Plank Center Holds Annual “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala

Nov 6, 2017

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations celebrated its 8th Annual “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 26. Close to 300 public relations professionals, educators and students were in attendance, including 24 faculty, staff, students and alumni from The University of Alabama.

Each year, the Center recognizes influential leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a powerhouse of influence and accelerates success in our profession.

Honorees at this year’s mentorship gala included:

  • Legacy: Bill Nielsen, Corporate Vice President, Public Affairs & 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: 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 were pleased to recognize leaders in our industry, from academia to the C-suite, and thrilled to celebrate with many of UA’s finest,” said Dr. Karla Gower, director of The Plank Center and professor in UA’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations.

While some refer to it as “The Oscars of Public Relations,” others deem it as “The Best Night in PR,” the evening takes on an unmatched energy complete with inspiration to aspire those in attendance to mentor the next generation of leaders.

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,