Adrenna Alkhas is one of Turlock’s busiest women. The mother of three balances her job as Stanislaus County Fair Marketing and Communications Director with the responsibility of teaching students at Modesto Junior College as an adjunct professor and also volunteers her time promoting the Assyrian Festival. As an Assyrian, she is passionate about her culture and strives to bring awareness to the community about her heritage. Alkhas’ hard work over the years has paid off, having received several accolades, the most recent being “Publicist of the Year” from PR News. When she isn’t hard at work, she, her children and husband Peter Alkhas love all things Disney.
Q: How did you first become interested in marketing and public relations?
A: I first became interested while attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and I took a PR course taught by a professor who also worked for Ebay at the time. Back in 2001, Ebay was trending as the hottest dot com website and we all loved his creativity. He gave us a class PR project to work on an Ebay PR strategy and I fell in love with the profession. I love the creativity, working with the media, creating talking points and visual storytelling. Back then we didn’t have social media, but you had to tell your story through advertising and media releases. Now with the addition with social media, it makes it easier for us to have fun with videos, photos and content marketing. Creative content and visuals are powerful tools for us. One of our campaigns this year at the Fair is called #TheFlipSide with an upside roller coaster and our content on social media is upside down as well as one of our banners inside Vintage Faire Mall has all the verbiage upside down. The premise of this is playful and engaging for our audience, and makes you feel like we typed this while on a carnival ride.
Q: What is your favorite part about representing the Stanislaus County Fair?
A: There are many reasons why I love working at the Fair. But my favorite part is working with our staff, because for the first time in my career it feels like a family and we all advocate for each other. We talk about our disagreements, instead of putting each other down and we all have one goal: To make the Fair a community driven event and make it fun for everyone. I love this time of year because all the returning staff start working and many have been working at the Fair for over 30 years, and I enjoy seeing their faces year after year.
Q: Why did you think it was important to have a lounge specifically geared toward empowering young women at the Fair?
A: I started the lounge because I wanted to focus on young women who are just starting college or starting their careers. I felt like I didn’t have a voice after college when starting my career; I was passive and didn’t stand up for myself. I want to tell young girls that you can be fierce and confident, yet humble and kind at the same time. Kindness is power! One of the things I do not allow in my office is office gossip or drama. My staff knows that from the beginning and they must handle any disagreements amongst each other without verbally attacking ones’ character behind their back. I will not put up with that! The empowHER Lounge is geared towards inspiring young girls to be great leaders in our community. If we teach our young women now to support each other instead of competing with each other it will set the tone for how they will be leaders of tomorrow. When women adopt leadership roles they can create a unique set of skills that can broaden the company’s environment. Women leaders can nurture and recruit other talented females and in turn create a supportive environment that actively empowers women, like putting family first or taking the pressure off. Now, I’m not talking about holding their hands and coddling our staff, I set the standards with my staff on what I expect from them, but I also do not micromanage and I allow flexibility.
The lounge has many sessions that young women can learn from and our speakers are from Women’s Education and Leadership League in Modesto. I encourage girls to go on our website to register for the lounge sessions now at www.stancofair.com. Those who register will get free swag bags from the Fair and Vintage Faire Mall. Toni and Guy is also doing make under called the “No Makeup, Makeup” with hair and makeup tutorials, showing girls how to extenuate their natural beauty.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do at the Fair?
A: Oh, this is a hard question! I have many favorite things. But, one thing I enjoy doing is going through the Floriculture building and sitting in the gardens; it is peaceful yet you can hear the families enjoying themselves. Normally, I’m either eating a monster dog or a VFW burger in peace. Stuffing my face in peace is always a satisfying moment.
Q: When the Fair isn't in town, where is your favorite place to spend family time in Turlock?
A: My family and I love shopping downtown and my children love eating at Footers, Memo’s (their lemon basil chicken salad is my favorite) and Dust Bowl Brewery (their outside play area is a great way to have kids play as we relax and eat). My kids also enjoy going to the Stanislaus County Library and watching movies in the theater.
Q: What is the last book or TV show that captivated you?
A: The last book I read was “The White Princess” by Phillipa Gregory. I am captivated by British history and her books tell the stories of all the women who ruled England from their point of view, some is highly fabricated, but most major events are factual and enjoyable.
I am a TV junkie and enjoy watching many shows. My husband and I love “Game of Thrones,” but the one show that I just finished watching was “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, which shook me a bit thinking about my children being in high school and the bullying that occurs.
Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
A: The one thing people would be surprised to learn about me is that even though I work in marketing and involved with social media on a daily basis, I believe and would advocate for social media being banned for children 18 years and younger. Yet, although there are wondrous things about social media, there are extreme dangers. Suicide is now the second leading cause of deaths among teens. Kids ages 10 and older have social media at the palm of their hands with a snap of a photo, a click of a button and hiding behind a keyboard, cyber bullying has become an extremely dangerous part of teenagers, which plays a huge part on their insecurities and depression. Just like there is age requirements for driving, drinking, joining the military, voting or purchasing cigarettes/alcohol, there should be an age requirement to have social media accounts. One of our sessions inside the empowHER Lounge is “How to conduct yourself on social media; a personal brand” will discuss issues of how teens and young adults are not aware of the ramifications of posting specific content and photos that could harm their education and careers. Employers are looking at social media as well as colleges before recruiting them to jobs and schools. If you are asking yourself how we can monitor who gets a social media account, simple: Everyone has to input a government issued ID. If we can work at the local school district, I believe, as parents, we can make our voices heard across the nation.