Monthly Features of Our Ocala FPRA Members


December 2014 – Ashley Lopez, Public Information Officer for Ocala Fire Rescue

Where are you from?  Luquillo, Puerto Rico

Affiliation with public relations: Public Information Officer for Ocala Fire Rescue

Little-known fact: If I told you it would cease to be little known but go ahead, I invite you to try to find out.

What attracted you to FPRA?  For someone like me, with a background in special events and recreation management, FPRA represented the opportunity to interact with community PR leaders; it provided a platform for networking and career development…or at least that’s how Carol Savage sold me on it.

Favorite aspect of PR: It allows us, as representatives of our organizations or brands, to always bring our best foot forward. No matter how challenging a situation may be, we have the ability to shed light on the bright side and focus the public’s attention to the possibilities that lie ahead.

Anything else to add? Old habits die hard so I will excuse myself in advanced. Please forgive me for calling FPRA, FRPA (Florida Recreation and Parks Association). Go FRPA, I mean FPRA!

November 2014 – Brie Inman, Operations Manager at Jenkins Auto Group

Where are you from?  I was born and raised in Ocala, FL.

Affiliation with public relations: I majored in public relations at Florida State and was a member of FPRA at FSU.

Little-known fact:  I am a Grandma! At the age of 30 I became a grandma and now soon I will have two step grandsons! I graduated with my bachelors at the age of 20 so obviously things are moving along quickly.

What attracted you to FPRA?  I had prior involvement in FPRA at a college level and then received an invitation from Allison Campbell, APR.

Favorite aspect of PR: I am intrigued by personal PR. Everyone has public relations in their own life invited or not.

Anything else to add? I love spending my free time with my husband Scott and our children Addison (6) and Asher (4).

October 2014 – Kayla Grimsley

Community Relations Specialist – Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, Inc.

Where are you from?   I was born in Lakeland, Florida, and moved to Ocala while still in middle school! I went to Osceola Middle, Forest High and CFCC before it became CF.

Affiliation with public relations: I manage our websites and social media outlets as well as contribute ads for our Habitat ReStore to sites such as Ocala4Sale, Craigslist and Facebook.

Little-known fact: I cannot read music, but I love to play the piano and sing in my spare time.

What attracted you to FPRA?  The awesome opportunity to network within my community is what attracted me to FPRA.

Favorite aspect of PR: Being able to connect with others who are interested in a common cause.

Anything else to add? I graduated from USF in 2013 with a BS Degree in Business.

September 2014 – Jenifer Lowe

Community Relations Specialist – Marion County Sheriff’s Office

Where are you from?   I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale and moved to Ocala in 2007 to work for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Affiliation with public relations: I have my Bachelor’s Degree in PR, did my internship with Broward Sheriff’s Office in media/community relations, and worked for American Express in corporate PR before joining MCSO. My current position is Community Relations Specialist; coordinating all fundraising, agency events, outreach programs and crime prevention education.

Little-known fact: I have hiked 32 miles of the Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. I hope to complete the entire trail hike, 2,180 miles, in my lifetime.

What attracted you to FPRA?  I had just begun my career with MCSO and wanted to meet other PR professionals in Ocala. I also thought it would be a great way to socialize and get involved in other groups and organizations.

Favorite aspect of PR: There are so many types of people in PR; from strategic planners to creative and artsy fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types; bloggers, public speakers, leaders, managers, delegators, work horses. Everyone brings something different to the table.

Anything else to add? My philosophy is that whatever you do, live your life so that you are proud of yourself when you look down from the clouds one day on all that you have left behind.

August 2014 – Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC

Public Relations Officer / Coordinator of Television Media Productions – Marion County Public Schools

Kevin-2013 Headshot 1-smallWhere are you from?  Born in Columbus, OH and lived in WV, TN and FL.

Affiliation with public relations: Public Relations Officer & Coordinator of Television Media Productions, Marion County Public Schools, Ocala, FL.

Little-known fact: I’ve played piano since I was 5 years old and made a living at it for a few years in the Orlando area.

What attracted you to FPRA? First, obligation — because I was named “Communicator of the Year.”  I now value the networking, professional development, and personal / professional relationships with local and state members.

