Applications are now open for the 2021 Program. Deadline is June 30, 2021. View the slides from our April 2021 webinar to learn more

Debra Silimeo

Silimeo Group

Communication and social marketing strategist with both private sector and government experience in the executive and legislative branches.

Industry Experience:

  • Communications, marketing, branding, advocacy.
  • Consult a range of health care, education, economic policy, and public safety clients.
  • PR firm leader, small business advocate, knowledgeable about government contracting and employee ownership models (ESOPs).
  • Executive level management
  • Board Memberships include Leadership Greater Washington, Blue Drop (a subsidiary of DC Water); Advisory Councils include Girl Scouts, Washington Women in PR; extensive experience with industry and community organizations aimed at leadership development, diversity, and professional development.

Functional Experience:

  • President, strategic communications consultancy
  • Executive Vice President, national public relations and communications strategy firm, with $15 million per year in revenue and 50+ employees
  • Associate Administrator, SBA, federal agency responsible for financial and technical assistance for the nation’s small businesses, with national HQ and 70 field offices nationwide, multibillion-dollar loan portfolio
  • Deputy Communications Director, US Commerce Department, coordinating communications for the Secretary of Commerce in a wide portfolio including international trade, e-commerce, the Census, and economic development

Key Business Transactional Experience:

  • Change in company ownership structure: helped lead conversion of then $9 million-dollar public relations firm from single owner to Employee Stock Ownership Plan while maintaining the best of the existing corporate culture and growing the business; expanded company services; grew to $15 million in annual revenues.
  • Leadership transitions: Managed through 4 leadership transitions for national PR firm; reorganized US Senate Policy Committee to provide more effective support to Senate members; consulted with clients undergoing leadership transitions
  • Re-branded a government agency and reorganized the communications process: designed and implemented major shift in control of communications function from individual program office to centralized office, accompanied by new brand identifiers, messaging, and brand implementation throughout the agency and its 70 field offices, leading to positive media coverage and record levels of lending and service.

What is the most important skill you bring to a corporate board?

Corporations need to consider brand perceptions along with the effective delivery of products or services. This requires developing a reservoir of goodwill through effective policies, hand-in-hand with communication (internal and external, traditional and digital) and community relations; a crisis plan; and carefully considered social responsibility. As a seasoned communications strategist and business leader, I can provide counsel that supports an organization in these vital areas, to help it succeed in its overall mission. My small business and change management experience would be especially helpful for newer, smaller organizations as well as those undergoing transition.