2016 Hill, Lighthouse and Young Awards highlight region’s best leader, practitioner and mentor in public relations
CLEVELAND, OHIO — September 12, 2016 — The Greater Cleveland Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Cleveland) announced today the honorees for the 2016 Hill, Lighthouse and Young (HLY) Awards, who will be celebrated at the chapter’s annual awards luncheon on Tuesday, October 25, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Doubletree by Hilton (1111 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44114).
Annually, the HLY awards recognize Northeast Ohio’s best leader, practitioner and mentor for their commitment to and support of the public relations profession. Award winners demonstrate leadership in the public relations field and contribute to advancing the profession in the region. The recipients of this year’s awards are as follows:
The John W. Hill Memorial Award: Dr. Alex Johnson, president, Cuyahoga Community College. The John W. Hill Memorial Award honors Cleveland-area chief executives who demonstrate a keen appreciation of the importance of public relations over the course of their careers.
As president of Cuyahoga Community College, Dr. Alex Johnson focuses on strengthening the college’s 50-year mission of providing high-quality, accessible and affordable educational opportunities and services. Since becoming president in July 2013, he has promoted access, equity, success and completion for the nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students who attend Tri-C’s four campuses and other locations throughout Cleveland and its suburbs each year. Dr. Johnson currently serves locally on the boards of the United Way of Greater Cleveland, Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, IdeaStream, Playhouse Square, MAGNET, Team NEO and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
The Lighthouse Award: Wayne Hill, APR, associate vice president and chief communications & marketing officer, University of Akron. The Lighthouse Award honors senior public relations professionals for their career accomplishments.
Wayne Hill oversees media relations, marketing and advertising, publications, and internal and digital communications as associate vice president and chief communications & marketing officer in the Department of University Communications and Marketing at the University of Akron. Prior to joining the university in 2011, he spent 21 years with Edward Howard, one of the region’s leading public relations firms, serving as president from 2001 to the firm’s sale to Fahlgren Mortine in 2010. Prior to Edward Howard, Hill served as communications director for the Ohio Attorney General and the Ohio Secretary of State and as news director for WBGU-TV in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Hill has long been active in a variety of community and nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. He is immediate past chair of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank Board of Directors, former chair of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission Board and a former member of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission Executive Committee. Currently, he serves on the executive committee for the Downtown Akron Partnership, representing UA. He is a graduate of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2003, and is a graduate of Hiram College.
Davis Young Award for Exceptional Mentors: Gary Klasen, vice president, Corporate Communications, Eaton. The Davis Young Award for Exceptional Mentors is given to a professional who excels in mentoring students and young professionals through hands-on instruction and support.
Gary Klasen is vice president of corporate communications at Eaton, a global $20.9 billion power management company in the electrical, aerospace, hydraulics and vehicle markets. He is responsible for global internal and external strategies involving corporate messaging, strategic and day-to-day media issues, internal communications and public relations programs as well as crisis and media training. He joined Eaton in 2002 and was previously with TRW from 1991 to 2001 as a communications director in Cleveland, then Detroit with internal, external, marketing and philanthropic responsibilities. He previously worked for Sears in Chicago as the director of internal communications, also serving as the speechwriter for the CEO and senior executives. He started as a journalist in suburban Chicago, first covering news and sports for the west suburban Press Publications newspaper chain and then with the Chicago Sun-Times and Suburban Sun-Times. He majored in journalism at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. In 2011, he received a master’s degree in strategic public relations from George Washington University’s graduate school of political management.