Membership Matters: From Student Leader to Leading the Way through DEI

Shared by Betsy Helgager Hughes, President/CEO of BLH Consulting, Inc., Co-Chair Chapter DEI Committee, Recommended 2024 Board Liaison DEI Committee

The value of being associated with PRSA for me began at Florida A&M University in 1988 when I decided to run for president of the student chapter because to my surprise, a student from Florida State was our university’s student president! The foundation and support I received from the national organization carried over into my professional career at Hallmark Cards, Inc. and Ketchum PR in particular. The company’s willingness to pay for its staffers to participate made all the difference for professional development early in my career.

The most significant impact of being involved with PRSA Georgia has come from the relationships I’ve built over the years with members and management. When I started BLH Consulting, Inc. in 2002, I knew being a part of PRSA Georgia was going to be important to my continued professional development since I wasn’t a part of a multinational firm anymore. When communications professionals headquartered in Atlanta would call for recommendations for PR talent in the multicultural space in particular, I was often recommended because of my roles and visibility with different committees. I’m proud to say one major financial services firm I was recommended to in the fall of 2002 is still a client to this day, 22+ years later!

For more than two years now, I’ve gotten more involved by becoming the co-chair of the DEI committee. It has allowed me to get to know more people within PRSA Georgia who are passionate about equity within the chapter and leveraging our knowledge, insights and even personal experiences to help other committees and the Board become a more inclusive and welcoming organization to ALL.

I believe every person and every committee must carry the DEI mantle. It’s not something that magically improves over night, but rather improves over time by keeping DEI top of mind with everyone and with everything we do, from planning Annual Conference with the diversity of viewpoints in speakers, to inclusive categories for awards, and recruiting new members from schools with larger populations of the smallest percentages of our current members.

Reviewing and improving the way we welcome new faces and encourage and value new voices and ideas in leadership and on committees stimulates the contributions of everyone. Although the DEI committee may have only a few members, everyone in PRSA Georgia has a role in evolving our Chapter.