By Elaina Hundley

Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) held its 28th Annual Woman of the Year Award Luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown on Nov. 17. At the event, Amy DeMaria, Senior Vice President of Communications, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, was named WWPR’s 2017 Woman of the Year.

The well-attended gathering began with mingling and light refreshments leading to a sit down luncheon, keynote and presentation of this prestigious award. The lunch opened with a keynote address by Evan Ryan, Executive Vice President of Axios, a new media entity dedicated to delivering trustworthy news. Ryan’s speech addressed the recent slew of sexual harassment allegations emerging across industries. In closing, she urged the women of WWPR to support each other in both work and in life.

If Ryan’s speech was not inspiring enough, this year’s three finalists and their personal stories roused the crowd.  Kathy Baird, Managing Director of Content & Social, North America at Ogilvy, also serves on the executive committee of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and chairs the PR Council’s New Media Committee. She also won ColorComm’s Circle Award earlier this year.

Samantha Villegas, APR, honed her skills in communications strategy by working on projects championing recycling programs, water conservation, energy efficiency projects and many other environmental and social issues. She served as the 2013 president of the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

The third finalist – and award winner – Amy DeMaria, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, used her communications savvy and leadership skills to creatively tell the story of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Her efforts garnered an influx of positive media coverage, from articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to the New Yorker. These placements and the creative campaigns she’s led have advanced the Foundation in its search for a cure. She also led her team to win numerous awards in 2017.

Each of the finalists actively aid causes they are deeply passionate about in both their professional and personal lives.

Last year’s WWPR Woman of the Year, AARP’s EVP of Communications and Marketing Martha Boudreau presented the award to DeMaria. In her brief presentation, Boudreau recognized the finalist’s roles outside of their professional titles, roles ranging from sister, mother and cousin to daughter, partner, colleague and friend. She also took time to recognize how the women’s support systems in the form of family, friends, mentors and colleagues contributed to their career successes.

The proceeds of the event raffle benefited Bright Beginnings. The event was co-chaired by Elise Perkins and Mary McGinty.

(In photo, left to right: Kathy Baird, Amy DeMaria and Samantha Villegas)


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