Members in the News

Johanna Santana chosen as Volusia/Flagler FPRA’s Joe Curley Rising Leader for 2019

Each year, FPRA chapters across the state of Florida nominate a member for the “Joe Curley Rising Leader Award” and this year the Volusia/Flagler FPRA chapter has selected Johanna Santana for this honor.Johanna Santana head shot

Santana has been a PR professional since 2007, and she joined the Volusia/Flagler FPRA Chapter three years ago. She has served on the board for two years: VP of member services 2017-2018 and VP of Communications 2018-2019.

“We are excited to be able to recognize Johanna as a rising young leader,” explained Shelley Szafraniec, APR, CPRC, president of the Volusia/Flagler chapter. “She is an energetic and extremely talented young professional. We look forward to watching her continue to excel with FPRA and professionally in our field.”

Santana graduated from the University Central Florida in 2007 with a degree in Communications/Behavioral Science. She earned a master’s degree is New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2013, and a graduate certificate in Strategic Communications Management from Purdue University in 2018.

She is the Manager of Public Relations – Latin America (LATAM) at Universal Orlando Resort. Prior to this position, Santana worked in communication/PR roles for JetBlue Airways and NASCAR.

As a nominee, Santana will receive a $150 credit for leadership development with FPRA and be recognized at the 81st Annual FPRA State Conference. One member from this “class” of nominees will be awarded $500 cash and a $1,000 FPRA state credit for further leadership development opportunities at the conference.

Read more about the Joe Curley Rising Leader Award process and history.


Duerr showcases PR expertise with local chamber

Jeanette Duerr, APR, Duerr Communications, recently helped members attending the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Business Smarts Education and Training Series develop communications plans for their organizations. Duerr serves as the immediate past president of the Volusia/Flagler FPRA Chapter.

The focus of the May session was on utilizing public relations to reach business objectives. The 2019 Business Smarts series take place monthly through November and highlight a core value of “members helping members” that is central to the chamber’s mission.

Jeannette Duerr APR leading program for small businesses



Kukes and Halifax Humane Society wrap up Major Capital Campaign 

FPRA Volusia/Flagler Chapter member and board member Barry Kukes and his team at Halifax Humane Society, Inc. recently announced it successful completion of a three-Halifax Humane Society logoyear, $3.6-million capital campaign.

“Thousands of people and animals will benefit from our improved facility which will enhance the adoption experience, humane education through summer camp, behavioral training for pet owners, as well as provide friendly boarding/grooming services, access to a public community dog park, and basic animal care necessities,” said Pam Clayton, Halifax Humane Society Chief Financial Development Officer.

Kukes serves as the Halifax Humane Society’s Community Outreach Director.




Volusia/Flagler member Fisher earns APR

Ellen Fisher
Ellen Fisher, APR

Ellen Fisher, communications coordinator for the Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach, earned the designation Accredited in Public Relations (APR) on June 22, 2018.

“We are so proud of our chapter member, Ellen, for earning this distinction,” said FPRA Volusia/Flagler Chapter President, Jeannette Duerr. “She is a credit to our profession.”




Pleus wins PR Award

The Volusia/Flagler Chapter of FPRA teamed up with the Ocala Chapter to congratulate several local professionals for excellence in public relations and

Vickie Pleus Image Award
FPRA Ocala Chapter President, Lisa Varner, APR, CPRC presents the Judges’ Award for Special Events to Vickie Pleus, APR, CPRC, VP of Programs for the Volusia/Flagler Chapter and President of VP Communications in DeLand.

communications during the PaRade of Excellence event on Thursday, April 26 in Ocala.

Receiving one of only nine awards was Vickie Pleus, APR, CPRC, VP of Programs for the Volusia/Flagler Chapter and President of VP Communications in DeLand.

Pleus entered and won the Judges’ Award in the Special Events category for her “Keep St. Peter’s Beautiful Day” entry.

St. Peter is a Catholic parish in DeLand that was in dire need of beautification. With a $20 marketing budget and loads of holy ambition, in three weeks the parish planned and executed a cleanup event that exceeded volunteer involvement by 100% and in which a post-event survey revealed 100% commitment to participate in future, similar events.

Santana spotlight in Time Magazine

Johanna Santana, Marketing Communications/PR Manager for NASCAR and the VP of Member Services for the Volusia/Flagler Chapter of FPRA, was recently featured in a Time Magazine article. Read more here about her story!