Editor’s note: Our series, “Wheeling@Work,” is an effort to provide readers with insight and information into our city government, highlighting the personalities, programs and processes at work within the City of Wheeling. Today’s story features Michele Rejonis, the city’s marketing manager.
There’s something to be said for what style contributes to our lives. Take cars, for example. A Cavalier will get you from point A to point B, but a Corvette will make the trip a lot more fun. Marketing has a similar role: it gets the message across, but what makes it interesting is how the message is presented.
Michele Rejonis is a little obsessed with both. Both marketing and Corvettes, that is.
As marketing manager for the City of Wheeling, her job is to get the word out about the Friendly City and do it with style. As she celebrates nearly a year on the job, Rejonis said she’s more excited than ever to promote the city she loves.
“The great thing about my job is that it is never the same every day,” she said. “It can be writing a press release about an event or a new playground that’s available, any type of topic that’s city related. It could be planning an event, executing a movie night; it’s never the same, and that’s what I love about it. I have the opportunity to meet so many people from all walks of life in this role, and it’s great.”
On July 30, Rejonis will celebrate one year on the job. Having worked as an event planner, a journalist and in public relations, she said the role of marketing manager has been a chance to combine her skills and experiences. And so, from ribbon cuttings to creating graphics for the city’s website, there’s always something to keep the job interesting.
DRIVEN BY CHALLENGES
In May, Rejonis took the opportunity to step out alongside other residents as part of the Tough as Nails Urban Challenge. Not only did she help design the banners seen around the city for the event, but Rejonis also set a goal to finish the challenge, which included a 6-mile run, multiple obstacles, rock climbs and a cliff run.
“I spent a lot of time exercising, and I decided I was going to finish, and I did,” she recalled. “I had the opportunity to do that with a lot of really good friends, including my godson. I never thought I’d ever do that. Not too bad for someone who’s staring at 50.”
Until then, the only kind of racing Rejonis preferred to do was behind the wheel of her 2007 Corvette, the car she’s loved since childhood.
“I became obsessed with the Corvette when I was about 8 years old. My dad is a car guy, so I’ve always been around cars and car shows and racing,” she said. “I don’t know what prompted the obsession with that particular car, but this is my second Corvette.”
That love took her to a Corvette racing school in Toronto, Canada, where she spent time learning the finer points of professional racecar driving.
“They taught you about reactions and braking and apexes and turns on a road course. The second half of the class was where you put those practical lessons to use,” Rejonis said. “I was the only female in the class, so they had to fill in the seat with foam padding. I learned really what that car can do, and it is amazing.”
CARE, COMMITMENT AND GOOD TIMES
Both experiences touch on the spirit of fun and determination Rejonis brings to her professional life.
“I really enjoy what I do. If you do something you love, you never have to work a day in your life,” she said. “Every morning I get up and look forward to coming to work. I told my intern, ‘I want you to come in and have a good experience and have something for your portfolio.’ I want her to come in and have a good time. That’s how I approach my day every day, and I really do look forward to my day every day.”
Also part of what makes those days fun, she says — even when the city must deal with not-so-fun topics — is the level of care and commitment Rejonis believes permeates the staff and elected officials.
“The folks within the city administration, and whether that’s the staff on the third floor or our elected officials, everyone has the best interest of the city at heart,” she said. “There are instances that come up where members of the public aren’t’ happy with a certain situation, and it’s my hope that they understand that the people within the city administration really are working to do the best they can possibly do to remedy the situation. Sometimes it takes time, but everybody there is great. I love working with them and they really do care about the residents and the City of Wheeling and want to do what’s best for both.”
Rejonis lives in Warwood with her husband of 21 years, Randy, who retired from the Wheeling Police Department in 2006. Together they enjoy trips to the Caribbean and Bermuda where they’ve had the opportunity to snorkel and swim with dolphins.
Of her neighborhood, Rejonis said the success of Grow Warwood Pride has been inspiring.
“It’s a great community,” she said. “Garden Park seems to be the hub of activity, especially in the summer months. The Farmers Market has been a great addition to Warwood, and I always enjoy the Toe Tappin’ Tuesday concerts sponsored by the City of Wheeling. The neighborhoods are quaint, and it’s a great place for families.”
(Photos provided by Michele Rejonis)
• Cassie Bendel was born in Wheeling and raised in Bellaire. A graduate of St. Vincent College, she began her writing career as a reporter with The Times Leader and the Steubenville Herald-Star before writing content for SiriusXM Satellite Radio and a national faith-based consulting company. After more than a decade in Pennsylvania, she has moved back to the Ohio Valley with her husband and two sons.