Past recipients of the Donald G. Padilla Distinguished Practioneer Award have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to numerous charitable organizations. They also share a common trait: They inspire each of us to give back and use or talents for the betterment of others. (Please note that the summaries are from the year in which they received the award.)
2016 Joel Swanson
A tireless advocate for the public relations, Joel has been instrumental in the advancement of the profession in Minnesota – shaping the perception of public relations within the business community, developing the professional oftomorrow and guiding the direction of the chapter.
Joel currently serves as the Immediate Past President of Minnesota PRSA and served on three separate terms on the Board of Directors as well as provided thousands of hours of volunteer work as co-chair for numerous committees and as a PRSA Assembly delegate. In addition, as an adjunct instructor at adjunct instructor at St. Cloud State University, University of Northwestern (St. Paul), and Inver Hills Community College and frequent guest speaker, Joel has shaped the next generation of professionals and instilled the values and principles of our profession.
Prior to becoming an independent public relations consultant, Joel served as president of Risdall Public Relations. During his tenure, Joel contributed to the improving the health and well-being of individuals, the success of his clients as well as the success of his agency. On the client-side, Joel selectively focused his efforts on helping mission-driven organizations build brands, create effective go-to market strategies and execution, as well as prepare for crises and management of critical issues. Joel defined and led strategic business turnaround of public relations agency and helped transition strategic direction and daily operations of agency from founder to next generation ownership.
Earlier in his career, Joel focused on helping improve the health of all Minnesotans at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. He also held public relations, public affairs and marketing roles at Bethel University and Minnesota Education Association (now Education Minnesota).
Notable achievements include the development and execution of Bethel University’s first media relations plan and development of Bethel’s first intranet and online student registration system, planning and execution of Minnesota Teacher of the Year program. The pinnacle of his early professional years was leading national recognition and planning for a White House Rose Garden ceremony for National Teacher of the Year.
Joel also devotes much of his free time to serving the community. He is a member of the Board for Clearway Minnesota (2010-present) and Ronald McDonald House, Upper Midwest (2007-2012). Joel also volunteers as a football, basketball and baseball coach and den leader for his four boys and their classmates. And if that wasn’t enough, he has served as President/Director of the Irondale Baseball League since 2006.
2015 Sara Gavin
Throughout her career, Sara Gavin has upheld the standards of public relations through her work in positioning, brand and reputation management, crisis communications, grassroots and advocacy building, consumer education, media relations and social media. Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Gavin spent three years at the international public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, where she was vice president. She is also one of the founders of Minneapolis-based Mona, Meyer, McGrath & Gavin, which became part of Weber Shandwick in 1988. In addition to her career achievements, Gavin serves on the board of directors of Securian Corporation, where she sits on the Governance and Human Resources committees. Gavin also serves on the boards of College Possible, a national nonprofit organization that helps make college success an attainable goal for students and Second Harvest Heartland, one of the nation’s most innovative hunger relief organizations. Gavin also previously served on several community boards, including Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media Group, Saint Catherine University, the regional board of Teach for America and the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable. Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal recognized Gavin for her contributions to the Minnesota business scene by naming her one of Minnesota’s “40 under 40” and later, one of “Minnesota’s 25 Most Innovative Women.” Saint Catherine University named Gavin one of the Centennial 100, for her significant impact in shaping the university during its first 100 years.
2014 Jim Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA
For 40 years, Lukaszewski, who has taught, lectured or consulted in all 50 states and much of Canada and South America has advised, coached, and counseled the men and women who run significant corporations and organizations through extraordinary problems and critical high-profile circumstances. He is considered one of America’s foremost crisis communication experts; Lukaszewski is a counselor, educator, best-selling author and ambassador for the public relations industry. He currently is president of the Lukaszewski Group Division of Risdall Marketing. Since 1979, Lukaszewski has published 12 books, including his 2008 release Why Should the Boss Listen to You. He travels the country to speak with various chapters of the PRSA and other professional organizations. He teaches and lectures frequently at universities and his writings and teachings are routinely used as course material for college crisis communication courses around the world.
Lukaszewski also shares his knowledge through pro-bono consulting to the Boy Scouts of America Northern Star Council, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the military services, universities and colleges all across America. He also served as a civilian advisor to the United States Marine Corps from 1988 to 2009. His writings and teaching are used extensively by all military services through the Defense Information School DINFOS at Fort Meade, Maryland. Actively involved in the communication industry, Lukaszewski serves as an ethics thought leader. He has spent more than 20 years on the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS), 10 of those as co-chair. Over his career, Lukaszewski has received recognition for his volunteer work and his contribution to the advancement of the profession.
