For July, we talked with Maryland Chapter member Allison S. Mayer, APR, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor. Allison tells us why she joined PRSA, what she loves the most about PR, who inspires her, and more.
How long have you been a member of PRSA and why did you join?
I joined in 2004, fresh out of college, as a member of the Charleston, SC chapter. I wanted to grow my portfolio, make friends and build leadership potential. I served that chapter as president in 2010.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering for PRSA?
Volunteering allows me to stay engaged in the profession and mentor the next level. For example, I volunteer on the accreditation committee for this chapter. I also judged the Agriculture Special Interest Group awards this year. While agriculture is not a field I work in, judging provided accreditation points for my APR, keeping it active. Volunteering shows engagement in the chapter and/or leadership.
What is your current position in the State of Maryland Governor’s Office?
As deputy chief of staff, I oversee a portfolio of agencies, including transportation, commerce, the secretary of state office, and a handful of others that focus on business and infrastructure.
Before taking the role this past February, I led communications at the Commerce Department. My background is in the maritime industry. My typical day involves engaging with the agencies, communicating with various secretaries to find out their priorities or challenges, and troubleshooting to advance the governor’s priorities.
What do you love most about the PR field?
It’s more than media relations; it’s problem solving and troubleshooting while trying to earn public trust for the organization. It’s challenging but rewarding. I’ve always had an outgoing personality.
How do you define success?
I try to strive for professional goals and a work/life balance. Some days are easier than others!
Who inspires you?
I’ve had several female mentors. An early one was my boss at the Port of Charleston who oversaw the public affairs of the port and moved up in a male-dominated field. She taught me how to build credibility with controversial issues. I also admire Nikki Haley. When she was governor (South Carolina), it was inspiring to watch her on the national and international stage.
What’s one thing – either industry-related or not – that you learned in the last month?
I learn something new every day given the breadth of issues I’m tackling. I’ve made it a priority to go on tours to learn about different transportation projects and assets, for example, the construction of the Purple Line of the Metro and the reconstruction of Howard Street Tunnel by CSX.
What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?
I used to be a certified Jazzercise instructor, but my certification has lapsed. It was a fun way to combine dance and activity.
What’s the last book you read?
“The Food Explorer,” by Daniel Stone. It’s the true story of a young botanist who worked for the USDA and traveled to foreign lands to introduce different foods to the U.S. We can thank him for introducing us to avocados!
Where did you grow up and where would you like to retire?
I grew up in Lexington, South Carolina, near the state capital. As for retirement, the South Carolina coast is my favorite place, but my husband talks about a ranch out West.
If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Variety is too important to pick just one, but if I had to choose, it would be pasta.
Connect with Allison on LinkedIn.