Featured Members

APR Class of 2013: James Bessette, APR 



James Bessette, APR   

Director of University Relations, University of Montevallo

Readiness Review Presentation: Increasing Enrollment, a Five Year Plan for the University of Montevallo

"Continuing professional development is essential in any field of practice. Obtaining my APR has broadened and enhanced my skills in the area of public relations. The ability to make sound judgments based on the principles and theories learned during the accreditation process has not only increased my self-assurance, but has also instilled a heightened sense of confidence in my abilities among those with whom I work."

APR Class of 2012:
John Matson, APR; Edith Parten, APR; Kevin Storr, APR; Patti Conwell, APR; Jason Gaston, APR and Elaine Witt, APR; Malissa Valdes-Hubert, APR; Denise Berkhalter, APR and Julie Senter, APR



John Matson, APR                                  

Director of Communications for the Alabama Nursing Home Association

Nine years experience in public relations;  three years experience in television news

Readiness Review Presentation: Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant for the Alabama Nursing Home Association 

"The accreditation process has given me new tools to use when advocating on behalf of Alabama's nursing homes and their residents. The APR course work and training greatly expands a professional's knowledge base and develops the critical decision making skills that elevate public relations to an essential management function."


Edith Parten, APR                                  

Communication Director & Gulf Coast Regional Director for the Alabama Tourism Department  


More than five years experience in public relations and more than 12 years experience in television news


Readiness Review Presentation: Year of Alabama Music Songwriter's Contest


"Going through the process of Accreditation has benefitted me tremendously especially since most of my experience was in broadcast media. I am now more strategic in my thinking and planning. For me, it took a deep commitment and determination to succeed, but the overall experience is extremely rewarding. I highly recommend Accreditation to anyone who is serious about taking their communications career and professional development that next step from 'good to great'.”


 Kevin Storr, APR                                  

Media Specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) 


More than six years experience in public relations; 12 years experience in television news

Readiness Review Presentation: Safe, Secure Chat Rooms: i-STIK Seven State Pilot Program 

"Earning APR is a tremendous personal accomplishment and also benefits everyone with whom I work. The Accreditation process has given me the knowledge, confidence and stature to be looked upon as a dependable and trusted counsel by my clients, colleagues and management."


Patti Conwell, APR                                  

Professor, Department of Communication, Oakwood University

23 years experience in public relations (15 years teaching; 8 years in non-profit sector PR) Professor Conwell also manages the university's student-run public relations agency.

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: Campaign to Educate Faith-based Stakeholders for DAP

"Receiving the APR legitimizes my understanding of top-level PR practice, which boosts my professional credibility. But better than that, it’s now part of the blueprint my students can follow to achieve their pinnacles of PR success," said Professor Conwell.

Jason Gaston, APR                                  

Public Relations Coordinator, Hoover City Schools

2013 president of Universal Accreditation Board member organization, NPRSA, Alabama School Communicators Association Chapter

Five years experience in public relations; 10 years experience in television news reporting.

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: Tax Renewal Vote PR Plan

“Seeking accreditation was all about professional development," stated Gaston. "Having a career based in education, I’m surrounded by incredibly accomplished professionals who continually demonstrate the benefits of ongoing professional development.  The APR process enlightened me as to ways I can build upon my program and take my public relations program to the next level.  Anyone even THINKING about APR should go ahead and take the plunge and begin the process – you will not regret it!”


Elaine Witt, APR                                  

Director of Public Relations, Integrated Medical Systems (IMS)

Seven years experience in public relations; 20 years as a newspaper journalist

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: B2B Relationship Campaign for IMS

"I came to public relations after a long career in print journalism. While it was fairly easy for me to learn the mechanics of public relations activities, I knew I would be a better and more successful practitioner if I studied public relations planning, measurement, and strategy. The APR curriculum provided precisely the theoretical and practical training I needed to move to the next level in my PR career," remarked Witt.

Malissa Valdes-Hubert, APR                                  

Public Information Manager, Alabama Department of Education

Six years experience in Public Relations; three years experience in reporting/media

Readiness Review Presentation: Summer Reading Challenge

“Accreditation is a tool to improve your talents and skills and to help validate the importance of public relations to myself and to my current and future employers. The Accreditation process reminds us all that PR is not just an afterthought; it is a management function that benefits all involved through systematic research, planning, implementation and evaluation of our goals.”

Denise Berkhalter, APR                                  

Director of Public Relations, Alabama Association of School Boards

2014 president of Universal Accreditation Board member organization, NSPRA, Alabama School Communications Association Chapter                             


10 years experience in public relations, marketing and graphic design; 10 years experience as a newspaper journalist


Readiness Review Presentation: Steps to My Dream: College Campus Tours for At-Risk Middle School Students


"The APR is perhaps the greatest achievement in my professional career. I would encourage anyone, especially persons of color, to pursue this worthwhile venture. You will not regret it."


