The Colorado Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Colorado) recently announced the 2020 Gold Pick Special Award winners nominated by industry peers and awarded to outstanding professionals in the field of public relations. PRSA Colorado annually honors the achievements of individuals and organizations in public relations through recognition of best practices and high ethical standards among leaders and peers in the industry.

    The Special Award winners, as well as Gold and Silver Pick award winners, will be recognized at the Gold Pick Awards ceremony scheduled for a first-of-its-kind virtual celebration on Wednesday, November 18. Registration is free and is now open at

    We are pleased to recognize the following outstanding professionals and their achievements:

    Chapter Service Award: Liz Kamper

    As part of CBRE’s U.S. Corporate Communications - Central Team, Liz Kamper supports public relations and communication efforts for CBRE’s top cities and emerging markets, including media relations, social media and internal communications. Prior to joining CBRE, Liz gained marketing, communications and PR experience in the higher education and commercial real estate industries. She has experience planning and executing communications and marketing campaigns for local, regional and national clients. Prior to starting her career in PR, she spent several years instructing college journalism students in writing, reporting, interviewing and ethics. 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.

    Liz has served as chair of the Chapter’s Communication Committee since the beginning of 2019 and, prior to that, served as the Chapter Editor. As committee chair, she oversees the strategy and execution for our chapter e-newsletter, social media, blogs and video content. This includes working alongside other committees to promote their efforts, and suggesting new ideas to the chapter board of directors.

    Lifetime Achievement: Jon Pushkin, APR

    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.

    Media Person of the Year: Vic Vela

    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.

    Mentor of the Year: Michelle Baum, APR

    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 (MSU 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 faculty associate for Academic Affairs, and she is the president of the Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication.

    Public Relations Person of the Year: Gretchen TeBockhorst

    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,, TODAY, CBS This Morning and Travel + Leisure, among others.

    Public Relations Team of the Year: UCHealth

    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. 

    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.

    Rookie of the Year: Bailey Gannett

    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 a 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 (CU,) 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.



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