Alumna carries skills from her Communications degree into new role as President and CEO of the National Fisheries Institute

Lisa Wallenda Picard headshot
February 17, 2023
By Madison Sloan
From press relations for her family’s business of daredevil circus performers to advocating for the men and women who bring fish from the water to our tables, Flagler alumna Lisa Wallenda Picard has been telling the story of people throughout her career.

Picard’s foundation for telling these kinds of stories began on the coast, studying Communications at Flagler College. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 1992, she carried these skills into the professional world.

This year, Picard has taken on the role of President and CEO for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), the leading trade association for the seafood industry whose members represent all aspects of the value chain from the restaurant industry and wholesalers to aquaculture and biotechnology companies.

Picard's new position is guiding the organization's communications to highlight the work her team is doing as some of the "world's foremost fish experts."

“My job is not to do their job,” Picard said. “My job is to make sure that everyone knows what a fantastic team we have here and what good work they do. My job is a communications job, it’s just to a different audience and in a different format.”

Before transitioning to her current position, Picard worked as the Senior Vice President for the National Turkey Federation, as Chief of Staff for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and as the National Director of PR for Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey.

Picard's Communications degree has continued to prove useful, but she said a hallmark memory from her experience at Flagler was her time spent as the college’s mascot, Lewis the Lion.

“That mascot costume smelled so bad, but that was before Febreze was invented,” Picard said.

Alongside mascot duties, Picard served as a student ambassador and orientation guide, acting as the very first student tour guide when the College started public tours in summer of 1991. Picard said these kinds of activities created some of her most unforgettable memories at Flagler, it was the aid and guidance of her professors that really impacted her.

During her junior year, Picard moved to Washington, D.C. with the intention of completing an internship at the White House. Once she arrived, Picard realized she couldn’t balance the internship with her part-time serving job she needed to help cover expenses.

She said it was with the help of Professor Carl Horner and Dr. William Abare that she was able to count volunteer hours in a 1992 Presidential Campaign as internship credit and even graduate early.

“I was in school with a lot of loans, and I was basically trying to scrape it together, so without their help, it just never would've happened,” she said. “I’ll always be forever grateful to them.”

Although Picard went to work on Capitol Hill after finishing her degree, Picard’s Flagler legacy did not end when she walked across the stage at graduation.

As an alumna, Picard said she cherishes the opportunity to give back her time and energy to the College. In 2006, she received the Pride of Flagler Alumni Award, and shortly after joined the Alumni Board.

Her connection with the professors and appreciation for the Flagler community struck a new chord when her youngest daughter, Cassie, enrolled in 2018. With the start of her daughter’s college experience, Picard transitioned from membership on the Alumni Board to a co-chair position on the Parents’ Leadership Council.

“I loved my time at Flagler, it was incredible,” Picard said. “And it was neat because I saw Cassie experience the same thing.”

While Cassie graduated in 2022 with a degree in Coastal Environmental Science, Picard’s affinity and gratitude for Flagler remain strong.

“Flagler is special,” Picard said. “No matter how you end up getting connected with it, it is a lifelong thing. And I’m just grateful that I was lucky enough to go there.”