Prior to founding the New York-based Lukaszewski Group Inc. in 1989 he was senior vice president and director of Executive Communication Programs for Georgeson & Company and a partner with Chester Burger Company, both in New York City. He launched his public relations career after serving as an adult intern through Metropolitan State University in the press office of former Governor Wendell R. Anderson in 1974. Upon graduation, Lukaszewski was hired as an Assistant Press Secretary in the Governor’s office. Two years later, he was named Director of Publicity and Publications and later Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Economic Development.
2013 David Schoeneck, APR
David L. Schoeneck, APR, founded The Praxis Group in 1995. He has led public and investor relations activities for organizations such as Fargo Electronics, Inc., National Car Rental System, Inc., Graco Inc., Republic Airlines, Inc., and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and also worked as an account executive at Padilla and Speer (now Padilla Speer Beardsley). He was a reporter and editor for four years at a daily newspaper in Southern Minnesota while also attending Minnesota State University – Mankato. He then served two years in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam as a combat correspondent with the 4th Infantry Division.
He has been an active member of two professional organizations: the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI). Schoeneck became an Accredited member of PRSA in 1977, and was elected President of the Minnesota Chapter of PRSA in 1990. He has been a delegate to the National Assembly of PRSA on eight occasions, and has served twice as a member of the National Nominating Committee. In 1995, he was elected chair of PRSA’s Midwest District. He also served a three year term as Chapter Ethics Officer for the Minnesota Chapter from 2003 to 2005. From 1988 to 1994, Schoeneck served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Minnesota Chapter of NIRI.
2012 David Kostik, APR
David Kostik, APR, founded Kostik Associates Inc. in 2007. Through his firm he provides public relations, fundraising, and strategic planning counsel to a variety of corporate and nonprofit organizations. Prior to launching his firm, Kostik held key public relations positions in a number of organizations including service with the Crosier Fathers and Brothers, Minnegasco (now CenterPoint Energy), Northern States Power Company (now Xcel Energy), Hennepin Parks (now Three Rivers Park District), and Padilla Speer Public Relations (now PadillaCRT). Kostik has been a member of the Minnesota Chapter of PRSA since 1975, and he earned his Accreditation in 1986. He also served on the Board of the Minnesota Chapter from 1988-1992, including his role as Chapter President in 1991. He is a co-coordinator of a network of past presidents of Minnesota PRSA.
2011 Doug Spong, APR, Fellow PRSA
Doug Spong has spent the last 30 years leaving his mark on the public relations industry. At the age of 31, Spong founded Carmichael Lynch Spong public relations. Today the firm ranks among the most decorated PR firms in the world, with more than 300 client awards for a host of envied brands. In 2009, Spong took on the broader role as president of Carmichael Lynch in addition to his responsibilities as president of Carmichael Lynch Spong. In this role, Doug leads the entire 200+ member creative agency—from advertising, public relations and digital to brand planning, consumer engagement and brand activation. Spong has demonstrated countless contributions to the public relations profession and the community in his 30 years in the business. This is evidenced by his efforts in numerous committees for a variety of public relations and community organizations. This is in addition to his frequent guest lectures and his role as a mentor to many young public relations professionals.
Spong is also an avid volunteer, racking up over 250 hours a year. Spong joined the Minnesota chapter of PRSA in 1984 and has proven to be an asset ever since. He is one of 32 founding members of the Council of Public Relations Firms, the industry trade association for the top 100 PR firms. He has served the Council as a board director and treasurer and currently serves on the Council’s Leadership and Governance Committee as well as the Audit Committee.
2010 Ted Davis, APR
Ted Davis has worked in public relations in Minneapolis/St. Paul since 1985. He founded Davis Communications Management in 1998 to provide strategic public affairs council to companies, organizations and individuals across Minnesota. His practice focuses on navigating complex public issues through media and community relations, crisis communications and mobilizing grassroots advocacy. Throughout his career, he has maintained a strong commitment to the community. He has served as a crisis media relations volunteer for the American Red Cross and as a public relations advisor to numerous public officials and community organizations. As a frequent guest lecturer and adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, he has helped young PR practitioners prepare for their careers. He has been a member of PRSA since 1986 serving as a director, National Assembly Delegate and committee member including past service as co-chair of the accreditation committee.
