Two Vanguardians Honored for Innovation and Excellence in PR Industry

VP Crystal Borde Recognized as a DEI Champion by Ragan and PR Daily, Account Supervisor Brittany Vanderpool Named WWPR’s Emerging Leader Finalist

We’re celebrating industry recognition for two of our Vanguard leaders.

Crystal Borde, a vice president and Vanguard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Practice lead, was recognized in Ragan and PR Daily’s Top Women in Communications Awards, Class of 2021 in the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion category for her far-reaching impact on the field of DEI communications and PR. Account Supervisor Brittany Vanderpool, MPS, was honored by Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) as an Emerging Leader Award finalist in the small/boutique agency category.

Both professionals join an elite list of women nationally and in the Washington, D.C., area who are advancing the communications industry, inspiring their coworkers and peers, and mentoring future generations of communications leaders. Borde was honored on May 20 and Vanderpool was recognized in the small/boutique agency category at the 11th annual WWPR Emerging Leaders Award ceremony held virtually on May 20.

“Whether helping our clients navigate ways to communicate through an authentic and honest DEI framework or helping them reimagine their digital engagement and event production during a pandemic, Crystal and Brittany’s insightful counsel has been invaluable,” said Maria Rodriguez, president and CEO of Vanguard. “We’re thrilled that Crystal is being honored at the national level for her passionate, tireless work to create more inclusive, equitable and just communication approaches, and excited to see that Brittany’s work creating engagement opportunities in spite of the challenges of the past year is being recognized and rewarded by our local peers.”

The following profiles demonstrate why these award-winning communicators were selected for recognition.

crystal bordeCrystal Borde, DEI Champion

Long before the term DEI hit the mainstream in 2020, Borde had been advancing conversations on this topic internally at Vanguard as well as putting it in front of clients and industry colleagues to intersect with their own communications. Her expertise with integrating DEI principles into campaign planning and implementation became particularly relevant this year as the nation focused on the rising racial justice movement. She was able to provide immediate counsel and support for Vanguard clients, which has resulted in expanded client work for the firm in this area, as well as advanced its thought leadership on the topic by speaking at industry events and publishing extensively on DEI-related matters.

As a woman of color, Borde has spent her life observing and enduring bias and discrimination — from personal experiences growing up in Los Angeles to professional ones in Washington, D.C. As a PR professional, she has chosen to use these experiences as a foundation to learn as much as she can about the roots of bias and discrimination so that she can educate others in her personal life and professional life how to be more equitable and inclusive.

Her role as Vanguard’s DEI lead has been transformative. Although DEI principles have been ingrained in how the firm approaches its work for decades, Borde has helped the firm find a new gear. She has shared DEI thought leadership insights and best practices with clients and industry peers as a frequent contributor to Bulldog Reporter, PRSay and other industry outlets, as well as contributing as a speaker at industry events and conferences. Borde earned a B.A. in Communications from the California State University at Fullerton and is an active member of the PRSA-National Capital Chapter’s DEI committee.

brittany vanderpoolBrittany Vanderpool, MPS, Emerging Leader

WWPR’s Emerging Leader Awards honors outstanding young women leaders in the Washington, D.C., metro area who have excelled in PR and related fields. Vanderpool’s expertise, creativity, passion and enthusiasm have enhanced Vanguard’s technical competencies as well as subject matter expertise that the firm provides in the areas of virtual and hybrid event production and digital strategy and engagement.

She helps clients move the needle on important social issues, from voting access to sustainably grown food to stroke triage and treatment, and also leads strategy and management of the firm’s Digital Team, contributing ideas to grow Vanguard’s online communities. Her true passion and deepest expertise, however, is in designing and implementing events, from virtual offerings and trainings to annual conferences for more than 5,000 attendees to red-carpet awards ceremonies and press events.

Vanderpool earned a master’s degree (MPS) in Sports Industry Management with a concentration in strategic marketing and communications from Georgetown University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications and PR from the University of Maryland. In 2020, she earned a Pandemic Meeting & Event Design certification (PMED) from Event Leadership Institute and MPI.