About the Team

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, so she 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 want those media placements,” Filomena says. “I take pride in delivering them and getting awareness of my clients directly to their target audiences.”

Filomena got her start 18 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 own small 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, she grew her business to incorporate more and more local 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 are an integral part of the client base on which Impact was founded. Continuing in what Filomena calls her “sweet spot” — real estate, a career-long specialty — is her firm’s present work with William Raveis, the no. 1 family-owned residential real estate firm in the Northeast.

Being an entrepreneur is something of a family tradition, according to Filomena, who was named a “Forty Under 40” 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. She serves on the Board of Hudson River Housing, the PR and Marketing Committee for Special Olympics New York Winter Games, teaches a class in public relations writing as an adjunct professor at Marist College, is a community advisor for The Daily Voice and enjoys volunteering with various Hudson Valley non-profit organizations.

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.

Nikki D’Aleo, Senior Account Executive

A former English teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned publicist, Nikki D’Aleo joined Impact PR & Communications in 2015 as an account coordinator and soon climbed the ranks to account executive, where she manages the day-to-day needs of multiple accounts, including not-for-profits, legal, and health and wellness companies.

From writing press releases and editing bylined articles to pitching media and coordinating outreach efforts, Nikki is on the job, working to each client’s ultimate advantage through personalized attention and genuine care.

Raised in southern Vermont in a family who built an energy business from the ground up, Nikki credits her entrepreneur parents and country roots for teaching her about hard work and professionalism. She graduated Marist College in 2006 with a double major in English and education, and a double minor in theatre and psychology. A desire to immerse in her Irish heritage led Nikki to spend a college semester in Dublin as a student intern at the James Joyce Centre where she lectured school groups and planned events. Nikki won the 2006 Marist College Anderson Award for Playwriting for a one-act play based upon her experiences abroad, further underscoring her storytelling prowess.

Nikki enjoys life in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two young boys and, when time allows, practices yoga, rides horseback and reads.

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.