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Leadership Assembly

PRSSA 2024 Leadership Assembly
Leadership Assembly


Leadership Assembly will be held at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel in Seattle, Wash. on March 7–9, 2024. It is a unique opportunity for PRSSA members to expand their leadership skills and help shape our Society.  We hope you will consider registering and encourage future leaders in your Chapter to register.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 (2 p.m. ET)



Who should register?

Each Chapter has the privilege of sending up to two official representatives to the Assembly: a Chapter Delegate (we suggest having your current president serve as the delegate) and an incoming Chapter president or leader.

What does Assembly involve?

All attendees may access the leadership training sessions, Assembly meeting and networking events. One official delegate from each Chapter will vote to elect the 2024–2025 National Committee and on proposed Bylaw amendments (if any).

  • From the Assembly leadership sessions students can expect to:
    • grow as Chapter leaders and as leaders in this industry.
    • increase their awareness of PRSSA’s national programs.
    • strengthen their Chapter’s relationship with the National Committee.
    • learn to prepare members to successfully transition to PRSA upon graduation.

    Important Documents

    Thursday, March 7 
    2–6:30 p.m.Registration
    3–4 p.m.Turning Your Network Into Your Net Worth: Use Your Network to Grow Your Career
    Eric Winkfield
    Vice President
    M Booth

    Speaker Bio

    headshot of Eric WinkfieldEric M. Winkfield, serving as Vice President at M Booth and M Booth Health, leads the charge in advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives across both organizations. Bringing extensive experience to the table, Eric specializes in strategic counseling for key corporate clients, encompassing reputation management, public affairs, integrated marketing, and issues and crisis management.

    Prior to joining M Booth, Eric played a pivotal role at Pepco, a Washington, D.C.-based public utility company under Exelon's ownership. As a key member of the governmental and external affairs team, he focused on community outreach, stakeholder engagement, and leadership in cross-functional teams dedicated to regulatory and public policy initiatives. Eric holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University and a bachelor's degree in public relations from Florida A&M University.

    Winkfield is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., beyond his professional accomplishments, Eric is fueled by a profound passion for advocacy and mentorship. His active contributions extend to the Reed College of Media at WVU, where he serves on the faculty and visiting committee. Additionally, he plays a crucial role in mentoring and alumni engagement for the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication at FAMU. Eric has received esteemed recognitions, including being named a Distinguished Communicator of Color by the Diversity Action Alliance, and he earned the Emerging Leader of the Year Award from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.

    4:15–5:30 p.m.

    Chapter Roundtable Discussions (Small, Mid-size, Large) 

    Chapter leaders will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices with fellow Chapter leaders. These will occur concurrently.
    6:30–8 p.m.Welcome Reception
    Sankalp Sharma, National President, PRSSA
    Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO, PRSA
    David Grossman, APR, Fellow PRSA, Founder & CEO, The Grossman Group

    Sponsored by

    Friday, March 8 
    7:45–9 a.m.Breakfast
    9:15–10:15 a.m.Welcome, State of the Society, Delegate and Candidate Debriefing*
    10:30 a.m.–1 p.m.National Elections*
    * These sessions are mandatory for Delegates and candidates running for officer positions.
    1–2:45 p.m.

    Keynote Luncheon: 

    Mastering Messiness in the age of AI
    In a world increasingly shaped by AI, Elaine Q. Chang, emerges as a guiding force in the reinvention of communications. Her keynote will not only delve into Microsoft's pioneering efforts in AI but also provide students with actionable insights on thriving amidst the technological revolution.

    Elaine Q. Chang
    Technical Advisor to Microsoft CCO

    Speaker Bio
    headshot of Elaine Q. ChangElaine Q. Chang

    Technical Advisor for Microsoft CCO
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elchang/

    Elaine guides Microsoft's communications with a focus to connect Microsoft's technical strategy with storytelling. She leads technology transformation for the future of communications including innovating, strategizing, and advising reinventing communications with AI. 

