On behalf of the board of directors, thank you for attending the 28th Annual Proof Awards Gala. Approximately 160 professionals attended last night's awards ceremony to honor the achievements of some of West Michigan’s best public relations practitioners, campaigns and projects. Congratulations to our individual award winners:
Robin Luymes PR Professional of the Year Each year, the West Michigan PRSA honors one of its own with the Public Relations Professional of the Year Award. This year’s recipient is dedicated to leading public relations activities for Davenport University. As Executive Director of Communications he has elevated the University’s Communications Department by guiding the strategic direction of all communications. Under his leadership, the University has become a leader in communications best practices. Robin has served as WMPRSA Board President more than once, and has sat on the Board of Directors for nearly 10 years throughout the past decade. He’s well known within student groups, and often volunteers with GVSU PRSSA in resume proofreading or speaking engagements.
Larry Yachcik Communicator of the Year This award recognizes a community leader who has made outstanding contributions to West Michigan and who also exemplifies the practice of good public relations. Larry Yachcik, Porter Hills, has exhibited foresight and innate ability to create relationships. His embrace of creative and innovative ways of working together, even with entities that can be considered his competitors, helped him thrive during his recent transition as President and CEO of Porter Hills, a role that he assumed just one year after the company lost its CEO in a tragic car accident. His collaboration efforts include working with companies like The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, the Marywood Health Center, and Emmanuel Hospice.
Adrienne Wallace Newcomer of the Year The Newcomer of the Year Award is given to public relations professionals who is new to WMPRSA and has demonstrated the potential for becoming an outstanding practitioner. Adrienne joined the organization in 2012 and has already immersed herself in leadership within the chapter and the larger public relations community in a variety of ways. Her contributions to the profession include: The WMPRSA board, PRSSA, volunteerism, and last year’s ArtPrize entry: Lights in the Night. She is also a contributor to numerous publications like Grand Rapids Women’s Magazine, West Michigan Women Magazine, and has led the re-boot efforts of the online magazine: The Mode Life. She also maintains her own food blog. As an active member of the community, she volunteers for numerous nonprofits and serves on a variety of boards including the Grand Valley State University Alumni Board and WGVU Engage.
Elizabeth Michalski Student of the Year Elizabeth Michalski serves as vice president of the Ferris State PRSSA chapter, logging more than 2,500 hours of PR work annually. In the spring of 2012, she wrote a PR plan for the Cass City Chamber of Commerce as part of a class assignment. Then, the client brought her on board as an intern for the summer and fall of 2012 to implement the plan! Also, she one of five students in the NATION to be selected as a finalist for the PRWeek Student of the Year award.
Shelley Irwin Media Person of the Year The Media Person of the Year Award is given to a deserving journalist, editor or publisher for their outstanding contributions to the field of journalism in the West Michigan area. Shelley Irwin is a well-known name in the West Michigan media landscape. She emcees many events, interviews leaders, sits on several boards and committees, and continues to cover both the good and bad news going on around us. She also manages to get in a run or workout daily between gigs! Her work at the WGVU Morning Show and throughout the West Michigan community has, in one way or another, touched every PR professional in the area at one time or another.
And kudos to our newest APR recipient:
Katherine Hollaran, APR As a public relations and communications manager at Saint Mary's Health Care, Katie Halloran understands why lifelong learning is essential for professional growth. When she first learned about the APR designation in college as a member of PRSSA, she set the accreditation as a long-term goal for herself. After working in the field for several years, Katie felt that the time was right to finally seek that APR accreditation – seeing it as a way to continue to learn and advance. Countless hours of studying later, she is another shining example of the great practitioners that lead PR in this community.
And finally, congratulations to ALL of the winners of gold and silver PRoof Awards! This year, our applicant totals were higher in most categories than in the recent past. That's cause for even more celebration! Many of the categories featured close calls, with a high number of honors awarded due to the quality of work presented.