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 formed director of public relations at St. Luke’s Medical Center and a PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter president. It recognizes sustained, superior performance in public relations, typically rewarding the lifetime achievement of a public relations professional who is a member of the PRSA Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.

Receiving this honor and being recognized by my peers means so much to me. However, it is difficult to put into words. I find myself having a hard time believing that I have been involved in the Public Relations Students Society of America and then PRSA for over 30 years. I’m not sure where the years have gone. 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 first 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.

So if I haven’t lost you yet after this last paragraph the point I’m trying to make is that by being super involved in a trade industry organization I have gotten to know the PR industry in a way I don’t think would have been possible if I hadn’t. I am completely networked in Southeastern Wisconsin, and my professional friendships are priceless. I have also helped many up and coming young PR PROs to 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 theirs.

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