18 DC-area female communicators will be recognized on June 15, 2023 at the 13th annual awards ceremony; Six winners will be revealed during the awards event

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2023 – Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR), a professional development and networking organization for female communicators in the nation’s capital, today announces the finalists for its 13th Annual Emerging Leaders Awards (ELAs).

The ELAs honor outstanding rising stars, ages 25-35, in the Washington, D.C. metro area who have excelled in communications and related fields. The 18 finalists are grouped into the following categories: Small/Boutique Agency, Mid- to Large-Sized Agency, Government, Non-Profit, Corporate and Trade Association. One winner from each category will be revealed on Thursday, June 15, at the annual awards ceremony.

This year’s finalists represent the top three candidates in each of the six categories, as determined by a distinguished panel of judges. The 2023 ELA finalists are:

Small/Boutique Agency:

  • Falen Petros, CURA Strategies 
  • Helen McCarthy, Trident DMG
  • LaWanda White, The I-PR Agency

Mid- to Large-Sized Agency:

  • Carolyn Cox, Hill + Knowlton Strategies 
  • Jalisa Washington-Price, Subject Matter+ Kivvit
  • Kelly Finneran, Merritt Group


  • Alaina Gertz, Metropolitan Police Department
  • Brianna Frias, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn
  • Christ-Shamma Matalbert, US House of Representatives, the Honorable Stacey E. Plaskett


  • Cara Hedgepeth, AARP
  • Diala Ghneim, UNRWA USA
  • Kelsey N. Nelson, National Foster Youth Institute


  • Jordun Lawrence, PayPal
  • Ligia McEvoy, AT&T
  • Megan Eichenberg, Washington Capitals

Trade Association:

  • Elleni Almandrez, Children’s Hospital Association
  • Kasey Lovett, American Beverage
  • Stacey Miller, Auto Care Association

“The 2023 Emerging Leaders Awards celebrate the work of young women who are on a fast-paced trajectory,” said Zorie Valchev, President, and Elynsey Price, President, WWPR. “This year’s finalists represent how robust the communications field truly is. We are proud to honor women, year after year, who are changing the landscape and empowering their communities and other professionals. We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments.”

Named as one of 2022’s Top Women in Communications, Devi Thomas, a non-profit go-to-market leader at Microsoft Philanthropies, will serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s event. The awards celebration will be held at LiUNA’s Rooftop overlooking Black Lives Matter Plaza on June 15 from 6:00 to 8:00 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 Colleen Gallagher and Charmaine Riley at ela@wwpr.org