PRSA Oregon 2022 Board Candidates

We are pleased to present you with our slate of candidates for the 2022 PRSA Oregon Board of Directors. If you are a PRSA Oregon member, please vote by November 23.

President

Tom Fuller, APR

Tom Fuller, APR, is the founder and principal of Imagine Public Relations. Tom has worked as a communications manager and public relations professional since 2001. Prior to that, Tom worked as a reporter at KGW-TV Portland and as a reporter and public service director at KTVL-TV in Medford, Oregon. 

Tom is a published author, video producer and talent, audio book narrator, strategic communications consultant and FAA licensed drone pilot. 

Tom holds a BA in Communications Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Immediate Past President

Judy Asbury, APR PRSA Fellow

Judy Asbury oversees all law school communications and manages the development team at Lewis & Clark Law School. Working closely with the Dean of the law school, Judy creates communications designed to enhance the school’s reputation, and inspire its alumni to engage and support the school.

Prior to her work for Lewis & Clark, Asbury founded the award-winning communications agency Smith Asbury Inc. in the greater Los Angeles area and managed its success for 20+ years. Asbury and her firm were recognized for strategic counsel and creative campaigns for a variety of clients in higher education, healthcare, financial, law, business, and nonprofits.

She has always been active in the community and PRSA. In 2021 she served as president of the Oregon PRSA chapter, and previously served as co-chair of the communications committee for two years.

Treasurer

Natalie Bennon

Natalie Bennon is a Senior PR Account Manager at Gard Communications in Portland, Oregon.

Natalie joined Gard in 2018. In her role, Natalie plans and executes public relations and communications strategies for our clients. She also helps define their key messages and attributes and identifies their best stories to tell via the news, social media, their websites, advertising and other places that reach their target audiences.

Natalie works with clients across a range of sectors, including food and beverage, nonprofit, environmental and manufacturing. She also served on the team that succeeded in getting the right attention, at the right time, in the right places – including positive national news coverage – for The Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief + Resiliency.

Prior to joining Gard, Natalie ran her own public relations firm and worked in communications and grant writing for environmental nonprofits. She also worked as a journalist for a DC-based trade publication for six years, covering national environment and energy policy news. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a B.A. in English and the University of Oregon with an M.S. in strategic communications, Natalie loves river rafting, camping, karaoke, Zumba and cooking.

Secretary

Joshua Romero, M.A.

Joshua is passionate about educating and engaging the community through his role as Assistant Communications Director for the City of Bend, one of the fastest growing mid-sized cities in the nation. His public relations and communications career spans higher education, public health, medical device and government. Early in his career, he was Membership co-chair for the national PRSA New Professionals Committee. In 2021, he served as PRSA Oregon Communications Co-Director. He has been nationally recognized as a Council for Advancement Support of Education Simpson-Scarborough Scholar and has won regional and national awards for his newsletter writing and editing. 

Joshua an advocate for integrating diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging practices into communications and holds a certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Organizational Excellence from Stanford Graduate School of Business. He serves on the board of United Way of Central Oregon where he chairs the Community Impact Committee and is a founding member of the DEI Advisory Group. He previously served on the Latino Community Association Advocacy Committee, Bend 2020 Civic Equity Project Advisory Board, and Inclusive Innovation Initiative. 

He is excited help represent “East of the Cascades” comms pros on the PRSA Oregon Board and share his diversity of lived and professional experiences with the chapter’s leadership. 

Directors at Large

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Vicki Guinn

Vicki Guinn, a native Oregonian, serves as a public relations strategist for Legacy Health, a local healthcare organization responsible for media relations, community engagement, strategic communications, issues management, and crisis management.

She held similar positions in public health and other health care organizations. Guinn paused her PR career to work in learning and organizational development for several years, where she coached directors and teams on communication.

Guinn served as a part-time communication instructor at a local community college. She has extensive experience in corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion work, including anti-racism initiatives, and has taught inclusive communications.

She holds a BS in broadcast communication from Oregon State University and an MS in communication theory from the University of Portland. She currently serves on the PRSA Oregon Board, the Oregon State University Alumni marketing board, and the Young Audiences of Oregon and SW Washington.

Communications

Allison Bolt, APR

Allison has nearly a decade of experience in marketing and communications, primarily in healthcare and adjacent services. In 2019, she pursued APR accreditation to solidify knowledge and skills gained through her work experience. She found the process to be incredibly rewarding and is now a huge proponent of both the accreditation process and the prep class offered by the Oregon chapter.

Katherine Benenati

Katherine Benenati has served as Assistant Communications Manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation since July 2019. Previously she served as a public information officer at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and chief of the Public Outreach and Assistance Division at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Before moving to public affairs, she worked as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Maryland (her native state), California and Arkansas. She’s a graduate of Towson University with a bachelor’s in history and minor in mass communication.

