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The Intersection of Ethics and Diversity and Inclusion

Thursday, September 17, 2020
9:30 to 11 a.m. Central

Discussion focus:

PRSA D&I efforts at the national and local levels, ethical issues PR professionals encounter during the work day as it pertains to diversity and inclusion. How can PR professionals apply the PRSA code of ethics in response to these issues? How can PR professionals build ethical culture and change culture that is not inclusive? How can PR professionals be allies for others at their organizations and in the broader community?

Related Resources:
PRSA Code of Ethics (PDF)  
PRSA D&I Strategic Plan 2020-2022
PRSA D&I Chapter Toolkit
Post-Event Resources


James Burroughs, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Children's Minnesota; first Chief Inclusion Officer, State of Minnesota
James Burroughs is the chief equity and inclusion officer for Children's Minnesota. This is a newly created position at Children's, and is designed to help the nation's 7th largest pediatric health system advance equity and inclusion in all parts of the organization. This includes delivering equitable, quality care for patients and their families, fostering a culture of inclusion in which all employees can be their full selves and ensuring that community members from all walks of life feel like valued partners.

James' key focus areas include patient quality initiatives, employee recruitment and retention strategies, and organizational culture. His work also focuses on increasing financial investment and spend with diverse businesses and supporting initiatives that address the social determinants of health for patients and families.

James has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of nonprofit management, equity, diversity, inclusion, as well as employment law. He has an extensive background in developing workplace equity, diversity and inclusion training; creating policies and procedures that promote hiring and retention of employees of color; and forging robust partnerships with communities of color and other diverse demographics.

Most recently, he served in the Office of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, where he was the State of Minnesota's first chief inclusion officer. James began his career as an attorney, holding faculty roles at Hamline University's School of Law and the University of Minnesota's School of Law. He practiced law at the United States Office of the Federal Defender and Dorsey & Whitney LLP. He also has a background in education, holding leadership roles at Summit Academy as the chief operating officer and general counsel, as well as Minneapolis Public Schools as the executive director for the Office of Equity and Inclusion. 

Michelle Olson, APR, Managing Director/Partner, Lambert & Co.
PRSA Chair-Elect

Michelle Olson is managing director and partner at Lambert, a Michigan-based public relations firm with offices in New York and Arizona. The nationally-recognized firm works with clients ranging from global brands to emerging leaders in a variety of industries including automotive and mobility, consumer, education, financial and business, food and beverage and healthcare and biotech. With more than 30 years in public relations and integrated marketing, Michelle has served clients across the U.S. and internationally, and has significant experience in corporate communications and issues management across industries. A notable business leader and entrepreneur, Michelle founded and led her own company for 13 years prior to its acquisition in 2014. She leads the automotive and mobility practice at Lambert.

Michelle’s work for clients involved in the U.S. opioid crisis has drawn attention from top tier media across the country and has received recognition from industry trade associations. She routinely integrates content marketing, social media, brand journalism and other online initiatives into public relations strategies, reaching audiences efficiently and quickly to impact change. 

In 2018 Michelle was named one of Arizona’s Most Influential Women in Business by BizAZ Magazine and her firm ranked #3 largest PR firm in Arizona by the Phoenix Business Journal. She is a past chair of Arizona Forward, a 50-year old statewide advocacy organization convening dialogue on sustainability and quality of life issues. Michelle is a member of the Urban Land Institute, Experience Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce and Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. She has served as a judge for the prestigious Environmental Excellence Awards, the ATHENA Awards (recognizing outstanding women leaders) and the IMPACT Awards (recognizing Arizona’s most impactful companies). 

