Alumni Spotlight: Derek Dash
University of Denver alumnus, Derek Dash, graduated from the Media and Public Communication masters program with a concentration in strategic communication and a certificate in public diplomacy before going on to work at the EPA where he now serves region eight as communications advisor.
Dash currently serves as the BIL (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) and IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) communications advisor for region eight of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Region eight includes Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota, making it the largest land mass out of the ten EPA regions.
Both passed by President Biden, the IRA is intended to combat high prescription prices, tax corporations, fight climate change, and more. The BIL includes measures to improve transportation infrastructure, water conditions, internet access, and climate change.
“My job is to help region eight get the message out and make sure people know that this law is out there and that it’s doing a lot of good work,” Dash said. “It’s helping everything from water, air, solar electrification, methane reduction, and the list goes on and on.”
Dash not only works in outreach for the EPA, he is also involved with research and planning to promote both the BIL and IRA throughout region eight.
“Most local governments and state governments are very eager to work with us, because we are basically handing out free money,” Dash explained. “It comes with a lot of stipulations, but it is money to help improve their state, the outdoors, protect their land, their air, their water, so they’re very excited to work with us. Knowing where we are at and what that constituency looks like is very important to planning the events and the communications strategy.”
Dash recently visited DU to speak to a class of undergraduate students about his journey getting to the EPA, current work he does and how his time at Media, Film, and Journalism Studies prepared him for the field.
“I started the [MEPC] program in 2020, and with my background being in operations and advertising, I was very interested in the MFJS Media and Public Communications program,” Dash said. “But I also did political science and had worked for the Obama administration, so I was also interested in international affairs, so I also signed up for the public diplomacy certificate.”
Dash noted that one of the aspects that prepared him best for his position was studying communication planning. When asked if he had one piece of advice to current students, he explained how important research and planning is to being successful.
“Dr. Kaneva’s strategic messaging class is one of the most important [courses] in a sense that the writing that you do in that class is what you’re going to be doing when you work in the communications field,” Dash explained. “That being said though, Dr. Botta’s course on foundations of strategic communication was very helpful too because you can’t write a strategic communications plan without really going through the steps that she lays out for you there.”