Each week this fall, PRsay will interview one of the nominees for the 2021 PRSA Board of Directors.
Name: Joseph Abreu, APR
Location: Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Current title: Communications & Emergency Management Director, Clerk of the Circuit Court of St. Lucie County, Fla.
Board nominee position: Secretary
Alma mater: University of Florida
Number of years as a PRSA member: 17
At the University of Florida, you majored in public relations. At what point in your collegiate career did you determine that you’d pursue public relations?
In high school and college, I always had a passion for investigative journalism and news broadcasting, my first and second majors, respectively. When I served as the Hispanic Communicators Association president, I connected with other PR students who introduced me to what would become my third major and future career. They brought me to my first PRSSA meeting.
Public relations gave me an avenue to continue writing, but it broadened my eyes to so much more. I became fascinated by creative campaigns and special events, which I’ve been blessed to do my entire career.
You began your career in the agency world before later moving into the public sector. What career advice do you have for graduating seniors and new pros today?
I was fortunate to have strong, intelligent mentors throughout most of my professional career. They’ve guided me and motivated me to always continue professional development and growth. My advice to new pros is to seek those seasoned professionals who empower their employees to consistently improve — regardless of which industry they want to go into. Don’t be complacent. Work hard, and make sure your bosses know you are trustworthy, dependable and have a passion for learning. The more you know, the more you will be able to bring to the table.
I would also encourage new pros to use their PRSA membership. Even when my employer didn’t cover my dues, I paid out of pocket. I credit my professional and personal growth to PRSA. The association has guided me every step of the way to develop new knowledge, skills and abilities. It has also taught me leadership skills and broadened my networks, helping me develop new lifelong friendships that I would have never had otherwise.
You have a long list of volunteer experiences at every level of PRSA, starting as a treasurer for the Palm Beach Chapter. What initially inspired you to pursue leadership roles? What has kept you motivated to continue serving PRSA and the profession?
I’ve always been motivated by service and instituting positive change. I first served PRSA as the Palm Beach Chapter treasurer in 2006. Serving in that role showed me the true value of PRSA and the positive impact it has on our profession.
I also learned that investing my time to lead our Society was the best way to maximize my membership. I eventually served as Chapter president, District chair, District Council chair and National Board member. I’ve co-chaired three District Conferences and served as Assembly delegate for seven years.
With every role, my passion for PRSA has gotten stronger. Fully understanding the needs and wants of our volunteer leaders, I have helped successfully institute positive change on every level of the Society — from Chapters to National. As secretary, I plan to use my service experience and passion for innovation to move PRSA forward.
John Elsasser is PRSA’s director of publications. He joined PRSA in 1994.