COVID-19 is affecting women in the workforce differently than men across industries. Come hear from women leaders in the field for a discussion about how their careers and communications have been impacted by this pandemic, how they have needed to make a pivot, and how public relations work may be permanently different. Our panelists represent a range of fields, including education, labor, and entrepreneurship. They have taken different paths to their current positions and will share their stories. Join the discussion and ask questions so you can learn how to chart your own path to leadership in PR!
Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations @ Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The VP for Strategic Communications and External Relations is critical for the advancement of public understanding, advocacy, and the reputation of Rensselaer, its educational opportunities, research discoveries, and its growing position of importance in science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts. Prior to joining Rensselaer, Hunter was the Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Marketing, Communication and Media Relations for the University of Houston, where she served as the chief brand, marketing, communications, and public information officer. She also served as a Vice President of Government Programs for Coventry Health Care; as Chief Marketing Officer for Health Net; and as Staff Vice President, Marketing for WellPoint. She began her executive career at TIAA-CREF, where she was the Head of Marketing Strategy for TIAA-CREF Direct and Second Vice President, Shared Services. Hunter holds an MBA from Lamar University in Beaumont and a BS from the U. of Southern California.
Founder and CEO @ Darn Good Yarn
Nicole founded Darn Good Yarn in 2008 when she wanted to combine her passion for creating, and her dedication to helping others. Nicole has brought Darn Good Yarn from being a company run out of a small basement in Maine, to #599 on Inc. Magazines Top 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies of 2017. Darn Good Yarn was also named #12 on Inc.’s Top 26 Coolest Products of 2017, and Nicole herself was named to Inc.’s Top 5 Most Influential Entrepreneurs of 2017. When Nicole isn’t running around managing and evolving Darn Good Yarn, she is running around chasing her and Mike’s daughter, Anna. This year, Nicole hopes to continue to lead the growth of Darn Good Yarn, and particularly its footprint of goodness, which is felt globally. Nicole earned her Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors in Business and Technology Management from Clarkson University (where she met Mike!) Not only was she in Air Force ROTC, but she was also a Resident Advisor, and played Varsity Tennis.
Communications Director @ New York State AFL-CIO
As a former reporter, Darcy Wells brings a strong media background to the other side of the communications aisle. She spent 19 years researching, writing and reporting stories for radio and television; experience she frequently draws from in her position as Communications Director at the NYS AFL-CIO, representing 3,000 public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout the state. Wells recently obtained her Accreditation in Public Relations from the Public Relations Society of America. Prior to joining the state federation, Wells was the Director of Public Information for the NYS Police where she provided media training for members from all ranks of the department from Trooper to the Superintendent and regularly pitched story ideas picked up by news organizations across the state. While at the New York State Police, Wells also produced a safety training video and the department’s historical video used as a recruiting tool and shown at the graduation ceremony.
Heather Schechter, Director of Marketing and Business Development, is responsible for identifying and developing new business opportunities and building and expanding the public presence of the company and its clients. She oversees the marketing of multiple apartment communities, including branding, advertising, public relations, and communications functions. Heather brings to Sunrise her experience in marketing in Albany and New York City. She is currently the Past President and Membership Chair of the Capital Region Public Relations Society of America. Heather is Accredited in Public Relations and a licensed New York State Real Estate Salesperson. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Columbia College and a Master of Science degree in Education from the Sage Colleges.