Chief Executive Officer

Posted: May 16, 2014
Public Relations Society of America

New York, New York, United States

Chief Executive Officer
Public Relations of Society of America
New York, NY
Reporting Relationship
The CEO reports to the PRSA Board of Directors through a direct connection with the board’s Executive Committee.


The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is the world’s largest and most prominent organization of public relations professionals.

In 1947, PRSA was chartered with the vision to unify, strengthen, and advance the public relations profession.  With a community of nearly 22,000 members and a student affiliate, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), of 11,500 members, PRSA empowers a diverse community of members at every stage of their career with the knowledge and resources to advocate for the profession. In recent times, the industry has experienced transformative changes that will redefine the role of public relations professionals in our society forever. With the advent of integrated marketing, social media, and the convergence of earned, owned, shared, and paid media, organizations increasingly acknowledge the lead role that public relations plays in developing well-executed, competitive business strategies.

During this time of tremendous opportunity, PRSA aims to increase solidarity and collaboration within the profession, creating a space for leading public relations and communications professionals to share the latest thinking on topics germane to the field. Additionally, PRSA hosts cutting-edge professional development opportunities for its members, including the Accredited in Public Relations Program (APR), the industry’s only accreditation program. PRSA also publishes its innovative, new-age thinking in its award-winning periodicals and publications, Tactics, PR Journal, and the Strategist;  its popular blogs, PRSAY and ComPRehension; podcasts; speaker bureaus;  the Anvil Case Studies and White Papers; and social media.  

As the public relations profession continues to evolve, PRSA is committed to maintaining its status as a preeminent authority, seeking opportunities to champion the strategic value of ethical public relations and its role in driving organizational strategy. The organization is also committed to building a stronger membership, producing and disseminating innovative thought leadership and expertise, and advocating for a more diverse and inclusive industry.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES                                                                                                                                                                   The Chief Executive Officer, will lead a team of more than 50 full-time staff and operate with a $12 million annual budget.  This individual will lead the strategic vision and positioning for the organization and be responsible for the day-to-day operations of PRSA, including the supervision of staff and PRSA programs, and for delivering ongoing goals and objectives as agreed with the Board of Directors. S/he must be an outstanding strategic leader, advocate, and spokesperson with a strong sensitivity and appreciation for the needs of diversity.

Specific Responsibilities:

Strategic Vision and Leadership

Provide to staff and the Board strategic leadership, vision, and insight to develop a strategic plan to ensure the long-term viability, relevance, and success of PRSA.


Cultivate a strong and transparent working relationship between the Board and staff, ensuring open communication about the measurement of member engagement and financial, programmatic, and impact performance against stated milestones and goals.

Financial Goals

Work closely with the Chief Financial Officer to lead the development of long and short range financial plans and monitor the budget and maintenance of sound financial controls; coordinate financial priorities to ensure the organization is operating in a manner that supports the needs of the program and staff.  Evaluate lease options in first year of the role. Successfully lead achievement of PRSA's long-term financial goal, growing PRSA’s net assets annually.  


Provide constant attention to the governance and administration of Chapters, Districts, and Sections in addition to committee meetings and the PRSA Assembly, which includes the election of PRSA’s directors and officers, the amendment of organizational bylaws, the endorsement of Chapter dissolutions, and the approval of PRSA’s dues structure.

Membership Development

Provide direction to staff on the creation and delivery of an ongoing plan to engage, retain, and acquire members with the objective of growing overall membership levels, including further development of a robust Group Membership program.

Professional Development

Oversee PRSA's program of professional development; supervise the identification and incorporation of new and emerging presenters and relevant topics, as well as development of the medium-term goal of establishing a PRSA-operated learning management system.


Promote realistic and achievable ideas to create greater efficiencies, deliver new programs, improve member satisfaction, and otherwise evolve PRSA.

Staff Oversight and Retention

Facilitate cross-departmental collaboration and strengthen internal communications with staff throughout the organization; create and promote a positive, multicultural work environment that supports consistency throughout the organization's strategy, operational methods, and data collection needs. 


Provide overall direction to staff designing and implementing PRSA's sponsorship and partnership program, including sponsorship opportunities in conjunction with program development and innovation, and cultivation of key partners and sponsors.

Key Program Success

Offer strategic guidance to staff to ensure that PRSA's marquee programs, PRSA International Conference and Silver Anvils, continue their success and contribution both to PRSA's bottom-line, as well as to the overall PRSA membership experience through the creation of case studies, professional development, and learning and networking opportunities.

