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Member Profile: Dianna Fornaro, APR, Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Experienced PR professional Dianna Fornaro, who earned her APR this past August, says she “could see the value in studying for the APR almost immediately.” Read all about Dianna’s journey below.

When did you undertake your course of study for the APR? What or who inspired you to take on this rigorous course of study? Did you have a mentor or someone who encouraged you to keep going, to follow through to the end?

I started the process back in August of 2016 and completed it exactly one year later, in August 2017. There are two parts to getting your APR: (1) the Panel Presentation, where you present a PR campaign to at least three APRs, and (2) the 4-hour computer-based exam (CBE). To prepare for the CBE, I took the APR online study course and participated in two online study groups with other professionals from across the U.S. We used social media to share practice scenarios and offer each other support. I also received support from several colleagues, including Dan Dunne, Tracy Imm and Jen Kellar, who are all APRs and active in PRSA Maryland. And I received support from my managers, Jim Taylor and Donna Wilson. The PRSA Maryland Chapter President, Claudia Ciolfi, was rooting for me the whole time, too!

As a mid-career communications professional, what unique rewards and benefits did you see in pursuing your APR?

I could see the value in studying for the APR almost immediately. The more I studied, the more strategic I became when approaching my work. I started thinking much more critically about tactics, too. For example, when someone said: “We need a video,” I found myself asking, “Why do we need a video? Is this the best way to get our message across? What is the strategy behind this video?” Also, I am now better able to consult on such things as ethics, copyright law and many other communications areas.

As a newly accredited professional, how do you see the APR as either changing or enhancing the trajectory of your professional career or perhaps even your choice of your volunteer commitments?

I joined the PRSA Maryland Board of Directors this year. This is something I don’t think I would have felt equipped to do had I not been studying for the APR at the time. Joining the board allowed me the opportunity not only to exercise my leadership skills, but also to meet some great new people! So, yes, the APR definitely contributed to my volunteer work.

What else would you like to share? What’s the one thing anyone thinking about pursuing the APR should know?

I would love to see other PRSA Maryland members go for their APR! I believe it lends credibility to our work as PR and communications professionals, and it really does elevate the profession. It does take a certain amount of focus and self-discipline, but it’s certainly worthwhile.

Congratulations to Dianna on getting her APR!

Member Profile: Brynn Devereaux, Ringmaster, Coyle Studios

Even a cursory look at Coyle Studios’ website will convince you that this creative and talented professional photography team has you covered, no matter the challenges you think your assignment may present. From aerial photography to portraiture, from fine art images to the nuances of art restoration and everything in between, Coyle Studios specializes in “making companies compelling and interesting.”

Enter Brynn Devereaux. Coyle Studios’ Ringmaster. Well, let’s just say that Brynn’s day-to-day work is not dull. Far from it. For starters, she’s the company’s chief client advocate, marketing guru, and field photography magician. But, to see what Brynn’s really up to, you’ll want to go one click beyond this member profile and pay her (and Coyle) a visit at www.coylestudios.com.

What is your hometown? Scranton, Pennsylvania, now; but, I grew up in Waverly, Pennsylvania – a small town about 15 minutes outside of Scranton.

Where did you go to college?  Towson University

How would you say your PRSA membership is of benefit to you? My PRSA membership has allowed me to learn from and work with some of the best PR professionals in the area. I like being part of an organization that encourages its members to make meaningful connections and hosts events with practical educational components. 

Do you have any personal or professional role models? I’ve always looked up to female swimming athletes like Natalie Coughlin and Janet Evans. You need a tremendous amount of physical and emotional strength and tenacity to be a swimmer, and those are skills that easily translate to the business world – especially a small business.

What are some of your interests/passions? I am passionate about all things swimming and reading. I used to teach swimming lessons, and it was so rewarding (and fun) to watch “my” kids grow. I also enjoy baking and binging shows on Netflix.

How can PRSA Maryland members connect with you? Email is best at brynn@coylestudios.com. It’s probably the most reliable way to get in touch with me. I hardly ever check my messages on LinkedIn .  .  .  .


Member Profile: Cathy Nyce

This month, we talked with Cathy Nyce, director of marketing and communications for Maryland Automobile Insurance, where she led the complete re-branding of the 40-year-old agency. Cathy also served on the 2017 PRSA Maryland Conference Committee helping to create a highly successful program.