    Elaine is a technologist, storyteller, and strategist with expertise in AI and innovation. With 18+ years of experience managing global teams and products, she is a creator and visionary with well-rounded expertise in engineering, communications, business strategy, and international experiences from US, Canada, UK and China. Elaine is passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to achieve more through technology innovation and storytelling, as well as driving business innovation and organizational success through building a culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging.

     Elaine shares career and leadership insights to thrive at work and life via her LinkedIn newsletter “Master of Messiness”.

    3–4 p.m.Solo Branding 101: Elevating your Career


    During this session attendees will learn how to build themselves up and rise in the ranks of a company as well as a professional organization.
    You will hear from PRSA member and past board president from the California Capital Chapter Laine Himmelmann on her journey from being a college graduate during a recession, rising in her nonprofit career from an assistant to Chief Development Officer, and her transition to corporate communications at one of California's largest health insurers.

    Laine Himmelmann
    Senior Manager, DEI and Corporate Citizenship Communications
    Blue Shield of California

    Speaker Bio
    headshot of Laine Himmelmann

    Laine Himmelmann
    Senior Manager of DEI & Corporate Citizenship Communications at Blue Shield of California
    Laine Himmelmann | LinkedIn

    Laine Himmelmann is the Senior Manager of DEI & Corporate Citizenship Communications at Blue Shield of California, a nonprofit health plan that voluntarily caps their net income at 2% of revenue and returns anything above back to customers and California communities. In her role at one of California’s largest health insurers, Laine drives storytelling and communications around Blue Shield’s diversity, equity, and inclusion and corporate citizenship efforts, both inside and outside the company.

    Prior to Blue Shield, Laine was the Chief Development Officer for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento where she worked for 12 years helping build equity and affordable shelter for low-income families, seniors, Veterans, and communities through Habitat’s homeownership, home preservation, and neighborhood revitalization and investment programs. At Habitat for Humanity, she was responsible for multi-million-dollar annual revenue generation, public relations/marketing, and volunteer engagement for over 2,000 volunteers a year. During her time there, the organization grew from serving dozens of individuals a year to thousands.

    Over the last decade, Laine has secured over 1,000 earned local and national media spots and over $20  million in donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals to help uplift underserved individuals in the greater Sacramento region. She is a past president and board member for the Public Relations Society of America California Capital Chapter and is an active current committee member. Laine also currently volunteers on a variety of nonprofit committees including Habitat for Humanity and B Street Theatre.

    Laine was recognized as a Sacramento Business Journal 2019 “40 under 40” honoree and by Comstock Magazine as a 2022 California Capital Region Young Professional on the rise.

    She lives in Midtown Sacramento with her husband Giuliano Kornberg, the executive director for the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, and their miniature schnauzer Tortellini.

    4:15–5:45 p.m.

    Resume Critique Session 

    Sponsored by


    Saturday, March 9 
    7:45–9:45 a.m.Breakfast Keynote* 
    Empower Yourself With Purpose, Passion and Perseverance
    Patrice Tanaka will talk about the importance of "clarity" about your life and leadership "purpose" and how this knowledge will inform every decision you make going forward to efficiently accomplish what is most important in your life. By "actively living" your purpose with passion and perseverance, she says you will unleash greater success, fulfillment, and joy in your personal life, workplace, and communities.

    Patrice A. Tanaka
    , Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet LLC

    *Breakfast will be served first, followed by the Keynote address.
    Speaker Bio
    headshot of Patrice Tanaka

    Patrice Tanaka is a best-selling author, public speaker on business and life purpose, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of three award-winning, PR & Marketing agencies and the consultancy, Joyful Planet, focused on building purpose-driven individuals and organizations. Life and organizational purpose are the subjects of Patrice’s best-selling books, Beat the Curve and Performance360
    Patrice has been honored by many organizations, including PRWeek (Hall of Fame inductee), Public Relations Society of America (“Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service”), New York Women in Communications (“Matrix” Award), The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations (“Legacy Award for Mentoring”), PRSA-NY Big Apple Awards (“Excellence in Mentoring” Award), Asian Women in Business (“Entrepreneurial Leadership Award”), Working Mother magazine (“Mothering that Works” Award), Girl Scouts of Greater New York (“Women of Distinction” Award and “Gold Achievement” Gala Honoree), University of Hawaii (“Distinguished Alumni” Award), among others.     

