Brittany Sherwood serves as the Director of Strategic and Presidential Communications for the University of West Florida, where she oversees the development and implementation of communication plans, strategies and initiatives that enhance the University’s visibility. In this role, Brittany manages integrated projects, as well as institutional social media, crisis communications and public relations strategies.
Brittany earned a bachelor's degree in communication arts with an emphasis in public relations and minors in marketing and hospitality from UWF and is currently pursuing her master's degree in strategic communication and leadership. Previously, she served as the Assistant Director of Strategic Communications and the Public Relations Manager for UWF, where she managed media relations, publicity and communication strategies for the University.
In her spare time, Brittany enjoys visiting Walt Disney World with her husband, Will, and their daughters, Violet and Poppy.
Immediate Past President
Sarah Whitfield is the public information officer for the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners. She is responsible for the dissemination of accurate and timely information to Santa Rosa County residents, the media and employees via traditional media and social media. Sarah has been with Santa Rosa County since 2010 after earning a bachelor's degree in art with a specialization in graphic design from the University of West Florida, starting out as a library assistant and eventually moving to the public information office in 2014 – the same year she joined FPRA and the Pensacola Chapter Board of Directors.
Actively involved in her community, Sarah serves as a co-leader of the Living Truth Church Soul Sisters, acts as a buddy for kiddos with disabilities on Sundays and during monthly respite programs and nerds out with the church A/V team at least once a month. In her spare time, she enjoys perusing the latest The Office memes, taking too many photos of her two cats, coffee dates with friends and spending time with her family.
President Elect / Vice President of Membership
Emily Echevarria serves as the Marketing Communications Director for Council on Aging of West Florida, where she shares the stories and successes of the clients and caregivers touched by Council on Aging’s services. Emily is a current member of the Leadership Pensacola Class of 2024 and serves as the District 1 Representative on the Florida Association of Aging Services Providers Board of Directors. She was named a 2023 inweekly Rising Star. She received her dual bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication arts/journalism from the University of West Florida. In her free time she enjoys reading, crafting, and staying busy with her daughter Qora.
Kaycee Lagarde currently serves as the Public Information Officer for the City of Pensacola, working in the Office of the Mayor to facilitate the city’s communications with the media and public. After serving as the City PIO for over four years, Kaycee will soon be moving to a new role as the Strategic Communications Director for the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, where she will develop and manage communication strategies for the county.
After graduating from the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts/journalism, Kaycee began her career at the Pensacola News Journal as a multimedia reporter and local government reporter before making the transition to government public relations. She was named a 2019 Inweekly Rising Star, 2020 FPRA Pensacola Chapter Rising PR Professional, 2023 FPRA Pensacola Chapter Member of the Year, and is a graduate of Leadership Pensacola class of 2022.
Kaycee is passionate about media and public relations, transparency in local government and government communications. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, traveling, taking long walks around downtown Pensacola and drinking all of the coffee.
Vice President of Finance
Lauren Clark is the Public Relations Specialist at Gulf Winds Credit Union where she is responsible for public relations needs, community relations, and financial education. Born and raised in Pensacola, she is passionate about understanding the complex needs of the community and crafting creative solutions and partnerships. A double Argonaut, Lauren received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a specialization in public relations as well as a Master of Arts in Strategic Communications and Leadership, both from the University of West Florida. She is obsessed with her dogs and whatever crafting activity she will commit to for a month.
Vice President of Networking
Amber Casart is a Communications, Marketing and Public Relations professional with almost two decades of experience and a passion for telling meaningful stories and creating impactful campaigns. As a dedicated member of the Florida Public Relations Association, Amber has regularly attended monthly meetings for over a year and is excited to increase her contributions to this organization by serving as the VP of Networking on the 2023-2024 Board.
Amber holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of West Florida in 2002. She started her career as a video editor at WEAR-TV in Pensacola, Florida and was promoted to multiple management positions including Senior Producer and Executive Producer. In 2014, Amber continued in TV News management as an Executive Producer at WWSB-TV in Sarasota, Florida. In these roles, Amber managed newsrooms with dozens of employees and oversaw live newscasts daily, by proof-reading scripts and production elements. In 2019, Amber moved back to her hometown of Pensacola with her family and produced multiple shows for Blab-TV. In May of 2022, Amber was hired as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, which spans five counties. This position encompasses many roles including Public Relations, Media Relations, Promotions, and Marketing. Amber is responsible for social media content, creating and executing impactful PR campaigns and press releases, website management, promoting special events, creating graphic design elements, media relations and more. In her spare time, Amber enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, trips to the beach, and watching and playing sports.
