2013 Nonprofit PR Awards: Nonprofit Communicator

Winner: Allison Barber, Chancellor, Western Governors University Indiana

Western Governors University Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber has demonstrated communications mastery in introducing and raising the awareness of Indiana's nonprofit, online university by targeting adults who want/need to finish their Bachelor's or earn a Master's degree.

Barber was selected by the governor of Indiana to lead the university as the chancellor and chief communications executive not just because of her passion for higher education and her extensive expertise in the management—her expertise in the technical applications of public relations played a huge role. She has called upon her past success as PR professional working in the White House and Pentagon, along with running her own agency in Washington, D.C.

As the first chancellor for WGU Indiana, Barber needed to create a PR campaign to increase enrollment that would penetrate the entire state. She had to leverage many people to help her since the university is nonprofit with a small marketing budget. She designed a PR campaign around the theme of "Go Further" and focused on relationships, ambassadors and visibility: In terms of relationships, Barber executed strategic partnerships with governments, businesses, nonprofits and individuals, including the state of Indiana and Indiana University Health, to offer tuition discounts to employees. Relationships were sustained through digital communications, social media, traversing the state in a WGU-branded "Go Further" mobile, and targeted use of collateral. Barber also championed an HR-specific page on the university's website to further build relationships with business leaders who could offer higher-ed opportunities to their employees.

Barber's 2011 efforts resulted in increased enrollment (769%) to more than 2,000 students statewide. Inquiries increased 264% and applications increased 570%. "Likes" on WGU Indiana’s Facebook page increased 80%. Barber's innovative and strategic outreach—from grassroots PR to extensive statewide media relations—created a buzz among higher education leaders and PR professionals. —Steve Goldstein

Honorable Mention:

·      Leon Rubin, Director of Communications, Office Depot Foundation/JKG Group

Back to the 2013 Nonprofit PR Awards

Comments Off


About Bill Miltenberg

Community Editor at PR News.

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Measurement Conference 

Media Relations ConferenceJoin PR News at the National Press Club on Dec. 11 for the Media Relations Conference, where you'll learn how to tie your media relations initiatives to business goals, use the right metrics to prove the success of your efforts, incorporate social media in a brand crisis and more.

Use code “150” at checkout to save $150 on the regular rate.

Get $50 off PR News' Crisis Management Guidebook


Crisis management is an art, not a science. In this edition of PR News’ Book of Crisis Management Strategies & Tactics, you will discover many different views on this art, and you are certain to find takeaways that will transform the way your organization handles crises. 

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription



Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.