Letting Your Heart Lead: Lessons from 2024 Leadership Assembly

What do David Grossman, Laine Himmelmann, and Patrice Tanaka have in common? Aside from their remarkable leadership in the PR industry, advocacy for important causes, and speaking engagements at PRSSA’s 2024 Leadership Assembly, they all lead their professional lives with their hearts. In a world where many are driven by dollar signs and fame, these industry leaders offer us, as PRSSA students, valuable insight: let your heart lead.

David Grossman, APR, Fellow PRSA, founder & CEO of The Grossman Group, has branded himself as a leader who follows his heart. Alongside his publications and professional work, he has a passion for giving back to PRSSA students. As a Champion for PRSSA, he sponsors various components of national events and advocates for students to prioritize leading with their hearts.

Laine Himmelmann, senior manager of DEI and corporate citizenship communications at Blue Shield of California, emphasized the importance of letting your heart guide your personal branding. She shared experiences from her previous position with Habitat for Humanity for Greater Sacramento and the impactful contributions she made to improve the quality of life for many within the program. Her message inspired attendees to consider how they can make positive changes in the lives of those they work with and for.

Last but certainly not least, Patrice Tanaka, founder & chief joy officer of Joyful Planet LLC, discussed how finding your purpose can drive your career and reshape your life. She shared her journey of discovering her life purpose and finding joy, which ultimately led to her success. Tanaka now helps others find their purpose and motivating force to propel them forward in their careers and lives.

Follow the Leader

There are valuable lessons to be learned, as upcoming public relations professionals, about hitting the ground running with our humanity leading. The tenacity, scrappiness, and hunger that fuels many of us to learn, lead and do, can only be elevated when we let our heart—our humanity—be a leading force. 

A common misconception about public relations is that it is a manipulative business. It’s about spinning the truth and hiding the facts. And that is so incredibly wrong. 

That’s why it’s important that we take the lessons learned from events like Leadership Assembly and leading professionals like David Grossman, Laine Himmelmann and Patrice Tanaka, and find our purpose—our niche—and make it our passion. 

After all, we are the upcoming faces of this industry. We are the ones with the power to continue to change the PR and communications industry for the better, to change the misconceptions in this industry. 

Why not lead with our hearts? 

Why not do things that inspire us, each and every day? 

Why not fall in love with the work we do? 

Why not find our purpose in our practice? 

Why not let your heart lead, and see where it takes you?

Ro Lane, originally from East Tennessee, is a rising senior at the University of Memphis, majoring in strategic media with a concentration in public relations and a minor in creative mass media. She began her involvement with PRSSA in the fall of 2022, and is currently her Chapter’s President. Ro previously served as the logistics director for the PRSSA 2023 International Conference in Nashville, Tenn. and is the upcoming PRSSA 2024-2025 National Vice President of Brand Engagement. 

After graduation, Ro aspires to work in community-oriented public relations efforts, working locally to promote the cities and communities she is a part of. She is passionate about community outreach and support, empathetic approaches to public relations, and promoting all aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the realms she works in. Connect with her on LinkedIn!

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