2020 Special Award Winners

    2020 Special Award Winners

    2020 Chapter Service

    Liz Kamper  Liz Kamper | Corporate Communication Specialist, CBRE

    Liz Kamper assists with media relations, social media and internal communications at CBRE. Prior to starting her career in PR, she spent several years instructing college journalism students in writing, reporting, interviewing and ethics. Liz has been chair of the Chapter's Communication Committee since the beginning of 2019 and spent the year prior as the Chapter Editor. Liz earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Master of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Wyoming. Her master's thesis studied how brands are framed by the media (in newspapers) during times of crisis.

    2020 Mentor of the year

      Michelle Baum, APR | Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver

    Michelle Baum’s 20+ year career in PR reflects her ability to develop and execute strategic communication initiatives that amplify clients’ brands and help them capture greater market share. She shares this knowledge with the next generation of PR professionals as an associate professor of PR in the Journalism and Media Production Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

    In this role, she established the first PRSSA chapter at MSU Denver. She also instituted the first Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region. She is currently working with her colleagues at MSU Denver to offer a Strategic Communication Certificate Program for students and industry professionals. In addition to teaching, advising, and conducting research, she serves as a faulty associate for Academic Affairs, and she is the president of the Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication.

    Additionally, Michelle serves as CEO of Moxie + Mettle, a communications firm she co-founded with three Colorado-based PR powerhouses. Prior to that, Michelle operated an independent consultancy for 11 years. Before launching the entrepreneurial chapter of her career, Michelle was the director of corporate communications for Carrier Access, a tech company based in Boulder, where she was responsible for marketing communications, PR and investor relations.

    Before that, Michelle was the managing director of a Boston-based PR firm., and the PR manager of a Siemens-owned tech startup where she directed communication initiatives and managed five PR agencies in the U.S. and Asia Pacific region. Michelle began her career on the agency-side working for three Boston-based PR firms.

    Michelle graduated from the University of Iowa with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science, and she earned a master’s degree in education from Regis University. She served as a board member for the Colorado chapter of the American Marketing Association for two years and the Colorado chapter of PRSA for two years. She earned accreditation in PR from PRSA in 2018. 

    Michelle lives in Denver with her husband, two children and two dogs.

    2020 Rookie of the Year

    Bailey Gannett  Bailey Gannett | Senior Communications Specialist, One Earth Future

    Bailey Gannett is an energetic and passionate outdoor enthusiast with driven tenacity to create storytelling and branding that impacts the world around her. She believes in the power of storytelling to cultivate a culture of positivity and relevance. Currently, she is a Senior Communications Specialist at a nonprofit called One Earth Future, focused on peacekeeping through governance. Previously, Bailey was communications specialist for Cherwell Software, specializing in social media, corporate employee communications, and Corporate Social Responsibility. Bailey graduated in 2018 from the University of Colorado Boulder, accomplishing six internships, three on-campus jobs, and proudly served her PRSSA chapter at CU as president. Outside of work, Bailey is also the PRSA Colorado Student Outreach Chair and a Co-Chair of their New Professionals Group. Additionally, she serves as a mentor at Minds Matter, partnering with a high school student for the next three years to help them be as successful as possible. She loves spending time hiking in the mountains with family and friends. 

    2020 Lifetime Achievement

    Jon Pushkin  Jon Pushkin, APR | Founder/President, Pushkin Public Relations 

    Jon Pushkin, APR, is the founder and president of Pushkin Public Relations. His candid, proactive approach to public relations has made him one of Denver’s most widely respected PR practitioners. Jon is a past chair of PRSA’s Independent Practitioner’s Alliance and a past president of the Colorado Chapter of PRSA.  

    Jon didn’t take the typical professional route to a career in public relations. He learned by doing, working as a musician and concert promoter at the legendary Denver Folklore Center, for the Denver Zephyrs baseball team, and doing PR for several nonprofits that had missions he respected. Early on, he realized the merit of being nimble and how working with a shoestring budget can boost your creativity. He wore a lot of hats and enjoyed it.

    He founded Pushkin PR in 1997 as a one-man show. One of the firm’s first clients allowed him to work with a team of independent practitioners in multiple markets helping a startup open integrative medicine practices around the country.

    Seeing that cooperative, team approach in action inspired Jon to grow Pushkin PR into a boutique agency with a team of seasoned professionals who each bring a unique set of experiences. He carefully chose people who understand how to collaborate, innovate and who never want to stop learning and improving their craft.

    While the profession has evolved, Jon believes that PR is still about relationships. He still likes wearing a lot of hats and working with clients that have important stories to tell.

    2020 Public Relations Person of the Year

    Gretchen Gretchen TeBockhorst | Public Relations & Marketing Communication Expert, Prim Communications

    Gretchen TeBockhorst is an award-winning public relations and marketing communications expert. A recognized and respected leader in the hospitality and lifestyle industries, Gretchen’s previous experience includes managing the in-house public relations and marketing for Adams Golf, 7-Up Group and Richard Sandoval Hospitality. 

    During her time at Richard Sandoval Hospitality, she took the 45-unit international restaurant group to new heights by formulating brand strategies, launching a retail line, launching the New Latin Flavors cookbook and securing Chef Richard Sandoval as the face of Nestle’s Abuelita Chocolate.

