Member Spotlight: Kali Chan


1. What is your favorite thing about being a corporate communications professional?
Searching for the next big news item.

Every brand has its own story to tell. As PR/communications professionals, we get to help clients discover and tell the stories. Then, convince media that the story is worth telling. My job is to also create an agenda or strategy to find what I call reputation-defining stories. Highlight students who are having powerful Adelphi experiences and celebrate faculty and alumni accomplishments and promote their expertise. Additionally, I enjoy coordinating event photography and serving as art director for various editorial shoots and campaigns.

I’ve been able to advance Adelphi’s reputation through media placements, including in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsday, and New York Times, to name a few. I’ve had media placements on bullying, autism, gun violence, emergency preparedness, international crisis, food inequality, healthcare, environment, women’s issues, and the national debt and economy, etc.

2. What was your “big break?”
Early in my career, I served as the assistant to the executive director for the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce. At the forefront of many new ideas, I initiated design of a marketing brochure and guidebook, with the collaboration of two Village historians and Town of Brookhaven Economic Development representative, and was instrumental in forming new partnerships with SCORE, LIA, and The New York State Small Business Development Center. I represented the chamber at village and town meetings and reported updates to the board. This position provided a glimpse into event planning, marketing and journalism.

Prior to coming to Adelphi, I was the assistant director of communications and special events for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, the largest youth-serving agency on Long Island. One of the best decisions (and my “big break”) that I made for myself was to accept the job. During my five year career at the nonprofit, I was responsible for public relations, marketing, special events, fundraising, graphic design, and photography. I coordinated publicity events, including activities for a memorable 3-hour event at Madison Square Garden celebrating the 90th anniversary of girl scouting. I prepared, wrote, and secured grants from corporations and all levels of government. Helped design, edit, and coordinate production of 10 agency publications and served as the main photographer for all major council events.

Next, I sought out new opportunities for a communications position to expand upon my PR skills and have the chance to work with national media. To really challenge myself.

PR is the aspect of the job that I enjoyed the most and gave me the greatest satisfaction. I joined Adelphi University in January 2005 and currently serve as director of media relations. As director, I’m charged with developing, executing, and managing university-wide media relations activities for the eight schools, centers, and programs. My job is to articulate why the institution is a place that matters.

3. Why is the IABC chapter a valued organization for you?
It’s where connections are made. IABC is an organization where you can acquire new skills, new knowledge and new insights into the industry.

4. What advice would you give a corporate communications professional just starting out?
Be open to the opportunities that come your way even if they might make you nervous or scare you. Be eager to learn about things that are not immediately within your job responsibilities. Go the extra mile. Be curious. Network and get involved in professional groups.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the media. Embrace all of the free online resources at your fingertips. From websites to blogs to tweetchats, and everything in between.

5. What is your biggest accomplishment?
At Adelphi, I treasure my opportunity to Influence and mentor young people and to encourage their interest in public relations and the communications field. I’ve mentored students and successfully supported their applications to highly competitive graduate programs, internships, or full-time employment. Adelphi has made student success a priority and I share the commitment to their personal success. I feel great pride in helping them make the transition from the classroom to a career.

6. If you could choose one person in the world to have dinner with who would it be?
Charles Osgood. I’m a fan of CBS News Sunday Morning.

7. Who was the biggest influence in your personal/professional life?
I have been lucky in life to form many meaningful personal and professional relationships. I try to surround myself with people who not only work hard but have good character, integrity, and are passionate. These are the positive traits that draw me to other people.

8. What profession would you NEVER want to do?
Accounting. Almost made the mistake. I entered college as an accounting major.

9. What is your favorite place on Long Island?
Huntington and Montauk.

10. How would you improve Long Island?
There is a dramatic need for affordable housing. Affordable housing leads to better quality of life and a stronger community. An alarming high number of young adults plan to leave Long Island. We need to recognize the importance of keeping young people in the region for the growth of our future labor force.

11. What is your guilty pleasure?
I have a real weakness for chocolate; anything sweet.

12. What is your best way to unwind/distress?
Eating dinner in a nice restaurant with my boyfriend. Try not to bring work home.

13. How do you stay organized?
Efficiency and productivity are keys for success. I have a ritual. I make a list of my worries in my Droid before I go to bed and what I’ll tackle tomorrow.

