The Communicator of the Year Award will be presented to Bob Babisch Vice President of Entertainment for Summerfest, The World’s Largest Music Festival which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A 40-year veteran of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and highly respected member of the entertainment industry, Bob manages a $12 million annual entertainment budget for Summerfest. In addition to leading the music production team during Summerfest, he oversees the music portion of events held on the grounds, BMO Harris Pavilion and in the American Family Insurance Amphitheater throughout the summer season. Bob also books events for the Milwaukee Admirals and various venues in and out of Wisconsin including the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, IL. Bob has close working relationships with all major talent agencies and management firms and has been a featured speaker at industry events such as the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA). He is on the IEBA Board of Directors, and is a past recipient of the IEBA Festival Buyer of the Year award. He has worked with acts as diverse as The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder and Metallica. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
The Dorothy Thomas Black Award will also be presented jointly to Marilyn and Phil Vollrath. Marilyn Vollrath, APR, and Philip Vollrath, APR, co-founded Vollrath Associates, Inc. in 1979 and grew the firm into a full-service public and investor relations agency, working with leading companies in Wisconsin and Illinois. In May 2016, Vollrath Associates was acquired by Reputation Partners LLC, where Marilyn currently serves as an executive vice president. Phil continues to serve as an adjunct professor at Marquette University, as chairman of the Milwaukee Air and Water Show and as a PR consultant.
Marilyn has worked with companies in a range of industries and sizes, from small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Her strength is working with CEOs and organization leaders designing and executing comprehensive communications programs that tell the company’s story to investors, employees, customers and the community. Marilyn’s key specialty area is investor relations, where she has built a significant practice with local companies including The Marcus Corporation and Badger Meter. Her work has earned both national and local awards. She is a past president of PRSA – Southeastern Wisconsin, past president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Investor Relations Institute, past president and current member of Tempo, board member of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and BizStarts, and a member of the Press Club and Milwaukee Women Inc.
Prior to starting Vollrath Associates with Marilyn, Phil served in the U.S. Navy as a public affairs officer with commands including three tours in Vietnam aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, now a museum in New York City. His focus areas within Vollrath Associates included strategic marketing communications for manufacturing, health care, trade associations and government organizations. He has served as an adjunct professor in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University since 2001 and was the public and media relations officer for the commissioning of the USS MILWAUKEE in 2015. He is a past president of PRSA – Southeastern Wisconsin, past member of the Business Marketing Association and current member of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Chapter of the Navy League and Milwaukee Armed Forces Week.
As part of the family business, Phil and Marilyn’s daughter, Jessica, was instrumental in the growth and success of Vollrath Associates over the past 10 years and is now a vice president with Reputation Partners.