me a lot of room and opportunity to grow in my field.” While the county decides on a replacement for Tan, Frank Schneegas, currently interim public information officer, will continue to provide COVID-19 video updates. “I am proud to congratulate Jenny Tan on her new position with the California State Association of Counties,” said Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis. “We are sad to lose Jenny but are heartened that Yolo County will continue to benefit from her work on behalf of that association.” Tan, who lives in Davis with her husband and three sons, started her career with Yolo County in 2019 and moved from communications coordinator to public information officer in 2020. Almost immediately she was helping manage the response to COVID-19 and later wildfires — all in addition to the typical duties of a public information officer, which include issuing press releases and responding to both members of the public and the media about non-COVID issues from elections to severe weather and more. In naming Tan Yolo County’s “Woman of the Year,” state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said “Jenny has been the voice of Yolo County during the most devastating public health crisis in a century and recent wildfires. “She has shown the kind of leadership that is needed in an emergency. I’m proud to recognize her for this valuable contribution to the community.” In response, Tan said, the past year “has shown the importance of communications work – being transparent, simple and clear while telling the story of our communities as authentically as possible.” Last week brought more acknowledgments of Tan’s work, this time from the National Association of Asian Pacifics in Politics and Public Affairs. “As the public information officer leading communications during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the LNU Lightning Complex Fires, Jenny has been recognized as the voice of Yolo County, working to keep the community updated through clear and authentic communications,” according to the announcement. Tan, along with a small team of staff, has issued more than 100 press releases, made more than 1,000 social media posts, provided more than 600 media interviews and created more than 1,000 flyers and graphics throughout the pandemic, “from new cases to testing and now vaccinations.” “This year has been extremely humbling,” said Tan. “I am honored to do this work for my agency and to be recognized by NAAPPPA. No matter your ethnicity or background, we all have the ability to be great public servants and step up when our community needs us the most.” Supervisor Gary Sandy of Woodland praised Tan for providing useful and accurate information under the most difficult and challenging of circumstances. “Her poise, professionalism and preparation served the communities of Yolo County well as she navigated through the pandemic, wildfires, and a host of other issues, including invaluable work on the census,” said Sandy. “She truly embodied the spirit, caring and compassion that exemplifies the character of Yolo County.” Provenza called her a “superstar.” “She quickly became a reliable and trusted voice during the pandemic, using both traditional and innovative approaches to keep the entire Yolo County community informed,” he said. “Her daily videos, frequent press releases and online updates were relied upon by thousands of Yolo County residents to navigate the ever-changing rules, procedures and requirements designed to keep us safe. “She was also instrumental in making sure that all residents, including those who do not speak English or lack internet access and other communication tools, were given information regarding and improved access to testing and vaccinations.” Tan also improved public information operations across the board, Provenza said. “She is a superstar. We will miss her.”

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