Communications Grads Named to Prestigious PRWeek List

Cheerful business people team celebrating success

Build the product, then market it. For years, that was how businesses operated, and it worked pretty well. Everyone had a job to do; everyone stayed in their “silo.”

But over time, technology and global competition rendered that paradigm obsolete, and companies found they needed something more: highly skilled communicators who were closely involved with their operations from the start, people who not only saw the big picture but could help shape it as well.

This more dynamic role is what attracted Allyson Funk and Chloé Kerr to the profession. It’s why they both enrolled in the Master’s in Public Relations & Corporate Communications program at Georgetown University. (Both graduated in 2015.) And it’s why, after succeeding impressively in their careers, both were named recently to PRWeek’s 40 Under 40, what the industry’s leading trade magazine calls “a diverse mix of next-generation PR leaders who are shaping the future of PR.”

“Being named to PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 is prestigious in our profession,” says Carol Blymire, Faculty Director of the program. “Chloé and Ally were exemplary students in our program and they’ve shown how applying what they learned in our Master’s program can help advance your career.”

Allyson Funk
Allyson Funk (G’15)

Funk became Managing Director of Communications at Evernorth, the health services division of The Cigna Group, in January 2024 after serving six years as Head of Communications and Public Affairs at UCB, the Belgium-based biopharmaceutical company. Kerr was named Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Communications at General Motors in 2021 after serving two and a half years as a Communications Consultant at Wells Fargo & Co.

“I think communications is really in the middle of everything, whether you’re looking at the product side, or the services side, or nonprofit, or government,” Funk says. “Communications is helping people think about the angles, how to motivate audiences to do something, feel something, change their opinion. Communications gets to see all the pieces and bring that story together—to life. And I just feel like communicators are the ultimate influencers.”

‘A Small but Mighty Team’

Chloe Kerr
Chloé Kerr (G’15)

At General Motors, Kerr oversees a small team of communicators—the first of its kind—to help the multinational reach the heady goal of being the most inclusive company in the world, both in terms of its interactions with customers and its tens of thousands of employees around the world.

“We’re a small but mighty team of three, but we work with everybody and are responsible for shaping all the stories for all the DEI work that’s going on,” Kerr says. “It can be overwhelming at times, but we get to learn so many different aspects of our business and the company.”

One indication of the company’s commitment to Kerr and her team: Her first year and a half at GM was spent just learning about what goes into making a vehicle and understanding the mindset of someone who is looking to buy a car.

High-level, on-the-job training like the kind Kerr received is becoming a necessity in today’s complex corporate environment. But, in order to take full advantage of those opportunities, one has to have absorbed what Funk calls “brilliant basics,” the kind of essentials that are the cornerstone of Georgetown’s program.

While there are a lot of talented people out there, many of the people Funk interviews for PR and communications positions lack this foundational knowledge, what one might call the “what,” “why,” and “how” of the job.

“People become specialists very quickly,” Funk says. “But do they get the basics? How to think about the research, the audience, the message, what you’re trying to achieve, and how to develop it? The program does a beautiful job of putting that together.

“I did the Capstone advisor role for a few years after I graduated,” Funk adds. “It was great to watch these plans come together, the art of it.”

A Unique Background

Kerr also points to the unique benefits of the Capstone as well as the overall quality of Georgetown’s instructors.

“Capstone is really important and helped me understand how to build and strategize around communications, which I do a lot in my current role,” Kerr says. “And just so many wonderful professionals in the program really helped shape the kind of communications professional I wanted to be.”

Kerr didn’t have a lot of public relations experience when she enrolled at Georgetown in 2014. But she did have a unique education that has helped her in communications jobs and in life. As an undergraduate, she was captain of the women’s basketball team at the University of Southern California and went on to play five seasons of professional basketball in Europe.

Basketball taught Kerr about “being able to know when to lead and when to follow, and when to ask for help, how to strategize, and being able to delegate.”

Georgetown taught her much of the rest.

The 40 Under 40 designations, Kerr says, “are just a testament to the program and to some of the new heights that some of the alumni from Georgetown are reaching.

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