Favorite aspect of PR: Results earned for hard work invested. Sometimes the results are good; sometimes not so good, but everything should be a learning experience.

Anything else to add? You get out of FPRA what you put into it!

July 2014 – Ryan Kirby

Public Communication Coordinator, City of Ocala


 Where are you from?

I was born in the suburbs of Detroit, Mich., and moved to the Ocala area when I was 11 years old.

Affiliation with public relations: I have been active in PR since my freshmen year at the College of Central Florida where I served as a student ambassador. After transferring to the University of Florida, I worked in the communications office at the University Athletic Association (UAA).

Little-known fact: After graduating from UF in 2013, my fiancé and I ventured to Los Angeles, but decided to move back to Ocala when we got married this March. I like to play basketball and am obsessed with SportsCenter. I dance inappropriately and I also use exclamation points!

What attracted you to FPRA? The opportunity to connect with other PR professionals on the local, state and national level is rewarding. I know that by being involved I will have many opportunities to develop professionally.
Favorite aspect of PR: I enjoy accumulating the preliminary research, especially the quantitative and qualitative aspects of research. Compiling accurate research can make or break the overall campaign goal.

Anything else to add?
I love traveling and learning about other cultures. As always, Go Gators!


June 2014 – Mikhalea M. Hack

Communication/Media Specialist for the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors®

Mikhalea-HackWhere are you from?
Lake Mary, FL. I just moved to Ocala last July.

Affiliation with public relations: I am the Communication/Media Specialist for the Ocala/Marion County Association of Realtors®. I organize all educational events for Realtor® Members, meetings for the Association, speaking engagements, as well as plan andoversee the annual “Chair-ity event”, Presidential luncheons, RPAC Auctions and committee events.

Little-known fact: I have my Aesthetics license. My favorite hobby is playing with makeup and skincare products.

What attracted you to FPRA? Professional development and wanting to meet others in the PR field here in Ocala.

Favorite aspect of PR: Event planning! I enjoy the endless opportunities that PR brings and being able to plan and organize special events by getting creative and coming up with new ideas to help businesses and organizations succeed.





 May 2014 – John Podkomorski

Where are you from? podkomorski_johnBorn in Milwaukee, WI. Lived and worked in Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, CA. My family includes first, my wonderful first wife (45 years) and my two kids who live in California.

Affiliation with public relations:
I’m kind of a weird duck in PR. Most of my work roles have involved direct contact with customers, both internal and external to the company. I’ve managed world-wide technical education and support for computer products, and for many years was responsible for technical issue management and resolution, managing staff on four continents. While these roles were not directly Public Relations, they sure carried the same requirements for careful, comprehensive and mutually beneficial communication.

Little-known fact:
A while ago my wife and I were semi-professional European Folk Dancers. We performed for many years (most of them years long ago) in cultures like Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Israeli, Serbian, Macedonian and probably a few others. A side-effect was playing in Orchestra Selo (translates to “Village Band” in Serbian).

What attracted you to FPRA?
When I started volunteer work with NAMI in Marion County it was very obvious I needed a crash course in Public Relations to further the work of the Non-Profit. FPRA introduced me to a large, talented generous community of highly trained professionals who helped NAMI immeasurably in developing a public image.

Favorite aspect of PR:
The people, networking and education opportunities at the monthly meetings.

Anything else to add?
I’d strongly recommend anyone “in the public eye” to take advantage of FPRA membership for personal growth, networking and knowledge. Contributing to the work of FPRA is very rewarding, both professionally and personally. When I joined, Ryan Gerds encouraged me to get involved: “You’ll get out of membership what you put into it.” I found that to be very true. Involvement is important. Jump in, the water’s fine.

April 2014 – Toni James, APR, CPRC


ToniJamesWhere are you from? Sparta, New JerseyToniJames

Affiliation with public relations:
oined the newly created Ocala chapter of FPRA in 1981.

Little-known fact: 

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bucknell University with a major in English.

What attracted you to FPRA?
My job as head of our local United Way was all about public relations. In the beginning the UW staff consisted of me, a secretary, and a bookkeeper. I did all the public relations for the organization. When we grew the first new position we created was Director of Public Relations & Marketing.

