Paula Pedene, APR, Fellow PRSA

Ethics Advocate, Engaging Speaker, Author, and National Board Member of the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards with the Public Relations Society of America.

Paula’s road to ethics advocate came by way of a personal and unique challenge.

Paula Pedene was one of the first whistleblowers at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. A whistleblower is a person who exposes information or activity that is illegal, unethical, or out of line within an organization.

From 2010 through 2014, her whistleblower disclosures included evidence of patient waits and delays, a hostile work environment, and funds mismanagement.  After her ethical and accurate disclosures, she became a target for managers who wanted to silence her. Due to her exposures, V.A. leaders put her through an unrelenting two-year smear campaign. Her managers unethically stripped her of staff, budget, and duties. They put her under an illegal gag order. They targeted her with bogus scandals. They denied her the fundamental rights available to every American. They stoked unfounded rumors about her. They turned objective investigations into kangaroo court-like weapons against her. They humiliated her with banishment to the basement library.

But eventually, Paula, her legal team, and Dr. Sam Foote, her cohort whistleblower physician, formulated a strategy that paid off. After sharing insider information, a congressional hearing on April 9, 2014, exposed the Phoenix VA Health Care System issues. The House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller revealed he had the names of 40 veterans who may have died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital. In the ensuing firestorm, the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs was forced to resign; and the Office of Accountability Review recommended firing the hospital’s executive leadership team. As details of the scandal continued to unfold, the Nation learned that waitlist abuses like those in Phoenix spanned 111 VA facilities in 19 states.

Paula and her team were vindicated. She won her whistleblower case against V.A., and her revelations saved the lives of thousands of veterans.  Her story is one that compels us to take notice as to why morals, ethics, and values are essential in all we do.     

Paula can create compelling presentations tailored to your organization to highlight how morals, ethics, and values can make a significant impact.