Nationally, Michelle serves as chair-elect of PRSA, a 21,000-member communications organization for which she has served as a leader at the chapter and regional levels as well. In 2003 she was honored with the Phoenix chapter’s PERCY Award for her career achievements and she is a past chair of Counselors Academy, PRSA’s international section for agency owners and leaders. She has served as an advisor to the organization’s 10,000-member student body, PRSSA, mentoring its national committee and assisting at its governing assembly and leadership rally. 
Michelle launched her career in Minneapolis but has made her mark in Arizona for 29 years, building relationships with business leaders, government staff and officials, influencers and media throughout the state. She is an avid mentor to students and young people interested in public relations as a career choice and a frequent guest lecturer at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

Felicia Blow, APR, Associate Vice President for Development & Campaign Director, Hampton University
PRSA National Diversity and Inclusion Co-Chair

Mrs. Felicia Blow, APR, is an award-winning leader with extensive organizational, strategic planning, leadership and management experience. With a 28+-year career spanning work in Manufacturing (Caterpillar, Inc.); Waste Management and Environmental Services (Southeastern Public Service Authority); Telecommunications (Cox Communications); and Higher Education (Paul D. Camp and Tidewater Community Colleges), Mrs. Blow currently serves as Associate Vice President for Development and Campaign Director at Hampton University. In her role as Campaign Director, she has responsibility for the University’s $150 Million Dream No Small Dreams II Campaign. 

Mrs. Blow is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, and the Hampton Roads, Virginia Chapter. Within PRSA, Mrs. Blow has served in numerous capacities including but not limited to: current National Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee; former member of the National PRSA Board of Directors as Senior Counsel; former elected member of the National PRSA Board of Directors; Past President of the Hampton Roads Virginia PRSA Chapter; Past Chair of the PRSA Mid-Atlantic District Board; and Past Chair of the National Universal Accreditation Board. In her time with the UAB, the Board’s vision of a specialized credential was achieved in the creation of the APR+M credential which recognizes military public affairs professionals’ achievement of this important mark of distinction. 

Mrs. Blow earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Arts from Hampton University; her Master’s in Business Administration degree from Strayer University; and she is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Old Dominion University. 

She is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America.

Marsha Pitts-Phillips, President and Founder, MRPP & Associates Communications, LLC
Minnesota PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Officer 
Marsha R. Pitts-Phillips is the President and Founder of MRPP & Associates Communications, LLC.  She serves as the first Diversity & Inclusion Officer of the Minnesota chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and was named a Distinguished Diversity and Inclusion Fellow at the University of Minnesota Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  An esteemed speaker, she has moderated numerous high-profile events, including a Minnesota gubernatorial town hall. She also served on the public relations team for the NFL-Sanctioned Super Bowl LVII Gospel Celebration broadcast on Black Entertainment Television (BET).

Before establishing her own company, Pitts-Phillips spent several years heading public relations at a large Minnesota nonprofit. Additionally, she has a background in broadcast journalism. Her multi-faceted career includes anchoring and producing television news and a weekly public affairs program.

Pitts-Phillips is a member of the National Black Public Relations Society; the National Association of Black Journalists Media-Related Members Task Force and its local affiliate, the Twin Cities Black Journalists. She is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 

She believes in giving back and paying it forward. She mentors high school students affiliated with Three-Sixty Journalism, a nonprofit program serving youth interested in multimedia storytelling, and serves on the leadership advisory council for the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. She also sits on the board of Prepare + Prosper, a nonprofit that helps low- to moderate-income people build financial well-being through free tax preparation and financial services.

An ordained associate minister, Pitts-Phillips has studied at the United Theological Seminary in New Brighton and Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communications from Northeastern University in Boston, Mass. She lives in suburban Minneapolis.

Moderated By: 

Brooke Worden, APR, Fellow PRSA, President, The Rudin Group
Minnesota PRSA Ethics Officer



Thursday, September 17, 2020; 9:30 to 11 a.m. Central Time
Discussion: 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Q&A: 10:30 - 11:00 a.m.



Online. Access information will be sent prior to the event.


Members: FREE
Students: FREE
Non-Members: $20

Thank you to our Annual Sponsors:





Thursday, September 17, 2020, 9:30 AM until 11:00 AM
Registration is required before Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Payment In Full In Advance Only
No Fee
No Fee