Debra Silimeo, center in photo, has been named the 2010 Washington PR Woman of the Year by Washington Women in Public Relations. The announcement was made on Nov. 10 at a WWPR luncheon ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Silimeo, Hager Sharp's senior vice president, leads the firm’s work for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called “The Nation’s Report Card.” Prior to her almost 10 years at the agency, she served in senior communications roles on the congressional leadership staff and at two cabinet-level agencies. In addition, she has worked at NBC4-TV and WTOP radio, hosted WAMU’s Morning Edition, and won the prestigious Bagehot Fellowship at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Silimeo also participates in the Girl Scouts’ National Capital Region’s Camp CEO to connect Girl Scouts to women business and community leaders.
In nominating Silimeo for the award, Hager Sharp President and CEO Garry Curtis wrote: "Since she came to Hager Sharp 10 years ago, the firm has more than doubled in size. She has contributed to the growth, while helping the firm maintain its much-admired culture even amidst challenges. When firm founder, Susan Hager, died suddenly in 2008, Debra stepped up and helped me keep the firm on even keel in the transition to very different type of firm (one that is employee owned). Now, Hager Sharp’s shares are up, revenues are higher than ever, and client initiatives are achieving new levels of success." Two other honorees were in the running for the award: Johanna Schneider, executive director – external relations for the Business Roundtable (left in photo),and Donna Vincent Roa, PhD, ABC, CSR-P, managing partner and chief strategist at Vincent Roa Group (right in photo).
The event also featured a keynote address by Dee Dee Myers, former White House Press Secretary, who recently joined The Glover Park Group as managing director of its public affairs practice. Myers served as White House Press Secretary for two years under the Clinton administration, from 1993 to 1994; and is the first woman and second-youngest to hold that position. A raffle was held to benefit WWPR's pro bono client, the Children's Law Center, the largest legal services organization in the District and the only organization that provides comprehensive free legal representation specifically for children who have been abused and neglected, have special education or health care needs.
Photography by Maggie J. Szymanek Uncommon Photography www.uncommonphotography.com.