December 2018 Print

President's Report

Farewell and Thank YOU!

I can’t believe my tenure as your 2018 chapter president is nearly over. Together we achieved many of our goals. I mean, right off the bat, the Eagles did win the Super Bowl and the Boston PRSA chapter lost the bet. We loved seeing the Boston chapter pay up by wearing Eagles gear—and thanks for the Boston Cream Pies! Victory is sweet!

(The PRSA Philly Board enjoys Boston Cream Pie)
(The PRSA Philly Board enjoys Boston Cream Pie)

(Boston PRSA wears Eagles gear. Now, don't they look happy?)

But I digress!

On a more serious note, the chapter shined in bright gold as the we celebrated our Golden Anniversary Pepperpot Awards on November 13. Please check out this retrospective video highlighting our past 50 years!

The chapter also reached new heights on a number of fronts in 2018. Early in the year, the chapter partnered with the PRSA Health Academy and hosted an amazing healthcare public relations summit. And, on the heels of the Eagles’ first Super Bowl victory, the chapter booked Ike Richman, legendary Philadelphia sports PR and media relations expert, for a riveting sports PR and event planning workshop.

Our work with our friends at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) was bolstered with numerous events, including a summit of students, faculty, and PRSA leadership on August 14 and our meet-up at Shriner’s Hospital on October 17. Our collaboration with PRSSA has never been stronger!


This year, building on previous efforts, the chapter reinvigorated its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The 2018 co-chairs of our D&I committee established goals and convened a summit on September 25 with a blue-ribbon panel of five distinguished leaders in business and media dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion in Philadelphia.

As I transition to immediate past president, I can say without reservation that the chapter is in great hands. Our president-elect, Martha Gaston, APR, VP, Corporate Communications, Corporate and Public Affairs, TD Bank, has already hit the ground running!

I sincerely thank everyone who helped me in my service as your 2018 chapter president and look forward to continuing to serve the chapter in other roles.


John F. Kouten
President, PRSA Philadelphia
CEO, JFK Communications, Inc.

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Welcome New Members

Sari AlJishi
Associate Member, Graduate Student

Lisa Allen
Associate Member, Graduate Student
Communication Coordinator

Evan Berland

Abigail Brooks

Tina Burkholder
Associate Member 3
Director of Public Relations
Medical Mission Sisters

Sean Casey

Amanda Noelle Clauser
Associate Member 1

Lara Deloza
Senior Communications Manager
International Literacy Association

Taren Gaddy
Chief Public Relations and Government Affairs Officer
Delaware Valley Community Health, Inc.

Alisa Giardinelli
Swarthmore College

Heather Hardwick

Alain Joinville
Public Relations Manager
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

Nicole Lasorda

Maureen Leader
Public Relations & Communications Manager
Willow Valley Communities

Samantha Marinelli
Communication Consultant
Allstate Insurance Company

Dale McCullough
Director of Corporate Marketing
University Student Living

Christine Mullin
Arcadia University

Sophie Marie Nielsen-Kolding

Alina Nicole O'Donnell
Associate Member 1
Communications Strategist
International Literacy Association

Katie Papadopoulos
Associate Vice President

Abbi Raciti
Associate Member 1

Sara Reinfeld
Communications Manager

Patricia Richards-Service, Ph.D

Charmaine Riley
American Association for Cancer Research

Ryan Sheehy-Cox

Sarah Jess Spencer
Head, US Corporate Communications

Katie Young Wildes
Senior Communications Specialist
Women Against Abuse

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Join us in welcoming PRSA Philadelphia's leaders for 2019!

2019 Board of Directors

President - Martha Gaston, APR
Vice President - Steph Byrwa
Treasurer - Tom Logue
Secretary - Michele Besso Cohen
Immediate Past President & Ethics Chair - John Kouten
Director-at-Large - Lisa Packer
Director-at-Large - Jawanza Keita
Director-at-Large - Rosie Braude
Director-at-Large - Linda Pollock

Committee Chairs

Membership Committee - Lori Doyle
Communications Committee - Mike Lauer
Programming Committee - Ryan Sheehy, APR
Diversity & Inclusion Committee - Renee Cree
PR Institute Committee - Melanie Wright
APR Committee - Jake Farbman, APR
Sponsorship Committee - Vacant
Emerging PR Pros Committee - Vacant

Also, congratulations are in order for Director-at-Large Mike Gross, APR on his election to the PRSA Mid-Atlantic District Board of Directors as Chair-Elect. It will be wonderful to have Mike representing the Philadelphia Chapter's interests at the district level.

