Category Archives: Profile

Meet Your 2013 PRSA-YP Los Angeles Board

Evan Nicholson, President


Evan Nicholson is an account associate, having been promoted twice in five months,  focusing on corporate, digital media and technology clients. Prior to joining MPRM in August 2011, she was an assistant account executive and personal assistant at Skai Blue Media, a boutique lifestyle firm in Philadelphia. Evan is a graduate of Temple University with a B.A. in Strategic Communications and minors in Marketing and Art History.  Evan actively volunteers her time with PRSA Los Angeles, Temple University and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.


Laura Kim, Program Co-Chair


Laura Kim works as a Social Media Community Manager at Uptown Treehouse Inc., a social media and digital marketing agency working with Fortune 500 brands. Laura began her career in marketing and public relations early on in college, during which she had the opportunity to work with top brands and media outlets such as Fusion Cosmetics, Clean Perfume and American Crew. She soon realized the transformative shift taking place towards all things new media which lead her to fine-tune her lens and learn more about the role of social media in increasing and evangelizing brand awareness.  After a few years of being immersed in the space, she is now a firm believer that all forms of media, new and old, play a vital role in the ways brands think about as well as connect with their respective audiences.  Laura graduated from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication.


Serena Whitecotton, Program Co-Chair


Serena is one of this year’s programming co-chairs and can’t wait to get started! She is a native Angelena and CSU Fullerton alumna, where she majored in journalism and Spanish. Before her current position at MPRM Communications, she worked for Warner Bros., Molina Healthcare, ABC and Telemundo – just to name a few. Outside of PR, Serena is a passionate Los Angeles Kings fan, a cheese and beer enthusiast, and a self-identified Hufflepuff.


Maritza Cabezas, Membership Chair


Maritza is currently a Global Brand Manager in the beauty industry; with an extensive background in beauty she wanted to integrate her marketing experience with her passion for public relations. She is currently a graduate student in the Strategic Public Relations program at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.

Kristin Soo Hoo, Treasurer


Kristin Soo Hoo joined the Los Angeles Convention Center as the public relations assistant in November 2011. She currently manages social media accounts, writes and distributes all press releases and photographs events. Some of her favorite events she assisted include the GRAMMY MusiCares gala, Los Angeles Art Show, Los Angeles Auto Show and Electronic Entertainment Expo. In addition, Kristin wrote the draft text for LACC’s annual report, created quarterly newsletters and designed sponsor ads.

Previously, she held internships at Tyler Barnett PR and Coast Concierge Service event planning and production company. In January 2013, Kristin graduated from Chapman University on the Chancellor’s List with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising, along with a minor in business administration. She was a member of Chapman PRSSA for all four years of college and served as treasurer in 2011 and 2012.


Brittany Mehciz, Communications Co-Chair


Brittany Mehciz is thrilled to a part of the Young Professionals of PRSA-LA in her role as communications co-chair!  She is a recent graduate from California State University, Long Beach, where she majored in Journalism and minored in Communication Studies. Brittany works at FOX Studios as the Social Media Associate Producer for American Idol Season 12. Prior to working at FOX, Brittany interned at Blaze Public Relations, The Walt Disney Company, Ketchum, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Special Olympics and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In her free time, Brittany enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring new restaurants and drinking as much coffee as possible.


Liza Nedelman, Communications Co-Chair


Liza Nedelman is an Account Executive at MPRM Communications, working primarily in film and home entertainment PR. She previously worked in crisis communications, and before that graduated from Emerson College in Boston with a degree in Marketing Communications. Liza is excited to be a part of PRSA-LA as a communications co-chair, and is equally as excited to put her exquisite social media skills to use for the same.


Kaylee Weatherly, Collegiate Outreach


I’m Kaylee. I’m currently a full-time graduate student studying Strategic Public Relations at the University of Southern California. I’m also a California State University, Long Beach alumni and live in the Long Beach area. I have a great passion for sustainability and hope to work in environmental public relations in a nonprofit or government agency when I graduate. As Collegiate Outreach Chair for Young Professionals of PRSA-Los Angeles, I hope to bridge the networking gap between students of PRSSA and YP to build each organization’s public relations backgrounds with the guidance of PRSA’s experienced professionals. In my free time, I like to work on habitat restoration projects with the local community.


Lauren Lewow, Trevett Chair

LAURENAs an account coordinator, Lauren Lewow delivers a variety of support to Cerrell Associates, Campaign & Issues Management practice area. Lauren’s areas of expertise include grassroots advocacy, media outreach, coalition building and policy research. She has a breadth of experience including developing targeted messages, advocacy efforts and a background in legislative affairs.

Prior to joining CAI, Lauren worked with the California State Assemblymember Don Wagner. While in Sacramento, she served as his staff contact for the educational policy committee, collaborating with consultants, constituents and advocates. Additionally, she helped coordinate press and social media efforts to highlight Assemblymember Wagner’s legislative priorities.

Lauren is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a BA in English. As a student, she served as a course facilitator the Campus Organizing Director of the Associated Students of University of California, and a board member of the system wide University of California Students Association.

Tiffany Sarpy, Professional Outreach Chair

tiffanyTiffany Sarpy currently serves as the Marketing Manager for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS’s) Greater Los Angeles Chapter. In this role, she manages local implementation of National marketing and public relations initiatives. In her two years as the head of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter marketing department, she has launched a Marketing Committee comprised of professional volunteers who donate their time and expertise to lead and assist with local initiatives and frequently collaborates with other chapters and the National office to improve marketing and public relations for the organization and the Greater Los Angeles region including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

Tiffany graduated from California Baptist University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and received her Master’s Degree in Strategic Public Relations in 2011 from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. In addition to her role as Professional Outreach Chair on the PRSA-LA’s Young Professionals Board, she is an active member of PIRATES-LA and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).


Dillon Bianchi, PRSA-YP Liason

DILLONDillon has always been a trailblazer in the communications space. He is the Liaison of PRSA-LA’s Young Professional group, where he is leading the next generation of communication professionals in the Los Angeles area through a major paradigm shift as the industry warms to new media. Dillon plays a pivotal role in uniting traditional marketing veterans with the brightest growing talent in the community. Dillon spent the early days of his professional career working for various agencies including Hill & Knowlton, where he recognized that social networks were driving a revolutionary change in the way that communication practitioners must engage with audiences. From this, he has helped brands such as adidas, Yahoo! Sports, Microsoft and Dos Equis understand the value in executing social media campaigns to meet their business goals.

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Times are changing…

With the ubiquity of terms like “emerging” and “improved” in our day-to-day jobs, it’s not hard to remember that everything is changing lightning fast in our field.  Especially true with young professionals, part of the change is job turnover.

A lot has been written about the difference in turnover rates between agency and in-house PR jobs.  Hit the PR pubs (PR Week, Strategist, etc.) for info on that, and we’ll cover it in another post.  This one’s about us.  (Forgive the twinge of narcissism.)

From the beginning of the year, we’ve tried to give a face to the PRSA YP group, taking time to ID board members, post bios and encourage you guys to come introduce yourselves at events.  Just like the environment in the rest of the profession, we’ve undergone a number of changes just in the last few months.  Here’s a snapshot.

Right from the top, our president is no longer Kerry Slaughter.  No, we didn’t hold a coup and overthrow her.  She is now Kerry Sinclair, as she was married last month.  When you see her at an upcoming event, be sure to congratulate her!

Our membership chair, Caitlin Mattias, has accepted an account executive position at industry giant Hill & Knowlton, where she is working with (among others) mobile industry giant Qualcomm.

Right before Caitlin went to H&K, one of the co-chairs responsible for putting on our great events, Eva Groves, left its health care practice to become an associate at health care-focused agency Chandler Chicco.

Finally, I’m on the move too.  After four years at the David James Agency (and a lifetime in southern California), I’ve taken a Sr. AE position at Engage PR and relocated to the Bay Area.  I’ll continue to blog and Tweet from afar.