Vice President of Communication and Digital Media
Payton Anderson is the Director of Media & Member Engagement for the Pensacola Association of REALTORS®, where her primary focus is communicating & engaging with a membership of 3,000+ REALTORS® & Business Partners in Escambia & Santa Rosa counties.
Since 2019, Payton has owned & operated a photography business – Payton Kee Photo Co. While growing her business, she’s been given the opportunity to build relationships, travel internationally, and support the Pensacola community.
Payton earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts with a focus in public relations and minors in marketing and business from the University of West Florida. She is a graduate of the Greater Pensacola Chamber's Leadership Pensacola class of 2023. Payton is actively involved in her community, serving on the Bands On The Bayou Committee, the Escambia County School District Workforce Education Marketing & Multimedia Advisory Councils, the Florida Public Relations Association Pensacola Chapter Board of Directors, and is a member of the Krewe of Hip Huggers. She was named an InWeekly Rising Star in 2020.
Gordon Paulus, AP, CPRC
Vice President of Professional Development
Gordon Paulus is a Sr. Communication Specialist for Florida Power and Light. He has been with the company for 18 years and before that was the sports editor of the Pensacola News Journal.
He has twice been the Pensacola chapter president and was the FPRA state president from 2019-20.
Vice President of Sponsorship
Laura Kirby is an Instructor with real world business experience, working in higher education. Kirby worked as an Advertising Account Executive for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Florida, as a Marketing Director managing advertising and public relations for a national real estate firm and most recently as a real estate corporate caller in northwest Florida and south Alabama.She is skilled in communication, public relations, team building, management, leadership, social media and marketing. Kirby conducted research in high impact practices, including practical internships for her master's. She currently coordinates internships for the UWF Department of Communication and is the UWF Student Florida Public Relations Association advisor.
Kirby transferred with her family to northwest Florida in 2000, raising her now millennial children in Gulf Breeze. Both attended the University of West Florida, continuing on to the Louisiana State University Environmental PhD program and Mercer University's Physician Assistant program. Her beloved class mascot for classes is Jack, her yellow lab.
Degrees & Institutions: Kirby received her AA from the Florida State University, her Bachelor of Science in Advertising with a minor in Marketing from the University of Florida, and her master’s in Strategic Communication and Leadership from the University of West Florida. She holds a Quality Matters certification from UWF.
COM 2608 Basic Communication Skills
COM 2713 Introduction to Communication Professions
SPC 3110 Interpersonal Communication
COM 3471 Social Media Communication
COM 4110 Communication for Business and Professionals
COM 4940 Internship in Communication
PUR 3100 Writing for Public Relations
COM 3465 Conflict Management
PUR 4400 Crisis Public Relations
MMC 4201 Constitution and the Press/Media Law
Member At Large
Billie Nicholson has been designing, implementing and serving community businesses with social media management including a unique, dynamic blend of photography, video and website design for over thirty years. She has served as regional Director of Communications for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Billie is the newsletter editor of the “BellRinger,” for the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pensacola. Following hurricane Sally, she served as Disaster Case Manager, for Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE), assisting low-income families acquire funding to restore their storm damaged homes. This last year, Billie served as Communications Coordinator for BRACE.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and a Master of Science in Botany. Billie was designated a Certified Professional Photographer, and earned both the Photographic Craftsman and the coveted Master of Photography degrees. She was honored as the top Illustrative Photographer of the Year by the Maryland Professional Photographers Association. She twice earned The Fuji Masterpiece Award given by Fuji Professional and she earned the Kodak Gallery Award, Eastman Kodak’s highest honor for her images. She was honored by the Florida Public Relations Association, Pensacola with the Image competition, Judges Award, for her newsletter work.
Billie has co-authored several books. In one book, The Cheyenne Sisters Mission: Coming Home Again told the story of two adopted Cheyenne sisters who served their Native people. Through their service, they discovered a brother they never knew they had.
In the another book, Ms. Nicholson traveled and worked with local Pearl Harbor Survivors to document their return trip to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This trip allowed our local heroes an opportunity to say “One Last Goodbye” to their comrades, many of whom died during the 1941 Japanese attack, and the flood of the emotions they felt as they returned to hallowed ground. The Nicholson’s book, Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye received a Pensacola Chapter Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Liberty Bell Award.
Billie has been a regular contributor for The Mountain Breeze, western North Carolina’s premier publication. She was responsible for creating and editing “Every Needful Thing,” the monthly preparedness newsletter for The Sun Oven Company, garnering over 80,000 readers.
Member, Florida Public Relations Association, Pensacola Chapter, Board of Directors, 2023-2024.