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Pikes Peak Chapter

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Three Pass Accreditation Exam

By Fred Morgan, APR, Fellow PRSA, Chapter Accreditation Chair 

     Three members of the Pikes Peak Chapter passed the tough PRSA APR examination earlier this month and are now accredited members of the Society. They include Patrice Lehermeier, APR; Nikki Richardson, APR; and Cheron Cole, APR. Nineteen of 67 active chapter members have earned their APRs – a total of 28 percent.

  Patrice Lehermeier is a senior public affairs specialist with Colorado Springs Utilities and has 15 years experience delivering strategic, results-based communications. She currently works on projects that frequently include field operations, customer service, conservation and environmental stewardship. She also served in a crisis communications role during the 2012 Waldo Canyon and 2013 Black Forest Fires.   

     Prior to utilities, Patrice was director of communications for USA Cycling and worked for NBC Olympics at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. She’s a certified FEMA advance public information officer, and earned a PRSA Colorado Silver Pick Award for publications excellence.

     Originally from San Diego, she currently resides in Pueblo West after living 14 years in Colorado Springs. Patrice earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California-Davis and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

    Nikki Richardson has had a diverse, seven-year public relations career working at an agency, a nonprofit, a public utility and a national association.  She currently serves as the associate director of reputation management for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating opinion leader outreach, facilitating tours and workshops for key industry stakeholders, leading sustainability communication efforts and assisting with proactive media relations. She also serves as the editor of Beef Issues Quarterly, a journal providing trends intelligence to help guide the beef industry’s planning and issues management efforts.

    Born and raised in Tulsa, Okla., Nikki graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. She was selected the outstanding graduate for the MPA program at UCCS and was also a 2012 Colorado Springs Business Journal Rising Star.    

     Cheron Cole is a public affairs specialist for Colorado Springs Utilities. In her two and a half years in the utilities industry, she has helped manage digital communications, employee communications, safety communications and customer publications.

     Prior to working for utilities, Cheron served four years as a marketing account manager in the outdoor and recreation industry for Camping World in Lincolnshire, Ill. She also worked as a public relations writer for Brigham Young University-Idaho university relations and was a public relations intern for Richter7, a full-service communications agency in Salt Lake City.

     Cole received her bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2007, where she also served as her Public Relations Student Society of America chapter president. She serves on the Springs Utilities Giving Campaign committee, participates in the employee volunteer organization and is fundraising for World Vision’s New York City Marathon team, which she plans to run in November. Originally from Chicago, Cheron has lived in Colorado Springs for two and a half years. She is married to Dr. Richard Cole, a clinical psychologist. They are expecting their first child in June.

     Accreditation is the mark of distinction for public relations practitioners who have demonstrated their commitment to the profession and its ethical practice.  Earning their APR designation also certifies that Patrice, Nikki and Cheron have demonstrated competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to effectively practice PR in today’s competitive environment. There are approximately 5,000 accredited members within PRSA and its eight partner PR organizations. Nineteen percent of PRSA’s national membership is accredited.