Milestones in Mentoring Gala

As the leading international resource on leadership for public relations practitioners, educators and students, The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession. In 2010 the Center established the “Milestones in Mentoring Awards” to honor leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others, and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field.

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations will honor six influential leaders at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala, taking place at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. CT. The awards ceremony will be followed by a reception at 7:00 p.m.

Milestones in Mentoring 2022 Registration and Sponsorship Opportunities

Click the link above to access the Milestones in Mentoring 2022 Registration and Sponsorship Opportunities packet. Please register for the event via the registration form contained in the packet and send all information to

Congratulations to the 2022 Honorees:

  • Charlene Wheeless, communications expert, author and speaker, Charlene Wheeless LLC; senior advisor APCO Worldwide, will be introduced by Jene Wheeless, Sr. associate, Consumer Communications, Reddit, and Savannah Wheeless, BS, Accounting, UMGC, 2022. Betsy Plank Award
  • Jane Randel, social impact advisor and co-founder, Karp Randel, will be introduced by Bill Heyman, client partner & CEO, Heyman Associates, and Lisa Ryan, client partner, Heyman Associates. Legacy Mentor Award
  • Corey duBrowa, VP, global communications & public affairs, Google, will be introduced by Dave Samson, vice chairman, corporate affairs, Edelman. John “Jack” Koten Mentor Award
  • Michelle Flowers Welch, chairman & CEO, Flowers Communications Group, will be introduced by Jasmine Flowers Mazyck, managing director, Flowers Communications Group, and Brinton Flowers, director of marketing & business development, Flowers Communications Group. Agency Mentor Award
  • Dr. Bey-Ling Sha, dean, College of Communication, California State University, Fullerton, will be introduced by Jemalyn Griffin, assistant professor of practice, College of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Bruce K. Berger Educator Mentor Award
  • Brandon Thomas, VP, general manager and head of DEI, PAN Communications. Emerging Leader Award

About the Awards

The Awards are presented at a gala held each fall in Chicago. Honorees are selected in six categories:

  • Betsy Plank Award: The Betsy Plank Mentoring Award honors exemplary professionals who are in a class by themselves. This award is given only to those who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to mentoring and have had a profound impact on others, who in turn, have gone on to generate influence and foster relationships with their organization, community and profession.
  • Legacy Award: Recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to mentoring others and who, through their mentoring, have touched the lives of countless public relations professionals over the course of their distinguished and exceptional careers.
  • John “Jack” Koten Corporate Award: The Jack Koten Corporate Mentoring Award honors this influential public relations leader, and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to mentoring others. Honorees’ professional public relations roles have been internal to the organizations they support and could include positions in corporate, military or non-profit entities.
  • Agency Award: Recognizes agency leaders who have been outstanding mentors in an agency setting or consulting role.
  • Bruce K. Berger Educator Award: Honoring Dr. Bruce K. Berger, Professor Emeritus, Advertising and Public Relations Department, The University of Alabama, this award recognizes individuals who are, or have been, full-time educators who through mentoring have touched the lives and careers of countless students, whether in the classroom, in student-run firms and pre-professional societies (e.g., PRSSA) and/or in scholarly endeavors.
  • Emerging Leader Award: Honors young professionals who are up-and-coming leaders and already paying it forward, while also providing reverse mentorship to more senior professionals.

Meet the Honorees

The Plank Center has had the great privilege of honoring professionals who have mentored thousands of public relations professionals. Meet the previous mentors who advanced the profession through leadership and mentorship.


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