If you have interest in serving on any of the PRSA Philadelphia committees or in filling either of the vacant positions, please contact John Kouten and Martha Gaston at

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Meet the Media: José Moreno

By Mellany Armstrong, associate director of communications, Moore College of Art & Design, and PRSA Philly Communications Committee member

José Moreno is a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Media Network, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, and He is a visual storyteller who interprets and communicates events through still images or video. He once considered becoming a respiratory therapist!

Tell us about your background.

I have covered news and sports as a photojournalist for more than 18 years, on staff at The Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, with The Associated Press in New Jersey and currently at The Philadelphia Inquirer. My work, which includes shooting and producing multimedia content, has been cited for excellence by the National Press Photographers Association and the Associated Press Managing Editors, among others. National and international media outlets such as Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated have published my photos.

How did you become a news photographer?

I feel like I was a photographer from a young age. I was always the kid bringing the 110 film camera to field trips and capturing my friends in funny moments. However, I was a fine arts kid in high school, dedicated to drawing and painting. I went to college to become a respiratory therapist and in the last year I realized that I liked science, but I wanted to do something more creative. A professor asked me to try a photojournalism class. I wanted a job that would not just be a profession, but also a way of life.

What’s the most interesting/amazing/unusual event you’ve covered as a photographer?

I struggle with this question. Some of the best moments other than photographing the birth of my children would be photographing some amazing people and events. I loved my experience photographing Jane Goodall, Pope Francis, former President Obama, Michael Jordan, and Mick Jagger. However, I photograph portraits of regular people that also bring the same level of elation.

How has your role as a photographer changed over the years?

I’ve had to keep up with technology and incorporate shooting and editing video skills.

How big a role does social media play in what you do?

Social media plays a very big role in what I do. It not only allows me to share content but also to create a relationship and reach a wider audience. Social media allows me to post photos to preview a future story. The best part of social media is that you provide a platform for opinions and feedback. 

Is there something about you that most people don’t know?

As a kid, I lived in El Salvador during the civil war. I immigrated with my parents to Guatemala, then Costa Rica, and finally ended up in Miami as a high school student. I visit El Salvador every other year to see my mother. I’m also creating a collection of photographs I’ve taken there that I hope to exhibit one day. 

What advice would you give public relations professionals when it comes to working with you and the media?

Communicate beforehand the dos and the don'ts. Also, provide enough information so at the time of the event there is no interruption that could make the subject uncomfortable.

You can find examples of José Moreno's work here:

Follow José on social media here:
Twitter: @jomoreno007
Instagram: jomoreno007; josefmoreno_photography; Inquirer_photo

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Events in Review

PRSA Philadelphia Recognizes Best-in-Class Public Relations Programs and Individuals at 50th Annual Pepperpot Awards

By Michele Besso (Cohen), Public Relations Director, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and a PRSA Philly Communications Committee Member

Hundreds of public relations professionals gathered to celebrate each other’s achievements at the 50th annual Pepperpot and Achievement Awards event, hosted by the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) on November 13 at the Down Town Club in Philadelphia.

Guests mingled and exchanged business cards as they took advantage of hors d'oeuvres, dinner foods and an abundant dessert buffet during the course of the event. The PRSA Pepperpot Awards are a staple in the Philadelphia region, recognizing best-in-class PR campaigns, tactics, and professionals. A record number of over 100 entries were judged in 32 campaign and tactic categories ranging from short- and long-term events, to community relations and fundraising, to crisis and issues communications campaigns. This year, members from the Fort Worth PRSA Chapter judged the entries.

Marilyn Russell, AM Host for WOGL Radio, was the emcee for the evening. For the first time, the Pepperpots “Best in Show” award was a tie – with both winners registering perfect scores in all categories. The 2018 Best in Show Pepperpot awards went to:

  • Independence Blue Cross for its Independence Blue Cross Celebrates Champion Season

  • AKCG – Public Relations Counselors for its Philadelphia Inquirer Feature Series: Thought-leadership Positioning in a Crowded Healthcare Market for Mercy Health System

“Presiding over PRSA Philly’s Golden Anniversary Pepperpot Awards was an extreme honor! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneers of this chapter for their early work and legacy,” said John F. Kouten, President, PRSA Philadelphia, CEO of JFK Communications, Inc. “As a 28-year PRSA member, I can say without hesitation that this event was the high-point of my PRSA career. I know our founders can be confident that the future of PRSA Philadelphia is in good hands.”

