PRSA Charlotte

The Lead |June 2021

Lead Story: Join the Conversation and Raise Your Hand! Authentic Connections Opened Doors for Me

By Anne-Marie F. McLeod, Senior Director, Associate Communications Manager, TIAA

When I rejoined PRSA last year after leaving a 15-year corporate communications role, I did it primarily to socialize with other professionals -- even if it was remotely. Networking for a new position was certainly a consideration, but I really missed people!

Charlotte Chapter Membership Chair Christy Jackson welcomed me in email and asked if I'd like to be featured in a Member Spotlight. Of course! I put the next Virtual Happy Hour on my calendar and made them a monthly must. I was overwhelmed by the quick connections I made -- on a professional and personal level. (Who was this fascinating Dean Kruckeberg who entertained us with his travels to Russia?) I even had four in-person, safely distant coffees with HH regulars.

I knew I wanted to support these events and not just enjoy them, so I asked Christy how I could help. I hosted a couple and later signed on to become the chapter volunteer coordinator.

Scanning community message boards, I chimed in on occasion and was quoted in Strategies & Tactics. Adding local Connect Over Coffee sessions, national learning series, Connect20 and ICON 2020 to my calendar kept me engaged, energized and positive.

During a Crisis Communications Connect Over Coffee, I shared that I was job hunting and bingo! I got a lead from Cynthia Robbins Shah-Khan for contract work. That incredible engagement just wrapped up, and I'm grateful not only for the interesting assignments, but also for the great people I worked with and will hopefully see in person at PRSA events.

Throughout my search, I made targeted connections through the Member Directory. One LinkedIn message last July led to an immediate response and a 30-minute conversation around current opportunities and corporate culture. Early this year, the conversation started up again and led to more activity and several interviews. I am excited to share that I joined TIAA in June!

Now I'm paying it forward by connecting with other job hunters and sharing the process that kept me focused and balanced during a challenging time.

Please connect with me if you'd like to volunteer on PRSA activities

Do you have a story of how your PRSA membership has helped you?
Let us know! We'd love to feature it here in the PRSA Charlotte newsletter or on social media. Learn more here.

Committee News/Update 
Win a 2021 Queen City PR Crown Award!

Last year was one like no other, and that meant it was also time for work like never before. Dare we say that it should be an unprecedented award season. PRSA Charlotte is opening nominations for the Queen City Public Relations Awards NOW through July 30 at 5 p.m. ET. Participants can save on their entry fees if they submit by July 16 at 5 p.m. 

Visit for all the details, including prices and categories. We can't wait to hear about your great work from last year!

June Chapter Program
The Secrets of Great Storytelling with Tommy Tomlinson

He's an award-winning journalist, acclaimed author, podcast host and overall incredible storyteller. And from noon 1 p.m. on June 23, Tommy Tomlinson will share the secrets of great storytelling with PRSA Charlotte.

What makes a good story? How do you draw others out, so they share the details you need to craft a great story? Tomlinson's been on all sides of the creative process, with more than two decades of experience, first as a reporter and columnist, then as an author and podcaster. 

Tomlinson will help internal and external communicators engage audiences using emotionally intelligent storytelling. You'll walk away with tips and best practices for connecting with readers, evoking emotion and inspiring action no matter your audience.
Click here to register for this educational and entertaining session. 
About Tommy Tomlinson
Tommy Tomlinson is the author of the memoir The Elephant In the Room (Simon & Schuster), about life as an overweight man in a growing America. He is also the host of the podcast "SouthBound" in partnership with WFAE, Charlotte's NPR station. He has written for publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and many others. He spent 23 years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His stories have been chosen twice for the "Best American Sports Writing" series (2012 and 2015) and he also appears in the anthology "America's Best Newspaper Writing." Learn more about him here.

PRSA Charlotte Member Spotlight: Veronica Clemons, Communications Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Wells Fargo Bank

Veronica Clemons is chair of the PRSA Charlotte, D&I committee, working with a great group of people who are passionate about leading diversity and inclusion for our chapter. She went from print reporter to public relations and her career has spanned over 30 years.  She has written for a historic publication Jet magazine and been a spokesperson and media driver for the nation's top vacation destination, Walt Disney World. Now at Wells Fargo, where she recently celebrated her 10th anniversary, Veronica manages a team and leads strategic communications efforts that focus on financial health and diversity and inclusion.

Veronica grew up in Maiden, a small North Carolina town. A proud Tarheel, she has a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MS in communications from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Learn more about Veronica:

When did you start working in communications?
I began my communications career as a journalist right after graduating college in 1992. I covered local news and education for small papers in North Carolina and then moved to Chicago to write cover news, entertainment and sports for Jet magazine. 

