The Philadelphia Public Relations Association (PPRA) recently announced its new Board of Governors for the 2013-2014 year. To learn more about these exceptional PR professionals, take a moment to read their brief bios below. Congratulations to all of the new and returning Board members!
President – Bonnie Grant
Grant joined the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) in April 2008 as Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Congress. Prior to her time with PHLCVB, she served for nine years as Deputy City Representative for the City of Philadelphia under the administrations of Mayors Edward G. Rendell and John F. Street. Grant has also served as Director of Communications and spokesperson for Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, the Philadelphia Eagles and Chestnut Hill College. Grant holds a BFA from Tyler School of Art and a Master’s in Journalism from Temple University. She currently resides in East Oak Lane, PA.
President-Elect – Lisette Bralow
Bralow spent 25 years as the Public Relations Chair of the internationally renowned Philadelphia Folk Festival, handling all aspects of promotion and public relations. She also spent many years in medical book publishing, as Editor in Chief at W.B. Saunders (now Elsevier Science). She now owns her own real estate investment company. Bralow has been a member of PPRA for more than 15 years and has served on the board in various capacities. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and currently resides in the Art Museum neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Treasurer – Nina Scimenes
With more than seven years of experience, Scimenes has practiced public relations and marketing at organizations such as Laurel House, Crowne Plaza Philadelphia and Girls Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. She is now Marketing Coordinator for AMResorts, provider of sales, marketing and brand management services for Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts and Secrets, Dreams, Now and Sunscape Resorts & Spas. Scimenes is a graduate of Cabrini College and currently resides in Bella Vista section Philadelphia, PA.
Vice President, External Affairs –Meredith Avakian Hardaway
Avakian-Hardaway serves as a Regional Public Affairs Manager for DuPont, supporting eight of the company’s manufacturing plant sites in three states — New Jersey, Delaware and Rhode Island. Her primary responsibilities include leading issues and crisis management, internal and external communications, and community outreach. Avakian-Hardaway is a graduate of Temple University and currently resides in the South Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Vice President, Programs – Meredith Wertz
Wertz serves as Communications Manager for Online and Voice at Comcast Corporation, her work focuses on the Internet, voice, and business products and services. In this role, she writes and edits publicity materials; manages media relations; and advises the field team on media strategies and product details. Wertz is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, and currently resides in Fitler Square section of Philadelphia.
Vice President, Membership – Sarah Fergus
Fergus serves as Public Relations Manager at the National Constitution Center, the first and only nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to the U.S. Constitution. In her role, she oversees the planning and implementation of the museum’s media relations and social media programs. Fergus is a graduate of Temple University, grew up in Lansdale, PA, and currently resides in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Vice President, Communications – Jessica Lawlor
Lawlor is the marketing and communications coordinator for Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, PA. In her role at the tourism office, she is responsible for content creation, e-communications, B2B public relations efforts and assisting with social media, advertising and marketing initiatives. In her free time, Jessica is a freelance writer and blogs at JessicaLawlor.com about getting gutsy-stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals. Lawlor is a graduate of Temple University and resides in Cheltenham, PA.
Secretary – Ashley Berke
Berke is Director of Communications for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet), where she oversees media relations, marketing, publications, the website, and social media for the renowned school and its two hospitals. In this role, Berke is responsible for positioning Penn Vet as a leader in veterinary research and education. Berke is a graduate of Cornell University and resides in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Immediate Past President (Chair) – Kera Armstrong
Armstrong is a Director with Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy with over nine years of experience in government and community relations, grassroots marketing, event planning and media placement. Prior to joining Ceisler Media, Armstrong worked in the Saint Joseph’s Office of Government and Community Relations. Armstrong is a graduate of St. Joseph’s University and currently resides in the Center City section of Philadelphia.
Amery serves as the Senior Marketing Manager for AMResorts, focused on the global brand positioning of AMResorts’ six brands. Her strategic marketing and communications experience is rooted in the tourism and hospitality field. She has facilitated social media campaigns that span demographic and geographic boundaries, domestically and internationally. She attended LaSalle University, earning a M.A. in Professional Communication, and Temple University, earning a B.A. in Journalism, Public Relations, and Advertising. She currently resides in South Philadelphia.
Behuniak is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications for the Devon International Group (DIG), a multi-national group of businesses that span the healthcare, information technology and international business industries. Behuniak directs global marketing and public relations, advertising and digital media and serves as the companies’ media contact and spokesperson. He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Communication Department Advisory Board at La Salle University, his alma mater. Behuniak resides in Plymouth Meeting, PA.
Crews is the Director of Communications for the Philadelphia and Delaware offices of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. She began her career as a journalist for the Philadelphia Tribune and served as the Assistant Director of Communications at MEE Productions, INC, a health and communications company. where she was named lead writer on a CDC-sanctioned study. Crews also held the position of Director of Public Relations at the American Red Cross during the time of such national disasters as the tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Lebanon Repatriation. She is a graduate of Duquesne University and currently resides in Lansdowne, PA.