Member Spotlight: Tara Deering-Hansen and Nicole Lawrence

PRSA Q&A with Diversity and Inclusion Chairs

  • Tara Deering-Hansen, vice president, marketing and communications, Iowa Bankers Association
  • Nicole Lawrence, marketing manager, ClaimDOC


Q:  Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your career paths so far.

Tara:  After graduating from Iowa State University with a journalism degree, I was a newspaper reporter for several years before transitioning to PR. In 2004, I left the Chicago Tribune and returned to Des Moines to work at Two Rivers Marketing. I then went on to hold traditional PR roles at several corporations in Des Moines, overseeing communications at Hy-Vee, Inc., Kum & Go and Iowa Student Loan. I now am vice president of marketing and communications at the Iowa Bankers Association, where I get to promote how Iowa banks support the economic growth of our communities.

Nicole:  I graduated from Grand View University and have spent the last 16 years working in PR positions. I started in nonprofit PR and then spent the next 12 years in school PR, overseeing communications for the Southeast Polk and Waukee school districts. Recently, I accepted a new opportunity and switched industries, taking on the role of marketing manager at ClaimDOC, a progressive health care company based in Des Moines.

Q:  How did you get involved with PRSA Iowa?

Tara:  I’ve been a member of PRSA Iowa ever since the start of my PR career in 2004. In the past, I periodically attended luncheons and conferences, but in recent years I’ve become more active by serving as an event speaker and newsletter contributor. Though my involvement has fluctuated depending on my job commitments, I’ve always valued my membership and the lasting connections I’ve gained with both veteran and up-and-coming communication professionals. So, when I was asked to serve as the board’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair, I was honored because I’m passionate about the topic and thankful my schedule allowed me to do so.

Nicole:  As a board member of the Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA), I had opportunities to become familiar with and attend several PRSA events. When I changed industries last year, I was excited to become an official member of PRSA.

Q:  The Diversity and Inclusion Chair and Chair-Elect are new to the PRSA Iowa Board. What do you think your focus will be during this first year? What are some of your long-term goals for the Chapter?

Tara:  In this new board role, I hope that we can impact change in two ways — increase the association’s program, benefit and educational offerings as they relate to diversity, equity and inclusion, and increase the membership and engagement of diverse public relations professionals in Iowa. These are long-term goals, and to achieve them, Nicole and I first set out to have the diversity and inclusion conversation with our fellow board chairs — to learn what areas of focus they see or questions that need answered. We also have reviewed the national PRSA Diversity and Inclusion Chapter Toolkit and are using it to help guide our efforts and ensure they align with the intended committee purpose.

Nicole:  This year's focus is to find opportunities to educate members and increase diversity within the organization. Long-term I hope the chapter becomes a resource for professionals looking for guidance on celebrations, issues or topics related to diversity and inclusion.

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