Captain’s Log, Salt Lake City

Debra Miller is receiving the Gold Anvil award and the D Parke Gibson Award during PRSA's annual conference. I sat down with her for a...

Debra Miller is receiving the Gold Anvil award and the D Parke Gibson Award during PRSA's annual conference. I sat down with her for a few minutes. A long-time PRSA member, she recalls the first conference she attended in 1977, when most of the participants were men, and she was the only person of color outside of the waitstaff.

Miller says she wants to see PR people move from the seat at the table to becoming the corporate CEOs themselves. She was heavily influenced early in her life by the image of the perfect corporation, which would boldly follow the vision of a dynamic leader, while reflecting the diversity of society and engaged in a mission to do good. The model? The Star Trek Enterprise.

Uhura, in particular, is a particularly salient symbol, according to Miller. As head of communications, at the right hand of Captain Kirk, she was always there when the crew was entering unexplored territory. "He didn't go anywhere without her," Miller says.

PRSA has its own frontier, Miller says: "PRSA is at a crossroads," adding the organization needs to rethink both its structure and its offerings, so that it can elevate to the status of other professional associations, and become a career-long destination for members. More on this topic later...

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