The Plank Center Names 2016 Mentoring Honorees

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations celebrates the power of leadership through mentoring at its seventh 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, Nov. 10.

Honorees at this year’s mentorship gala are:

  • LegacyGinger Hardage, senior vice president emeritus, culture & communications, Southwest Airlines Co.
  • ExecutiveDr. Stuart R. Bell, president, The University of Alabama
  • CorporateJoe Evangelisti, chief communications officer, worldwide corporate communications & media relations, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • AgencyAedhmar Hynes, chief executive officer, Text100 Global Communications
  • EducatorDr. Linda Hon, professor, The University of Florida
  • Young ProfessionalJesse Salazar, vice president, communications, Council of Foundations

“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, chair of the Plank Center and director of the graduate PR and advertising program at DePaul University. Ron adds, “These six dynamic leaders are leading by example to inspire and mentor countless others during their extraordinary 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.
  • Young Professional: honors young professionals who are up-and-coming leaders and are already paying it forward.

Celebrate the importance of mentoring by reserving your spot at this year’s gala.

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 11,000 members in 300-plus colleges and universities.

The Center is housed in UA’s department of advertising and public relations, a division of the College of Communication and Information Sciences. UA’s public relations program, with nearly 1,400 students, is the largest undergraduate degree program within the College. The program is certified by the Public Relations Society of America.


CONTACT: Jessika White, Communications Specialist, 205/348-7250,