Shantel Risher
Shantel Risher

I knew since I was in High School that Communications was calling me. Maybe it’s because I associated it with being persuasive or a great storyteller. After college, I began to find my place in the public relations industry.

At the very beginning of my career, being part of the PRSA-NY Big Apple Awards -- and being named a winner—seemed so far away.

Then my dream began to take shape. From digital content management to client relations, I saw myself taking on more roles that made me uncomfortable in the best possible way. I was taught to be an active listener, collaborate, and always go back to the objective, “What do you want people to know?”.

It was as a Client Relationship Manager at a start-up communications agency that my team and I submitted my name for the PRSA-NY Big Apple Awards 15 Under 35 Class of 2022.

I was to be among the next generation of PR and Communications professionals to be named emerging leaders and thinkers. It felt good to join the past and present 15 Under 35 Award recipients… but I could not have anticipated the real value and connections that being a 15 Under 35 winner would open for me.

My recognition at last year’s Big Apple Awards has led me to connect with a wide and high-quality circle of supportive colleagues and mentors at PRSA-NY.

Today, I am a leader on the 2023 Big Apple Awards planning committee, working with event management, sponsors, nominees, and some of the most senior level professionals in the public relations business.

The Big Apple Awards and 15 Under 35 is the only industry awards program that focuses on New York, the epicenter of the public relations and media universe. To me, it’s the Tony Awards, Emmy Awards and Oscars rolled into one!

The majority of PRSA-NY members are at the vice president level and above, creating opportunities for emerging professionals to meet and interact with a group of leaders in the business that would otherwise be unreachable for a beginner in the communications practice.

Serving on the committee that plans the Big Apple Awards has given me a rare behind-the-scenes look at how events come together and how leaders collaborate.

So, if you were to ask me what it means to be part of PRSA-NY’s 15 Under 35, it means opening up a new world of contacts. It means being recognized as a young changemaker. It means networking with the best. It means excelling in the most competitive and critical public relations market in the world – New York.

I can’t wait to see which young professionals and agencies will join our ranks at this year’s awards ceremony. As usual, it promises to be a room full of bold-face names in a glamorous location in the greatest city on earth.

I hope to see you there on November 15th!


Shantel Risher is a senior communications associate at and serves as a leader on the 2023 Big Apple Awards planning committee.