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Best PR professionals and community members to be honored at annual Silver Spike Awards


The Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America announces its outstanding northern Nevada professionals for the past year and will formally recognize these individuals, as well as the best local public relations/communications programs and tactics, at the 28th Annual Silver Spike Awards Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Atlantis Casino Resort in Reno.

“Our chapter has so much to celebrate in our 28th year, and these honorees are all excellent examples of the great work happening every day in our community,” said Anne McMillin, APR, 2014 PRSA Sierra Nevada president. “The professionalism and excellence in communication that each recipient conveys is worthy of recognition.” McMillin is also the public relations manager for the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

Chapter member and incoming Chapter President Alison Gaulden will also be honored with a brief pinning ceremony for becoming Accredited in Public Relations (APR). Gaulden is receiving this credential after a successful application, rigorous study period and passing test. She has proved that she successfully demonstrates competency in the knowledge, skills and abilities required to practice public relations effectively in today’s business arena.

Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with networking, cocktails and a silent auction, followed by dinner and the program around 6:30 p.m. This year’s ceremony will recognize many Award of Excellence winners as well as 10 Silver Spike winners. Silver Spikes are awarded to the highest scoring entry per category, deemed a model for the profession. This year, the Sierra Nevada Chapter partnered with the North Carolina Chapter of PRSA. Members in Raleigh chose the winners based on judging criteria provided by the Sierra Nevada Chapter. Individual award winners, listed below, were selected by a committee of local chapter members and community members.

Limited tickets are still available. Go to www.prsareno.org for more information, or contact Amanda Horn at [email protected], 775-636-2567.

2014 Individual Award Recipients

Faye Andersen, APR, is the northern communications manager for NV Energy, and will be recognized with the chapter’s second Lifetime Achievement Award. Andersen joined as an intern for Sierra Pacific Power Company in 1978 and has been with the company ever since. Because of her knowledge of public relations and her keen understanding of utility issues, she’s long been a trusted advisor to the company’s management on public relations matters and served well as the company’s spokesperson in northern Nevada. She has been an active member of the Truckee Meadows Chapter of Soroptimist International for many years. She has spent countless hours volunteering her time and talents to the organization, and takes particular pride in the chapter’s scholarship program and its Nepal Project. She has held a variety of officer’s positions with the chapter, including President, and she was elected to serve as Governor of the organization’s Sierra Nevada Region, which includes 60 clubs in Nevada and northern California. For many years, Andersen volunteered her time to the Committee to Aid Abused Women. In 1986, CAAW chose Andersen as the recipient of the organization’s Hannah Humanitarian Award. Faye has also been an active supporter of local artists through her involvement with the Artists Co-op Gallery, where local artists can display and sell their original artwork. During her time with NV Energy, Andersen has donated her skills and time to a variety of projects, including United Way, local park cleanup efforts and numerous other volunteer efforts led by her company. She’s been an active member of PRSA for many years, volunteering her time to serve on the board in various roles. In particular, she’s been an advisor on public relations ethics and helped prepare other members for public relations accreditation. Andersen has already received the chapter’s Mark Curtis Sr., Gold Spike and Hall of Fame Awards.

Christel Hall, APR, is a public relations associate at Blue Cap Productions and owner-operator of PRowrite Public Relations in Minden, a company she’s owned for more than 25 years. Her experience also includes corporate marketing communications, vice president of PR on the agency side and several years as an independent consultant and writer. From her first position as an account executive and copywriter for the Los Angeles-based divisions of Xerox Corporation in 1984 to today, Hall is a proven PR professional and most worthy of receiving the Public Relations Hall of Fame Award. She has spent a lifetime cultivating the skills inherent to this profession and has done an outstanding job as a proponent of its ethical, necessary practices. She truly enjoys writing about inbound marketing and PR content for the web, blogs, social media, online publications or traditional media. She is also committed to lifelong learning about new trends, tactics and strategies for the PR community and is a longtime B2B writer/consultant/editor

Michael Moreno, public affairs administrator for the Regional Transportation Commission, is honored with the Mark Curtis Sr., Professional of the Year Award. Prior to RTC, Moreno was the local chief of staff for former U.S. Senator Richard H. Bryan, managing the Senator’s northern Nevada state office in Reno. Before joining the Senator’s staff, he accomplished a 20-year banking career with Wells Fargo Bank as vice president in the northern Nevada retail division. Moreno has served on many local and national boards during his tenure and has chaired numerous committees. Throughout his career in both the public and private sectors, Moreno has demonstrated commitment and excellence in the overall development and stature of the communications and public relations industry.

Sister Claire Sokol, a Reno Camelite Nun, is receiving the Mark Twain Community Service Award in recognition of her role as the spokesperson for the Discalced Carmelite Family of the Western United States. Sokol not only took on the task of composing two virtual choirs in commemoration of the 500th year since the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila, the founder of the Discalced Carmelite Order, but she produced and recorded the commemorative CD and is now narrating a 30-minute documentary with KNPB Public Broadcasting about the year of celebration. Sokol was interviewed and featured by numerous media outlets. Sokol has countless more community contributions. She has dedicated her life to God and spirituality and is embracing modern technology as a means of spreading peace to people throughout our community and the world.

Jill Stockton, communications specialist for the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, is being presented the Gold Spike Community Excellence Award, recognizing a communications or public relations professional who uses professional skills in public service activities, providing a positive service to the social and economic well-being of the community over time. Stockton is a public relations professional with 12 years of diverse experience. She has worked as a communications director for the University of Nevada, Reno, the communications manager for the RSCVA, and as the senior account executive for a PR and public affairs agency in Reno. In her short time at the Reynolds School, she has overseen the redesign of the school’s website and successfully launched the site. She helped the school execute its very first online campaign on Google and Facebook promoting the graduate program. She developed the school’s social media strategy and has grown likes and engagement among the school’s key audiences. Additionally, she’s increased the school’s media coverage in a variety of local, regional and national outlets all while elevating the profile of the dean of the school and highlighting the innovative high-tech, high touch curriculum of the program. She is a member of the Holland Project advisory board, the High Fives Foundation advisory board, the American Marketing Association advisory board and is a past President of the Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA.

Sarah Polito, communications specialist for Waste Management of Nevada, will receive the Outstanding New Practitioner Award, which recognizes someone who has been working in the profession for less than five years and has not only demonstrated a high-level of commitment to the profession and the chapter, but a sincere desire toward making our community a better place to live. In addition to serving as the Waste Management spokesperson, Polito was the lead on the Reno single-stream recycling program rollout to more than 65,000 customers, a program that helped advance the growing sustainability movement in the region. In addition, she volunteers as the College District Director for Kappa Alpha Theta (West Coast), where she coordinates chapter operations, ensuring policies and procedures are upheld, and assists in the development of policies for the organization. She is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno and won the University’s 2013 Greek Advisor of the Year award. Polito is primed to make significant contributions to the PR field and her chosen industry as she grows in experience.


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