Julie Senter, APR                                  

Director of Communications, UAB School of Business


10 years experience in PR; 10 years experience as newspaper journalist


Readiness Review Presentation: UAB School of Business: Because Everyone Can Use a Little Business


"Earning my APR has been a major milestone for my professional career. It's helped me focus and hone my skills in ways I didn't expect. It's also helped me become a more passionate advocate for the profession, one who is now better able to articulate the value of PR and the theory and reasoning behind my PR counsel." 



APR Class of 2011:
Michael Sznajderman, APR; Lori Quiller, APR; Deana Nunley, APR; Brandon Wilson, APR; Melanie Davis, APR; Missy Burchart, APR and Teri Henley, APR

Michael Sznajderman, APR
Senior Communications Strategist, Alabama Company

10 years experience working in public relations; 18 years experience in print journalism

Readiness Review Presentation: Social Media Communications for Power Outage and Restoration

“To me, achieving Accreditation in Public Relations was more about the process than passing a test,” said Michael Sznajderman, APR. “It provides substantive training and a rewarding experience that helps hone your skills, think beyond today’s brushfire and strengthen your ability to provide thoughtful, valuable and measurable communications counsel.”

Lori Quiller, APR
Specialty Society Coordinator, Medical Assocation of the State of Alabama 

17 years experience in public relations
Readiness Review Plan Presentation: National County Government Month for the Association of County Commissions of Alabama 

"For me, Accreditation is the natural progression of my professional identity. But it was the journey along the way that made me realize just how precious achieving this milestone really is," said Lori Quiller, APR. "I knew going in to the process that it would not be an easy path, and I didn't want it to be. I did not major in public relations in college, but I've worked in the field for a long time. Until I made the decision to broaden my horizons, I had no idea how much I was truly missing."


Deana Nunley, APR
Director, Corporate Communications for ASRC Federal Holding

13 years experience in public relations

"The journey to Accreditation has been one of the most worthwhile endeavors of my career. Having transitioned from news reporting to public relations, my understanding of PR was based primarily on experience, and I needed greater depth of knowledge in order to practive public relations at a higher level of professionalism and effectiveness," said Deana Nunley, APR. "The rigorous Accreditation process was a perfect fit for me because of the focus of understanding and applying knowledge, skills and abilities that affect all public relations programs."                                          

Brandon Wilson, APR
President and CEO - overseeing business development for the company and executing strategic planning for clients Wilbron Institute

11 years experience in public relations
Brandon has long served as an executive member of the PRSA Alabama Chapter Board of Directors, including as Chapter President 2011.

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: Green Acres Middle School campaign to reverse decline in parent and community involvement.

“Being the first African-American male in Alabama to achieve APR is both humbling and exciting.  I hope that my achievement inspires others to seek accreditation to certify their ability to think and act strategically and ethically,” said Brandon Wilson, APR.


Missy Burchart, APR
Communications and Development Manager – The Literacy Council, running public relations, marketing and development outreach

17 years experience in public relations

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: General Motors E85 Days of Summer/Fall with Mullen agency.

"I started out my career at WVTM, now Alabama’s 13 as an intern in the news department and was hired as an associate producer on the weekend morning show,” said Missy Burchart, APR. “I am so happy I took this very important step in my career. Accreditation is a huge proof point for our profession and should be a source of pride for anyone who achieves this title. I encourage PR professionals, no matter what age, to work for their APR. It was a rewarding experience that strengthened my commitment to the profession and helped hone my skills.”

Melanie Davis, APR
Assistant Director of Communications,at
University of Alabama at Birmingham School for Health Professions, responsible for developing and maintaining the school's image and integrity through social media, website and news releases. She coordinates with UAB Office of Media Relations to promote positive stories and research in the School.

8 years experience in public relations

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: Birmingham Virtual Newsroom: Improving Birmingham's Image

 "My first seven years of professional work was in broadcast journalism." Davis serves as a member of the PRSA Alabama Chapter Board of Directors; is a past-president of the Chapter; and, is 2011 Chair of the PRSA Southeast District. “Too many people think that public relations is only about media relations and that is not the case. It is much more than that with research, strategic planning and counseling management,” said Melanie Davis, APR, about earning the APR designation. “I would encourage all public relations professionals, especially those who did not major in PR, to seek their Accreditation. A 10-week class taught by PRSA Alabama Chapter was a great crash course. It really opened my eyes to new avenues that I can use at my job today to make me a better professional for my organization.”

Teri K. Henley, APR
Professor, advertising and public relations writing and campaigns courses
University of Alabama

10 years experience in public relations 

Henley advises Capstone Agency, the University of Alabama student-run public relations and advertising agency.

Readiness Review Plan Presentation: Less ThanUThink Campaign, addressing the national problem of college-age binge drinking

“Achieving APR certifies that I am teaching the industry standards in the classroom and enables me to credibly encourage my students to pursue APR at the proper time in their career,” remarked Teri Henley, APR. "I also have 20 years experience in marketing communications."

 Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), is the public relations profession’s national post-graduate certification program. APR certifies the PR practitioner’s knowledge of the practice of public relations and is administered by the Universal Accreditation Board.