The city of Rock Island has hired former Dispatch-Argus and Quad-City Times reporter Sarah Hayden as community engagement manager, a new position for the city. She started in the job Monday, Aug. 8.

“I am very excited about joining such a strong and talented team already in place with the city,” Hayden said in a Friday release from Rock Island. “I look forward to building a communications strategy, fostering civic engagement and connecting with residents and community partners. Rock Island is a dynamic city blessed with a rich history and a future full of potential.”


Hayden graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. She had worked as a reporter for the Dispatch-Argus since 2012, the last five years as senior politics and government reporter for both the Dispatch-Argus and Quad-City Times.

She has won numerous journalism awards from the Associated Press, Iowa Newspaper Association and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association for investigative and feature reporting.

Hayden will manage communications to and from Rock Island, act as social media manager and oversee community engagement and outreach with residents and stakeholders.

She will work closely with City Manager Todd Thompson and department directors on growing the city’s brand through marketing and promotion while fostering civic engagement with residents.

“We are excited to welcome Sarah. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position of community engagement manager,” Thompson said. “Community engagement is a top priority for the city and Sarah will help us make sure we are achieving excellence in this area.”

Mayor Mike Thoms also welcomed Hayden to the city.

“I’m excited to see Sarah Hayden join the city of Rock Island,” Thoms said. “The city is dedicated to improving communications and community engagement with its citizens. I believe we found the right individual to assist in this task. Sarah knows the Quad-City area well and is well-qualified and experienced to accomplish this goal.”