About Liz


Welcome.  I am Professor Elizabeth D. Fiala-Kerns, MA, IOM, ACE …  aka, Liz or PK (as my student’s have named me).  At Olivet Nazarene University, I teach Public Relations and Journalism in the Communication Department.  We founded the Public Relations and Strategic Communication program at Olivet in August 2015 while concurrently  launching a PRSSA chapter and student-run strategic communication agency.  I never take lightly that I am working with young professionals who will go out into the world to change the world with the skills and knowledge I share with them.  I constantly tell my students:  Leave your community a better place than which you found it.

Research Interests: High impact experiential and service learning pedagogy in higher education, Social media, Professional/faculty mentoring of undergraduate students, Generational differences in communication styles, Crisis communication, Non-Profit Leadership, Chamber of Commerce Industry.


  • Doctorate in Education in Ethical Leadership, Olivet Nazarene University; May 2016 – Present.  Anticipated graduation date:  May 2019.
  • Coursework towards a Doctorate in Education in Educational Leadership, emphasis in Transformational Leadership, Concordia University – Portland;  January 2015 – May 2015.
  • Coursework towards a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Seattle University; June 2014 – December 2014
  • Master of Arts in Communication; University of Illinois at Springfield; May 2008
  • Certificate in Nonprofit Organization Management; United States Chamber of Commerce, Institute for Organization Management (IOM), Los Angeles, July 2007
  • Certification as a National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Ombudsman; Department of Defense, United States of America; July 2008
  • Coursework towards a Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising; DePaul University, Chicago; December 2003
  • Bachelor of Science in Journalism (emphasis in Public Relations, Minor in Business; Arkansas State University, Jonesboro; May 2003


Assistant Professor, Communication in Journalism and Public Relations & Strategic Communication, Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais, IL (August 2015 – Present)

Faculty member and adviser in the Communication Department, College of Arts and Sciences teaching courses in Public Relations and Journalism.

  • Director for the Public Relations and Strategic Communication (PRSC) and Multimedia Journalism (MMJ) major programs. Responsibilities include program and curriculum development, new course creation, student recruitment, strategic planning and advising.  Program development for the PRSC program is being guided by Public Relations Society of America CEPR national standards.
  • Founder and faculty adviser of Inspired Strategies Agency, Olivet’s student-run, strategic communication agency and Olivet PRSSA club.  Responsibilities within both groups include student leadership development and community outreach.
  • Course creation or redevelopment: Social Media Strategies, Inspired Strategies Agency (Practicum), Public Relations Research Methods, Introduction to Public Relations, Public Relations Writing and Public Relations Strategy and Implementation.

Courses taught at Olivet:

  • COMM 132:  Introduction to Public Relations
  • COMM 331:  Public Relations Writing
  • COMM 141:  Introduction to Journalism
  • COMM 105:  Fundamentals of Communication (Speech course)
  • COMM 362:  Social Media Strategies
  • COMM 312:  Inspired Strategies Agency
  • COMM 332:  Public Relations Strategy and Implementation
  • COMM 4xx:  Public Relations Research Methods (Slated to be taught Fall 2017)


Assistant Professor, Public Relations and Program Director, Non-Profit Organization Management Program, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA (August 2010 – July 2015)

Faculty member and adviser in the Public Relations and Non-Profit Organization Management programs in the Communication Department.

  • Founder, adviser and managing director of Central Communication Agency, a full-service, student-run PR agency. Responsible for the management of a staff of one agency director, two associate agency directors, 10 account executives and 35 junior account executives with service to 12 clients quarterly. Earned National Affiliation through the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National in April 2014, three years after establishment. Strategic planning established a partnership with the Art Department to institute a graphic design division within the agency starting in January 2015.
  • Development of an interdisciplinary Bachelor’s degree program encompassing 14 departments at Central Washington University with the intended launch of the degree during the 2015 – 2016 academic year. Responsibilities include program and curriculum development, new course creation, student recruitment, strategic planning and advising.
  • Faculty adviser to the PRSSA Central Washington University Chapter and adviser to CWU’s award winning Bateman Competition Team.
  • Academic adviser to more than 100 Public Relations majors and Non-Profit Organization Management minors.
  • Courses taught include: Introduction to Public Relations, Introduction to PR Writing, Advanced PR Writing, PR Strategies, PR Case Studies Management, Crisis Communication, Event Management, Social Media Strategies, Introduction to Non-Profit Leadership and Grant Writing & Fundraising.
  • Consulting: Continuously provide services to chambers and associations as a strategic planning consultant and conference speaker.

