V Awards


Join us for the V Awards!

It’s that time of year again! Join us for this year’s V Awards program, which will be held Friday, October 25 at the historic Regas Building in downtown Knoxville. Check-in starts at 8 a.m. and the conference runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The V Awards Ceremony will be held during lunch from 12:45 to 1:30 p.m.

The deadline for purchasing tickets is Monday, October 21. Be sure to share the Facebook event with your friends and colleagues!

And, as always, there will be plenty of opportunities for catching up with friends and colleagues.

Morning sessions will cover everything from personal goal setting to crisis communications to podcasting to the science behind how misinformation spreads on social media. Pick one presentation to attend per session!

8 a.m. – Registration, Breakfast and Networking
9 a.m. – Keynote Address
10 a.m. – Break
10:15 a.m. – Breakout Sessions 1
11:30 a.m. – Break
11:45 a.m. – Breakout Sessions 2
12:45 p.m. – Lunch, V Awards, Best in Show Presentation
1:30 p.m. – Break

Announced Speakers

Aerial Ellis, Principal, Advisory 83; Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, Lipscomb University; author of the book “The Original Millennial: Lessons in Leadership for the Millennial Generation”

Breakout Session 1
10:15 to 11:15 a.m.

Session Title: “Still On the Air and Keeping Local Audiences Informed for the Next 100 Years” by Whit Adamson
Whit will share his experiences from the past 45 years on broadcasting’s personalities, public interests, technical and regulatory considerations from content to audience expectations. Join us to hear about the specialty positions, future needs and the introductions of new technology. Whit has received the industry’s highest honors from the TAB and the Nashville Advertising Federation as well as leading national organizations. He thinks radio and television beats working for a living!

Presenter: Whit Adamson, President, Tennessee Association of Broadcasters
Whit began his career in aviation, serving as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, before joining the advertising team at NBC’s Nashville affiliate WSM(V)-TV in 1972. He has been the president and CEO of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters since 1987. He is a lobbyist and advocate for telecommunication advertising issues in the US Congress, State General Assembly, industry regulatory boards and commissions and the FCC.


Session Title: “Content is King – But What About Podcasting?” by Clark and Hope Buckner
There’s no denying the media landscape is changing, and as PR practitioners, it’s our responsibility to understand it and anticipate where it’s headed. People are consuming media differently in 2019, and traditional news channels – newspapers, magazines and broadcast news – face a new contender: the podcast. Learn how your company, and your clients, can begin to harness the power of this new form of content royalty in a way that is meaningful, intentional and authentic.

Presenter: Clark Buckner, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Relationary Marketing; Digital Assets Project Lead, Nashville Entrepreneur Center
Clark Buckner is a B2B podcaster, content marketer and co-founder and partner of Nashville based podcast production agency Relationary Marketing. He is an active volunteer in Nashville’s tech community with local events and meet-ups. He serves as Podcast Lead at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, home to the EC Podcast Studio.

Presenter: Hope Buckner, Sr Account Executive, DVL Seigenthaler, Nashville
A public relations strategist, women’s advocate, dedicated writer, avid nonprofit supporter, Hope Cooper Buckner is a graduate of Belmont University, with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and education and a master’s of education in nonprofit leadership. She believes in collaboration, communication, mentoring and the power of a strong, well created brand. She is passionate about change and the empowerment of women through the belief in the value of their voices. Above all, she believes in people and their ability to do powerful things.

Breakout Session 2
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Session Title: “Science and Political Disinformation” by Damian Ruck
Disinformation (information designed to deliberately mislead) is divisive and can have corrosive effects on institutional confidence, which leads to political instability and conflict. Though disinformation is not new, the advent of the internet and social media makes it a more potent weapon than ever before. Evidence is mounting that disinformation can influence democratic elections; including Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

The effects of political disinformation are rightly the subject of much research, but the equally negative consequences of science disinformation requires more attention. Divisive science issues, such as climate change and vaccinations, become prime topics for disinformation in the media, which has the secondary effect of diminishing confidence in objective “facts” and the scientific enterprise. It is important for the public to be able to identify purveyors of science disinformation and one way of doing so is measuring the amount of negative sentiment contained in news articles.

Presenter: Damian Ruck, Computational Social Scientist, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Tennessee—Knoxville
Damian is an interdisciplinary post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee. He uses statistics, computational techniques and social science to tackle problems in public health, cultural and socioeconomic development, and online disinformation.

As part of his work looking into the effects of Russian social media disinformation on U.S. public opinion, he was lead author on a peer-reviewed paper in First Monday that was hotly debated in U.S. media outlets, including NBC, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.