What's your current role and what does a "typical" day look like for you?
I am a communications senior manager at Wells Fargo. There really is no "typical" day for me, which is one of the reasons I love public relations. My day includes lots of meetings for planning, sharing information and executing on strategic initiatives. I have days when there are multiple media interviews with leaders or I may have one day filled with the execution of an event. I make time in the mornings to read. I look for any news about the company or industry information that my clients may have an interest in. I catch up on email and check out social media, particularly LinkedIn. No matter what my day entails, I think it's important we make time to take care of ourselves. I try to consistently exercise. I'm in the gym an average of three days a week and I try to walk during my weekly golf league.
Also, while I may not always complete it, I write a list of things I want to complete for the day. It helps me to manage my time and at the end of the day I feel like I've accomplished something.

What is your favorite part of PR/marketing/communications?
I love the strategic planning part of PR. I get excited when my client calls and says we have this issue or we need to make this announcement and I can collaborate with colleagues to plan how to address this business need. Some of my best days are working together with colleagues in communications, marketing and other areas of the company to create a plan of storytelling and engagement that is creative, leverages multiple channels and platforms to support the business goal.
Why are you a member of PRSA?
I value my PRSA membership as it allows me to connect, network and share best practices with colleagues in my profession. And I think it's important as a communicator to be involved in an organization whose focus is to advance and grow our profession.

Is there anything about you that would surprise people?
Many people may not be surprised that I'm a college basketball fan having attended UNC-Chapel Hill, but I'm so much of a fan that until everything shut down because of the pandemic last year, I attended every Final Four since 2007. I'm also a pretty good cook. I consistently invite friends over for "Sunday dinner."


Being a PRSA member offers many valuable member benefits including:

FREE Monthly Webinars
PRSA members have access to a wide collection of online instructional videos, to further their skillsets in the public relations and communications communities. Each month, new webinars are presented live. Each is valued at $200, but as a PRSA member, you get access for FREE. (This is a great tool to recruit new members!) Check out the complete lineup and register today!

Member Discount Programs
Check out the wide assortment of discounts available at the PRSA Member Savings Center.

For a full list of the Member Discount Programs, please login and visit


Certificate Program:
Advancing Your Communication Strategy in DE&I Certificate Program
This program will equip management-level communicators with the tools to build a strategic approach to communication planning that advances diversity, equity and inclusion issues for our profession and in our workplaces to achieve more effective public relationship outcomes.

June 15-16 Travel & Tourism 2021 Virtual Conference
Craft your comeback

June 17-24 Public Affairs and Government 2021 Virtual Summit
Refresh, Reconnect, Recommit

To help communicators address misinformation, civility, diversity & inclusion, and civic engagement, PRSA created the resource-rich forum Voices4Everyone. Learn more about the new initiative here. When sharing about this program on social media please use hashtag #voices4everyone.

Diversity & Inclusion

Inspiring Voices: Luchina Fisher, Writer, Producer and Director of Mama Gloria
Mama Gloria is a documentary that tells the story of trailblazing transgender activist, Gloria Allen.

Telling the story of Gloria Allen
By Veronica Clemons, Communications Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Wells Fargo Bank
Gloria Allen, a 75-year-old Black trailblazing transgender activist who started a charm school for homeless trans youth, is now aging with joy and grace. MAMA GLORIA is the story of a mother's love the love that Gloria's mother had for her and the love that Gloria has for her chosen children. And it is
driven by the love that director Luchina Fisher has for her teenage transgender daughter, Gia. Learn more in the Q&A below with Luchina:

You are a former journalist, how did you get into filmmaking?
I've been interested in film since childhood, when I would make pretend movies with my older siblings, watch long-form news and documentaries with my family, and spend summers and weekends binge watching television shows and movies. But I started making films when I received a Rotary scholarship after college to study abroad, and I chose film and television at the University of Bristol in England. I directed my first short, a 60-second ad on 16mm film, and won second prize in the UK's Kodak Student Film competition. I returned to the U.S. but instead of going to Hollywood, where there were very few women directors in the early 90s, I returned to journalism and pursued documentary filmmaking on the side until 2000, when I moved to New York and decided to make a full-time go of it. I turned my experience and connection writing Gladys Knight's memoir into writing and producing my first television documentary for A&E's Biography series. And the rest is history!