    She is Past Co-Chair and now on the Advisory Council of the Diversity Action Alliance, a PR industry-wide coalition of 15 influential organizations committed to action on diversity, equity and inclusion. Patrice has also served as a trustee and volunteer for many organizations committed to serving youth, girl- and women’s leadership development, economic empowerment, gender equity, and social justice.  She is a co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute in 1995, which is now part of the Center for Asian Pacific American Women where she works with emerging, multicultural leaders.  Patrice is a vocal advocate for the AANHPI community and co-organizer of the Museum of Public Relations first-ever AAPI Heritage Month celebration, which is now part of its ongoing “Diversity Series.”    

    Patrice was born and raised in Hawaii, but has lived in New York City for most of her adult life.  She calls Hawaii “home” and is committed to living her life with the “Aloha Spirit.”

    Reach Patrice via email Patrice@JoyfulPlanet.com or LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

    9:55–10:40 a.m.

    Fireside Chat With Brandi Sims
    Embark on a journey through the dynamic world of public relations and communications with Brandi Sims, Founder & CEO of Brandinc PR and former Chair of the PRSA Entertainment & Sports section. Join us for an exclusive fireside chat session where Brandi will share her invaluable insights, career experiences, and expertise in navigating the PR landscape. From career development to industry trends, this event promises to inspire and enlighten aspiring PR professionals.

    Brandi Sims, Founder & CEO, Brandinc PR

    Speaker Bio

    headshot of Brandi SimsBrandi Sims, the visionary Founder & CEO of Brandinc PR, boasts a remarkable 15-year career in public relations, digital marketing, and PR event planning. Her diverse expertise has been honed through collaborations with a wide array of clients, including public figures, nonprofits, government sectors, and corporations. Her impact is evident in her clientele, which spans various sectors, from Arts & Humanities to Sports Figures, securing significant media coverage in Forbes, ESPN, Fox News, The New Yorker, and Cosmopolitan. 

    Her professional accomplishments are a testament to her unwavering dedication to excellence. This includes recognition from Design Rush Top Public Relations Company & Top Influencer Marketing Agencies, Expertise.com Best Digital Marketing Agencies in Austin, Soigne + Swank’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Arts, Culture and Entertainment, Davos Digital PR Awards Best PR Agency for 2021 and recipient of the Southwest Ledger 12:10 To The Top Award, recognizing young leaders helping Oklahoma become a top ten state.

    Sims is currently a doctoral candidate at Liberty University, pursuing a Ph.D. in Strategic Media Communications, showcasing her commitment to advancing the field. Beyond her academic and professional roles, Sims is a luminary in various capacities. She serves as a Local Leader on the Forbes BLK Advisory Council, shaping important discussions. As National Chair for the Public Relations Society of America's Entertainment & Sports Executive Committee, she drives innovation and excellence.

    Her past role as the Board Chair for the Oklahoma Women's Coalition reflects her advocacy for gender equity. Sims' commitment to community development is evident through her engagement on various boards.

    She frequently participates as a speaker, moderator, and participant at conferences and events, sharing her wealth of knowledge and insights with eager audiences. Brandi Sims is a true luminary, making significant contributions to education, public relations, and community development, and inspiring others along the way.

    Sims is married to retired Navy GM2 Expeditionary Warfare Specialist and Registered Nurse Oscar Sims III. The couple shares two children, Obrie and Oscar IV along with two puppies, Orion and Adriel.

    10:40–11:40 a.m.

    Leadership Training Session

    PRSSA/PRSA Discussion
    Ken Hagihara, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSSA National Faculty Adviser
    Michael Cherenson, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSSA National Professional Adviser
    Ask Me Anything
    Michelle Egan, APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA Immediate Past Chair

    Program subject to change.
    Hotel & Travel



    Renaissance Seattle Hotel
    515 Madison St
    Seattle, WA 98104
    Check-in: 3 p.m.
    Check-out: noon

    PRSSA makes hotel reservations and assignments for all Leadership Assembly attendees. All questions about your hotel reservations should be directed to jessica.espinal@prsa.org, not the hotel.

    PRSSA covers hotel room and tax charges for two representatives from each Chapter at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel, 515 Madison Street, Seattle, WA, 98104-1119. Check in is on Thursday, March 7, check out is on Saturday, March 9. Incidental charges are the responsibility of the individual. Each room has two beds, so up to two students can be placed in a room. Any cancellation made later than Wednesday, February 21 will be subject to a fee of one room night at the rate of $159 plus taxes and fees.

    If you do not need a room reservation at the Renaissance Seattle Hotel or would like to request a specific roommate, contact jessica.espinal@prsa.org as soon as possible.

    The hotel offers the following amenities:
    • Free Wifi
    • Fitness Center
    • Hair salon
    • 24 Hour Room Service
    • And more ...

    Hourly: $16
    Daily: $50
    Self-park $16/1st hr, $7/each additional, $50 Daily.

    Daily: $63
    Valet $20/1st hr, $8 each additional, $63 Daily.


    2018 Lobby 02


    The Renaissance Seattle Hotel is approximately 15 miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and 6 miles from King County International Airport/Boeing Field (BFI). The hotel does not provide shuttle service. Transportation to/from both airports is available via taxi, Lyft or Uber, prices vary.

    Other Transportation

    Bus Station
    Greyhound Bus Station Seattle 

    Subway Station
    Pioneer Square Station 
    University Street Station

    Train Station
    King Street Station 


    Leadership Assembly Travel Grant

    This grant was created to encourage and support multicultural students majoring in public relations and related fields who plan to pursue a career in public relations. The grant will support multicultural students attending the PRSSA 2024 Leadership Assembly in Seattle, Washington. The grant will be used to cover Travel — Airfare to and from Leadership Assembly, up to $500.

    To apply, click here.

    Running for National Office



    During the Leadership Assembly, members may run for positions on the National Committee. Candidates must be a PRSSA member in good standing.

    Anyone considering a National office should learn more by reviewing the job descriptions, contacting current National Committee members and reading the PRSSA Situation Analysis, which provides an overview of the Society’s history, projects and timelines.

    The 2023 Situation Analysis will be posted on the PRSSA website in January. The Candidate Nomination Form and other election guidelines are available online at Run For National Office.



    PRSSA members gather at the Leadership Assembly to make influential, long-term decisions about the future of the Society, elect a new National Committee and review the National Bylaws. In addition, those who attend engage in leadership training and networking. This event is always held in the spring.

    Welcome Reception — launches the Assembly and allows attendees to network with students from different Chapters as well as with local professionals.
    Maximum two sponsors at $7,500 each

    Motivational Speaker/Keynote Address — Attendees will hear from a keynote speaker – one speaker will offer a motivational address and other speaker will address leadership skills/attributes directly.
    Maximum two sponsors for each keynote address at $6,500 each

    Leadership Training Session — specific sessions offered to provide attendees with leadership training on topical issues and attributes. 
    Maximum three sponsors (one per session offered) at $3,500 each

    Exhibit with PRSSA — Exhibitors will have an opportunity to host an exhibit table near registration on March 7 and March 8 to showcase their agency, corporation, graduate program, etc. 
    Maximum of four exhibitors at $2,500 each.


    Thank you to the 2024 Sponsors.