Public Affairs Representatives Honored for Spreading the Word on Exchange Relevancy

PAR of the Year Winners

There’s a lot happening at USAG Bavaria Exchanges, and Grafenwoehr Visual Merchandiser Manager Chris Litch makes sure the community knows about it.

Chris Litch, Public Affairs Representative (PAR) for USAG Bavaria, is the worldwide 2021 PAR of the Year. It’s the second consecutive year Litch has earned the award.

Litch serves as the Public Affairs Representative (PAR) for USAG Bavaria, which means he works hand in hand with HQ Public Affairs (PA) to share news with his community through customized press releases and social media posts, keeping shoppers in the know about the value and benefit the Exchange provides. Each installation has an associate who serves as the PAR.

Thanks to his success in telling the Exchange story within his community, Litch was recently named the worldwide 2021 PAR of the Year. He placed nearly 1,500 Exchange reports in local media channels, such as installations’ social media pages.

“The best way to succeed as a PAR is to build a strong relationship with your local Public Affairs Office,” said Litch, who was also the 2020 worldwide PAR of the Year recipient. “Find out what other tenant units can help promote the Exchange, too, by following their social media pages.”

Litch’s passion for telling the Exchange story contributes to his success.

“I really love promoting my Exchange, and the PAR program gives me the tools to do that,” Litch said. “Having served in the Army for 21 years and worked for the Exchange for 20 years, I love that I still get to take care of Soldiers and families by letting them know about their Exchange benefit.”

While Litch took the worldwide and Europe region title, five other associates were also honored as PARs of the Year. The PAR leaders each received a coin from Exchange Director/CEO Tom Shull and an Exchange gift card. The other top PARs were:

  • Second place – Sue Antonello, Fort Rucker (Central region leader)

    The 2021 PARs of the Year. Top row, from left: Michael Casserly, Colorado Springs Consolidated; Sue Antonello, Fort Rucker; and Mr. Choe, Ho-Chol, Korea Southern. Bottom row: Kathy Kuhlman, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; worldwide PAR of the Year Chris Litch, USAG Bavaria; and Natasa Stroud, Fort Gordon.

  • Third place – Kathy Kuhlman, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • Fourth place – Michael Casserly, Colorado Springs Consolidated (Western region leader)
  • Fifth place – Natasa Stroud, Fort Gordon (Eastern region leader)

Mr. Choe, Ho-Chol, the PAR for Korea Southern, was also honored as the Exchange’s Pacific region leader.

“The Exchange story resonates most at the local level, where our shoppers can see their Exchange active in the community,” said Sandi Lute, Exchange senior vice president, corporate communication. “The PARs are indispensable in strengthening the bond between the Exchange and their local community.”

For 2022, PARs will have the chance to compete not only for PAR of the Year honors but also Brand Representative of the Year. The PAR of the Year contest will award PARs for their work in getting news stories generated by HQ PA shared in installation channels. The Brand Representative of the Year contest will track all other coverage of local Exchanges that is not generated by HQ. Previously, the two categories were combined under the PAR of the Year contest.

The worldwide winners in the PAR of the Year and the Brand Representative of the Year categories will each receive a $1,000 Exchange gift card. Region leaders in both categories will be honored as well.

The restructuring is the first major change to the Exchange PAR program—which is modeled after a similar Army Public Affairs program—since it started 17 years ago. The change will help PA identify which stories resonate most with military shoppers so PA can continue to promote the Exchange benefit in ways that reach the community effectively.

“The Exchange is much more than a retailer. It’s often the heart of a military community, where people gather to find a taste of home,” Lute said. “That’s the Exchange story we want to tell—and we can’t do it without the hard work of our amazing PARs.”

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