Winter 2019 Print

A Message from Board Diversity Officer and Committee Chair, Rene Petties-Jones

Sunrise Seminars Recap

by Rene Petties-Jones
PRSA Buffalo Niagara has embarked on a new journey towards implementing
regular Diversity and Inclusion sessions. This October, we were thrilled offer Sunrise
Seminars entitled “Community Conversations for Global Diversity Awareness Month”
- three consecutive week interactive sessions focused on varying aspects related to
issues and impacts of Diversity and Inclusion.

Our first session, “So You want to Talk about Diversity and Inclusion”, featured
speakers Bradford Watts, Community Relations Coordinator, People Inc.; Dr. Tamara
Alscace, Independent Consultant, Multilingual Education; Ben Leopold, Facilitator,
Social Work Student; Former National Federation for Just Communities (NFJC) Board
Member; and myself, Rene Petties-Jones, Community Engagement Director, NFJC.
Participants talked and worked in facilitator-led groups about a wide range of topics
including what Diversity means as it relates to our workplaces and networks. In our
small groups we identified challenges we all face as communication professionals
and the tactics we’ve used and seen to overcome them.

“Talking the Talk”, the next session, was specifically designed to get at the meaning
of certain terms and buzz words we often hear. We explored how certain terms and
images can be considered offensive to some, and many were surprised to learn of
the subtle ways we, as communicators, can inadvertently promote negative
imagery. Speakers included Steve Jagord, Program Manager at The Pride Center of
WNY, Ekua Mends-Aidoo, Equity & Inclusion Officer with Evergreen Health, and Emily Burns Perryman, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Daemen College. Handouts and websites were given to participants as a great reference tool moving

Our final session ended with “Diverse Communities are Vibrant Communities; A
business case for Diversity and Inclusion and the role Communicators play”. Again
using an interactive approach, together we explored all the benefits of diverse
voices coming to the table and feeling welcomed in the process. We talked at length
about the challenges that can ensue when voices aren’t heard or represented. This
session featured Jasmine Chen, Realtor, Howard Hanna and President of the WNY
Chinese Chamber of Commerce; Janique Curry, NFJC Board Member, Vice President
of the National Action Network and an MWBE Compliance Expert; Mara Koven-
Gelman, Director of the Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council; Kevin Jolly,
Press Secretary for City of Buffalo Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and former TV Reporter and Anchor; Eva Hassett, Executive Director of the International
Institute; and Stephen Tucker, President and CEO of Northland Workforce Training
Center. As always, the Sunrise Seminars could be attended standalone or for the full series. After the sessions, videos, PowerPoint presentations and reference materials were shared with participants.

Though you may have missed these outstanding diversity seminars, look for more
opportunities at future events that chapter’s Diversity committee hopes to present
in 2020 and beyond. Don’t be left out of these important discussions. As
communicators, we have to keep relevant on all issues surrounding diversity and
inclusion and the first step is to make sure we’re a part of the conversation!

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Share a Shout Out!

John Della Contrada has been promoted to Vice President of University Communications at the University at Buffalo. In his role, John helps lead the university's media relations, internal communications, crisis communications and issues management functions. He is a Buffalo Niagara PRSA past chapter president and Outstanding Practitioner Award recipient.

Michael Freedman, 2020 chapter, president, has been promoted to Associate Vice President of Enrollment Marketing, Communications and OpePrations at Niagara University. He also teaches Public Relations and PR Campaigns for the university.

Do you have a new job? Did you win an award or earn recognition? Are you taking on a new role in a professional organization? Or have something on the more personal side to share like marriage or a new baby or more. Then send us a shout out! Email [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!

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‘Gifts’ are plentiful via resources at

It’s the time of year for gift giving, so we wanted to make sure you know about some of the many “gifts” available at to you, a valued member of PRSA, at no cost at

The PRsay blog is in fact open to anyone without logging in to your MyPRSA account, but when you do log in at MyPRSA, you’ll find Career resources, on-demand webinars and member benefits, for example.

Speaking of gifts, let’s start off with a blog featured at PRsay called A Holiday Guide to Gear That Can Improve Your Creative Content. The deal is that high tech advancements mean creative content can be more accessible and affordable, especially when an iPhone was used to create a video for a song for Selena Gomez. And she is not the only Hollywood-type to do so.

But iPhone videos aren’t the only gifts in this guide – learn about possibilities like Amazon and Google Smart Tech, Adobe Creative Cloud, noise-cancelling headphones, the Apple MacBook Pro, and more.

The PRsay blog offers other posts full of helpful information and tips on a variety of other subjects, of course, too.

Here’s more on the ‘gifts’ when you log in to your account:

  • Career Resources - When you upload your resume to the PRSA jobcenter, you can get a complimentary resume review. Once you upload it and are happy with your resume, you can keep it there on a private or public (so employers can find you) basis. On the landing page you’ll also find gathered there articles and resources about resume writing, interviewing, career advancement and navigating the digital world, and an ask the expert opportrunity. You’ll also find job listings.
  • On-Demand Webinars – You can search for a specific topic or category or browse through the extensive listing in this free section of webinars. Some specific subjects are communicating with employees for managers, winning over journalists and influencers in this changing environment, the importance of curiosity and attention to driving PR outcomes, social media influencers, and strategies for mobile communications, to list just a few.

The best thing about all these gifts – they’re available all year long, not just at the holidays!

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