November 20, 2014  

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Gulf Coast Leader to be Inducted into Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame

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Shelia White

Four outstanding public relations practitioners, including Gulfport leader Shelia White, who recently retired as Director of University Communications for the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, will be inducted into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame in a ceremony to be held in Starkville on July 25.

White is being honored for making a tremendous impact as a public relations professional, both on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and spreading far and wide among those who view her as a mentor and a colleague.

The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame was established in 2010 by the Southern Public Relations Federation to recognize the distinguished accomplishments, commitment and leadership of professional public relations practitioners and educators from the Southeastern United States.

The other 2014 inductees include:

  • John E. Forde, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA
    • Associate Professor and Head of Department of Communication, Mississippi State University
  • Joseph W. Purka
    • Vice President, Kirby-Smith Associates
  • Philip Shirley, APR
    • Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Godwin Group

“The Southern Public Relations Federation is proud to induct these very worthy individuals into the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame, Class of 2014,” said Kristina L. Hendrix, APR, President of the Southern Public Relations Federation. “Each of them has made an incredible mark on the lives of those around them with their exceptional leadership and upstanding character. Their devotion to the profession of public relations, their communities, and families has made them most-deserving of this meritorius honor. SPRF is pleased to add Joe, John, Philip, and Shelia to the outstanding group of public relations professionals recognized before them.”

Inductees are current and former southern public relations practitioners or educators who have brought honor to the PR field. Inductees are recognized for their extraordinary achievements, accomplishments and contributions to their organizations, communities and the public relations profession.  The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by the Southern Public Relations Federation and the Mississippi State University Department of Communication.

About the Inductee

Working at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast for over 36 years before retiring recently, White developed an ability to understand education, public relations and communication that both communications professionals and members of the media have come to respect, as well as turn to for guidance.

White’s career at the university included various roles pertaining to public relations and has had titles varying from director of marketing, public relations and recruitment, director of marketing and public relations, and, most recently, director of university communications.

Throughout her career at the university, White served on numerous committees and boards as a distinguished, experienced and knowledgeable representative. This includes committees and boards both in and outside of the university and throughout the Mississippi Gulf Coast community. The span of her professional and community service varies from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM) and Southern Public Relations Federation to Leadership Gulf Coast Board of Trustees and Lynn Meadows Discovery Center Public Relations Committee.

From 1998 - 2004, White served on the Public Relations Association of Mississippi board. Within that time, she also served on the board for the Southern Public Relations Federation, serving as president for SPRF in 2002.

In 2003, White was recognized by the PRAM Mississippi Beach Chapter as the recipient of the Rex Kelly Professional Achievement Award and by the state PRAM organization as the recipient of its Professional Achievement Award. During that same year, SPRF presented Shelia with the Senior Practitioner Recognition.

Her career includes winning over 80 state and regional public relations awards in competitions with PRAM, SPRF and the College Public Relations Association of Mississippi. These awards span all areas of public relations from writing, creative service, and events, among various other categories. Within these categories, Whitewas the recipient of numerous top awards, including Best of Show and the Grand Award.

White’s love of both The University of Southern Mississippi and the public relations profession are evident in the honest and ethical work she exemplified as an employee and professional. With such a notable career and as a proponent for advancing the public relations profession, White stands as a shining example of what a public relations professional should aspire to be.

About the Ceremony

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Luncheon will be held on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 12:00 p.m. in the John Grisham Room in Mitchell Memorial Library on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville. Tickets for the luncheon at $50 each or $350 for a table of eight. Registration information is available on the Southern Public Relations Federation website, www.sprf.org.

About the Selection Committee

Harold Burson, Founding Chairman of Burson-Marstellar, and his senior colleagues served as our selection committee this year. PRWeek described Mr. Burson as “the century’s most influential PR figure.” This recognition is a culmination of more than 50 years of serving as counsellor to and confidante of corporate CEOs, government leaders and heads of public sector institutions. Among his numerous professional awards are the Public Relations Society of America Gold Anvil Award and the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame Award.

About the Southern Public Relations Federation

The Southern Public Relations Federation is a network of public relations professionals from Alabama, north Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi who share a common interest in the public relations profession. SPRF, with more than 1,300 members and growing, SPRF is considered the premiere networking and professional development organization for public relations professionals in the Gulf South.