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Meet Board Member and Volunteer Laurie Farrell

For the November issue of WebNotes, we met Laurie Farrell, PRSA Maryland board member and volunteer. Laurie is the owner and president of her own freelance firm, Mission Street Communications, and was the chair of the PRSA Maryland Conference this year.

How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join?

I have been involved with PRSA Maryland since 2004. I’ve always been excited to learn new skills, meet new people and make connections, and PRSA has helped me do that.

What did you enjoy most about being the conference chair for the 2020 PRSA Maryland Conference?

I also chaired last year’s conference and at first, I thought that this year’s conference might not be as much work because it was virtual. But it became a challenge as we had to figure out what was going to resonate with people and what would keep viewers engaged when so many have “Zoom fatigue.” This led us to get to work with some awesome speakers from all over the country, who we would not ordinarily be available for an in-person event. We brought in a producer, Laurie Reuben, who was great to collaborate with. Overall, I love creating content and experiences as a team, rising to the occasion when there’s a challenge and collaborating with others.

What is your current position?

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been an easy time for anyone. I was part of a layoff due to budget cuts as a newer employee. This provided me with a bit of a break to focus on the conference and my family, and allowed me to gain clarity on what I want to do next. I also have my own freelance business called Mission Street Communications, which I’m starting to do more for. My goal is to land with a mission-based organization where I can be part of a team and help them reach their goals and make some meaningful contributions while also continuing to learn and grow.

What do you love most about the PR field?

The essence of PR is cultivating and growing mutually beneficial relationships, which I’m all about. I also love the strategy that goes into it, collaborating with organizations to solve problems and provide solutions that make an impact. So much has changed and developed over time, but the fundamentals are always going to be the same. You always have to think about reputation management and crisis communications, hone your writing skills, and strategize about how to engage different audiences. It’s fast-paced and always changing, which makes this profession so interesting and fun.

How do you define success?

First, just giving back, participating in my community and being a good human being. Our measures for success tend to change over time as we travel along in life. For me, success is making the time to do the things I truly enjoy, either on my own or with the people I enjoy most. And then, making sure to be very present for it. You can accomplish all kinds of things, but you need to ask yourself “how am I making the most of the time I have?” There’s so much joy in everyday, ordinary moments – like seeing a cool leaf or savoring the first sip of a hot cup of tea or skipping with my granddaughter. Really recognizing the value of those simple moments makes for a great life.

Who inspires you?

Anyone who is doing good things in the world, taking risks, and stretching themselves. All three of my daughters inspire me when I see the people they have become. Now that my kids are older, I get to continue to share in their lives, and they inspire me a lot.

What is one thing – either industry-related or not – you learned in the last month?

Going back to the conference, the different ways and tools to provide engaging content for people virtually. There’s so much more you can do now. I think when we’re back in person, these lessons I learned are important to remember as well. Keep it interesting and keep it relevant.

What is something about you (a fun fact) that many people may not know?

I make amazing playlists. I like to create playlists based on how I want to feel the next day, or what I want my mood to be. I have magic powers to transform my day with playlists, and it absolutely works!

What is a podcast you would recommend?

“How I Built This.” It’s an NPR podcast where Guy Raz interviews innovators, entrepreneurs, and those who have started successful businesses. Guy is such an excellent interviewer and the stories are interesting and inspiring. Guests include the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, Airbnb, Warby Parker, Canva and Bobbi Brown.

Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire?

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up in Pasadena, Maryland. I like to think about retiring in New England, like Massachusetts, or Beaufort, North Carolina.

If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Gluten-free pancakes with maple syrup (and maybe some bacon). For obvious reasons, that’s not a good idea. So, I’ll replace that with one of my super healthy (and delicious) soup recipes.

PRSA MD Announces 2021 Slate of Officers

Each year, PRSA Maryland Chapter installs a new board of directors and member volunteers who work together to ensure the Chapter achieves its mission, plans professional programs, and grows membership. Today, the Chapter is pleased to present you with the slate for the 2021 board of directors for your review. 
Click here for full bios.


Executive Committee


David Marshall, Ph.D., APR
Professor and ChairDepartment of Strategic Communication
Morgan State University


Vice President

Emily McDermott
Van Eperen



Tracy Imm, M.S., M.B.A.
Founder Tracy Imm Worldwide, LLC



Renata Allen, M.B.A.
Director, Scheduling & Events
Baltimore City Community College


Immediate Past President

Lisa Brusio Coster, MA.
Coster Communications, Ltd.



Nikki Bracy, M.S.M.
PR & Social Media Supervisor
Area of Board Responsibility: Communications

Jeffrey A. Davis, APR
J. Davis Public Relations, LLC
Area of Board Responsibility: Communications

Laurie Farrell
President and Owner
Mission Street Communications
Area of Board Responsibility: Sponsorships

Melanie Formentin, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Public Relations
Towson University
Areas of Board Responsibility: PRSSA Liaison 

Dianna Fornaro, M.A, APR
Senior Communications Specialist
Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company
Area of Board Leadership: Accreditation (APR)

Kaletha Henry, M.F.A.
Be Local Go Global
Area of Board Leadership; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Lisa Lance, M.A.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Area of Board Leadership: Membership

Tia Malloy, M.S.
Communication Strategist
Applied Development LLC
Area of Board Leadership: Professional Development and Programming

Mary Miles
PR & Digital Strategist
Weinberg Harris & Associates
Area of Board Leadership: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Anthony Naglieri, M.P.A
Chief of Staff & Head of Communications
Area of Board Leadership: Community Service and Engagement

Phillip Yerby
Group Manager
Weber Shandwick
Area of Board Leadership: Membership


Assembly Delegates serve as 

1) the Chapter’s representatives at PRSA Leadership Assembly, and 
2) liaison between the Society and Chapter.

