PRSA Chicago 2011 Skyline Awards Gala
Join PRSA Chicago on May 25 for the annual Skyline Awards, honoring the best communications practitioners, campaigns and tactics in the Chicagoland area. Special awards will be given out, including the Public Relations Professional of the Year, presented to David Axelrod!
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The 2011 PRSA Chicago Skyline Awards Gala winners’ list is one of the most impressive to date!
The Skyline Awards honor the best communications practitioners, campaigns and tactics in the Chicagoland area. But they’re about more than awards! It’s also a chance to catch up with industry friends, make new contacts and hear about best practices and great work from which to learn. And don’t forget to check out the list of silent auction items, benefitting PRSSA students.
When: Wednesday, May 25 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
6-7 p.m. Cocktail Hour and Silent Auction
Proceeds support the PRSA Chicago Scholarship Fund
7-9 p.m. Dinner and Awards
Where: Hilton Chicago, Continental Ballroom
720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago
Each year PRSA Chicago selects a Public Relations Professional of the Year, an Executive of the Year and a Young Public Relations Professional of the Year to honor at the 2011 Skylines Awards celebration. This year PRSA Chicago has selected David Axelrod, Founder, Axelrod Strategies, as Public Relations Professional of the Year, Maria Wynne, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, as Executive of the Year and Rachel Gerds, Communications Manager for Harris Bank, as Young Public Relations Professional of the Year.
David Axelrod, Founder, Axelrod Strategies
During his time at the White House, Axelrod was the Administration’s most frequent presence on the influential Sunday talk shows including NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union. He also appeared several times on The Tonight Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Late Show with David Letterman just to name a few.
Since 1988, Axelrod has been senior partner at the consulting firm AKP&D Message and Media, based in Chicago. In that capacity, he managed media strategy and communications for more than 150 local, state and national campaigns, with a focus on progressive candidates and causes.
In 2006, Axelrod ran the independent expenditure media program for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, helping Democrats regain the majority in the House of Representatives. That same year, Axelrod served as media adviser to Deval Patrick, who was elected Massachusetts’s first Democratic governor in 16 years and the state’s first–‐ever African American governor. In 2004, when President Obama was a member of the Illinois State Senate, Axelrod helped him defeat a primary field of six other Democrats and go on to a landslide win in his U.S. Senate campaign.
Before entering politics in 1984, Axelrod spent eight years as a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, where he covered national, state and local politics. In 1981, he became the youngest political writer and columnist in the paper’s history. He also served as the Tribune’s City Hall bureau chief.
Active in charitable work in Chicago, Axelrod has supported Special Olympics and Misericordia. In 1998, he and his wife, Susan, helped found Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), which has raised over $15 million so far for scientists searching for a cure.
Axelrod was born in New York City on February 22, 1955, and graduated from Stuyvesant High School and the University of Chicago. He served as an Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and has lectured on political media at Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. He is married to Susan Landau and has three children, Lauren, Michael and Ethan.
Maria Wynne, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
Maria Wynne is Chief Executive Officer for Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the premier leadership development program for girls ages five through 17. As CEO of the nation’s largest Girl Scout council, Ms. Wynne leverages resources to ensure the delivery of award-winning program and engagement opportunities to nearly 86,000 girls and 23,000 volunteers across six Illinois counties and four Indiana counties.
A successful executive with some of America’s leading technology brands, Microsoft and Xerox, Ms, Wynne was appointed in October 2008, to lead the merger of seven independent Girl Scout corporations, the largest merger in the country, into one. Ms. Wynne oversees all council operations with the goal of making the Girl Scout Leadership Experience accessible to all girls across 245 communities. She is focused on expanding learning and leadership opportunities for girls, as well as creating an experiential environment that will prepare girls and young women to become well-equipped 21st Century global citizens and workers.
Under Ms. Wynne’s leadership, the recently-merged council experienced an increase in girl members, and launched a new staffing structure, a new delegate system, and a restructured service delivery system. Within just two years of Ms. Wynne’s direction, this new way of doing business has been acknowledged and the organization awarded with the inaugural ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award, the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago’s Highly Innovative Project Award for GirlSpace, the Community Memorial Foundation Achievement Award, and the Woman Road Warrior – Future Division Award.
Most recently, Ms. Wynne has been named Chicago Executive of the Year 2011 by the Public Relations Society of America. She has also been awarded a scholarship by the Harvard Business School to the Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management Executive program. Ms. Wynne will be spotlighted by Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine as one of the “100 Women Making a Difference” in July 2011.
Ms. Wynne’s community involvement includes serving on the board of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the Board of Trustees of North Central College, the Donors Forum, and as an advisory board member for the Chicago Innovation Awards and the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Network, The Chicago Club, and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Prior to joining the Girl Scouts, Ms. Wynne was senior director for the Office of Citizenship and Innovation for the U.S. Public Sector for Microsoft Corporation. Her successes include accomplishments in executive leadership in technology, sales, marketing, business development and operations management for technology leaders Xerox, Microsoft, Ameritech (now AT&T), and Moore Corporation (now RR Donnelley).
Ms. Wynne earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, and her Master of Business Administration from Northern Illinois University. She continued her executive development through the Center for Creative Leadership and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Rachel Gerds, Communications Manager for Harris Bank
Rachel Gerds serves as Communications Manager for Harris Bank, a Chicago-based integrated financial services organization that operates primarily in the Midwest and provides banking, lending, investing and wealth management products and services to nearly 1.3 million personal, commercial and private banking clients. Her responsibilities include leading all internal and external communications and public relations efforts for Harris’ retail bank with more than $40 billion in assets and nearly 7,000 employees. She is also accountable for all communications supporting the bank’s Community Affairs, Economic Development, Human Resources, and Marketing departments. Since joining Harris in September 2009, Rachel has played a key role in developing and executing communications for important business initiatives, including Harris’ $2.5 billion FDIC-assisted acquisition of AMCORE Bank.
Prior to joining Harris, Rachel served as Communications Consultant for ComEd, a division of Exelon and one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities. As a member of ComEd’s Corporate Communications team, Rachel was charged with counselling senior management on messages and programs to support and promote business goals to media, customers, employees, elected officials, regulators and community opinion makers for a company operating under intense media and political scrutiny. She led communications for the company’s award-winning, multi-million dollar corporate citizenship portfolio. This included managing ComEd’s presenting sponsorship of Earth Hour 2009, resulting in more than 100 media hits and 9 million impressions. Rachel is credited with helping launch the region’s first-ever public-private green affordable housing partnership, generating strong media coverage and creating a new platform for company’s green agenda. She joined ComEd in June 2008.
Rachel earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Alma College, where she was a member of the school’s championship Model United Nations team, President’s Diversity Advisory Council, and the international English honorary society Sigma Tau Delta. Currently, Rachel is an Associate Board Member of City Year Chicago, and is assisting the National Museum of Mexican Art in developing their first-ever Case for Support.
Thank you to our 2011 Skyline sponsor: Synaptic Digital