National Capital Chapter

June 2021 President’s Message

Dear NCC Members and Colleagues:

At this half-way point in the year, I wanted to pause and share with you the impact from the year as we continue serving our members and advancing the profession.

Notable milestones and achievements in 2021 include:

  • Improved the PRSA NCC website with mobile optimization, published 16 blog posts and engaged 3,584 unique visitors since launching Google Analytics in early March.
  • Implemented a dozen virtual educational workshops and informational webinars.
  • Led our first virtual Issues of the Day event for association and nonprofit leaders to learn from topic experts specifically during a time of limited resources.
  • Introduced virtual coffee chats, which have been attended by more than 110 members, as a means to connect and have more personal dialogue in a virtual environment.
  • Engaged with the next generation of PR professionals in the following ways:
    • Enhanced ties with the local Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapters and the university committee.
    • Recruited American University (AU) PRSSA Chapter President Jenna Depellegrini to join the Advisory Council to share a student’s perspective on PRSA NCC’s strategic plans and help build membership among the next generation of PR professionals.
    • Featured AU’s PRSSA member, Zachary Gradishar, in a blog post for his stellar work and leadership on DEI initiatives in his chapter.
    • As result of our collaboration and support with AU, PRSA NCC was awarded the Partnership Award from AU’s PRSSA for being a valuable resource to the chapter and its student members.
    • Helped the University of Maryland PRSSA roll out its Grunig Lecture series. Provided $100 in financial assistance to each of the four local university PRSSA chapter to support activities, including membership scholarships.
  • Continued reimagining our second annual National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards – formerly known as the Thoth Awards – to keep pace with trends and best practices in the profession. The awards now include a total of 27 categories, including new categories for campaigns that combat misinformation; promote diversity, equity and inclusion; and demonstrate innovation in the face of COVID-19. PRSA NCC is once again partnering with the prestigious Institute of Public Relations for the Research, Measurement and Evaluation Award. For more than 50 years, the National Capital Excellence in Communication Awards have celebrated the exceptional creativity and strategy produced by communication and public relations professionals in the Washington, D.C. area. After an unprecedented year, the chapter looks forward to showcasing the expertise of the region’s world-class communicators and celebrating their extraordinary accomplishments. Nominate a stellar communicator for this award today.
  • Posted 45 job listings as a benefit for members.
  • Launched our first Partnerships Committee and solidified a partnership with the Content Marketing Institute. Members can use code PRSA NCC and get $100 off registration for its annual conference, Content Marketing World. Register now.
  • Unveiled video on demand so that communicators can have access to 12 previous PD events, which have been frequented by 345 users since launching in early March.
  • Created a more sustainable chapter sponsorship model that delivers more value for chapter sponsors and creates new event and feature sponsorship opportunities. Specifics include:
    • Generated more than $14,000 in income for chapter and professional development sponsorships.
    • Doubled the size of the committee to ensure consistent support for chapter sponsors in receiving their benefits.
    • Created new sponsorship opportunities for the virtual coffee chats and the video-on-demand library.
    • Secured Porter Novelli, HomeLight, Vanguard Communications and TorchLight Hire for individual event sponsorships.
    • Secured pressrelations and Propel for new chapter sponsorships. Propel’s chapter sponsorship includes a 20 percent discount on services for NCC members as well as in-kind services for our pro bono client, Mary’s Center.
  • Launched our DEI theme for this year – Amplify Diverse Voices – and launched three priorities:
    • Priority 1: Developed and executed a DEI content strategy.
      • Hosted two DEI Dialogues sessions focused on raising Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) voices.
      • Posted a blog for Women’s History Month in March.
    • Priority 2: Hosted professional development sessions on DEI to support people on their learning journeys to be more inclusive.
      • In progress: Hosting a learning session on inclusive language on Tuesday, June 29.
      • In progress: Hosting a learning session on racial equity communications in October.
    • Priority 3: Evolved our focus to include equity by documenting ways to ensure our chapter processes are equitable for all.
      • Renamed the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to include the word equity.
      • Expanded our previous Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) statement to become a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) statement.
      • In progress: Development of a chapter equity guide to be released in November.
  • As a member-only benefit, more than 12 members — ranging from nonprofit to public service to private sector backgrounds — were matched with mentors this year. Mentees received career guidance, job search support and professional skills enhancement, along with an opportunity to expand their network. Mentors deepened their commitment and cemented their own legacy in the profession and obtained APR credit for their service.
  • Provided a variety of communication services to our pro bono client, Mary’s Center, including, transition plans for executive leadership, crisis communications planning and media training.
  • Improved communication across social media platforms, including an increased volume and variety of posts, improved graphics and updated descriptions.
  • Recruited a digital communications intern to enhance the content on our social media channels and website.
  • Raised $630 for DEI programming and mentoring.

All of this work would not be possible without the dedication of our board, volunteers and members. I encourage you to contact us at to share your interests and find a volunteer role that is right for you. Even just a few hours per month will enable you to take an active role in shaping the organization and giving back to the profession.

It’s been a busy year, and we are only half way through! I look forward to the progress we continue to make together throughout the remainder of the year.

Leading with integrity and passion,

Lauren Lawson-Zilai
PRSA NCC President