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Chapter Individual Awards
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A touching aspect of the annual PRSA-NY Big Apple gala program is the recognition of achievement by individual public relations practitioners.    

Two of those awards – the John W. Hill Award for professional achievement and the Philip Dorf Award for mentorship – are open for nomination by members of PRSA-NY; a third award is named by the chapter’s president.

In 2017, the honorees are:

  • Joan Cear, Senior Vice President, Kellen, who will receive the President’s Award;
  • Mike Fernandez, U.S. CEO, Burson-Marsteller, who will receive the Philip Dorf; and
  • Al Golin, Founder, Golin, will be honored with a posthumous presentation of the John W. Hill award. 


Following a public nomination period, a committee of esteemed PR industry executives presents its recommendations to the chapter’s leadership for confirmation and endorsement.  Descriptions of the awards, along with criteria and a list of past award recipients, can be found below.

Questions on the criteria or selection process for individual awards may be directed to PRSA-NY at or 212.228.7228.


John W. Hill Award

PRSA-NY’s top honor, The John W. Hill Award, recognizes professional achievement in the practice of public relations.  Named for the founder of one of the world’s preeminent PR firms, the award has been presented annually since 1977. Recipients are industry leaders who exemplify Mr. Hill’s beliefs that experience, quality, integrity and judgement are the cornerstones upon which the profession has been built.

To be considered for this award, nominees must meet the following criteria:          

  • Leadership in the development of the practice of public relations.
  • Demonstration of the highest standards of integrity.
  • Fostering and promoting understanding among people.
  • Service to the public beyond the scope of the nominee's regular duties.
  • Promoting communications and understanding through education and the exchange of ideas.

Nominees may not be the current PRSA-NY president or a recipient within the past 10 years of the PRSA Gold Anvil or similar award. A recommendation for the 2017 honoree will be made by a selection committee to the PRSA-NY Board of Directors.

2017 RECIPIENT (posthumous)
Al Golin, Founder, Golin 

A 60-year veteran of the public relations industry, Al Golin founded Chicago-based Golin, which now has 50 offices around the world.

In addition to handling the McDonald’s account for nearly six decades, Golin represents such companies as Discover, Humana, Nestle, Nintendo, Mattel, Petsmart, PepsiCo, Sargento, Texas Instruments, Unilever, and Walmart.

As a consultant to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Al’s work centered on a major public relations awareness program for U.S. companies on the benefits of exporting to help our economy, increase employment, and reduce the balance of trade deficit. 

Al was a member of the board of trustees of The Goodman Theatre of Chicago and Roosevelt University, a founding board member of Ronald McDonald House Charities, and was public relations advisor to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. 

He was also a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, the Public Relations Seminar and the Public Relations Society of America. 

He lectured at Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Yale University, Northwestern University, New York University, and the Annenberg Communication School at USC. 

The Public Relations Society of America honored Al with the prestigious Gold Anvil Award, the Society's highest individual award. He was also awarded the Alexander Hamilton Medal from the Institute for Public Relations, as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Public Relations Society of America, Publicity Club of Chicago and Inside PR magazine.

He was named one of the 100 most influential public relations people of the twentieth century by the industry trade magazine PRWeek, and he received the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame Award for “Career Achievements and Outstanding Contributions to the Profession.”

Al received an honorary Ph.D. from the College of Communication at DePaul University.

In 2011, Golin redesigned the agency to combine strategy, creativity and engagement into one seamless package in order to better serve its clients. 

His book, TRUST OR CONSEQUENCES, published by Amazon Books, is currently in distribution.

Al died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, April 8th. He was 87.

