New communications specialist joins Growth Alliance

A new staff member has joined the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance to coordinate all the ways the economic development group communicates with the public, businesses and its members.

Maria Kicklighter became the alliance’s communications specialist on Jan. 27.

The South Carolina native comes to the alliance with experience in information technology, financial and management jobs.

”I envision the job as interacting with everyone in the office to assist them with doing a better job at their portion of the job that involves communicating,” Kicklighter said Thursday.

Her position is a new one designed to centralize communication efforts, according to Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the alliance.

”It really is an attempt to expand and improve all kinds of communication coming out of the alliance,” he said.

”I think Maria’s background will fit very well into the team approach that we have here,” he added.

Kicklighter has a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.

She worked in technology jobs for Georgia-Pacific Corp. in Georgia and Newell Co. in Illinois.

She was also an operations manager for YouthFriends, an in-school mentoring program.

”It’s like being in Big Brothers or Big Sisters, but only during school hours,” she said of the program.

More recently, she worked in finance for a community foundation in Hutchinson, Kan., and was a project manager for ProValue LLC, a business and human resources firm in Hutchinson.

Kicklighter first worked for the alliance late last year when she filled in for someone on maternity leave.

Her husband, Jim Kicklighter, is the manager of the Georgia-Pacific plant south of Fort Dodge.