MinnSPRA awards the following recognitions at its Spring Conference:

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

New Professional Award

The New Professional Award recognizes promising school communications professionals.

The scholarship awards up to $1,500 to be used for the registration fee and related expenses to attend the annual NSPRA Seminar from July 16-19, at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. 

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:

  • Have worked in the field of school public relations for less than three years; 
  • Will be able to attend the NSPRA seminar (knowing that this scholarship does not cover 100% of expenses);
  • 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. 2023 nominations are due by March 10, 2023 using this nomination form

Recent past winners:

  • 2022: Grace Becker, Eden Prairie Schools
  • 2021: John Casper, Winona Area Public Schools
  • 2021: Jennifer Bock, SouthWest Metro Intermediate District 288
  • 2019: Mary Cornelius, Minnetonka Public Schools

Champion for Communications Award

The Champion for Communications Award 2023 (formerly the District Leadership in Communications Award) recognizes an educational leader for outstanding support for school public relations and communications. The award highlights the importance of a leader’s role in implementing and supporting an effective communications program. 2023 nominations are due by March 10, 2023 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:

  • 2023: Jenna Mead, Kraus-Anderson
  • 2022: Coley Fehringer, CESO
  • 2021: Lyssa Campbell, APR, Orono Schools
  • 2019: Amy Trombley, United Way of Central Minnesota
  • 2018: Syreeta Wilkins, 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:

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

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.