PBPRS Women's History Spotlight, Inez Kaiser, First Black Woman to Own PR Firm

Inez Kaiser, 98, passed away in July 2016,

In 1957, Inez Kaiser, founded the first African American female-owned public relations agency in the United States. Kaiser, grew up in Kansas, in a time — the 1930s — when African Americans living in the South were not allowed the opportunity of a higher education. But, determined to go to college, Kaiser applied to Pittsburgh State University in 1941, and was admitted. Kaiser began her career as a teacher in Missouri, where she spent a lot of her free time writing. Her column, “Fashion-Wise and Otherwise,” was published in African American-owned newspapers across the country. One day an editor suggested that she go into public relations, a field Kaiser had never known of before, but was hooked once she learned about it. In 1957, she opened Inez Kaiser & Associates, the first public relations firm headed by an African American woman in the U.S. It was also the first African American owned business to open in Kansas City, Missouri. In a recent telephone interview conducted by the Museum, Inez gave this advice to PR practitioners: "Always be thorough and honest with your clients, and try your best to develop personal relationships with them.”

PBPRS Women's History Month Spotlight: Deirdre Childress Hopkins, Strategic Communications Manager, PA Convention Center

Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society (PBPRS) member Deirdre Childress Hopkins is the Strategic Communications Manager of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.

Since 2012, Deirdre has led the convention center's media and public relations efforts, in addition to coordinating communications efforts with stakeholders including the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, local government entities and beyond. Her role also entails handling communication with hospitality, tourism and community organizations.  The footprint of her work is evident in high-profile events hosted at the convention center that utilized her public relations expertise including the 2015 Pope Visit and 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Prior to entering public relations, Deirdre worked as an award-winning journalist and editor for numerous publications. She is a former Secretary and Vice President-Print of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).  Deirdre also served as NABJ's programming chair for their 2014 & 2015 conventions in Boston and Minneapolis.

PBPRS Women's History Spotlight: Barbara Ann Johnson, Co-Founder Westside Weekly

Barbara Ann Johnson, was the co-owner and managing editor of the Westside Weekly newspaper--"News for and about the People of West Philadelphia."

She was the driving force behind the publication founded in 1989, alongside her husband and co-founder, Tyree Johnson, making sure monies were collected from advertisers.

She initially sold dinner, held card parties, and worked two waitress jobs to keep the business open to support the family while husband Tyree pursued journalism and established the newspaper. 

Ms. Johnson passed away on February 18, 2017 at 69.   She and husband Tyree celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in November 2016.

The Westside Weekly has now served the West Philadelphia community for 28 years.

PBPRS Women's History Spotlight: Melony Roy, KYW Newsradio Director of Social Media

PBPRS member, Melony Roy, is director of social media for KYW Newsradio 1060, supervising the station’s Twitter, Facebook, and other interactive media branding efforts.

In addition to creating much of the interactive content on KYW’s social media platforms, Roy informs listeners through her on-air reports covering social media trends, breaking news, and interactive media’s influence on their daily lives.

Her beat has sent her to Austin, Texas for the 2015 SXSW (South by Southwest) interactive media conference, and she also covered the Forbes “30 Under 30” conference here in Philadelphia.

Roy has risen through the KYW ranks, joining the station in October 2006 as a desk assistant, working behind the scenes on story production, including as producer for a one-on-one interview with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.

She also was the founding executive producer of HearPhilly.com, an online radio station heard around the world that is dedicated to fun in the city.

Since being named to her current position, Melony Roy has grown KYW’s social media followings to the largest among the CBS-owned radio news stations, surpassing the followings of news stations in the larger markets of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco.

A native of Camden, NJ, Roy graduated from Camden Catholic High School and received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Seton Hall University.  She is president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ), and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.

Melony is a pop culture enthusiast who in her spare time enjoys traveling, live music, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix.  She resides inPhiladelphia.