What is your hometown? Macon, Georgia

Where did you go to college/university? 

Georgia College, B.A. in Journalism
University of Baltimore, M.A. in Legal and Ethical Studies

How would you say your PRSA membership is of benefit to you?

The educational programs are excellent and always provide learning that I can apply immediately in my role as director of communications, which benefits my team, as well as me. The networking opportunities have been great – I’ve made some key connections with communications directors in similar organizations that have led to mutually beneficial collaborations. As we launched a complete rebrand of Maryland Auto, I found strong resources and guidance through PRSA members. And, I’ve met fun people! Finally, the Best in Maryland Awards provided well-deserved recognition for my entire team and concrete results we could share with our executive team and board.

Do you have any personal or professional role models?

Katharine Hepburn and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

What are some of your interests and/or passions?

I am passionate about leadership and recently completed the Transformational Leadership program at Georgetown University. I am also passionate about mentoring and encouraging young women to participate in the political process – I serve on the Running Start Advisory Board. I love the beach, reading and paddle-boarding with my two rescue puppies onboard with me. And, I am a bit obsessed with my Peloton bike and Pure Barre classes.

How can PRSA Maryland members connect with you? You can email me at cnyce@marylandauto.net

Member Profile: Nancy Sherman, PRSA Maryland Communications Committee Chair

Nancy Sherman is director of marketing and communications at Caroline Center, where she manages the organization’s brand, external communications, community and media relations, print and social media, and special events. She also writes and posts in “The Breakroom,” Caroline Center’s official blog site.

Nancy’s hometown
I grew up in southeast Washington, DC, in the Anacostia neighborhood, where I remember walking to school each day except when the snow got taller than I was and luxuriously long summers – hot afternoons and lazy time spent on the front porch glider reading books that I had to have a parent’s note to borrow from the neighborhood public library. Eventually, I found my way to Baltimore where I live and work on the east side. The summers are no longer so long and luxurious; but I still manage to carve out a little lazy time, and I still read whatever I want – no permission required.

University of Maryland, College Park, BA in English and Philosophy
University of Virginia, MA in English Literature

How would you say that your PRSA membership is of benefit to you?
My involvement in PRSA is a wonderful way to connect with colleagues and to share resources, knowledge, and experiences that help to strengthen and sharpen my own practice. Working in a small nonprofit organization, such as Caroline Center, is often very hands-on and keenly focused on mission. Belonging to PRSA helps me stay connected to the diverse and highly nuanced elements of the profession – parts of the work that I may not get to touch on a daily basis. As Communications Committee chair, I enjoy working with professionals at varying levels in their careers and learning from their experiences and fresh perspectives.

Do you have any personal/professional role models?
There are so many people whom I personally admire, not because they are saints, but because they have an uncanny ability to live fully, out-loud, honestly, imperfectly, unabashedly, and genuinely. Mostly, they are artists and poets and prophets and writers – folks of every stripe whose avocations and callings require them to live and speak their truths and to speak truth to power. The list is long because the well is deep.

My parents were certainly significant role models for me. They gave me an unwavering sense of the real merit of having strong personal values; and, they were always resourceful, creative, resilient, and positive even under the toughest circumstances.

Professionally, I learned so much and learned it so joyfully from my friends and mentors at the United Way of Central Maryland – Alan S. Cooper and Julie Mercer – who showed me, by example, how to lead and manage well; how to see and seize upon good opportunities when they presented themselves; and, how to build and nurture workplace and community relationships. Patricia McLaughlin, SSND, the executive director and my boss at Caroline Center, shows me every day how deeply rewarding strong commitment and passion for your work can be and that the best work one can ever do comes from a near-perfect alignment of the mind, heart, and spirit.

What are some of your interests and passions?
I like to say that I dabble in people. People have stories; but, more importantly, people are stories. I’ve found that if you give a person respect, an open mind and heart, and generous amounts of space and time, you will be rewarded with stories.

I love jazz, street art, black and white photography, theater, dinosaurs, astrophysics for lay people, Italian food, eating with chopsticks, trying to play the hammered dulcimer, writing, books with deckle-edged pages, poetry, and all manifestations of the brilliant use of words and of visual language.

