Plank Center Celebrates Mentorship at 10th Annual Gala

Nov 12, 2019

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations celebrated its 10th annual “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala in Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 7. More than 20 faculty, staff, students and alumni represented the The University of Alabama at the event.

The gala brought together more than 320 public relations professionals, educators and students to recognize esteemed leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a robust network of influence and accelerates success in the public relations profession.

Honorees at this year’s mentorship gala included:

  • Rich Jernstedt, President & CEO, The Jernstedt Company, and past executive leader with Golin, FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli (Legacy Award)
  • Matthew Harrington, Global President and Chief Operating Officer, Edelman (Agency Award)
  • Cheryl Sanclemente, Senior Director of Corporate PR, Salesforce (Emerging Leader Award)
  • David Dozier, Professor Emeritus, School of Journalism & Media Studies, San Diego State University (Bruce K. Berger Educator Award)
  • Kelly McGinnis, SVP and Chief Communications Officer, Levi Strauss & Co. (Jack Koten Corporate Award)
  • Kim Hunter, CEO, LAGRANT COMMUNICATIONS; Chairman & CEO of The LAGRANT Foundation; and Managing Partner of KLH & Associates (Betsy Plank Award)

The gala was part of a two-day series of events, as students also had the opportunity to attend a networking session with the six honorees at DePaul University prior to the gala and join UA faculty and staff for the Center’s Summit on Diversity and Inclusion Friday morning.

“Each year, this evening allows us to give well-deserved recognition to the leading mentors in our field while also showcasing UA’s finest,” said Dr. Karla Gower, director of The Plank Center and professor in UA’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “Most importantly, these events enable our students to shape the future of our industry by giving them access to influential thought leaders who impart invaluable skills and insights.”

The evening has been dubbed “The Oscars of Public Relations” and “The Best Night in PR,” as it takes on an unmatched energy to inspire 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

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the leading international resource for practitioners, educators and students who are passionate about advancing their careers and the public relations profession. Led by a national advisory board of leading educators and practitioners, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. Founded in 2005, the Center is named after Betsy Plank, the first lady of PR. Betsy’s legacy and vision continues on in the Center’s programs and initiatives to advance the profession and public relations education. For more information, please visit