Research and evaluation

Continue PRSA's fact-based decision making process by utilizing a broad program of research and surveys to measure performance, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate success.

Public Relations and Advocacy

Oversee PRSA's public relations function.  Guide support for PRSA's program to advocate on behalf of the profession, championing diversity in the profession, ethical conduct, and the value of public relations.

Marketing and Branding

Lead the formulation and execution of comprehensive marketing, branding, and development strategies that will ensure consistency throughout the organization and enhance revenue development.


  • Alignment of PRSA’s organization to successfully execute the Board approved strategic plan for continued growth, member engagement, and relevancy.  
  •  Cultivation of strong relationships with key constituencies, including leaders in the public relations and communications industry.
  •  Financial well-being and success.


The successful candidate will be an action-oriented visionary who has 15 to 20 years of prior senior executive leadership experience.  Ideal candidates will have served as a CEO, COO, or in other senior-level executive positions and managed a budget and staff of similar scope and complexity as PRSA.

A successful candidate will have a proven performance record of the following areas, or similar strategic leadership experience:

  • Effective management of a membership organization or trade association with chapters, districts, or other "components,” operating in a dynamic environment.
  •  Senior-level leadership, engagement, inspiration, and representation of members, constituents, volunteers, and a professional staff.
  • Strong staff and organizational leader, with track record for attracting, developing, and inspiring a highly productive, innovative, member-centric team.
  • Business and financial acumen to manage shifting priorities and continual program development in a resource-constrained environment.  An ability to clearly set and manage priorities, delegate, and guide investment in people and systems; keen analytic, organization and problem solving skills.
  • Success working effectively with a Board of Directors in a changing and dynamic business environment.  Experience leading and engaging a volunteer board is a strong plus.
  • A politically astute leader who has an ability to remain impartial while working with different stakeholders, and who can help build consensus among differing opinions.
  • Excellent presentation and communication skills, with an ability to relate to diverse audiences, constituents, and stakeholders at different levels, ranging from one-one-one meetings with members, small gatherings of chapter leaders, the PRSA Assembly, and Chief Communication Officers and CEOs of large multinational organizations.
  • Effective engagement with stakeholders from diverse cultures, languages, and geographies.
  • Ability to extract value from partnerships with other professional or membership associations, as well as public and private sector entities.
  • An innovator who has the ability to affect thoughtful change.


Making Complex Decisions

  •  Can solve even the toughest and most complex of problems; great at gleaning

meaning from whatever data is available; is a quick study of the new and different; adds personal wisdom and  experience to come to the best conclusion and solution, given the situation; uses multiple problem-solving tools and techniques.

Inspiring Others

  • Is skilled at getting individuals, teams, and an entire organization to perform at a higher level and to embrace change; negotiates skillfully to achieve a fair outcome or promote a common cause; communicates a compelling vision and is committed to what needs to be done; inspires others; builds motivated, high-performing teams; understands what motivates different people.

Getting Work Done Through Others

  • Manages people well; gets the most and best out of the people he/she has; sets and communicates guiding goals; measures accomplishments, holds people accountable, and gives useful feedback; delegates and develops; keeps people informed; provides coaching for today and for the future.

Creative Visionary

  • Is able to come up with the next great breakthrough thing to do; is creative, a visionary, and can manage innovation; is an effective strategist full of ideas and possibilities; sees multiple futures; has broad interests and knowledge; can both create and bring exciting ideas to market; is comfortable speculating about alternative futures without all of the data.

Keeping on point

  • Can quickly separate the mission-critical from the nice to dos and the trivals; quickly senses what’s the next most useful thing to work on; focuses on the critical few tasks that really add value and puts aside or delays the rest.

Managing Diverse Relationships

  • Relates well to a wide variety of diverse styles, types, and classes; is open to differences; effective up, down, sideways, inside, and outside; builds diverse networks; is quick to find common ground; treats differences fairly and equitably; treats everyone as a preferred customer.

Acting with Honor and Character

  • Is a person of high character; is consistent and acts in line with a clear and visible set of values and beliefs; deals and talks straight; walks his/her talk; is direct and truthful but at the same time can keep confidences.


Bachelor’s degree required, MBA preferred, or related advanced degree.  An applicable Professional Certification (APR, CAE, etc.) is strongly preferred.


A competitive compensation package will be provided to attract outstanding candidates


Korn/Ferry shall provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified candidates, and will refer candidates without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other legally protected basis. Korn/Ferry shall comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations in the performance of duties pursuant to this Agreement, including but not limited to, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state and local anti-discrimination laws to the extent applicable.

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