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Q&A with Cheryl Persinger, president of the Public Relations Society of America Las Vegas Valley Chapter

Cheryl Persinger believes in paying it forward.

When she was a communications student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, local public relations professionals helped her get started in a successful career. Today, as president of the Public Relations Society of America Las Vegas Valley Chapter, she makes sure her members assist UNLV students.

“People say they’re ‘self-made,’ but you always have someone helping you in some aspect when you’re starting out,” she said. “I was fortunate to develop great contacts early on — people in the PR industry in this town who helped pave the way and were able to offer me some great insight. I feel it’s only right to give back to the new generation.”

Persinger, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1997, has held a variety of PR positions, serving several years with University Medical Center and more than five years with B&P Advertising Media Public Relations.

She recently became vice president of marketing for Cadence, a new 2,200-acre master-planned community in Henderson.

How long have you been involved with the PRSA?

When I was a student at UNLV, I joined the student chapter and served on the board, which was a great opportunity. After I graduated in 1998 with a degree in communications, I transitioned into the local PRSA chapter and volunteered for a committee early on. I’ve served on PRSA committees ever since, and I now serve as president for calendar year 2014.

As president, what are your goals for the chapter?

My primary goal is to increase membership. We’re trying to get back the members we lost during the economic downturn and also attract new members by emphasizing the benefits we offer, including networking, professional development programs and accreditation through the national organization. We also sponsor the Pinnacle Awards each year to recognize excellence in public relations.

What’s your connection to the student chapter?

The Las Vegas chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America just got restarted this semester. Like many other organizations and businesses, it was hit hard by the recession. I serve as a professional adviser to the student members. Together with the faculty adviser, I helped the students set up the chapter with bylaws, a financial plan and a board, put them in touch with PRSA members to serve as guest speakers, and gave them advice on interviewing for jobs. The PRSA chapter has made a financial commitment to get them started.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I find cooking a good stress reliever, and I own a ton of cookbooks. Last year, one of my goals was to learn to cook something new every month, and that’s been fun. I’m also working on a master’s degree in health care administration through a two-year online degree program.

Have you traveled to any interesting places?

I visited Iceland a few years ago, and I’d highly recommend it, especially for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities. You can hike on lava fields and glaciers, go whitewater rafting and horseback riding. Next on my bucket list is Antarctica, but I haven’t found any traveling companions yet.