Meet the PRWeek Hall of Fame 2015 honorees

The third group of inductees to the PRWeek Hall of Fame was honored at a dinner in New York City on December 7.

NEW YORK: The 2015 honorees that were inducted into PRWeek’s Hall of Fame are Mike Fernandez, David Finn, Joele Frank, Ginger Hardage, Betsy Plank, and Gary Sheffer.

PRWeek set up the Hall of Fame in 2013 to recognize those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to communications. The inaugural honorees were Harold Burson, Al Golin, Charlotte Otto, D'Arcy Rudnay, Jon Iwata, Marilyn Laurie, and Marcia Silverman. Last year, PRWeek inducted Ofield Dukes, Dan Edelman, Margery Kraus, Marina Maher, and Bill Nielsen.

The individuals honored are chosen based on their achievements in the following areas: outstanding contribution to the development of the communications industry and the establishment of the PR profession; significant impact on the PR field beyond their organization; recruiting and mentoring a generation of comms professionals; contributing thought leadership that shaped the profession or redefined the field; and leadership of the organizations that unify and drive the profession's development.

Mike Fernandez leads Cargill’s global corporate affairs activities, including government relations, global issues management, corporate communications, brand and marketing services, and corporate social responsibility – he is also a member of the company’s Corporate Center. Before joining Cargill in 2010, Fernandez served as CCO of four Fortune 500 companies: State Farm, ConAgra Foods, Cigna, and US West.

David Finn is one of the pioneers of the PR industry, having founded his eponymous Ruder Finn agency in 1948 with business partner Bill Ruder. Along with Harold Burson, Daniel Edelman, and Al Golin, Finn helped establish the model for the modern PR agency. Finn has also had an outstanding career as a widely published and exhibited artist, writer, and photographer.

Joele Frank is founder and managing partner of Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher. Founded in 2000, the firm has ranked number 1 in M&A since 2013. For more than 25 years, Frank has counseled executive teams and boards of directors as they manage some of the most complex and delicate situations in their companies’ history, playing a major role in more than 1,000 special situations.

Southwest Airlines’ SVP of culture & communications Ginger Hardage oversees the activities that nourish the unique culture at Southwest Airlines and the internal and external communications function for the largest domestic airline, ranked by most customers carried. She is a member of various executive committees at Southwest and leads its "Best Place to Work" initiatives. Hardage is an avid public speaker at universities and organizations ranging from Google to Princeton University on topics related to "Building a Brand from the Inside Out."

Gary Sheffer recently stepped down after 12 years leading communications at GE, culminating in his role as VP of corporate communications & public affairs. He is currently serving as a VP of strategic communications and will retire from the company at the end of 2015. While at GE, he oversaw external and internal communications and provided strategic communications advice to GE CEO Jeff Immelt and other executives on a full range of corporate reputation issues.

Betsy Plank was a PR pioneer, champion of PR education, and the First Lady of public relations. She achieved expert stature in positions not reached by previous women in the profession, attaining national and international stature during a distinguished career as an EVP at Daniel J. Edelman, before becoming director of PR planning at AT&T and, later, director of external affairs at Illinois Bell. She was chair of the Plank Center’s advisory board until her death in 2010.

The third group of inductees were recognized at a celebratory dinner held in New York City on the evening of Monday, December 7.

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