Get Connected      Get Informed      Get Involved                      December 2016

See Who Won Best In Maryland Awards, See Photos
A. Bright Idea Wins Best in Show

Communications excellence and the effective practice of public relations took center stage at the 2016 Best in Maryland Awards gala recently hosted by PRSA Maryland at the Belvedere Hotel. Top honors this year went to A. Bright Idea, LLC, advertising and public relations agency headquartered in Bel Air, Md., for its integrated communications program – “U.S. Army National Guard Action Events” – and, to the Communications department of Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, which won PR Team of the Year award.

Left to right are:  A. Bright Idea representatives Leanne Eck, interactive designer, and  Kevin Hess, communications events specialist, accept the Best in Show award from PRSA Maryland Chapter President Daniel Dunne, APR, Director of Communications, Erickson Living ,at the association’s awards gala in Baltimore.

Several individual public relations practitioners also received top honors:  Louise Lake Hayman received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Loyola University’s Veronica Gunnerson was recognized as Educator of the Year; and, AECOM’s Lauren Michelotti was honored as PRSA Maryland’s New Professional of the Year.

Clockwise:  Lisa Coster, Coster Communications, with Dorothy Fuchs, Purple Dot Public Relations. Nikki Bracy, Vitamin, and Dan Dunne, APR, PRSA Maryland President. 2017 PRSA Maryland President Claudia Ciolfi, Chesapeake Employers Insurance. Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA. 

The awards were presented at the 2016 Best in Maryland Awards gala, which was held at The Belvedere Hotel on Thursday, December 8, 2016. This year’s event emcee was President and CEO of Clapp Communications Barb Clapp, and National Geographic Magazine Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg was the event’s keynote speaker.

Clockwise:  Dan Dunne and Barb Clapp, Clapp Communications. Crosby Marketing Communications representatives Lindsey Goebel, Matt Kahler, Abebe Kebede with Melanie Deal Concepcion, Health Resources & Services Administration. Susan Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief, National Geographic Magazine, and Tom Neubauer, Erickson Living. Veronica Gunnerson and Dr. Elliott King, Loyola University Maryland, and Loyola PRSSA Chapter students.

In addition to presenting awards across multiple categories for communications and public relations excellence to more than two dozen area businesses, nonprofits, associations, and government agencies, PRSA Maryland also recognized outgoing President Dan Dunne, APR, of Erickson Living, and welcomed incoming President Claudia Ciolfi, manager of public relations and strategic communications at Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company.

Click here for a complete list of 2016 honorees and award recipients. 

Click here to see pictures from the event.

Photos:  Harry Bosk PR and Photography.

Special thanks to all of the sponsors who helped make this event a reality.
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Member Focus:  Amanda Karfakis, Vitamin

WebNotes turns the spotlight on member Amanda Karfakis, president and CEO of Vitamin, the boutique web and public relations agency located in Baltimore. Amanda discusses leading her own agency, why she chose PR as a career, and how being a PRSA member has benefited her over the years.

Brief job description: I’m mostly responsible for steering Vitamin’s long-term strategic vision and overseeing our agency’s PR team, which encompasses much more than traditional PR, including social media, media buying, advertising, project management, etc.
I’m also heavily focused on recruiting new PR and project management professionals, as well as continuously strengthening our collaborative agency culture.

Why did you choose a career in Communications/PR?  My career really chose me. I always thought I’d be in business management or international business. But when I was a student I discovered the agency world and landed an internship in the PR department of a top 100 interactive agency after being courted by them for a couple of years. I fell in love with the agency world – it was so much fun, the work was dynamic and the people were smart. I spent months reading about PR and teaching myself everything I needed to know about the profession. It wasn’t long before I had worked my way up the ranks and became Director of Public Relations at the age of 23.

Learn more about Amanda in this Member Focus.

