Speech: John Deveney, 2013 Agency Honoree

CHRISTINE ALBERT: Hi, good evening. My name is Christine Albert and it’s my honor to be here tonight to recognize someone who is both a colleague, a friend, and a mentor, John Deveney.

And I stand before you as one person but I want you to picture hundreds of people standing here with me who would also call John their mentor. During his 25 years in public relations, John has been recognized for his leadership and professional excellence by countless organizations. But just to name a few, PR News recognized him as the agency executive of the year and Bulldog Reporter named him agency professional of the year.

From handling a post-Katrina media center to managing the State of Louisiana’s state tourism’s response to the BP oil spill, which reshaped public perception and preserved Louisiana’s tourism industry, John Deveney is a talented leader and a talented strategist.

But tonight, we’re here to recognize him for something equally as important and that is for being a wonderful mentor.

And I only have a few minutes so I will ease up on the accolades because I’d like to share a personal story about John with you. I first met him when I was an eager 20-year-old intern in college starting her first internship at his firm in New Orleans.

And when I interviewed, he asked if I had any areas of public relations that I was especially interested in. And I replied, crisis communication. And John wisely said that he’d keep that in mind, but crises are really impossible to predict. So, the next day my phone rang, and it was John calling because it was my lucky day.

Someone had a crisis. And so, I spent the entire weekend at the office, working alongside, learning from and watching John. And that was the first of many times I’ve had the pleasure to do that. At that time, I was just a 20-year-old young intern but he took the time to talk to me like I was a peer and also to work collaboratively.

And today, John and I still work on crisis except now I have the benefit of being the client who calls him instead of the intern working for him. So, from that first weekend of my internship to my current role at a growing health care system in New Orleans, John has been a part of my career progression every single step of the way.

And I know I’m just one of countless people who could say that about John. He is an unwavering mentor, a peer and a friend. He is never too busy to offer advice to be a sounding board, strategize or just be a resource for those around him. And he gives freely of his time, talent and expertise to help develop the next generation of PR professionals.

So, John, I’m very proud to be here tonight with you as you’re honored for this well-deserved award.


JOHN DEVENEY: Thank you Christine, thank you everyone. What an incredible and special evening this is. In addition to saying thank you for this incredible award, I think it also seems most fitting for me to express gratitude for all the mentoring, the guidance, the support that I’ve received.

That guidance has empowered me to take opportunities to build, to grow to challenge myself. And without others, many of them in this room, supporting me and encouraging me, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities or taken the chances that I would. So, I am appreciative of the award but even more appreciative and grateful for the support and mentorship I’ve received.

An award of mentorship really is the pentacle of success because mentoring is the one thing we do that will live past us, and that will grow far beyond anything that our solitary work could do. Mentorship is our opportunity to truly pass on and help others do more than we could do alone.

And coming from an organization like The Plank Center, makes this award all the richer. From Betsy who so persuasively inspired all of us, toward mentorship. She called not just students and young professionals to embrace and seek mentors, but she challenged and called everyone, even the most seasoned professionals to participate in this process that can live and grow beyond us.

And to get it from The Plank Center and the amazing leaders who are truly accomplishing the remarkable. They are building a legacy even greater than that which Betsy did herself. They are creating a better profession, and they are creating the best possible professionals to lead that profession. And so, I think we should all applaud and thank Betsy posthumously and The Plank Center collectively.


These awards were told are for those that lead by example and candidly, now that I have the award and I can grip it firmly and know it won’t be taken from me. I’ll say that, that I think I’m more an example of someone that has benefited from mentorship, that has benefited from a generosity of spirit and time and guidance given from others.

My entire career and by extension my life actually, has been focused and advance by the generosity of others. In the term of mentorship, frequently we’ll think of bosses or colleagues. Someone that we worked with, someone that trained or tutored us. But also, some of the best mentors I’ve had have been competitors and people in the industry but also industry resources like The Plank Center, like industry publications and conferences and award activities. But I think if we reflect on our own lives we also know that the greatest mentors, and think of the mentors someone that guides, and encourages, and supports us, are also our loved ones.

So, I want to specially thank my loved ones those that are here with me tonight and many that could not be.


More from John Deveney: