Educator Fellowship Program


Our namesake, the legendary Betsy Plank, known as the First Lady of Public Relations, had a life-long dream of facilitating a relationship between educators and professionals so both would grow together. In 2010, Betsy’s vision would be transformed into the Educator Fellowship program. Since its inception, more than 65 educators have been selected to the program.

The Plank Center acts as the convener of the program, matching educators to their hosts based on specific areas of interest, expertise and geographic preference. The program consists of an intensive, two-week summer fellowship developed specifically for public relations educators, which allows the fellows to develop or enhance skills in:

Professional Development
Fellows will experience the current day-to-day operations of the public relations function and help create an exchange of information and ideas that will enhance the professional development of both the educators and their host organizations.

Fellows will develop greater knowledge of the skills necessary for today’s public relations work. Key beneficiaries are public relations students. They can be assured their professors are knowledgeable in the current practices and issues facing practitioners and that practitioners have a greater appreciation for the value of theory and research in their classrooms.

Fellows will interact closely with public relations professionals, becoming part of the team during the fellowship. The host will agree to spend up to two days on the educator’s college or university campus with faculty, administrators and students.

2017 Class of Plank Fellows

In the program’s eighth year, the following 10 educators have been selected to join the communications team at world-class public relations agencies and corporations.

  • Samara Anarbaeva, California State University at Chico, hosted by Deveney Communications (New Orleans)
  • Joy Daggs, Northwest Missouri State University, hosted by Harley-Davidson (Milwaukee)
  • Melody Fisher, Mississippi State University, hosted by Discover (Chicago)
  • Dane Kiambi, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, hosted by General Motors (Detroit)
  • Yi Luo, Montclair State University, hosted by American Airlines (Fort Worth)
  • Candace Parrish, North Carolina Central University, hosted by Darden Restaurants (Orlando)
  • Katie Place, Quinnipiac University, hosted by Weber Shandwick (New York)
  • Brandi Watkins, Virginia Tech University, hosted by Ketchum (Chicago)
  • Jee Young Chung, University of Arkansas, hosted by W20 Group (New York)
  • Jenny Zhengye Hou, Massey University (New Zealand), hosted by Burson-Marsteller (New York)


Educators selected as Plank Fellows will spend at least two full weeks in the offices of the host organization typically in June or July. They will be given a full orientation to the host organization, the particular department, staff duties and responsibilities, clients and/or projects. Hosts will designate a key professional as the official host and mentor for the visiting professors during their time in residency. In return, educators may use their own expertise to:

  • Conduct a workshop or seminar for the staff of the sponsoring organization;
  • Conduct a research project;
  • Produce a report or white paper highlighting their impressions, key takeaways and recommendations for how the sponsors can develop new proficiencies in a key discipline; and/or
  • Develop proprietary knowledge in existing or new areas of strategic focus.

Upon completion of the fellowship, educators and hosts will be expected to complete an interview session with the Center for feedback on the value of the fellowship for both parties. Also, the educators and hosts will agree to participate in interviews in the public relations and academic media as the Plank Center seeks to provide visibility for the program.

To learn more about the program, download the PDF for more information and reviews from Plank Fellows.

Questions about the Educator Fellowship program should be directed to Dr. Karla Gower at

Grants & Awards


The following links provide information about some organizations that provide funding for public relations projects.

  • Rotary International
  • The Page Center
  • PRSA Foundation
  • Awards

    The following links provide information on some of the industry's awards for achievement in public relations practice.