Cathy E. Nyce, M.A.
Marketing and Communications, Maryland Auto Insurance


Kenneth R. Smith, APR
Global Sales and Strategy Communications


PRSA Maryland Chapter members:

Voting for the 2021 board of directors will commence on November 9 via Survey Monkey. Please watch your inbox for your chance to vote.

If you are interested in holding a leadership position within PRSA Maryland or running for any of the  board seats above, please contact info@PRSAMD.org within the next 30 days.

We are also seeking volunteers to chair or be part of a committee. Not sure why you should volunteer? Finding your place in PRSA Maryland will answer a few of your questions. You can also click here to take a simple poll.

From Baltimore and beyond, our response to racial injustice

Open Letter from the PRSA MD Board of Directors:

*updated July 14, 2020

Last month, 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.

In June, PRSA National responded that the current climate in our country is indeed not healthy. In addition, T. Garland Stansell, our 2020 chair, stated:

“As communicators, those pledged to ethically and responsibly promote healthy dialogue and the free flow of information that can help inform attitudes, opinions and beliefs, I believe we should be the voices of compassion, the voices of civility, the voices of reason, and the earnest voices of challenge to help our employers, clients, communities, friends and families engage in productive, honest and empathetic conversation.”

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.

In this second half of what we hope and pray will be a more positive and healthier 2020, we have started the process by:

  • Dedicating a June Weekly Chat to “The Role of PR in Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” moderated by executive coaches and senior PR professionals Tracy Imm, APR, and Cathy Nyce.
  • Identifying co-chairs for our Diversity & Inclusion Committee who will develop and oversee the D&I strategy and goals.
  • Continuing the conversation from our 2018 and 2019 annual conferences with expanded dialogue on racism in our city, and specifically in our industry, and systematic ways to overcome it at our, “Navigating the Next Normal” 2020 conference. Save the dates 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 info@prsamd.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

Emily McDermott

Debra Schindler

Lauren Walbert

Phillip Yerby



President’s New Year’s Message

2019/2020 chapter president Lisa Coster accepting Award of Excellence on 12/4/2019. Photo courtesy of Coyle Studios.

Welcome to 2020 and all it promises you professionally and personally. I am honored to be continuing in the role as chapter president and plan to make great strides this year with another strong board of directors. (Meet them here.)

While we have much membership data from our past events and surveys, tell me more about what you want from our chapter this year.  I want an engaged membership, and that includes programming that interests you, as well as your time and talent to assist with the chapter. Can you take on some tasks in our communications, event logistics, or recruitment and onboarding of new members?

The benefits of engagement are limitless. It not only provides you with a network of professionals on whom you can call in crisis or in celebration, but also hones your skills and sometimes, moves you out of your comfort zone to become more confident or learn something new.  We work hard and enjoy our time together (both virtually and face-to-face), while advancing the profession. What more could you want?!

I have met some incredible professionals as well as clients in my 25+ years as a PRSA member and volunteer in various chapters.  Better yet, many of those people have become confidants and friends.  I look forward to spending more time with you in 2020!  Have a comment? Reach out to me at lbcoster@costercommunications.com.


Lisa Brusio Coster
PRSA MD President

Maryland Chapter of Public Relations Society of America Re-elects President and Announces 2020 Board of Directors

The Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter (PRSA Maryland) announces Lisa Brusio Coster, president of Coster Communications, has been re-elected president of the chapter’s board of directors effective January 1, 2020.

Coster has been a dedicated member of PRSA since 1995. She has held multiple leadership roles within the Maryland chapter over the years, including sitting on the PRSA Maryland board of directors since 2018, chairing the 2017 Maryland “Best in Maryland” annual awards program, and co-chairing the 2004 PRSA Maryland annual conference. She is the founder of Coster Communications, which she started in 1997.

“Being re-elected is an honor,” says Coster. “Leading this wonderful chapter is only possible when there is a great board working beside me. I have been fortunate to have had that in 2019 and look forward to the same in 2020.”

The 2020 PRSA Maryland board of directors consists of:


Lisa Brusio Coster, M.A., President, Coster Communications


Ken Smith, APR


Christine P. Barnhart, M.S., APR

Jeffrey A. Davis, APR, Managing Partner, Van Eperen

Dianna Fornaro, APR, Senior Communications Specialist, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Dr. David Marshall​, APR, Professor and Chair, Department of Strategic Communication, Morgan State University

Emily McDermott, Account Supervisor/Project Manager, Van Eperen

Debra Schindler, Regional Director of Media and Public Relations, MedStar Health

Lauren Walbert, Vice President, Sandy Hillman Communications

Phillip Yerby, Group Manager, Weber Shandwick

Assembly Delegates:

Cathy E. Nyce, Director, Marketing and Communications, Maryland Auto Insurance

Kenneth Smith, APR

Click here for bios.

Click here to learn more about PRSA Maryland.

–Industry News