The Agency: About Us

Dr. Amy O'Brien

Dr. Amy O'Brien
Director, Public Relations Program/The Agency

Amy O’Brien is director of the public relations program and director of The Agency at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Dr. O’Brien specializes in public relations, branding, visual communication, storytelling, and reputation management.

With more than 25 years’ experience in teaching and public relations, Dr. O’Brien’s course offerings include Writing for Public Relations, Newsletter Writing and Design, Storytelling for Public Relations and Corporate Communications.

As director of The Agency at Kutztown University, O’Brien ensures clients’ needs are met while also encouraging her students to network and engage with clients and produce portfolio-worthy writing samples.

She is a member of the PRSA and adviser to Kutztown’s campus chapter of PRSSA.

For more information about The Agency at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, .

Members of the 22-23 Agency

The Agency at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania is a two-semester capstone course designed to provide real-life public relations experience for undergraduate public relations majors. As members of the Agency staff, students build and execute actual public relations programming for local clients. They practice networking, build portfolios, and interact directly with clients as they develop their professional skills.

This year’s Agency is staffed by eight seniors from the PR program.

Rianna Aucker

Rianna Aucker (she/her)

Rianna Aucker approaches her work and life with compassion and attention to detail. As a member of The Agency, Rianna’s contributions include relationship building, program development, and researching key issues. She has published blog pieces and short stories.

As an employee of a local Wawa store, Rianna ensures customers feel welcome and valued.

Rianna is passionate about running and camping.

Ebben Berenstein

Ebben Berenstein (she/her)

Ebben Berenstein has combined her undergraduate public relations major with a minor in sociology.

Specializing in curating and promoting content on various social media platforms, Ebben has honed her skills at internships with Boy Scouts of America and the Harrisburg-based JDK Group. In these roles she also helped plan and promote events and assisted with grant writing.

Ebben has strong leadership skills and the ability to maintain a calm demeanor in high stress settings. A strong advocate for effective communication and well managed relationships, Ebben brings an inviting and inclusive presence to any partnership.

In her free time, Ebben enjoys cooking new recipes and crafting unique friendship bracelets.

Annika Brynildsen

Annika Brynildsen (she/her)
Annika Brynildsen is pursuing a dual major in public relations and communication studies as well as a minor in in social media theory and strategy.

Brynildsen is innovative, self-motivated and skilled at connecting with others. She is an engaged team member with strong leadership qualities and a passion for investigative research.

Her volunteer work includes managing social media campaigns for the CURE4CAM organization and LINK (Leaders Involved in Networking Kids). She is familiar with online platforms and programs including Hootsuite and Google Analytics as well as social media software such as RStudio.

Michael Drago

Michael Drago (he/him)

Michael Drago brings strong research and investigative skills to the Agency. He is also a professional photographer, currently working with truck accessory manufacturers seeking photos for advertisements.

In his free time, Mike restores old cars and builds trucks. He also enjoys fishing, hunting, and traveling, especially to Nashville, TN, where he hopes to relocate after school.

Renée Gariffo

Renée Gariffo (she/her)

Renée Gariffo has paired her undergraduate major in public relations with two minors:  art history, and women, gender, & sexuality studies.

She is most interested in the social media and branding aspects of public relations and is looking to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Her current internship with Sorrelli Jewelry is providing solid skills that will prepare her to reach that goal.

Renée served as president of KU’s Arts Alliance Club, honing her leadership and organizational skills and has leveraged her art and design background to create websites and client publications using Wix, Canva, and InDesign.

Renée’s passions include coffee, cooking, and her three cats. Keeping an open mind and having a positive outlook for anything she is introduced to, work-related or otherwise, Renée enjoys meeting new people and learning more about herself as well as her professional field.

Jake Mayson

Jake Mayson (he/him)

Jake Mayson has paired a minor in sociology with his public relations major.

He plans to use his combined skills and passion for public relations and athletics to work in the sports field after he graduates from KU. He has experience working for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. As an intern with the Iron Pigs, Jake participated in game day operations and promotional teamwork with clients and employers. He is also currently a marketing and public relations intern with Denney Electric Supply. Jake’s professional communication skills have helped propel him to become a social, positive, and active part of any professional team he joins.

Jake is passionate about Harry Potter marathons, healthy eating, and environmental activism.

Jessica Plante

Jessica Plante (she/her)

Jessica’s experience includes media relations and blog content creation as well as generating SEO content for clients. She has professional experience as a member of the boutique marketing and advertising agency BeMarketing and as social media manager for a designer consignment shop in Bethlehem. In curating and creating social media posts, Jessica’s skills have broadened to include garment photography and website management. With strong abilities in long-form writing and public speaking, Jessica brings a creative approach to branding and client communications.

As an extrovert and a true people person at heart, Jessica also works as a part-time bartender at an Irish pub in center-city Bethlehem.

Evan Santos

Evan Santos (he/him)
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Evan Santos has added five minors to complement his public relations degree:  communication studies; cinema, television, & media production; social media theory & strategy; professional writing; and women, gender, & sexuality studies.

Santos is the student representative on the Kutztown University Council of Trustees, which works alongside the university president to set broad policy for the institution. He also works at the university’s office of sports information, for the admissions team, and for the honors program. Outside of the university, Santos is a multimedia press box assistant for minor-league baseball’s Reading Fightin’ Phils. In January 2022, he joined NBCUniversal during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games as a production runner, and in the summer of 2022, he spent time in Raleigh, NC working for CBS 17 as a production and digital media intern. This fall, Santos joined NBC’s flagship station WNBC in New York City, where he is an intern for the station’s lifestyle show, “New York Live.”

Santos is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. In his free time, he also enjoys running and reading.