Session Title: “Communicating Through Crisis” by Mark Nagi
Earlier this year, East Tennessee saw some of the worst flooding in over a century. In some spots water hit the 500-year flood mark and Knox County estimated the rains caused roughly $43.5 million in damages in Knox County alone. As the Community Relations Officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Mark Nagi was working around the clock to keep the public informed about the dangerous road conditions that were changing every minute. While February was [hopefully] a once-in-a-lifetime event, Mark’s work at TDOT regularly requires him to disseminate important, often lifesaving, information immediately and widely.

Presenter: Mark Nagi, Region 1 Community Relations Officer, Tennessee Department of Transportation
Mark Nagi serves as the Community Relations Officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation in Region 1 (East Tennessee). It’s a position he has held since 2011. Before moving over to TDOT, Mark worked for over 15 years as a sportscaster in Watertown, NY, Myrtle Beach, SC and Knoxville. He holds a B.A. in Communications from SUNY Geneseo and an M.S. in Broadcasting from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Mark lives in Knoxville and is the proud father of daughters Lillian, Emily and a dog named Bailey.

Each year, the Volunteer Chapter recognizes the excellent public relations efforts of our members with the annual Volunteer PR Awards. The awards, judged by other PRSA chapters, go to campaigns, strategies and tactics that exemplify the very best in public relations. Additionally, the V Awards recognize individuals who are making significant contributions to PRSA, the Volunteer Chapter and the public relations profession.


2018 V Awards Winners

Awards of Merit

  • Consolidated Nuclear Services, Simple Acts of Safety Video
  • McGhee Tyson Airport, Aviation Academy
  • McGhee Tyson Airport, From the Runway Up
  • McGhee Tyson Airport, Record Breaking Year Magazine
  • The University of Tennessee, Rokerthon

Awards of Quality

  • Consolidated Nuclear Services, Introduce a Girl to Engineering
  • Helen Ross McNabb Center, 2017 Annual Report
  • McGhee Tyson Airport, Happy 80th Birthday McGhee Tyson Airport

Awards of Excellence

  • McGhee Tyson Airport, Santa’s Sky Lounge
  • Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Website

J. Carroll Bateman Best of Show Award

  • McGhee Tyson Airport, Santa’s Sky Lounge

Individual Awards

Lorna Norwood Excellence in Mentorship

Named in memory of Lorna Norwood, a longtime public relations professional and chapter member who championed mentorship throughout her career, this award recognizes individuals who champion and mentor public relations professionals.

Harvey I. Cobert Award of Excellence

Named in honor Harvey I. Cobert, APR, founding member of the Volunteer Chapter, leading public relations practitioner and early champion of accreditation in public relations, this award recognizes individuals who contribute to the growth of the public relations profession in East Tennessee and of the Chapter.

Gary McCormick Lifetime Achievement Award

Named in honor for Gary McCormick, Volunteer Chapter member and former PRSA National President, this award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the Chapter and the profession over at least 20 years in the public relations profession.

Ellen Liston Rising Young Professional Award

Named in honor of Ellen Liston, APR, a Volunteer Chapter member and distinguished public relations professional, this award recognizes individuals who are members of the Chapter, have demonstrated leadership potential and proven accelerated progression in public relations practice in fewer than five years in the profession.

Community Service Award

This award recognizes individuals or organizations who use public relations practices to improve the quality of life within East Tennessee.

Executive of the Year Award

This award recognizes an executive officer or employer who has shown exceptional support of PRSA and of the public relations profession.


Community Service Award

1989 – Ted Beattie, Penny Beatty, Knoxville Zoo

1990 – Carolyn Krause, Society for Technical Communication

1991 – Patricia Adcock, Richard Ray and Julie Watts, WATTec Sponsors Committee

1992 – Ijams Nature Center

1993 – John Gill, Special Counsel, Chief of Staff – Knox County Attorney General’s Office

1994 – National Foundation to Protect America’s Eagles

1995 – Peter W. Carter, MD, Director of the Local Chapter of the Coalition on Smoking OR Health

1998 – Bill Baxter, CEO Holston Gases

1999 – Steve West, West Chevrolet

2000 – No award given

2001 – Lynne Fugate, Nine Counties. One Vision.

2002 – Ann Yates, Nature’s Pantry

2003 – Pat Bright, Prism Pools

2004 – Larry Fleming, KUB (Presented to wife Linda on his behalf)

2005 – Shoney’s of Knoxville, Inc.

