The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission announced March 7 that Gahanna public information manager Niel Jurist will become its new director of communications and engagement later this month.

Jurist joined Gahanna's city staff on July 23, 2013, after working as a public relations specialist for the YMCA of Central Ohio.

Her last day in Gahanna will be March 22.

"I want to thank Mayor (Tom) Kneeland, city council, my colleagues and all the community stakeholders that I have had the pleasure of working with over the past five years at the city of Gahanna," Jurist said. "The city of Gahanna is a fantastic community, and I look forward to a continued partnership with them as I transition to my new role at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission."

As MORPC's director of communications and engagement, Jurist will oversee the agency's public information, engagement, membership and events programming.

"It's been a pleasure working with Niel for a number of years while I was on city council, and having her experience to lean on the last three years during my term as mayor has been invaluable," Kneeland said.

"I am thrilled that she has this amazing career opportunity with MORPC. Having led the Regional Data Advisory Committee for MORPC, I know how challenging good communication can be, and I know Niel will provide MORPC with 'seasoned' skills and new ideas to take them to the next level."

Jurist has more than 15 years of experience managing public relations and communications in various roles.

In her new senior-level, management position, Jurist will provide leadership throughout the agency and to central Ohio governments on related initiatives, strategic approaches and collaborative efforts, according to MORPC.

"Niel has an enthusiasm for ideas, community service, and working with people that will serve MORPC well," said William Murdock, MORPC executive director.

"I'm really looking forward to her joining our team, and she's going to be a great fit as we work to raise awareness of our programs and initiatives."

Jurist said she's excited to join the MORPC team and she looks forward to helping advance the bold vision the organization has to bring communities together to improve the lives of central Ohio residents, plan for the future growth of the region and to make central Ohio stand out on the world stage.

MORPC serves as a resource for local officials as they make decisions about economic growth, development, transportation, energy and environmental sustainability.