The honorees for Ragan and PR Daily’s Top Women in Communications Awards for 2022 include young pros making a name for themselves and wise veterans celebrating accomplished careers and everything in between. These are the women who communicate at a high level with intelligence, grace and grit.
It was also a chance to celebrate how far women in the communications field have come, stepping into their own confidence and strength and receiving the respect that they’ve always deserved.
“The question used to be ‘Can I do it?’ Now it’s ‘Should I do it?’” said Catherine Hernandez-Blades, senior vice president, Marketing and Communications, SAIC and a 2020 Top Women in Communications Hall of Fame inductee.
The event was keynoted by CBS News executive Shawna Thomas, who offered practical advice on building bridges between PR and journalists.
“My job is all about storytelling,” Thomas said. “Your job is all about storytelling. When people come to me with really good pitches, it’s because they thought through how this is going to look on TV news.”
In addition to honoring the 2022 winners, members from the Hall of Fame awards classes of 2021 and 2020 were in attendance to receive the recognition they were denied during the pandemic.
Congratulations to all the honorees.
2022 Hall of Fame inductees
Five women are being inducted into the Women in Communications Hall of Fame in our Top Women in Communications Class of 2022.
to the Top Women in Communications Hall of Fame for 2022.
Ria Carlson, Vice Chancellor, University of California – Irvine
Ria Carlson brings more than 20 years of experience as a top communications officer at publicly traded corporations to her work in higher education.
Carlson leads the Office of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs for UC Irvine, providing internal and external comms services for the university’s 30,000 students, 22,000 employees, 16 schools and medical center, and more.
As chief communications officer, she rebranded UC Irvine’s identity, increasing visibility in emerging markets and driving an enterprise-wide initiative that gave a new structure to UCI’s messaging, positioning, advertising and graphic standards. Within the organization, she has instituted a culture of excellence across her team, integrating marketing and PR as a single unit.
Under her leadership, UC Irvine has increased its reach and visibility with award-winning advertising campaigns and a global media relations strategy that has led to greater stature for the university both at home and abroad.
Bec Rollins, Chief, Strategic Communications, Pathfinder
Bec Rollins is known not only for her constant leadership, but her selfless commitment to others. Whether in the Pathfinder office in Boston or in a cholera treatment center in Mirebalais, Haiti, she has a constant attention to the needs of those around her.
Rollins has been a chief communications officer for some time, but still approaches the work with the perspective of a photojournalist, acting first and foremost as a talented visual storyteller. Her tireless work both for Pathfinder and the organizations that she cares about has championed the subjects of marketing and fundraising communications, making sure they are collaborators rather than merely subjects on display.
Even amid the haste and stress of international emergency responses like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa or the flooding disaster in Peru, Rollin’s work is proof that the most effective stories — whether told in words or images or something less tangible — are the ones that show how much people depend on one another, and that no matter how big the crowd is, every face has a name worth knowing.
Rosanna Fiske, Global Chief Communications Officer, Royal Caribbean Group
Rosanna Fiske brings more than 30 years of experience to her work as a nationally recognized executive in the corporate communications field.
As Royal Caribbean’s global chief communications officer, Fiske is responsible for the cruise line’s global communications strategy, as well as internal comms for its more than 80,000 employees. Before Royal Caribbean, she served as senior vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo. Throughout her career, she has overseen product launches, crisis communications and strategic planning initiatives domestically and internationally. She has been responsible for financial reporting and budget management for Fortune 500 companies and been a brand spokesperson for English and Spanish-language media. In her career, Fiske has represented leading brands such as Charles Schwab, American Airlines, GE, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Absolut Vodka, Visa USA and MTV Networks.
A champion of diversity and equity, she always demanded her clients’ initiatives and budgets included outreach to diverse audiences, directing groundbreaking work targeting multicultural communities.
Marta Newhart, Chief Communications Officer, Westinghouse Electric Company
Marta Newhart is no stranger to the extraordinary demands of communications work, but her appointment to Westinghouse Electric posed a particular challenge. As a new CCO for a newly appointed CEO with the company emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a highly regulated and misunderstood industry, Newhart had lots of work to do — and only a skeleton crew in the marketing and comms department.
Newhart quickly jumped in. Rather than relying on Westinghouse’s historic past, she plugged into the innovation embedded in the company’s DNA to lead a clean energy revolution with a new purpose statement, visual brand identity and website depicting the ability of nuclear to empower our world in a safe and sustainable way.
