We formed the D&I Committee simply because we needed a dedicated task force to tackle the lack of diversity in the PR industry. 

The Institute for Public Relations reports that “White women dominate the profession at lower organizational levels, and White men hold most upper-level positions.” Although more women are in leadership roles and more people of color are entering the field today, problems still persist, such as lack of racial and ethnic diversity and inequity in pay

As PR professionals, we are ethical storytellers. We’re responsible for producing truthful, accurate and fair communications materials. If a company’s employees do not reflect the larger society they belong to, the messages they create are at a greater risk of being culturally insensitive and offensive.

PRSA Pittsburgh is dedicated to elevating the voices and telling the stories of those who are so often unheard in the PR industry. Diverse perspectives are integral to changing the narrative and creating a future of equitable and inclusive opportunities for all. 

The Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pittsburgh Chapter is driven by this goal — to build awareness by increasing visibility of D&I standards, resources and best practices inclusive to groups of different racial, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and gender backgrounds; as well as to those who are differently abled. We want to increase this visibility to underrepresented groups during all phases of their career.

Our efforts (so far)

  • Diversity & Inclusion Committee

    To encourage an approach that reflects best practices in PRSA Pittsburgh’s programs and initiatives, we’ve established a workflow that ensures our efforts support D&I initiatives in four categories: 1) content, 2) audience appeal, 3) speaker/panelists and 4) impact. This helps us pause and reflect as a collective group.

    Find strategies and tactics to develop relationships with diverse communities in the region and commit to creating a future of equitable and inclusive opportunities through the PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Toolkit and sign the PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Pledge online or print out the PDF and share with colleagues. Learn more on our blog.

  • PRSA Pittsburgh Black Excellence Award

    While the practice of public relations in the United States has undergone dramatic changes, a lack of diversity in the communications profession still persists. Many studies indicate that the industry still struggles to attract young Black professionals to public relations careers.

    The city of Pittsburgh doesn’t have a great track record either. Pittsburgh was labeled the worst city in America for Black people by local writer Damon Young and the worst city for Black women to live in by the city’s Gender Equity Commission. So, it’s not surprising that the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey found that Black people are rapidly leaving the city.

    PRSA Pittsburgh has had its own struggles attracting, retaining and developing Black PR leaders. Our membership is only 2% Black. Over the last five years, our Board has only had three Black members. We can do better. We must do better. We need to do more to show talented Black communications, public relations and marketing students that there is a home for them here in the Pittsburgh PR community.

    We need to show them that we see, hear and need them. We need to do more to identify, hire and develop these future leaders.

    The Black Excellence Award is intended to assist and recognize young Black men and women for outstanding academic achievement and commitment to the practice of public relations, and commitment to the city of Pittsburgh. PRSA Pittsburgh will award a endowment in the amount of $2,000 to a new graduate who is of African-American/Black ancestry and working in the PR, marketing or communications field in the region.

    Learn more and apply here.

  • Empowering Tomorrow’s PR Leaders during Black History Month

    On Feb. 15, 2021, Fatou Barry, brand strategist and founder of PR Girl Manifesto and AB MEDIA GROUP, had an inspiring conversation with Taylor Fife, PRSA Pittsburgh’s diversity & inclusion chair. During “Empowering Tomorrow’s PR Leaders: PR Girl Manifesto Joins PRSA Pittsburgh for Black History Month,” Barry spoke about her experience as a young Black woman in PR, how brands and employees can foster a diverse and inclusive community, the importance of self-care, and actionable advice for aspiring PR professionals. Watch the conversation, or read more about the top takeaways here.

    On March 9, 2022, as a follow up to that 2021 virtual Black History Month eventMegha Pai, PRSA Pittsburgh D&I committee member, sat down again with the PR pro for an empowering and insightful conversation on the industry’s progress in implementing DE&I practices, how a career in PR can be a vehicle for advocacy, and provided tips to help both employees and employers excel in the industry and generate opportunities in the workplace.

    Check out the discussion in the video below, or read more here:

  • 2020 Public Service Partnership: PHV

    On Nov. 10, 2020, PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee invited our public service nonprofit partner, Pittsburgh Hires Veterans (PHV) to appear in a special Screen to Screen episode on Facebook Live, “Why You Should Be Hiring Veterans.” The event aimed to highlight inclusive hiring practices for veterans and the unique qualities they bring to the workforce.

    Featured Panelists included: 

    • Dayna Brown, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Hires Veterans
    • George Scott, USMC Veteran
    • Brian Harkins, Employment Specialist, Pittsburgh Hires Veterans

    Learn more about our efforts here.

  • 2020 Public Service Partnership: SWSG

    SWSG hosts its annual fundraising breakfast gala each August, the Strong Awards. However, due to the pandemic, in 2020 the event was held online. The Strong Awards recognize women, girls, and companies in the Pittsburgh region who demonstrate outstanding service to the community and who uplift women and girls.

    PRSA Pittsburgh provided communications and marketing planning, which included media relations, social media, email marketing, and partner outreach for the Strong Awards.

    Learn more about our efforts here.

  • PR Summit: Hard Conversations About Diversity & Inclusion

    For 2020, PR Summit went digital with weekly presentations featuring topics in recognition of Global Diversity Awareness Month. Every Wednesday during October, PRSA Pittsburgh hosted 1-2 sessions facilitating hard conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the PR industry.

    These sessions included:

  • Strategies to Cultivate a Diverse & Inclusive Environment

    On Aug. 26, 2020, PRSA Pittsburgh held a lunch & learn panel discussion with local D&I professionals to discuss recent events and the ways in which we can implement diversity & inclusion efforts in our workplaces and communities.

    Featured Panelists included:

    • Paloma Denardis, Head of Inclusion & Diversity, DICK’S Sporting Goods
    • Malesia Dunn, Executive Director, PPG Foundation, Global Corporate Social Responsibility, PPG
    • Tracey McCants Lewis, Deputy General Counsel and Director of HR, Pittsburgh Penguins


PRSA Pittsburgh is proud to stand by and support individuals of all races, genders, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientation, disabilities, and any other beautiful identifier. Unfortunately, a lack of diversity continues to exist in our field. Your voices and stories are integral to changing the narrative and creating a future in which opportunities are equal. We look forward to implementing efforts that support your professional development and bright future.

We welcome your feedback and interest to get involved with our efforts.

Please contact our Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair with any questions, concerns or ideas:

 Charlene Payne

Charlene Payne

Enrollment and Marketing Manager, Carnegie Mellon University

"It’s important to continue the conversations, work collaboratively, and share the untold stories that assist in sustaining progressive and innovative spaces. We strive to support such efforts by creating impactful and valuable programming that encourages inclusion at multiple touchpoints."

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From the PRSA Pittsburgh Blog

PRSA Pittsburgh Materials

  • PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Online Pledge or via PDF
  • D&I Chair Duties 2021
  • PRSA Pittsburgh 2021 D&I Event Checklist
  • PRSA Pittsburgh D&I Toolkit 2021Modeled after PRSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit, PRSA Pittsburgh created this toolkit to assist local PR and communications professionals in developing relationships with diverse communities and committing to creating a future of equitable and inclusive opportunities for all in the region. Information on the following pages will include a diverse, equitable and inclusive glossary of terms, a comprehensive list of diverse groups in the region and ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace. PRSA Pittsburgh’s Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit is updated annually to ensure its contents are current and relevant.

From PRSA National