PRSA Foundation’s 2019 Paladin Awards to Feature ‘Candid Conversations on Diversity & Inclusion’


CommPRO Editorial Staff

The PRSA Foundation, an independent, 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion within the communications profession, announced today the theme of its 2019 Paladin Awards event: Candid Conversations on Diversity & Inclusion. This year’s Paladin Awards is Co-Chaired by Vickee Jordan Adams, SVP, Corporate Communications at Wells Fargo and Chris Kuechenmeister, SVP, Communications at PepsiCo.  The annual event, which will take place on the evening of June 25 in New York City at Verizon Media headquarters, honors a communications leader who has made a significant and measurable impact on the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the public relations sector. 

The recently announced 2019 Paladin Award Honoree is Torod Neptune, VP Worldwide Communications and Chief Communications Officer for Lenovo, the largest PC and tablet manufacturer and owner of the iconic Motorola brand. Throughout his career, Neptune has not only been a strong advocate for increasing diversity and inclusion within PR and communications, but a driving force in moving the industry to action, challenging agencies and companies to be thoughtful about putting forward diverse teams, among other initiatives. 

Proceeds from the evening will go to scholarships and awards designed to help jump-start the careers of promising students from diverse backgrounds, as well as to the mentoring and professional development for mid-level professionals. 

The event theme of Candid Conversations is meant to encourage actionable takeaways for attendees and inspire the industry overall to prompt meaningful movement on D&I across organizational levels. The event will be keynoted by David Albritton, a former senior corporate communications executive who transitioned careers to become the President of General Motors Defense, GM’s subsidiary focused on the global aerospace, defense and security markets. Albritton is also featured in Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership, the 2018 book published by the PRSA Foundation and Museum of Public Relations featuring the stories of diverse communicators. 

“I greatly applaud the effort our industry is undertaking to authentically and transparently address D&I across the communications profession,” said Albritton. “Leveraging influential events like the Paladin Awards, where a strong cross section of our current and future industry leadership can attend and actively participate in the dialogue, is a very smart way to begin the tough conversations that we will need to cascade across our industry in order for our efforts to be deemed successful in the long term.” 

Event co-chairs Adams and Kuechenmeister have championed the development of a robust program with additional speakers including Ramcess Jean-Louis, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Verizon Media and a Rising Stars panel, hosted by Manuel Goncalves, Interim Chief Communications Officer at BNY Mellon, with executives from Hilton, LinkedIn and KPMG. These executives will share their personal and professional experiences and provide insights and perspectives on the need and opportunity to improve diversity and inclusion within communications.  A full agenda can be found here. 

“The PRSA Foundation has long been committed to furthering progress on diversity and inclusion within the communications industry,” said Adams, who is also a Director of the Board for the PRSA Foundation. “Our goal with this year’s Paladin Awards is to bring together industry leaders and rising stars for an authentic and productive conversation on the D&I challenges facing our profession and how we can each leverage our seat within our respective organizations to impact change.” 

Kuechenmeister added, “Our progress is going to be driven by the collective impact of our actions. It is about making conscious decisions on a day-to-day basis that will help advance diversity and inclusion within our spheres of influence. And in the end everyone wins – having increased diversity enriches our perspectives and enables us to be better storytellers and produce work that resonates with wider audiences.” 

For more information about attending, sponsoring or covering the PRSA Foundation Paladin Awards Ceremony, contact Lauryn McCarter at, 212-460-1442. 

About the PRSA Foundation 

The PRSA Foundation, an independent, 501(c)(3) charity, supports outreach to diverse students to attract them to PR and make them better prepared to contribute to the profession, and to society, when they enter the workforce through partnerships with leading universities and professional organizations. 

In 2018, The Foundation teamed up with the Museum of Public Relations to develop “Diverse Voices: Profiles in Leadership”. The book, a collaborative effort supported by the leading entities in the communications profession, was designed to help communications leaders and professionals better understand the challenges faced by minorities in the field. For more information regarding the PRSA Foundation, its activities and its full board of trustees, visit