Through it all, the Young Professionals affinity group for the LA chapter of PRSA continues to grow and remain among the most active.  That’s a testament to all you guys.  Please keep up the enthusiasm, and continue to spread the word about our group!  Also, if there is anything we can do or any suggestions that you have, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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YP Board Profile: Dillon Bianchi – Collegiate Outreach Chair

Dillon Bianchi is your YP Collegiate Outreach Chairman for the PRSA-LA Chapter. Contact him @dillonbianchi or at for any information on obtaining or posting an internship.

He was born and raised in San Francisco and Sonoma County, Calif. He attended San Diego State University, and California State University Los Angeles majoring in Communications (emphasis in Public Relations and Organizational Communication), and a minor in Spanish.

Mr. Bianchi currently works as an Account Executive with VMS, an industry leading media intelligence firm. At VMS, he has developed and managed client relationships with Harrah’s Entertainment, The Phoenix Suns, U-Haul, ASU, Verizon, Cox Communication, Weight Watchers and also major PR and Advertising agencies, such as Rogers & Cowan.

He recently spearheaded a Social Media campaign by developing a strategic plan, and proposal, which was adopted and is currently being used by VMS. In turn, he was awarded a committee team member position, which leads innovative dialogue necessary to remain an industry leader in media relations.

In his free time when he is not revelry touring Los Angeles with his friends, he enjoys creating art, reading, writing, and music. He also loves outdoor ventures, and sports.

Connect with him on Twitter!

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YP Board Profile: Caitlin Mattias – Membership Chair

Caitlin Mattias is an Assistant Account Manager at Consensus Inc., an LA-based public relations firm specializing in community relations, advocacy, and public affairs for land-use, real estate, and transportation projects.

Caitlin provides strategic insight into communicating about public affairs issues in the social media space and how to integrate new media efforts with ground campaigns. She’s currently working on several transit projects, including California High-Speed Rail and the Expo Line. As a result, she’s become a stalwart advocate of expanding LA’s transportation system and looks forward to the day she can ride a high-speed train to San Francisco in less than 3 hours.

When not daydreaming about trains, Caitlin enjoys attending concerts in the LA area (most recently Metric, T-Pain and Coachella), ferreting out great restaurants and training for a half-marathon, though this is especially terrifying to her.

If you’re interested in learning more about PRSA or would like to get on our email list, let her know and she’ll hook you up with the latest membership deals.

Caitlin is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a BA in Public Relations and International Relations. She longs for college football season and despises schools not in the PAC-10.

Stalk her on Twitter by following @ceematt.


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YP Board Profile: Kerry Slaughter – President

Kerry Slaughter is your YP President and PRSA-LA Chapter Liaison – You can contact her @KerryNicoleS for more information about getting involved in YP activities.

Kerry has worked exclusively in the health care arena during her career, and has extensive experience the planning and implementation of public education campaigns, community outreach, media relations and event planning. She is excited about her new role as Media Specialist at
Chandler Chicco Agency.

A true Los Angeles native, Kerry snuck away to the East Coast after college to attend grad school. While there, she worked for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in both the Washington, DC and Boston, MA markets. She didn’t last long in the cold winters, so she came back and has vowed
to never leave the comforts of the palm tree-lined beaches of Los Angeles again.

Kerry has a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.

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YP Board Profile: Kristin Wood – Vice President

At Kristin Wood’s office, every day is a reason to celebrate.  She is the Communication Specialist for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide Public Affairs where some of her current projects include launching and updating the WDPR Web site, drafting remarks for executives and spearheading a new press kit.

Kristin’s most memorable experiences at her dream job with Disney include attending special events such as the opening of the Toy Story Mania! attraction and seeing Johnny Depp during the announcement of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, viewing renderings and models at Walt Disney Imagineering of WDPR’s upcoming projects around the world.

Prior to joining Disney, Kristin worked for Cook & Schmid, a San Diego-based public relations, marketing and advertising firm where she developed an informational calendar for which Cook & Schmid received a 2008 PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence.

Kristin is a second-generation San Diego State University graduate, and worked in the marketing and public relations department at Loews Coronado Bay Resort & Spa during school. There she promoted Loews’ Surf Dog Small Wave Competition, a charity event for Coronado, Calif. animal shelters for which Loews gained worldwide attention. She also worked for 944 Magazine where she assisted with coordinating the magazine’s special events at some of San Diego’s hottest night spots.

