LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2023) — Erin Rolfes, director of corporate communications and media relations for The Kroger Co., will deliver the 2023 James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence lecture 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, in Grand Ballroom 212C of the Gatton Student Center at the University of Kentucky. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Department of Integrated Strategic Communication and the College of Communication and Information. 2023 marks the Bowling Lecture Series’ 24th anniversary.
As The Kroger Co.’s spokesperson, Rolfes is responsible for enhancing and protecting Kroger’s corporate reputation and shaping the brand narrative alongside the company’s many lines of business.
Rolfes joined The Kroger Co. in 2018 as the corporate affairs manager for the Cincinnati-Dayton division, where she led media, strategic communications, government relations, community engagement and philanthropy. In 2021, she began overseeing Kroger technology and digital communications. Prior to Kroger, Rolfes held several key roles in professional communications, including television production, agencies and as manager of public relations and communications for REDI Cincinnati.
Rolfes has a long history of volunteerism and community involvement with various organizations and a real passion for Greater Cincinnati. When she is not telling Kroger’s story, she is running, traveling with her husband Brock or spending time exploring the region with her friends.
In addition to honoring the Bowling Executive-in-Residence, the series recognizes an outstanding public relations practitioner through the Excellence in Public Relations award. The 2023 recipient is Lisa Deffendall, executive communications officer for Fayette County Public Schools.
Deffendall is a Northwestern University journalism alumnus and held an extensive career as an education reporter for The Courier, The Tuscaloosa News and Lexington Herald-Leader. Prior to moving into her current role, Deffendall served as district spokeswoman for the Fayette County Public Schools for more than 18 years.
The Bowling Executive-in-Residence Series began in 2000. It brings nationally known public relations professionals to UK to deliver an address and meet with students interested in public relations careers. The daylong activities include the Executive-in-Residence visit; the Excellence in PR Award; and a scholarship for a senior integrated strategic communication major with an emphasis in public relations. The 2023 scholarship recipient will be announced at the lecture.
The series honors James C. Bowling, the late retired assistant chairman of Philip Morris Companies Inc. Bowling attended UK and later served the university as a member of the UK Development Council. In addition to serving on several national boards, Bowling also worked with the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, UK Gatton College of Business and Economics and the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
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