Mark Dessauer thrives on seeing change happen, specifically when organizations use communications effectively to change lives and our communities. While Mark’s experience ranges from developing the national conversation on community responses to childhood obesity to leading a monthly walk and bike to school, he is passionate about working with partnerships, grantees and organizations to use strategic communications to increase their impact. Mark comes to Spitfire after working on community change as a funder and grantee for the last 15 years. Mark is currently building learning and capacity building tools and training for organizations and providing strategic communication for clients.
Prior to coming to Spitfire Strategies, Mark was Director of Communications for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. In his role with the foundation he worked to integrate communications as a part of their capacity support for grantees. Mark was responsible for developing and implementing the communications strategies, media relations and internal communications to support the Foundation’s initiatives and grantees from healthy food systems to oral health and access to care. Mark first encountered Spitfire Strategies in 2003 as Communication Director for Active Living By Design, a RWJF national program to create healthier communities. He guided every grantee through the Spitfire communication training and helped them develop their stories for national and local media.
Previous positions included communication director and policy analyst for the North Carolina Progress Board, research and communications associate at the Global Information Infrastructure Commission at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and as a telecommunications analyst for the US Embassy in Switzerland with top secret clearance. Mark earned a B.A. in mass communications with a minor in German and film studies at Miami University, and a master’s in international communications at American University. He is currently completing a certificate in documentary studies at Duke University.
Mark is committed to community change outside of the day job and works to make Durham more walkable, bikeable and healthier for all residents. He co-founded the Bull City Open Streets (North Carolina’s first open streets event in 2010), helped start the Bike Durham coalition, assists Congregations, Assemblies and Neighborhoods (CAN) in finding more opportunities for biking and walking in Durham and has led the monthly walk and bike to school at Club Boulevard Elementary since 2009. He also helped establish and develop the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm – a 30-acre farm and wilderness area where students, teachers and the community grow and harvest healthy food; hike, bike, and explore nature and the food system.