PRSA Orlando Chapter members come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and industries, giving them knowledge, experience and insight into a vast array of areas. As we enter Hispanic Heritage Month, which is recognized from September 15 through October 15, what better way to celebrate than by recognizing one of our own—Katarina Dos Santos.

Katarina is an active chapter member who is passionate about both her profession and her heritage. Her role with Orange County Government gives her the opportunity to merge the two by working in an environment that doesn’t just embrace diversity, but also makes it a priority to encourage the recognition of cultures and provide avenues for celebration. Continue reading to learn more about Katarina’s experience with PRSA and why Hispanic Heritage Month is so important to her.

  • Name: Katarina Dos Santos, MA
  • Current position: Marketing and Communications Assistant Manager, Orange County Convention Center
  • Hometown: Miami, FL
  • Alma mater/degree: University of Central Florida, Bachelors in Advertising/Public Relations ’13 | Masters in Communication ‘20
  • Very first job: I was freelancing as a social media coordinator right out of college. I worked with an agency and with Orange County Government.

How long have you been a member of PRSA and what made you join? What aspect(s) do you enjoy most?

I have been a member of PRSA since 2014, and have enjoyed learning from my industry peers and giving back to the profession. I joined PRSA for the countless professional development opportunities it provides and the large network of PR professionals I get to be a part of.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of joining PRSA?

Joining PRSA is the best thing you can do for your professional development. The relationships and friendships you will build and the lessons you will learn from the various programming will last you a lifetime. Those things are priceless!

PRSA defines Public Relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. How does your current position fit into or expand upon that definition?

As the Marketing and Communications Assistant Manager for the Orange County Convention Center, part of my role is to manage and build relationships with district stakeholders, local and trade media, and industry communicators. A big portion of my job relies on maintaining these positive relationships and cultivating mutually beneficial connections so that the events at the Center are a success.

What would you say is your biggest career milestone, so far?

My biggest career milestone has been managing various crisis communications during my time with Orange County Government. From hurricane preparation for the community to the recovery of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, I learned so much about myself and my work ethic during those times.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in field of PR/Communications? Or, in their career in general?

Never take your network for granted or burn a bridge – you never know when you will need to rely on them for your next career move. Also, it is OK to change jobs often until you find what you are truly passionate about. Like they say, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

If you weren’t in PR what would you be doing instead?

If I were not doing PR, I think I would be a teacher or doing something creative. I love working with children and being crafty.

How do you spend your free time?

On my free time, I enjoy going to Disney World, decorating my planner, spending time with my husband and dogs and walking the aisles of Target.

What’s something new you want to learn or master?

I would love to learn more about social media ads and sponsored content. I haven’t had many opportunities in my various positions to execute paid ad campaigns via social media, so it is something I am definitely interested in learning about.

As a Hispanic woman, please share your insight on the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month is a true celebration of our Hispanic culture and traditions. It brings awareness to the rich history, delicious foods and wonderful customs of our native countries. As a Hispanic woman, I believe it is important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the contributions of the many Latinos in our country. I am proud to be a part of an organization that is so diverse and prioritizes celebrating our different cultures.

How has the pandemic altered how you celebrate this nationally recognized month?

This year, I will be engaging in some virtual events, as well as some smaller in-person gatherings. Although the pandemic has made it difficult to celebrate, as we love to do, the health and safety of the community is paramount.