Past Luncheon Topics & Speakers

Over the years, PRSA Richmond has welcomed dynamic industry experts from around the country to speak at our monthly luncheons.

View upcoming luncheon topics.


January 26
“Bring on the Best: An Inside Look at the 2022 Best in Show Winners”
Kristina Friar, strategy & marketing manager, VCU Health
Jared Usrey, vice president, strategy, Revive
Elinor Frisa, director of story development, VCU
James Irwin, managing editor of VCU Magazine, VCU
Todd Foutz, director, Client Services, Siddall Communications
Kelly Vance, principal, VANCE Agency

February 23
“BLK RVA: Promoting and Celebrating the Black Experience Year-Round”
Tameka Jefferson, Community Relations Manager
Kia Jordan, BLK RVA Advisory Board
Carla Murray, Director of Marketing Communications

March 30
“Axios Richmond: Digital Media Today & Smart Brevity Writing Techniques”
Karri Peifer, reporter
Ned Oliver, reporter

April 27
“Fighting Invisibility and Building Buzz with Martin’s Cultural Impact Lab”
Mariah Harris, Cultural Impact Manager
Fenton Crowther, Senior Cultural Impact Specialist

May 25
“Let’s Talk About Your Career”
Meredith Mirrington, PR Talent managing director

June 29
“The Journey of Flavor at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams”
Beth Stallings, director of communications at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams


Jan. 26
“Re-Imagining The Workplace: The Public Relations Imperative in a Post-Pandemic World”
Maria P. Russell, APR, Fellow PRSA, professor emerita of public relations at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University

Feb. 23
Panel on Changing Media Landscape in Richmond
Kelli Lemon, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Katie Potter, city editor, The RIC Today; Samantha Willis, editorial producer, VPM News Focal Point

March 31
2021 Virginia PR Awards Best in Show winners Padilla and Bon Secours Mercy Health

April 28
“The Metaverse for Communications Professionals”
Rick Plautz, VCU Brandcenter

May 26
Internal Communications & Remote Work
Megan Witherspoon, vice president, communications for Altria Client Services

June 30
“Beyond Words: The unique challenges of government communications”
Dena Potter, director, Office of Communications, for the Virginia Department of General Services

Sept. 29
Update from PRSA National and 75th anniversary of PRSA
Dr. Felicia Blow, APR, 2022 National PRSA Chair

Oct. 27
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the PRSA Mid-Atlantic District
Tomika Ferguson, VCU assistant dean for student affairs and inclusive excellence

Nov. 29
“The Power of Purpose: Why Social Impact Communications Matter Now More Than Ever”
Jeff Wilson, APR, vice president, workplace culture and chief of staff at Padilla; and Julie McCracken, vice president in Padilla’s Corporate Advisory Group


Jan. 27
“The Role of PR in Protecting Public Health: A History of Pandemic Communications and Vaccine Awareness from the 1918 Flu to the 2020 Coronavirus”
Shelley Spector, the founder/director of the Museum of Public Relations

Feb. 24
“Advising Leaders on Navigating in Today’s Diversity Movement”
Cheryl Procter-Rogers, executive coach at A Step Ahead Consulting and Coaching

March 31
“The Misinformation Age”
Cailin O’Connor, associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California, Irvine

April 28
“Staying Safe and Speaking Out: A Football Season Like No Other”
Traci Otey Blunt, senior vice president of corporate communications for the NFL

May 26
“Return to Workplace – Bring Your Path Into Focus”
Matt Kucharski, APR, president of Padilla

June 30
“How a Communicator’s Perspective Can Change the World”
David Murray, head of the global Professional Speechwriters Association

Sept. 29
“The Intersection of Ethics, Social Media, and Public Relations”
Cayce Myers, director of graduate studies and an associate professor at Virginia Tech’s School of Communication

Oct. 27
“Communicating the Need for Equity in Public Transit”
Joe Dillard Jr., Director of Equitable Innovation & Legislative Policy for Greater Richmond Transit Company

Nov. 17
“Clapbacks, PSAs, and Public Health”
Benjamin Jancewicz, creative director & social media manager for the Baltimore City Health Department


Jan. 29
“Online Reputation – Search Engine Optimization/Wikipedia and more..”
Josh Greene, CEO for The Mather Group

Feb. 26
“Locating and Working With Influencers”
Panel moderator: Christina Dick, Tiramisu for Breakfast
Megan Marconyak, Marco Style
Elizabeth Thomson, I Heart Vegetables

March program cancelled due to COVID-19

April 29
“Things to Start Doing NOW To More Effectively Lead Your Team”
Ken Jacobs, principal, Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching

