Keys to PR Leadership: Hall of Famers share guidance on how giving back shaped their careers | PRSA-NCC
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Keys to PR Leadership: Hall of Famers share guidance on how giving back shaped their careers

presented by the PRSA-NCC Hall of Fame Committee
June 14, 2018 - 8:00am to 10:00am

Online registration is now closed for this event.  Space will be available at the door for walkins.


8:00-8:20 am - registration, networking, continental breakfast
8:20-10:00 am - Program and Q&A

Hear from three Hall of Fame legends and PR practitioners as they discuss their career paths, their devotion to community service and offer advice to up-and-coming professionals.

Our Panelists:

  • Debra Silimeo, executive vice president at Hager Sharp
  • Judy Phair, APR, Fellow PRSA, president and founder of PhairAdvantage Communications
  • Bill Novelli, co-founder, Porter Novelli, founder, Global Social Enterprise Initiative and professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Moderator: Samantha Villegas, APR, President, SaVi PR, and PRSA national board member.

Debra, Judy and Bill will discuss how their contributions to the profession and the community helped propel their careers. In addition, they will showcase how commitment to community service is an important distinction for Hall of Fame inductees in advance of the Hall of Fame nomination deadline on Monday, July 2. As success and community service are intertwined, the event will also tie-in to the reveal of PRSA-NCC's 2018-2020 pro bono client!

Cost: (includes continental breakfast)
$15 for students/retirees
$25 for PRSA member
$35 for non-members

Hager Sharp
1030 15th Street, NW, Suite 600E
Washington, DC 20005

Metro: McPherson Square (blue/orange/silver lines)

Refund/Cancellation Policy

About our speakers:

As a professor in the MBA program at McDonough Georgetown, Bill Novelli teaches: Corporate Social Responsibility; Principled Leadership for Business and Society; and Leadership and Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
He is the founder of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at McDonough and oversees the program.

Bill is also the co-chair of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, a national alliance dedicated to reforming advanced illness/end of life care in the U.S.
Previously, he was CEO of AARP, a membership organization of 40 million people 50 and older. Prior to AARP, he was founder and president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, EVP of CARE, the international relief and development organization and co-founder and president of Porter Novelli, now one of the world’s largest public relations firms.

He began his career at Unilever, was an account supervisor at a New York advertising agency and later served as Director of Advertising and Creative Services at the Peace Corps.

Presently, Bill is on the boards of: the American Cancer Society; the Bipartisan Policy Center Advocacy Network; the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; the Center of Mental Health Pathways and Support for Self-Directed Care (COMPASS); KaBoom! and Strategic Partnerships.

In addition, he co-chairs the Care Culture and Decision-Making Innovation Collaborative of the National Academy of Medicine and previously served on NAM committees which produced reports on: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health; and Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life.

He received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. from Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication, and pursued doctoral studies at New York University. He taught marketing management for ten years in the MBA program and also taught health communications at the University of Maryland.

Judith (Judy) T. Phair is a senior public relations executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, branding, public relations and marketing, crisis communications, media relations, fundraising, and government relations. She is president of PhairAdvantage Communications, LLC, an independent consulting firm providing global public relations and marketing consulting services with a special focus on education and nonprofit associations.  She also serves as senior advisor, communications, to the Council of Independent Colleges.

Judy founded PhairAdvantage in 2002 and resumed a full-time focus on the agency in 2010 after serving as vice president, communications, for the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®) from 2006-2010.  GMAC is an association of top graduate business schools around the world that also owns the GMAT examination.  
She led the Council’s worldwide strategic communications planning, including the opening of offices in London, New Delhi, and Hong Kong.  

Previously, she was vice president for public affairs at the Council on Competitiveness, a nonpartisan, nonprofit association of corporate chief executives, university presidents, and labor leaders; vice president for institutional advancement, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute; assistant dean of external relations, School of Professional Studies, Johns Hopkins University; and vice president for public relations, Goucher College.  She served as an adjunct professor for several years at Goucher and Towson University.

Judy was 2005 President and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, the largest organization of public relations professionals and students in the world.  She received PRSA’s highest individual award, the Gold Anvil, in 2010 for “work that has significantly advanced the profession.” In 2013, she was inducted into the PRSA National Capital Chapter’s Hall of Fame, and in 2014 she received the PRSA Ferguson Award for “outstanding contributions to the advancement of public relations education on the part of public relations professionals.” With her client, the Council of Independent Colleges, she received a Silver Anvil Award in 2016 for a public service campaign to promote liberal arts education.

Judy received her B.A. in communications from Simmons College in Boston and M.A. in American Studies from the University of Maryland.

Debra Silimeo is the executive vice president of Hager Sharp. In her role, she designs and manages large-scale national communications efforts including message development, creative, media and social media strategy, and working with policymakers and thought leaders. She’s played a major role in the firm’s management and growth, building an education team that continually delivers outstanding results for clients such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, widely called “the Nation’s Report Card.” The revamped “report card” has won top national awards as have related outreach materials and strategies.

Debra led communications at two Cabinet-level agencies: the Commerce Department during the highly contentious US-China trade agreement; and the Small Business Administration, where she led a re-brand of the agency.

Debra was a Bagehot Fellow at Columbia—the country’s leading fellowship for business and economics journalism. She was recognized by Washington Women in Public Relations as PR Woman of the Year, by the Washington Business Journal as a “Woman Who Means Business,” and inducted in the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter Hall of Fame in 2015.


Samantha Villegas, APR is an award-winning communications strategist, committed to using her powers for good. For more than 20 years, Sam has worked to expand recycling, promote water conservation, increase investments in energy efficiency, enhance opportunities for veterans, foster immigrants’ rights to work, support common sense gun legislation and much more.

Throughout her career, Sam has been an active volunteer in the Public Relations Society of America, the largest public relations association in the world, serving 20,000+ professional members. In 2010, she served as Chair of the Mid-Atlantic District (representing 10 chapters). In 2013, she served as president of the Society’s largest chapter, the National Capital Chapter (1,500 members), where she expanded its volunteer service awards, revived its Hall of Fame award, and created a thought leadership initiative. In 2016, she was elected to the Society’s National Board of Directors, where she helps oversee operations and the Society’s strategic direction.

In addition to her service in PRSA, Sam volunteers locally, and has provided more than $25,000 worth of pro-bono counsel and support to social service organizations in Loudoun County, VA where she lives.

Sam holds a Master’s Degree in environmental policy from Johns Hopkins University and is accredited in public relations by PRSA’s Universal Accreditation Board.