Sharon Watson serves as the Public Affairs and Communications Director for Johnson County, Kansas government, the largest county in the state. She is the department spokesperson, and oversees all external and internal communications, and manages the county’s Joint Information Center during emergencies. Watson conducts media/crisis communication training for local and state officials and has taught media and crisis communication courses nationally and internationally.
Previously, Watson served as the Public Affairs Director for the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department, which includes the Kansas National Guard, Kansas Division of Emergency Management and Kansas Homeland Security. She held the position from 2006 to 2015 where she was the department spokesperson and oversaw all departmental communications, media relations, agency publications including an agency annual report, bimonthly newspaper, agency website and social media. She also managed the state Joint Information Center during emergencies and lead communication efforts for a number of state emergencies including the 2007 Greensburg, Kansas tornado, statewide winter storms, flooding events, and other challenging communication issues including the loss of several Kansas National Guard soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before joining the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department in 2006, Watson worked as Communications Director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for five years where she handled a number of crisis communication issues including the emergence of West Nile Virus in the U.S. and Kansas and plans for public smallpox vaccinations, as well as controversial state environmental issues.
Prior to working in public affairs, Watson was a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years. She worked at radio news stations in Missouri, Kentucky, and Kansas, including WIBW Radio in Topeka and KMBZ/WDAF Radio in Kansas City. She also worked as a newspaper reporter and in television news in Kansas City.
Watson has a bachelor’s degree from William Jewell College with a double major in Communications and Public Relations and a master’s degree in Homeland Security through the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security in Monterey, Calif.
Watson currently serves as the Region VII director for the National Information Officers Association. She was president of the Kansas Association of Public Information Officers and also the Kansas co-chair of the Regional Association of Public Information Officers in the Kansas City metro from 2013-2014.