We asked and they answered: What does being a finalist for the 2018 Emerging Leaders Awards (ELA) mean to you? Let’s just say these extraordinary young women had some pretty insightful answers.


Elise Castelli, Director of Communications and Public Relations, Society of Interventional Radiology

I am honored to be considered among this amazing group of finalists. This year’s theme—“Communicate. Collaborate. Conquer.”—is particularly meaningful to me because one of the reasons I pursued a career in communications was to tell stories that advance public understanding of matters that improve lives. When I’m collaborating with my colleagues and our members to develop and deliver impactful communications, we are conquering that goal, together. When I look at the field of finalists this year, I’m so inspired by their work doing the same for their organizations and clients. Public relations really is a public service and this year’s finalists once again prove that.


Sarah Grano, Vice President, Public Relations, American Bankers Association

Throughout the process of being nominated and selected as a finalist, I’ve seen just how much my colleagues, friends and family support me. The entire experience has been a big confidence booster and has demonstrated to me how powerful it can be to stop and recognize the great work going on all around. In my office and in my field, I’m surrounded by intelligent, strong, talented women. After this experience, I am inspired to find ways to recognize the work of others around me.


Natifia Mullings, Media Relations Manager, University of Maryland

Being recognized for my contributions to the public relations industry is a great honor. As a finalist, I am elated to be among a group of professionals who value the work that we do and strive to positively impact the industry as it continues to evolve. I will continue to develop the skills needed to succeed in this industry and impact change through effective communication practices. I am glad to  have a new network of women who I can collaborate with as I continue  my professional journey.

Boutique/Mid-Sized Agency/Independent

Kate Fink, Senior Account Supervisor, Vanguard Communications

It is such an honor to be nominated for an ELA award and get the chance to see the hard work of an amazing group of women! This nomination means that the long days and demanding schedule of a PR professional pays off and that others in the field recognize my talent. It can be hard for me to accept praise and compliments, so this experience is also helping me embrace feeling good and showing off a bit! I hope to use the energy this nomination has given me to mentor other women in the PR profession and inspire them to use PR and communications for good.


Shelby Giles, Account Supervisor, Vanguard Communications

As a public relations professional in Washington, DC, I constantly encounter women who I admire for their intelligence, persistence and leadership in the field. It is truly an honor to be nominated and be named a finalist for an award that highlights the very qualities I work to consistently display in my career. I plan to use this kind recognition to inspire and encourage other women professionals to communicate, collaborate and conquer for the common good.


Sarah Lippincott, Director of Marketing and Digital, Tigercomm

It is exciting to be recognized by WWPR as a finalist for the ELA award. My success at Tigercomm has been a result of chasing the challenging projects and positioning other team members to succeed. In the future, I will continue to lean in and lift up those around me. Congratulations to all the well-deserved ELA finalists.


Alicia Jones, Media and External Communications Manager, Fannie Mae

DC is not an easy town to navigate, professionally, nor during rush hour traffic! With so many fascinating, well-rounded educated professionals in this town, it becomes easy to believe the work that you’re doing is going unnoticed. Being named a finalist is a professional and personal milestone that carries with it great responsibility. This experience compels me to continue to share my story and knowledge with even more women looking to grown in the communications field.


Tiph Turpin, Senior Manager, Global Internal Communications, Mars, Incorporated

I’m grateful and honored to join this group of talented professionals as a finalist. Being nominated by women I deeply respect and admire for their leadership, tenacity, integrity and creativity is going to be a constant source of inspiration for me. The next challenge I hope to conquer is sparking just a glimmer of the motivation I get from collaborating with so many amazing women in communications, for another woman in PR.

Large Agency

Shakirah Hill, Vice President of Digital Strategy, Metropolitan Group

Being selected as a finalist is an incredible honor. This nomination has been a gratifying recognition of the work done across the industry and field— not just my own work but also the prolific work of my peers who are also nominated. I’m proud to be among an elite group of women communicating, collaborating and conquering. And as a woman of color, this nomination is especially felicitous. I’m grateful for being seen and recognized.


Mercy Chikowore, Communications Manager, Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Since I was selected as a finalist, I found a renewed energy and passion for the work that I do. We all know PR is a thankless job but sometimes we forget that people are watching. The nomination proves that my field is necessary, does in fact matter and saves lives at the same time. With this shiny and new reset button and energy, I’ll continue to stay the course and encourage young women and girls to pursue their passion for PR & communications no matter what obstacles they face.


Maggie Dewane, Communications Manager, Marine Stewardship Council

To be nominated is such an outstanding surprise and honor! This recognition is motivating and humbling— a reminder that the work I do on behalf of the environment, day-in and day-out, matters. However, I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for my incredible mentors, teammates, and friends, so this nomination is equally extended to them. My deepest gratitude to all for being a part of my story; together, we are spreading messages of utmost importance and thereby making the world a better place.


Danielle Heiny, Communications Associate, American Institutes for Research

As my very first nomination as a professional, I feel extremely honored and fortunate to be chosen as a finalist among a group of such incredibly talented women. This year’s theme – “Communicate. Collaborate. Conquer.” – lives and breaths in all that I do and to be recognized for the hard work, dedication, and courage that goes into it, strengthens my motivation to push further and aim for positions in leadership where women are poorly represented. I hope that the nomination will inspire and encourage my mentees as well as young women and girls of color. For all those who have supported me, taught me, and cheered me on, this is a collective win because I couldn’t be where I am today without you.


The ninth annual awards ceremony and cocktail reception will showcase six of the field’s most talented young women for their professional accomplishments on Thursday, March 15.

Follow our updates on social media to join us in recognizing these extraordinary young women! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.

Honorees missing from this blog post: Large Agency finalists Kristin Chapdelaine, GolinDC, and Elizabeth Osborn, Hager Sharp; Government Affairs finalists Tania Donovan, U.S. Army, Jessica Larson, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Tara Goodin Rabin, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Corporate finalist Alexis Gallagher, Pepco Holdings.