As the 2010 Vice President and former 2009 President of The Young Professionals of PRSA-LA, Kristin encourages young PR professionals to take full advantage of the fun and educational, real-life networking opportunities YP provides. Despite having grown up in a family full of educators, Kristin likes to remind her fellow young professionals of a quote from Paul Newman to Lee Iacocca after his car caught fire: “You can get straight A’s in marketing, and still flunk ordinary life.”

When Kristin isn’t working at the happiest place on earth, the San Diego native enjoys exploring the Los Angeles area with friends and family, kickboxing and volunteering with the Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter.

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YP Board Profile: Jessica Barraco – Communications Co-Chair

Jessica Barraco is an Orange County-native, who went away to school to study journalism and PR at the University of Colorado at Boulder. There, she spent time writing stories about the local community, which included some investigative journalism regarding the JonBenet Ramsey case (which took place in Boulder – she loves a good mystery), and also including a contribution to the Denver Post in 2007.

Barraco spent her summers in LA, dabbling in music publicity, corporate and consumer PR for Hill & Knowlton and writing fashion- and music-related articles for 944 magazine.

Currently, she is working at Ketchum, managing corporate accounts.  Her interests are fashion, philanthropy and everything concerning pop culture.

In her spare time, Barraco is penning a novel, loves spending time with her family and getting out on the “LA scene.” She hopes to bring a brand-new, social aspect to the world of PRSA-YP with the addition of new mixers and fun networking events.

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Young Professional Profile #8

attachment.ashxMeet Diane Padilla

Diane is a Client Service Coordinator at PainePR and works on the social marketing and diversity teams.  If you’ve attended a PRSA-LA Young Professionals meeting this year, you’ve probably met Diane bugging you about paying your dues since she currently serves on the board as treasurer.

Diane was born and raised in L.A. and when it came time for college she decided to stay close to home and attend California State University, Fullerton.  Diane discovered her passion for public relations when she joined student government and was appointed director of special events.  In this position, she was responsible for planning daily events and booked bands to perform on campus, such as Weezer, Taking Back Sunday and Gym Class Heroes.  Her most memorable event was when she brought a white Christmas to campus when she contracted a vendor to bring more than 18 tons of snow to the quad, a snowman and two slides to sled down – this is still a withstanding tradition at Cal State Fullerton.

After graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Human Services, Diane interned at Volvo Cars of North America as the Public Relations Intern.  During her internship she assisted with the launch of the newly released Volvo C30 and supported the public relations team with their day-to-day tasks.

Diane joined PainePR in March 2007 and plays an integral role working on media relations, community outreach and event planning for state programs such as CaliforniaVolunteers and Network for a Healthy California.  In addition to her general market consumer work, Diane supports multiple Hispanic initiatives such as General Motors and Pampers.

When Diane’s not working or in a yoga studio, you can find her at Disneyland taking advantage of her annual pass, at home watching TV or hanging out at the beach.  She has a passion for traveling the world and she hopes to live abroad and get her Masters in International Studies.

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Young Professional Profile #7

KerryMeet Kerry Slaughter

Kerry Slaughter is your Trevett Award Chair – You can contact her @KerryNicoleS for more information about the prestigious young professional award.  (Being her friend could even increase your chances of winning the Trevett Award and prize money $$$. Well, not really, but you will find out how to win!)

She has several years of experience in public relations in the planning and implementation of public education campaigns, community outreach, media relations and event planning.  Currently a Team Member at Chandler Chicco Agency, Kerry has worked exclusively in the health care arena for more than three years and has experience with products in several unpleasant disease states.  Eek!

A true Los Angeles native, Kerry snuck away to the East Coast after college to attend grad school. While there, she worked for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in both the Washington, DC and Boston, MA markets.   She didn’t last long in the cold winters, so she came back and has vowed to never leave the palm tree-lined beaches of Los Angeles again.

Kerry has a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.   Go Bruins!

