PR News 2016 Diversity in PR Awards: Individual

Winner: Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Aflac’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications

For 20 years, Catherine Hernandez-Blades has optimized operations, driven revenues, decreased expenses and built high-performing communications teams. She has done so with keen business acumen and an eye toward diversity.

An acknowledged change agent, Hernandez-Blades spent the last dozen years building departments from the ground up, orchestrating and implementing large-scale turnarounds in highly regulated industries for international Fortune 500 public companies. Hernandez-Blades is an exemplary leader committed to creating opportunities and enhancing the skills development of team members through actionable steps and training opportunities.

At Aflac, she has leveraged diverse skill sets to create a world-class communications team. In 2014, Hernandez-Blades arrived at Aflac with a clear mandate: Create a world-class communications function. Tasked with uniting a disjointed Corporate Communications Department that serves a growing and transitioning Fortune 130 company, Hernandez-Blades has built a remarkable team whose members are empowered to reach their potential.

In an effort to unify communications between the two distinct insurance markets Aflac serves, Japan and the United States, Hernandez-Blades created and implemented All Aflac. The massively important program was designed to further drive cultural cohesion between operations in the United States and Japan.

In fact, Hernandez-Blades recently returned from Tokyo after having taken part in Aflac’s first Womenomics program designed to improve women’s standing in the Japanese business hierarchy. Since its inception, the initiative has enhanced collaboration and the adoption of values-based leadership practices, and All Aflac has been acknowledged by the U.S. State Department as a best practice for doing business overseas.