(Pictured, left to right) Tom Olshanki, Director of External Affairs for the U.S. Fire Administration; Crystal Hunt; Phillip Politano, Training Specialist for the Emergency Management Institute; and Dr. Joseph Trahan, Federal Emergency Management Agency and International Media Relations Trainer.

LA PLATA, Md. – In September 2018, University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (UM CRMC) Director of Marketing and Communications Crystal N. Hunt earned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s highest public information officer certification—Master Public Information Officer (MPIO). Hunt is now one of just 60 public information officers nationwide who have completed the MPIO Program.

The MPIO program prepares public information officers for an expanded role in delivering public information and warnings using a strategic, whole community approach. Hunt completed the three-week course of study at the Homeland Security Department’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

“I am thankful for this amazing opportunity to connect with my peers and complete such a thought-provoking and relevant training,” said Hunt. “I learned being an MPIO is more than just a title—it means giving back to the profession through service. I look forward to contributing to UM Charles Regional, my community, and the global network of public information officers in a more meaningful way.”

“We congratulate Ms. Hunt on this distinguished achievement. Since joining our health system in November 2017, Ms. Hunt has been doing an outstanding job as our public information officer and director of marketing. This new accomplishment will only enhance her ability to bring more value to our organization as we continue moving forward in this ever-changing and challenging healthcare industry,” said UM CRMC Vice President of Planning Clive Savory.

MPIO program requirements include designing and developing a nine-month capstone research project that contributes to the body of knowledge for emergency management-related public information. Hunt’s paper, “PIOs Networking Together: An Analysis of Peer-to-Peer Professional Interpersonal Engagement and Its Impact on Emergency Public Information,” along with those of her fellow graduates, will be published in the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Emergency Training Center library. The library houses more than 200,000 resources on fire, emergency management, and other all-hazards subjects.

Public information officers with more than five years of full-time experience and a demonstrated sphere of influence capable of advancing the relevance of whole community external affairs are eligible for the MPIO program. Hunt, who serves as UM CRMC’s primary spokesperson and public information officer, was chosen after a rigorous application process, requiring an essay and recommendation letters from peers and leadership.