FPRA 2009 Annual Conference: Meet the Blog Team

Here are the 18 FPRA members who will make up this year’s volunteer conference blog team. They will post their reactions to speakers, sessions and happenings from the 71st annual conference of the Florida Public Relations Association in Boca Raton. The blog will also feature tweets, podcasts and plenty of photographs… and maybe even a few surprises!

So without further adieu, let me introduce to you this year’s annual conference blog team:

BRYAN BEATY is the executive assistant to the president at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce. He coordinates presentations, speeches, special events, correspondence and legislative affairs for the president. Beaty received his Associate in Arts degree from Indian River Community College, his Bachelor’s specializing in communications and public relations from the University of Florida and his Master’s of public administration from Nova Southeastern University. He is the incoming president of FPRA’s Treasure Coast Chapter.

SUSIE BOWIE is the communications associate at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County’s Nonprofit Resource Center. She serves as vice president of web site communications for the Central West Coast chapter and as the public information officer for the Sarasota Audubon Society. Bowie was recently featured in the “40 Under 40” edition of Gulf Coast Business Review.

LAURA BYRNES is the owner of Byrnes Communications, specializing in cost-effective media relations, creative branding and reputation management. She joined FPRA’s Ocala Chapter in 2000, is completing her second term as membership director and will serve as chapter president-elect in 2009-10. Byrnes has more than 25 years experience in journalism, public relations and communications marketing. She has been in Ocala since 1991 where she has worked for the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group, United Way of Marion County and the Appleton Museum of Art.

GINNY COOPER is principal of The Cooper Group, providing public relations, marketing, event design and social media management services to clients in Florida, North Carolina and New York. She is also a published author, specializing in feature writing. Cooper has been an FPRA member since 2004 and is outgoing president of the Southwest Florida Chapter. She has previously served as the chapter’s Image Awards chair and programs chair.

SUZANNE DAMERON has been running her own public relations firm since 2002. She founded Aspire PR, Green Branding & Social Marketing in 2007 to serve clients with eco-conscious projects, policies and practices. She continues to enjoy guiding clients in strengthening the triple-bottom line while helping them promote products and services that benefit the planet. Dameron is head of the social media team for the Central West Coast Chapter, is participating for the second year as a member of the state conference blog team and is a member of this year’s first conference “Green Team.”

KELLY DONOVAN is a communication specialist at the Florida Museum of Natural History and recently graduated with a Master’s in mass communication from the University of Florida. She has worked on advertising and public relations campaigns in community building, public health, healthcare and youth risk prevention. Donovan is an active member of the Gainesville Chapter, where she served on the Image Awards committee this year. and is excited to attend and blog the FPRA conference for the second time.

PHYLLIS K. ERSHOWSKY, APR, CPRC, is the principal of PKE Marketing & PR Solutions, a full service marketing and public relations firm in Fort Myers. She serves as public relations counsel to Southwest Florida businesses in many industries, including banking, residential and commercial building, tourism and healthcare. Ershowsky first joined FPRA in 1994 and returned as an active member in 2008. She currently is vice president, member relations for the Southwest Florida Chapter, and received a 2008 Golden Image Award and 2009 local Image Award.

CHRIS GENT is vice president of corporate communications for Kissimmee Utility Authority. He has been an FPRA member since 1994 and currently serves as vice president of technology for FPRA’s Orlando Area Chapter. Chris has served six years on the FPRA State Board, including four years on the Executive Committee. He is a past president of the Orlando Area Chapter and winner of both the Doris Fleischman Award and the Dick Pope Grand All Golden Image Award. Chris spearheaded the FPRA conference blog from 2006-2008. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from UCF in Orlando and is currently a graduate student in strategic public relations at the George Washington University.

JOSH HALLETT is director of Voce Connect, a part of Voce Communications. Based in Silicon Valley, Voce serves clients throughout the world with a focus on traditional communications and social media marketing. Hallett helps direct social media strategy and execute international programs for many clients, including Disney Parks, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, eBay and NetApp. He joined FPRA in 1996 and has always been an advocate of technology’s role in public relations. This includes developing FPRA’s first statewide web site in 1996 and FPRA Blog Week in 2006. Hallet is a member of the Dick Pope/Polk County Chapter.

