National Capital Chapter

May 2021 President’s Message

Dear PRSA National Capital Chapter Members and Colleagues:

This month, we remember George Floyd, who was murdered one year ago. After those horrific 9 minutes and 29 seconds, our nation and our world began to awaken to a need to take steps to discuss, pay attention to and address generations of systemic racism. These are conversations that are long overdue, and the journey is just beginning.

For the past year, many of us have raised our voices and advocated for justice in our communities, at the organizations where we work and with those whom we advise. For some, it’s been an opportunity to exhale and finally express what they’ve been feeling and experiencing for far too long. For others, it’s been a first step toward understanding and speaking up as allies and partners.

As the leading PRSA chapter in the country, PRSA NCC works to uplift diversity, advance equity, provide inclusionary, vital professional development and networking opportunities, and empower communicators to find sustainable careers, advance in their professions and thrive. We challenge ourselves as communicators to create equitable spaces and opportunities that provide pathways for greater representation and economic mobility.

The work of building a just and equitable future falls on everyone. As strategists and communicators, we are uniquely skilled to help shape that future and make positive change possible. At PRSA NCC, we reaffirm our resolve and our commitments to be more intentional advocates for change. We are listening to our members and redoubling our efforts to create and maintain an inclusive and welcoming environment that cultivates a diverse and collaborative membership reflective of our industry and community. And we do this while fighting against inequitable racial, social and economic barriers that stand before many communicators in the nation’s capital and in our country.

We can all be better. We must examine what we can do to make a difference, and hold ourselves and each other accountable. We understand the importance of meaningful and sustained progress in the direction of equity and remain committed to actions that will make an impact in our industry.

Over the past year:

  • The DEI and membership committees joined forces to launch the Diverse Dialogue series, focused on hearing from diverse communicators’ career journeys, lessons learned and their perspectives on ways to advance DEI in our chapter and profession
  • The nomination committee for the board was intentional about ensuring there is diverse representation and we conducted direct outreach to diverse candidates to invite them to participate
  • The DEI and marcom committees amplified the voices of diverse communicators and allies, and created content for our social channels
  • The professional development committee sought to include more diverse experts and professionals on panels and serve as speakers
  • The Diverse New Professionals Fellowship Program was established to deliver on the chapter’s strategic objective to create an inclusive and welcoming environment that cultivates a diverse and collaborative membership reflective of the profession and community. The Diverse New Professionals Fellowship Program will help provide recent graduates who are Black, Latino/a/x, Hispanic, Indigenous or Asian with access to professional development and networking opportunities. Recipients will also be assigned dedicated mentors to help guide and connect them as they enter the professional communications field.

In the coming months, we will:

  • Hold a conversation with the editor of the Diversity Style Guide to discuss inclusive content and how words and images matter
  • Continue our Diverse Dialogue Series on the first week of every month to raise the voices of different demographics
  • Hold #PRDiversity Twitter chats in October as part of Diversity Month to offer a place for respectful discussion and concrete action
  • Continue to incorporate more voices with partner organizations as part of our inaugural partnerships committee

While we celebrate every victory in the direction of racial justice and a more equitable society, we understand that there is still much work to be done. As long as racial and ethnic groups face discrimination, injustice and human indignation perpetuated by historical inequalities, the work must continue.

DEI is an ever-evolving journey that requires us to think differently and do things differently to move the needle. PRSA NCC plays a core role in being agents of change and we take that responsibility seriously. Our passion for equality fuels our dedication to fair treatment, access and opportunities.

Leading with integrity and passion,

Lauren Lawson-Zilai
PRSA NCC President