May 27
“There’s a Worldwide Pandemic—Let’s Talk About Feelings”
Ellen Kamilakis, senior public affairs officer, VDOT Northern Virginia

June 24
“A Change is Coming: How The Current Social Landscape Impacts PR Professionals”
Panel moderator: Patrice Lewis, DEI chair for PRSA Richmond
Rev. Lacette Cross, Co-Founder and Leader of Us Giving Richmond Connections (URGC)
Dr. Rosalyn Hobson Hargraves, American Council on Education Fellow at the College of William & Mary (2019-2020) and Associate Vice President for Assessment and Transformation at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)
Jonathan Zur, president & CEO, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC)

Sept. 30
“How to Balance the Could vs. Should Paradox”
Carlos M. Brown, senior vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer at Dominion Energy

Oct. 28
“Communications in the COVID Age”
VCU Professor Jeanine Guidry

Nov. 18
“Risk and Reputation in the Age of Rage”
Jon Goldberg, founder and chief reputation architect of Reputation Architects Inc.


Jan. 30
“Engage by Stage – How to Connect with Employees at All Career Stages”
Natalie Smith, APR, senior vice president, Padilla; and Julie McCracken, senior director, Padilla

Feb .27
“Expanding on Influencer Relations: How to Elevate Your Brand With Influencers”
Tori Williams, associate manager, social media, Lou Hammond Group

March 27
“The Value of Values – How Brands Are Responding to the Changing Times”
Joel Payne, vice president, MWWPR

April 24
“PR Lessons from the Front Lines of Democracy”
Brenda Duran, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder-County Clerk

May 29
“#MeToo and Other Smoldering Crises – How Bad Behavior Impacts Companies”
Deborah Hileman, SCMP, president and CEO, Institute for Crisis Management

June 26
“50 Years of Love – An Example of Integrated Marketing at Work”
Lindsey Norment, brand director, Virginia Tourism Corporation; and Caroline Logan, director of communications, Virginia Tourism Corporation

Sept. 25
“How to Speak Up and Keep Your Job”
Marlene Neill, Ph.D., APR, associate professor and graduate program director, Baylor University

Oct. 30
“Trends in the PR Industry – A conversation with PRWeek Editor Steve Barrett”
Steve Barrett, editorial director, PRWeek

Nov. 20
“Lift Every Voice – A Panel on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”
Dr. Janice Underwood, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Commonwealth of Virginia; and Ted Lewis, executive director, Side by Side


Jan. 31
“The Home Depot Warehouse – Best Practices in Internal Social Media”
Katrina Blauvelt, senior director of digital communications and Story Lab, The Home Depot

Feb. 28
“Fake News – The Role of PR and Media in Keeping the Truth in News”
Panel: Paige Mudd, editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Tom Mullen, a public affairs journalism professor at University of Richmond; David Kleeman, Board V.P. serving the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE)

March 28
“Ethical Breaches”
Jacqueline F. Strayer, communication and marketing thought leader, consultant and educator

April 25
“It’s a Hit! Tips and Strategies for Landing Your Story on National TV”
Joanne LaMarca Mathisen, former producer of TODAY

May 30
“Communicating to Multicultural America”
Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen

June 27
Crisis Communication & Response
A panel moderated by Cynthia Price, University of Richmond

  • Corinne N. Geller, public relations director, Virginia State Police
  • Janell Hancock, senior communications specialist, Dominion Energy
  • Jonathan McNamara, communications director, American Red Cross

Sept. 26
Fostering Loyalty & Reducing Turnover among Today’s PR Workforce
Jade Faugno, Intermarket Communications

Oct. 31
Out-of-this-World Influencers – How NASA Takes the Online, Offline
Rob Wyman, NASA Langley Research Center

Nov. 28
Your Organization’s DNA – What’s Diversity Got To Do With It?
Rochelle Ford, Ph.D., APR, dean of Elon University’s School of Communications


Jan. 25
“Digital Influencer Marketing”
Archie Smart, executive vice president for the Qorvis MSLGROUP

Feb. 22
“Diversity and Inclusion in 2017”
Stephen Macias, senior vice-president and LGBT practice lead for MWWPR

March 29
Using the Power of Big Data to Anticipate the Next Crisis and Take Proactive Action
Chase Donnelly, senior executive at Zignal Labs

April 26
The Increasing Impact of Social Media on the Public Relations Practice
Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., Harold Burson professor and chair in public relations at Boston University’s College of Communication
Download the presentation (PDF)

