Orlando Area Chapter shines at Annual Conference

By Nancy DeVault

Orlando Area Chapter members attended the 74th Annual Conference of Florida Public Relations Association, themed A Treasure Trove of PR Strategies and Tactics, on August 5-8. Members included: Sheridan Becht, APR, CPRC; Joe Curley, APR, CPRC; Nancy DeVault; Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC; Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR; Chris Gent, APR, CPRC; Cynthia Lambert, APR; Mary Ann Horne; Nicole Huie; Laura Kern; Jean Kingsford; Shannette Price; Roger Pynn, APR; Alayna Rivera; Lorena Streeter; Timothy Trudell; and Andrea Vaughn. Here’s a recap of ways these individuals participated in the conference’s four proactive days.

Day 1 Highlight: Rising Leader Class of 2012

After a fun first day at Conference filled with golf outings, exploration of the Foundation of Youth, and welcome receptions, Sunday’s festivities concluded with the Hall of Fame Recognition and Appreciation Gala, benefiting the FPRE Foundation. This event included a celebration of the Rising Leader Class of 2012 composed of seven young professionals representing their perspective local chapters, including Orlando Area Chapter’s Nancy DeVault, as nominees for the Joe Curley Rising Leader Award Presentation.

Day 2 Highlight: Presidents Luncheon Honors

State President Melanie Mowry Etters, APR, CPRC, CPM, welcomed all Annual Conference attendees to a special luncheon honoring outstanding individuals and area chapters who significantly contributed to FPRA and the profession as a whole. Orlando Area Chapter received two annual distinctions: Image Awards and Leadership Development.

Etters shared that in addition to hosting an incredible local event in April, the Orlando Area Chapter secured the most entries of all Image Awards events throughout Florida. Alayna Rivera, OAC’s Vice President of Image Awards, and Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR, OAC Chapter President, accepted the recognition plaque for this category. Next, Amanda accepted honors in the category of Leadership Development, a chapter recognition earned for implementing a board of director’s leadership succession plan and a commitment to cultivate future chapter influencers.

Serving as a presenter at the Presidents Luncheon, Orlando Area Chapter’s Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC recognized those practitioners who recently earned their APR and CPRC credentials. Susan will continue her role as State Vice President of Accreditation and was sworn in as a member of the 2012-2013 State Board of Directors, along with OAC’s Chris Gent, APR, CPRC, who will assume the role of State President-Elect. OAC’s Cynthia Lambert, APR was also sworn in to commence her local chapter leadership as President-Elect for the OAC’s 2012-2013 term.

Outgoing Chapter Presidents, including Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR, were applauded for their leadership and transition into the essential coaching role of Immediate Past President. Finally, all participants heard motivational messages from State Past Presidents including OAC’s Sheridan Becht, APR, CPRC.

After a full day of general sessions, breakout lectures, and celebrations, Orlando Area Chapter members enjoyed a delicious team dinner at Columbia Restaurant in downtown St. Augustine.

Day 3 Highlight: Student Attendance, Breakouts, and Image Awards

Two Orlando Area Chapter members – Susan Ennis, APR, CPRC and Joe Curley, APR, CPRC – each served as conference breakout session presenters. Susan led informational presentations and discussions on the APR and CPRC processes. Joe Curley shared his insight on transitioning from a PR employee to employer.

Orlando Area Chapter student members representing ‘Quotes’, UCF’s PR Club, were in attendance for a full day of general sessions and young professional breakout meetings. Student members included: Nathalie Almonte, Kacie Boniberger, Katarina Dos Santos, Angela Fonseca, Ivan Hernandez, and Devin Shoemaker

That evening, Orlando Area Chapter sponsored the Reception of Presidents, an elegant champagne welcome and chapter photo function. Immediately following, members attended the 55th Annual Golden Image Awards reception to celebrate those exemplifying the standards of public relations excellence in Florida. Orlando Area Chapter is pleased to announce the following Golden Image Award honors

Judges’ Award

Windjammer Landing “Steals”


Anson-Stoner PR Team


Award of Distinction

OUCARES Employee Fund Drive

Timothy Trudell


Award of Distinction

Florida.HIGH.TECH 2011

Curley & Pynn


Judges’ Award

Florida Hospital: Best in Care

Michelle Lynch, Dawn Vaughn, McMurry, Inc.

View the complete list of  2012 Golden Image Award Winners here.

More Highlights:

Three OAC members served on the Annual Conference Blog team including Nancy DeVault, Alayna Rivera and Amanda Forbes Mestdagh, APR. These members, and other from neighboring chapters, contributed timely posts to keep non-participating members up to speed on all conference activities. Check out a complete blog recap here; plus, view all Annual Conference Images here.

Orlando Area Chapter members at the 2012 Golden Image Awards

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