Jessica Vega passing public relations coordinator torch to Colleen Bowler

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Jessica Vega
Jessica Vega, the public relations coordinator for the Great Neck Public Schools, speaks with the new student delegates. This was her last public meeting as a school representative. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

After 35 years of working at the Great Neck Public Schools, public relations coordinator Jessica Vega, attended her final public board meeting as an employee on Monday.

But that doesn’t mean Vega won’t be around, she said.

“The school district is really just an extension of what’s important [to me],” Vega, 71, said in an interview. “I’m a product of the Great Neck schools and my kids went through them, so there’s an actual connection. I just want the best for the community.”

As the public relations coordinator, Vega has served as a point person for the press, parents and others.

Following in her footsteps will be Colleen Bowler, 37, a New Hyde Park native who served as an assistant for community relations with the Eastport South Manor School District, based out of Manorville in Suffolk County.

“I’m very excited to do what I love in a community that is right next door to my community,” Bowler said in an interview.

Colleen Bowler, 37, waves to a group of parents, teachers and administrators at a public board meeting. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Vega and Bowler have also known each other for awhile, they said, both sharing membership in the Long Island School Public Relations Association.

Bowler said that Vega was one of the founding members and has always shared “helpful nuggets” with her fellow public relations officials.

“I’ve been fortunate that she would share that information with us and this organization for years,” Bowler said, noting their frequent communications via email.

Bowler said that Vega would be working with her in the beginning to help her adjust, before fully retiring from the position.

“It was the right time to retire,” Vega said. “It just came to me and I’m looking forward to doing some volunteering, slowing down and being able to come to a board meeting and not have to take notes or worry about follow-up.”

One of the organization Vega said she wants to volunteer with is the Parent-Child Home Program housed in the Cumberland building, which is geared towards helping low-income children in the Manhasset and Great Neck school districts succeed academically.

As for Bowler, she said that everyone has been incredibly helpful throughout the process and that she intends to approach the job with a cooperative and open mindset.

“I’m just really looking forward to getting to know more about the community, more about the schools and hopefully really become a part of the community,” Bowler said.

And, according to Barbara Berkowitz, president of Great Neck’s board of education, that’s very likely to happen.

“I know that many of you will have the opportunity to get to know Colleen better, just as you know Jessica so well,” Berkowitz said at the public meeting, “because she will be promoting our schools, our district, our students and everybody.”

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