Austin Chapter Members Achieve National APR Credential 

Congratulations to two members of the Austin PRSA Chapter for earning their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 2024. Kimberly Deese, APR, and Ashley Houk, APR, received confirmation from the national organization that they have passed all requirements and are now accredited. Here are a few highlights of their career achievements and their thoughts on the APR process: 


Kimberly Deese, APR

Deese is the Director of Digital PR at NP Digital, where she has a dual role leading corporate communications for the agency and digital PR for clients. Prior to her current role, she worked for Intern Queen leading events and brand activation, co-hosted the Travel Squad Podcast, and led PR work at Craft & Clover agency and PACIFIC out of San Diego, California. Deese earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations and communication studies from California State University-Sacramento.

“As I went through the process, I realized it’s less about public relations and more about integrated campaign planning to achieve an objective,” said Deese. “Throughout the APR online course and in my own panel presentation, we pulled in tactics from printed materials to paid ads to media relations to achieve the objectives with the audiences. I appreciated realizing that modern PR is so much more than media relations when you create campaigns that set out to achieve objectives.”

Deese said she’s thankful for everyone who helped her in her journey including all the APR volunteers who showed up week after week to offer their guidance in the APR online course; Amelia Folkes, APR, from the Austin PRSA chapter, who helped review her questionnaire; Kathy Mulvihill, who helped coordinate a panel presentation; and Josh Gitelson, Nancy Patridge, and Teresa Snow, who gave her great insights and inspiration during the panel presentation.


Ashley Houk, APR

Houk is the Head of US PR for PA Consulting, where she practices global media relations and public relations strategy. Prior to this role, she worked at both Burson-Marsteller and FleishmanHillard. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. Early in her career she was an editorial intern at Anthem Magazine in New York and the Culture Intern at the Arizona Daily Star.

“I sought out the APR certification to enhance my PR skills, and ultimately become a more dynamic PR pro,” said Houk. "My path to public relations was a bit windy at the start, and throughout the course I was able to uplevel my PR knowledge about elements I don't usually work on, including communications theory, internal comms, and crisis and issues management. If you are considering pursuing the accreditation, I highly recommend you sign up."

Houk said she is grateful for all of the people who supported her throughout the program, particularly Michael Henry and everyone in his weekly online study course, her mentor Katina Tinka Bush, APR, and Austin's local chapter APR representative Grace Capwell, APR.  

The Benefits of APR

The APR credential helps professionals build their personal brand and distinguishes a practitioner by demonstrating mastery of the strategic communications practice. For access to resources and testimonies from APR members, go to the APR PRSA candidate page. For questions about the APR program and how you can sign up, contact Grace Capwell, APR Chair for the Austin Chapter, [email protected].