14. What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?
Volunteering. I’m active in Public Relations Professionals of Long Island and serve on the board as First Vice President. I believe it’s important to give back and serve on Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s walkathon committee. The fundraiser provides programming opportunities that focus on all areas of health, fitness, nutrition, self-esteem, and relationships for young women. I’ve also helped the University make Relay for Life, which benefits the American Cancer Society a success. The past three years, I’ve pledged to walk and donate my hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths, a program that makes free wigs for women with cancer. I plan to keep donating. Hobbs Farm in Centereach which grows food and donates it to food pantries. And, Island Harvest, the largest hunger relief organization on Long Island.

15. What is the best or worst decision you have made (personally or professionally)?
I take a great deal of pride in my work and am committed to producing the highest quality work I can. Being active in professional organizations like PRPLI and IABC-LI are critical to advancing career goals, enhancing the network, broadening knowledge in the communications field; demonstrating dedication to staying in the profession, etc.

16. What are some of your “life rules?”
If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it.

Nurture and treasure your friends and family members. Kindness towards others tends to be rewarded.

17. What is your secret talent?
Finding unique, inexpensive vacation destinations. Recent trips include Lake Tobias Wildlife Park in Halifax, PA and National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA.

18. What book are you currently reading/last book you read?
I’m a news junkie. As PR professionals, we have to stay on top of the news and what’s important to journalists. I read many daily newspapers, tweets, and a number of publications such as Chronicle of Higher Education, Adweek and Crain’s New York.

19. Do you have a mentor? What words of wisdom did s/he share with you?
The mentors in my career have been the people that inspired me with their drive, ideas, and how they work with other individuals. For example, Lori Duggan Gold, Vice President for Communications at Adelphi. In addition to working with reporters and internal clients on positive stories, I’m also involved in addressing more sensitive issues, including ones concerning campus safety and security. Through trainings and reporting to her, I’ve learned to trust my gut and act quickly. Anything that goes wrong has the potential to become a news story.

20. What is your dream job?
A results oriented company where my ideas and my power to inspire are valued. A place with growth, lots of energy and activity, and where colleagues work closely to solve problems. Adelphi University.

About Adelphi University
Adelphi University is a world-class private institution that prepares its students for active citizenship and leadership in their professional careers. With nearly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries, Adelphi is committed to academic excellence and innovation. Today, more than 600 internationally recognized faculty members and 50 programs of study help to develop our students’ academic, personal and cultural growth.

Adelphi has been recognized for its academics, commitment to environmentally-friendly initiatives, community engagement—both locally and globally—and its social and cultural opportunities. For eight consecutive years, Adelphi was cited by The Fiske Guide to Colleges as one of the nation’s “best and most interesting” institutions and has been listed among a select number of “Best Buys” in higher education. Adelphi has the highest graduation rates in the Long Island region and high student satisfaction. Students get the resources and support they need to succeed; Adelphi ranks in the top 15 percent of colleges and universities nationwide for return on investment, and was named one of the best schools for health professional majors, according to Payscale.com. A leader in academic programming for working adults for many years, students receive the personal attention to continue their progress toward a degree, advanced certification, or further learning. Health programs have been signature initiatives for the University for many decades. The Center for Health Innovation serves as a coordinating body and fosters interdisciplinary research, and facilitates symposia, panels and discussions regarding the region’s major healthcare issues such as implications of the Affordable Care Act, food inequality, and continuity in disasters. Adelphi as the “engaged” University, has deep ties with the Long Island community and earned the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement as well as a place on President Barack Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction.  On-campus cultural events, ranging from timely lectures to art exhibitions and music, dance, and theater performances in the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center, attract those in the New York metro area. The successful Center for Nonprofit Leadership, notable Institute for Parenting and signature Adelphi Community Fellows Program (which prepares talented students for paid summer internships at nonprofit organizations)—all help to fulfill our mission. Named a “Cool School” by the Sierra Club and featured in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges, Adelphi University is committed to energy conservation and sustaining an environmentally-friendly campus. All housekeeping and grounds-keeping is accomplished with Green Seal-certified cleaning products and maintained organically. The 75-acre main campus in Garden City is a registered arboretum. Due to open in 2015, the campus will be enhanced by the new 99,600-square-foot Nexus Building and Welcome Center and will offer a needed home for the College of Nursing and Public Health and the Center for Health Innovation, and bring essential student services under one roof.

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