Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) is a member-based professional society cultivating and inspiring female communicators to reach their full potential in the DC market and beyond. The organization is committed to providing leadership opportunities, professional development, mentorship, and industry networking.

Our History

In 1980, a small group of women headed by Mila Albertson, Tacy Telego, Mary Dyess and Ellen Werther, placed an ad in a local trade publication seeking participants to form a network for women working in communications and related fields in the Washington, DC, area.  Thirty-five women responded, and they held their first meeting at the old YMCA in downtown Washington, on a hot summer day without air conditioning. Six years later, Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) became a nonprofit corporation and adopted bylaws.

WWPR established the Pro Bono Committee in 1989 to give back to the community by offering our expertise to a local organization that works specifically with women’s issues.

In 1990, WWPR celebrated its 10th anniversary by establishing WWPR’s PR Woman of the Year Award, which honors a senior-level Washington area PR practitioner who has demonstrated leadership, creativity and dedication to the profession.  The popular and prestigious award luncheon has become WWPR’s signature event.

WWPR also started the popular annual Flack Attack Program, which is now the Media Roundtable luncheon, where journalists and editors discuss best practices in media relations.

In honor of our 30th anniversary, WWPR instituted three new committees in 2010.

  • Partnerships
  • Emerging Leaders Awards
  • Executive Communicators

In 2013 WWPR created the Advisory Council to guide the organization through a strategic five year plan to focus on networking and peer to peer mentoring. Advisory Council members include:

  • Martha Boudreau
  • Frank Kauffman
  • Catherine “Kiki” McLean
  • Polly Sherard
  • Debra Silimeo
Visit the Newsroom to learn more about the stellar communications professionals behind the WWPR Advisory Council.


Board of Directors

Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) elects a new Board of Directors every year.  Our directors serve without compensation and provide the leadership necessary to run the organization.

View the WWPR Board of Directors.

Pro Bono Clients

WWPR’s Pro Bono Committee was first established in 1992 as a means to give back to the community by providing communications and marketing support to a local nonprofit focused on women’s and family issues. WWPR provides communications counsel including, branding, marketing and public relations expertise, media training and other support to help raise awareness and promote the pro bono client.

Pro bono clients are selected for a period not to exceed two years. New clients are announced at WWPR’s annual luncheon and board induction held in January. Besides communications assistance, our pro bono client receives the revenue from the annual PR Woman of the Year Award luncheon raffle and from a gift drive during our annual holiday party.

2015 WWPR Pro Bono Client: Bright Beginnings

This year’s pro bono client is Bright Beginnings, a nationally-accredited child and family development center that offers a bright start for homeless infants, toddlers and preschoolers and their families. Bright Beginnings serves about 186 children annually whose families are living in crisis shelters or transitional housing. Their educational, therapeutic, health and family support services prepares these children for kindergarten and stabilizes their families.

WWPR’s previous pro bono clients include: Financial Literacy Organization for Women & Girls, Thrive DC, The Children’s Law Center, The DC Rape Crisis Center, Safe Shores – the DC Children’s Advocacy Center and Doorways for Women and Families.

Financial Literacy Organization for Women & Girls (FLOW)

FLOW is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to helping women and girls achieve their financial best in an increasingly complex economic environment. FLOW’s mission is to empower women and girls with the knowledge and skills necessary to make sound and responsible decisions about spending, saving, borrowing, and investing for a promising future of economic well-being.  FLOW’s programs are centered on economic literacy, entrepreneurship, and asset building. We teach women and girls how to handle their money like a “pro” from a position of knowledge, confidence, and financial clarity.
Vernai Danzler-Smith headshot

FLOW was founded by Vernai Dantzler, a nationally recognized finance attorney with over 25 years of experience. In response to the economic crisis of 2006-2007, she created FLOW, recognizing that women needed more financial education. Vernai uses her legal acumen and financial industry network to create quality programs that guide women and girls toward building viable economic solutions while paving a path to financial stability and independence. Learn more about FLOW at sitting-pretty.org.

Thrive DC: Thrive DC began in 1979 as the Dinner Program for Homeless Women, a response to the first major wave of homelessness on the streets of downtown Washington, DC. Over time, Thrive DC began serving meals to men and women, created a job training program, and introduced case management and educational programming. Thrive DC meets an individual’s most basic needs and establishes a relationship of trust through by providing its clients with various services.
More information at: http://thrivedc.org/.

DC Rape Crisis Center Logo

DC Rape Crisis Center: DC Rape Crisis Center is dedicated to creating a world free of sexual violence. The Center works for social change through community outreach, education, and legal and public policy initiatives. It helps survivors and their families heal from the aftermath of sexual violence through crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy.
More information at: http://www.dcrcc.org/.

Safe Shore LogoSafe Shores: Safe Shores is the Washington, DC Children’s Advocacy Center or DCCAC, which has the mission to provide a safe and supportive environment for abused children. Founded in 1994, Safe Shores is a nonprofit, private-public partnership that was established to provide a coordinated and child-friendly approach to the investigation and prosecution of civil and criminal child abuse cases in the District of Columbia.
More information at: http://www.safeshores.org/

Doorways LogoDoorways for Women and Families: Doorways for Women and Families works to end domestic violence and family homelessness in Northern Virginia. Based in Arlington, Doorways provides safe shelter and housing, comprehensive, family-centered and strength-based services that target multiple life areas for adults and children and community advocacy.
More information at: http://www.doorwaysva.org/

DC's Children's Law Center LogoChildren’s Law Center: Founded in 1996, the Children’s Law Center helps at-risk children in the District of Columbia find safe, permanent homes and the education, health and social services they need to flourish by providing a comprehensive range of legal services to children and their families.
More information at: http://www.childrenslawcenter.org/