PRSA Philadelphia also recognized Lynn H. Yeakel, MSM, Founder and President of the Vision 2020 initiative, as the recipient of the 2018 Integrity Award. The Integrity Award is given to an individual or team who has demonstrated commitment to ethics and integrity to better the profession to which they belong and/or the community. Ms. Yeakel was selected for her work on the Vision 2020 initiative, a national coalition of individuals and organizations with millions of members in all 50 states working for women's economic, political and social equality in the United States.

Individual achievement awards were also presented to the following outstanding PRSA members:

  • The Anthony J. Fulginiti Award for Commitment to Education was presented to Scott Tattar, Professor at Drexel University and Principal of Tattar Strategic Communications.

“PR professionals outnumber journalists 6 to 1 today,” Scott said during his acceptance speech. “That’s why public relations officials today are more essential and relevant than ever before.”

  • The Frank X. Long Award for Excellence in Writing was presented to Mark Eggerts, Independence Blue Cross.

  • The Anne Sceia Klein Professional Promise Award was awarded to Milan Genovese, a Villanova University senior and the PRSSA president. While bestowing the award on Milan, Anne Klein said that she “demonstrated a level of leadership and collaboration rarely seen in a student.” On her way to earning a Communications degree, Milan has already completed five internships in her field.

  • The President’s Award was bestowed upon Kim Nissen, Siemens Healthineers and former PRSA president.

"Kim has gone above and beyond to support the chapter,” President John Kouten said when introducing her. “I’ve watched this individual work tirelessly. Her institutional knowledge, passion and commitment are an inspiration to all of us.”

Nissen, who served two terms as chapter president, urged current members to get more involved with the chapter, whether it be on a committee or on the board. “For those who are interested, I’m living proof that you can come in as a new member and get to where I am today, so stay involved.”

A special thank you to the generous sponsors of our Golden Anniversary Pepperpot Awards: Bill Cowen and Villanova University; John Moscatelli and JJM Communications; Vault Communications; 20/20 Visual Media; and Businesswire.

Click here for a full list winners at the 50th Annual Pepperpot Awards.

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Calendar of Events

Integrity in News – WHYY Tour and Discussion

Tuesday, December 18
8-9:30 a.m.

In an era of "fake news" and when the integrity of the media is called into question, public relations professionals, reporters and consumers are constantly evaluating from where and how they get their news. Public broadcasting, while enjoying a resurgence in audience, also is balancing how to maintain its reputation as a trusted news source in this environment. PRSA Philadelphia and WHYY will explore this topic during our December program.

Join us for breakfast and an informative session with Eugene Sonn, FM News Director, and WHYY producers on how and from where they source their news and new programming that is launching. This session will be followed by a studio tour where members can get a behind-the-scenes look at production. Members, non-members and students are invited to attend.

Transit and parking information for WHYY available:


$20.00 Member
$30.00 Non-member
$10.00 Student


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The Temple Chapter of PRSSA is hosting the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference March 22-23, 2019 in Center City, Philadelphia. The conference seeks breakout session speakers and panelists for a variety of topics relating to the public relations industry. The conference will commemorate the chapter’s 50th anniversary with the theme “Being A Full Service PRo.” The theme addresses the need for modern public relations professionals to be full-service, no matter what type of public relations work they take on.


Click here to apply by Wednesday, December 19.

They are looking for speakers in any of the nine following categories:


1. Diversity

2. Agency/Client Relations

3. Special Events

4. Analytics

5. Corporate Social Responsibility

6. Professional Development

7. PR in the Age of #MeToo

8. Fake News and Ethics

9. Engaging Influencer Campaigns


Please refer to the website to review the CFP. Again, note that the proposal deadline will be Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

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PRSA Webinar

PRSA’s last webinar for 2018 is Elevate the Quality of Your Performance, led by Suzanne Updegraff, president of Employee Development Systems on Tuesday, December 11 from 3 p.m.–4 p.m.

Free to PRSA members ($200 for everyone else), Suzanne will cover “how learning the three primary tools for upgrading the quality of your conversations, your projects, and your engagement will prepare you for 2019.” Register here.

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