PRSA New York names Leslie Gottlieb president-elect

Gottlieb said she may not push for disclosing diversity data.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

NEW YORK: The New York chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has named Leslie Gottlieb president-elect.

She will officially step into the president position on January 1.

In an interview with PRWeek, Gottlieb hinted that she won’t push for disclosing diversity data when she takes over the president role next year.

"Right now [current PRSA New York president Sharon Fenster] has brought this initiative to the chapter and it’s very much to her credit," Gottlieb said. "But it is very much her program and vision right now."

When asked for clarification, Gottlieb — who was chosen for the presidency by the PRSA-NY board last Thursday — would only say diversity is an important issue and she will "build on what [Fenster] will accomplish this year."

Gottlieb was secretary of the chapter for two years and has served as a committee member. She is president of the firm LG Communications.

Last December, under Fenster’s leadership, the PRSA’s New York chapter asked agencies, corporations, and industry groups to release data on their diversity and inclusion efforts with the intent of measuring progress. A new category, the President’s Big Apple Award for Diversity Data, was also added to the PRSA’s 31st Annual Big Apple Awards Gala.

Fenster said she thinks Gottlieb needs time to take office, assess the situation, and make her own decisions. She added, though, that she would be disappointed if the New York chapter dropped the data effort.

"The push for transparency in the industry through the submission of diversity data is essential," Fenster said. "It is a sign of positive intent. As we always say, what gets measured gets done. And how can we know where we need to go if we don't know where we stand now? It's just that simple."

The chapter’s push for transparency in diversity largely came up short. Not long after the PRSA made the call, PRWeek asked 11 of the largest PR agencies  by revenue based in the U.S. if they would make their data public.

Only six responded: Edelman, Golin, Weber Shandwick, FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, and MSLGroup. All were supportive of the idea, but only Edelman and Fleishman committed to releasing information.

In addition, the initiative did not win the support of PRSA’s national leadership. 2017 PRSA chair Jane Dvorak said the group was "not focusing on gathering info; we’re not a policing organization. That’s not what PRSA does."

And while the chapter awarded three agencies for their diversity data efforts at June’s Big Apple Awards Gala (Finn Partners, Hunter PR, and Zeno Group) none of the data they submitted for the award was made public. Fenster said it was confidential.

Aside from transparency, Gottlieb said as president she’ll focus on the Big Apple Awards and the chapter’s other diversity and inclusion efforts. She also said she’ll focus developing the group’s membership and establishing alliances and partnerships with other professional groups.

"It’s going to be more of a workload, but I expect it and welcome the challenge," she said of the position. "I also know because I talk to many people that I will have cooperation from the many colleagues and friends I have both on the board and in the organization.

Last month, D S Simon CEO Doug Simon resigned from the president-elect post of PRSA’s New York chapter.

Simon was named president-elect in January 2018, along with the rest of the board.

* "Your article stated that I 'hinted' at changing a diversity initiative. I have not made any concrete decisions. Diversity and inclusion in the PR industry are important issues. I am reviewing all of PRSANY’s programs with the goal of clearly defining the chapter's priorities when I begin my term in January 2019," Leslie Gottlieb, president-elect, PRSANY.

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