• August 14, 2020

City spokeswoman’s job has been a ‘rollercoaster’ - Odessa American: Government

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City spokeswoman’s job has been a ‘rollercoaster’

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Posted: Monday, March 30, 2020 5:42 pm

City Of Odessa Public Information Officer Devin Sanchez hasn’t had time to decorate her office, but she has the essentials. There is nothing on her wall except for a mirror.

It has been a rollercoaster, she said. Sanchez has two phones that are both about dead by the end of the day. Her job is to communicate with the media and the public about city plans, events and crisis.

During the last few weeks, Sanchez has been the main source for the county’s information regarding coronavirus. She has to accept all questions, disperse them to the correct city, county and hospital officials and wait for those officials to review those answers before she can put out a press release. The coronavirus isn’t Sanchez’s only time informing the public during a crisis. In her first month as the PIO, she was tasked with releasing information regarding the tragic events that occurred on Aug. 31, 2019, when gunman Seth Ator went on a shooting spree in the area.

Sanchez, 30, is from Midland and went to Midland High School and graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in mass communications.

Being, “a typical kid from this area,” Sanchez said she remembered everyone in high school saying they were going to leave the Permian Basin and never come back.

Growing up in Midland, she said there was always a rivalry between the two cities, but now, “Odessa feels more like home more than Midland ever really did,” she said.

“This whole area is home,” she said. “We’re a little bit proud and we’re a little bit tough, I think it just comes from growing up in a place where it’s dirt and it’s wind and sometimes the times are really good and sometimes the times are really bad, so you have to be resilient.”

Sanchez’s first job in media was with the student newspaper at Texas Tech University as a lifestyles reporter covering events, student organizations and penning profiles.

When she came home for Christmas break her senior year of college, she marched into the CBS 7 office in Odessa and said, “This is what I want to do with my life, so can you put me to work?”

She worked for free, she said, and didn’t get student credit, but the experience helped her get a foot in the door as a TV reporter. After she graduated college, she applied to TV jobs all over the country and heard a lot of “no’s.”

She emailed KWEW 9 consistently and got a call back. She took the job at Channel 9 and that’s how she ended up back in Odessa, later taking a job at CBS 7.

Sanchez said she always liked telling stories. As a child, she said she used to sit down at the coffee table with a news report for when her father came home from work.

“I’d have like a stack of papers and I would give him the news and it was just like what my mom and I did that day,” she said.

She’d make a script and she’d mimic an anchor.

“I remember watching the news, being young and watching the news and seeing these things unfold.”

Sanchez worked as a reporter for more than seven years. Now she tries to use those tools in her current job.

The change came when she needed one. She said she was going to work at 11 p.m. and leaving at around 8 a.m.

“When I would get home, my daughter was awake,” she said. “It takes a toll on you to be that exhausted all the time.”

Sanchez took the job as the director of communications because her plan was to tell the city’s story and to be able to have a normal schedule.

“Odessa had just gone through so many changes in the past couple of years,” she said. “I watched them unfold, and even told about some of those unfolding.”

Her current job has given her a great opportunity to tell stories that aren’t being told.

“I love my job,” she said. “I know sometimes it’s hard and there are things that happen that can make it look like things aren’t going too great, but I really do believe in local government. I think it’s important because we’re the one’s who really interact with the residents in a more personal and intimate level than any other level of government does. I truly believe that the taxpayers are our bosses. I truly feel like we have to listen to them.”

Sanchez said she’s learned a lot about how the city works as part of her job, but when she’s not working she likes to be with her daughter and hopes that she can teach her that, “Just because maybe you’ve had a little bit of struggle or had to overcome some things, doesn’t mean that you have to stay stuck in a bad situation or that you won’t overcome it. You can and you will,” she said.

Odessa, TX

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