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Rachelina Bonacci, Public Information Officer, Maryland Stadium Authority

Tell us a little bit about your background and your work with the Maryland Stadium Authority.  What has it been like for you during COVID-19?   

Rachelina is passionate about the transformative power of experiential tourism, especially cultural and sports travel, on people and places. At UMBC, she received her B.A. in Philosophy, which provides a foundation for critical thinking, public speaking and persuasive writing. She treasures her career experience with Southwest Airlines which included growing the customer service department at BWI Marshall Airport, and participated in the management program at headquarters and embracing the company culture to this day. While at Visit Howard County, she quadrupled their budget by advocating for dedicated public funding and enhancing the private sector investment opportunities. 

As a storyteller, converting the post office in Ellicott City into a welcome center was an opportunity to create space for informing and entertaining residents and visitors.  In 2017, she was honored to join the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) as a Public Information Officer. The volume and variety of the work by this stellar organization inspires her. In addition to managing and maintaining the Camden Yards Sports Complex, home of the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, MSA oversees very visible and time sensitive construction projects and feasibility studies across the state.

While Major League Baseball (MLB) is delayed and the National Football League scheduled to begin in the fall, MSA still operates and secures the iconic Warehouse as commercial real estate. Even in the required telework environment, MSA’s projects and studies are being delivered on time and on budget.

During the pandemic, MSA has repurposed portions of the 85 acre Camden Yards Sports Complex to assist our neighbors in need by inviting World Central Kitchen for weekly meal distribution, welcoming the Salvation Army of Central Maryland for daily meal delivery to seniors and hosting the Maryland National Guard for humanitarian aid throughout the region.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Every day, Rachelina is surrounded by highly successful yet extraordinarily humble economists, engineers, project managers and sports enthusiasts in a mission-driven work environment. MSA’s sports commission positions the state’s venues as a top destination for youth, amateur and professional sports.

She enjoys partnering on the ground-breakings and ribbon-cuttings for the 21st Century School Buildings program, M&T Bank Stadium’s renovations and MARC Camden Station’s replacement. Announcements of new sports events and completion of feasibility studies are welcomed by the communities that request MSA’s services.

MSA’s commitment to sustainability is commendable. Planning the on-field pregame Earth Day 2018 announcement for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the oldest ballpark in MLB to receive the LEED Gold certification, was especially exciting.

Why did you join WWPR?  
Rachelina was introduced to WWPR by the Capitol Communicator newsletter, and attended her first event in which she recalls a warm welcome by so many smart, successful, and sharply dressed women. The genuine camaraderie amongst WWPR’s members, at every career stage, creates environments where ideas and insights are generously exchanged, with smiles and laughter.

How do you keep up with the latest trends in PR and how has the industry changed in the last 5 years?
Over the past five years, the speed of the 24-hour news cycle and the need to generate meaningful multi-media content requires marketing and communications teams to merge and converge. While roles are blurred, goals are focused and data driven. Reading voraciously, consuming content, attending workshops and webinars to further one’s skills and connections in this ever-evolving industry is a must. Rachelina recently earned professional certificates in Social Media Management and Digital Marketing at the Georgetown School of Continuing Studies and invests in courses at General Assembly. In addition, she volunteers with the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA’s) professional development committee, enjoys her American Marketing Association (AMA) membership and indulges in Smithsonian Associates programs.

Written by Florence Sumaray, WWPR Content Committee Member, Director of Marketing & Communications, Ethics & Compliance Initiative and Realtor for The Nellis Group.

What other organizations are you involved with outside the office?    
As her schedule permits, Rachelina is an advocate for the National Brain Tumor Society and the Beagle Freedom Project. Helping navigate the halls, tunnels and protocols of Capitol Hill and Annapolis with first-time volunteers to tell their story to elected officials and staff that localizes proposed legislation is rewarding.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the DMV area?
The DMV has so many parks, trails and gardens to explore and experience the seasons. Rachelina loves daily sunrise and sunset walks with her beagles. On weekends, dining al fresco, whether it’s a picnic at a winery or waterside seafood shack is her chosen treat. Summertime concerts, under the stars, with family and friends is also a favorite.

After years of dreaming and watching too much HGTV, she and her boyfriend bought a fixer-upper cottage near the Chesapeake Bay. Working together on DIY projects, planting the gardens and upcycling décor has been their happy place during the pandemic.

What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic and how do you stay positive? 
The Italian culture celebrates “il dolce far niente”, the joy of doing nothing and embracing the sweet simplicity of life. Throughout their careers and after working with people all day, Rachelina and her boyfriend unwind by cooking dinner together at night.

Rachelina has a small, but sunny home office, so transitioning to required telework was smooth and MSA workflow steady. When asked how she’s fared during the pandemic, the quote that comes to her mind is Cicero’s “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”