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Veronica (Ronnie) Gunnerson named Educator of the Year

Honored for her excellence as a public relations professional and instructor as well as her commitment to higher education.

Devoted and highly acclaimed professor … dependable and exuberant colleague … standout public relations practitioner … a confident and caring leader … a remarkable mentor.

These are just a few of the phrases used to describe Veronica (Ronnie) Gunnerson, M.A., affiliate assistant professor, Communication Department, at Loyola University Maryland; and why she has been named PRSA Maryland Chapter’s 2016 Educator of the Year.

“Professor Gunnerson exemplifies all elements of the PRSA as well as the IABC Codes of Ethics,” says Tania Cantrell Rosas-Moreno, Ph.D., associate professor, Loyola University Maryland. “She is phenomenal in her PR walk and talk, whether as a practicing professional or professor.”

Elliot King, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Loyola, also cites her devotion to her students as her greatest contribution. “Her faculty evaluations are very strong and the student work produced in her class is of the highest caliber,” said Dr. King. “She is very generous with her time and is always willing to offer guidance and advice to the students about their studies, their careers and life in general. She epitomizes the strengths that an experienced professional can bring to PR education.”

Gunnerson brings more than 30 years of experience in journalism and public relations to her position at Loyola University Maryland, where she began teaching in 2006. In addition to her teaching, she served as PRSSA faculty advisor from 2009-2010 and is credited with building the vibrant chapter that exists today. From 2013 to 2015, she served as director of operations for the communication department’s first master of arts program, the online M.A. in Emerging Media Program. In 2015, she returned to her first passion – teaching – at Loyola.

Outside of academia, Gunnerson served as executive director of ALS Association (DC/MD/VA Chapter) from 2010-2013 where she successfully established a social media presence and raised $1.2 million annually in ALS walk programs.

Before joining Loyola in 2006, Gunnerson worked for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) from 2003-2006 where, as the founding executive director of the PBS Foundation, she secured four grants totaling $13 million for the foundation within the first two years. From 1993-1997, Gunnerson was senior vice president of the home entertainment division Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., overseeing public relations for multiple departments such as licensing, home video, new media, education, international distribution, and publishing. In 1997, she was promoted to vice president of corporate affairs and became senior vice president two years later. In that role, she oversaw the company’s corporate media relations, local and state government relations, employee communications, community relations and corporate contributions.  She served on several community boards, received a Women Making a Mark Award from Atlanta Magazine and was named one of 10 Women of Achievement by the Atlanta YWCA.

Prior to her career in public relations, Gunnerson was a journalist and editor in the early years of the personal computer industry and then in the home video industry, where she managed one of the first virtual editorial organizations in the country. As a freelance journalist, her articles have appeared in Newsweek, Parade, Billboard, Working Woman and PC World.

Gunnerson holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s degree in public relations from the University of Southern California.

About the Award:

Each year, PRSA Maryland honors a public relations/communications professor who has proven to be an excellent instructor and education leader in their schools and communities, and who has demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of students within public relations and communications.

Please join us on December 8 at the 2016 Best in Maryland Gala as we honor Ronnie Gunnerson. The evening will also honor the Lifetime Achievement recipient Louise Lake Hayman, APR, Fellow PRSA, recognize a PRSSA chapter, reveal the PR Team of the Year and present awards for excellence in public relations in 24 categories. The featured keynote will be Susan Goldberg, editor in chief of National Geographic.



Nominate a Professional, a PR Team, an Educator, or Supplier for 2016 Awards


Each year we shine the light on the professionals who make our profession sparkle. Who should we recognize this in 2016?

We offer 5 professional awards, including a brand new one this year to recognize PR Teams. The Lifetime Achievement honors a professional who has exhibited extraordinary achievements and demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field of public relations over a career spanning 15 years or more. Last year Ralph Crosby, Crosby Marketing Communications, received the award. New Professional of the Year goes to an outstanding professional who in their first three years shows an uncanny grasp of PR and a commitment to the profession. Josie Hankey with Fallston Group captured the award in 2015.

We’ve added a new award this year which underscores the truth that most great PR programs are a team effort. This year we announce the PR Team Award and are looking for a robust competition for we know there are many winning teams in Maryland.

Our successful PR professionals have many supporters and partners including educators and business suppliers. Two awards provide our members with an opportunity to call out these sometimes “unsung heroes.” The Educator of the Year offers a chance to thank and recognize the professionals who prepare our next generation. In 2015, Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D., then at Towson University, earned accolades for his dedication. The Partner of Distinction celebrates the profession’s partners – a vendor or supplier recognized for outstanding support of a public relations/communications program or the profession as a whole. Erickson Living received the 2015 award.

So, who do you know that we should shine the spotlight on? Nominees do not need to be a PRSA-MD member to be nominated. You can get check out the application, past winners and more details at PRSA MD Professional Awards. Hurry – our deadline is October 15, 2016.

The Awards will be presented at the Best in Maryland Gala on December 8. We will also be announcing all the Best in Maryland Awards and are pleased to share that Susan Goldberg Editor in Chief of National Geographic is our keynote.

Questions? Contact us!

Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D. Selected as 2015 Educator of the Year

Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D.

Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D.

Teacher, scholar, researcher and perhaps most importantly mentor are the titles that begin to distinguish Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D. In the words of his students Cylor is a strong mentor fully invested in the success of his students. His peers call him an outstanding researcher in the public relations field. PRSA Maryland calls him 2015 Educator of the Year.

