PPRA finds leadership in River Wards

Adam Dvorin and Ashley Berke have been elected to new roles

As a digital media presence has become necessary to almost all companies and businesses, so has the need to hire experienced public relations professionals. Despite differing stories of how they first joined, two River Wards residents, Adam Dvorin and Ashley Berke, have used their Philadelphia Public Relations Association memberships to hone their industry skills and obtain leadership roles within the organization.

A Moorestown, N.J., native, Dvorin’s path to PPRA leadership started when he graduated Rowan University (then Glassboro State College) with a degree in communications, specializing in public relations. Although right out of college he chose to work as a journalist, it wasn’t long before he had utilized his degree through working with the Philadelphia public relations firm, Simon Public Relations Group (now Spryte).

Adam Dvorin

“My boss, Lisa Simon, introduced me to PPRA and even paid for my first membership as a work anniversary present,” Dvorin, 48, said. “She encouraged me to get involved right away, and I was part of a committee of early stage professionals who organized and held a happy hour for full membership.”

From there, Dvorin went to work for a North Jersey public relations firm and didn’t spend as much time with PPRA. Yet, a few years back, he decided he wanted to reconnect with the city’s public relations community since he is a resident of Northern Liberties. He had lunch with then-PPRA President Kera Armstrong, got involved in the college relations committee and became a committee chairperson the following year.

“Two years later, I joined the board,” Dvorin, who also serves in the role of media director at the New Jersey public relations firm Winning Strategies, said. “After one year as a board member, then President-Elect Ashley Berke nominated me to two board positions, vice president of programming and president-elect. It made for a busy, but extremely satisfying year.”

Now serving as PPRA president until June 2018, he explains his biggest responsibility is to support and oversee the different aspects of the association, from programing to communications, membership, sponsorship, college relations and more. In addition, he works with the different vice presidents to “set overarching strategies and troubleshoot roadblocks.”

“[PPRA] has helped [me as] both as an knowledge-generating and a network-building tool,” Dvorin said. “I think professional affiliation in any industry is important to help one grow professionally. If you work in public relations, I think you can only benefit from building your very own support network.”

At roughly the midway point in his career, Dvorin has spent the last 20 years building his own network, and now looks forward to sharing that with other PPRA members. Moving forward, he also hopes to be able to help clients navigate through an always-changing media landscape, and later serve as an educator in some capacity. Ultimately, through his membership with PPRA, Dvorin has been able to align his public relations goals with a platform helping to turn them into realities.

Ashley Berke

Although growing up she didn’t see herself falling into the public relations industry, and instead always wanted to be a veterinarian, as Berke entered her freshman year at Cornell University, she developed allergies to almost all animals, excluding hamsters. It was then that, rather than become a hamster specialist, she decided to switch paths and, similar to Dvorin, pursue a career in communication.

Upon graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Berke gained employment at the National Constitution Center as its public relations coordinator. Soon after beginning this job in 2005, her boss suggested she join the PPRA to further her professional development. Taking this advice, Berke joined and quickly gained a seat on the board.

“It was a great way to meet and engage with all the key players from within the public relations industry in Philly,” Berke, a 34-year-old Fishtown resident, said.

Using the many PPRA resources available and refining her skills, Berke was eventually promoted to director of public relations at the National Constitution Center, but later left to pursue the role of director of communication for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

One month ago she took on yet another new position, this time serving as the vice president of communications for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Berke added she is extremely excited about this role, as it encompasses her interests in both public relations and music (which she minored in during her time at Cornell University).

“PPRA has been helpful through all of my career changes, as I was given the chance to network with so many people in different sections of the industry,” Berke said. “Although it’s only my first month in this role, I am really overseeing media relations and social media.”

Having gained all of this public relations experience over the years, it was fitting that she served as PPRA president last year. This year, she has been nominated as chairperson of the organization, a position allowing her to spearhead public affairs on its behalf.

“The hard part [of being president] is behind me and now I can help advise the current president,” Berke, a Glenside native, said. “I plan to continue to stay involved with the PPRA, because it has made such an impact on my career. I want to be able to give back and help young people, just like others did for me when I first joined.”

For those other young public relations professionals like Berke once was, she suggests considering joining the PPRA as she says the industry is changing every day, and it is important for those in the business to stay on top of trends and to soak up as much industry knowledge as possible. Berke added membership through the PPRA is a great way to do exactly that, and to learn new ways to work in the field more efficiently.

“It’s also important to network with other professionals who can be great partners and mentors over the years,” Berke said.