The University of Alabama’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) was recently awarded the Dr. F.H. Teahan Chapter Awards for Diversity and Outstanding Professional Adviser for the 2020-2021 academic year.
C&IS alumna Sara (Sanderson) Franklin was awarded the Outstanding Professional Adviser Award for the second time, the first being in 2017. Franklin is a member of Alabama PRSA and is the executive director of community engagement and partnership for the Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama.
“For more than five years, Sara Franklin has served as UA PRSSA’s professional adviser, and her commitment to building a bridge between our public relations students and PR professionals in the Alabama PRSA chapter is unwavering,” said Tracy Sims, advertising and public relations senior instructor and UA PRSSA’s faculty adviser.
Franklin organized several networking opportunities for the PRSSA chapter, including hosting a panel of professionals representing PR agencies and in-house PR for corporations
and nonprofits. She also connected UA students to mentors through the Professional Mentorship Program, which prepares UA PRSSA seniors for membership in PRSA and successful careers in public relations.
This year also marks the second time the UA PRSSA chapter has received the diversity award, the first being in 2019. Throughout the year, the UA PRSSA diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) board planned virtual events to generate awareness among its members of inclusion issues related to the public relations industry. The chapter hosted virtual meetings with representatives from Howard University, Temple University and The University of Texas at Arlington to discuss ideas to progress DE&I initiatives.
Katrin Friesen, former UA PRSSA vice president of diversity and inclusion, said that her hope was for these programs to educate PRSSA members and prepare them for their future in public relations.
“The industry we are pursuing holds an obligation to do the public justice, so educating ourselves and others is very important to becoming strong PR professionals,” Friesen said.
Friesen and members of the DEI board actively worked to integrate diversity and inclusion into the chapter’s activities, and Friesen hopes this legacy will continue in the future for UA PRSSA.
The University of Alabama PRSSA Chapter was founded in 1970 and currently boasts over 180 members. It is a leading pre-professional organization for students interested in public relations, communications and other related fields.