Spaulding, an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University will be honored at PRSA-MD’s Best in Maryland Gala & Holiday Party on December 1 at the Hilton Baltimore overlooking Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Prior to going into academia, Spaulding spent almost 10 years in the public relations industry, working for a number of agencies like Rogers & Cowan and Weber Shandwick.  He has worked with clients across multiple industries ranging from technology and entertainment to non-profit. As such, he has managed media relations and consumer relations campaigns for multiple clients, including Activision, Electronic Arts, id Software, and Microsoft.

Spaulding’s academic research interests are varied but focus primarily on historical aspects of public relations, public relations and religion, and entertainment public relations. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Miami, a M.A. degree in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California, and a B.A. degree in Journalism from Arizona State University.

Spaulding is also a member of the PRSA Maryland Mentoring Committee overseeing the PRSA-MD Mentoring Program. The Program seeks to pair established public relations professionals with new professionals for a six-month period.

Please join us on December 1 as we honor Dr. Spaulding. We will also honor Lifetime Achievement recipient Ralph Crosby and Partner of Distinction Erickson Living, reveal the New PR Professional of the Year, and present awards for excellence in public relations campaigns.



Announcing the 2014 Educator of the Year: Leeanne M. Bell McManus

Submitted by Sandra Arnette, APR, Communications Chair

BellMcManus Pic

Honored for Commitment to Academic Excellence, Student Engagement and Service In the Community

Dr. Leeanne M. Bell McManus has been named the 2014 Educator of the Year for teaching and motivating students, engaging them in various community service initiatives and developing needed course curriculums.

McManus, an associate professor in the business communications department at Stevenson University, will be honored at PRSA-MD’s Best in Maryland Gala on December 4 at the Hilton Baltimore overlooking Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

“Dr. Bell McManus is an excellent classroom instructor – one who knows how to motivate and challenge her students,” said Chip Rouse, Stevenson’s associate director and department chair of business communications. “She demands quality performance and gets it. Her student evaluations are outstanding, indicating that she is reaching students on many levels and they are putting into practice the theory they are learning.”

Rouse said McManus also developed several courses for the department, including an introductory level Principles and Practices of Public Relations course. “Dr. Bell McManus fuels excitement in her students and encourages them to put into practice what they learn in the PR classroom,” she added. “The students’ research and activities give them lots of real-world practice.”

PRSA-MD’s Educator of the Year Award recognizes and honors exemplary undergraduate and graduate public relations/communications professionals that are excellent instructors and education leaders in their schools and communities.

McManus is co-author of two books, Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Sage, 2009), and Conflict between Persons: The Origins of Leadership (Kendall Hunt, 2014). She is currently working on her third book, Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice. She also has published excerpts in Exploring Communication Ethics: Interviews with Influential Scholars in the Field and The Encyclopedia of Social Identity. In addition, McManus has published in the Atlantic Journal of Communication, Review of Communication, and Communication Annual: Journal of the Pennsylvania Communication Association.

In addition to McManus’ publications, she has over 65 competitively selected convention papers and panels and is a journal reviewer for Communication Theory, Review of Communication, Communication and Religion, and Qualitative Research Reports. She teaches and conducts research in public relations, event planning, conflict, leadership, communication ethics and interpersonal communication.

Join us as we honor Dr. Bell McManus at the 2014 Best in Maryland Gala. We will also honor the Lifetime Achievement and Partner of Distinction, reveal the New PR Professional of the Year, and present awards for excellence in public relations campaigns. The evening will include a keynote address from Terence O’Hara, vice president of communications for UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement.

For more information on the Gala including all our nominees, click here!

Announcing the 2013 PRSA-MD Educator of the Year Award Recipient…

The 2013 Best In Maryland Committee and the 2013 PRSA-MD Board of Directors are proud to announce the 2013 Educator of the Year recipient: Lester R. Potter.

Accredited Business Communicator Lester R. Potter, an MBA, is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies at Towson University, Maryland. He is “ABD” (all but dissertation) for a doctorate in Instructional Technology at Towson.  At Towson, Potter teaches Public Relations Writing, Organizational Communication, Strategic Public Relations Planning and Management, and Public Relations for Nonprofit Organizations.  He has served as Faculty Advisor to the PRSSA chapter for ten years.

Prior to beginning his academic career, Potter was President of Les Potter Incorporated, an international consultancy he founded in 1998.  His firm helped organizations worldwide use communication as a strategic management tool to boost organizational effectiveness.  For over 30 years, Les Potter has improved business operation with innovative, results-oriented interventions.  To solve clients’ problems, Potter draws on successful experience in organizational communication, strategic and marketing planning, and human resources and project management gained from work with a wide variety of organizations and industries.

Les Potter’s background includes many different and enriching business situations that prepared him for successful client service.  Potter was Chairman of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) during 1991-92.  He was named an IABC Fellow in 1997, IABC’s highest honor.  He served on IABC’s executive board, accreditation board, and as a trustee of the IABC Research Foundation.  He earned IABC accreditation (the ABC designation) in 1978.

Les is also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the invitation-only professional association for educators, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), and the Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

Les will be honored at the Best In Maryland Awards Gala on December 5 at the Hotel Monaco Baltimore. We will also honor the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award, reveal the New PR Professional of The Year, and present awards for excellence in public relations campaigns in 24 categories. The evening will include a keynote address from Gerry Sandusky, voice of the Baltimore Ravens and sports director of WBAL TV.  Former FOX morning anchor Jennifer Gladstone will emcee the event.

Please join us in honoring Les Potter.  Follow @LesPotter on Twitter and on his blog More With Les.

For more information on the Gala including nominees and ticket information, click here.

–Industry News