The Professional Communicator Award is presented annually to any Springfield area communications professional who has made a significant contribution or impact to a non-profit, for-profit or media organization or who has made an impact in the community as a communications leader, innovator and mentor over his/her careers and especially during the past year, and has had outstanding results.
Deadline for submissions is April 15, 2017.
Previous award winners: (These summaries are excerpted from the nominations.)
Kyla Kruse, Energy Education Council, 2016
Kyla Kruse, communications director at the Energy Education Council, has received the Professional Communicator Award.
Kruse has guided and implemented the national non-for-profit organization’s multi-faceted communications program since 2011. She oversees public outreach efforts on electrical safety, efficiency, and renewable energy. She is responsible for two nationwide safety campaigns every year, which received national honors in 2015. Kruse is also a musician and performer with a band that performs to raise money and promote breast cancer awareness.
“The caliber and importance of her work speak to her personal commitment and dedication to creating a safer, smarter world,” the nomination said. “Whether through safety communication or through music, Kyla has played an instrumental role in getting the word out to the public about serious issues.”
The Professional Communicator Award is presented annually to any Springfield-area communications professional who has made a significant contribution or impact to a non-profit, for-profit or media organization or who has made an impact in the community as a communications leader, innovator and mentor over his or her career and especially during the past year, and has had outstanding results.
Kelly Thompson, Ronald MacDonald House of Central Illinois, 2015
Kelly Thompson moved from public relations director to executive director of the Ronald McDonald House. The nomination said she is an example of how multi-talented PR professionals are and how communications is a critical skill for any successful leader. The nomination focused on the successful $1.2 million “Labor of Love” campaign, funding a total remodel of the 28-year-old RMD house. The house is a home away from home for families with children receiving medical care in Springfield, serving about 400 families annually. “Kelly has contributed much to the communications profession and this chapter. But more importantly, she has made our community a better place.”
Dr. Kemia Sarraf, genHkids Coalition, 2014
In 2008, Dr. Kemia Sarraf founded genHkids (Generation Healthy Kids) coalition in response to what she perceived to be a significant need in the community. This volunteer-based, community-minded, public health effort was based on a simple principal – our children, and we, need to eat real and move more. Dr. Sarraf started with a goal to better educate children about nutrition and fitness and developed her idea into a successful non-profit organization. Her knowledge, commitment and most importantly her ability to communicate her mission have enriched the community.
Kathryn Rem, State Journal-Register, 2013
Kathy Rem has made significant contribution to her profession and has been a communications leader here in Springfield, both in journalism and public relations. After beginning her career as a reporter, she moved to the public side serving as press secretary, PIO and communications director for several state agencies. She returned to journalism nearly twenty years ago as food editor and feature writer for the State Journal-Register. The nomination said Kathy has been known as a voice of experience for women in the SJR newsroom and has mentored many young reporters.
Mary Bohlen, University of Illinois Springfield, 2012
Mary Bohlen was recognized for her outstanding work in helping communications students in her profession as a professor in communication at UIS. She also has been a tireless advocate for communications and the role of the media. Mary has worked to protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education and by raising awareness of the First Amendment via exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech and of the press. With experience as both a reporter and a PR profressional, Mary has held various board positions with AWC Springfield including chapter President (1986).
Jan Grimes, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2011
Jan Grimes was director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency in Springfield when she was honored. She was an active member of the AWC chapter for many years and served as its chapter President (1993). The nomination for Jan described her as positive, approachable and encouraging – with an infectious, helpful and motivating nature. “She shows you can advance in your profession by sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm and by treating others with consideration and respect. The State of Illinois is all the better with her bringing these qualities to the preservation and promotion of our State’s history.”
Nancy S. Zimmers, SIU School of Medicine, 2002
(awarded as the Communicator of the Year Award for “demonstrated achievement in the field of communication and contributing to public education and awareness”)
Nancy Zimmers was recognized while serving as SIU’s director of public affairs (1978-2011). An AWC member since 1971, she helped found Springfield’s chapter in 1977. She was chapter President (1979), chaired AWC’s Midwest regional meeting (1982) and held various board positions. She co-chaired an effort creating “Making News in Mr. Lincoln’s Hometown,” a media directory and guidebook first published by AWC and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce in 1991. She was an adjunct communication instructor at University of Illinois Springfield. Nancy also shared her PR and media expertise by working as a volunteer consultant for numerous community agencies.