PRSA Oregon honors aspiring PR pre-professionals

For nearly two decades, the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication has called upon our the PRSA Oregon chapter to jury the Jack Ewan Award for Outstanding Public Relations Senior. This year, we were also invited to judge the Liz Cawood Award for Service to UO PRSSA and the Community.

A member of the faculty from 1964 until his retirement in 1985, Ewan is credited with building the UO’s public relations courses into an accredited major. He was responsible for the founding of the first Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter (PRSSA) at the University of Oregon, the first in the Northwest District.

The Jack Ewan Award is presented each year to the outstanding senior member of the Public Relations Student Society of America, University of Oregon Chapter. The award recognizes both achievement and potential in a senior student and is named in honor of Jack Ewan, Professor Emeritus, and founder of the University of Oregon Chapter of PRSSA. The award is sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

The Liz Cawood Award is also presented each year to a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America, University of Oregon Chapter, for outstanding commitment to service to PRSSA and the community at large.  The award is named in honor of Liz Cawood, first UO PRSSA professional advisor and a founding member of the Greater Oregon Chapter of PRSA. The award is sponsored by Cawood.

Liz Cawood, president of Cawood, a communications and PR firm in Eugene and a longtime supporter of the SOJC, worked with Ewan to found the local PRSA chapter as well as the PRSSA chapter at the school. She says she remembers fondly “talking with Ewan about public relations strategies.”

This year’s jury for each award comprised Mary Ann Albright, Compliance Communications Manager at Kaiser Permanente; Kathy Hubbell, APR, Fellow PRSA, President of Adscripts; and Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, President of Publix Northwest PR – PA.

In this academic year, two excellent candidates were chosen, each receiving a monetary award as part of the esteemed designations. Each displayed excellent academic performance as well as strong goals for their post-graduation lives. The winner was announced at the J-School’s commencement ceremony on June 16.

Lily Gordon was named the 2019 Ewan award winner. Lily was honored for making significant contributions to the UO PRSSA chapter as a member and officer.

She sought out development opportunities not only for herself, but also for her peers. She’s had demonstrable successes in social media PR (gaining national attention for the chapter’s “Ducks Love Dogs” fundraiser) and is keen to embrace emerging technologies. That adaptability will position her to be successful in an evolving profession.

Lily has a clear sense of her values and has been found to be an ambitious and gifted emerging professional. Equity, education, and the environment are important to her. She’s wise enough to understand that she needn’t, as a college senior, know exactly where her career path will ultimately take her. Lily has accomplished a great deal while at UO and has honed her leadership skills through PRSSA. With a great job already lined up for after graduation, Lily has a bright future ahead of her.

Jillian Niedermeyer was named winner of the Liz Cawood award. The judges note not only Jillian’s acceptance into honors programs but active involvement with the PR community on- and off-campus demonstrates an understanding of two key ingredients in a successful career launch: experience and relationships.

She has varied interests and found creative ways to link them professionally – identifying opportunities to combine her passion for events PR with her love of technological innovations. She already has a position secured after graduation at a PR firm that will allow her to explore this intersection more fully.

Jillian has been active on campus, helping to orient fellow transfer students and to plan and execute events for the UO PRSSA chapter. She also immersed herself in Allen Hall Public Relations, where she gained valuable real-world experience and networked with PRSA Oregon chapter members. Additionally, she broadened her horizons by participating in the Semester at Sea program.

Both Lily and Jillian served as Account Executives at Allen Hall Public Relations, the UO PR program’s in-house agency. Congratulations to Lily and Jillian, we can’t wait to see your stars arise!


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.

Congrats 2018 Spotlight Award Winners & Awards of Distinction Honorees!

by Madeline Turnock, APR
Chair, PRSA Oregon Spotlight Awards & Past President, PRSA Portland Chapter

Strategic Communications & Partnerships, Concordia University-Portland

Thank you to all those who attended the PRSA Oregon 2018 Spotlight Awards! We were thrilled to recognize another year of premier communication campaigns and professionals in the presence of nearly 200 guests at the Multnomah Athletic Club on Nov. 7.

We showcased the excellent work of our Spotlight and Merit awardees, and recognized our four distinguished professionals with Awards of Distinction, including Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, Donna Z. Davis, Gary Withers, and Nicole Shaddy. Congratulations to newly accredited members Jaimee Mayfield, APR, and Rhonda Morin, APR, and to College of Fellows inductee: Brian Terrett, APR, PRSA Fellow.

We hope you enjoyed the photo booth images, and, in addition, click HERE for photographer Tim Horn’s professional images made available for free download. See the awards program and full list of award winners and honorees HERE. (View in 2-page mode for easier reading).

Thank you to all our PRSA Oregon volunteers, especially our Spotlight committee members – JoJoe Nujoy, Thelma Hale,  Denise Fornberg, Meghan Zea, McKinsey Redmond, Vicki Guinn, Sally Ridenour, and Alyssa Giaimo.

If you missed this year’s event, we hope you’ll join us next year. In the meantime, visit us on social media @PRSAOregon and @prsa_oregon. Participation and membership in PRSA – advancing the profession, upholding our code of ethics, and honoring outstanding work – is more important and meaningful than ever. See you in two weeks at the Annual Meeting on Nov. 29.