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Going Against the Waves: Insight behind the Success of Mona Pasquil

November 7, 2009

Mona Pasquil keynote PRSSA NC09

Inspirational. Engaging. Fearless. These are just a few words that students used to describe the stirring keynote address by Mona Pasquil at the 2009 PRSSA National Conference. Her experience in the political sector of public relations provided valuable insight to conference attendees.

Mona Pasquil, Vice President of MSHC Partners, Inc., shared her experiences as a minority woman in the male-dominated and highly competitive political world. Pasquil has an impressive resume in politics and public affairs including serving as western political director for the White House Officer of Political Affairs during the Clinton administration. She was recently named as California’s interim Lt. Governor until a successor is chosen, and she serves on the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws committee.

During her keynote address, Pasquil shared “The Mona Rules,” her personal principles to success. “Always be prepared and have a plan,” she advised. “Think about all the potential scenarios out there and work out your response before a situation occurs.”

In a world driven by new media, immediacy is imperative in response to a crisis. Knowing your plan enables you to give an immediate yet thoughtful response. “Timing is everything,” she said, “It is the difference between winning and losing. You must get your information out there to combat what others say. Don’t wait!”

Pasquil addressed difficulties faced by public relations practitioners. “Never make a joke out of a tough situation,” she advised. When faced with a crisis, “Don’t try to spin things. People do not like it and you’re going to lose…There’s that moment when you have a chance to make your mark on history. You get the opportunity to tell the story the right way. Take it!”

Pasquil stressed the importance of knowing who you are as a person and professional. “Don’t let others define you,” she encouraged. “Be true to yourself. Remember who you are, remember your journey, and remember the lessons you’ve learned.”

As leaders, we have the responsibility to foster leadership in others and help them reach their full potential. “I’ve learned for a mentor that you have to serve people,” said Pasquil. “When you have the opportunity to serve people, you have the responsibility to bring others along.”

In her concluding remarks, Pasquil emphasized the rewards of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. “Working for the public is tough, but when you see your work out there, there isn’t anything like it,” she held. She left students with a call to action. “There are people that don’t need you to save the world, but do that one thing, that one simple thing,” she said. “You will be the answer to the struggles today.”

After her moving keynote address, I interviewed Mona to give our members an inside peek at her history and motivation.

FRIEDMAN WRITER: What was your vision of your future when you were in college?

PASQUIL: I planned on teaching Dante and Chaucer! Honestly, as the oldest of five in a Filipino family I wanted to see and learn everything. I dabbled in banking, worked as a translator, and dedicated my extracurricular time to public service in the senator’s office. The choice for my career path came down to a need for stability.

FRIEDMAN WRITER: How do you overcome the obstacles of being a minority woman in a male-dominated world?

PASQUIL: I had great mentors to help me along the way. My mentors had a broadening vision that guided me in the right direction and connected me with the right people.

FRIEDMAN WRITER:What do you do in your free time?

PASQUIL: I work at a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. My father was a social worker so helping others has always been important to me. I also love landscape photography and hiking.

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