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Board of Directors


Elizabeth Walden

President, Effective January 2023

Elizabeth Walden is the Regional Director of Public Relations for Comcast. She is responsible for helping shape the company’s image with external audiences in Connecticut, Vermont, Western Massachusetts, Western New Hampshire and Carmel, N.Y. Prior to joining Comcast, Walden was Vice President at Quinn, a lifestyle public relations firm with offices in LA, Miami and New York City, where she oversaw a team of public relations executives who carried out day-to-day media and operations for a portfolio of 20 business, real estate and technology clients, in addition to being responsible for building the firm’s client base and developing strategic public relations campaigns. She graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts and currently resides in Hamden, Connecticut.


Alison Skratt

Immediate Past President, Effective January 2023

Alison Skratt is Head of Corporate Communications at Berkshire Bank, a regional bank with branches in New England and New York. Prior to her current role, she served as Vice President, Strategic Communications and Vice President, Corporate Communications at Connecticut-based Webster Bank. 


A former award-winning journalist, Alison began her career in the newspaper industry in New York, California, and Connecticut. As Business Editor, she led her staff at the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Connecticut, to earn national recognition with the prestigious Society of American Business Editors and Writers' Best in Business Award. She also spent several years as an independent public relations consultant, specializing in financial services, higher education, and health care. 


A native Californian, Alison earned her Bachelor's of Science degree in journalism from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.


Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo

Secretary, Two-year Term ends December 2023

Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo is vice president of admissions and marketing at Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, an award-winning nonprofit devoted to helping adults with disabilities live independent and self-determined lives. Catherine oversees the admissions process for Chapel Haven’s core programs and coordinates Chapel Haven’s communications and marketing. Previously, Catherine served for 10 years as director of communications for New Haven Public Schools and previously as press secretary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Connecticut State University and a Master of Science in communications management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. Catherine is an adjunct professor of journalism at Southern Connecticut State University.

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Joan Huwiler

Treasurer, Two-year Term ends December 2023

Joan Huwiler has over 15 years of experience in communication and outreach roles with high profile, public-facing organizations. She has worked for state government, utilities and nonprofits, including a national legal advocacy organization in New York. She has served as a spokesperson for organizations; explained policies and legal issues as well as worked with coalitions on legislative and grassroots matters. She joined Post University in 2108 as the Director of Communications.


Philanthropy and nonprofits are her passion projects. She loves to tell well-crafted stories that bring life to issues. Joan earned her MBA from University of New Haven, a Master’s in Journalism from Boston University and Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Southern Connecticut State University. She has served on several nonprofit boards, including the Lelia Day Nursery, Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, the New Haven Road Race and the United Way of Greater New Haven.


Derek Beere

Board Member at Large

Derek Beere is the Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Mason, an integrated communications firm located in Bethany, Connecticut. He has more than 20 years of public relations experience that includes media relations, crisis communications, message development, product launches and brand strategy. Combining the right balance of strategy and creativity, Beere’s approach to integrated-marketing communications helps organizations make a positive impact and achieve their goals.


Beere’s experience includes a mix of consumer and B2B, including Resorts Casino Hotel, Bruegger’s Bagels, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts, Yale New Haven Health, Black & Decker, Odyssey Logistics & Technology, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, AVANGRID, The United Illuminating Company and more. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Central Connecticut State University.


Andrea Kovacs

Board Member at Large, Two-year Term ends December 2023

As Vice President for Marketing and Enrollment Management at Albertus Magnus College, Andrea Kovacs

provides strategic leadership for Communications and Marketing, including branding, community relations,

and legislative affairs; Undergraduate Admissions; Professional and Graduate Studies (PGS) Admissions;

Enrollment Operations; Financial Aid; and Inter-collegiate Athletics. She guided the College’s recruitment

efforts in the midst of – and emerging from the pandemic, yielding both the second, third, and fourth largest

incoming classes in the history of Albertus.

Under her leadership, Albertus has continued to diversify its student population significantly and is now a

minority-majority institution (almost 58% of all students), and on the cusp of becoming a Hispanic Serving

Institution, an institutional goal outlined in the College’s strategic plan.

Andrea brings a diverse creative background in communications, brand management, marketing, and

fundraising to her work. Prior to Albertus, Andrea directed the Annual Fund at Fairfield University; she was

Sr. Vice President for Marketing and Community Relations for United Way of Eastern Fairfield County,

also responsible for individual gift fundraising; she lived a previous life in the fashion industry.

