Awards


MinnSPRA awards the following recognitions at its Spring Conference:

  • New Professional Award
  • Presidents Award
  • Dawn K. McDowell Award (awarded in even years)

New Professional Award

The New Professional Award recognizes promising school communications professionals.

Since MinnSPRA was unable to award this scholarship in 2020, two scholarships are available in 2021. The scholarships award up to $1,500 to be used for the registration fee and related expenses to attend the annual NSPRA Seminar from July 11-14, 2021, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. The award recipients will also be registered for the New Professionals Program. Award applicants must attend this program which will be offered virtually separately from the seminar.

Nominations for this award may be submitted by either MinnSPRA members or school leaders who support/supervise the work of the nominee.

Criteria for the award will include consideration of the following:

  • Demonstrate contributions to the organization;
  • Possesses skills and abilities to support them as strong members of the organization;
  • Demonstrates understanding of quality communications program;
  • Have worked in the field of school public relations for less than three years;
  • Have not previously attended an NSPRA Seminar and able to attend seminar in July; and
  • MinnSPRA member in good standing.

Nominations for this award may be submitted by either MinnSPRA members or school leaders who support/supervise the work of the nominee. 2021 nominations are due by March 12, 2021 using this nomination form

Past winners:

  • 2017: Ariana Babcock, communications specialist for White Bear Lake Area Schools; and Shawna Carpentier, communications coordinator for Cambridge-Isanti Schools
  • 2016: Megan Seeman, video and communications specialist for South Washington County Schools

2021 District Leadership in Communication Award

The District Leadership in Communications Award recognizes an educational leader for outstanding leadership in school public relations and communications. The award highlights the importance of a leader’s role in implementing and supporting an effective communications program. 2021 nominations are due by March 12, 2021 click here for more information and nomination form.

Presidents Award

The Presidents Award is awarded at the discretion of the MinnSPRA President to an individual who has provided special service or support to the President, the Board or the organization.

Past winners:

  • 2018: Syreeta Wilkins Oleksowicz, Northeast Metro 916
  • 2017: Ann Kvaal, CAE, owner, AK Communications
  • 2016: Andrew Hagen, communications specialist for the Wayzata Public Schools.

Dawn K. McDowell Award



Dawn Kay McDowell, APR, was a respected NSPRA member and past NSPRA President who passed away from cancer in January 2006 at the age of 50. Known as a consummate public relations professional who was dedicated to improving communication in public schools, Dawn served as communications coordinator in school systems in Minnesota before moving to Toronto, Canada, where she transitioned into corporate public relations, eventually serving as executive vice president and managing director of GPC International. She was a loyal colleague, friend and mentor to many MinnSPRA and NSPRA members and remained an active and supportive member of NSPRA throughout her career.

This award is given based on the advice of a panel of former Dawn K McDowell award winners during even years. It is the highest honor given by MinnSPRA for a school PR professional who advocates for strategic communication, mentors and counsels others, advances the practice of school PR and places a high value on collegial and professional relationships. In honor of the Dawn K. McDowell Award recipient, MinnSPRA also makes a $250 contribution to the NSPRA Dawn K. McDowell Award Scholarship.

Past winners:

  • Susan Brott, APR
  • Rick Kaufman, APR
  • Judi Mollerus
  • Linda Swanson
  • Nancy Kracke
  • Bob Noyed, APR
  • Mary Olson, APR
  • Janet Swiecichowski, APR
  • Barb Nicol, APR

View the People Award Winners from 2014.

MinnSPRA continues work to improve the annual Star Awards. Please check back to this page in the future and watch for updates in the monthly MinnSPRA President’s e-Newsletters.