For her extraordinary communications efforts during the 2021 Orange County oil spill, Jennifer Carey, the public affairs manager for the City of Huntington, was honored on Wednesday, August 31 with the Frank Potter Cowan Crisis Communications Award by the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO) at their annual conference in San Diego, CA.
In October 2021, an oil spill took place off the Orange County coast which caused the closure of several beaches, harbors, and waterways throughout the County. Knowing the potential for a catastrophic ecological disaster, the City of Huntington Beach worked alongside federal, state, and regional partners to mitigate the oil spill and coordinate clean-up efforts. Initially reported by the U.S. Coast Guard as a 126,000-gallon crude oil spill, the size demanded prompt and aggressive action. Adding to the incident, the spill took place during the Pacific Airshow event which brought approximately 1.5 million visitors to the City’s beach and coastline.
During the oil spill, Carey took control of the situation and quickly asserted herself as a leader and initiated a game plan for communicating with residents and stakeholders. Utilizing her regional and national contacts, Jennifer swiftly pulled together information and resources to communicate details quickly and proactively on the evolving situation. Carey quickly became the go-to for oil spill information not only for the press and Huntington Beach residents, but for other cities and agencies across the nation. Making use of the City’s website, email newsletter, social media, emergency alerts, press conferences, and her relationships with the press, she was able to efficiently relay ongoing information and ensure a consistent message was being communicated.
“I feel privileged to serve the city I am born and raised in,” said Carey. “I care deeply about my community and take pride in my role and contributions.”
Serving as the City of Huntington Beach’s public affairs manager for the past year, Carey oversees all aspects of branding and communications for the city. Prior to joining the City of Huntington Beach, she spent five years with the City of Long Beach as a Community Relations Officer.