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Michelle Olson, APR, Elected 2021 PRSA National Chair

Oct. 20, 2019

NEW YORK, October 20, 2019 – PRSA, the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community, announced today the individuals elected to its 2020 Board of Directors. The selections were made by the delegates of the 2019 PRSA Leadership Assembly in San Diego.

A public relations veteran with more than 30 years of experience, Michelle Olson, APR, was elected as chair of PRSA for 2021. Olson, who runs the Scottsdale, Arizona office of Fingerpaint, a New York-based integrated marketing firm with offices in four states, will serve as chair-elect in 2020. She has served as a director representing the Western District since 2017.

“As PRSA moves into the next decade, the newly elected board is poised to bring fresh ideas, diverse perspectives and expertise that will help ensure PRSA continues to be an industry leader, advocate for the profession and resource for its members,” said Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2019 Nominating Chair. “The Nominating Committee takes pride in its task to find the industry’s best to help lead the association to even greater heights.”

The below candidates were elected to the following board positions:

Officers (one-year term):

  • Chair-elect – Michelle Olson, APR, General Manager, Fingerpaint (currently serves as director representing Western District)
  • Treasurer – Michelle Egan, APR, Fellow PRSA, chief communications officer, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (currently serves as director representing North Pacific District)
  • Secretary – Amy Coward, APR, Fellow PRSA, vice president, public relations, Prisma Health Midlands Foundation (currently serves as director representing Southeast District)

Directors – District Representatives
(two-year term):

  • Midwest District – Jacqueline K. Clark, MPA, APR, Fellow PRSA, regional manager of government and public affairs, LafargeHolcim North America
  • North Pacific District – Scott Trotter, APR, senior director of communications, Utah Valley University
  • Southeast District – Denise Hill, Ph.D., APR, assistant professor of strategic communications, School of Communications, Elon University
  • Southwest District – Heide Harrell, APR, director of marketing and business development, Rose Law Firm
  • Sunshine District – Angela Walters Eveillard, APR, strategic communications officer, Hillsborough Community College

Directors At-Large (two-year term):

  • Jorge Francisco D’Garay, president & CEO, MXUS Public Relations

They join incumbent board members returning for 2020:

  • Chair – T. Garland Stansell, APR, chief communications officer, Children’s Hospital of Alabama
  • Immediate Past Chair – Debra D. Peterson, APR, president, Comm365
  • Director, East Central District – Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA, executive director, marketing and communications, YMCA of Greater Cleveland
  • Director, Mid-Atlantic District – Samantha Villegas, APR, senior consultant, Raftelis
  • Director, Northeast District – Jane Law, APR, director of communications/communications manager, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority
  • Director At-Large – Errol Cockfield, senior vice president, communications, MSNBC and NBC News
  • Director At-Large – Ana Toro, APR, Fellow PRSA, public affairs officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

About Michelle Olson, Chair-Elect:
Olson joined Fingerpaint in 2014 following the acquisition of Olson Communications Inc., a company she founded and led since 2002. She has served clients worldwide and has significant experience in corporate communications and issues management across industries, with expertise in healthcare, land use, hospitality and sustainability.

Olson’s work for clients involved in the U.S. opioid crisis has drawn attention from top tier media across the country and has received recognition from industry trade associations. She routinely integrates content marketing, social media, brand journalism and other online initiatives into public relations strategies, reaching audiences efficiently and quickly to impact change. In 2018, Olson was named one of Arizona’s Most Influential Women in Business by BizAZ Magazine and her firm ranked third under the “Largest Phoenix-Area Public Relations Firms” list by the Phoenix Business Journal. 

Olson is a Minnesota native and earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Minnesota State University, Moorhead. She has been active with PRSA for many years, previously serving as president and board member, PRSA Phoenix Chapter; Western District board member and conference co-chair; chair and executive committee officer, PRSA Counselors Academy; PRSA Assembly delegate (Valley of the Sun Chapter & Phoenix Chapter); and board liaison to PRSSA.

Olson also works with several professional, community and civic organizations, including:

  • Board member, Arizona Advertising Guild
  • Past chair, Arizona Forward
  • Member, Urban Land Institute
  • Member, National Association of Real Estate Editors
  • Member, Experience Scottsdale
  • Member, Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce
  • Member, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce

About PRSA
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the nation’s leading professional organization serving the communications community. PRSA is the principal advocate for industry excellence and ethical conduct and provides members lifelong learning opportunities and leading-edge resources to enhance professional connections and support them at every stage of their career. With more than 30,000 members, PRSA is collectively represented in all 50 states by more than 110 Chapters and 14 Professional Interest Sections, and on nearly 375 college and university campuses through its student organization, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). For more information, please visit www.prsa.org.

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Media Contacts:
Karen Mateo
(212) 460-1454

Vinica Weiss
(212) 460-1479

Michelle Olson


Karen Mateo  
Chief Communications Officer
(212) 460-1454

Rod Granger  
Director, Content and Integrated Communications
(212) 460-0307