The Paragon Awards were created in 1983 to encourage members to strive for public relations excellence. The awards recognize outstanding work in the area of public relations, honor creative and strategic excellence, and encourage a higher level of performance among public relations professionals.
Dorothy Thomas Black Award
The Dorothy Thomas Black Award recognizes sustained, superior performance in public relations, typically rewarding the lifetime achievement of a public relations professional who is a member of the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of PRSA. The award was established by PRSA in 1983 in memory of Dorothy Thomas Black, who died a year earlier. Black was the former director of public relations at St. Luke’s Medical Center and a PRSA chapter president.
Dorothy Thomas Black Candidate Criteria:
At least 15 years of full-time experience in public relations.
An active chapter member, meaning the candidate has been very supportive and has contributed significantly to the chapter in meaningful ways.
Has provided public relations service to the local community (volunteer or pro-bono work outside of normal work assignments).
Has demonstrated sustained superior professional public relations capabilities (e.g. creating greater public understanding of issues through sound application of public relations).
Has demonstrated sustained leadership in public relations.
Please note that in order to qualify for the Dorothy Thomas Black Award, the candidate cannot be nominated by a co-worker or a family member.
Dorothy Thomas Black Award Winners:
2019: Heidi Fendos, Fendos PR
2018: Debra Miller, Ed.D., APR, Fellow PRSA President and Senior Counsel, Global Communication Strategists, LLC
2017: Marilyn and Phill Vollrath, APR
2016: Jerry Topczewski, APR
2015: Carol Seeger Weber, APR, Wisconsin Dental Association
2014: Colleen Smith, Principal at Emerald Isle Marketing/PR (presented posthumously)
2013: Dale Brown, APR, (Retired) Brown & Martin, Inc.
2012: David Fantle, APR, Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
2011: Ann Peru Knabe, APR+M, UW-Whitewater Public Relations Faculty and Lt. Colonel in the Air Force Reserve
2009: Carolyn Bellin, APR, Chief Public Relations Officer, Froedtert Hospital
2006: Steve Johnstone, APR – Director of PR, Blue Horse
2004: Harry Cherkinian, APR
2002: Ray Scroggins, APR
2001: Gary Myers, APR
2000: Alan Gaudynski, APR
1999: Linda Stephenson, APR
1997: Tom Towers, APR
1996: Bill Spevacek, APR
1995: John Luecke, APR
The Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of PRSA annually presents a special Communicator Award to a businessperson, educator, politician or other community leader who effectively uses public relations and/or communications skills in the performance of their responsibilities.
Communicator Award Candidate Criteria:
Business person, educator, politician or other community leader.
Has more than 15 years public relations and/or communications and/or significant community involvement experience.
Has demonstrated effective application of sound public relations principles and practices in furthering a greater understanding of a business, community or other issue in the performance of their responsibilities.
Has made a meaningful, positive impact in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Must be present at the Paragon Awards Ceremony to accept the award.
* NOTE: In order to qualify for the Paragon Communicator Award, the candidate cannot be nominated by a co-worker and/or agency or a family member.
Communicator of the Year Award Winners:
2019: Mark Maley, longtime editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently public affairs and communications director for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) (presented posthumously)
2018: Steve Costello, President and CEO of Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corporation
2017: Bob Babisch, Vice President of Entertainment for Summerfest
2016: Peter Feigin, Milwaukee Bucks
2015: Stephanie Klett, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism
2014: Michael Lovell, former UW-Milwaukee chancellor and Marquette University President
2013: Jeff Sherman, OnMilwaukee.com
2012: Tom Still, President of Wisconsin Technology Council
2011: Wayne Larrivee, Voice of the Green Bay Packers
2009: Rich Meeusen, President & CEO of Badger Meter, Inc
2008: Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn
2007: Tim Hoeksema, President and CEO of Midwest Airlines
2006: Carlos Santiago, Chancellor of UW-Milwaukee
2005: Gary Grunau, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager of Gilbane
2004: Beth Nicols, Executive Director of Milwaukee Downtown
2003: Daniel Steininger, President and CEO of Catholic Knights
2002: Scott Walker, Executive of Milwaukee County
2001: Tim Sheey, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
2000: Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of UW-Milwaukee
1999: James Cameron, Founder of the Black Holocaust Museum
1998: Bill Hanbury, President and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau
1997: Sr. Joel Read, President of Alverno College
1996: Tommy Thompson Governor of Wisconsin
1994: Archbishop Rembert Weakland