2006 – Bonnie Carroll

2007 – Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

2008 – Julia Pearce, Blount Memorial Hospital

2009 – Tim Williams, 21st Mortgage


2011 – Kevin Painter, LeConte Wealth Management

2012 – No award given

2013 – Tennessee Farm Bureau

2014 – Larsen Jay, Random Acts of Flowers

2015 – No award given

2016 – Helen Ross McNabb Center

2017 – No award given

2018 – No award given

Executive of the Year Award

1982 – Roger F. Hibbs, President, Nuclear division, Union Carbide Corporation

1983 – Randy Tyree, Mayor, City of Knoxville

1984 – Jack E. Reese, Chancellor, UTK

1985 – Darrell Akins, Executive Vice President, Greater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce

1986 – D. M. “Pete” Gossett, Dean, UT Agricultural Experiment Station

1987 – Wayne Heatherly, Administrator and CEO, HCA Park West Medical Center

1988 – No award given

1989 – Mr. Richard Van Sickle, President, Rohm and Haas Tennessee

1990 – Dr. Sherry Hoppe, Roane State Community College

1991 – Dr. Richard I. Ferrin, President, Maryville College

1992 – Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, President, University of Tennessee

1993 – Hatcher Meeks, Carrier Corporation

1994 – Clyde Hopkins, President, Martin Marietta Energy Systems

1995 – Joseph M. Dawson, Administrator, Blount Memorial Hospital

1996 – No award given

1997 – No award given

1998 – No award given

1999 – James A. Haslam, II, Founder, Pilot Corporation

2000 – Gen. Frederick H. Forester

2001 – Gloria Ray, Knoxville Sports Corp.

2002 – Emerson H. “Eli” Fly, Acting President, University of Tennessee

2003 – Barbara Blevins, Peninsula Behavioral Health

2004 – Bruce Hartmann, The Knoxville News Sentinel

2005 – Lucille Griffo, CEO, Girl Scouts of Tanasi Council

2006 – Bruce Pearl, University of Tennessee Men’s Basketball

2007 – Larry J. Frank, Knox Co. Library

2008 – Tom Catani, U.S. Cellular

2009 – Mark Cate, Lawler-Wood

2010 – John Lansing, Scripps Networks

2011 – Ian Anderson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

2012 – No award given

2013 – Dr. Jim McIntyre, Knox County Schools

2014 – Mike McClamroch, East Tennessee Foundation

2015 – Lofton K. Stuart, University of Tennessee Foundation & UT Alumni Association

2016 – Dr. Joe DiPietro, University of Tennessee System

2017 – No award given

2018 – No award given

Gary McCormick Lifetime Achievement Award

1993 – Sammie Lynn Pruett, APR, Fellow PRSA

1994 – Harvey I. Cobert, APR

1995 – Robert L. Wesley

1999 – No award given

2000 – Susan Dimmick

2001 – Sandra Plant, APR

2002 – Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA

2003 – Ann Cryster, APR

2004 – Susan Lauver, APR

2005 – No award given

2006 – Donna Creech, APR

2007 – Susan Barnes, APR, Fellow PRSA

2008 – No award given

2009 – No award given

2010 – No award given

2011 – No award given

2012 – No award given

2013 – Gail Rymer, APR, Fellow PRSA

2014 – No award given

2015 – Don Lindsey

2016 – Cathy Ackermann

2017 – Kelly Fletcher

2018 – Cynthia Moxley

Lorna Norwood Excellence in Mentorship

2016 – Ellie Amador

2017 – Mary Beth West, APR, Fellow PRSA

2018 – Chelsey Riemann, APR

Harvey I. Cobert Award of Excellence

1997 – Cathy Ackermann

1998 – Ann Cryster, APR

1999 – Cynthia Moxley

2000 – Rod Irvin, APR

2001 – Susan Barnes, APR, Fellow PRSA

2002 – Steven L. Wyatt

2003 – Bonnie Reichert, APR, Fellow PRSA

2004 – Alan Carmichael

2005 – Ellen Liston, APR, Fellow PRSA

2006 – Mary Beth West, APR, Fellow PRSA

2007 – Becky Huckaby, APR

2008 – Lorna Norwood, APR

2009 – Cheryl J. Ball, APR

2010 – Barbara Martocci, APR

2011 – Tom Looney, APR

2012 – No award given

2013 – Melissa Ogden

2014 – Megan Brown, APR

2015 – Kristin Alm

2016 – No award given

2017 – No award given

2018 – Heather Beck, APR

Ellen Liston Rising Young Professional Award

2005 – Erin McCarty

2006 – Seth Linkous

2007 – Elle Butler

2008 – Chelsey Riemann, APR

2009 – Sarah Elder

2010 – Mallorie Mendence

2011 – No award given

2012 – Hayley Martin

2013 – Taylor Griffin

2014 – No award given

2015 – Erica Jenkins

2016 – No award given

2017 – Katie Banks

2018 – Caitlin Darras