May 31
“Overcoming Bias – Building Authentic Relationships Across Differences”
Tiffany Jana, CEO and founder of TMI Consulting and co-author of Overcoming Bias

June 28
“Comedy and Communication – Using Humor to Your PR Advantage”
David Wingfield, CEO of Commonwealth Commercial Comedic Communication

Sept. 27
“A Seat at the Table – How PR Pros Can Win Respect from the C-Suite”
Paula Otto, APR, executive director, The Virginia Lottery and Shawn Boyer CEO and founder, goHappy

Oct. 25
Eyes on the Prize – Shaping the Future of Visual Communications”
Mike McDougall, APR, McDougall Communications

Nov. 29
Transforming TV News for Millennial Audiences”
Alyse Shorland, producer, Vice Media


Jan. 27
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Data”
Scott Hicks, senior director, data strategy, Snagajob

Feb. 24
“Emory and Ebola: We Can Fear or We Can Care”
Holly Korschun, executive director, Media Relations & Research Communications, Emory University, Woodruff Health Sciences Center

March 30
“Content Marketing with David Beebe of Marriott Traveler: Publish or Perish”
David Beebe, vp, global creative + content marketing, Marriott International

April 27
“So Much More Than a Bike Race”
Paul Shanks and Lee Kallman

May 25
“The Art of Reaching Multicultural Audiences”
Gloria Rodríguez, founder, president and CEO of Comunicad, LLC.

June 29
“Q&A with Clay Risen, NYT senior staff editor”

Sept. 28, 2016
“The Coca-Cola Company – Changing from the Inside”
Jennifer Scott, APR, senior change lead for global workplace strategy and operations, The Coca-Cola Company

Oct. 26
“Flint Water Crisis”
Mark Owczarski, assistant vice president for university relations, Virginia Tech

Nov. 30
“Video Content Strategy for PR Professionals”
Tod Plotkin, principal, Green Buzz Agency


March 25
“Media Training & Crisis Communication Lessons Learned in the Field”
Jim Vance, spokesman, media & communication specialist, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington D.C.

April 29
“Marriage Equality: PR/Communications Messaging for a New Normal in Virginia”
PANEL: Bob Witeck, Witeck Communications; Katherine O’Donnell, Richmond Region Tourism; James Parrish, Equality Virginia

May 27
“The Future of Blogging”
PANEL: Kristel Poole, Hamilton Beach; Tim & Mary Vidra; Jeff Wilson, padillaCRT – Moderator of Q & A

June 24
“PR, Marketing or Both?”
Don Hale, Don Hale PR Consulting Firm, VP for public relations & marketing communications, Georgia State University

Sept. 30
“Send in the Drones: Keeping Journalists out of Harm’s Way”
Dr. Rose Mooney, executive director, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership

Oct. 28
“Producing Video Messaging With a Heartbeat in Corporate America”
David Shapiro, principal and partner, David Shapiro Enterprises

Nov. 18
“Reducing Biased Messaging and Promoting Inclusion in PR Communication”
Dr. Jennifer Wessel, assistant professor of psychology, University of Maryland


January 29
“Unlevel the Playing Field: Transform your SME’s into Corporate MVP’s through Personal Branding”
Jennifer Ransaw Smith, founder, Brand id|Strategic Partners

February 26
“How the ChildFund PR Team Responded to Typhoon Haiyan”
Cameron McPherson, The Hodges Partnership; Cynthia Price and Tasha Chambers, Child Fund International

March 26
“The Law of Social Media”
Chris Fortier, Board of Governors, Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference

April 30
“Bringing the Redskins to Richmond”
PANEL: Anedra Bourne, tourism coordinator for the City of Richmond (moderator); Tammy Hawley, press secretary to City of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones; Charlotte Perkins, performance management officer for Bon Secours Virginia Health System; and Tony Wyllie, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Washington Redskins

May 28
“The Changing News Landscape: How Far, How Fast”
Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of journalism research, Pew Research Center

June 25
“On and Off the Record: Virginia Press Secretaries Share Communications Stories from Their Time with the Governor”
PANEL: J. Tucker Martin, director of communications for Governor Robert McDonnell; Gordon Hickey, press secretary for Governor Timothy Kaine; Ellen Qualls, director of communications for Governor Mark Warner; Jeff Schapiro, politics columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch (moderator)

September 24
“Navigating Data to Maximize Nonprofit and Corporate Communications”
Christina Motley, owner, Christina Motley, LLC

October 29
“Storytelling as a Tool to Communicate Ethics”
Emmanuel Tchividjian, senior vice president & ethics officer, Ruder Finn

