Recognize your chapter “MVP”


By Andrea Clark, APR

We all have them: the amazingly dedicated individuals who find time for their “day jobs,” families and friends, communities AND PRSA.

They care deeply about the profession and their peers, and often get involved first at the chapter level, graduate to the district level and often engage at the national level – whether on the board or through committees, special projects or conference. These seemingly tireless folks are usually the ones who also write papers or articles educating and informing about public relations, and make time to mentor others who strive to make an impact through strategic communications.

Do you have someone like this in your chapter? Most of us do. Shining a light on their dedication and commitment can be an incredibly powerful motivator for others, and these PR champions deserve our recognition.

That’s why every year the East Central District (ECD) presents the Platinum Award to one outstanding professional from one of our 17 chapters. Named after former national PRSA board member; ECD PRSA board chair and Detroit PRSA Chapter President Donald P. Durocher, APR, Fellow PRSA, the Platinum Award recognizes a practitioner who has achieved a distinguished service record and is clearly identified as a role model for others.

The ECD has been privileged to have so many talented and committed practitioners calling our district home. In 2018, the board recognized Rick Batyko, APR, Fellow PRSA, of the Greater Cleveland Chapter with the Platinum Award. Rick serves on the PRSA National board, and has also served at the district and chapter levels.

Batyko reinforced the importance of the Platinum Award. “As PR practitioners, we delight in earning recognition for our organizations and clients through professional awards from esteemed associations like the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). We do not seek the spotlight for ourselves,” Batyko said. “The PRSA East Central District (ECD) Platinum Award is one of our profession’s ways of turning the spotlight on the professional whose career achievements and community contributions set her or him apart. It is a high honor bestowed upon one professional each year by colleagues across six states and 17 PRSA chapters. Few awards in our profession mean as much to an individual as the ECD Platinum Award.”

Each chapter is encouraged to nominate one leader from their ranks. All applications are due by Friday, Aug. 30 to Andrea Clark, APR at For more information about the award and criteria, see this link.

Photo caption, from left to right: Bob Rotatori from the Greater Cleveland Chapter, Batyko and John Palmer from the ECD Board.


Honoring two of our greats…

I opened my email one day to find an invitation to an event I never imagined happening.  Marilyn and David Shank were closing the doors on Shank Public Relations Counselors after 30 years…and I was invited to the party!

My history with them goes back longer than any of us will admit, but I met them in the late 1980s when I served on the East Central District (ECD) Board of Directors with David Shank, APR, Fellow PRSA, who was then chair of the District.  It was my first exposure to the East Central District and one that would open many interesting doors over the years of our friendship.

In August 2000, I became the first administrator of the East Central District and have since had the privilege of working for both Marilyn Shank, APR, and David when each served on the East Central District Board of Directors, David for the second time, through the various offices and as chair.  They brought new and exciting programs to the ECD and the chapters it serves, keeping the District on the cutting edge of leadership within PRSA. During his first term as chair, David was responsible for designing and implementing the QuickStart leadership conference model that we still use today and it was a “first of its kind” event for a PRSA District. Marilyn took the QuickStart conference beyond our 17-chapter, six-state border, by developing the “QuickStart in a Box” program that has been implemented by a number of PRSA’s other nine Districts.

Both have been leaders and mentors to their 100+ interns and many other professionals across the country.  Listening to the recap of their career highlights was impressive and taught me even more about them as people and as consummate professionals than I already knew.  Still, I had to laugh when I got to the party.  As a good association executive and public relations person, I had sent my RSVP, indicating I’d be there.  However, none of the name tags on the table were mine.  Seems they didn’t believe I’d make the nearly five-hour drive from West Virginia to Indiana to celebrate them!

The East Central District Board of Directors honored them with a gift certificate to an iconic Indianapolis restaurant (thanks to Andrea Farmer for the idea!).

On behalf of your friends in the profession, may you enjoy retirement and the time with your family and those two adorable grandsons (and the soon-to-be third grandchild)!

Thanks for the excuse to wear my Fellows medallion!!!

