Open Letter from the PRSA MD Board of Directors:
Yesterday George Floyd was laid to rest. It should not have happened. In the name of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and many others who have been brutally killed, PRSA Maryland stands with the protesting nation to say Black Lives Matter.
PRSA Maryland was formed in 1961, during the Civil Rights Era, a movement against racial segregation and inequality. The chapter’s purpose was to advance the profession of public relations by offering services and support that help our members practice their craft.
Sixty years have passed and our raison d’etre has not changed. But we hear a crescendo regarding racism from our nation’s protesting citizenry representing all races, creeds, genders, and religions. The recent events are affecting everyone, especially those in our base city of Baltimore, which is 63 percent black (2010 U.S. Census Bureau) and has seen more than its share of racial tension, hate crimes, inequity, and uprisings.
Last week, PRSA National responded that the current climate in our country is indeed not healthy. In addition, T. Garland Stansell, our 2020 chair, stated:
We not only want to be the same voice for our chapter members but also want to continue our work to be more diverse and inclusive. As such, we are making a commitment to improve upon this initiative with meaningful and measurable goals. We are going to hold up the mirror to our membership, board, and committees, to solicit change. And, furthermore, we are challenging our members, public relations agencies, partnering companies, sponsors, and industry leaders to look at their own ranks and commit to changing the color of their profiles.
As we approach the second half of what we hope and pray will be a more positive and healthier 2020, we are starting the process by:
- Dedicating next week’s Weekly Chat to “Racism in our ranks and how leadership can change the system.” Register here for the free 45-minute session.
- Appointing an ambassador for diversity and inclusion in the chapter who will develop and oversee the D&I strategy and goals.
- Continuing the conversation from our 2018 and 2019 annual conferences with expanded dialogue at our 2020 conference on racism in our city, and specifically in our industry, and systematic ways to overcome it. Save the date for Sept. 24 and 25th!
- Encouraging our member agencies and companies to provide internship, scholarship and employment opportunities for BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) to build the type of diverse talent who will be able to soar/excel in an agency or firm environment.
We empathize with our members that are hurting during this time. Just as with the onset of COVID-19 and the pressures it put on our members personally and professionally, we are here, we are listening, and we are supporting you. #Membership matters and we encourage your participation in this ongoing dialogue. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or engage with us on any of our social platforms.
Your PRSA MD Board of Directors
Lisa Brusio Coster, President
Kenneth Smith, APR, Treasurer
Jeffrey Davis, APR
Dianna Fornaro, APR
David Marshall, Ph.D., APR