Happy 2021! It’s finally here! Every New Year is filled with anticipation and hope, but never in recent memory has a year held so much expectation and promise. There certainly is a lot of pressure on 2021 to be a great year. And then, six days into it, we watched with horror as rioters assaulted the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to delegitimize the election of the President and Vice President of the United States.

PRSA 2021 Chair Michelle Olson, APR reminds us that there is strength in our unity and in a letter to members, encouraged us to “join together to help restore faith in our democracy, and continue to model the importance of behaving civilly, peacefully and ethically.” She also reminds us that as communicators, our profession is built on the pillars of timely, accurate and truthful information. We must continue to serve as “steady voices at a time of great imbalance.” 

Despite the upsetting scenes and attack on our democracy, there is a sense of hope and unity in bringing civil discourse back into the forefront. I am reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

With much uncertainty on the horizon, there is also hope and a sense of relief that at least vaccines are being distributed and that, as we move into 2021, we will see progress toward ending the pandemic and economic recovery. We also begin our year with the announcement of PRSA’s new Chief Executive Officer–Linda Thomas Brooks. We can all look forward to her leadership and vision. 

As we continue down the path of uncertainty, PRSA Orlando is committed to providing insightful programs and networking opportunities that will inspire and guide you along the way. We aim to be your spark of creativity and to light the way to your success. We plan to offer virtual programs through June, and will look to offer hybrid and in-person events, as feasible, later in the year. We also will continue to hold less formal opportunities for networking and idea sharing.

We are thrilled to be the host chapter for PRSA ICON 2021 October 17-20 at the Marriott Orlando World Center. The host chapter committee is coming together and, if you want to help us create an amazing conference, please reach out to our Host Committee Chair Jamie Floer, APR, CPRC.

Our first program of the year couldn’t be more timely: “Free Speech and the First Amendment: Can They Really Say That?” on Thursday, January 21. Be sure to register today! In February, we will celebrate Black History Month and are thrilled to offer a meaningful program focused on Unconscious Bias on Thursday, February 18. 

As we face 2021, do so with brave hearts and a willingness to be a spark that lights the way.

Stay bright!

Stefanie Macfarlane, APR
PRSA Orlando Regional Chapter President