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How They See Us

November 10, 2021 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

In the aftermath of high-profile killings of Black people at the hands of police, the United States is undergoing a powerful reckoning on the issue of race, permeating virtually all areas of life and business. Public relations and adjacent fields like marketing and advertising are no exception. Our industries must move faster to close gaps in hiring, retention and promotion.

Achieving progress on racial disparity means not-for-profit organizations, government entities, corporations and clients must step further into territory that’s been uncomfortable for them. There have been positive signs of change with some top firms committing in certain terms to hire more senior leaders of color in the very near term. Still, many executives have largely played it safe, making vague commitments and in some cases only giving lip service to one of the defining issues of our era.

Join us for a lively panel discussion with some of Indy’s leading Black and minority communicators to discuss the lack of representation, their professional experiences,  why more minorities are needed in PR, the importance of allyships and ways to increase representation of minorities in communications.


  • Wednesday, November 10
    • 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • – Join us in-person at Tinker House Events: 1101 E 16 St. Indianapolis, IN 46202
  • – Cost: $30 for professionals and $10 for students, includes a catered lunch and unlimited soft drinks
  • – Please note:
    • Lunch includes a catered platter from Indy Fresh Catering
    • Unlimited soft drinks are available courtesy of Tinker House Events
    • There is a parking lot at Tinker House events, or you can park in the gravel area along Lewis Street.

Register at this link: 


Speakers bios:

Denise Herd


Denise Herd is founder and president of Herd Strategies, a full-service public relations firm headquartered in Indianapolis. She is a certified facilitator of the Kauffman Foundation FastTrac New Venture and Walker’s Legacy Prospectus programs guiding startup entrepreneurs. She serves on the board of directors of Local Initiatives Support Organization (LISC), the Allen University foundation and Summit Indianapolis, a feminist theatre in Indianapolis, and chair of the Indianapolis Chamber Women’s Business Advisory Council.
Brandi Davis-HandyBrandi Davis-Handy, Chief Public Relations Officer, US Utilities, AES Corporation Brandi Davis-Handy is the Chief Public Relations Officer for AES Indiana, where she leads communications and community efforts for AES’ utilities in Indiana and Ohio. Prior to joining AES, Brandi spent over 20 years working in communications, marketing and stakeholder engagement. Brandi has served on many boards including the 500 Festival, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Dress for Success of Indianapolis, GANGGANG Advisory Board and Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. She is also one of the founding members of the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis. 
LaMar Holliday, Regional Communications Director, American Red Cross – Indiana Region LaMar is the regional communications director of the American Red Cross Indiana Region, where he leads all strategic internal/external communications, public affairs, executive communications and media and public relations. Prior to joining the Red Cross, Holliday was the chief communications officer for the City of Indianapolis’s Office of Public Health and Safety (OPHS). Previously, Holliday served in the Mayor’s Office as the deputy director of public affairs, managing communications to support mayoral and city initiatives, with a focus on community and city-county council engagement. Holliday is president of the Kennedy-King Neighborhood Association and a board member for the Kennedy-King Memorial Initiative. He also served on committees with the Public Relations Society of America Hoosier Chapter, King Park Community Development Corporation (now known as Renew Indy) and the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists. Holliday began his career as a broadcast journalist, reporting in Texas, Illinois and Indiana.
Headshot photo of DeShong Perry-SmithermanDeShong Perry-Smitherman, Global Communications Lead, Social Impact and Racial Justice Initiatives, Eli Lilly and Company DeShong Perry-Smitherman is a strategic communications pro and Emmy award winning producer and champion for nosiness – with sector experience in pharma, energy and media. She currently works as the leader for Eli Lilly and Company’s Racial Justice Commitment and Social Impact organizations. She has also worked as a product communications lead in Lilly’s Diabetes Unit, a U.S. internal communications lead for AES Corp and as a public relations manager at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Prior to entering the world of communications, DeShong launched her career as a researcher and letter reader for the Oprah Winfrey Show – a job she landed after curiosity drove her to do something out of the ordinary. After Oprah, she exceled in local TV news, working in Chicago (CBS), Phoenix (NBC) and Indianapolis (NBC) and earning three Emmy awards for her storytelling chops. DeShong is the co-founder of A Girl’s Gift, Inc., a nonprofit that teaches girls in Indianapolis and Charlotte to be entrepreneurs and has presented a TEDx Talk on this subject. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University, Masters from the University of Illinois and Media Management certificate from Northwestern University. She’s a wife and mom of three outstanding humans. When she’s not working, you can catch #StrongDeShong on the bottom of any Peloton leaderboard. She invites new friends to join her on a ride!


November 10, 2021
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Tinker House Events
1101 E 16 St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202 United States