This year’s 77th Annual Conference Blog Team features seasoned professionals and eager newcomers. With more than 40 sessions and events to cover over the course of four days, the 15-member blog team will be working feverishly to update you on everything conference!
Amelia Bell, APR, CPRC
Amelia Bell, APR, CPRC, is a marketing communications manager for RTI Surgical, a leading global surgical implant company providing surgeons with safe biologic, metal and synthetic implants. She is responsible for developing and managing strategic integrated marketing and public relations programs to support marketing plans and corporate goals for internal and external audiences. An FPRA member since 2005, she currently serves as the President of the Gainesville Chapter. She received a master’s degree in mass communication and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Florida. As an adjunct faculty member at the University of Florida in the Department of Public Relations, College of Journalism and Communication she teaches Public Relations Writing.
A passionate and collaborative communicator, Ginger Broslat is a Public Relations and Marketing Consultant who works as an integral member of her clients’ teams. With a strong background in healthcare, economic development, publishing and nonprofit management, she is adept at visualizing the big picture, developing the creative concepts and tactical steps needed to achieve goals.Ginger approaches projects with a strategic end in mind. That practice has garnered numerous Image Awards from the Florida Public Relations Association on both local and state levels. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations through George Washington University.Ginger also uses her physical weakness with muscular dystrophy as strength to inspire and encourage others through motivational speaking. Lessons from those experiences were published in her book, Fall Therapy.
Devon Chestnut, APR
Devon is the communications manager for Cox Communication’s Southeast Region, consisting of operations in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. She is responsible for the development and deployment of internal communications for an employee base of over 1,800. In addition, Devon manages community outreach efforts for the Ocala, FL area and supports social media development and implementation for the Florida and Georgia operations. Devon serves on the executive board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Alachua County and Leadership Ocala/Marion Board of Regents. In 2011, she was named one of Gainesville’s Forty Under 40. An FPRA member since 2007, she is a past president of the FPRA Gainesville Chapter. Devon is currently the vice president of technology for FPRA and will continue to serve FPRA in this same role for 2015-2016. Follow her on Twitter @devonchestnut for conference updates.
Jessica Fuchs took the big leap into entrepreneurship earlier this year with Seen Heard Ranked Digital Marketing, through which she helps small and medium sized businesses create cohesive PR and marketing campaigns across online and traditional channels. Prior, Jessica served as the public relations officer for Marion County Fire Rescue, spent several years as a print, radio and broadcast reporter and produced a closed circuit news-show for The Villages. She earned a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of South Florida and a M.A. in Digital Marketing from Full Sail University. Jessica has served on the Ocala FPRA Board since 2012, and will continue her service as the chapter’s 2015-2016 Treasurer. Follow her on Twitter @SeekingSEO for conference insight.
Chris Gent, APR, CPRC
Orlando Area Chapter
Chris is vice president of corporate communications for Kissimmee Utility Authority, Florida’s sixth largest municipally-owned electric utility. He holds responsibility for the utility’s internal and external communications, including marketing and advertising, media and public relations, employee outreach, special events and corporate philanthropy. An FPRA member since 1994, Chris has served 11 years on the FPRA State Board of Directors, including nine years on the Executive Committee and as FPRA State President in 2014. Chris spearheaded the FPRA conference blog in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.
Amanda Handley is a communications strategist at BowStern Marketing Communications, an integrated firm headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida. Her background in writing and strategic communications lends itself to effective messaging for clients of all kinds. Amanda has worked on fully integrated campaigns for clients ranging from local transit systems to national associations and international fitness centers. From building excitement via social media conversation to scoring media coverage in markets across the U.S., Amanda is experienced in developing engaging messaging across all digital and traditional public relations platforms.
Mary Ann Horne
Orlando Area Chapter
Mary Ann Horne is the community outreach specialist at MetroPlan Orlando. She assists in developing and coordinating a public information and community outreach program for the regional metropolitan planning organization, which serves Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Before beginning her career in public relations, Mary Ann worked in non-profits and journalism. She has been a professional member of the Orlando chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association since 2012 and will serve as chapter VP Communications/Social Media during the 2015-16 program year.
Northwest Florida Chapter
Whitney Ladwig joined Proffitt PR as vice president in March 2013. The company currently services over 25 local, regional and nationwide clients in varying industries. Before joining Proffitt PR, Whitney held the position as director of marketing at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, spearheading all Marketing, Public Relations, and Social Media efforts for the resort, as well as Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood and Serenity by the Sea Spa. She also served as events & market manager at Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village. Whitney has served on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Florida Coast Chapter of Florida Public Relations Association since 2012. She was named Communicator of the Year in 2014 and will serve as President of the Board for 2016. Whitney is also a member of Young Professionals at the Beach and Walton Area Chamber of Commerce. She also served on the Executive Committee of the Destin Seafood Festival in 2011, establishing and overseeing the Festival’s social media presence. Originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Whitney has been a Destin resident since 2008. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communication from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Whitney is an avid sushi lover, and enjoys traveling abroad, fitness, sporting events, cooking, family and wine. Married to her husband Curtis since April 2012, they have a golden retriever, Ivy, and beagle, Josie.