ECD Administrator Diane Slaughter, CAE, APR, Fellow PRSA



Giving Back – Creating a Flourishing Community

By Vanessa Lansdale, Alumni GVSU PRSSA

Anniversaries come and go every year, but instead of getting gifts for an anniversary, how about giving back? That’s what the Grand Valley State University PRSSA chapter did for its 10-year anniversary celebration.

The Grand Valley Chapter of PRSSA, GVSUPRSSA, along with its nationally affiliated, student-run public relations firm, GrandPR, celebrated their 10-year anniversary with an alumni networking spectacular hosted by partner firm 8ThirtyFour Integrated Communications. Between the months of January and March, students from both organizations partnered with 10 different nonprofits in the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area as a way to say “thank you” to those who have contributed to the organizations’ success.

Tasks included collecting and re-packaging feminine hygiene products for Be A Rose, donating supplies for GR HQ, assembling sack suppers for Kids’ Food Basket, and more. “The community here gives us so much; we have amazing partnerships with agencies and firms, mentors, our West Michigan Public Relations Society Chapter, and many nonprofits and businesses in the area. When thinking what we could do to celebrate the first decade of GrandPR, we couldn’t think of a better way than to give back,” said GrandPR’s CEO, Sabrina Antcliff.

Being involved first-hand with GrandPR and GVSU PRSSA’s 10-year anniversary celebration, I had many takeaways from this experience. Here are a few:

Community partnerships are to be treasured.

Oftentimes, we take the people around us for granted. Sending a simple thank-you card, inviting a student to your event, or even grabbing coffee with a colleague who you haven’t talked to in a while all strengthens your network. Building networks and partnerships are key in making the community around you grow.

Celebrations don’t need to have gifts.

The gift of time may be the most valuable thing you can give. While volunteering at the different nonprofits with GVSU PRSSA and GrandPR, I could see how my time was directly impacting other individuals. Instead of giving a gift, consider giving your time or an experience to someone. That time may be more valuable to them than you know.

I challenge you to ask yourself, how can I make a difference in my community? How can I use my talents to benefit others? Whether it’s mentoring an individual or volunteering at an organization, together, we can create a flourishing community.


East Central District Wants YOU!

By Chris Kemper, APR, ECD Board

Time is tight.

Your to-do list just grew tenfold. The boss gave you an assignment with an absurd deadline. And that project that was on the back burner just moved to the front burner – and you must act before it rolls onto the kitchen floor.

We all know there’s no such thing as a typical day, but I’m sure we all deal with such pressures on a frequent basis. One way to alleviate this pressure is to know the needs and priorities of your audience, customers and stakeholders.

Your East Central District wants to do the same. Our annual survey is live, and we want to hear from you! Your input will be invaluable as we continue to shape our work to support you — the chapters and chapter leaders within our district.

Oh, and because I know time is a valuable resource, by completing the survey you will be entered to win a $20 Starbucks gift card!

The survey closes on Friday, Aug. 31. It can be found at

Thank you for adding your voice to the District’s work!

Chris Kemper, APR, is a member of the Cincinnati Chapter. 


A Collaborative Statement on the Essential Value of a Free Press

The statement below was released Aug. 16 by PRSA, the PRSA Foundation and eight other professional communication organizations to collaboratively express our support for the critical role of a free press and the First Amendment. With the unanimous support of your Board of Directors and staff leadership, it was done in concert with more than 200 newspapers across the U.S. who are today voicing, in their own ways, that ethical journalism, and freedom of thought and expression, are perpetually essential to democracy.

In today’s political climate, there will inevitably be charges that this statement reflects a political stance or bias. It does not. Rather, it affirms the U.S. Constitution and the values that transcend political parties and other affiliations; in fact, the statement is co-signed by the Global Alliance and other organizations with significant international representation that also subscribe to those values.

In that spirit, please feel free to add your voice to a monumentally important conversation.

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”                

~ Thomas Jefferson

This oft-cited quote conveys the fundamental importance of today’s free press despite its articulation before electronic, digital and social media were invented. The dramatic expression by a founding father who was brutally criticized by the media of his time underscores that the standing of a free press transcends politics, geographies or other affiliations.