2016     Grace Leong
2015     Barri Friedman Rafferty

2014     Bill Doescher
2013     Paul J. Gennaro
2012     Margi Booth
2011     E. Ronald Culp
2010     James E. Lukaszewski
2009     Valerie Di Maria
2008     James E. Murphy
2007     Kenneth D. Makovsky
2006     David Finn
2005     Howard J. Rubenstein
2004     Richard Edelman
2003     Thomas Hoog
2002     Art Stevens
2001     Joan Capelin
2000     Philip G. Ryan
1999     Helen I. Ostrowski
1998     Jeannette Paladino
1997     David Drobis
1996     P. Michael McDermott
1995     David M. Bicofsky
1994     Denny Griswold
1993     Harold Burson
1992     Jerry Danzig
1991     John Sattler
1990     Phyllis H. Berlowe
1989     Joel Strasser
1988     Charlotte Klein
1987     Bert Hochman
1986     Barbara W. Hunter
1985     Sid Gross
1984     Richard Weiner
1983     Lloyd N. Newman
1982     John H. Paluszek
1981     Sondra K. Gorney
1980     Chester Burger
1979     Lee Bieringer   
1978     Elaine Pitts
1977     George Hammond

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Philip Dorf Award

The Philip Dorf Award honors individuals who lead, guide and selflessly counsel and stimulate the careers of PR professionals. Presented annually since its creation in 1995, the award is sponsored by the Dorf family in memory of Philip Dorf who was an inspiration and mentor to many young public relations practitioners.

To be considered for this award, the candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Leadership in guiding and inspiring the careers of entry level and other young PR professionals.
  • Demonstration of the highest standards of the profession in a selfless role as a mentor.
  • Service to young professionals beyond the scope of the nominee's professional duties.

Nominees may not be the current PRSA-NY president or a recipient within the past 10 years of the PRSA Gold Anvil or similar award. A recommendation for the 2017 honoree will be made by a selection committee to the PRSA-NY Board of Directors.

Mike Fernandez, U.S. CEO, Burson-Marsteller

Mike Fernandez is U.S. CEO of Burson-Marsteller. Prior to joining the firm, Mike served as chief communications officer for five large U.S.-based corporations across diverse industries, including financial, technology, consumer goods and services and health care. Most recently, he led global corporate affairs at Cargill, the world’s largest privately held company and one of the world’s leading producers and marketers of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. During his six-year tenure, he was responsible for communications, brand and marketing services, government relations and corporate social responsibility.

Before joining Cargill, Mike was chief communications officer for four Fortune 200 companies, including State Farm Insurance, ConAgra Foods, Cigna and US West. He also held various global marketing and communications roles at Kodak. Early in his career, he served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, where at age 23 he was the youngest U.S. Senate Press Secretary ever and only the second Latino to serve in such a role.  When he became the chief communications officer at US West in 1996, he was only the second Latino (and the first US-born Latino) to lead the communications function for a Fortune 500 company.

Mike has been listed on PRWeek’s Power List of the top 50 PR professionals in the U.S. and the Holmes Report’s Influence 100 list of the top 100 PR professionals in the world. He currently is on the boards of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Arthur W. Page Society.  He also serves on the advisory councils of the Latino Donor Collaborative, the Emma Bowen Foundation, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and the communications schools at the University of Florida and the College of Charleston.

Through the years Mike and his teams have won numerous public relations and marketing awards. Mike was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame in 2015. He received the Institute for Public Relations’ Alexander Hamilton Medal, the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s first Pioneer Award, the PRSA Foundation’s Paladin Award and the Plank Center’s Milestones in Mentoring Award. In 2014 his Cargill team won PRWeek’s Global Program of the Year Award, and in 2015 Fortune magazine listed Cargill among 50 “Change the World” companies that are making a positive impact on the world.

One of Mike’s greatest personal accomplishments has been to serve as a mentor to those he works with. He is especially proud that over a dozen of his previous mentees have become Chief Communications Officers or Chief Marketing Officers at major companies.

Mike graduated with a B.A. in Government and M.S. in Accounting from Georgetown University. He also has taught reputation management at New York University, issues and crisis management at George Washington University, and lectured at several communications and business programs – including at his alma mater – on topics of crisis management, leadership, brand, marketing and communications.

He is also the proud papa of four very accomplished children: Lucy (who has an MBA and is the editor of a business journal), Dorothy (who has a PhD in physical therapy and works in sports medicine), Laura (who has PhD in computational chemistry and edits one of the premier academic journals covering nanotechnology) and Will (an honors graduate of the University of Chicago currently working for the Peace Corps in Costa Rica).


