Winter 2015 Newsletter

McClure Earns Accreditation in Public Relations

Chapter member, Kendra McClure, associate professor of communication at Parkland College in Champaign, has successfully completed the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations, entitling her to use the APR professional designation. The announcement was made by the Universal Accreditation Board (UBA), a consortium of nine professional communication organizations, including Public Relations Society of America, that directs this competency certification program.

The Accreditation program aims to improve the practice of public relations by assessing competence in 60 areas of knowledge, skills and abilities associated with the profession.

McClure has worked in public relations for ten years, with five years at Parkland. Prior to that she served as an intern at Fleshman Hillard and St. Louis Art Museum. She earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations (magna cum laude) from Valparaiso University and a master’s in communication studies from Eastern Illinois University.

McClure and her husband, Casey McClure, reside in Charleston with their two children, Patrick and Audrey McClure.

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming accredited through PRSA can visit or contact Pete Smudde at

Branding Expert to Speak at Chapter Meeting

Jim Flynn, Certified Brand Strategist and President/CEO of Hult Marketing in Peoria, will share strategies on how to discover ‘who’ your organization is today, what to do differently, and what it is capable of becoming at the CI-PRSA Annual Meeting at 6 pm December 3 at Northfield Inn and Suites, 3280 Northfield Dr., Springfield.

From the C-Suite, to marketing, to public relations and government affairs, the Brand needs to remain central to all employee actions, customer interactions and messaging. Join us to learn powerful tips for helping build your brand’s distinction.

Flynn is one of only 30 Certified Brand Strategists in North America. He has served as board Chairman of Taan Worldwide, a global network of independent marketing communications agencies that operate on every continent.

During his 30-year career, he has worked with a range of national and multi-national clients including BEER NUTS, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Caterpillar, John Deere Health Care and Pekin Insurance.

Cost is $30 for members and students; $35 for guests.

6:00 p.m. – Networking
6:45 p.m. – Dinner
7:30 p.m. – Program

To register, contact Ruth Slottag at or 217-793-8200, or online at Deadline to register is November 27. Please specify meal choice – Pork Medallions, Chicken Cordon Bleu or Vegetarian. No shows will be invoiced for the meal cost. For more information and directions see

New Officers and Board Members to be Elected

You can help choose new chapter leadership by attending and voting at the Annual Meeting in Springfield on December 3.

CI-PRSA Slate of Officers and Board Members for 2016

President – Joshua Kauffman
President-elect – Chris Stroisch
Secretary – Brian Sowa, Ph.D.
Treasurer – Ernie Slottag, APR
Ethics Officer – John Lyday, Fellow PRSA, APR
Accreditation Chair – Pete Smudde, Ph.D., APR
Membership Chair – Stefanie Santos McLeese
Communications Chair – Liz Kerns
Board Member – Lewis Pryor, APR
Board Member – John Wirtz, Ph.D.
Immediate Past President – Ruth Slottag, APR

Letter from the President

It’s hard to believe that we are approaching our final meeting of the year and it is time to elect new officers and board members for 2016. Our nominating committee has selected some very qualified candidates to lead the chapter in the coming year and beyond. We hope you will join us on December 3 and participate in the election.

We are excited to have Jim Flynn, CEO of Hult Marketing in Peoria, as our speaker for the December meeting. Jim will share his expertise about branding. See more details about his presentation and how to register in the above article.

In the past, we have heard from some members who say they have difficulty attending meetings because of the distance. If you have that issue, please let me know. I will be happy to help connect you with others who are coming from your community, so you can arrange to car pool and hopefully make the trip easier.

As a chapter, we are very proud of Kendra McClure, who recently earned PRSA accreditation, and now can use the “APR” with her name. The APR distinction demonstrates knowledge and abilities in the public relations profession. I am sure Kendra would be happy to talk with you about how you, too, can earn the APR.

Congratulations also go to the ISU PRSSA chapter on their two awards which were presented at the national conference. (See article below.) Our chapter supports several student chapters in central Illinois by providing professional advisors as well as offering networking opportunities.

As we move into the New Year, please know that the chapter board is looking for volunteers who are interested in being part of the chapter planning and activities. Feel free to contact any of the board members to discuss your interest and learn how you can participate.

Happy holidays,

Ruth Slottag, APR

ISU PRSSA Chapter Earns National Awards

Accepting the awards to the ISU PRSSA chapter are (From left to right) Tyler Fiesel- Senior, director of digital media, Kelly Larson- Senior, general member, Andrea Casali- Junior, national liaison, Audie Lauf- Senior, student run firm director, Krista Bilow- Junior, chapter president, Tyler Krivich- Junior, secretary/ treasurer, Derek Lee- Freshman, general member.

ISU’s PRSSA Chapter was honored with two awards at the national conference in Atlanta this month.

For the fifth time in the past six years, ISU earned a Star Chapter Award. This award recognizes chapters that are considered to be exceptional PRSSA Chapters from among the 300-plus chapters nationally.

The second award was third place for the National Organ Donor Awareness Competition Award, sponsored since 1996 by Rowan University. This competition requires chapters to create an awareness campaign to promote organ and tissue donation on their college campuses.


Christopher Stroisch was recently promoted to media relations supervisor at COUNTRY Financial in Bloomington. He oversees the company’s media relations team and handles reputation and issues management. He also is membership chair of the CI-PRSA board of directors.

Prior to joining COUNTRY, Stroisch served as director of public relations and writing services at Horace Mann in Springfield. He also served as a freelance writer for The State Journal-Register and Springfield Business Journal.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Illinois State University and holds a professional certification in organizational change management.

He and his wife, Deana, and their three young children live in Bloomington. He is an avid runner and ran in this year’s Chicago Marathon.

Welcome New Members

Stephanie Santos McLeese is owner and CEO of Santos McLeese, a public relations and communications agency, in White Heath. Prior to relocating to Illinois, she was a member of the Dallas (Texas) Chapter PRSA for several years. Her previous experience includes working in corporate communications with EnCana Oil and Gas, USA, Nissan North America and the National Office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

McLeese holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. She and her husband, Zach, have three children ranging in age from one year to four years old.

Becky Petrany has joined the faculty at Bradley University in Peoria as temporary instructor of communication. She also is a real estate broker and certified negotiation expert. Previously, she was associate director of the Peoria Promise Foundation. She serves on several community boards and committees.

Petrany earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Bradley and her master’s in communication from Western Illinois University. She and her husband, Steven, live in Peoria with their dog, Clover. Her hobbies include running, baking, scrapbooking and gardening.

Amy Roady is director of communications at Illinois Soybean Association in Bloomington, where she has worked for six years. Previously she was 4-H Youth Development Educator for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Jerseyville.

Roady earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and her bachelor’s in agricultural and environmental communications and education from UIUC.
Alexis “Lex” Tate is a lecturer in journalism and public relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Prior to serving on the faculty, she was associate director in the Office of University Relations at UIUC for 21 years.

Tate earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at UIUC.


For information about joining the Central Illinois Chapter, contact our membership chair, Chris Stroisch at

Job Opportunities

Looking for a new challenge? Check out these position openings.

Marketing Specialist
HSHS Medical Group

Media Relations Temp
COUNTRY Financial

Illinois Corn Communications Internship
COUNTRY Financial

Assistant Director, Public Relations
Lincoln Land Community College

Marketing Representative
Illinois Educators Credit Union

Upcoming Events

Watch for news about future chapter’s meetings in March and April 2016.

Send Us Your News

If you have news about a work anniversary, promotion or PRSA activity you participated in, please submit it for publication to Ruth Slottag.

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