HEIDI OTWAY, APR, is director of public relations at SalterMitchell, an advertising, public relations and social marketing firm based in Tallahassee. She is the incoming president of the FPRA Capital Chapter and has served on a number of committees since joining in 2003. She is passionate about public relations, social marketing and FPRA. Woot! Otway is an avid Tweeter and Facebook enthusiast who is using social media to become a “Key Influencer.”

PAUL RAMEY, APR, is assistant director in charge of marketing and public relations at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, where he has worked since 1999. He is a past president of the Gainesville Chapter and has served three years on the State Executive Committee, currently as vice president of technology. Ramey received the 2008 FPRA State Member of Year Award and will again serve next year as Gainesville Chapter past president. He is coordinating this year’s “hot” annual conference blog.

KAREN RYAN, APR, CPRC, has been the public relations manager for Lee County Electric Cooperative for more than 13 years, where she manages a fabulous team including fellow public relations members. She joined FPRA in 1994 and is a past president of the Southwest Florida Chapter, which named her Public Relations Professional of the Year in 2002. Ryan currently serves as the chapter’s PR University co-chair.

MELISSA SHEETS, APR, began her career working in the non-profit arena after graduating from the University of North Florida in 2002. Recognizing that fundraising was not for her, she shifted to the government sector in 2003. As special projects coordinator for the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners, Sheets focuses on intergovernmental relations, legislative affairs and community affairs. She currently serves as president of the Volusia/ Flagler Chapter and achieved her Accreditation in Public Relations in June.

KAREN SZULCZEWSKI, APR, is the communications director for the Better Business Bureau of Northwest Florida, serving 14 counties in the panhandle. She has been involved with FPRA since 2001, serving on numerous committees, and is the incoming president of FPRA’s Pensacola Chapter.

EMILY SPERLING is the community relations manager for the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, where she promotes the county as a business destination. She is the incoming president of FPRA’s Central West Coast Chapter and received the chapter’s 2008 Rising Star Award. Also in 2008, Sperling was named one of Biz941 magazine’s “25 People to Watch.” She is a boundary spanner, Gators fan and cyclist.

KATHLEEN TAYLOR, APR, is the public relations coordinator at Lee County Electric Cooperative in North Fort Myers, where she leads and contributes to both internal and external communications initiatives. She participates in guiding her company’s United Way fundraising campaign, supporting fundraising activities and promoting awareness of the United Way mission. She is an active volunteer within her community and will serve as FPRA Southwest Florida Chapter president in 2009-2010.

AMELIA WOODBRIDGE is senior partner of McBride Woodbridge Marketing in Melbourne. She joined FPRA in 1999, and after holding many board positions for the Space Coast Chapter currently serves as the chapter president. Woodbridge has won numerous Image awards and received the Doris Fleischman Award in 2007. She has more than 25 years of marketing, advertising and public relations experience. Woodbridge also served as president of the Space Coast Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, which has recognized her company with numerous Gold and Silver ADDY awards.

HEATHER YATES is the media relations coordinator for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, where she serves as media spokesperson and communications coordinator. She has 20 years of experience in corporate management, public relations, consulting and freelance writing. Yates graduated with honors from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English with a specialty in writing. She is an active church member, will serve as president of FPRA’s Nature Coast Chapter in 2009-10, and also serves on the board of directors for Crime Stoppers of Citrus County Inc., and Citrus County’s Child Advocacy Center.

6 comments

  1. Josh Hallett says:

    Looks like a great team!

  2. Chris Gent says:

    Looking forward to a great conference!

  3. Dr. Janis Page says:

    I’ll be excited to follow all of you…particularly my former and current students, Kelly Donovan and Chris Gent, throughout the conference. Wish I could be there!

  4. Jay Rayburn says:

    Okay Josh and Chris, help me out here. I’m trying to follow this conference but am probably lost in cyberspace.

  5. Chris Gent says:

    Have you figured it out yet, Jay?

  6. Susie Bowie says:

    Paul, thank you for organizing all of this. Sooo many details! I am forwarding it to those here at my organization who could not attend & to others who are begging for summaries of the sessions and keynoters. Great job.

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