Industry organizations tell us that women account for 61 percent of the jobs in public relations, and that disparity is even more pronounced in groups like the national PRSA organization, where about 69 percent of the membership is female.
PRSA Colorado experiences a similar effect, and nowhere is that more obvious than in its Special Awards. Women swept this year’s awards, and they now account for more than 85 percent of the Special Awards over the past five years. Meanwhile, about 80 percent of the PRSA Colorado board members listed on the organization’s website are women.
Obviously, anyone can join PRSA Colorado, enter an election for a board seat and nominate men for awards. That those things aren’t happening at a rate that one might expect is curious. As a former PRSA Colorado board member, I can’t explain it other to say that the activities and benefits provided naturally skew toward what may be more interesting to the female-dominated membership. Breaking that cycle may take a conscious effort that is disruptive in the short-term.
Anyway, this year’s highly deserving Special Award winners are:
Swede Johnson Lifetime Achievement
Lisa Cutter, Cutter Communications*
Lisa Cutter founded Cutter Communications in 1998. A 25-year PR veteran, she is well respected for her media, partnership and crisis expertise. Her programs have garnered local and national awards, including several Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Colorado Gold and Silver Picks, the organization’s small practice of the year award, and its highest honor – the Grand Gold Pick for a comprehensive PR campaign.
Public Relations Person of the Year
Jessica Berry, University of Colorado Hospital
Jessica Berry is a spokesperson for UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. She places well over 100 positive local and national stories a year for UCHealth, in addition to responding to the frequent requests for experts and handling crisis communications.
Business Person of the Year
Cindy Mackin, City of Loveland
Cindy has been in marketing and destination development for over 22 years, with a start in marketing of destination events at outlet malls all over Colorado. Creating excitement in everything she did led to her earning many SASI awards within the industry.
Joe Fuentes Rookie of the Year
Kayla Roofe, RE/MAX
She may be small, but she is mighty. With national and local communications and marketing experience, Kayla Roofe has planned and executed winning campaigns for some of Colorado’s heavy-hitters, including JKD & Company, Fyn Public Relations and RE/MAX World Headquarters.
Megan Ryan, CoBiz Financial
Building communities and connecting people are passions for Megan. Megan has always been a passionate community volunteer from mentoring youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters to granting wishes for sick children through Make A Wish Foundation to organizing employee volunteer projects. Megan chairs PRSA Colorado’s Membership Recruitment Committee and helps run the organization’s Employee Communications Group.
Public Relations Team of the Year
March on Colorado
On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March on Colorado brought more than 150,000 people together in the streets of downtown Denver to march in solidarity for social justice, human rights and equality for women and all marginalized people across the U.S. The inaugural Women’s March on Colorado was a spontaneous, grassroots effort motivated by the national Women’s March in Washington, D.C., and sister marches around the country. As MOC leaders came together to decide what the future of the group would look like, they knew that public relations would still need to be a key component of the movement going forward. Lisa Cutter, owner of Cutter Communications in Denver, led public relations for the 2017 March and spearheaded the effort to bring a larger PR team together to keep the momentum going. She assembled a team of local PR professionals who expressed interest in volunteering their time to the organization and its mission. Over the next few months that team took shape to include three other PR professionals, Cara Crifasi, Liz Miller and Stacey Sepp.
*Any time you land on the same list as Lisa Cutter, it’s a good day.