The Champions for PRSSA was founded in 1981. Back then we were known as the Friends of PRSSA. Although the name has changed, our purpose has not—to bring together those who have special, ongoing interest in PRSSA, its student members and public relations education.
1971 PRSA President Jon Riffel and 1973 PRSA President Betsy Plank, along with PRSSA VP of Education, Dr. F.H. “Chris” Teahan create “Friends of PRSSA” in 1981 – Primary purpose to identify, for current PRSSA leaders, those professional who were enthusiastic about PRSSA but were mostly unknown to contemporary students. Friends are asked to contribute $33 to match the PRSSA annual dues.
Program administered by Betsy Plank’s department at Illinois Bell – publishing a newsletter (3x times annually) Art Merrick, a past PRSSA Chapter President, and Kathleen Ziprik, 1980-1981 PRSSA President, are named as co-chairs to serve alongside Betsy Plank and Jon Riffel.
Judith Bogart, 1983 PRSA President replaces Jon Riffel as co-chair of Champions for PRSSA
Chris Teahan produces the first two decades History of PRSSA.
PRSA Foundation ceased funding annual PRSSA scholarships — Friends of PRSSA picks up as an annual project.
“Friends” become “Champions” — Betsy retires from Illinois Bell and PRSA takes over administrative support of the Champions for PRSSA and PRSA Foundation agrees to become custodian of annual fees and contributions, making them tax deductible for donors.
PRSSA National Committee develops Cross Country Connections program to better network students with Champions
Gary McCormick, 2002 PRSSA Professional Adviser of the Year, replaces Art Merrick, as co-chair of Champions.
PRSA Foundation establishes its first scholarship endowment program, Betsy Plank Endowment, to ensure that the legacy of the Champions continues to honor the Godmother of PRSSA. Champions commit to continue to fund additional needs for scholarship awards not met by earnings from the endowment. Kent Landers, 1998-1999 PRSSA President, replaces Kathleen Ziprik as co-chair.
For 20th Anniversary of PRSSA - Champions produces “Legacies from Legends in Public Relations” and an updated “A Brief History of PRSSA,” with the second two decades. The first Legends panel takes place at the PRSSA National Conference in Philadelphia featuring Judith Bogart Meredith, Ron Culp, Ofield Dukes, and Gary McCormick.
Kevin Saghy, 2006-2007 PRSSA President, replaces Kent Landers as co-chair
Mary Beth West and Rochelle Ford, former PRSSA National Committee members and Professional Advisers to PRSSA, are named as co-chairs to replace Betsy Plank and Judith Bogart Meredith
Kent Landers returns as co-chair, replacing Kevin Saghy. Champions of PRSSA recognizes inaugural Lifetime Champions to honor their long support to Betsy Plank and her passion for the students - b j Altschul, Walter Bateman, Judith Bogart Meredith, Glen Broom, Harold Burson, Jerry Dalton, Bill Doescher, Joe Epley, Tom Gable, Thomas Hoog, Anne Klein, Larry Litwin, Pender McCarter, Luis Morales, John Paluszek, Dwayne Summar, and Joe Vecchione.
Susan Gonders named Lifetime Champion of PRSSA for her support of public relations education through the Certification in Public Relations for Education.
Brian Price, 2013-2014 PRSSA President replaces Kent Lander as co-chair. Champions Increases Betsy Plank scholarships to largest single scholarship awarded by PRSA Foundation. Judith Phair and Roland King named Lifetime Champions of PRSSA.
Kathleen Ziprik, former PRSSA President and co-chair of Champions and Debbie Mason named Lifetime Champions of PRSSA
Supporting the Future of the Profession