The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations Honors Six PR Mentors


The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations celebrates the power of leadership through mentoring at its eighth annual “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala. Six influential leaders who understand the importance of communications and mentorship will receive Milestones in Mentoring awards during an induction ceremony at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 26.

Honorees at this year’s mentorship gala are:

  • Legacy: Bill Nielsen, VP, Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, Johnson & Johnson (Emeritus)
  • Corporate: Jeff Winton, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs & CCO, Astellas Pharma
  • Agency: Grace Leong, CEO & Partner, Hunter Public Relations
  • Educator: Dr. Linda Hon, Professor, Department of Public Relations, The University of Florida
  • Emerging Leader: Megan Newhouse, Director of Culture Communications, GE
  • Executive: Cheryl Bachelder, CEO, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (Emeritus)

“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 leaders,” said Keith Burton, chair of the Plank Center and principal of Grayson Emmett Partners. “These six dynamic leaders are leading by example to inspire and mentor countless others during their impressive careers.”

Established in 2010 to recognize those who lead by example, the “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala features a reception, dinner and awards ceremony. The honorees were selected by their peers and the Plank board 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 value public relations and have exemplified the concept of mentorship.
  • Corporate: recognizes corporate communication professionals for mentorship. This award is named in honor of John “Jack” Koten, an influential corporate public relations leader.
  • 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.
  • Emerging Leader: honors young professionals who are up-and-coming leaders and are already paying it forward.

More information on the Milestones in Mentoring Gala is available on The Plank Center’s 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, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society through a variety of initiatives.

In addition to national leaders in the practice and education, the Center’s Board includes an ex officio position for the president of the Public Relations Student Society of America that represents more than 10,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

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


For further information: Jessika White, Office: 205-348-7250,