2016     Joe Cohen
2015     Michael P. Rinaldo          

2014     Harry R. Zlokower
2013     David M. Grant
2012     Maria P. Russell
2011     Leslie E. Gottlieb
2010     Deborah Radman
2009     William F. Doescher
2008     Roberta Elins
2007     Emmanuel Tchividjian
2006     John L. Paluszek
2005     Bob Stone
2004     Alex Stanton
2003     Helio Fred Garcia
2002     Don Bates
2001     Michael Greece
2000     Edward J. Menninger
1999     Lynn Appelbaum
1998     Robert M. Weintraub
1997     Art Stevens
1996     Anthony J. Russo
1995     Terrie Williams

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PRSA-NY President's Award

The PRSA-NY President's Award honors a current or former member of the chapter who exemplifies the highest standards of ethical conduct and outstanding service within the public relations profession and to PRSA and its New York chapter. The award has been presented annually since its creation in 2003.

To be considered, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Current (or recent past) membership in PRSA-NY.
  • Adherence to the highest standards of ethical conduct.
  • Service to PRSA generally and the New York Chapter in particular

Nominations for the President’s Award may be submitted by current PRSA members to the NY Chapter president; the 2017 honoree will be selected solely by the current chapter president.

Joan Cear, Senior Vice President, Kellen

“You never know” is the mantra for Joan Cear, who did not imagine she’d end up working in PR or owning an agency in New York City, marrying into a wonderful ready-made family or being honored by this prestigious organization, the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

Like many professionals, Joan’s career path has taken twists and turns. The late Alison Steele, a.k.a. “The Nightbird,” a pioneer in progressive rock radio, was Joan’s teen-age career inspiration, which propelled her to pursue a career in broadcasting after completing a degree in communications. Joan worked in radio for several years before making the switch to PR on the advice of a friend – no more waking up at 3:30 a.m. for the morning drive shift – at least not daily!

Since jumping the fence from broadcast journalism to PR, Joan has worked in both client and agency roles for over two decades, as communications counsel for sectors ranging from hospitality to nutrition, consumer products to utilities. She owned and operated the New York City PR firm, The Wachsman Cear Group, which managed high-impact communications programs for major corporations and popular brands as well as start-ups and nonprofit organizations.

In her current role as Senior Vice President at Kellen, a leading global association and communications services firm, Joan oversees integrated communications programs and teams in the company’s New York and Washington, DC offices.  She is passionate about the work they do which she describe in three words: promote, protect, defend.

Whether developing a critical crisis communications strategy, navigating the promotion of in-depth industry research or launching an extensive digital campaign, Joan relishes the challenge of creating and driving programs that achieve measureable, mission-driven results. Today, her clients continue to be wide-ranging and include those in the food and beverage sector, consumer products, wireless technology, emergency medical services, and several trade associations and professional societies. 

In addition to her day job, Joan is privileged to serve as Vice President of Membership for the PRSA New York Chapter and on the advisory board for the School of Communications, Media and the Arts at SUNY Oswego, her alma mater. She is a former president of New York Women in Communications Foundation and has served on the boards of several other nonprofit organizations.

Joan is married to Maj. James F. Cear, USAF, retired, who is an avid aviator; she has amazing twin stepdaughters; two terrific sons-in-law; and four brilliant and well-behaved grandchildren. When she’s not working…well, she’s always working…but when she’s not in the office, you might find her at the helm of her boat, co-piloting an antique N3N open cockpit biplane with hubby, poking around Long Island’s North Fork or well, you never know. 

2016     Art Stevens
2015     Lynn Appelbaum, APR, Fellow PRSA
2014     Deborah Radman
2013     Emmanuel Tchividjian
2012     Barri Rafferty
2011     Karen J. Arthur
2010     Grace T. Leong
2009     Sandra Fathi
2008     Michael P. Rinaldo
2007     Jeanne M. Salvatore
2006     Linda Krebs
2005     Liz Beck
2004     Christopher Guidette
2003     Don Bates

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