NEW YORK: The New York chapter of the Public Relations Society of America has elected Andrew Graham, founding partner of Clear, as its 2021 president, and Aaron Kwittken, founder of KWT Global, as president-elect.
The chapter also chose a new committee and board of directors in the October 29 election.
The New York chapter operates largely separately from the national organization, however PRSA as a whole has been criticized for its lack of diversity. In its election process, the New York chapter “did strive to capture diversity across race, gender, sexuality, etc.,” a chapter spokesperson said.
“Beyond the number of women on the board, we also have Black, Latinx and LGBQTIA representation,” she said. “It’s critical for us to reflect the market where we operate in New York, as well as the diverse array of stakeholders and external partners we work with.”
PRSA New York did not provide a detailed demographic breakdown of the new executive committee or board of directors.
The candidates for the positions were picked by the chapter’s nominating committee after an open call for candidates in August.
Graham said he deliberately chose not to offer suggestions for the executive committee so the nominating group would pull names from a more diverse set of candidates. The list was presented to the membership to be voted on. There is an alternative process by which other candidates can enter the election, though that is seldom used, Graham said.
This year, the members approved the nominating committee’s slate unanimously, he added.
In addition to Graham and Kwittken, the new executive committee includes: immediate past president Kellie Jelencovich, public relations manager at Internova Travel Group; VP of diversity and inclusion Richard Ferraro, chief communication officer at GLAAD; VP of marketing Sabrina Browne, an account director at BCW Global; VP of membership Stephanie Peksen, a senior account manager at Business Wire; VP of programs Natalia Lopez, a VP Finn Partners; secretary Sarah Katz, chief of staff at Diffusion PR; and treasurer Laura Wilker, VP at BNY Mellon.
The board of directors consists of: senior director of the 15 Under 35 Awards, Meredith LeJeune, owner of Thought Bubble Communications; senior director of the Big Apple awards, Casey Sheets, account director at Water & Wall; senior director of diversity and inclusion, Rashidah Timothy, VP of media at Lippe Taylor; senior director of marketing, Claire Nance, head of marketing communications at Activision Blizzard Media; senior director of membership Josh Deutchman, director of communications for AIG; senior director of programming, Cessie Cerrato, VP of PR for Palace Resorts; associate director of diversity and inclusion, Brandon Thomas, VP and GM in New York for PAN Communications; associate director of marketing, Yesenia Reinoso, digital marketing and media relations officer at Y Communicate; associate director of membership, Caitlin Kelly, founder and CEO of Vivid Communications; associate director of programs, Loren Antonio Duran, account supervisor at Finn Partners; and director of finance, Kristen Clonan, founder and CEO of Airlfuence.