I hope it goes without saying that I love my family and the wide circle of friends they bring to my life – not because they are saints, but because they remind me to keep living fully, out-loud, honestly, imperfectly, unabashedly, and genuinely.

You can connect with Nancy on social media, but to really get her attention, give her a call, send her an email, or stop by and see her at Caroline Center. Let’s see … that would be: 410-563-1303 x25; nsherman@caroline-center.org; and 900 Somerset Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202.


Member Profile: Christine Barnhart, APR

Submitted by Nancy Sherman, Communications Chair

Past PRSA Maryland Chapter President Christine Barnhart, APR, oversees the marketing program for public and emerging markets in business at Magellan Health. One might say that Christine comes by her interest in marketing and public relations naturally – her father was also a marketing professional. Even so, Christine readily admits that her involvement in PRSA “has been invaluable” and the benefits of her membership more far-ranging than one might imagine. Find out why.

Christine’s hometown:

Even though I’m not from a military family – my father was in marketing – I grew up in several different states – Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Texas. My family and I live in Mt. Airy, Maryland now.


Bachelor of Arts in communications, La Salle University
Master of Science in communications management, Towson University

How has your PRSA membership benefitted you?

My involvement in PRSA, especially early in my career, was invaluable. I joined PRSA right after graduating from college when I took my first marketing position. I immediately began volunteering on various committees, including what was then called the Chesapeake Conference Planning Committee. A few years later, I served as the conference chair, and following that I was invited to serve on the board of PRSA Maryland. In 2007, I was elected president of the Maryland chapter; and, in the same year, I earned my accreditation in public relations (APR). While all of this early experience continues to be a major benefit to my professional career and an asset in resume building, I also have developed many personal and professional relationships with my fellow PRSA Maryland colleagues that I treasure.

Do you have any personal/professional role models?

Yes. I can think of a few. First, my mom. She is a strong, educated, successful woman, who is not afraid to speak up for what’s important. Additionally, there is Gene Bracken. Gene was my first manager when I was a new public relations associate right out of college. He taught me so many important lessons about public relations, communications, and the working world, in general – and, so supportive. We have stayed in touch over the years and, even today, he continues to encourage me to challenge myself and to strive to meet my full potential as a professional. Lastly, I have to give a shout-out to all of the amazing professionals I have the pleasure of working with through PRSA. You are great advocates and supporters!

Tell us about some of your interests and passions.

I think spending time with my husband, our young sons (ages 9 and 5), our family and friends tops the list of my favorite things to do. We really enjoy spending time exploring new places and being outdoors.

You can connect with Christine Barnhart, APR, on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/christinepbarnhart and on Twitter @BarnhartC1

Member Profile – Tia Malloy

As a corporate communications consultant, Tia Malloy often tells her clients that her job is to tell the story of their business. From day to day, Tia’s responsibilities range from serving as a spokesperson, to authoring social media white papers to advising C-suite executives on strategy. At Engility Corporation, Tia leads the internal communications effort for a federal program, as well as managing external relationships with industry, academia, and government.

My alma maters:
Morgan State University, B.S. in communications
The Johns Hopkins University, Carey School of Business, M.S. in marketing

What attracted you to a career in communications?
I entered college as a communications major, focusing on radio. A mentor introduced me to public relations. I switched my concentration and have worked in the industry ever since.

How has being a member of PRSA benefited you?
PRSA membership is rich with diverse experts who represent the breadth of public relations. I was able to learn about the profession in a supportive environment. I have sought advice, commiserated with, and been inspired by my PRSA colleagues.

Who is your role model and why?
The first is my mother. She earned a bachelor’s degree in her 60s. She instilled in me a thirst for knowledge. The second is Tracy Baskerville, communications director at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. She took me under her wing and introduced me to different facets of public relations. I’ve imitated her management style throughout my career.

What are your passions, interests, and hobbies?
I’m a musicophile, globetrotter, epicurean – I love all things music, travel, and food.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Say “yes” and figure the rest out later. And, don’t miss an opportunity, because you don’t have all of the needed information. If you have the core skills to address the problem, determine the specifics later.

Connect with Tia Malloy on LinkedIn.

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