By Melinda Price

This month’s Member Spotlight features an interview with WWPR Member and Past President Hillarie Turner, Vice President of Van Eperen.


Hillarie Turner, Van Eperen

Here is her insight on how WWPR impacted her career and her advice for WWPR members.

How did you become involved in the field of communications, specifically health communications?

I have a psychology degree, so I entered the workforce already with an interest in health and science.  I ended up in the communications department at a trade association and started to learn about PR. I left there and started at the American Chemical Society (ACS) with Denise Graveline (a past WWPR WOY). 

I remember very clearly one of my first days there she brought me a stack of abstracts to read – their national meeting was in one month – and together we ended up arranging a press conference at the meeting. The result was an “above the fold” story in the Boston Globe! Being in the press room at that first meeting was like a media boot camp and I was hooked.

That was the first in a long line of medical and scientific meetings during my career. Reading abstracts is still one of my favorite things to do, in addition to working with the researchers behind the science – telling not only the research story but the researcher’s as well is truly rewarding.

How has being involved in WWPR impacted your career?

I first heard about WWPR while at ACS, way back when there was no website and no social media. Instead, the WWPR newsletter was printed, on pink paper from what I recall. Mind you, those were the days when we faxed our press releases and thought that was high tech. 

I joined the pro bono committee first, then joined the board and was president for two years. It was a great experience and I am still involved to this day.  There is not just one thing that WWPR did to enhance my career: it combined networking, friendships, professional growth opportunities, and more, right from the start.

What advice do you have for members wanting to get more involved in the organization?

I always tell people to at least join a committee and, if they can, be on the board. While going to a few events throughout the year is great, nothing compares to volunteering with the organization.

Bonus: you get to know all of the amazing people so well!

What do you feel is your biggest professional accomplishment?

I think it is my desire and ability to work as a team with my colleagues or clients. While one person may have a great idea or strategy, I have found that your greatest success is when everyone is working together to reach the goal.

My latest adventure in communications is with a fantastic team at Van Eperen, including getting to work again with Karen Addis.