PR News Announces Winners of 2014 PR People Awards

PR News celebrated the winners and honorable mentions of its 2014 PR People Awards at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 9, 2014. The newest members of the PR News Hall of Fame were also announced: Gil Bashe, Ray Day, Sabrina Horn, Jody Powell, Frank X. Shaw, Sheila Tate and Zenia Mucha. (See full profiles of all the winners.) Also honored at the luncheon were the 2014 Rising PR Stars 30 and Under.


Agency Account Manager of the Year

Winner: Amber Meredith, Marina Maher Communications

Honorable Mentions

  • Sarah Chavey, ANTHEMIC Agency
  • Meghan Moran, Adfero Group
  • Kate Urbach, Havas PR


Brand Marketer of the Year

Winner: Andrew Bowins, MasterCard

Honorable Mentions:

  • Stephen Bonsignore, Cohn & Wolfe
  • Dustin Hinz, Guitar Center


Corporate Social Responsibility Leader

Winner: Ichiro Kawasaki, KPMG LLP

Honorable Mention:

  • Lynn Marmer, Kroger


Crisis Manager of the Year

Winner: Cari Brunelle, Hellerman Baretz Communications

Honorable Mentions:

  • Heidi Davidson, BlackBerry Ltd
  • Justine Griffin, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications


Digital Communications Leader of the Year

Winner: Danny Olson, Weber Shandwick

Honorable Mentions:

  • Brett Holland, Pepco Holdings, Inc.
  • Megan Levi, Ruder Finn
  • Kristin Montalbano, National Geographic Channel
  • Jennifer Stalzer, MasterCard


Event Marketer of the Year

Winner: Dan Hewitt, The Entertainment Software Association

Honorable Mention:

  • Andrenna Alkhas, The Stanislaus County Fair


Internal Communicator of the Year

Winner: Debbie Upton Helvig, Bank of America

Honorable Mentions:

  • Cessie Cerrato, Palace Resorts
  • Rhonda Ellis, Pepco Holdings, Inc.
  • Margo Hackel, KPMG LLP
  • Amy Haran, USANA Health Sciences
  • Lori Poer, International Justice Mission


MARCOM Professional of the Year

Winner: MaryBeth Vrees, Pepco Holdings, Inc. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Judy Davies, Advantest
  • Sasha Hefler, UBIC
  • Taryn Holowka, US Green Building Council


Media Relations Professional of the Year

Winner: Ronna Waldman, Marina Maher Communications

Honorable Mentions:

  • Travis Culter, Tyler Barnett PR
  • Jennifer DeGuzman, National Geographic Channel
  • Robert Nihen, KPMG LLP
  • Felix Schein, RALLY
  • Tracy Zampaglione, Orange County Library System


PR Professional of Year: Agency

Co-Winners: Christopher Penn, Shift Communications and JP Schuerman, MWW

Honorable Mentions:

  • Katie Blair, Vantage PR
  • Nicole Dunn, Dunn Pellier Media
  • Matt Kovacs, Blaze PR
  • Drisha Leggitt, Drisha Leggitt & Company Communications & LCS Technologies, Inc.
  • Ravi Sunnak, Havas PR
  • Jenna Thomas, Nebo
  • Teresa Villarreal, Newlink Group


PR Professional of Year: Corporate

Winner: Chris LaPlaca, ESPN

Honorable Mentions:

  • Christopher Ian Bennett, Guitar Center
  • Misty Dangel, USANA Health Sciences
  • Melissa Drake, ERA Real Estate
  • Seth Oster, KPMG LLP


PR Professional of Year: Nonprofit/Association

Winner: Lauren Lawson-Zilai, Goodwill Industries International

Honorable Mention:

  • Lora Bodmer, NAMM and the NAMM Foundation


PR Student of the Year

Winner: Laura Plumb, Drake University


PR Team Leader

Winner: Allison Falkenberry, Rodale Inc.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Christopher Albert, National Geographic Channel
  • Ashley Collins, USANA Health Sciences
  • Manuel Goncalves, KPMG LLP
  • Elizabeth Hillman, Discovery Communications
  • Lydia Howard, Vantage PR


Public Affairs/Government Communicator of the Year

Winner: Tim Ryan, Weber Shandwick 

Honorable Mentions:

  • John Davies, Davies Public Affairs
  • Jeffrey Getek, Erickson Living


Publicist of the Year

Winner: Adrenna Alkhas, Stanislaus County Fair


Social Media Professional of Year

Winner: Tim Haran, USANA Health Sciences

Honorable Mentions:

  • Michelle Catin, Palace Resorts
  • Ken Makovsky, Makovsky & Co.
  • Josh Martin, Arby’s
  • Ying Shen, Cisco


Spokesperson of the Year

Winner: David Daigle, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Honorable Mention:

  • Courtney Nogas, Pepco Holdings, Inc.



Gil Bashe, Executive Vice President, Health Practice Director, Makovsky + Company

Gil Bashe, head of the Makovsky Health practice, offers expertise and a unique breadth of experience in health industry communications. He has been honored numerous times for his communications savvy, his creativity and his dedication to his work.

Ray Day, Vice President of Communication, Ford Motor Company

Ray Day joined Ford in 1989 and spent most of his career leading Ford’s global communications and public relations activities related to the company’s products, design, manufacturing, sales, marketing, brand development and corporate issues. He has learned to thrive in a tough media environment, with a focus on new products and a hunger for new ideas.

Sabrina Horn, Founder, President and CEO, HORN

Sabrina started The Horn Group in 1991 with the vision to build a communications agency that would break new ground in technology markets, employment practices and client service. Her fundamental belief in valuing, collaborating with and empowering those around her, has been a driving force in Horn Group’s growth from start-up to industry leader.

Jody Powell, Co-Founder, Powell Tate

Jody Powell defined, and redefined, the role and style of presidential press. He subsequently put those communications skills in an "improbable" partnership with former press aide to Nancy Reagan, Sheila Tate. Together, they built the powerful Washington, D.C.-based public relations agency, Powell Tate.

Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President, Communications, Microsoft

For half a decade, Frank Shaw has been Microsoft's go-to person for the media—and that accounts for a lot of media and a lot of going to. Shaw brought 17 years of agency experience with him to Microsoft, where he has built the kind of profile not ordinarily seen from a corporate communicator.

Sheila Tate, Co-Founder, Powell Tate

Much of Shelia Tate’s business career was devoted to agency work. She was top of the call list for any organization that found itself in choppy water and built a reputation for steering groups ably through any media storm. She has led a highly decorated career as a communicator and co-founder of Powell Tate with Jody Powell.

Zenia Mucha, Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, The Walt Disney Co.

Zenia Mucha has led the communications and positioning strategies for Disney's business initiatives since 2002, including the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, each of them multibillion-dollar entertainment franchises. From a communications perspective, these acquisitions were profoundly challenging. Each of the three brands has longtime, passionate fans, and it was Mucha who shaped the perception of Disney as their guardian—one that would lead them to continued glory.

Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell