PRSA Suburban Chicago Proudly Supports the Champions for PRSSA

– Chris Orris

At our last meeting, our chapter board voted to make a $50 donation to the Champions for PRSSA and officially presented the donation at the Assembly delegate lunch meeting at the PRSA National Conference this year.

Betsy Plank, Founder of Champions for PRSSA

The Champions for PRSSA was founded in 1981 by Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA. Formerly called Friends of PRSSA, the organization brings together those who have special, ongoing interest in PRSSA, its student members and public relations education as a whole.  The donation will be going toward student scholarships such as the Teahan awards for PRSSA chapter accomplishments and the Altschul Outstanding Internship award.

As a champion, our chapter has joined individual practitioners, educations, companies, agencies and other organizations as listed in the Champions Directory. Beyond knowing that our chapter has helped the PR pros of tomorrow along their journey into our own world, our chapter will now have access to the Champions newsletter, PRSSA’s quarterly FORUM publication and is invited to a reception at the PRSA International Conference where Champions can meet with the leaders of PRSSA.

Betsy herself was an avid supporter of public relations education, and it was to the end of helping students that Betsy established the Champions as a means of giving aid to PRSSA, an organization she helped establish years prior.

On May 23 of last year, Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA and a treasure of the profession, passed away, leaving behind a legacy of passion and commitment.

What the communications profession meant to Betsy was clear in the level of her involvement. To name just a few of Betsy’s accomplishments, she was the first woman to head a division at what became Ameritech, the first female president of PRSA, the recipient of a Golden Anvil, the Paul M. Lund Public Service Award, a Patrick Jackson award, and the recipient of a Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthur W. Page Society. Her numerous roles and contributions earned Betsy the affectionate nickname of the “First Lady of Public Relations.”

But as anyone who knew her will tell you, her numerous awards don’t begin to tell Betsy’s story. Striking was the enthusiasm she had for every aspect of her involvement. She was a steadfast supporter of public relations education, having served on accreditation boards for PR programs at many universities and being a founding mother, if you will, of the student-focused PRSSA.

Chapter president Debra Bethard-Caplick vividly remembers her first meeting with Betsy, when as a student atIllinoisStateUniversity, she won second place in the PRSSA L.L.L. Golden National Writing Competition – and was presented with her plaque by Betsy. “She was this famous figure within PRSA, yet she was so easy to talk to, and took such a genuine interest in all of us,” Debra remembers. “A decade later, in 2002, when Betsy came to the chapter’s 10th anniversary party, she still remembered me. That’s how important students were to her. She kept track of us throughout our careers. If I can be half the human being and public relations professional she was, it will be a major accomplishment.”

But our chapter’s status as a champion doesn’t mean you yourself can’t be one, too! Chapter President Debra Bethard-Caplick has been a Champion herself for years before the vote was made to donate as a chapter, in no small part from having the chance to meet Betsy. As such, she advocates our members being Champions on their own. As a Champion, you will be a part of the organization is every way the chapter now is, but on a personal level. For an annual tax-deductible membership fee of $50 a year, you can join the ranks of student-supporting professionals in every way as mentioned above. You can join by downloading an enrollment form here and sending it to PRSSA Headquarters.


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