Meet Your 2015 PRSA Board, part 2

In part 2 of our Meet Your 2015 Board we share Q&A’s from board members Al Larsen, Kristen Wells, Kendall Horvatich and Jennifer Hanson.  And, if you missed it, take a peek at last week’s post, where we introduced PRSA Hoosier Chapter’s current president, Courtney Kasinger, president-elect Andrea Farmer, and outgoing president Vanessa Stiles.

Al Larsen
PRSA Board position: Director, Research and Operations

Employer: Department of Public Safety, City of Indianapolis
Job: Chief Communications Officer
College: Iowa State University

Al Larsen, PRSA Director of Operations and Research
Al Larsen, PRSA Director of Operations and Research

Q: Is there a specific cause or non-profit for which you advocate? I am a strong supporter of Greyhound Pets of America. I love the breed and have rescued three greys thus far – two of which still live with my wife and me. They live a terrible life while racing and face a short life once retired, unless someone saves them. Having the opportunity to spoil them in retirement and introduce them to the good side of life never gets old. They make wonderful pets and seem grateful to their owners – as if they almost knew their fate without adoption.

Q: What are you reading now (or have read in the past) that you think other PRSA members would be interested in?  I am not a big reader, I’ll admit, so my selections are random and infrequent. But, I really enjoyed reading Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Our world gets faster every day and I found it somewhat grounding to read something that seemed to simplify the chaos we face in our daily lives. Proof of my random choices, I also thoroughly enjoyed reading Fortune’s Children (a profile of the Vanderbilt family) and am currently enjoying Enter Night (a biography of Metallica).

Q: What’s your favorite part of your current job? In my current role, we deal with very relevant subject matter – topics that include crime, death, fire, disaster and quality of life. I never find myself without an attentive or interested audience, and I like that. I also love the fact that my team in the Department of Public Safety Director’s Office works to find ways to eliminate the worst of those things and elevate the best of them. We come in every day with a goal of improving Indianapolis for everyone who lives, works or visits here. It can be tiring at times, but then you gain a little ground and find yourself energized again.

Kristen Fuhs Wells
PRSA Board position: Director of Finance
Employer: Indiana Humanities
Job: Director of Communications and Development
College: Butler University (Go Dawgs!)

Kristen Fuhs Wells, PRSA Director of Finance
Kristen Fuhs Wells, PRSA Director of Finance

Q: What advice would you give to new PR professionals? Read everything you can get your hands on. Be a consumer of news. If you don’t know what certain reporters write about or what’s in the news that you can tailor a pitch to, you’re not going to be effective at your job.

Q:What’s your favorite city in Indiana? Why? Bloomington. I grew up about 30 minutes away, and it holds so many memories for me. It’s were I went on dates, to IU games with my dad, and had my first internship. I love the courthouse square and its strings of lights during the holidays, I love the summers when the college students aren’t in town and I love the food and entertainment options.

Q: What skill set would you like to learn? Design software. I wanted a job where I could do both PR and design when I graduated, but realized I needed to choose one or the other and I chose PR. I was recently forced to do some basic design and realized how much the software changed and how much I forgot in the last 10 years. It’s a side of my brain I like to engage and would like to re-activate.

Kendall Horvatich
PRSA Board position: Director of Communications

Kendall Horvatich, Director of Communications
Kendall Horvatich, Director of Communications

Employer: Arthritis Foundation
Job: Special Events Coordinator
College: IUPUI

Q: What is something most people don’t know about you? I was part of a professional ballet company. I have performed in the Indiana Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella” and “Peter Pan.”

Q: What’s one place you have yet to travel/or your favorite place you’ve visited? I would love to go to Italy and find the town my great-grandparents grew up in. I love history and researching my family’s past.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your current job? I love all the people I get to meet. The strength those with arthritis have inspires me to work harder. Working for a non-profit also allows me to get a variety of experiences. No day is the same. It keeps things exciting.

Jennifer Hanson
PRSA Board position: Director of Membership
Employer: Downtown Indy
Job: Senior Communications Director
College: Ball State University: BA in journalism/pr and MA in public relations

Jennifer Hanson, Director of Membership
Jennifer Hanson, Director of Membership

Q: What’s your favorite part of your current job? I’ve worked at Downtown Indy for 15 years and love it! I have the opportunity to be involved in so many different experiences – from the Regional Center Plan 2020 to planting flowers in Downtown’s 200+ planters to helping with media during Super Bowl XLVI. No day is ever the same and that’s what keeps me excited to come to work. One day I’ll be writing about our new Dwell Downtown membership program and then the next day’s topic will be New Year’s Eve on Georgia Street. I’m proud to be a part of Downtown’s development and vision.
Q: What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self? I always tell interns to write, write and write more. Practice using AP style, write strategically (yet creatively) and try to get your work published (on a blog, in the school paper, etc.) The more writing experience you have, the better for future employers. I’d tell myself to be more confident in my writing, do several internships and be very active in school activities to gain valuable experience and connections.
Q: What’s one place you have yet to travel/or your favorite place you’ve visited? My office and house are decked out in palm trees. I’ve lived in Indiana all my life, but I’m destined for the tropics during retirement. I love to travel and have visited many Mexico destinations, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Cayman Islands and Hawaii. My bucket list includes one non-tropical locale: Italy, where both my and my husband’s great-grandparents were born. I also foresee future trips to Greece, Australia, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico.