Jaffrey-native Kathryn Gann returns to New Hampshire after politics career

  • Gann is the new Director of Communications at Bishop Guertin High School. Staff photo by Brandon Latham

  • Kathryn Gann, who grew up in Jaffrey, poses at her new workplace in Nashua. Staff photo by Brandon Latham – MONADNOCK LEDGER-TRANSCRIPT

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/6/2017 6:52:40 AM

Kathryn Gann lived and worked in New Jersey from 2011 to 2015, but having been in New England through college, she is a Patriots fan. This was not easy when they lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants in February 2012.

“I walked into work thinking, ‘I work with a lot of Giants fans, I’m the only Patriots fan, I’m going to get so much crap,’” she said. “Then I walked in, nobody’s saying anything, I’m thinking I’ll get through it.”

As she tells the story, the next thing she does is make a deep, gruff voice to recreate what she heard from down the hall: “Hey. You lost.”

That was Chris Christie, two-term New Jersey governor and 2016 presidential candidate. “You still lost,” he would repeat thereafter.

After a decade in the many facets of political communications, a couple of hurricanes and one unprecidented north-Jersey traffic jam, the Jaffrey-native switched fields and returned home to New Hampshire.

She started as the new director of communications at Nashua’s Bishop Guertin High School last month, seeking a new challenge.

“I was at a point in my life when I wanted to do something different and give back,” she said. “I’m challenging myself everyday and get to do something where I can feel good about what I do everyday, which you can get in politics too, it’s just different.”

She is proud to be back in a Catholic school community, calling herself a product of 12 years of Catholic schooling at St. Patrick’s in Jaffrey (she expresses that it’s sad to hear it’s gone) and St. Bernard’s in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Education seems to be Gann’s current direction. Her husband is curriculum director for the Keene School District. In addition to her BG position, she has taught political communications classes at Emerson University, her alma mater.

After studying there, complete with an internship at the Republican National Committee, she made her way to Washington, D.C., in the office of presidential correspondence.

Between then, organizing photographers and opening letters to President George W. Bush, and now, she would work on state senate campaigns in New York, Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, the RNC, corporate contracts, and for the longest stretch in the New Jersey governor’s office.

She reached out to someone she had worked with on the Giuliani campaign who was Christie’s communications director, and was asked to help.

“It was awesome, really cool,” she said. “I was there very close to the beginning of the national brand and to seeing that entire arc.”

In her first two years, Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy leveled and flooded New Jersey. Gann remembers following the governor, camera in hand, through rows of refugees housed at Rutgers University, being lifted by helicopter into flood zones. Each was seen as a once-in-a-lifetime storm, but New Jersey got them within a year. That is not to mention that Gann was in the office of presidential correspondence when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast.

And that is not even the end of Gann’s crisis communication experience. She was in Christie’s administration for the George Washington Bridge Scandal. She gets quiet when she talks about it.

“When news first broke it was a traffic study and that was the information we all had, no reason to think any different,” she said. “I remember getting the email and we in the comms shop were just as shocked as anybody that there had been something else going on.”

She called it a long and crazy ride even though she is no longer on the team. Just last week, convictions were handed down to New Jersey and Port Authority employees involved, including some she said worked right down the hall.

“It was a lot of long hours and sometimes we found out things at the same time everybody else did.”

As a young White House worker, she said she used to think she would be back. Last summer, she was offered a job on Donald Trump’s campaign, so she could have been by now, but it was time to leave politics.

Now back in New Hampshire, Gann is teaching her lifelong city-resident husband to embrace knowing everyone in town, going to the Peterborough Players, finding favorite local restaurants.

She said, “For all the amazing things I’ve seen and the interesting people I’ve met, it’s really great to come home.”


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