Member Spotlight - September 2016


What do you currently do for a living? I’m the Director of Media Relations and Communications Programming at the University of Texas System, which is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation. Most people assume that the UT System is the same as UT Austin, but the UT System actually is the umbrella administrative organization that encompasses all 14 UT institutions in the state. Altogether, the six health institutions and eight academic institutions educate more than 221,000 students and employ 100,000 faculty members, researchers, health care providers and support staff.

What motivated you to pursue a career in communications? I had been a newspaper reporter for about 10 years, which I loved and still miss, but I reached a point where I wanted to be an advocate and feel like I was part of a team. When I left the San Antonio Express-News, I had been covering education for a few years and heard about an opening for a communications specialist at one of the school districts I covered. It was the perfect transition.

What was you first job in PR/communications? My first job in PR/communications was at Northside ISD, the largest school in Bexar County (San Antonio). I was the communications specialist there for six years.

Where are you from? Where have you lived? I grew up in Suffern, New York and Columbus, Ohio and graduated from The Ohio State University. I moved to San Antonio in 2000 to be a reporter at the San Antonio Express-News. I was 25 at the time and didn’t know a single person in San Antonio but wanted to change my life. I met my husband about a year later, and our family – a which now includes two kids – moved to Austin a little over three years ago when I got hired at the UT System.

How has PRSA Austin contributed to your development as a public relations professional? No matter how much experience you have in this field, it’s constantly changing and there are always new things to learn. It’s critical to have access to professional development and a network of peers.

What is your most memorable experience as a PRSA member? When I lived in San Antonio, I regularly volunteered for San Antonio PRSA’s Gift of Guidance event during the holiday season to provide free public relations advice to local nonprofits. These organizations are doing amazing things to help people but have a hard time getting the word out because they didn’t have the financial means to pay for PR. It felt great to give them a simple, concrete plan of action that could make a huge impact for them and the communities they serve.

What are one or two main reasons you’ve continued to renew your PRSA membership every year? This is my first year to be a member of PRSA Austin, but I definitely will renew my membership. I think the topics for the monthly lunches are pertinent, and I appreciate the Masters Class Series geared towards those of us who have at least 10 years of experience in the field.

Fill in the blank: My favorite thing about PRSA Austin is getting to mix business with pleasure!