Before joining Westinghouse, Newhart has led divestitures, mergers, acquisitions and integrations for The Boeing Company, Medtronic/Covidian and Johnson Controls. In her roles, she has helped shape and share each company’s vision, values and priorities, all while adeptly navigating the conflicting needs and views of myriad audiences and stakeholders.
Newhart’s biggest strength is reducing complicated issues into strategies that prioritize understanding and action. She has created comms teams and plans from scratch, elevated the role of public relations in the organization and always driven value for the brand.
Judy Clayton Sanchez, Senior Director Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, U.S. Sugar
Judy Clayton Sanchez has found her calling as the senior director of corporate communications and public affairs for U.S. Sugar.
She grew up around farms in Florida in Louisiana, witnessing the hard work and complex processes that farmers use every day to bring food to American’s dinner tables. She started working at U.S. Sugar in 1993, when most of the other people in the room were men. She broke down barriers and become the face of U.S. Sugar. Colleagues remember Clayton Sanchez as a pioneer in the field, advocating for comms and PR to be an integral part of the decision-making process at the highest levels of the organization.
In her role, Clayton Sanchez manages all media for U.S. Sugar, one of the country’s largest producers of sugarcane and cane sugar, generating more than 800,000 tons of refined sugar each year. Sugarcane provides nearly 12,500 jobs and more than $3.2 billion a year in economic activity in the state of Florida, and her work supporting sugar farmers and producers demands exceptional comms skills.
To explain the value of going above and beyond, Clayton Sanchez has a mantra: “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is a little extra.” Standing out in the field of communications requires the extra, as Clayton Sanchez well knows.
More than 150 women are being recognized for their work as part of Ragan and PR Daily’s Top Women in Communications for 2022. Here are their names:
These entrants are industry pros 30 years old and younger who are having an impact:
- Taylor Shawver, Manager, Strategy, Integral
- Solange Pittet, Account Director, Haymaker Group
- Deej Savage, Director of Accounts, Brand Definition
- Isabelle Owens, VP of Communications & Marketing, Owens Realty Services
- Sara Jordan Jacobson, Director of Publicity, Marbaloo Marketing
- Morgan Searles Manager, Strategic Communications, HIMSS
- Mary Stankiewicz, Account Director, Belle Communication
- Megan O’Leary, Principal, Kivvit
- Melissa Spain, Brand Love Manager, ChenMed
- Ashley Pearlman, Communications Manager, CEO Communications, Cisco, Inc
These resourceful leaders are essential connectors for their organizations, both internally and externally:
- Ivy Sprague, Communications Manager, Hy-Vee, Inc.
- Karen Davis, Executive General Manager Communications, Xero
- Makini Nyanteh, Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs, The American Institutes for Research (AIR)
- Mary Gibson, Director, Enterprise & Brand Communications, SWM International
- Susan Wool, Branch Chief of Strategic Outreach & Communications, U.S. Department of Labor
- Bridget Monroe, Partner, Bellmont Partners
- Janice Moore, Internal Communications Manager, CNSI
- Leia Bradford, Program Manager, Strategic Communications, HIMSS
- Alissa Cleland, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs, Americas and Australia, Robert Bosch LLC
- Melissa Beers, Channels Strategist, Intel
- Melissa Tizon, Vice President of National Communication, Providence
- Lisa Carricaburu, Director of Marketing Communications and Clinical Decision Support, ARUP Laboratories
- Susan Thiele, Director, Patient Advocacy and Communications, Kyowa Kirin, Inc.
- Leslie Letts, Global Director of Internal Communications and Community Engagement, Amazon
These comms leaders are always giving back to their community, going above and beyond in the name of service:
- Kerry-Ann Hamilton, CEO, KAH Consulting Group
- Renee Young, Director, CEO & Company Communications, W.W. Grainger, Inc.
