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An award-winning brand strategist, teacher, and trainer, Shonali Burke is Chief Marketing Officer with Arena Stage, the voice of American theater resident in the nation’s capital. Prior to joining Arena Stage, Shonali worked for and with organizations as diverse as the ASPCA, USA for UNHCR, AcademyHealth, the UN Foundation, Oxfam America, John Jay Online, Traackr, the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and Cision.

In addition to helping purpose-driven brands bring their big ideas to life, Shonali publishes the popular PR and digital media blog, Waxing UnLyrical, and is founder and curator of the #measurePR hashtag and X (formerly Twitter) chat. In 2015, Shonali founded The Social PR Virtuoso®, an online training hub where public relations professionals learn how to transform their careers, their businesses, and their lives, drawing from Shonali’s pioneering “Social PR” approach.

Accredited by IABC in 2005, Shonali’s achievements and contributions to the greater public relations space have been noted as far back as the late 2000s, when she was the first Indian-American to be named to PRWeek’s top “40 Under 40″ list of U.S.-based PR professionals. She was featured at TEDxAdamsMorganWomen in December 2012, and was named the 2015 recipient of the Matrix Award by the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Association of Women in Communication, for significant accomplishments and consistent excellence in communication.

Just as her Johns Hopkins students come back to school to reinvent themselves, Shonali herself recently went back to school to grow her skills in, and understanding of, big data, business analytics, and innovation. In October 2019, Shonali was accepted into the seventh cohort of the Harvard Business Analytics Program, from which she graduated in March 2021, and for which she continues to serve as a volunteer student ambassador.

A foodie who loves shoes, paleo, high intensity interval training, and East Coast Swing dancing, Shonali defies you to dislike Elvis, ABBA or cricket. She is active in her community, serving for many years on the Steering Committee of the Montgomery County Executive’s Ball to raise funds for arts and humanities programs in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is an active volunteer with the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps.

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