Winner: Renee Harper, Executive Vice President, Havas PR
Renee Harper had one of the most challenging jobs in media relations: chief communications officer for the Newark (N.J.) public schools, which faced school consolidations, layoffs, contract negotiations, targeted attacks against district leadership and a generally contentious media environment. Nonetheless, she built successful media partnerships to gain positive coverage for NPS: its superintendent was named to Time magazine’s 2012 list of 100 most influential people.
Harper brought this hard-won expertise to Havas PR in June 2013, and immediately started working with multiple stakeholders on the community outreach initiative One Newark, designed to improve educational access and attainment for all the city’s students. She worked with a team to establish a brand for the effort, broadcasting key messages in multiple media and working with foundations, private sector companies, the state education commissioner, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and students, families and educators.
Harper has also helped Havas PR build a service and public affairs practice, and she serves as strategic counsel on its UN business. She manages SocialProvidence, Havas PR’s social medial analytics consultancy that’s in partnership with Venture for America, a program that places young graduates in start-up companies to learn entrepreneurship first-hand. Harper herself has a history of entrepreneurship: she founded a strategic communications firm in 2001 focusing on the emerging-market economies of the Middle East and Africa. She is well suited to mentor the millennials who staff Social Providence.
- Angie Miller, Director of PR, The James Agency