Always a storyteller, Michele DiNello ’82 launched a school newspaper as a sixth grader in Hamden. Not only did it enjoy strong administrative support, but DiNello proved so persuasive that she had soon recruited four students to help her scour the chool for stories.
At Hamden High School, she left her imprint on the school newspaper and the yearbook, and participated in many activities, developing a flair for organization and promotion. When she enrolled at Western Connecticut State University, she had a clear picture of what she wanted to do with her life. “I thought about a lot of options,” she recalls. “Public relations seemed like the career for me.”
As a junior, she transferred to the University of New Haven. “I knew it had better communications programs,” she says. “It turned out to be the right place.”
Under the guidance of professor Steve Raucher, now chair of the Department of Communication, and M. L. McLaughlin, former dean of the College of Business, she honed her skills. “Quite simply,” she says, “I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for my education at the University of New Haven.”
Besides serving as features editor for the UNH student newspaper and co-editor of the Noiseless Spider, the literary magazine, she was able to land a formative internship in the public relations department at Yale-New Haven Hospital. “It was a great experience,” she recalls. “I had a chance to try my hand at a lot of different things and I really began to understand public relations.”
After graduating, she got a job editing a statewide newsletter for employees and clients of a contract security firm based in Hamden. Two years later she moved to the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, where she stayed for five years. While serving on a search committee for the Shubert Theatre, which was seeking someone to help develop its audience, she decided to throw her hat in. She was so effective at the Shubert that when Lake Compounce sought a director of marketing and promotions in the early 1990s, she was the ideal candidate.
That job lasted a couple of years, during which her work on all kinds of promotions helped to significantly expand her professional network. “In my career, connections have been extremely important,” she notes.
One of those connections was Dick Pilchen, the first employee of the Subway sandwich chain. DiNello impressed him when she was at Lake Compounce and they collaborated on Subway promotional activities. When Subway needed to hire a new director of public relations in 1994, Pilchen sought her out. She has been with the company ever since, rising through the ranks to her current role, director of corporate communications.
She’s never lost touch with her alma mater. Over the years she has often collaborated on video projects with Paul Falcone, a former classmate and now director of instructional and institutional media at the University. A member of Lambda Pi Eta, the national communications honor society, she was guest speaker for the ceremony at which new members were installed this year. And she frequently recruits UNH students for Subway internships.
“My career began with my University of New Haven education,” she says. “I try to pay that back whenever I can.”
Posted Fall 2012