Plank Center Names 2014 Mentoring Honorees

Celebrating the power of leadership through mentoring.

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama has unveiled its honorees for the 2014 Milestones in Mentoring Awards, established in 2010 to honor those who lead by example, modeling the way through two-way communication and exemplary behaviors.

The following mentors will be honored at the Milestones in Mentoring Banquet at the Union League Club of Chicago Thursday, Oct. 30:

  • Legacy: Patrick Ford, worldwide vice chair, chief client officer, chairman, Burson-Marsteller
  • Executive: Aylwin Lewis, CEO, Potbelly Sandwich Shop
  • Corporate: Wendi Strong, executive vice president, enterprise affairs, USAA
  • Agency: Andy Polansky, chief executive officer, Weber Shandwick
  • Educator: Dr. Lynne Sallot, professor, University of Georgia
  • Young Professional: Jose Rivera, lecturer, Cal State San Bernardino

“We’re pleased to recognize leaders in our industry, from academia to the C-suite, who have displayed a commitment to mentoring the next generation of young professionals,” said Ron Culp, director of the graduate PR and advertising program at DePaul University and chair of the Plank Center. “All of these six dynamic leaders have inspired so many during their extraordinary careers.”

The Honoring Milestones in Mentoring Awards Banquet features a reception, dinner and awards ceremony. The honorees were selected by their peers in six categories:

  • Legacy: recognizes those who have touched the lives of countless public relations professionals over the course of their exceptional careers.
  • Executive: honors executives who have exemplified the concept of mentorship.
  • Corporate: recognizes corporate communication professionals for mentorship.
  • Agency: recognizes those who have been outstanding mentors in an agency.
  • Educator: honors educators who have been instrumental in mentoring students and future educators. This award is named in honor of Dr. Bruce K. Berger, an exceptional public relations leader and educator.
  • Young Professional: honors young professionals who are up-and-coming leaders and are already paying it forward.

For more information on the Milestones in Mentoring Gala, go to the Plank Center website,

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

In 2005, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees established The Plank Center, named for public relations leader and UA alumna, the late Betsy Plank, to develop and recognize outstanding performance in the profession and classroom. Through a variety of programs, and in concert with groups and associations, the Center works to nurture and help develop outstanding leaders.

In addition to national leaders in the practice and education, the Center Board includes an ex officio position for the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America that represents more than 11,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

The Center is housed in UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences. UA’s public relations program, with nearly 600 students, is the largest undergraduate degree program within the College. The program is certified by the Public Relations Society of America, and, for six consecutive years, it has been ranked among the top five public relations programs in the country by PRWeek magazine.

More information about the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations can be found


  • CONTACT: Jessika White, communications specialist, 205/348-7250,
  • SOURCE: Dr. Karla Gower, director, Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, 205/348-0132,