Updated January 2017
Raschanda L. Hall (President) is the director of global media relations for Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway company. In her role Hall leads the largest, dedicated, worldwide media relations team in the wire industry, leveraging their relationships with external audiences and influencers. Hall’s focus is on strategies to further establish and expand Business Wire’s media reach and advantage to both traditional and social media audiences.
Hall previously served as Executive Vice President for BPRS Chicago, and has also served on the boards of the Publicity Club of Chicago and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Hall is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She currently lives in the South Suburbs of Chicago and is the proud mother of a two toddlers, Christopher(5) and Laila (2). Follow her on Twitter @raschandahall
Jetta Bates-Vasilatos (Immediate Past President) is founder of Twist Communications and a life stylist with 10+ years of award-winning consumer engagement/strategic planning experience for luxury and global brands like BMW and Coca-Cola. She also serves as an on-air correspondent and writer with a focus on luxury and experiential tourism, lifestyle, sustainability, and personal finance (how to be chic yet savvy). Jetta has appeared on stations such as WCIU-TV, KBS-TV(Korea), ABC-7, CLTV and KBC-TV (Kenya), writes for national print publications such as Essence, Recommend, Ebony and HomeStyle Design and is the host of the Jettasetting segment on WVON radio. Visit her website jettasetting.com, find real-time tips on her Jettasetting Facebook page or follow her on Twitter: @jettaset
David Rudd (Treasurer and former Past President) is a Vice President with The Axis Agency in the Chicago office. He leads the agency’s African-American practice, and he specializes in corporate diversity, public affairs, and brand communications for clients including the United States Army, Chicago United, RushCard and CVS/pharmacy.
A respected public relations practitioner, David is an executive communications and media relations professional with 20 years’ achievement in the corporate and public sectors.
He is a strategic communications counselor who has advised senior executives and officials on external and internal communication, including crisis communications. He has also managed multi-cultural marketing initiatives targeted at high-revenue consumers. David directs visibility efforts for Chicago United, a business membership group that promotes greater diversity and inclusion in corporate ranks. He also directs public relations for the Prepaid Visa RushCard.
Prior to joining the agency, he held communications leadership positions during a seven-year career at Motorola Inc., a global manufacturer of wireless communications products. There, he handled media relations for the office of the chief executive, he directed the external and internal communications team for a new mobile phone software business unit, and he launched the mobile phone business’ multi-cultural marketing program.
Prior to joining Motorola in 1998, David was the press secretary for Illinois Senate Democratic Leader Emil Jones, Jr. In that position, he publicized the accomplishments of the Senator and the entire Senate Democratic caucus. David garnered positive coverage for the caucus’ efforts to win more education funding and greater opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses.
David also served as communications director for the Chicago Public Schools. While there, he was the press secretary and he advised senior leaders of the school system during times of financial crisis. He also provided training and communications coaching to principals and other school system administrators. In four years as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, David covered the Chicago Public Schools beat, business and technology, and metropolitan stories. He has spoken as a panelist on brand communication and communication-related careers.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, David is active in Chicago’s public relations community. He is on the national board of Prevent Child Abuse America, and he is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow as well as a graduate of the Public Relations Executive Forum.
Karyn Brianne Watkins (Executive Vice President) is a spirited communications professional with seven years of managing and executing creative ideas for top-tier consumer and healthcare clients, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kraft, Electrolux, and Unilever. She is currently the Marketing Program Lead for HIV/AIDS Pharmacy Marketing at Walgreens, where she leads communication strategies and creative tactics designed to raise the profile of the company’s award-winning 700+ HIV-specialized pharmacies. Prior to joining Walgreens, she worked at Corbett Healthcare Communications and Weber Shandwick.
Karyn is passionate about the use of digital media to influence positive health and social impact. This passion has led her to launch a non-profit, The Red Pump Project. Along with her Red Pump co-founder, Karyn works tirelessly to raise awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls through nationwide events and the annual award-winning “Rock the Red Pump™” social media campaign.
Karyn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and a Master of Science in Health Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Fredrika Atkins, D.B.A. (Parlimentarian) is the Medicare Marketing Manager for WellCare Health Plans, Inc., a Medicare Advantage Plan. As the marketing outreach specialist, Fredrika builds relationships across communities to secure events and sponsors while generating interest and awareness in WellCare initiatives. She also establishes strategic plans to promote the organization through ongoing events and develops advertising and public relations materials to leverage success.
Fredrika also serves as the marketing consultant for her family’s business, Atkins & Goolsby Janitorial Services. She has developed and implemented communication strategies to rebrand the company and led in the development and dissemination of the company’s new logo and all media releases. She also directed all aspects of communication with the public while devising creative strategies in advancement for print and collaborated with local businesses to design effective community outreach strategies across the community.
Fredrika recieved a Doctorate of Business Administration specializing in strategy and innovation from Capella University. She also holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Roosevelt University and her undergraduate studies were completed at Tuskegee University where she received a bachelor’s degree in English.
Fredrika is a member of Lambda Iota Tau Literature Honor Society and Little Brother-Friends of the Elderly.
Jerry Thomas is a media and public-relations professional with more than two decades of experience in journalism, civil rights and business. Jerry Thomas is the founder and president of Jerry Thomas Public Relations. He has served as senior adviser, spokesman and strategist for several Chicago-area public school systems, as well as Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund, the HistoryMakers, the Community Economic Development Association (CEDA) of Cook County, Tyson Foods, and many other nonprofits and corporations.
Jerry directed media relations at U.S. Cellular and in Blair Hull’s campaign for the 2004 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Jerry has led major public relations efforts for CompuCredit, the University of the Virgin Islands, Schneider Regional Medical Center, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference among others. A former reporter for the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Newark Star-Ledger, Jerry is based in Chicago.
Jenelle, who joined Resolute in August 2012, has played a significant role in engaging high-profile local stakeholders and community outreach activities in order to implement successful strategic communications and issue advocacy campaigns for Resolute clients. Jenelle has applied her rich community outreach experience to plan and execute campaigns on a variety of issues including technology, transportation and public health.
Prior to joining Resolute, Jenelle was chief of staff for the Honorable Marlow Colvin, a representative in the Illinois House and Majority Conference Chairman. During her six-year tenure, Jenelle regularly engaged with constituents and news media and worked with local businesses to foster economic development and local job growth. She also worked at IBM as a solutions specialist and was a faculty member at Joseph Business School.
Jenelle is involved with a host of business and community organizations on Chicago’s south and west sides including the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce, The Leaders Network, Pastors United for Change, the East Side Chamber of Commerce and Chatham Business Association.