What Winning the Dorothy Thomas Black Award Means to Me

On May 15, 2019, I had the distinguished honor of being awarded the Dorothy Thomas Black Award by the Public Relations Society of America Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. This award was established in 1983 in memory of Dorothy Thomas Black, who was the former director of public relations at St. Luke’s Medical Center and a PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter president. The award recognizes sustained, superior performance in public relations, typically rewarding the lifetime achievement of a public relations professional who is also a member of the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.

Receiving this honor and being recognized by my peers means so much to me, though it is difficult to put into words. One thing I can tell you though beyond a doubt is that I would not be where I am in my career if it weren’t for my involvement in PRSSA and PRSA.

My involvement in PRSSA and PRSA has resulted in friendships across the United States, mentors and colleagues I can bounce ideas off of, and a wealth of useful and timely information at my fingertips to help me stay current about our ever-evolving industry. I became involved with PRSSA as a sophomore in college. I then went on to become Midwest District Director for PRSSA during the 1991-1992 school year, and have been professionally involved in PRSA since graduating from UW-Whitewater.

From 1993-1994, I served as the membership chairperson for the Madison PRSA Chapter. From 1997-1999, I served as the PRSA employment chairperson for the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter and was recognized in 1999 with the President’s Award for her efforts in this role. I also served as a PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin board member from 2013-2014, and in 2015, I became the president-elect for PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin. I  served as president in 2016 and past president in 2017. I have also been the UW-Whitewater PRSSA professional advisor since 2009 and have been responsible for planning PRO Day for college students since 2014.  In addition, I serves as the chapter’s webmaster.

By being very involved in a trade industry organization I have gotten to know the PR industry in a way which has allowed me to grow professionally. I am completely networked in Southeastern Wisconsin, and my professional friendships are priceless. I have also helped many young PR PROs rise up into the professional world. I have enjoyed being a mentor to so many wonderful individuals who now have thriving careers in PR. My life and career has been so fulfilling because of these amazing mentor/mentee relationships. I take pride not only in my professional success but also in their’s.

I encourage everyone, no matter what industry you are in, to get involved in a trade organization. The benefits you reap will be endless and life changing.