She lives in Salem with her husband Greg and two very energetic dogs, a German shepherd named Holiday and a boxer mix named Parker.

Membership

Lori Friedman

Award-winning communications & public relations professional with expertise in creating high-impact campaigns that build communities, engage audiences and advance client goals. I have expertly developed and executed integrated media relations and communications strategies to build brands, increase visibility, enhance reputation and advance causes. Areas I have worked in include: higher education, public policy, health care, entertainment and the arts. I have a proven track record of using online tools and social media to develop, grow and engage communities.

Specialties: Social media strategy, Social media management, Content creation, Online marketing, Digital marketing, Copywriting, Monitoring & analysis, SEO, Google analytics, Cost-Per-Click advertising, Public relations, Media relations, Blog curation, Blogging platforms, Content management systems, Basic HTML, Basic Photoshop, Web Analytics, Focus groups, Market research, Writing, Editing, Email marketing, Email campaigns, Web content, Online surveys, Collateral development, and Community-building.

Meghan Gardner

Meghan Gardner has had 20 years of PR and digital agency experience, including overseeing Portland operations and teams for two national PR agencies. She plays a leadership role in client communications strategy, including oversight of pre-IPO, crisis and internal communications, and media relations programs. She is adept at managing and coaching successful, motivated, and productive teams. Meghan is also skilled at client relationship development and revenue growth. She holds a BA, magma cum laude, from Williams College.

Meghan is a senior vice president with Mission North.

Advancement (APR and College of Fellows)

Patti Atkins, APR

As a seasoned communications professional, Patti provides an invaluable resource to clients as a manager, strategic planner and critical thinker. 

Patti has decades of hands-on experience in public relations, marketing, internal communications, relationship management and advertising. Patti is an expert at handling external communication issues and initiating and sustaining positive relationships with both traditional and social media reporters and contacts. She served as the regional public relations manager for Providence Health & Services and director of marketing and communications for Providence Seaside Hospital. She has also served in communications management positions at Regence BlueCross BlueShield, LifeEra and Mentor Graphics. 

Her education includes a bachelor’s degree and graduate course work in organizational communications. In 2005 she was accredited by the Public Relations Society of America and is a past president of the Portland Metro PRSA chapter board. Patti’s extensive volunteer experience includes teaching and mentoring individuals through the PRSA accreditation process. 

Additionally, she volunteers her services to the ALS Association of Oregon and SW Washington, organizing and promoting events. She learned about the ALS Association when her husband was diagnosed with the disease. She lives in Tualatin, Oregon, and has two grown children, and three grandchildren. Two of her grandsons live in Canby, Oregon and a granddaughter lives in Zurich, Switzerland. They are all redheads.

Professional Development

Marsha Sanchez

Marsha Sanchez moved to Portland from Chicago in 2018. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Photography and Journalism from Bradley University and moved on to receive her master’s degree in public relations and advertising from Depaul University.

Marsha has worked in a breadth of industries from higher education to utilities. She is passionate about creating equitable forms of communications to diverse audiences and helping make the public relations field more open to minorities. 

Assembly Delegate

Dave Thompson, APR, Fellow PRSA

Dave Thompson, APR, Fellow PRSA, spent 20 years as a TV News reporter/producer/anchor and then 22 more as a public relations executive and spokesperson for a variety of companies and industries, including Director of Corporate Communications for a pre-IPO angel-invested startup and Public Information Officer and spokesperson supervisor for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Dave specializes in strategic planning, crisis communications planning and initial response, and media interview coaching. Dave has presented his series of classes on how to be interviewed to hundreds of people, including four PRSA, IABC or IAP2 chapters, three national conferences and half a dozen government agencies. Dave provided media training to Oregon’s state executive leadership training program for ten years. Dave has taught FEMA’s Basic PIO three-day course to about 1,000 government communicators and has co-coached the PRSA-Oregon chapter’s APR preparation course for the past 12 years.

Regional Leader – Central Oregon

Erin Merz, APR

Erin Merz, M.A., APR, is a seasoned marketing and communications professional skilled at creating quality content that reaches the right audiences and inspires action. Her passion for storytelling, results-driven mindset, and commitment to building and maintaining strong relationships with stakeholders adds substantial value to the organizations she works with.

Erin serves as director of marketing and communications for The School of Business at Portland State University where she’s responsible for developing and implementing strategies that support the institution’s recruitment and retention efforts. Erin has worked at PSU since 2015. Prior to, she held a variety of marketing and communications roles that span the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Erin has a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from Grand Valley State University, a master’s degree in communications from the New York Institute of Technology and holds the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). She’s also an active member and volunteer with the Public Relations Society of America Oregon Chapter. Connect with her online at erinmerz.com

Published by Tom Fuller

Tom is an accredited communications professional.

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