- Susan Guess, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Paducah Bank
- Ruth Rohs, SVP of Corporate Communications/Executive Director IMA Foundation, IMA Financial Group
- Michele Stellato, Director, Technology Communications, Prudential
- Rosie Ford, Senior Director of Brand, Ascension
These honorees have never been more important to their organizations, helping them navigate though tough times and unenviable dilemmas:
- Anne O’Neill, Senior Communications Manager for NCR Hospitality, NCR Corporation
- Leah Yaw, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
- Carol Norris-Smith, Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs, Penn Medicine Princeton Health
- Olga Solares, Associate Vice President, Communications and Media Relations, AMITA Health
- Dana Liedholm, Senior Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Kaseya
- Sue Ryan, Director of Media Relations, University of Notre Dame
- Laura Tufts, Head of Marketing, Sales and Communications, Horizon House
- Debbie Braden, Director of Internal Communications, Caliber Collision
- Suzanne Lane, Director of Internal Communications, Cooper University Health Care
- Amy Ponticello, VP, Corporate Communications, Lincoln Financial Group
- Karen Groppe, Senior Director, Strategic Communications, HIMSS
- Melanie Johnston, Communications Professional, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
- Adrienne Webb, Director of National Communication, Issues and Reputation Management, Providence
- Pam Erickson, Chief Communications Officer, Raytheon Technologies
- Brett Boag, Director, Employee and Corporate Communications, BlueShore Financial
- Carreen Winters, Chief Reputation and Strategy Officer, MikeWorldWide
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champions
These honorees have been instrumental in changing the status quo both within their organizations and in the wider comms field:
- Kelly Williamson, President, North America, APCO Worldwide
- Marcy Tolkoff Levy, Senior Client Communications Manager, Wilmington Trust/M&T Bank
- Sara Aghajanian, Vice President, Evoke KYNE
- Tatiana Guiloff, CEO MGC, MGC
- Elisa Juarez, Director of Culture and DEI, ChenMed
- Sheila Thorne, President/CEO, Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, LLC
- Sandra Garcia, Founder/Intersectional Marketing and Diversity Equity and Inclusion Consultant, Encounter Your Potential
- Priyanka Rathore, Brand Communications Manager, KitchenAid, Whirlpool Corporation
- Kris Lathan, Public & Media Relations Manager, Walgreens Boots Alliance
- Candace Johnson, Manager, CSR/DE&I, Walgreens Boots Alliance
- Michelle Taylerson, Director of International PR for Devices & Services, Amazon
- JoAnn Yamani, Director of Communications, Head of U.S. Communications, NIO, Inc.
These leaders are recognized for their ability to get things done, from task management and team collaboration to courage and temerity:
- Devi Thomas, Vice President, Customer, Content & Insights, Salesforce.org
- Jennifer Cohen, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Aspen RxHealth
- Armentia Synder, U.S. Head of Communications, SThree
- Joy Seusing, Vice President and Head of Global Communications, BIC
- Linda Gharib, Director, Brand & Communications, Wolters Kluwer
- Robin Newton, Media Relations Specialist, C-SPAN
- Nancy Scott, Vice President, Global Corporate Communications and Customer Engagement, Nuance Communications, Inc.
- Maggie Grande, Public Relations Manager, Konica Minolta
- Christine Dwyre, Communications Lead, NA Hygiene, Reckitt
- Casey Waltz, Executive Director, Digital & Social Media Strategy, Mizuho Americas
- Gina Espinosa-Meltzer, Partner, Hope-Beckham Inc.
- Susan Donlan, Chief Communications Officer, KeyBank
- Alison Trinidad, Associate Vice President, Marketing Strategy & Public Relations, Alignment Healthcare
- Stephanie Lowenthal, Global Head of Communications, trivago
- Allison Amrhein, Director of Operations of the VHA Innovators Network, MPH, Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem
- Jennifer Gottlieb, Head of Global Employee Communication, MetLife
- Carole Campbell, Senior Director, Global Communications, Lifestyle Audio, HARMAN
- Jennifer Ravalli, VP, Marketing, PandoLogic
- Lisa O’Neill Hill, Director of External Communications, City of Hope Orange County
- Christina Kelly, Senior Writer and Editor, BNY Mellon
- Cara Chatfield, Corporate Communications Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
- Lauren Hernandez, Director, Marketing, HIMSS
- Ashley Pollard, Director, Marketing Strategy and Campaign Development, Ascension
- Jaclyn Kline, Program Manager, Special Projects, Planning & Operations, Cisco
- Julie Spizuoco, SVP, Solution Delivery, ORBCOMM Inc.
