How to Effectively Communicate with the Media During Emergencies

    May 15, 2019
    11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
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    Norfolk Yacht & Country Club
    7001 Hampton Boulevard
    Norfolk, VA 23505

    Organized, effective and responsible.

    That’s what all public relations professionals and public officials hope to be in their roles when responding to emergency situations.  A working relationship with the media begins long before disasters strike. Hear from four Hampton Roads professionals about responses to emergency situations they encounter in their field and how to have effective encounters with the media.

    Panelists include:

    Jim Cervera, chief of police, City of Virginia Beach

    James A. (Jim) Cervera was appointed chief of police by City Manager James K. Spore effective September 1, 2010.

    After having served two years with the Montclair, New Jersey Police Department, Jim joined the department in 1978 and was promoted through the ranks. As a sergeant, he served as a SWAT team leader; as a lieutenant, he was assigned to the Labor Day Task Force, and as a captain, he commanded the Second Precinct. He also has held posts in professional development and training and assignments on the Chief’s staff.  He was appointed deputy chief of operations in 2000. During his years as deputy chief, he supervised the operations division and the investigative division. 

    Jim earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice from St. Leo University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Old Dominion University. He graduated from the FBI National Academy 171 session in Quantico, VA, the Police Executive Leadership School at the University of Richmond, the University of Virginia’s Senior Executive Institute, the Senior Management Program in Policing from Boston University and the National Executive Institute.

    Larry Hill, eastern region public information officer, Virginia Department of Health

    Larry Hill's career began with thirty years of service in law enforcement with the Virginia Beach Police Department, VA State Police and as a police officer for the City of Norfolk. In 2000, he retired from NPD after 26 years of service. Hill now serves as the eastern region public information officer for the with VA Department of Health, a position he has held since 2003. He also serves as an instructor and consultant with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) teaching the Advanced and Master PIO courses as well as a risk communications instructor for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and VA Department of Health. Hill holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and minor in liberal arts. During his career he has provided support at the Virginia Tech shootings, Hurricane Katrina for FEMA and several other high profile events. He was one of the first ten accredited public health public information officers in the country. Hill is married with three daughters and several grandchildren.

    Christina Pullen, public affairs officer, FBI-Norfolk

    Christina Pullen was appointed public affairs officer for the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office in August 2014. She manages the division’s media and public communications program and serves as an official spokesperson. She is also part of the FBI’s Adjunct Faculty Program, certified to teach media relations and communications, as well as presentation skills.

    Ms. Pullen served as a member of the Chesapeake School Board from 2008 to 2012 and graduated from the Thomas C. Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia in 2018. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in political science from Mary Washington College.

    Ms. Pullen is a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads and has been married to her husband Phil for 27 years. Together, they are proud parents to three children – Phillip, Leslie and Grace.

    Bonita Billingsley Harris, media and community relations manager, Dominion Energy

    Bonita Billingsley Harris is the media and community relations manager for Dominion Energy in Hampton Roads and part of North Carolina. Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers of energy with over $78 billion of assets. Bonita is a media spokesperson for the company, who also promotes Dominion’s commitment to its customers, the environment and the community. 

    Previously, Bonita worked as the communications manager for the Norfolk Sheriff's Office; and a news reporter for WVEC-TV. She also served four years on the Chesapeake School Board. Bonita is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.  

    Cadillac and Bonita have three daughters, a son-in-law and one granddaughter.

    Paula Miller, communications manager, VDOT Hampton Roads, moderator

    Paula has served as communications manager for VDOT-Hampton Roads and is currently the communications manager for the HRBT Expansion Project.

    Paula’s background is in radio, television, newspapers and public affairs.  She worked 15 years for WTKR-TV as a reporter and substitute anchor.  Prior to joining WTKR, she worked in television in New York state and Pennsylvania.

    Paula has worked in communications for the past 20 years-with VDOT and for the Virginia Beach and Norfolk Sheriff’s Departments.

    In 2004, Paula was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the City of Norfolk, where she served for seven years.

    She is a past president of the Virginia Public Safety Foundation and served on the Norfolk Economic Development Authority Board and Norfolk Crime Line Board.

    Paula is a past recipient of the YWCA’s Woman of Distinction award, is married and has two adult children.



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