Best and Brightest: Rising PR Stars Honored by PR News

In a profession that demands new skills for an ever-expanding set of digital and analytics tools, the next generation of communicators will be need to be equal parts storyteller and data scientist.

Both of those skillsets were on full display as a fresh class of young communicators were honored as Rising PR Stars at the PR News’ 2017 PR People Awards Luncheon on Dec. 5 at the historic National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The Rising Stars 30 and Under awards were given to some of the industry’s best and brightest from PR agencies, corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Among the criteria the judges considered for Rising PR Stars were leadership potential, growth, campaign innovation, success at media pitching, growing audiences and increasing awareness and engagement, as well as relationship building and mentorship qualities.

Honorees were asked to answer one of the following questions:

  • What’s one skill learned on the job that you didn’t learn in school?
  • What’s your favorite thing about working in communications, and why did you choose it as a career?
  • What is your top communication goal going into 2018?

“The most important skill they didn’t teach me in school, and I’m still developing it, is the ability to listen—to your clients, to the media and to what’s going on in the world,” said Byron Cordero, a senior account executive at Andrew Joseph PR. “Right now we’re living in a world of too much noise, so the most important skill is to really zone in and listen.”

Addressing her favorite thing about working in communications, Brianna Gavio, a senior director at McCabe Message Partners, talked about the impact of the work. “ I wanted to have a career that makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the world,” said Gavio. “We work on healthcare and nonprofit communications, so that’s what I feel I’m doing every day.”

Looking forward, many honorees listed the need to acquire new digital and video skills among their goals for 2018.

"I’m really excited to take on a lot of the new digital tools out there to connect with our audiences in new and creative ways, as well as a lot of new tools that allow us to measure and refine the work we’re doing," said Kara Ferguson, communications specialist at Blue Engine Message & Media

View the complete list and read individual profiles of our 2017 Rising Stars 30 and Under.

The Rising PR Stars 30 & Under of 2017


  • Elle Arlook, APCO Worldwide
  • Kathryn Arrigg, PAN Communications
  • Noelle Bonner, Bonner Communications
  • Kristina Breux, Ruder Finn
  • Kaylee Carnahan, RunSwitch Public Relations
  • Byron Cordero, Andrew Joseph PR
  • Brittany G. Cummings, Weber Shandwick
  • Amanda Desourdis, BAE Systems, Inc.
  • Danielle Dickinson, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
  • Kelsey Eidbo, Infinite Global
  • Laura Beth Ellis, Clyde Group
  • Tiffany Farney, Andrew Joseph PR
  • Kara Ferguson, Blue Engine Message & Media
  • Brianna Gavio, McCabe Message Partners
  • Jacqueline Gogel, Vested
  • Dionne Gomez, Gagen MacDonald
  • Lauren Gongora, BODEN
  • Brailyn Hardy, KC Projects PR
  • Brian Hart, Flackable
  • Patricia Jimenez, RockOrange
  • Christopher Joseph, Davies Public Affairs
  • Shelcie Kalinowski, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
  • Meghan Keane, CLS Strategies
  • Jessica Klein, Baretz+Brunelle
  • Hilary Lyons, Global Strategy Group
  • Desirae MacGillivray, Portavoce PR
  • Amy McDowell, Tanis Communications
  • Stephanie Ng, Mighty
  • Caitie Nolan, AMF Media Group
  • Kate Northway, Porter Novelli
  • Louise Oliver, PERITUS public relations
  • Sarah Osment, Largemouth Communications
  • Darah Patton, InkHouse
  • Maggie Pendleton, Beehive Strategic Communication
  • Justin Pugh, Sports 1 Marketing
  • Dan Roman, Weber Shandwick
  • Mike Rosich, Marina Maher Communications
  • Jessica Ross, Tonic Life Communications
  • Jessica Rothschild, J Public Relations
  • Joseph Sala, Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher
  • Joe Scannell, Edelman
  • Gillian Small, Gillian Small Public Relations
  • Dan Smith, CLS Strategies
  • Patrick Sutton, Paragon Public Relations
  • Gabriella Tancona, Warschawski
  • Melanie Wallner, LeadDog Marketing Group
  • Cari Wildasinn, Fahlgren Mortine

Corporation & Nonprofit

  • Angela Alfano, Tough Mudder, Inc.
  • Rachel Allen, Digital Air Strike
  • Allie Bodack, Turner
  • Christina Burnham, Cox Enterprises
  • Danielle Cassagnol, Consumer Technology Association
  • Diana Cheng, Children's Hospital Los Angeles
  • Josh Criscoe, PayPal, Inc.
  • Marta Danylyk, Jamba Juice
  • Katie Derkits, HP Inc.
  • Alyssa Eliasen, Southwest Airlines
  • Lance Frank, CBS News
  • Lance Frank, CBS News
  • Rachel Gerds, BMO Financial Group
  • Aaron Gould, NCR
  • Ellen Hoffman, Jefferson Dental Clinics
  • Derek K. Hubbard, Southwest Airlines
  • Christina Kelly, Allstate Insurance Company
  • Sarah Kingsley, Hilton
  • Amber Leahy, TD Bank
  • Rachel Lodi, Scripps Networks Interactive
  • Jaclyn Montalvo, HP Inc.
  • Ashley Moore, Bell Helicopter
  • Zeina Najjar, Thomson Reuters Foundation
  • Maria Nicolaou, SAP Global Marketing
  • Amy Ponticello, Lincoln Financial Group
  • Katie Pudwill, POLITICO
  • Krystina Puleo, Shutterstock
  • Michelle Romano, ManpowerGroup
  • Alexandra Rosenberg, World Wildlife Fund
  • Lauren Sarno, Revlon | Elizabeth Arden
  • Brooke Traister, Children's Health
  • Taylor Tropea, Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board
  • Natasha Zeller, Veuve Clicquot, Moet Hennessy