Coffee With Expands in 2017

In 2016, PRSA Maryland introduced the Coffee With series, and it has been a great success!  Coffee With is a casual morning gathering (lasting 60-90 minutes) where an agency hosts a discussion about a case study, industry trend, etc. The host provides the coffee and, sometimes, an office tour. It’s a great opportunity to network, ask questions, and share ideas in an informal atmosphere.
Beginning in 2017, any company with at least one employee who is a member of PRSA Maryland can host a Coffee With.
Also beginning in the New Year, the cost to attend a Coffee With session will be $10 for those who are not PRSA Maryland members. Attendance for PRSA Maryland members is free.

JUST ANNOUNCED:  On January 4, Profiles, Inc. will host a Coffee With at the Rusty Scupper in Baltimore from 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Details and registration information are here.
If you’re interested in hosting a Coffee With, please contact Emily McDermott at 410-568-8814 or

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Chapter Committees Now Recruiting Volunteers

Get Involved Today

Hone your skills, meet new people and make yourself more marketable. Sign up to volunteer with the Maryland Chapter today. We welcome volunteers at all levels for the committees listed below. If you'd like to join a committee or chair one, please contact  

Accreditation Committee
 Chair:  Jennifer C. Kellar, APR, AECOM

Best in Maryland Awards Committee
 Chair:  Lisa Coster, Coster Communications

Communications Committee
 Chair:  Nancy Sherman, Caroline Center

Diversity & Inclusion Liaison (NEW)
 Chair:  Open

Membership Committee
 Chair:  Open

Mentoring Committee
 Chair:  Laura J. LaChapelle, APR, LaChapelle Communications

Sponsorship Committee
 Chair:  Open

New Professionals Committee
 Chair:  Open

Programming Committee
 Chair:  Emily McDermott, Nevins & Associates

2017 Chesapeake Conference Planning Committee
 Chair:  Open

Check here for a description of each committee.

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Upcoming Chapter Events

Jan. 4 - Make PR Resolutions at the next Coffee With Profiles, Inc. Ring in 2017 with Profiles, Inc. during the next Coffee With session at the Rusty Scupper in Baltimore starting at 8:30 a.m. The Profiles team will lead a discussion on some of the best (and worst) lessons they've learned in 2016 and what they look forward to in the new year. Register and get details here.



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Christopher Bogus, B Squared, LLC

Christina Cottrell, U of MD Upper Chesapeake Health

Jennifer Donahoe, Planit

Stefanie Lynn Ickowski

Mary Phelan, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Katie Lynn Ward

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PRSA Builds Framework for Future
PRSA announced during its 2016 International Conference its new strategic plan, “Framework for the Future.” The new plan calls for greater focus on expanding membership, enhancing the Society’s professional development programs and providing thought leadership on key industry trends.
“PRSA is changing in an energetic, innovative way and this strategic plan captures that shift. Our members will be better, smarter and more connected through every stage of their career,” said Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, chair of the Society for 2017. “This is an exciting time for the Society as it looks at new ways to provide quality programming, networking opportunities and valued tools for our members." 
Continue reading. More details are in Ragan's PR Daily article.


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Maximize Your Membership
Tip #8

Your membership entitles you to free online and on demand professional development training and preferred pricing on seminars, boot camps and conferences on topics from social media to crisis communications.

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Like Us Today and Get Social with PRSA-MD


Follow the PRSA Maryland Chapter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to receive the latest information on what’s happening. Please like, share, retweet and comment to help spread the word and get social with us!
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Have news to share? Reading anything interesting? Send us an email at
Local Jobs
Looking for a job? Check out the PRSA Maryland Job Board

Be sure to also visit PRSA National's JobCenter for non-local opportunities.

Looking for that one-of-a-kind employee? Advertise on PRSA Maryland's Job Board.


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Chapter Sponsors

Click here to join the list!

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WebNotes is written and compiled by the PRSA Maryland Communications Committee. Contact us at for questions and comments.

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