ABOVE PHOTO: Deirdre Childress Hopkins, new president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
Visit Philadelphia’s Deirdre Childress Hopkins makes history as the new president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
By Denise Clay
As she networked around the room at Make Offices, Kyasha Woods, one of the newest members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, was trying to connect with people who might be able to help her with her business, Keitt Media LLC.
Woods — the founder and CEO of the boutique firm that specializes in consulting and project management services predominately in the tech sector — was there to cheer on the organization’s newly inducted president, Deirdre Childress Hopkins, director of public relations for Visit Philadelphia.
While she had been a member of the organization in the past, the chance to work with PPRA-Philly’s first Black president was one she didn’t want to pass up, she said.
“I knew this was happening,” she said. “That’s part of why I joined.”
Childress Hopkins recently became the first Black president in PPRA-Philly’s 75-year-history. The Philadelphia chapter is an affiliate of the Public Relations Society of America, the nation’s largest organization of communications professionals, counting 30,000 professionals and several student chapters among its members.
Before becoming Visit Philly’s public relations chief, she was the Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau. She also served as an assistant editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer and was also secretary and vice president-print for the National Association of Black Journalists.
When asked what it meant to make history in this way, Childress Hopkins was philosophical about the moment and what her place is in it.
“Change happens at the time it’s supposed to,” she said. “This was the right time. It’s a great feeling.”
And it’s a feeling she plans to build on through expanding the reach of PPRA.
“I want to boost the membership and bring in more PR firms,” Childress Hopkins said. “I want to have everyone share best practices so that we can make our membership better.”
She also hopes to help members realize the business case for diversity in their organizations, something that makes David Brown, an assistant professor of instruction in public relations at Temple University’s Kline College of Media and Communication, hopeful. Brown, who was recently named the first diversity advisor to the dean at Kline, is the only living member of color of PPRA’s Hall of Fame.
“You want to leave any organization better and stronger than you found it,” Brown said. “I’m going to support her in any way I can.”
For more information on the Philadelphia Public Relations Association, visit: www.ppra.net.