What moved you to tell Mama Gloria's story? Why are you so proud of it?
When a friend told me in 2018 about Gloria Allen, Chicago's trailblazing Black transgender icon, now in her 70s, who started a charm school for homeless trans youth, I was shocked to learn that no one had made a documentary about her incredible life. I was especially struck by the fact that she transitioned before Stonewall and the start of the modern gay rights movement with the love and support of her mother and grandmother. That resonated with me as the mother of transgender daughter, because I know first-hand how important that love and support are. At a time when Black transgender women in particular face escalating violence and discrimination, I wanted to show a more hopeful and optimistic narrative of a Black trans woman growing old with resilience, grace and joy. And I wanted my daughter and her generation to learn about the people who came before them and see how love and support can carry them through life. I'm proud of the film because it is my directorial debut, and audiences and critics are receiving it with the love that it was made. It's the little film that could. And I'm proud that it's out in the world because of my passion to tell this story, the team that I was able to assemble, and the support we received.

It's PRIDE month, why is this an important film to watch, especially for people who don't have much knowledge or understanding of the transgender community?
According to GLAAD, about 80 percent of Americans say they don't personally know someone who is transgender. And yet what we see happening right now, in more than 25 states. is the most anti-trans legislation proposed in a single legislative session -- more than 100 bills. Most of these bills are aimed at transgender youth, like my daughter, to exclude them from playing on some sports teams or receiving gender affirming medical care. And all of these bills are based in fear not facts, and often no first-hand knowledge of transgender people. That is why I want the world to meet Gloria. We have to replace fear and misguided opinions with real experiences of the transgender community. Gloria's story has the ability to do that, and thankfully, with major support from Black Public Media and The Field Foundation of Illinois, the entire country can stream the film now on PBS and World channel.

What do you hope people will take away from the film, especially?
One of the biggest takeaways is the importance of loving and supporting our LGBTQ family members. For trans people especially, love and support can mean the difference between life and death. I hope people see that trans people have always been here and will always be here. They are our family members, our peers, our co-workers, our community. 

When you think about feedback you have received about the film, what is the best or most inspiring you have heard?
Such a tough question! I love all the feedback, whether it's from the LGBTQ community, from people who have never met a trans person, or from the industry. In addition to PBS, the film has screened at festivals, colleges, corporations and community and non-profit groups. We are getting so much feedback. People are really grateful to be introduced to Gloria's life and to feel such love and joy watching her story. I do love this from award-winning playwright Craig Lucas: "This is the most beautiful, perfect, inspiring, enlivening, savvy, respectful, passionate, moving, awe-inspiring, transporting, centering, correct and alive piece of filmmaking."

Anything else you want to add? 
Like Shea Diamond sings in the original song, "Presence of a Legend" that she wrote for the film, "stand up when you're standing in the presence of a legend." We have to stand up for legends like Gloria, and we have stand up for the entire transgender community. We can all be better allies. And I believe Mama Gloria can help us become better allies and celebrate the richness of our humanity. 

Click here to watch the Mamma Gloria film for FREE during the month of June.

Welcome to PRSA Charlotte!

Welcome to new members: Megan E. Fink, Paola Andrea Garcia, Carolyn Lagoe and Alexandra Paulson.     

Kudos & Congratulations!

Congratulations to Krista Terrell, president of ASC (Arts & Science Council), what's on the agenda for ASC with the Charlotte Business Journal. Check out the article here.

Congratulations to Nathalie Santa Maria, APR of Sunnyside Communications for being the speaker for Cincinnati PRSA's Lunch & Learn "Authenticity and Corporate Social Responsibility on May 19th.

Congratulations to Cheron Porter, APR, SVP, Public Relations and INLIVIAN on winning the Award of Distinction for Activism in Video for the 27th Annual Communications Awards.

Congratulations to Natasha Ashe-Suber, AVP - Client Marketing & Communities at SCOR for becoming a Partnernomics Partner Leadership Professional certified member and representing the Pfeiffer University Board of Trustees by delivering the welcome address during one of the Pfeiffer University commencement ceremonies.

Congratulations to Loán Lake for starting a new position as Senior Communications Manager at Moishe House.

Have a Shout Out to share with us?
Do you have great news to share? Did you get a promotion or change jobs? Did your team win an award, or did you win recognition for volunteer efforts? Let us know! Click here to share your great news with us, so we can consider featuring it here in the PRSA Charlotte newsletter or on social media. Learn more here.

News You Can Use

This month--Pride Month--is when the world's LGBTQ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves. Learn more about diversity in the workplace and the LGBTQ community, as well as the LGBTQ perspective through the latest thought leadership articles from PR Say.

Are you looking for a new job?
Please check out the PRSA Charlotte Job Bank. Open to opportunities outside of Charlotte? You can review communication roles throughout the country here.

Thank you to our 2021 Chapter Partner:

Silver Partner
PRSA Charlotte
PO Box 35442
Charlotte, NC 28235
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