Stories from the Frontline: How Leading Women Continue to Advance and Evolve Business in Chicago

Thank you for your interest in PRSA Chicago’s March programming event. Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 health pandemic, chapter leadership has decided to postpone the Tuesday, March 17 luncheon and will provide more information about a new date when appropriate. For those who already registered, we will be in contact about next steps.

We are aware that public relations professionals throughout the Chicago area are in the midst of providing critical counsel and leading crisis communications as well as juggling the personal realities of the situation, including health and family concerns, and want to be sure we’re taking the appropriate steps to support you--our colleagues. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused by the change and appreciate your understanding.

about LUNCHEON program

In honor of the accomplishments and contributions that women have made throughout history and today, join PRSA Chicago for a Women’s History Month discussion featuring some of Chicago’s most accomplished women in business for an inspirational, and aspirational, conversation on empowering the next generation of women leaders.

These women in leadership will share stories that:

  • highlight how the they have impacted and evolved their respective industries;
  • define how allyship and mentoring can shape the career trajectory of women;
  • illustrate the struggles and triumphs along their professional journeys; and,
  • provide insights on how they’ve chosen to push through boundaries that women often face in business.

When: Tuesday, Mar. 17; 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Wildfire; 159 W. Erie Street (Valet parking available)


Melody Spann Cooper
President, WVON 1690am | Chairman, Midway Broadcasting
Melody Spann Cooper is Chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, a best-in-class African-American owned media boutique whose properties include radio and interactive platforms. The two properties combine to provide niche programming to Chicago’s thriving Black and Hispanic populations. As Chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, she joined an elite list of America’s female broadcast owners after purchasing the company’s controlling interest in 1999.

Midway Broadcasting properties include WVON 1690AM, the oldest Black-oriented radio station in Chicago. With its urban talk format, the station is considered a leading source of information and community empowerment.In 2007, Spann Cooper spearheaded the corporation’s expansion with the development of WRLL 1450AM, Chicago’s Home for Hispanic Independent Broadcasters. WRLL is committed to preserving the authentic voice and culture of Chicago’s growing Latino Community. In addition to the company’s radio properties, Midway Broadcasting Corporation has established itself as a premier event and integrated marketing company.

Spann Cooper’s other professional affiliations include: Commissioner of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission; Vice Chair of the Illinois Broadcasting Association; Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for the Obama Library Foundation; Executive Board Member of Chicago’s tourism board, Choose Chicago; Trustee of the Museum of Science & Industry; Executive Committee Member of the Business Leadership Council; Executive Board Member of The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters, and Co-Founder of the Color Us Women Organization.

Spann Cooper’s accomplishments in broadcast media have been recognized by numerous organizations that have highlighted her achievements in leadership and business. She recently added ‘author’ to her list of accomplishments with the release of her first book, The Girlfriend’s Guide To Closing the Deal.

Spann Cooper he holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Loyola University of Chicago.She is married and the daughter of legendary radio personality Pervis Spann “The Blues Man,” the co-founder of Midway Broadcasting Corporation.

Virginia Devlin
CEO, Current Global
Virginia Devlin is Chief Executive Officer of Current Global, a midsized communications agency that is part of the Interpublic Group (IPG). Current is focused on influencing behavior where real life happens – in the moment. For clients, that means forging meaningful connections to powerful moments in people’s lives to create lasting outcomes.

An ace at operations and hands-on leader, Devlin has achieved 14 years of profitable growth for Current. Today, the agency boasts more than 225 team members in 30 offices around the world, with major operations in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Brazil, China and India. Focused on establishing long-term partnerships, her first client assignment for The Clorox Company in 2006 has grown into ongoing and award-winning work for brands including Brita, Hidden Valley and Kingsford. With expertise in consumer, corporate, healthcare and technology marketing, Current’s client roster includes Applebee's, Champion, FedEx, Microsoft, Pfizer, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Radio Flyer, Shamrock Farms and Vulcan.

An active client counselor and employee mentor, Devlin thrives on challenging both sides of her brain to develop results-driven campaigns that combine business strategy with creative savvy. Her leadership helped Current win 15 Cannes Lions in recent years, including a Gold PR Lion for Teddy Gun, a pro bono campaign for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

Prior to launching Current, Devlin spent nine years at IPG agency Weber Shandwick, rising to the rank of executive vice president. There she demonstrated a talent for winning new business, driving organic growth and mentoring teams. Earlier in her career, she was an account supervisor for Publicis in both Chicago and Seattle, where she created and executed marketing programs for commodity and consumer packaged goods accounts.

A 2017 PRWeek Champion of PR and 2014 PR News Top Women in PR Award honoree, Devlin earned a bachelor degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University and completed additional public relations studies at the University of Washington. Her board experience includes the PR Council, the US trade association for public relations firms, and the Public Relations Society of America Chicago chapter. She has judged various industry award competitions including the CLIO, PRWeek and SABRE North America awards.

Devlin is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and serves on the board of the Ryan Banks Academy, whose mission is to build Chicago’s first residential boarding school for underserved urban youth. She is an active supporter of, a charity and educational partner that believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potential. She lives in Chicago with her husband and teenage daughter.

Carolyn Grisko
President and CEO, Grisko
After beginning her career in journalism at Chicago Public Radio, then government and politics in the Richard M. Daley administration, Carolyn Grisko founded Grisko LLC in 1995. For the past 25 years, her integrated communications agency has worked on issues and causes that changed the shape of our city and region – from opposing an airport in Peotone to supporting the expansion of O’Hare; to outlawing smoking in public places and helping elect Mayor Lightfoot. Her agency is also the creator and protector of the Ventra brand, and works with businesses and non-profits to reframe narratives and fuel missions that drive measurable results. Grisko is a leading member of IPREX, the global partnership of independent communications agencies.


Christie Zielinski, APR
Vice President, KemperLesnik
Christie Zielinski, APR, is a vice president with KemperLesnik, responsible for providing strategic PR counsel to clients in the consumer products and services, real estate, and business to business industries.

Zielinski has 20-plus years of public relations industry experience, bringing a focus on driving bottom line results for clients and expertise in strategy and message development, media relations, media training, social media, corporate social responsibility, issues management, and crisis communications.

Previously, Zielinski spent 15 years at Cushman/Amberg Communications in a variety of leadership positions, working on behalf of such clients as BainUltra, DeVry, GE Healthcare Financial Services, Protiviti, Sandals & Beaches Resorts and U.S. Cellular.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University and is accredited by the Public Relations Society of America.

Questions? Please email Kayee Ip and Tiffany Briggs Low, Programming co-chairs at [email protected].

Program Details


$45.00 Chicago Chapter Member
$50.00 after 12:00 am March 15
$40.00 Earlybird rate before February 29

$55.00 Non-member
$60.00 after 12:00 am March 15

$40.00 Student (School name/email required upon registering)

All ticket sales are final. Substitutions may be made at any time.

March 17, 2020
11:30 AM CDT - 1:30 PM CDT

159 W. Erie Street
Chicago, IL 60654