Central West Coast Chapter
Melissa Link founded Brand Eleven Eleven over five years ago and has built a branding agency that creates, conveys, and connects her clients to their target market. Her approach to branding includes a strong integration of all communication components into a cohesive and consistent message that develops brand credibility, recognition and longevity. She has experience providing branding, marketing, public relations, graphic & web design and Internet marketing for all types of industries including product manufacturers, service companies, start-ups and non-profits. Ms. Link is currently the President of the Central West Coast Chapter Florida Public Relations Association. She has won awards from the Florida Public Relations Association and the Suncoast Advertising Federation, along with being recognized as a 40 Under 40 by the Business Observer and a Women of Influence by Biz941.
Tampa Bay Chapter
Jason Medina works at U.S. Central Command, where he develops communication plans for U.S. military operations in the Middle East. Prior to joining the CENTCOM, Jason did public relations at Hill & Knowlton’s office in Tampa, where he specialized in state policy, crisis communications and social media. Jason started his career as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1997, after graduating from the University of Florida. While in uniform, he managed and implemented employee communications, media relations, community outreach and crisis management programs for complex and diversified organizations. Since making his home in Tampa in 2007, he has been active in the community, playing leadership roles in the Florida Public Relations Association, Tampa Bay Public Leadership Institute, Economic Club (formerly Exchange Club) of Tampa, Tiger Bay Club of Tampa Bay and the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for the Republican National Convention.
Adrienne Moore, APR, CPRC
Treasure Coast Chapter
As a 30-year member of the Treasure Coast Chapter, Adrienne has worked with a variety of members throughout the Florida Public Relations Association, on state and local committees and was State President in 2006 and Treasure Coast president for four terms. In addition, she has handled Image Awards, Media Conference, and other assignment for the chapter, as well as receiving local and Golden Image Awards for professional projects. In her professional life, she was a news reporter for nearly 20 years and then worked at the public radio station at Indian River State College for 25 years. Since retiring in 2007, Adrienne opened her own public relations firm with several clients that keep her busy. She still continues to participate in FPRA programs and also served a two-year term as Florida Public Relations Education Foundation chair. The association has honored her with the organization’s top honors and other recognition.
Kimberly Polacek, APR
Tampa Bay Chapter
Kim is a media relations coordinator at Moffitt Cancer Center, a role she has held since June 2012. She has nearly 18 years of communications experience, working first as a television news producer before making the transition to public relations in 2008. A FPRA member since 2009, Kim will be joining the 2015-16 board of the Tampa Bay Chapter as a member of the Image Awards committee. She is a proud Florida State University alumna and serves on the board of the Tampa Seminole Club. Be sure to follow Kim on Twitter @KimPolacek for updates throughout the conference.
Paul Ramey, APR
Paul Ramey, APR, is assistant director in charge of marketing and public relations at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. He is a past president of FPRA’s Gainesville Chapter, has served in multiple positions on the FPRA Executive Committee, including VP of Technology and VP of Annual Conference, and was named state FPRA Member of the Year in 2008. Ramey has more than 25 years of communications experience, including work in print, radio, healthcare and public schools.
Brandi Welk, development director, joined the Council on Aging of West Florida team in July 2013. Welk is responsible for developing and maintaining ongoing professional relationships with major donors, coordinating donor recognition initiatives and events, and participating in the establishment of measurable fundraising and business development goals. She is involved with the local community as a board member for First Book Pensacola and the Pensacola Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association, member of Association of Fundraising Professionals, Junior League of Pensacola, and Pensacola Young Professionals. Welk volunteers her time helping local organizations and speaking to public relations classes at the University of West Florida. In 2013, Welk received an award of distinction from the Florida Public Relations Association for her team’s work on the rebranding campaign for Friends of the West Florida Public Library. In 2015, her team received a Judge’s Award, Image Award, and Golden Image Award for their work on the Rat Race 5K. She was also the recipient of the Scott R. Harrington APR, CPRC student scholarship in 2012 and the recipient of the Joe Curley Rising Leader Award in 2015. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from the University of West Florida.
Tampa Bay Chapter
Kristen Wimer, having recently decided to test her skills as a public relations and communications freelancer, possesses three years of communications experience in a diverse landscape, including travel and tourism, events and festivals, real estate, culinary and more. Kristen received her bachelor of arts in communications with a specialty in public relations from the University of West Florida and her minor in hospitality and resort management. A member of FPRA since 2010, Kristen has served the Pensacola Chapter as a member of its website committee and board, and received the Chapter’s 2013 Joe Curley Rising Leader Award. Having relocated to the Tampa Bay Area last year, Kristen now serves the Tampa Bay chapter as programs co-chair and participated in a Chapter volunteer project, which assisted a local non-profit with a public relations program. Stay tuned to Kristen’s Twitter (@itsKris_10) for live tweets and conference updates!