PRSA Georgia’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Continues to Move Forward in 2021!
Did you know that there’s a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee (DE&I) at PRSA Georgia? The dedicated DE&I committee not only highlights the Chapter’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; it also guides the organization in making sure our messages, images and engagement are inclusive and a part of everything we do as a professional group, leaving no one out, and bringing everyone in.
Watch out for all things DE&I coming to our Chapter this year and let us know if you are interested in volunteering!
If you would like to join the DE&I Committee please reach out to Victoria Stanton at chapteradmin@prsageorgia.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement
In the fall of 2020, the PRSA Board decided to establish a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. After the murder of George Floyd and the global response and activism to eradicate systematic racism and discrimination, it was time for our Chapter to do its part to help our members be part of that change. A few months later, PRSA Georgia established its first official DE&I Committee, led by a group of mighty leaders that have made this Committee one of the most influential teams in our Chapter.
Laying down the foundation this year, the committee has been working non-stop, creating programs that highlighted PRSA Georgia’s continued commitment to DE&I and educating on how to be more inclusive communicators and be more mindful about diversity within our membership. As part of our primary responsibilities for our first year, the DE&I Committee has prepared the PRSA Georgia’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement. The statement brings thoughtfulness and intention behind every line and it speaks clearly to the values we need to be living each day as members of the Chapter and our community:
PRSA Georgia is committed to transforming every layer of the Chapter, from board service to its newest members, by intentionally applying the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging. By championing DE&I values at every level and advocating for applying their principles within the public relations profession and throughout our organization, we are contributing to the accountability and change needed to make the world more equitable and representative of all. We will use our influence and advocacy to increase understanding, perspectives, ideas, voices represented, and membership. By making a concerted effort to be inclusive and equitable in our practices and decision-making, we will use DE&I as a standard operating lens through which to look at our work and operation. The outcome is that those who join us in this honorable profession will be armed with a competitive advantage, be more aware, and will serve more effectively as communications counselors and community builders in society. It will also position our Chapter for excellence and growth.
The statement is accompanied by a series of Beliefs for our chapter members that help guide our DE&I mission, which will be at the forefront of everything we do. We invite everyone to read the statements and the beliefs and promote a more diverse and inclusive environment for our Chapter and our community.
PRSA Georgia Beliefs:
- PRSA Georgia’s DE&I Committee believes diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging are integral to the evolution and growth of the public relations industry and must be integrated into the very fabric of everything PRSA and PRSA Georgia does.
- As an industry, we have been better about including some voices over others. While the practice of public relations in the United States has evolved, a lack of a robust diverse pipeline and diversity in communication management positions persists. Studies indicate that young Black, Asian and Hispanic professionals are pursuing public relations as their career of choice and are underrepresented in the industry. With the minorities of today becoming the majority of tomorrow, being positioned to communicate and represent various voices through public relations and marketing will be essential to the effectiveness and survival of our industry.
- Although the most obvious contexts of diversity include race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, country of origin, culture and diversity of thought, the definition of diversity continues to evolve and also includes class, socioeconomic status, life experiences, learning and working styles, and personality types and intellectual abilities and perspectives, in addition to cultural, political, religious and other beliefs.
- It is our determined mission to ensure full representation of these voices, not only by inviting everyone to pull up a seat at our table, but also encouraged them to use their unique voices while there, make a dish, develop a recipe and host the dinner, all while being encouraged and made to feel welcome to do so.
- Respecting, embracing, celebrating and validating diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging are integral to PRSA Georgia’s DNA. It’s vital to the success of our profession, our members and the communities in which we live and work. It is essential and is our responsibility as members to carry this focus forward, beyond an emphasis because of current events, but for the health and prosperity of our industry.
- Through our continued focus, programming and resources, we aim to represent the living actualization of DE&I as well as educate and inform members along the way, all while inviting those who are underrepresented to join the public relations industry and to be heard.
Meet the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
Betsy Helgager Hughes, DE&I Committee, Co-Chair
“I believe we are stronger in our thinking and creativity when we bring different people with different lived experiences to the table and give everyone an equal voice regardless of title, and equally important is ensuring everyone who joins PRSA GA also feels like they ‘belong’.”
Betsy founded BLH Consulting, Inc., an Atlanta-based multicultural P.R. boutique firm in 2002 after an 8-year career at Ketchum where she led the African American Markets Group, preceded by a 2 ½ year career at Hallmark Cards, Inc. as a holiday spokesperson and launched the company’s first Kwanzaa Card. Being biracial and living in a bi-cultural family, along with her three years of living in Germany and going to an HBCU – Florida A&M University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism – Betsy’s life experiences and curiosities have always impacted how she celebrates and understands the similarities and differences of people and the way they live in the world. Those insights are used every day as she leads her diverse set of clients with effective marketing and P.R. strategies.
Karsten Burgstahler, DE&I Committee, Co-Chair
“Everybody has a unique perspective as a result of their lived experiences. We’re so much stronger as communities and businesses (even more so as P.R. practitioners) when we not only listen to those with different backgrounds from us, but also use what we learn from those conversations to make more inclusive decisions.”
Karsten is an Account Manager at Weber Shandwick. He is originally from Illinois and moved to Atlanta in 2017 to join the P.R. account team at Arketi Group. He is an alumnus of the University of Florida (master’s degree in public relations) and Southern Illinois University Carbondale (bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism).
Renae Madison, DE&I Committee Member
“Storytelling offers a creative way to share unique stories and experiences, as it allows us to involve people in our communication at a deep level. As communicators, we have the ability to lift up those stories, told and untold. Through our own listening and collective learning, we can develop and strengthen the skills necessary to effectively create diverse and inclusive messaging.”
Renae Madison is the Communications Manager/Public Information Officer for the City of Decatur. She is responsible for editing and managing the city’s community newsletter (Decatur Focus), website, social media and other communications initiatives including serving as the city’s public information officer. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and minor in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana, and recently received a master’s degree in Writing and Digital Communications from Agnes Scott College.
Kiara Reynolds-Westry, DE&I Committee Member
“Each of us is valuable and important, and I believe that the only way we can reach a better future is to respect one another.”
Kiara serves as the Public Relations Manager for Randstad USA where she manages public relations and media relations for the organization. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in Public Relations from Full Sail University.
Rocio Rivera, APR, DE&I Committee Board Liaison
“We represent the voices of those emerging majorities that will shape our Chapter’s future. More than ever, our PRSA Georgia Chapter is committed to providing a forum where our voices are heard and providing resources and tools that will help our members have more diverse and inclusive dialogue.”
Rocio is a 20-year public relations and marketing veteran. She currently works for LexisNexis Risk Solutions as the U.S. Communications lead for the Insurance Vertical, managing and executing all external communications for more than 15 lines of business. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Marketing from Loyola University, New Orleans, and a master’s degree in Media and Marketing Law from Emory University Law School.