Andrea earned her B.S. in Marketing from the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY) and her

M.A. in Leadership from Albertus Magnus College. She and her family reside in Bridgeport, CT.

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Paddi LeShane

Board Member at Large, Two-year Term ends December 2023

As CEO of Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations, Inc., Paddi LeShane has expertise in local and state

government relations, strategic media relations, reputation management, crisis communications,

market entry strategies, and finding solutions to client problems and needs. Paddi cofounder and CEO of

Sullivan & LeShane, Inc., a widely recognized government and lobbing firm in Connecticut. A member

and, Secretary of the Board of Trustees at University of Saint Joseph, she serves on the Executive

Committee, and as past chair of the Women’s Leadership Center.

Paddi is active in the Greater Harford area serving in a number of leadership positions in organizations

that focus on women and leadership, as well as serving as former chair of the Hartford Parking Authority

and currently serves as a Commissioner of the Hartford Housing Authority.

She is a former Vice Chair and an Executive Committee member of the Washington-based Public Affairs

Council, a professional association of corporate and national organizations. Paddi was honored as PRSA

CT Practitioner of the Year by the Greater CT Chapter in 2017.

Paddi holds a Master’s in Healthcare Finance from The Rensselaer Lally School of Business in Troy, NY

and a BS in Community Leadership and Development from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass. She

has also been selected for programs at Stanford University and McGill University, focusing on strategic

planning, disruptive innovation and the value of big data in public relations.

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Katie R. Place, Ph.D., APR

Board Member at Large, Two-year Term ends December 2023

Katie R. Place, Ph.D., APR is a Professor of Strategic Communication at Quinnipiac University. Her research explores the intersections of ethics, diversity, and power in public relations contexts. She is a senior research fellow at the Arthur W. Page Center, a Page Society member, and past head of Association for Education in Journalism and Public Relation’s Public Relations Division. Her work has been published in such journals as Journal of Public Relations Research, Journal of Media Ethics, Journal of Communication Management, Public Relations Review, and Social Media +Society. Prior to returning to academia, she was a public affairs account manager and a nonprofit communications manager in the Washington, D.C. area. She resides in the Hartford area with her family.

Leadership Members

Leadership Members are pivotal contributors to PRSA CT Committees 


Erin Cox

Professional Development/Programs Committee Chair

Erin Cox manages internal and external communications for aircraft supporting the U.S. Marine Corps at Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company. Erin joined Sikorsky in 2015 after nearly two decades as a broadcast journalist in Connecticut. She previously worked as a broadcast journalist in radio and television where she earned awards for her coverage of high profile criminal trials and government corruption.


Dan Meaney, APR

APR Committee Co-Chair

Dan Meaney, APR, has over 35 years of experience in media and communications. He has worked as a radio and television news and traffic reporter in New England and Midwest, and in public relations for the Town of Enfield. He joined Connecticut Water Company, a public water utility, in 1994. Over the years he has been a key member of the communications teams that serve employees, customers, government leaders, and investors. He currently serves as the Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs and is the company’s primary media spokesperson. 

Dan earned his Master’s in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Emerson College in Boston, MA. He attained his APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) in 2001. He has served on the boards of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (now known as AdvanceCT), the South Windsor Chamber Commerce, and the Connecticut Water Works Association. His news reporting was recognized with a “Heart of America” award from the Kansas City Press Club and he was the 2019 Practitioner of the Year for the Greater Connecticut Chapter of PRSA. In his free time, you may find him sailing the waters of Long Island Sound with his family.


Doug Fenichel, APR

APR Committee Co-Chair

Doug Fenichel, APR, is a semi-retired accredited public relations practitioner. A resident of Orange, he volunteers as public information officer for the local volunteer fire department and other causes. 

He retired in 2018 as the executive officer of the Metropolitan Builders Association in Northern New Jersey and moved to Connecticut. Before that, he created In-House Public Relations in 2010. He was the region director of public relations for K. Hovnanian, one of the nation’s largest builders. He entered public relations in 1983, part of the team that shepherded AT&T through its historic breakup. He has worked for agencies and corporations, winning numerous awards along the way. For several years, he taught communications classes as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickenson University. Before entering PR, Fenichel was a reporter and editor.

Before joining the Connecticut chapter of PRSA, he was a member of the New Jersey Professional Chapter, where he served as president and ethics officer. He was also region chair. A graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Fenichel did graduate work at Webster University in Kansas City.

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