Through the end of 2020, Arkansas PRSA is offering its virtual meetings to the larger communications community. Both PRSA Members and guests are invited to our monthly series of virtual meetings to hear from nationally-known expert communicators, city and state spokespeople, members of the media and more.
Network virtually while keeping up-to-date on the latest in public relations strategy and tactics in our quickly changing communications landscape.
Friday, September 18, 2020
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
“Taking A Stand for Ethics”
Whistleblowers often face retaliation and humiliation when speaking up about the truth that may not be favorable to leaders and organizations. One of our own PR practitioners faced such reprisal when she told th Secretary of Veterans Affairs and others about unethical leaders in Phoenix, who were denying and delaying patient care. Although Paula persevered in her case and won, after a two-year legal battle, her life was forever changed.
In this inspiring presentation, you’ll hear Paula’s personal story of “Taking a Stand for Ethics” and how PRSA’s values and ethics played a role in her outcome.
In 2010, with Dr. Sam Foote, they were able to expose funds mismanagement and a hostile work environment. The VA Office of the Inspector General sustained their allegations. When new leaders arrived, they retaliated against Pedene, removing her from her role as a VA Public Affairs Officer, where she had performed admirably for 23 years. They stripped her of her title, her office, her email, and phone and banished her to the basement library. While in the library, she saw the VA Wait Time Scandal unfolding and was able to convince Dr. Sam Foote and other trusted colleagues, to once again expose the corruption. The disclosures were so horrifying; they forced the resignation of the VA’s Secretary, the Under Secretary for Health and others.
After the scandal became national news, she was able to win her whistleblower case with thanks to the Office of Special Counsel and her legal team who negotiated on her behalf. As part of that settlement, Pedene continued her VA public relations counsel as a federal employee from October 2014 until her retirement on May 1, 2020, where she left the federal sector honorably with 40 years of service. Pedene now serves as the Executive Director of the nonprofit Honoring America’s Veterans (www.honoringamericasveterans.org). Here she collaborates with the HAV board to accomplish their mission “To help veterans heal as they reintegrate back to society from their military service.” She also serves on the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade team, which creates the parade with more than 45,000 attendees. She is a guest columnist for the Arizona Republic with The Veterans Voice Column, and she is the author of the book Veterans Day which is her personal story of tragedy and triumph as a VA Whistleblower.
Pedene is married to William Pedene, and they are blessed with two sons. She has a hereditary eye disease, which causes tunnel vision, and she is a disabled Navy Veteran. She attributes her success to a supportive family and her faith.
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