Today, we join with our compatriots in the news media to proudly affirm the Fourth Estate as a vital engine of democracy. Without it, and without freedom of thought and expression as provided by the First Amendment, informed decision-making is not possible and individual freedoms suffer. From a global perspective, journalism serves all people through ethical pursuit of the truth.

To read the remainder of this statement from Anthony D’Angelo, APR, Fellow PRSA, 2018 National Chair please click through to PRSA here. 


Mentor at ICON

Connect, ask and benefit from a lifetime of experience: College of Fellows Mentoring at the PRSA 2017 International Conference

Make the most of your PRSA 2017 International Conference connections, share your experiences and career goals with a member of PRSA’s College of Fellows, a distinguished group of accredited PRSA members with more than 20 years of professional experience.

The College of Fellows hosts 30-minute mentoring sessions from 4-6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8, and Monday, Oct. 9. Sessions are offered as a premium benefit (at no cost) for PRSA members.

These one-on-one professional development sessions are available to PR practitioners at all stages of their careers:

  • New professionals (career planning and advancement)
  • Mid-career (business skills and leadership)
  • Senior professionals (personal growth and development)
  • Your mentor will:
  • Provide professional, confidential insights based on extensive experience in the practice of public relations
  • Make creative, yet proven suggestions for handling public relations challenges
  • Offer encouragement and assurance
  • Provide a fresh perspective on your career goals and timelinesSign-up deadline Thursday, Sept. 28.
  • Sign-up form available at

Tri-Play Offer

2017 Fall “Triple Play” Offer

New members who join PRSA at the $255 membership level by November 30 receive a complimentary Chapter membership**, a complimentary Section membership**, and the waived $65 initiation fee.

**RESTRICTIONS: If joining Counselors Academy, dues are $100 ($95 discount).  Chapter dues are covered up to $100. This offer is not available for Associate member types ($200 or less annual dues) and is not available to current or renewing members. Please click here for details.

Timeframe: Through November 30, 2017

Cost: $255

Promo Code: FALL17



The PRSA Board of Directors elected 11 practitioners for the College of Fellows Class of 2017, two of whom are from the East Central District.

Please welcome these new Fellows from the East Central District:
Barbara Paynter, APR, Fellow PRSA, President, Paynter Communications LLC, Greater Cleveland Chapter
Sonja Popp-Stahly, APR, Fellow PRSA, Manager, Global Employee Communications, Eli Lilly and Company, Hoosier Chapter

Other new Fellows are:
Loring Barnes, APR, Fellow PRSA, CCO/Managing Principal, Clarity
Joseph A. Brennan, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, Vice President of Communications and Marketing and Clinical Professor of Business, University at Albany – SUNY
Dotti Gallagher, APR, Fellow PRSA, Principal, Dotti Gallagher Consulting
Kevin Gaydosh, APR, Fellow PRSA, Director of Public Relations/Strategic Planner, O’Brien et al Advertising
Janelle Guthrie, APR, Fellow PRSA, Communications Director, Washington Employment Security Department
David Hakensen, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Vice President, FleishmanHillard
Nancy J. Sterling, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Vice President, Strategic Communications, ML Strategies, LLC
Kaye D. Sweetser, Ph.D., APR+M, Fellow PRSA, Professor, San Diego State University
Mary Beth West, APR, Fellow PRSA, Principal, Mary Beth West Communications, Inc.

They will be inducted on Oct. 7, 2017 in Boston during ICON.


In Memoriam

W. Thomas “Tom” Duke, APR, Fellow PRSA, the East Central District’s 2013 Platinum Award recipient, passed away on Sunday, June 18 in Akron, Ohio. He was 84.

A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in journalism, Tom also completed the Advanced Management Program in Business from The Ohio State University. He began his public relations career in 1955 as an advertising and publicity assistant at the Ohio Edison Company in Akron.