2009 David Hakensen, APR
During his 25-year career, David has become a sought-after counselor who provides strategic counsel to senior management and who understands the importance of leveraging communications and public relations to support business objectives. A PRSA member since 1981, David has been a loyal and active advocate, volunteer and leader in the organization and the profession it supports. He has a keen interest in giving back to his profession and has held PRSA leadership positions that include: Minnesota chapter board of directors (1996-2001); president of the Minnesota chapter (2000); and chair of the Midwest District PRSA (2006-2008). David’s energetic volunteerism as an engaged communicator active “outside of the office” benefits the community and represents the profession using the same high levels of technical competence, expertise, strategic counsel and knowledge-sharing that have marked his value to agency clients and employers. David has always been busy as an eager, willing volunteer who genuinely enjoys leveraging his trade for stakeholders that include civic groups, professional organizations, business associations, academic programs and students.
2004 David Mona
David Mona, a 30-year public relations veteran, has been a leader in numerous civic, charitable and educational organizations throughout his career. In 1981, Mona founded Mona Meyer McGrath & Gavin, which is now known as Weber Shandwick. Currently approaching $2 million in donated time and dollars, the firm continues Mona’s commitment to give back to the nonprofit community. In 1987, the city of Bloomington named Mona “Small Business Person of the Year.” Mona helped bring the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four to Minnesota in 1992 and served as state chairman of the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay. He was president of the Minnesota Alumni Association and the Council of Growing Companies. Currently, Mona serves on boards of the Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association, Tom Lehman’s Challenge golf tournament and the Minnesota Medical Foundation. He chairs the Minnesota Vikings Children’s Fund board and is past chair of the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce.
2003 Ann Barkelew, APR, Fellow PRSA
Ann Hamilton Barkelew has more than 30 years of top management experience with Fortune 100 and small-to-mid cap companies. In 1995, she was named by her peers internationally as “Public Relations Professional of the Year.” Ann currently gives her time and talents to several community organizations, including VocalEssence, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities, Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable, the Arthur W. Page Society and the National School Public Relations Association. She has also volunteered with the Girl Scouts of America, the Minnesota News Council, and the PRSA College of Fellows. Ann also served as Chair of the board of The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis and was on the board of the United Way Success by Six. She has received the National School PR Learning and Liberty Award and was honored with the Ester V. Crosby Award for leadership by the Greater Minneapolis Girl Scout Council.
2002 Paul Omodt, APR
Paul Omodt received the 2002 Padilla Award in recognition of the time and talent he has given to the community throughout his public relations career. Paul’s public relations volunteer and pro bono activities includes achieving media coverage for Minnesota Against Terrorism’s mission, AirLifeLine’s mission, Janet Reno’s visit to the Courage Center, Big Brothers, Big Sisters merger, and more. Paul has been adept in using his public relations skills to advice various non-profit organizations and has helped generate awareness and publicity to their causes. Paul’s commitment to the community extends well beyond public relations. He is a youth hockey coach and has served as an advisor to many candidates for public office. In January 2003, Paul was appointed to the St. Louis Park City Council.
2001 Dave Therkelsen, APR, Fellow PRSA
Dave Therkelsen has worked at the American Red Cross since 1978. Therkelsen’s Red Cross experience includes work as public relations director for the St. Paul area chapter and blood region, as well as administrator of the organ and tissue transplant program and general manager of biomedical services. In 2000, Therkelsen was awarded the American Red Cross presidential Tiffany Award for excellence in management. His distinguished career also includes services as public relations manager for a governmental agency, and one term as city council member in Coon Rapids, Minn. Therkelsen is a past president of Minnesota PRSA, and is a past chair of PRSA’s national Social Services section. He also teaches public relations as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota.
2000 Leila Erlandson
Leila Erlandson has given selflessly of her time and skills for nearly 10 years. Each year, she volunteers hundreds of hours for local and international organizations, while continuing to devote herself to work, family and friends. Leila’s strong communications skills are tailored to the needs of each organization she serves. From strategic communications and public relations to crisis communications and Spanish literacy, Leila provides valuable expertise to organizations that could not otherwise afford these services. Leila currently serves as board vice president and chair of the marketing/development committee for the Minneapolis Youth Diversion Program, where she donates more than 100 hours of the free time. She also secures media sponsorships and placements for the Bull Moose Charitable Foundation’s Bull Moose Party, spreads the word of the mission of the Guatemalan Benefit Dance and acts as a crisis consultant for the God Child Project (Antigua, Guatemala/Minneapolis chapter.)
Leila has also volunteered for the United Way of Minneapolis, Little Brother’s Friend’s of the Elderly, Crisis Connection and the President’s Summit. And her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Leila has received the CityBusiness Unsung Hero Volunteer Award, the WCCO Radio “Good Neighbor” Volunteer Award, the KARE 11 “Eleven Who Care” Volunteer Recognition Award and was chosen in 1006 to be a Community Hero Torchbearer for the Olympic Torch Relay.
1999 Margaret Hennen, APR, Fellow PRSA
Margaret Hennen has been serving the United Way of the Saint Paul area for 15 years in a variety of capacities—from chairing the marketing communications committee to leading a citizen review team and coordinating annual campaigns at Fortis and earlier at Unisys. Although her involvement has varied, her focus is clear. “It’s important to keep sharing information about how important the United Way is and the results it achieves in our communities,” said Hennen. “Because the United Way closely monitors the needs of the community they are able to respond to a variety of needs. We tend to forget that the needs are around all of the time.” Margaret served as president of Minnesota PRSA in 1997. She has been a member of PRSA since 1984 and has been accredited since 1990.
1998 Francine Hitchcock
For the past 21 years, community volunteerism has been an intrinsic part of Fran Hitchcock’s life. Her volunteer activities stem from her her heart and family, not her position or personal aspirations. She created organizations to serve unmet needs, stimulated hundreds of individuals to volunteer their own time and has created pro bono and giving programs that are now being replicated across the country. Her commitment is shown not only by the number of organizations she has touched but also by her long years of service—more than 21 years on the board of Children’s Home Society and 16 years volunteering for Breck School and the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. The results she has achieved stand as proof of her dedication to utilizing public relations and communications to further the objectives of the organizations she served. For example, after learning that all cancer research dollars were going to adult research, Fran helped found the Children’s Cancer Research Fund in 1981. She has also served on the KARE-11 Board of Governors to select the 11 Who Care Award recipients.
1997 Edwin Neuger, APR
Ed Neuger has been a tireless volunteer for five decades, contributing immeasurably to the quality of life throughout this region. Since he started his agency as a public relations pioneer in 1959, Ed has been an innovator and an optimist who lives his belief in the value of community service. Ed has given generously of his time and financial resources through good times and through tough times in a 40-year career. Even after experiencing a heart attack and recurrence of cancer, Ed’s commitment to serving others remains strong. He is active in the business community, is a coach and mentor to younger people at the agency and is active on the board of the Kidney Foundation of the Upper Midwest. He is also active in fundraising for Mount Olivet’s Rolling Acre center for people with developmental disabilities. Ed’s service has extended from his youth with his years of coaching Little League, his YMCA board leadership and his service for the National Youth Leadership Council to his active role in the Kidney Foundation, Goodwill Industries and the National Retiree Volunteer Coalition.
Long before the advent of cause marketing, Ed was a master at bringing company resources to bear on community needs. During the Vietnam War, Ed brought Twin City Federal and the Red Cross together so that loved ones could tape messages to be delivered at Red Cross stations to soldiers in Vietnam. He united Minnegasco and the Salvation Army in a program called “HeatShare” that allows customer to help provide heat for those who couldn’t afford it. For Barrett Moving and Storage, Ed’s “Holiday Van” program collected food and clothing for needy families. He has also led professional groups and was Minnesota PRSA president in 1971. He has mentored and employed some of the best people in the profession over along career and continues to meet with young professionals. Ed encourages employees to participate in community service and has always provided time and opportunities for them to do so.
1996 Roland L. Minda, APR
Roland L. Minda, APR, was awarded the 1996 Donald G. Padilla Community Classic Award by the Minnesota Chapter, Public Relations Society of America. The award honors a Minnesota PRSA member who has volunteered time and talents toward improving the community through communications, and was presented the award at the organization’s annual awards dinner at the University Club. Minda, managing officer, Minda Associates, Inc., Minneapolis, has successfully balanced his volunteer commitments the past 35 years with the Twin Cities community, the public relations field and his Jewish community interests. He has served 30 years as board member for Hennepin County Animal Humane Society, with two terms as President; 25 years with the Minneapolis Metropolitan YMCA’s public relations committee; 25 years with the Minneapolis Rotary Club; and 20 years as board member of the National Conference of Jews. Minda has been recognized frequently for his community involvement, including:
- “Leadership in Membership Development” honors from Minnesota PRSA;
- “Vital Contribution to our YMCA Mission” honors from Minneapolis Metropolitan YMCA;
- “Good Neighbor” award from WCCO-AM radio;
- “Red” Motley Award/ Outstanding Member of the Year, Minneapolis Sales & Marketing Executives;
- Honorary Lifetime Board Member for Dedicated Services, Temple Israel, Minneapolis.
- Minda has also served the Hennepin County American Red Cross, The Cricket Theater, the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce (as Chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee), the Minnesota Jewish Historical Society and the Princeton University Alumni Association.