Courses Taught at CWU

  • COM 208: Introduction to Public Relations Writing
  • COM 312: Non-Profit Leadership
  • COM 370: Advanced Public Relations Writing
  • COM 371:  Event Planning and Management
  • COM 372:  Social Media Strategies
  • COM 427: Grant Writing and Fundraising
  • COM 470: Public Relations Strategies (Planned for Winter 2012)
  • COM 475: Public Relations and Advertising Management
  • COM 481:  Central Communication Agency
  • COM 483:  Advanced Central Communication Agency
  • COM 487: Advanced Public Relations Seminar including special topics: Crisis Communication and Management; Social Media; Event Planning and PR; and Public Relations and Politics during the 2012 election
  • COM 489: Portfolio
  • COM 492: Practicum (Central Communication Agency)
  • COM 496: Independent Study: PR Research Methods

Director of Local Chamber Relations (DLCR) and Events, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Springfield,IL (January 2004 – August 2010)

The Illinois Chamber is an organization that aggressively promotes the interests of business by educating key stakeholders to make pro-business decisions in order to promote prosperity and opportunity for business in Illinois.

  • Business Services: Identified and implemented programs and services for the Illinois Chamber membership; responsible for training the chamber staff for programs implemented by the business services division; Liaison to the University of IL Center for Human Resource Management after the establishment of a partnership to launch the Illinois HR Excellence Certificate Program.
  • Communication: Designed and wrote electronic marketing pieces for the Business Services Division, responsible for the ILChamber.org web site and social media, coordinated staff contributions to the Illinois Chamber’s HR Illinois BLOG, and authored communications on behalf of the state chamber to local chambers.  Developed marketing tools for business services publications and services, designed marketing emails, and event invitations.  Wrote and distributed news releases.
  • Local Chamber Relations: Responsible for the relationship of the state chamber to more than 450 local chambers in Illinois through increased communication and expanding programs and services.  Additionally responsible for educating local chambers about the state chamber’s legislative agenda and business services, maintained the Local Chamber Assistance Program assisting local chambers in answering operational and programming questions, and editor of the electronic Local Chamber Updates.
  • Event Coordination: Strategically coordinated and executed events for the Illinois Chamber on an annual basis.
  • Through a strategic alliance between the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the DLCR for the state chamber also served as the President of the IACCE, under contract.

President, Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (IACCE), Springfield, IL (January 2004 – August 2010)

Responsible for the management of a 155 member professional development organization for chamber professionals.

  • Operations and Expanding Organization: Responsible for annual budget planning and management, membership development, staff management, and educational programming.  Restructured the association’s operation to create more effective processes, productive operations and detailed procedures resulting in a more efficient office, balanced budget and effective volunteerism.
  • Membership Development: In 2008/2009, IACCE was awarded the American Chamber of Commerce Executives 1st place nationally for membership retention for the $450,000 and Under Total Revenue Category.
  • Communication: Developed and published the monthly IACCE eNEWS electronic newsletter, bi-weekly electronic membership updates, and redesigned iacce.org web site and interactive web forum.  Also responsible for all media and public relations for the association.  Initiated social media strategy to launch Twitter, Facebook, Ning, Flickr, YouTube and LinkedIn to boost engagement and promote services; continuously monitor industry trends across all social media platforms.  Redesigned outdated web site, content, and navigation for better appearance and more timely content maintenance to increase value to members.  Spearheaded a crisis communication outreach in the industry.
  • Volunteer Leadership: Directed the board through an annual review of the mission, vision, and strategic plan and maintained board focus and implemented the annual strategic plan.  Continuously identified members to serve as volunteer leaders in IACCE and coordinated their activities.
  • Events: Planed and executed statewide professional development seminars and conferences, committee coordination, collateral development, secured vendor involvement and sponsorships, annual silent and live auction, annual dinner, national speaker recruitment, and statewide promotion of events. Launched webinars to reflect a change in trends in professional development.

Adjunct Instructor in Public Relations and Advertising, Benedictine University at Springfield (Formerly Springfield College in Illinois), Springfield, IL (January 2007 – August 2010)

Assistant to the President & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago, IL
(May 2003 – October 2003)


Intern and Interim Public Relations Director; Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, Jonesboro, Ark (August 2002 – May 2003)

Public Relations Assistant; Arkansas State University, University Advancement and Public Relations Division, Jonesboro, AR  (May 2002 – August 2002)