Tom was a man of “firsts.” He established the first community relations program for the Cooper-Bessemer Corporation and was the first Community and Public Affairs Manager at B.F. Goodrich before moving to the agency side, establishing the first public relations function for the Urda Company. After moving to Greenville, S.C. in the mid-1990s, Tom was the first Director of Public Relations at Jackson-Dawson Marketing Solutions (now Jackson Marketing, Motorsports & Events). He built a successful division that won the Michelin account, and he later served the agency as Senior Public Relations Counselor.

Following his retirement in 2007, he returned to Akron and went back to work, opening his own consulting practice and working as Director-Communications for Akron SCORE, an organization mostly comprised of retired senior managers and executives that consults with existing and start-up businesses to help create jobs and improve the economy.

His leadership in PRSA was exemplary. He was the founding president of the Akron Area Chapter in 1968 and 1969, having spun it off from the Cleveland Chapter. After he returned to Akron, he served as president again in 2010. He also was president of the South Carolina Chapter. In recognition of his service, Akron made him a life member in 1994 and South Carolina followed suit in 2005.

In 2003, Tom was named the Distinguished Public Relations Practitioner in South Carolina and the chapter renamed the award for him in 2007. He received the Lighthouse Award from the Cleveland Chapter for lifetime achievement in 2012 and the East Central PRSA District lifetime achievement award in 2013. He was a member of the PRSA National Board of Ethics and Professional Standards and served his Kent State alma mater as a member of the Professional Advisory Board for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Kelly J. Wilson, APR, South Carolina Chapter president, who was the first recipient of the Tom Duke Award, said Tom “truly epitomized everything the award is designed to recognize, and it was an appropriate and enduring tribute to his service not only to our state and our chapter, but also to the public relations profession as a whole.”

Mary Eaddy, APR, Fellow PRSA, recalled that “Tom’s exemplary commitment to professional ethics set a high standard for all. He was an excellent communicator devoted to advancing the public relations profession.

One of Tom’s classmates in 1998 and past PRSA Chair, Gerry Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, said he was “a consummate professional and a shining example of paying it forward and giving back to the profession. His sage advice will be missed and also remembered for the wisdom it imparted to colleagues and aspiring pros.”

Tom served as a GoodFellow for Bill Gay, APR, Fellow PRSA, in 2014. “I never had the opportunity to meet him in person, but nevertheless he had a major impact on my career. Through his solid advice and encouragement, he helped me shape what began as a raw outline of a College of Fellows application into a package that resulted in my induction to the College. I will be forever grateful for his assistance.”

Rhoda Weiss, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA and past PRSA Chair remembers Tom as a “passionate advocate for advancing our profession and our professionals. When I was national chair, we would talk regularly about his ideas for making PRSA of more value to our members. He loved being involved with PRSA on every level, attending conferences, mentoring others, leading chapters, serving nationally and demonstrating enormous pride in all we do. He will be greatly missed.”

He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Juanita, five children, six grandchildren and other relatives and friends. The family suggests memorials be made to the Tom and Juanita Duke Endowed Scholarship in Public Relations, c/o Kent State University Foundation, Inc., P.O Box 5190, Kent, Ohio 44242-0001.

Condolences may be sent to Juanita Duke, 4169 Tomahawk Trace, Copley, Ohio 44321-2797.


Our New Fellows

Please join us in welcoming our six new members of PRSA’s College of Fellows (not in order below):

Mary J. Clark, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Leadership Consultant, Integrated Leadership Systems, Central Ohio Chapter

Dr. Deborah A. Davis, APR, ABC, Fellow PRSA, Assistant Professor, Ball State University, Hoosier Chapter

Mary T. Henige, APR, Fellow PRSA, Founder and Chief Consultant, Magnetica Communications LLC, Detroit Chapter

Jeri Matheney, APR, Fellow PRSA, Communications Director, Appalachian Power, West Virginia Chapter

Robert F. Schultz, APR, Fellow PRSA, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Events, Downtown Indy, Inc., Hoosier Chapter

Jaron M. Terry, MS, APR, Fellow PRSA, President, Jaron Terry Communications Ltd., Central Ohio Chapter