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Young Professional Profile #5 and #6

Matt & EmilyMeet Emily and Matt:

Emily and Matt share the position of communications co-chair for the YP Board this year, working to move YP into the digital age while expanding and perfecting the group’s communications vehicles to add more interaction for all YP members. (If you have suggestions or want to be involved, please email us or DM us at @LAPR.)

Here’s a little more information about both of them:

Emily Schwartz

Emily is a Senior Account Executive on the corporate and healthcare team at GolinHarris.  In her nearly four years at GolinHarris, Emily has worked on a variety of corporate, nonprofit, healthcare and technology clients.  She now focuses mostly on health care clients writing and implementing media relations and social media strategies and tactics.

Emily moved to Los Angeles from Tucson, Ariz., to attend the University of Southern California and began her career at GolinHarris as an intern in the summer 2005.  After spending the summer interning, Emily was hired by GolinHarris and has worked her way up to her current position as senior account executive. She spent her first two years in Los Angeles working and attending the Strategic Public Relations master’s degree program at the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC.

As part of her master’s degree work, she was able to spend nearly three months in GolinHarris’ London office, learning the similarities and differences between PR in the U.K. and U.S. (Let’s just say you can get away with a bit more across the pond!)
While in undergrad at USC, Emily gained experience in politics and journalism as an intern in the press office of LA Mayor James K. Hahn and at Teen Magazine. Emily also gained valuable media experience starting, launching and running a student-owned magazine – Saturday Night Magazine.  Launched in 2003, the lifestyle and entertainment magazine for the youth market started at USC and now serves multiple campuses throughout California and Arizona.

In 2008, Emily joined the PRSA-LA Young Professionals Board as the collegiate outreach chair, helping to create a link between the campus PRSSA chapters and professional organization of PRSA-LA and YP. And, last year, Emily was awarded PRSA-LA Young Professionals Trevett Award, First Place.

When she’s not climbing the agency ladder, Emily enjoys going to USC Football Games to root on the Trojans, and trying new restaurants, bars and attractions while exploring the City of Angels!


Matt Meeks

Matt is an Account Executive on the Entertainment Technology / Corporate team at Bender/Helper Impact. Since joining B/HI one year ago, Matt has worked on a number of accounts at the crossroads where social media, technology, and advertising meet. Amongst others, Matt oversaw the publicity for the TV of Tomorrow Show, an executive level conference focused on the developments driving the future of television, and the Streamy Awards, the first red carpet award show for Web television. Matt is passionate about multi-platform technologies, from social media to television interactivity, that are forever changing how we consume and interact with content.

While a student at the University of Colorado, Matt began his career in public relations as an intern at Carlson & Co. PR, a boutique agency specializing in cable technology start-up companies. Within six months, he rose to an account executive with a focus in global media relations, industry relations, and trade show planning and execution. At Carlson & Co. Matt worked directly under and alongside the principal / past VP of Corporate Communications for UnitedGlobalCom, the world’s leading cable operator.

Matt later graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in international business and minors in both economics and marketing. Upon graduation, Matt joined Denver based wealth management firm, GHP Investment Advisors. As the first and only marketing hire and one of six employees, he was influential in defining and building the company’s brand through the development of a strategic marketing and communications plan including public relations, internal and external communications strategies, client referrals program, event schedule, collateral creation and website launch. In addition, Matt earned his Series 65 and was responsible for keeping client relationship management and transfer of account systems current, establishing accounts, transferring funds, and rebalancing portfolios.

Desiring to focus solely on marketing, Matt saw a business opportunity in helping mid sized regional and local businesses get online.  As a result, along with two of his friends, Matt started 10kthings, a digital agency with expertise in SEO, PPC, social media, web design, web development, and PR in December of 2007.  As a result of the opportunity at Bender/Helper Impact, Matt moved to LA in April of 2008. 10kthings continues to help small to mid sized business owners in the Denver Area.

In March of 2009, Matt joined the PRSA-LA Young Professionals Board as the communications co-chair.  When he is not coming up with new business ideas or stuck to his laptop, you can find Matt enjoying the LA social media and Web TV scene, hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, trying new hole in the wall ethnic restaurants, cooking for friends and hanging out with international delegates as a member of the LA World Affairs Council.

Photo credit: Jeanette Liang (@thejwl)

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