Twitter: @melonyroy

PBPRS Women's History Spotlight: Meaghan F. Washington, M3M Strategic Communications Firm

Meaghan F. Washington, senior account executive at strategic communications and management firm Millennium 3 Management, Inc. in Center City Philadelphia, oversees communications with clients, media representatives and key stakeholders, for the firm.

Her daily tasks, at the African-American owned firm headed by A. Bruce Crawley, consist of serving as the lead account management staff member, in the process of developing client-focused strategic communications plans. Those responsibilities include monitoring clients' presence in the media, and copywriting for traditional and social media as well as marketing materials. They also include pitching and securing placements in print, digital, and broadcast outlets, and devising and executing communications campaigns that result in an increase of brand awareness and the attainment of clients' goals.

Ms. Washington is a board member of the R.W. Sorrell Scholarship Fund, a volunteer and practicing yogini at Studio 34 Yoga Healing Arts, and an avid music concertgoer.

She is an alumna of both Albright College, in Reading, PA, and Central High School, in Philadelphia, and has completed online courses in Newswriting and Reporting at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

PBPRS Women's History Spotlight: Sara Lomax-Reese

Sara Lomax-Reese is the president and CEO of WURD Radio, LLC, Pennsylvania’s only African-American owned talk radio station. 

Prior to her work with WURD, Sara co-founded HealthQuest: Total Wellness for Body, Mind & Spirit, the first nationally circulated African-American consumer health magazine in the country.  

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Sara also served as an adjunct professor of communications at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA. She has taught a collaborative course at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. John Jackson titled “Urban Ethnography” which taught students how to create audio documentaries that aired on 900AM-WURD. 

Sara sits on numerous boards including Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Drexel University's College of Engineering Advisory Council and Institute for Journalism in New Media.  In addition, Sara mentors young women at Martin Luther King High School as part of the Women of Tomorrow program.

Sara is also a yoga and meditation practitioner.  Sheis married to Tim Reese and mother to three boys Elijah, Julian and Langston.

Women's History Month~WDAS FM's Frankie Darcell

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WDAS FM's Frankie Darcell is a modern day renaissance woman: radio personality, author and director.

Darcell, a Brooklyn native and community activist, has worked in radio for the past 25 years.  Her hearty and rich voice has blessed audiences from Baltimore, Norfolk, Charlotte and currently in Detroit at Mix 92.3 and on WDAS 105.3FM.

Darcell, a radio icon in Detroit where she spent most of her career, came to WDAS four years ago where she still holds down the afternoon slot with her weekday slot Talk of the Town with Frankie from 3-7p.m.  She also hosts her Sunday public affairs talk show on WDAS 7-8 a.m. Headlines with Frankie Darcell which is doing exceedingly well bringing in 2-3 million listeners weekly.

Darcell has also authored two books including an autobiography.

Pertaining to Darcell’s theatrical talents, she isthe director of the classic 12 Angry Men, whichis the twenty-second stage production that she has produced and directed. The play debuts in Philadelphia March 19, 21 & 22 at Venice Island Performing Arts Center in Manayunk.  Her resume includes the success of six Philadelphia shows of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuff and performances of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues benefiting shelters for women of domestic violence and their children.

We salute Frankie Darcell!

PBPRS Mourns the Passing of legendary Journalist Claude Lewis


PBPRS mourns the passing of legendary journalist Claude Lewis, passed away Thursday morning from complications of diabetes. He was 82.

Lewis, born in New York, worked as an editor and reporter for several newspapers and magazines, including the Bulletin, Newsweek Magazine, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He later taught at Villanova University.

In 1973, Lewis, along with late Philadelphia journalists Chuck Stone and Acel Moore, founded the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Two years later, Lewis, along with Weaver and others contributed to the formation of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Philadelphia Black Public Relations Society sends our condolences to the Lewis family and his journalism and public relations colleagues.

"It is important that we follow the blueprint Claude Lewis left us and be sure to open doors and advocate for others as he did," says PBPRS President Monica Peters.

Lewis is survived by his wife, Beverly; four children; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.  A memorial service is planned for a later date.  Read statement from NABJ