November 19
“Punch Up Your Speeches: Dos and Don’ts”
Jeffrey D. Porro, speechwriter, Porro Associates, LLC


January 30
“Entering Awards that Win”
Mark Hubbard, McGuireWoods Consulting; Thomas Becher, Neathawk Dubuque and Packett

February 27
“Landing your Company on a ‘Best Places to Work’ List”
Ryan Smartt, Capital One; Jim Godwin, Bon Secours Virginia Health System; Tina Lambert, Virginia Society of CPAs; Deborah Slayden, VCU Health System

March 27
“Creating Social Content Without Recreating the Wheel”
Jon Newman, The Hodges Partnership

April 24
“It’s 2013: Do You Know What Your Metrics Are? PR Measurement for the New Decade”
Katie Paine, News Group International

May 29
“Brand Candor: How to Find and Use Deep Truths that Drive Brand Allegiance”
Kelly O’Keefe, chief creative officer, CRT/tanaka

June 26
“Richmond Region Tourism: It Takes a Village”
Jennifer Carnam and Katherine O’Donnell, Richmond Region Tourism

September 25
“Critical Thinking and Crisis Management”
Larry Kamer, CEO, Kamer Consulting Group, LLC

October 30
“Achieving Success through Inclusion”
Jonathan Zur and Allison Conyers, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

November 20
“Communicating and Marketing the UCI Road World Cycling Championships”
Lee Kallman, director or marketing & communications, Richmond 2015


January 25
“Will Locusts be Next? Crisis Communications at Dominion”
William C. “Bill” Hall, Jr., vice president, executive communications, Dominion

February 29
“Optimizing Social Marketing Campaigns”
Chris Leone, chief marketing officer, WebStrategies

March 28
“Bringing Lincoln to Richmond: A Behind-the Scenes Look from the Virginia Film Office”
Andrew Edmunds, Virginia Film Office

April 25
“Talking Blogs from Tumblr’s Perspective”
Marc LaFountain, vice president of support, Tumblr

May 30
“Leveraging Local Partnerships to Land National Attention: How a Nonprofit Told the Story of Conjoined Twins”
Jennifer Curtis, APR, director of communications, World Pediatric Project

June 27
“Effective Employee Communication: Our Place at the Table”
Keith Burton, president, Insidedge

September 26
“Understanding the LGBT Consumer: An $800 Billion Dream Market”
Steve Roth, principal and founder, OutThink Partners

November 9
“A Panel on Pinterest”
Danielle Brigida, National Wildlife Federation; Loren Pritchett, ChildFund International; Jennifer Carnam, CDME, Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau; Wendy Scherer, Cabot Cheese

November 28
“Bringing Modern. Southern. Style. to Communications & Community Relations at Belk
Jessica Graham, APR, vice president of communications and community relations, Belk


January 26
“Social Meets Digital – and PR is Perfectly Positioned to Drive It!”
Jon Newman and Sonali Shetty, The Hodges Partnership

February 23
“Corporate Social Responsibility 3.0 – An Opportunity for Public Relations Stewardship”
John L. Paluszek, APR, Fellow PRSA, chair of The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management and PRSA’s liaison to the United Nations

March 30
“State of the Squirrels”
Todd “Parney” Parnell, vice president & chief operating officer, Richmond Flying Squirrels

April 27
“Getting Past the CEO’s ‘No!’”
Brian Ellis, CRT/tanaka and Bill Oglesby, Oglesby Media Consulting

May 25
“Surprise! It’s Your Time. Right Now”
Pamela Lepley, executive director, Division of University Relations, and Anne Buckley, director of communications and public relations, Virginia Commonwealth University

June 29
“Social Media: The Winning Combination”
Virginia Lottery staff: Jill Vaughan, director of communications; Jennifer Mullen, communications manager; and Rachel Buhse, communications associate

September 28
“How to Move a State Fair in 10 Short Years!”
Curry Roberts, president & chief executive officer, State Fair of Virginia

October 26
“The Sports Backers – Powering an Active Richmond!”
Jeff Fitch, director of development & sponsorship, Sports Backers

November 30
“Trial-by-fire: Convincing the Virginia Wine Industry to Embrace Social Media”
Annette Ringwood Boyd, director, Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office


January 27
“Lunch With The Champions: 2009 Virginia Public Relations Awards Best in Show Winners”
Paula Raudenbush, director of marketing and communications for the George Washington Foundation; Michael Whitlow, executive vice president, CRT/tanaka; and Becky Comstock, account executive, CRT/tanaka; Angela Fountain, communications manager, Department of Public Utilities for the City of Richmond

February 24
“Meet and Greet with the National PRSA Chair and CEO”
Gary D. McCormick, APR, PRSA National

March 31
“A Whole New Ballgame: From Gatekeeper to Pitcher”
Moderater: Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery. Panelists: Mychael Dickerson (WWBT to Henrico County Schools), Gordon Hickey (Richmond Times-Dispatch to Governor Tim Kaine’s press secretary), Bill Phelps (WWBT to Altria) and Lisa Schaffner (WRIC to UNOS).

