2018 Awards of Distinction Honorees

PRSA Oregon recognized our four distinguished professionals with Awards of Distinction at the 2018 Spotlight Awards on November 7, including Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, Donna Z. Davis, Gary Withers, and Nicole Shaddy. Congrats to all!

William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award”

Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE
The William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award honors an outstanding leader in the field of public relations. For nearly four decades, William W. Marsh was a towering figure in public relations in Oregon. A charter member of the Portland Metro Chapter (which was merged into the PRSA Oregon Chapter in 2017) Marsh served as president in 1963.

Mary Louise VanNatta has over 30 years of association management and public relations experience, specializing in community relations, designing membership and promotional programs tailored to individual associations, conference and meeting planning and promotional writing. She has a successful PR practice working with a number of nationally-recognized clients and local businesses and serving as the executive director of both the Salem Fire Foundation and the Salem Police Foundation.

Ms. VanNatta and her agency VPR have been recognized multiple times by the Oregon Business Magazine as one of the top PR firms in the mid-Willamette Valley and listed in its Power Book, including 2018. In 2010, the company was recognized as Micro Family Business of the Year by the Austin Family Business Program at OSU. Most importantly, she values time with her husband and two adult sons.

Ron Schmidt Community Involvement Award
(25th Anniversary of the Award)

Gary Withers
Ron Schmidt raised our collective awareness consciousness and commitment. For nearly 30 years, Schmidt served as an aide to Oregon Gov. Tom McCall, then as the owner of the state’s biggest and most influential public relations firm. He stood at the center of public policy in business, government and the arts.

Gary Withers, President of Concordia University’s Foundation, is a catalytic, collaborative and entrepreneurial, team leader and team member. From 2005 to the present, Mr. Withers has served as an Executive Vice President and Chief Strategic Relations Officer for Concordia University-Portland.

His leadership in higher education focuses on the development of strategic and community partnerships that lead to systems change, resulting in stronger and more vibrant communities, especially focused on lifting up the least advantaged. He serves as incubator and co-leader of a trailblazing
new national model for education called 3 to Ph.D. Mr. Wither’s board service and leadership roles are numerous, including: Children’s Institute Founding President, Oregon’s statewide think tank and action institute on early childhood education; Portland State University’s Vice President for University Relations; and CEO of Metropolitan Family Service. He practiced law in the Portland metro area from 1979-88.

Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award

Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D.
This award, named for the late Olga M. Haley, APR, reflects our chapter’s dedication to supporting members at every stage of their careers and lives. A past chapter president and legendary figure in Portland public relations, Ms. Haley’s was an exemplary person and professional of honor and integrity. The recipient of this award demonstrates commitment to supporting PRSA and the profession, serving as a mentor, while demonstrating exemplary public relations. Donna Davis is an assistant professor and director of the Strategic Communications Program at the University of Oregon’s George S. Portland Turnbull Center. Davis has taught and mentored thousands of PR and communication professionals. She joined UO in 2010, after
more than 25 years of experience in public relations, fundraising and nonprofit communication to the classroom, including 10 years as producer and host of Family Album Radio, an award-winning, daily, two-minute radio program distributed through NPR.

Davis earned her Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida, where she studied relationship formation in 3-D immersive virtual environments. Her ethnographic research continues to focus on the potential uses of virtual worlds, gamification and other emerging social media, with a special interest in disability communities. She is also an inaugural faculty fellow for the SOJC Agora Journalism Center for Innovation and Civic Engagement, extending her work with people with Parkinson’s disease who are participating in a support community in a virtual world.

New Professional Award of Excellence
(15th Anniversary of the Award)

Nicole Shaddy
The New Professional Award of Excellence honors a chapter member who has entered the field of public relations within the
past five years. The award is presented to a professional who has demonstrated his or her commitment to advancing public relations
through career achievements, volunteerism, and the highest standards of professionalism. Nicole Shaddy, account executive for C+C, provides
unparalleled day-to-day project support. She grew up in Hillsboro with a dream of being a broadcast journalist.

This led her to Missouri where she earned a degree in journalism in 2016 and worked in multimedia news outlets before returning to Portland with a commitment to affecting social change. In just two years in PR, she has managed to position herself as an invaluable member of the C+C team and
has racked up experience for client work such as the Portland Clean Energy Fund, Alaska Airlines, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and Waste Management.

Shaddy is skilled at pitching national reporters, crafting comprehensive social media strategies and content, coordinating logistics for media events, herding nationally renowned influencers, developing crisis communications plans and messaging and conducting media training for boards of
leading organizations.

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