2017 Special Award Winners
Student Award of Excellence: Graeme Collins and Tianna Hernandez
Awarded to a CPRS Hamilton student member of a full-time public relations program. The student will have demonstrated a clear understanding and application of the principles of public relations theory; actions and behaviour that reflect professionalism; leadership in personal and scholastic activities; commitment to the future of the public relations profession; and perceived to have the ability to make future contributions to the status and acceptance of the public relations profession.
Graeme Collins entered the PR Program at Niagara College in September 2016 and made an immediate positive impression on all of his instructors and peers. He developed a clear understanding of the principles of PR theory which was naturally interwoven across virtually every class in the program. Graeme earned the reputation as the student who would raise his hand first anytime a call for volunteers went out. This was most evident when he volunteered and interviewed to be the class representative for the Hamilton Chapter of CPRS. He took this role seriously and through his ongoing communication with his classmates, student engagement and attendance at CPRS run events were the highest ever. He is polished, professional and engaging. He is committed to entering this profession putting his best self forward and has proven to be a solid and reliable team player.
Tianna Hernandez is recognized for her exemplary character and work ethic. As both a student in the McMaster University Communications Program, Mohawk College PR Program and an internship with the Hamilton Spectator, she demonstrated her PR acumen and professional behavior. Tianna was and is an eager student, particularly in the ‘real world’ application of the theory she learned at McMaster and later in the Mohawk College PR program. She is a very quick study and is a diligent researcher. She aptly manages projects and proved herself to be a strong collaborator and team member. From writing media releases, strategic plans, special event planning, sourcing materials and many other tasks, she was mindful of aligning her actions to the organization’s goals and measuring results. Tianna is a smart, ethical, hardworking and strategic PR practitioner.
CPRS Hamilton PR Champion of the Year: Tony Bavota
Awarded to the lead manager of an organization who has demonstrated a commitment to and belief in the value of public relations as an effective business strategy. The award recipient will have established public relations as a high-level priority in creating business plans, will have empowered public relations personnel in the organization to be proactive, considers public relations a management function and a crucial organizational planning tool, uses public relations principles in making decisions and has created an environment where public relations can flourish.
As Burlington’s Fire Chief, Tony Bavota consistently demonstrated his belief in the value of communications and public relations. He was an early adopter of the three lines of defense, a model that shifted the Ontario fire service’s traditional focus of fighting fires to proactive prevention strategies.
Chief Bavota’s motto “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is exemplified in his decision-making and concerted efforts to support risk-based public education and community relations. He actively promoted the importance of effective PR to his management team, support divisions, and frontline firefighters. It became embedded in the department culture that regardless of your job function or rank, PR was an essential part of everyone’s job. Chief Bavota was one of the first chiefs in the province to hire a PR practitioner as the department’s Public Education Officer (PEO) to develop a strategic approach to fire and life safety public education.
Chief Bavota understands the importance of the RACE formula. As a research advocate, he led the City in procuring a corporate data analytics tool to allow city services to conduct demographic research to understand the lifestyles, behaviours and core values of target audiences. Under Chief Bavota’s leadership, a staff team completed a two-year community risk assessment and operational review, which was approved and applauded by City Council in June of 2016. This work established performance measures for continuous improvement and underscored the importance of prioritizing and allocating resources to education and community outreach. This provided the groundwork to channel department resources to the areas/populations most at risk of fire and life safety emergencies. Chief Bavota was recently recruited to the Toronto Fire Service as the Deputy Chief/Director of the Communications Technology Accreditation and Analytics & Decision Support divisions. Undoubtedly, he will continue to be a PR champion in this new role. His strategic mindset and empowering executive leadership will benefit staff and the community they serve.
Bill Cockman Memorial Award of Excellence in PR: Alexandre Sevigny, APR, PhD
Named for Bill Cockman, APR, who died in October 1997, in honour of his role in founding Hamilton’s first public relations association in the 1960s. The Award of Excellence is given for distinguished and dedicated service to the Canadian Public Relations Society and/or to the advancement/betterment of the practice of public relations at large.
Alex truly embodies the concept of this year’s theme for our Special Awards of inspiring leadership. His deep and long-standing service to CPRS Hamilton, CPRS National, public relations education and the public relations profession are tangible evidence of his exemplary commitment and lasting contribution to our field. Since joining CPRS Hamilton, Alex has provided distinguished and dedicated service to our Society.
Locally, Alex has served as Professional Development Chair, Vice-President, and President and is now Past-President on this year’s Board of Directors. During this time, Alex launched innovative programs such as Pint-Sized Social Media, shared programming with McMaster’s Masters of Communications Management and Start Up with CPRS Hamilton!, which provided business operators with PR advice from our members and was tied to our outreach efforts to the business community. While President, Alex and Co-President Lisa Stocco accepted a Major Award at the National Conference for the Board for its work transforming and revitalizing CPRS Hamilton. More recently, Alex has also served on the CPRS National board.
As program director of McMaster University’s Master of Communications Management (MCM) program, Alex has significantly improved public relations’ reputation as an ethical, strategic, and necessary management function across North America. He is committed to the highest standards for communications excellence. He has also published over 30 scholarly articles, book chapters and conference proceedings, supervised 30 theses/major research projects and capstone presentations and founded two peer-reviewed journals (the Journal of Professional Communication and the McMaster Journal of Communication) further bringing new insight and knowledge related to communications and the humanities to society.
As a long-time mentor—both through the CPRS Hamilton mentorship program and as an educator–Alex is responsible for shaping the careers of many young public relations professionals. He is genuinely invested in the success of CPRS Hamilton student members and is always available to provide advice, insights, and support.
Bob Deans, APR Mentorship Award: Daryl Barnhart, APR and David Rowney, APR, FCPRS
Presented to a senior public relations practitioner who has demonstrated a commitment to and belief in the value of mentoring both those who are new to the profession and those who are committed to the practice of public relations. The award recipient will have demonstrated a commitment to speaking to post-secondary students, encouraging internships in the workplace, fostering exemplary relationships in the profession and serving the profession.
Daryl Barnhart is a Communications Consultant with the Niagara Region where he is responsible for providing strategic public relations counsel and guidance on all aspects of the Region’s corporate communication function, including research, communications planning, media relations, internal communications, issues management and evaluation. Daryl has been an avid member of CPRS Hamilton, participating on the Board of Directors, the Mentorship Program and marking the APR tests. Although Daryl has been a formal mentor, he also takes the time to speak with new public relations practitioners by sharing his insights and providing advice for their careers. Daryl goes beyond the Mentorship program’s expectations of Mentors and has nurtured the development of his mentees and countless other young professionals through his work with CPRS Hamilton. The CPRS Mentorship program defines a good mentor as approachable, experienced, wise and supportive. Daryl not only demonstrated these qualities but lives them every day. He not only provides guidance for those who seek it but truly exemplifies what it means to be a mentor.
David Rowney has been actively engaged in mentoring CPRS student members and those new to the practice of public relations for over two decades. His commitment to and belief in the value of mentorship is nearly unparalleled across the CPRS. David’s mentorship has been a significant influence on mentee’s personal and professional development. His experience in mentoring young public relations professionals extends well past his formal involvement with CPRS Hamilton’s mentorship program. He has been actively involved in CPRS’ Toronto—serving as president in 1997-1998–and Hamilton societies, and has taught young public relations professionals at Centennial College. Bob Deans, APR set a high bar, but we believe David Rowney, APR, FCPRS reaches it.