With just a day away from this year’s Emerging Leaders Awards, I took a moment to speak with WWPR ELA committee chairs Emily Hughes and Lauren Smith to get a little background on the event and what we can all expect.

How did you prepare for this year’s ELA awards?

The first step was to recruit dedicated committee members. We immediately reached out to WWPR’s extensive network to find members, and then quickly coordinated biweekly meetings that began in February. The second step was to develop the timeline and set goals for the overall awards reception. We analyzed best practices established by previous WWPR events and awards ceremonies, and worked those elements through to this year’s ELAs.

What led you to choose Kori as the keynote speaker?

Kori herself is a great example of a young, outstanding communications leader. Through a partnership with Universal Pictures and the Melanoma Research Foundation, Lauren and Kori have worked together for a couple of years. Lauren saw Kori’s expertise and leadership firsthand, and knew that Kori’s diverse background in DC communications and Hollywood PR gave her a unique and interesting perspective that she can share with WWPR’s emerging leaders.

How is this year’s reception different from years past?

This is the first year we won’t have a news personality as the keynote speaker, so we’re providing a different perspective for our event attendees. As can be expected, most of our members come from the communications field, and will likely resonate with Kori’s background and expertise.

Why is it important to you to recognize emerging leaders? How many nominations did you receive this year and how does it compare to years past?

This award is important because while a lot of other awards focus on years of experience, the ELA recognizes the strengths and talents of young women who have already established extraordinary careers and leadership experience. We received a record number of nominations this year – nearly double the amount in 2012.

Do you have any insight on what stood out on this year’s finalists? Or what does WWPR look for in a potential emerging leader?

WWPR looks for young women who will contribute to the communications field for years to come because we know they are already making a tremendous impact during their young careers. Their impact reaches far past their company – this year we saw women who also give their time and efforts to nonprofits, schools and other organizations, as well as mentoring other young PR professionals.

What led you to work with this specific committee?

We are both dedicated to recognizing the hard work that comes from young communications professionals. We love the fresh, young feel of this event and we are lucky to honor our peers.

Congratulations to the 2013 ELA Awards honorees Nell Callahan, SKDKnickerbocker; Rachael Glaws, RGI events & public relations; Lauren Wesley Wilson, MSL Group!