Filomena Fanelli, CEO/Founder
Impact PR & Communications’ Founder Filomena Fanelli is something of a publicity hound—particularly when it comes to getting the best media exposure for her clients.
She excels at what excites her, and that’s exploring the details of each client’s business to find the best, most unusual vein to mine for publicity. She loves storytelling and delves eagerly into company culture and context to determine what’s new or makes a client unique among competitors. Then she finds a fresh way to make it stand out in the overwhelming clutter of the media scene. Clients say she simply “gets it.”
“I take pride in delivering media placements for my clients and bringing an awareness of them directly to their target audiences,” Filomena says.
Filomena got her start nearly 20 years ago at Rubenstein Associates, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become a vice president. Recognized as a top publicist, she worked on some of the firm’s major real estate accounts, representing Atco, Belz Enterprises, The Beekman Regent, Chartwell House, Faith Hope Consolo (at both Garrick-Aug Associates and Douglas Elliman), Grubb & Ellis, Lansco Corporation, Studley and others.
She started her business in 2008, serving as an independent senior writer for a New York City public relations firm with a diverse array of clients. Over the years, Filomena grew her business to incorporate additional Hudson Valley clients, for whom she secured speaking engagements, wrote articles, crafted website content, offered social media support and got their names in the news. They became an integral part of the client base on which Impact was founded, including work with the No. 1 family-owned residential real estate firm in the Northeast. Today, in addition to real estate and construction, Filomena leads her boutique firm’s work for clientele in several other sectors as well, including nonprofit, wellness and fitness, corporate/professional services, and food and beverage industries. In 2017 her firm was honored with a Gold Stevie Award for Women-Run Workplace of the Year – 10 or Less Employees, an international recognition.
Being an entrepreneur is something of a family tradition, according to Filomena, who was named a “Forty Under 40” honoree by the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2015 for her business leadership. She says she gets her commercial acumen from her father, a former small business owner, but the gift of being able to listen and problem solve comes from her mother, a social worker by profession. Her parents also gave her a love of the fresh air and green of the Hudson Valley, where she lives with her husband and two lively daughters in her childhood home.
When not spending time at her business or with her family, Filomena is an involved member of the community and enjoys volunteering with various Hudson Valley nonprofit organizations. She serves on the Board of Hudson River Housing and the Executive Committee of both the Women’s Leadership Alliance and the Public Relations Society of America’s Counselors Academy. She also is on the Development Committee of Family Services, which provides youth development, counseling and other services to families and individuals in the mid-Hudson Valley, and was on the PR and Marketing Committee for Special Olympics New York Winter Games. As well, Filomena is a community advisor for The Daily Voice, a presenter with the Public Relations Society of America and a frequent guest lecturer at Marist College, where she also has taught public relations writing as an adjunct professor.
Sandi Sonnenfeld, Associate Vice President
An award-winning senior strategist in reputation management, thought-leadership and C-Suite communications, Sandi has more than 18 years of PR agency and in-house experience. She is known for devising creative solutions to thorny communications problems, training executives to work effectively with the press and other target audiences, corporate storytelling, and translating complex concepts and jargon into plain English. Sandi ghostwrote and placed more than 200 bylined articles and op/eds on behalf of senior executives and secured more than 800 interviews in the top mainstream and business news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Forbes, Inc., Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, HuffPost, Foreign Policy, ComputerWorld, CIO, Pharma Executive, Hospital & Health Networks, Food Manufacturing, GlobeSt.com and The Daily Deal to name a few. As a published writer, motivational team leader and media relations guru, she orchestrates sophisticated, results-driven campaigns to raise awareness, foster trust, influence decision makers, attract/retain customers and talent, launch products/services, advocate on behalf of a cause, organization or idea, or help mitigate damage in the event of a company crisis.
Prior to joining Impact PR, Sandi provided freelance content development, ghostwriting and social media services to local and national clients. With a strong background in B2B communications, particularly in the legal, healthcare, technology, energy and financial services sectors, she previously served as Director of PR & Firmwide Communications at Kaye Scholer LLP and, before that, as Director of PR for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman. She learned PR from the ground up at Publicis Dialog (now MSLGroup) and has played key roles for regional and national accounts, including leading, teaching and overseeing client relations, executive communications, media relations, internal communications, promotional writing and other aspects of campaigns.
The winner of two PRSA Silver Anvil Awards, four “Media Relations Programs of the Year” awards from the Legal Marketing Association, and “Best Corporate Video of the Year” from the National Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, Sandi holds a BA in English from Mount Holyoke College and an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Washington. Her short stories, essays and journalism pieces have appeared in more than 30 literary reviews, anthologies, and business magazines. Born and raised in Long Island, Sandi currently resides in Poughkeepsie with her husband and the world’s two most perfect cats.
Karen Maserjian Shan, Account Manager
After writing for magazines, coordinating marketing for a software development company and working as a freelance journalist, most notably for the Poughkeepsie Journal newspaper—for whose Living & Being magazine she won a 2012 New York News Publisher’s Association Award for Excellence for feature writing—Karen joined Impact PR & Communications in the fall of 2014 as a consultant.
Now a senior account executive with the Impact team, Karen enjoys the fast-paced routine of managing and servicing various accounts with her teammates, including finance and banking, real estate and construction, medical, healthcare and wellness, non-profit and other clients.
Karen’s deep roots in the mid-Hudson Valley and appreciation for business stem from her family’s business, Arax Photographic Studios, the mid-Hudson Valley’s premier photographic service provider, studio and retailer for 80 years. She earned her fine arts degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and after returning to the area, became a founding member of Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley, a regional organization devoted to the development and professionalism of children’s book authors. Additionally, Karen sits on the communications committee of Arts Mid-Hudson that engages and promotes the arts throughout Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties and is an active member of the Millbrook Literary Festival committee.
Karen lives in Poughkeepsie with her husband and two kids.
Cheryl Sloofman, Senior Account Executive
A news fiend and voracious reader, Cheryl relishes the strategy and planning involved in PR. Determining how a client’s story weaves into the news cycle, looking for unusual or compelling angles and helping clients stand out among their competitors are some of her strengths. As a senior account executive with the Impact team, she manages and services accounts, including real estate and construction, non-profit, finance and banking.
Raised in New York and now residing in northern New Jersey, Cheryl earned a master’s degree in public relations and marketing from Boston University and a master’s degree in education from New York University before taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom for her two sons. She resumed her career as a public relations consultant in 2008 and joined the Impact team in 2014. Cheryl is involved with Action to Cure Kidney Cancer and likes to run, hike and indulge her inner bookworm in her spare time.
Sandy Shen Rice, Media Relations Consultant
With nearly 17 years of PR agency experience under her belt, Sandy is a seasoned pro who understands the value of direct communications and targeting the right audience. At Impact PR & Communications, she serves as a media relations consultant, helping clients achieve their top-tier media goals.
Sandy’s career began at Burson-Marsteller where she implemented media and investor relations programs for international companies targeting the U.S. media and financial communities, and established relationships with Wall Street analysts and institutional investors. Later, she focused on media relations and corporate communications at Ludgate Communications and then for Ketchum Inc., for high profile clients including the New York Stock Exchange, FedEx Corporation, ACNielsen and Cemex S.A. de C.V.
A native of Taiwan, Sandy moved to New York City when she was 9 and currently lives in northern New Jersey with her family. She loves being a mom to her two daughters, participating in local school and community activities, cooking, traveling, reading, dancing and spinning, her latest discovery.
Kristin Delia, Senior Account Executive
Kristin Delia, a long-time Dutchess County resident with deep Hudson Valley roots and a passion for the region’s unique culture and history, is at home as a senior account executive at Impact PR & Communications. Clients benefit from her industry acumen, social media savvy, and zeal for the profession, which she puts to work to contribute fresh creative ideas, craft and execute strategic campaigns, and secure top-tier media placements on their behalf.
Before joining the Impact team, Kristin was on the fast-track at Carolyn Izzo Integrated Communications, a Rockland County-based agency, where her knack for the PR business brought her from an intern to account coordinator to account executive. She spent those years managing events and conducting client communications and media outreach for a variety of well-known brands, including Coney Island Brewing Co.; The Roundhouse in Beacon, New York; Mexico Grand Hotels in Los Cabos, Mexico and Opal Apples, among other food and beverage, tourism and hospitality, and lifestyle clients.
Her passion for travel has led her across the world, inspiring her to spend her student years interning at a 5-star hotel in Lake Como, Italy, and, following graduating magna cum laude from Niagara University’s College of Hospitality & Tourism, working front-of-house at a luxury hotel in Westchester County. Combining her hospitality prowess with her love of storytelling and media made for a natural transition and, as they say, the rest is history.
In her spare time, Kristin enjoys the company of her family and friends, scoping out the best local restaurants and traveling near and far.
Michelle Obligado, Account Coordinator
Michelle joined Impact PR & Communications in 2016 after spending 16 years at IBM in the human resources department, where she liaised with and advocated for consultants making their way through IBM’s extensive consultant certification program. She also led implementation and training efforts related to business software.
An integral member of the Impact team, Michelle’s impressive interpersonal skills and technical savvy, along with her attention to detail and follow-up, make her an essential support person for her colleagues and Impact’s clients. From issuing press releases and tracking placements, to following up with clients and coordinating reports, Michelle enjoys the fast pace of the public relations world.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Westchester County, Michelle has been a Dutchess County resident for 13 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Pace University and serves on the board of directors at Community Nursery School in Poughkeepsie.
Michelle lives in the Town of Poughkeepsie with her husband and three children. In her off hours, she enjoys running, playing soccer, keeping fit at the gym and reading.