Mary Beth West, APR, principal, Mary Beth West Consulting, LLC., was selected as the recipient of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2010 David Ferguson Award, which was presented at the PRSA Educators Academy reception held during the PRSA 2010 International Conference in Washington, D.C. The David Ferguson Award recognizes outstanding contributions to public relations education by a practitioner.
“Public relations generates success for businesses and organizations throughout our society, and PRSA’s Educators Academy contributes to the profession’s greatest potential by driving academic research, professional standards and the qualifications of future professionals,” said West in accepting the award. “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by these educators whose work I value and respect.”
West’s 16-year career in public relations includes a range of posts in the agency, corporate and banking sectors. For seven years, she has managed a public relations consulting firm in Maryville, Tenn.
“The Ferguson Award gives us an opportunity to again honor David Ferguson who truly believed in and supported public relations education,” said PRSA Educators Academy Chair Terri Lynn Johnson, ABC, APR. “We honor him by honoring another PRSA member, Mary Beth West, who also thinks as he did. West has been an outstanding contributor to PRSA and to public relations education. She was nominated by Betsy Plank, who described her as ‘one of the best.’"
West’s involvement with PRSA and its student organization, PRSSA, has extended over two decades. She served as national public relations director for PRSSA while a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UT), where she was honored as the public relations student of the year in 1994, and received the UT Chancellor’s Citation for Leadership and Service.
Her early Chapter leadership roles in PRSA included serving as educational liaison to several Tennessee-based PRSSA Chapters. She went on to serve in board leadership positions with the Nashville and Volunteer Chapters of PRSA and, later, served on the national board of PRSA, and led the Society’s National Advocacy Advisory Board.
West worked again with PRSSA as national professional adviser this past decade, during which time she co-founded, alongside Gail Liebl, APR, the PRSA New Professionals Group, now one of the largest Professional Interest Sections in the Society, and helps transition PRSSA students to PRSA associate membership and active career involvement.
On a local level, West serves on the UT College of Communication & Information board of visitors. Her firm has sponsored more than $25,000 in local and national scholarships and academic program support, student attendance to PRSSA National Conferences and more than a dozen paid internships for PRSSA students. A career-long member of the Champions for PRSSA and a contributor to the Betsy Plank Endowment, West was the founding donor of the Travis Parman Public Relations Scholarship and the Dwayne Summar Essay Contest at the University of Tennessee, in honor of two close friends and mentors in the profession who are alumni of UT.