Favorite aspect of PR:  Building relationships with key constituencies.

Anything else to add? 

Membership in FPRA has given me professional development in public relations and networking which have helped me be successful in my career at United Way.


 March 2014 – Allison Blythe Campbell, APR (Yes, her initials are ABC)

AllisonCampbellWhere are you from? Cleveland, Tennessee

Affiliation with public relations: My bachelor’s degree is in sports broadcasting and my Master’s is in Political Communication, but while in graduate school, I realized that PR was my favorite aspect of communication. I had a terrific PR professor in grad school, Ken Wheeler, APR, who once served as his PRSA chapter’s president, so I guess he steered me in the right direction.

After moving to Ocala I worked in marketing/PR and physician recruiting for Ocala Regional Medical Center/West Marion Community Hospital (before it became Ocala Health) and have been doing philanthropy and PR work for ARC Marion Foundation for the past six and a half years.

Little-known fact: Ummm, little known? I’m an open book. I’ve visited 28 states and at least 14 countries- mostly traveling to sing or do ministry in all of those places.
I can sing the 50 states in alphabetical order. (Thanks to Fifty Nifty United States by Ray Charles)
I know the Greek alphabet, because when I was seven, my friend’s older sister had to learn it when she pledged a sorority in college, and she taught it to us. I’ve had it memorized ever since.

What attracted you to FPRA? Tina Banner, APR, CPRC convinced me to join though I was reluctant. I’m so glad I did… so much fun, fellowship, camaraderie, and wealth of knowledge and information is shared at nearly every gathering. It’s fantastic to call these members my colleagues and friends.
Favorite aspect of PR: Integrated Communication approaches. I love the tactical side of a campaign… after all the research and plan, I love seeing it all unfold and utilizing different tactics to communicate the message.

February 2014 – Staci Biondini

Staci-BiondiniWhere are you from?

I grew up in Anthony – on the other side of the airstrip John Travolta uses. My family has lived in Anthony since before the Civil War.

Affiliation with public relations:
B.S. in Public Relations and M.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Florida. I’ve worked for two colleges, a public relations firm and a school district.

Little-known fact:
I have unintentionally encountered quite a few b- and c-list celebrities. I had dinner with Shaquille O’Neal’s mother, took a walk with Oprah’s personal trainer, Bob Greene, packed backpacks with Hillary Duff and lifted weights at the gym with Carrot Top.

What attracted you to FPRA?
Professional development and networking opportunities. I love learning from others’ experiences. Experience is the best teacher.

Favorite aspect of PR:
I like that no day in the office is ever the same, and that while I have mainly worked in education, public relations gives me the opportunity to work for virtually any industry.

Anything else to add?
I have two daughters, Meadow is 3 and Fable is 2. Having grown up in Ocala, I was eager to leave, but found myself returning years later. It’s true what they say – Ocala is a great place to raise a family.

January 2014 – Jeannine Robbins

JeannineRobbinsWhere are you from?

I grew up in Gainesville, but have been in Ocala since 1991. My first job after graduating from the University of Florida was with the Key Training Center/Key Pine Village in Lecanto. For a 22-year-old aspiring PR professional, relocating to Ocala was a bit more attractive than Lecanto.

Affiliation with public relations:

I am PIO for the City of Ocala, as well as the Manager of the Office of Public Communication.

Little-known fact:

An interview with me appeared on the front page of The New York Times in January 1989 – 25 years ago this month. A reporter was doing the lead story on the upcoming execution of Ted Bundy and wanted the perspective of college students who remembered when Bundy committed his crimes a decade before.

What attracted you to FPRA?

The networking, growth and learning opportunities are abundant.

Favorite aspect of PR:

There is never a dull day in our office. Our daily discipline includes monitoring the paper, TV and social media outlets for items affecting the city, in addition to writing media releases and coordinating interviews. My department also facilitates the city’s strategic planning process and manages the dashboards on which the city’s performance measures are reported. We conduct new employee orientation and facilitate the city’s leadership development series for new and future leaders.

Anything else to add?

I am a huge college sports fan—go Gators!