    Her media relations efforts secured national attention from a variety of outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Food and Wine Magazine, Foodnetwork.com, TODAY, CBS This Morning and Travel + Leisure, among others.

    Since launching Prim just five years ago, Gretchen has catapulted it into an award-winning PR firm with 15-20 clients at any given time, including renowned brands such as SoulCycle, Floyd’s 99 Barbershops, City of Anaheim and Sweetgreen. Over the past few years, Prim has been recognized as one of the “Best PR Firms in Denver” by Expertise.com and was the runner-up in ColoradoBiz Magazine’s Best of Colorado issue in 2017 and 2018.

    Most impressively, Gretchen continually makes it a priority to give back. Her agency has provided pro-bono work for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Rocky Mountain Region, for the last two years and Gretchen personally serves as the communications manager for nonprofit, Les Dames de Escoffier Colorado. 

    In March of this year, many clients of Gretchen’s were asked to close their dining rooms because of the government shutdown. Less than a week later, she and her team took it upon themselves to start Feeding Colorado Heroes, a movement designed to help the hospitality industry and healthcare workers. Using donated funds, Feeding Colorado Heroes ordered $85,000 in meals from struggling restaurants and delivered them to ERs, ICUs and COVID-19 treatment centers in the Denver metro area. These efforts were a tremendous help to these small businesses who were, at that time, sometimes struggling just to keep the lights on.

    PR aside, Gretchen’s true talent lies in the recruitment and establishment of a team that genuinely matches the caliber and service standards of her clientele. She feels incredibly lucky to work beside such impressive women.

    Gretchen lives in Littleton with her husband and three sons.

    2020 Public Relations Team of the Year

    UC Health Team  UC Health, Public Relations Team

    UCHealth Public Relations Team | Pictured top row, left to right are Lindsey Reznicek, Kelly Tracer, Elaine Priest; bottom row, left to right are Dan Weaver, Cary Vogrin, Jessica Berry and Paula Freund

    UCHealth’s public relations team leads external communications strategy as part of the health care system’s marketing and communications team serving 12 hospitals, over 150 clinics, hundreds of physicians and 25,000 employees across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. The PR team works with leadership, providers, a stellar in-house creative team, internal and executive writers, and patient experience and marketing strategist colleagues to develop stories that transcend hospital doors. 

    UCHealth’s public relations team is dedicated to serving the best interests of its patients and providers, demonstrating the highest ethical standards. The team develops story pitches for local, regional and national news outlets and leads public relations strategies for openings of new facilities, hospitals, medical centers and clinics. As spokespersons for UCHealth in their respective regions, the team members appropriately respond to media queries promptly, professionally and accurately. And, they also coordinate with UCHealth’s owned content team to develop compelling stories featuring patients and highlighting innovative care.

    The PR team works closely with leadership for UCHealth’s hospitals and clinics in situations that require immediate responses. They collaborate with UCHealth’s partnerships team to connect patients and their families with memorable experiences including surprise visits with professional athletes playing for the Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. Working with these organizations, UCHealth is able to share creative ideas for these interactions, which offer opportunities for inspiring news stories featuring UCHealth patients and what they have achieved in their journeys to overcome illness or injury. 

     As part of UCHealth’s integrated agency team model, the team is supported by their colleagues at Ogilvy Public Relations. Ogilvy’s PR support for partnership activations, innovation portfolio and national outreach elevates the UCHealth team and offers the opportunity to pursue even more outstanding stories highlighting the success of patients, expertise of providers and access to UCHealth’s hospitals, clinics and advanced medicine. 

    The stories UCHealth’s media relations specialists place have a broad impact on people throughout the region and across the country by highlighting health issues and providing actionable information. Many of the stories feature patients who want to share their experiences of overcoming adversity to inspire others who may be facing similar challenges or diseases. In 2019, the team secured hundreds of compelling, proactive stories including numerous national pieces. Many of these stories reran in dozens or hundreds of other news outlets, generating significant regional and national impact. In 2020, UCHealth’s media relations specialists have focused significant external communications on educating the public on vital information related to COVID-19, and the team continues these important efforts.

    2020 Media Person of the Year

    Vic Vela Vic Vela | Host/Reporter, Colorado Public Radio News

    Vic Vela is a host and reporter for Colorado Public Radio News. He joined the team in 2015 after years of freelance work for CPR News. Vic has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including serving as legislative editor for Colorado Community Media, as a sports anchor and reporter for an NBC affiliate in Amarillo, Texas, and as a reporter for “The Daily Record” in Cañon City and the “Albuquerque Journal.” A native of Longmont, Colo., Vic has diverse reporting experience, covering politics, crime, sports and entertainment for TV, print and radio.

     Vic has received two regional Edward R. Murrow awards including Best Sports Story in 2017 and Excellence in Sound in 2018, as well as multiple awards from the Colorado Press Association, including First Place in 2013 for Best Sustained Coverage for his reporting on gun control legislation at the State Capitol, as well as awards for his column writing. He was also awarded an honorable mention in 2010 for Best News Reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, and First Place for Best Series or Continuing Coverage in 2007 from the New Mexico Press Association.