Campus News

Valerie Di Maria to Deliver Bowling Lecture

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 3, 2009) - Valerie Di Maria, director of client strategy at Peppercom strategic communications firm, will deliver the 2009 James C. Bowling Executive-in-Residence lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, at the University of Kentucky William T. Young Library auditorium.

Di Maria's presentation, “Turmoil 'Я' Us,” will focus on how corporate turmoil can lead to opportunity if strategic steps are taken. There will be a reception preceding the lecture at 4:30 p.m. in the Hillary J. Boone Center. The program, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications Alumni Association.

"How can companies, and specifically communications practitioners, lead during this current spell of corporate distrust, CEO malfeasance and economic uncertainty?" Di Maria asks within her presentation. "How can we create the 'authentic enterprise' - the proposed ideal organization that can succeed in today’s radically changing landscape? Which strategies and best practices are the most effective as we evolve from being reactive to proactive to interactive, and deal with an array of forces, including the digital network revolution, an expanded and empowered range of stakeholders, and true globalization?"

Di Maria was recently named director of client strategy and growth at Peppercom, which is headquartered in New York, with offices in San Francisco and London.

Working with an array of clients to develop and execute communications programs, Di Maria also assists in new business development and is spearheading Peppercom’s efforts to target and counsel C-suite executives.

“We’re delighted to welcome Valerie Di Maria to UK," said Beth Barnes, director of the UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications. "Her diverse background in the public relations business makes her an especially appropriate speaker for the 10th year of the Bowling Executive-In-Residence Program, as she brings together a number of key elements of public relations practice.”

In addition to the lecture, Di Maria will be speaking in two classes and meeting with students in the UK Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter earlier in the day.

Prior to joining Peppercom, Di Maria had been senior vice president and group marketing and communications director for Willis Group Holdings Limited, the global insurance broker. Prior to that, she had served as corporate vice president of communications and public affairs for Motorola, the global telecommunications company. Before Motorola, Di Maria was vice president of corporate public relations and advertising at GE Capital, the international financial services firm owned by General Electric.

On the agency side of the house, Di Maria’s was president of the New York headquarters of Grey Advertising’s worldwide public relations agency, GCI, and vice chairman of the GCI Group. She joined GCI from Omnicom’s Porter Novelli public relations, where she had been senior vice president/group supervisor, managing the consumer marketing practice.

Di Maria was named one of the “Ten Top Women in PR,” one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in PR,” and a tech industry “key player” by PR Week. The trade publication Inside PR also named her one of the “Ten Agency All-Stars.”

Di Maria was instrumental in the founding of the Council of Public Relations Firms. She is a board member of the Arthur W. Page Society, a premier organization of chief communications officers of major corporations, and co-led the task force that produced Page’s "The Authentic Enterprise," a definitive report on the evolving role of the CCO. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts from New York University.

Jim Williams, director of communications at Keeneland, is the 2009 Excellence in Public Relations award recipient. He will be honored at a luncheon on Nov. 6.

Williams’ career as a journalist and a member of racetrack management spans more than four decades. A sportswriter at the Lexington Herald while attending college, he joined Keeneland in 1971 and will retire at the end of this year after more than 38 years with the company.

Williams succeeded J.B. Faulconer as Keeneland’s director of publicity in 1971 and, ultimately, assumed the title of director of communications for the Central Kentucky based thoroughbred race course and auction company. He has worked under three company presidents: Ted Bassett, Bill Greely and current CEO Nick Nicholson.

In this position, Williams has overseen the advertising, communications and corporate identity for Keeneland’s racing, auction sales and simulcasting and serves as the company’s spokesperson. During his tenure, he has witnessed the emergence of Keeneland as a world leader in both racing and sales while watching the growth and revitalization of almost the entire facility.

The Bowling Executive-in-Residence Program began in 2000 and brings to UK nationally-known public relations practitioners to not only deliver an address, but also meet with students interested in public relations careers. The program includes the executive-in-residence visit, the excellence award and a scholarship for a senior integrated strategic communication major with an emphasis in public relations. Heather E. Shiwarski of Coraopolis, Penn. is the 2009 scholarship recipient. 

The series honors James C. Bowling, the late retired assistant chairman of Philip Morris Companies Inc. He 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 UK's colleges of Agriculture and Business and the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.