Rex Kelly Award PRAM Beach Chapter’s professional achievement award
The award is named in honor of Kelly’s work as a distinguished communicator. Kelly has studied the impact of communication since a young high school speech teacher introduced the concept some 40 years ago. Along the way, he has continued to gain and apply knowledge of communication across a wide range of organizations and personalities.
Kelly has been the president of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM) and was awarded the PRAM Professional Achievement Award. He is a Southern Public Relations Federation (SPRF) Senior Practitioner and served as a director of SPRF. His work in mass communication also earned national and regional awards from the National Association of Broadcasters and the American Advertising Federation. Kelly is a past president of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM).
2014 Tracy Higgins Yanez
Yanez’s career in communications spans 25 years and includes roles such as journalist, writer, editor, strategist and a community relations builder.
Yanez has been working for Mississippi Power since 1999, serving 10 years as the editor of the newsletter for its 1,300 employees. She since developed various electronic communication channels, including the company’s internal and external websites. In 2009, she launched the company’s first social media efforts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Now as an account executive, she provides strategic communication consulting both internally and externally for various business units of the company, as well as the company’s digital strategy team.
Yanez has led internal communications on behalf of the company’s Disaster Response Team, including award winning efforts for Hurricane Katrina. She was instrumental in leading the company’s community response to the 2010 Deepwater Oil Spill, working with federal, state and local officials to identify a role for employee volunteers to assist the Mississippi Wildlifen Rehabilitation Center staff with injured birds.
From 2008 to 2012, Yanez co-chaired Mississippi Power’s Renew Our Rivers program, with a specific goal of growing community partnerships to expand the positive environmental impact of the program’s volunteer cleanups. The efforts resulted in an additional partnership cleanups removing debris from South Mississippi waterways, garnering a Gulf Guardian Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program.
She is a 1995 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
A member of the PRAM Mississippi Beach chapter since 1996, Yanez has served in various state PRAM board offices, including president in 2003. For seven years, she provided leadership to the four-state regional the Southern Public Relations Federation board, including two consecutive terms as president in 2006 and 2007. She continues to be a member of the SPRF Senior Leadership Council.
PRAM state-wide Professional Achievement Award
Past Professional Achievement Award winners
2013 Mary Cracchiolo Spain Mississippi Beach Chapter
Mary Cracchiolo Spain serves as the Regional Director of Public Relations for MGM Resorts International Mississippi Operations, which includes Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica. Her responsibilities include overseeing strategic direction of internal and external communications for the two resorts including developing and managing public relations programs; employee engagement; crisis communications; media relations; special events and serving as the company spokesperson. Spain is a past president of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (2006), as well as past president of the PRAM Mississippi Beach Chapter (2001). She has been a board member of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross for 12 years focusing on fundraising, disaster relief and communications.
Spain graduated magna cum laude from Park University in Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing.
2012 Lea Ivey Stone, APR * Mississippi Beach Chapter
2011 Susan Christensen, APR Central Chapter
2010 Ron Barnes, APR Mississippi Beach Chapter
2009 Kristie Aylett, APR * Mississippi Beach Chapter
2008 Kurt Brautigam, APR Mississippi Beach Chapter
2007 Caron Blanton, APR Central Chapter
2006 Richard Paul Maxwell Mississippi Beach Chapter
2005 Carl Crawford, APR Central Chapter
2004 Terry Hines-Smith Mississippi Beach chapter
2003 Shelia White Mississippi Beach Chapter
2002 Myron Webb Mississippi Beach Chapter
2001 Sheila Skipper, APR Central Chapter
2000 Yvonne Sorge, APR Central Chapter
1999 Dr. John E. Forde, APR * MSU/Starkville Chapter
1998 Dr. Deiedre McGowan, APR, CAE * Central Chapter
1995 Danny Gardner MSU/Starkville Chapter
1992 Philip Shirley, APR * Central Chapter
* Denotes PAA recipients who have also received the Professional Achievement Award from the Southern Public Relations Federation.