Thought Leadership

Meet PRSA Board of Directors Nominee James Shackelford, APR

Each week this fall, PRsay will interview one of the nominees for the 2021 PRSA Board of Directors.

Name: James Shackelford, APR

Location: New York and Dallas

Current title: President & CEO, SomaComm

Board nominee position: Tri-State District

Alma mater: University of Toledo

Number of years as a PRSA member: 10


You’ve long been a DE&I proponent, chairing PRSA’s D&I Committee in 2018. What strides have you seen in recent months on racial equality within the profession?

The increased awareness, appreciation and push for improved DE&I in, and out, of the profession has been refreshing. The expansion and investment of PRSA’s efforts, through data collection and strategic planning, have made terrific strides on placing inclusion squarely at the front of the conversation but there’s so much more to do. Our leadership, at every level of the Society, must define what DE&I success looks like for the industry and continue the focus and the discussion on how we steadily improve.

Why did you decide on pursuing leadership positions within PRSA, including at the Chapter and Section level?

For me, I wanted to expand both my professional community and level up on professional development. I looked to opportunities with the Corporate Communications Section, the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Chapters to do both in different ways. The Section gave me a place to interact with peers of all levels working across corporate communications nationally, and the D&I Committee provided a place where I felt like I could positively impact the society at large by raising awareness for diversity and inclusion broadly. Chapter involvement introduced me to a broad local network that has always proved to be a wealth of resources. Our Society has some of the most talented professionals as members and leaders and I’ve been fortunate to learn from them. So many across [PRSA] are now lifelong friends and, for that, I’m grateful.

Best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

Three things:

  1. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  2. Keep your head down and stay focused on the goals you set.
  3. Involve and expand yourself with the industry at large through associations, publications, trends and discussions with peers.

John Elsasser is PRSA’s director of publications. He joined PRSA in 1994.

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John Elsasser

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