April 28
“Social Media Tools to Engage, Converse and Build Loyalty”
Cynthia Price, director of communications, ChildFund International

May 26
“Communicating Transformative Change”
Suzanne Hall, chief communications officer, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

June 30
“Making the Case for Public Relations: Demonstrating the Value of PR”
Panel: William A. Harrison, Jr., regional director of public and government affairs for the American Red Cross Greater Richmond Chapter, and his CEO Reggie Gordon; and Jennifer Mullen, communications manager for the Virginia Lottery, and her CEO, Paula I. Otto. Moderator: Dr. Judy VanSlyke Turk.

September 29
“Effective Crisis Communications”
Brandy King, senior communications manager, Southwest Airlines

October 27
“Diversity in Public Relations: Getting Real, Informed and Down to Business”
Dr. Rochelle Ford, associate dean of research and academic affairs, John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University

November 17
“A Wild Ride with Secretariat: Bringing Big Red to the Red Carpet and onto the Bestseller Lists”
Patsy Arnett and Leeanne Ladin


January 28
“Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Regional Strategy and Priorities for Coverage Since Reorganizing”
Glenn Proctor, vice president and executive editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch

February 25
“What Does it Take to Effectively Market Richmond as a Sports City?”
PANEL: Allan B. Harvie, Jr., president and general manager of the Richmond Renegades hockey team; Matthew Becherer, vice president of marketing for the Richmond International Raceway; Scott Schricker, marketing director for Sports Backers; moderator Bill Oglesby, president of Bill Oglesby Media Consulting and former reporter/anchor for NBC12

March 25
“Breaking Down Barriers: Intergenerational Communications in the Workplace”
PANEL: Pam DiSalvo Lepley, APR, director of communications and public relations at Virginia Commonwealth University; Jeff Wilson, APR, associate vice president and director of business development at CRT/tanaka; Meredyth Thurston, account executive at Charles Ryan Associates. Moderated by Smokie Sizemore, president of Smokie Sizemore & Co., Inc.

April 29
“Building Relationships through E-mail Marketing”
Gina Watkins, regional development director, D.C. Metro Area, Constant Contact

May 27
“Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketers Don’t See Eye-to-Eye – And What to Do About It”
Laura Ries, co-author, War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketers Don’t See Eye-to-Eye – And What to Do About It

June 24
“Leading Organizational Change”
PANEL:  Alisa Bailey, president and CEO, Virginia Tourism Corp.; Lisa Olivia, vice president of public affairs, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Lloyd Osgood, senior vice president of marketing and communications, Fidelity (formerly of Land America); and Judy Pahren, senior vice president of development and diversity, Capital One. Michele A. Rhudy, APR, partner, Rhudy & Company Marketing & Communications, Inc., moderator.

September 30
“Social Media: Developing Strategies and Measuring Results”
David Saunders, president & chief idea officer, Madison + Main Advertising & New Media

October 28
“Communications on the Campaign Trail”
Tim Murtaugh (R) and Kimberly Allen (D)

November 18
“Communicating with Constituents at the Local Level”
Tammy Hawley, press secretary for Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones


April 23
“Using Public Relations to Generate Buzz”
Daryl McCullough, CEO, PainePR

May 28  
“Covering the Virginia Tech Tragedy: Perspectives from the Media a Year After the Event”
PANEL: Tom Kapsidelis, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Times-Dispatch photographer Eva Russo; Morgan Dean, WRIC TV 8

June 25
“Corporate Restructuring: Altria’s Transition from New York to Richmond”
Elizabeth Cook, manager of corporate brands, Altria

September 24
“Dreaming of Becoming an Independent Practitioner, or Interested in Working with One?”
PANEL: Members of the Independent Practitioner section of PRSA Richmond; Michele Rhudy of Rhudy & Co. (moderator)

October 29
“Campaigning on YouTube and in Second Life: How Web 2.0 has Transformed the 2008 Presidential Election”
Torod Neptune, senior vice president and general manager of Global Public Affairs Practice for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide

November 19
“Why and How the Success of our Community Impacts your Business and Profession”
James Dunn, retired president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and organization consultant for Bon Secours Richmond Foundation