T'Jae Gibson, of Abingdon, won first place in the Community Relations-Special Events category at the major command level in a U.S. Army public affairs competition. She leads the Army Research Laboratory's broadcast services area. She also serves as the public affairs office's designate for public affairs planning and project integration.
A panel of eight civilian sector and government public affairs practitioners from around the country judged the competition.
As a result of winning at the Army Materiel Command level, the program will compete at the Pentagon to be named a 2012 Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award winner, a pinnacle achievement for Army public affairs practitioners.
Her program, "Veg-ucational Outreach," introduced area youth – of all ages – to the wonders and benefits of community gardening and the role science plays in the successful creation of community gardens. The event combined chemistry and engineering with horticulture, agriculture and nutrition into a multi-faceted program that solidifies ARL's role as an influential community integrator interested in contributing to the growth and development of children's interests in science and engineering fields. Successful partnerships with the local farmers, businesses and media optimized the events impact, and set in place an unprecedented win at the Harford County Farm Fair 2012.
"Certainly a highlight of this effort was incorporating Celebrity Chef Jason Hisley, who won the Food Network's Cupcake Wars, Season 4," said Gibson, who joined ARL in 2009 after leading integration and outreach activities at a defense agency in Crystal City, Va. "Jason came on board as an honorary community ambassador but grew into an integral part of this project. His passion for culinary arts and helping children make healthy food choices dovetailed nicely with our efforts."
Through Hisley, local pastry shop Flavor Cupcakery, Inc., created a signature cupcake from vegetables grown in their community garden. The "Zuccochocolate" cupcake, named by an APG youth, became Flavor's signature cupcake in the summer of 2012 in honor of the community garden project. Proceeds from the sales of that cupcake benefited local military families. Hisley opened his own pastry shop, La Cakerie in downtown Towson in 2012.
Chef Jason and military youth joined together in a grilled veggie pizza lunch feast as a culminating event.
"T'Jae is a forward-leaning, strategic and astute public affairs practitioner," said Tom Moyer, the Army Research Laboratory's public affairs officer. "T'Jae has the gift of projecting requirements against known capabilities to enhance the communications environment throughout the laboratory."
In addition, Gibson won second place in the Community Relations Program category for the Young Women in Science and Engineering College and Career Workshop, created in 2011 with Dr. Melanie Will-Cole, of ARL; Yvonne Gabriel, Aberdeen High School's Science and Math Academy and Emma Dill, Battelle. She also won second place in the Television Information Program category for a video she wrote, directed and produced "Beyond Protection: ARL Ballistic expertise improves personal protection." Her article "ARL's gift to modern medicine," won third place in the News Feature Article category. It spotlighted a basic science research project to benefit military weapon systems that started in the early 1990s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that evolved into a medical tool that's saving soldiers' – and civilians' lives.
Gibson has 20 years experience in managing public relations and public affairs programs within the federal government, corporate and non-profit sectors. She began her career as a public affairs summer intern at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio in the early 1990s, and later became the first black anchor of the Robins Report, a weekly local newscast produced by Robins Air Force Base and the first civilian chief of the U.S. Air Force's Media Training and Message Development branch at the Pentagon. She joined reputable public affairs firm Powell Tate-Weber Shandwick Worldwide before starting the Gibson Group, LLC, a private public relations practice that counted Wells Fargo, Genworth Financial and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling among her clients.
Graduating magna cum laude from Wilberforce University with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and a minor in business, Gibson earned a master of science degree in project management and a master's certificate in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology.