15 DC-area female communicators will be recognized on May 20, 2021 at the 11th annual awards ceremony; Five winners will be revealed during the awards event

Washington, D.C., May 06, 2021 – Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR), a professional development and networking resource for female communicators in the nation’s capital, announces the finalists for the 11th Annual Emerging Leaders Awards (ELAs).

The ELAs honor outstanding young women, ages 18-35, in the Washington, D.C. metro area who have excelled in public relations and related fields. The 15 finalists are grouped into the following categories: Small/Boutique Agency, Mid- to Large-Sized Agency, Government, Non-Profit and In-House. One honoree from each category will be revealed on Thursday, May 20, at the annual awards ceremony.

This year’s finalists represent the top three candidates in each of the five categories, as determined by a panel of judges. The 2021 ELA finalists are:

Small/Boutique Agency:

  • Stefani Alexander, Vice President, Curley Company
  • Sinead Casey, Vice President, CRAFT Media | Digital
  • Brittany Vanderpool, MPS, PMED, Account Supervisor, Vanguard Communications

Mid- to Large-Sized Agency:

  • Akeia Blue, Senior Account Executive, JPA Health
  • Rosemary Girard, Senior Account Supervisor, Corporate Affairs, Edelman
  • Kate Urbach, Managing Account Supervisor, Ketchum


  • Luz Martinez, Communications Director, Office of Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, Council of the District of Columbia
  • Rachel Stephens, Press Secretary, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Paige Waltz, Digital Director, Office of Senator Mitt Romney, U.S. Senate


  • Jennifer Arnold, Associate Vice President, Marketing & Communications, U.S. Soccer Foundation
  • Maggie McClain, Senior Director of Communications, Food Allergy Research & Education
  • Shannon McClendon, Public Relations Manager, American Nurses Association


  • Merone Hailemeskel, Digital & Communications Associate, The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
  • Emily Newman, Senior Speechwriter, National Association of REALTORS
  • Jessica Pumphrey, Principal Communications Associate, Capital One

“The 2021 Emerging Leaders Awards mark the work of young women who have accomplished great things and are on a trajectory to be future PR leaders in the Washington, DC metro area. Through the unique challenges we all faced in 2020, these women’s contributions to their organizations, communities and the PR field really brought a sense of hope and excitement for the years to come,” said Christina Francisco, WWPR President. “I am proud of the diverse set of voices represented in the nominations this year. WWPR is proud to celebrate these changemakers and we look forward to congratulating our finalists on their accomplishments.”

Dr. LeMia Jenkins Thompson, Global Head of Communications for Pinterest, is the keynote speaker for the ceremony. This year’s celebration for the ELAs will be an all-virtual, early evening event on Thursday, May 20, including a pre-networking session and the awards ceremony

Registration for the pre-networking hour, Build Your Own Terrarium, closes Friday, May 7 at 4 p.m. Reserve your spot today.

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. Visit us at wwpr.org, connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @WWPR and on Instagram @WWPRDC .

For more information: Contact Emerging Leaders Awards Co-Chairs Jennifer Dunn and Erika Dyer at ela@wwpr.org.