- Silvia Taylor, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations, Novavax
- Rachael MacKenzie-Neill, Vice President, Marketing & Development, BGC Canada (formerly Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada)
- Teal Pennebaker, Head of Business Operations and Technology for Worldwide Communications, Amazon
- Beth Stellato, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Newell Brands
- Chrystal Neely, Director, Corporate Communications, Acuity Brands
- Heather Woodard, Director of Cultural & Community Communications, McDonald’s USA
- Caitlin Haskins, Vice President, AI, Big Data & Cloud, 10Fold Communications
- Lauren Lawson-Zilai, Senior Director, Public Relations, Goodwill Industries International
- Michelle Morris, Communications Partner, NCR Corporation
For the communications roles that manage human resources too, there’s a special group of honorees:
- Robyn Jordan, Sr. Managing Director, Employee Experience, DriveTime
- Kelly McDonald, VP Internal Communication North America, Ferrero USA Inc
- Deirdre Drake, EVP, Chief People Officer & Head of Comms, Human Resources, US Cellular
- Gina Cherwin, Chief People Officer, MikeWorldWide
Most our honorees have teams that look to them for guidance, but some have a special skill for helping those that report to them succeed:
- Michelle Olson, Chair, PRSA
- Stephanie Cutter, Co-founder & Partner, Precision
- Morgan Roth, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, The ALS Association
- Caitlin Kelly, Founder, Vivid+Co
- Laura Lane, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, UPS
- Sherise Bright, Chief Communications Officer, Lambda Legal
- Carla Santiago, General Manager, Edelman
- Pamela Thomas, President, The Thomas Collective
- Shauna McBride, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications, Committee for Children
- Kelly DeAngelis, VP, Corporate Communications, Lincoln Financial Group
- Kelly Schlageter, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, CNSI
- Jessica Dixon, System Director, Population Health Marketing and Communications, CommonSpirit Health
- LeMia Jenkins Thompson, Global Head of Communications, Pinterest
- Jean Serra, Co-Founder, Partner, V2 Communications
- Julia Jackson, Managing Director, Marketing and Communications, M Booth Health
- Jeanette Volpi, SVP, Head of Global Corporate and North America Communications, Visa
- Hillary Blum, Vice President, Internal Communications, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
- Carline Sabetti, Chief Marketing Officer for PeopleReady and PeopleScout, Senior Vice President, Communications, TrueBlue
- Lisa Atherfold, International Communications Director, Cisco, Inc.
- Melissa Mathews, Founder and President, The Mathews Group
- Tiffany Guarnaccia, Founder & CEO, Kite Hill PR
- Cheryl Damian, Senior Director, External Global Communications, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)
- Maura FitzGerald, Co-Founder & Partner, V2 Communications
- Marija Zivanovic-Smith, EVP & Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, NCR Corporation
It’s a special gift to pass on expertise to the next generation. Here are the pros who have made it a mission to look out for others:
- Jennifer Acree, Founder & CEO, JSA+Partners
- Merry Michael Smith, Media Director, Big Communications
- Holly Sydnor, COO, AWL Strategies
- Lynda Batchelor, Vice President, Marketing, HIMSS
- Kari Matalone, Senior Director, Executive and Employee Communications, Splunk
- Brenna Karr, Director, Analyst Relations, Cisco, Inc
Sometimes the path doesn’t exist, or the process needs to be reworked — and these comms leaders are at the ready to chart a new course:
- Stephanie Shaw, Senior Director, Communications, 7-Eleven
- Wendy Parks, Vice President, Public Relations, Communications & Marketing, College of DuPage
- Allison Netzer, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Nymbus
- Allie Marsh, Vice President, Crafted Communications
- Lora Jones, Senior Manager, Communications, Toyota Motor North America
- Heidi Krupp, CEO, Krupp Kommunications
- Candace Steele Flippin, SVP and Chief Communications Officer, Acuity Brands
- Christina Lee, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Amazon
- Judit Sinko, International Communications Director, Cisco, Inc.
This group of comms leaders is able to spot trends and see opportunities before anyone else, telling stories that fit the moment before it happens:
- Maggie Philbin, Partner, VSC
- Anat Gerstein, Founder and President, Anat Gerstein, Inc.
- Jennifer Berson, Founder & President, Profitable PR Pros
- Rachel Harrison, Founder, RHC (Rachel Harrison Communications)
- Kristy Campbell, Vice President, Global Corporate Communications, Proofpoint
- Ruhi Bhatt, Senior Manager, Global Public Relations, FORMA Brands
- Kathy Conner, VP, Global Marketing and Communications, Varian, a Siemens Healthineers Company
- Katie Boylan, Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, Target
- Soon Hagerty, SVP, Brand Strategy, Hagerty
- Erica Doyne, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications, AMResorts
- Pia Arthur, Director of Public Relations for Physical Retail & Technology, Amazon
- Katy Hayes, VP, CEO and Employee Communications, Cisco, Inc.
Congrats to all the honorees for 2022!