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Counselors Academy

Counselors Academy Section has been connecting senior public relations counselors, from the leaders of established larger firms to independent practitioners, for more than 50 years.

Today, Counselors Academy continues to empower members through closely collaborative relationships, meaningful professional development and education programs, and information on best practices in public relations counseling. All of our members are passionate about offering their insights and experiences while drawing on the unique perspectives of their peers. We know that by sharing our skills, we do better work.

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Counselors Academy Conference
Nashville, TN
September 19 - 21, 2021

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Join us as we celebrate the 5th anniversary of our annual IPA VirtuCon. Founded as a virtual event long before the COVID-19 pandemic made virtual the norm, VirtuCon was designed specifically for the busy indie! Participants will spend the afternoon exploring “the business of the business” – working ON the business instead of IN it. You’ll hear first-hand from experts who can answer your questions and allay your fears.

Hosted by IPA Programs Chair Wendy Kurtz, APR, our featured topics and speakers for the event include:

  • The Power of Resilience with Lucas Boyce, Author, Living Proof: From Foster Care to the White House and NBA
  • Ledgers, Legal and Liabilities, Part 1 with Kristen Corpion, Esq., Founder of CORPlaw
  • Insurance 101: Navigating the Confusing World of Health Insurance with David Clark, Senior Agent, Healthcare Solutions Team
  • Ledgers, Legal and Liabilities, Part 2 with Amy Fondo, Florida Tax Leader, CliftonLarsonAllen
  • IPA’s Annual State of the Indie Practitioners Business with J.W. Arnold, APR, Fellow PRSA; president, PRDC
  • Flip The Script with Chelsea Austin, Writer, Speaker, Founder, Worthiness Warriors Podcast
  • And more!

Register Now

PRSA IPA Member: Included with your annual dues
PRSA Member: $35
Non-PRSA Member: $65, includes one-year IPA membership (requires PRSA membership)
Furloughed and Unemployed Individuals: $15


Lucas Boyce, author, Living Proof: From Foster Care to the White House and NBA, is Assistant to the County Administrator for Orange County Florida Government. Before joining the County, Lucas was Director of Business Development, Community Relations, Multicultural Insights, Cause Marketing, and Government Affairs for the NBA’s Orlando Magic. Prior to the Magic, he served at the White House, managing a wide-ranging portfolio of responsibilities including proactive communication, public relations and education outreach among diverse communities, constituencies and issues on behalf of the President. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Speech Communication from the University of Central Missouri and his Masters’ Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Rollins College.

Kristen Corpion, Esq., founder of CORPlaw is a Florida native and has been practicing law for 6 years. She owns two companies and has earned such distinctions as being named one of South Florida’s Outstanding 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Rookie of the Year by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and earning the Rising Star distinction, a recognition given to less than 3% of lawyers, by Florida Super Lawyers. Kristen is President-Elect of the Dade County Bar Young Lawyers Section, the largest voluntary association of lawyers in South Florida. Kristen also dedicates her time to mentoring students. She teaches law and business at the undergraduate and graduate levels as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. She is also the Founder and brains behind an innovative community- based initiative, Sidebar. Sidebar brings together lawyers and other legal professionals to collaborate and drive changes in the legal industry. Kristen is passionate about transforming the legal profession, the perception the community has of lawyers, and using the law as a tool to help her local community grow. As the proud daughter of a single- mom who ran her own business, Kristen has a special respect for working with female and minority- owned businesses.

David Clark, senior agent, Healthcare Solutions Team, is a graduate from Grand Valley State University in Michigan with a degree in communications. He helps self-employed individuals and small business owners navigate the confusing world of health insurance. From public and private health insurance plans to medical cost-sharing ministries, there are dozens of variables and hundreds of plan choices to consider. Asking the right questions and listening to the requests and requirements of clients are his strong points to make sure all clients are shown their best options. Once a plan has been selected, he takes time to teach the client how their particular plan works. His number one goal is the help protect families and clearly educate them to understand the all too often confusing world of health insurance.

Amy Fondo, Florida tax leader, CliftonLarsonAllen, oversees the development, growth and quality of the tax services line within the Florida tax service lines, and participates in the tax service leadership team in the development and implementation of strategies, services, products, and market initiatives to fulfill the strategic dream for the tax services lines. Amy has over 19 years of experience in public accounting. She specializes in providing tax and consulting services to partnerships, limited liability companies, individuals, businesses, trusts and estates, with a specialization in international taxation. This also includes consulting on pre-immigration planning, global mobility, and tax planning for high-net-worth individuals. Her background includes directly overseeing the planning, performance, and review of tax engagements. Amy received her Bachelor of Business Administration, Accounting from Marshall University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida.

J.W. Arnold, APR, Fellow PRSA, president, PRDC Public Relations and Association Solutions, has been a successful independent PR and marketing consultant for more than two decades, serving clients in Washington, D.C. and South Florida. He is a past two-time chair of both IPA and the PRSA Section Council, and recently received the Sunshine District’s 2021 Geri Evans Award for Distinguished Service. Arnold created the National State of Indie Business Survey and PR Consultant’s Business Boot Camp. At the onset of the pandemic, he also founded IndieCHAT, the twice weekly Zoom conversations for Indies that have attracted more than 250 participants over the past 18 months. Next year, he will serve as chair-elect of PRSA’s College of Fellows.

Chelsea Austin, writer, speaker, founder, Worthiness Warriors Podcast, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Muhlenberg College with a degree in theatre and dance. She has taken her theatrical background and created a career out of sharing her experiences as the daughter of two gay men and a young woman navigating the world on her blog, “The Girl With Five Names,” her podcast, “Worthiness Warriors,” and through speaking engagements, as she prepares to release her first book surrounding her life, her beliefs and her wish to bring peace, self-love and joy to as many individuals as possible. Voted one of the Top Fifteen LGBT Activists in the Los Angeles area in 2010, Chelsea has used her story as a platform to spread love, tolerance and has advocated for the LGBTQ+ community since she was in high school. She lives in Los Angeles with her incredible husband, Dominic and sweet puppy, Moe.

Wendy Kurtz, APR, is president of Elizabeth Charles & Associates, LLC, a PR firm helping executives become published authors and paid speakers. Her client list has included Chicken Soup for the Soul co-creator Mark Victor Hansen, the late Art Linkletter, CEOs and entrepreneurs, military and law enforcement personnel, elected officials and political candidates, as well as civic and nonprofit organizations. A past Sunshine District chair and founder of IPA’s annual VirtuCon, Wendy was honored with IPA’s inaugural “Indie” Award in 2017. She Chairs the Orlando Regional Chamber’s Board of Advisors and is on the Orlando Economic Partnership’s executive committee. She holds her Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in business administration. 

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