Grand Valley State University Advertising and Public Relations Alumnae Recognized with National Public Relations Award

Advertising and Public Relations alumnae, Emily Gagnon and Delaney MacKenzie.

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Advertising and Public Relations alumnae, Emily Gagnon and Delaney MacKenzie, were awarded the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Foundation’s National Gold Key Award.

The National Gold Key Award recognizes outstanding Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) members for their high-level academic achievement and leadership in the organization. It is widely known as the highest level of individual honor by PRSSA. GVSU is home to GVPRSSA, a chapter of the national organization, PRSSA. 

Delaney Mackenzie, former president of GVPRSSA, and Emily Gagnon, former CEO of GrandPR, the student-led nationally affiliated integrated communications firm – a program of GVPRSSA, led their chapter to be recognized locally and nationally throughout their term. During their tenure, GVPRSSA received three Teahan Awards, three student life awards, and two pacesetter awards for exceptional projects. Additionally, the chapter was named a Star Chapter for the eighth consecutive year under their leadership.  

“Delaney is a collaboration genius, juggling not only multiple projects but multiple roles in projects, not just as a leader but also as a follower,” assistant professor of advertising and public relations in the School of Communications and GVPRSSA adviser, Dr. Adrienne Wallace, said. “This signals to me a maturation beyond most in her age-group. It’s tough to be the leader of a successful group and then turn around to be the follower in another capacity, but at any rate, she shines.”

Along with the awards and honors MacKenzie received, she surpassed the requirements to be honored with the National Gold Key during her time as a student at GVSU. MacKenzie served as President of GVPRSSA and was also part of the Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC), which secured 4th place nationally at GVSU. She maintained an active relationship with GVPRSSA’s parent chapter, West Michigan Public Relations Society of America (WMPRSA), served on the executive board of GrandPR, and maintained two internships, all while working a part-time job to fund her college expenses. 

“This is beyond humbling,” MacKenzie said, “I must, of course, credit the Grand Valley State University PRSSA chapter, Advertising and Public Relations program and my outstanding advisor, and friend, Dr. Adrienne Wallace. Without whom I wouldn’t have been able to attain the levels of success I did.”

Gagnon displayed her commitment to GVPRSSA early on in her undergraduate career by becoming a member of Grand Valley State University’s student-run public relations firm, GrandPR, as a sophomore. By her senior year, she was elected CEO of GrandPR, where she managed the twelve-client roster and the day-to-day activities of 33 student associates. During her involvement in GVPRSSA, Gagnon worked at numerous internships, most notably Experience Grand Rapids and Steelcase. She simultaneously served as an Election Inspector for Georgetown Township for five years fulfilling all roles, including Chairperson. She was the Marketing Coordinator for TEDxGVSU, where she managed the social media platforms and connected the greater TED community intimately with GVSU and like MacKenzie, was part of the Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC)

Gagnon’s former advisor, Dr. Wallace, shared, “Emily exemplifies what it means to blend academic achievement and leadership efficacy while making significant contributions to the campus, her community, PRSSA, PRSA and beyond. Emily’s commitment to her work, drive for success, and natural leadership ability makes for a bright future not only personally, but for the communications community at large.” 

Both Gagnon and MacKenzie continue their involvement in the West Michigan PRSA chapter, which serves the professional communications community. MacKenzie, currently a Communications Associate for 8THIRTYFOUR, says she is thankful to receive this honor alongside her colleague Emily. Currently, a Digital Marketing Specialist at LEAD Marketing Agency, Gagnon, is “excited to stay connected as an alum and be a resource for future GVSU Ad & PR students.” 

GVPRSSA has had but one other PRSA Foundation National Gold Key Award winner, Jaclyn Ermoyan, was awarded the honor in 2017. Gagnon and MacKenzie will be celebrated at the Public Relations Society of America International Conference in October.