PRSA thanks our 2014 International Conference Co-Chairs for their strategic support.

Elise Mitchell, APR, Fellow PRSA
CEO, Mitchell Communications Group
CEO, Dentsu Public Relations Network

Elise is an accomplished strategic communications professional and business leader with more than 25 years of experience in both the agency and corporate settings. Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion have helped her build a successful business, Mitchell Communications Group, which is the 2012 Holmes Report Small Agency of the Year, the 2011 PRWeek Small Agency of the Year, the 2011 Inc. 500/5000 Fastest Growing Company, and one of the Women Presidents’ Organization’s 50 Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies in North America. Elise was also named the 2013 Agency PR Professional of the Year by PRWeek. Her company’s portfolio of clients includes a “who’s who” of iconic global brands including: Walmart, Sam’s Club, Procter & Gamble, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., Southwestern Energy and others.

Over the past 15 years, Elise has expanded the company’s capabilities and established a team of communications experts across the country serving clients in the retail, food, travel and tourism, energy and transportation sectors. Under her leadership, the company has grown exponentially – more than 530 percent in the past five years – to become a Top 50 national PR firm.

Prior to founding Mitchell Communications, Elise worked on both the agency and corporate sides of the business including positions as: the top public relations executive for Promus Hotel Corporation; a vice president at Sossaman, Bateman, McCuddy; and assistant director of public relations at Walker & Associates.

Elise is a frequent writer and guest speaker on topics such as: the expanding impact of strategic communications on the bottom line, leadership in complex times, igniting workplace culture, and the entrepreneurial experience. She also relentlessly dedicates time and energy to her profession and to mentoring young talent. She was recently selected as a 2011 Distinguished Alumnus by her alma mater, Abilene Christian University, which also named the school’s student-run PR and advertising agency, Morris & Mitchell, after Elise and a former university president.

She and her husband, Raye, live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with their two teenagers. In her free time, Elise enjoys running, gourmet cooking and riding her motorcycle.

James T. Olson,
Vice President, Global Corporate Communications and Americas Public Affairs
Starbucks Coffee Company

For two decades Jim Olson has served as a strategic communications leader and trusted adviser for some of the world’s most innovative and respected companies.  

Jim currently leads global corporate communications and public affairs for the Americas region at Starbucks Coffee Company – Fortune’s fifth most admired company in the world.  He is responsible for building and protecting the company’s corporate brand reputation. Prior to joining Starbucks in 2011, Jim was the vice president of corporate communications at US Airways where he led internal and external communications.

During his tenure at the airline, Jim orchestrated the crisis communications response for one the most high-profile airline accidents in aviation history – Flight 1549’s miraculous water landing on New York’s icy Hudson River in January 2009. 

Most of the first decade of his career was spent in the automotive industry, including seven years as a public relations, advertising and digital media consultant to Nissan North America where he led many of the automaker’s first digital and online initiatives.  Over the course of his career, Jim has also worked with  J.D. Power and Associates, Apple, Overture (now Yahoo!), Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Porter-Novelli and TBWA Chiat/Day, advising clients along the way that include Boeing, HTC, DHL, Microsoft, Sun America and Media One Broadband (now AT&T).

He earned his bachelor of science in public relations from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and his MBA from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.  In 2012 Jim was inducted into the Newhouse School’s prestigious Professional Gallery and in 2008 he was awarded a certificate in aircraft disaster management from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Jim serves on the board of directors of The LAGRANT Foundation, a 15-year-old organization dedicated to increasing the number of ethnic minorities in the advertising, marketing and public relations professions.  He has previously served on the boards of the Seattle chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and the Earth Communications Office.