Professionals in the public relations field have access to many development programs, but such opportunities are limited for students and young professionals. In an effort to advance leadership at all levels, The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations created an intensive, two-day leadership workshop for engaged, high-achieving and diverse university seniors majoring in public relations.
The unprecedented and inaugural Challenge for Emerging Leaders was held at The University of Alabama on February 9 – 11, 2017. Eighteen students from five universities participated. Not only did the students have the opportunity to learn from some of the best professionals and academics in the industry, they gained crucial self-insights, advanced their conflict management and team-building skills, and acquired basic business knowledge. Along with the activities and assessments, students were divided into teams to work through a diversity case study.
The Challenge participants were:
- Lindsey Anderson, Samford University
- Liann Cates, Samford University
- Charles Cronin, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Jada Culver, University of Alabama
- Emily Belle Damm, Mississippi State University
- William Folkes, Mississippi State University
- Emily Gouin, Mississippi State University
- Marika Gray, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Alessia Grijalva, University of Alabama
- Becca Lorraine Hawkins, Mississippi State University
- Julie Anne Jacobs, Auburn University
- Brad Jennings, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Alexandra Kral, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Jake LeGrone, Auburn University
- Ashton Nix, Samford University
- Olivia Ortiz, University of Alabama
- Drew Pendleton, University of Alabama
- Jasmine Reed, Auburn University
The program was delivered by Dr. Peter Hammerschmidt, president of Leadership Consulting Services and professor at Eckerd College, Florida. Students also had the opportunity to learn from some of the best professionals and academics in the industry, including:
- Dr. Bruce Berger, professor emeritus of advertising and public relations at the University of Alabama and research director for the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations;
- Tony Cervone, SVP of Global Communications at General Motors;
- Ariel Ellis, instructor at Lipscomb University;
- Bill Heyman, President and CEO of Heyman Associates;
- Daniel O’Donnell, director with The Brunswick Group; and
- Alicia Thompson, GM of Edelman (Atlanta).
On the last day, teams presented their case study findings and were awarded a Certificate of Leadership Achievement. The winning team, featuring Charles Cronin, Becca Lorraine Hawkins and Drew Pendleton, were recipients of the Betsy Plank Diversity Case Study Award.
The workshop would not have been possible without the sponsorship of Dover Foundation, General Motors and Heyman Associates.