Ask Vanguardians: What resources are you loving this Valentine’s Day?

Feeling inspired in your day-to-day life can play a key role in unlocking creativity and boosting happiness. A survey of more than 100K businesses conducted by Gallup concluded that “engaged employees bring in 23% more revenue than disengaged ones.” People who regularly feel inspired at home and at work tend to be more productive, more confident and more motivated to solve problems and create new things. 

As author Peter McWilliams said, “Do what you love and the necessary resources will follow.” This February, we took the opportunity to ask our team about what they have been loving — from public relations tools and resources to inspirational books. Read on to find out what’s motivating us lately!  

Brenda K. Foster, Senior Vice President
“I’m loving digging into AI and its benefits and challenges for the causes we support. ‘Unmasking AI,’ which talks about the origins of AI bias, is one of my favorite reads so far this year.” 

Carolyn Fearing, Vice President  
“‘When It Hits the Fan is a fun crisis communications podcast and ‘On the Media is an oldie but goodie.” 

Catie Carreras, Editorial Manager 
“I recently readHolly’ by Stephen King and I was surprised that the narrative addressed several societal issues we’re facing today (in addition to being a thrilling crime novel). It was set during the COVID-19 pandemic and touched on homophobia, racism, mental health and addiction, as well as political discourse. It was fascinating — I couldn’t put it down!” 

Crystal Borde, Vice President
“Love watching the latest season of the PBS seriesFinding Your Roots’ with Henry Louis Gates Jr., which reveals the ancestral stories of well-known public figures. While each episode serves as a fascinating history lesson, it also explores the complexities and layers of identity and the intersectionality of our past, present and future as individuals.” 

“‘The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present.’ That’s the description of NPR’s ‘Throughline’ podcast, which is always on my must-listen list. As someone who works with engaging diverse identity communities, ‘Throughline’ episodes help deepen my understanding of history’s impact and influence on various identity communities and current events. I apply those insights as we develop strategic communications plans and map out authentic, inclusive audience engagement.” 

Brittany Vanderpool, Senior Account Supervisor 
“The sports lover and PR specialist in me absolutely loved ‘Ted Lasso’ on Apple TV. I know the series is over, but you are truly missing out if you haven’t watched it. The show is full of highs, lows and great life lessons both personal and professional.”  

LeAnne DeFrancesco, Vice President
“My love affair with writer Kristin Hannah continues. If you want to read about complex, brave women, I highly recommend Hannah’s novels, especially ‘The Nightingale’ — which I think I have gifted to every close friend. I also loved and was inspired by ‘The Great Alone,’ ‘Winter Garden’ and ‘The Four Winds.’ She is an incredible storyteller.” 

Riley Smith, Account Executive
“Highly recommend, ‘How to Make Tea: The Science Behind the Leaf’! We have some tea lovers at Vanguard, and this book is great for anyone who wants to learn more about how tea is made, the history of tea, different ceremonies across the world, etc.”  

Lelani Clark, Associate Director
I love compelling content and have always fallen in love with language. Being a poet and spoken word performer has informed my work as a communications professional and my understanding of the power of words, so I thought I would share some of my favorite books of poetry that tackle the many manifestations of love just in time for Valentine’s Day. I always go back to ‘The Love Poems of Rumi,’ a collection of love poems by the world-renowned Persian poet who takes a whimsical and pointed look at romantic, platonic and spiritual love. His poems were written in the 13th century but continue to be popular today for their passion and powerful social messages. Another favorite is ‘Love Poems’ by Nikki Giovanni. Nikki famously wrote the powerful poem ‘All Eyez on U’ dedicated to Tupac Shakur after his untimely death and is considered a cultural icon. I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki when she was a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, when I was an undergrad. Her poems are bold, raw and soul stirring. Pick a poem and feel the love!” 

Maria Rodriguez, President & CEO
“I’m loving ‘Lessons in Chemistry,’ a book that reminds me of the incredible obstacles women face when trying to excel in professions that are traditionally male dominated. At the same time, I’m so inspired by the resilience and persistence of the main character. I can’t wait to finish it. To keep up-to-date with news and trends that affect PR, I love PRSA’s daily e-newsletter, Issues & Trends. It’s a digest of articles from a slew of outlets in general news, politics, leadership, HR, business and much more. It’s my favorite member benefit from PRSA.” 


Being communicators gives us the ability to share stories and experiences, as well as create powerful messages. It’s important to seek tools that inspire you so that you stay motivated to make an impact. As we continue to embark on 2024, we hope that we’ve helped you find new resources that will spark creativity in your work.