2023 Bruce K. Berger Educator Award Recipient, Dr. Alisa Agozzino

The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others, and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala. Our question-and-answer series introduces the 2023 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.


Meet Dr. Alisa Agozzino

Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., APR, is an assistant professor of public relations at Ohio Northern University. Dr. Agozzino teaches various classes, including Introduction to Public Relations, Public Relations Writing, Principles of Social Media, Public Relations Research and Public Relations Campaigns.

Dr. Agozzino’s research interest lies in social media tools within the public relations profession. Her current research agenda examines how social media impacts different industries.

Read on to learn what mentorship means to Alisa!


What Is Your Mentorship Approach and What Advice Do You Give Your Mentees?

I make sure I allow time to check in on folks. Many of you probably know the fabulous Gary McCormick. I did my first CEPR accreditation visit with Gary. We were talking about books, and he recommended ‘never eat alone’ to read. One tip (of the many) I picked up in that book was to constantly use your dead time to follow up with others – especially when you don’t need anything! Since reading that advice, many of my 40-minute commutes between my home and the university consist of phone calls with different folks. Most of the calls include alumni of our program who I’ve had in class over the past 17 years. It brings me joy to hear about their journeys and successes since leaving ONU.

I am constantly asking students if they’ve checked in with their mentors lately. Not to ask them for a favor but to simply check in to see how things are going. I encouraged them to ask if there was anything that they could do for them. This is a two-way street, and if the mentee can provide value, how awesome is that?!

What Have You Found To Be the Most Important Key To Having a Successful Mentor/Mentee Relationship?

Authentic transparency. (Sorry- can I give any more industry buzzwords?!). But really, you have to be yourself. Not every pairing will be a good fit, particularly when mentors/mentees are assigned through a program. The more authentic and transparent you can be with each other, the more opportunity you acquire to ensure the relationship is sustainable.

Please Summarize Your Professional Career Including Its High and Low Points. (How Did You Work Your Way up the Ladder? How Has Having a Mentor Influenced Your Career Path? What Have You Learned Along the Way? What Factors Contributed Most to Your Success? How Did You Navigate Challenges To Reach Your Current Position?)

I didn’t start out teaching, but I did my internship at Ketchum, and then life hit at the end of my senior year in college (I’ll spare you the details). I decided I no longer wanted to move out of the state of Ohio and needed a job after graduation. I had worked as a tour guide in our admissions office at Ohio Northern University, and they offered me a job working as an admissions counselor after graduation.

I worked in the admissions office for 4 ½ years while I got my masters in public relations. I was lucky enough to be tasked with creating and distributing many of the communication pieces (viewbooks, college visit day brochures, fact sheets, direct mailers), keeping my PR skills sharp during my time. However, when I started teaching as a graduate assistant in my Ph.D. program, I knew I found a love for academia. Working with students fed my passion. In academia, there is a very straight and detailed ladder to progress from GA to full professor. I’m now on the last rung of that ladder.

Looking back, I couldn’t have done any of it without a strong mentor. One of my greatest professional mentors was Steve Iseman, who was my professor in undergrad, my colleague and now my friend. He truly guided me through the academic process. He was the first to ask if I’d be interested in returning to grad school and becoming his colleague. He’s been one of my trusted advisers throughout the public relations landscape and one of my biggest cheerleaders any time he reads/hears of my success.

Factors that contribute to my success? Drive/Grit. I’m ‘old school’ where saying you are going to do something is a commitment not to be taken lightly. I am a former collegiate athlete who competed at the national level, so I have some competitiveness. Competitiveness drives some of my grit. I know I have an unbelievable work ethic (one that doesn’t sleep much), and that ‘exhausts’ most, but tell me I can’t achieve a goal and then stand back and watch the magic happen!


Now it’s time for some fun and rapid-fire questions!

What’s Your Favorite Way To Spend a Saturday?

Lounging with the family in our backyard oasis or hanging out with them near the water!

Favorite App?

Fetch – never heard of it? I’ll send you an invite so we both get points!

If Given the Choice to Trade Places With Anyone (Living or Dead) For One Day, Who Would It Be and Why?

Walt Disney. I would love to live in his shoes to see and understand his vision at a deeper level.

Favorite Place to Vacation and Why?

I recently read a meme on Facebook that read, “I don’t have a favorite place, I have my favorite people. And whenever I’m with my favorite people, it becomes my favorite place.” I LOVE this. There is so much truth in this for me. Although I will say – some of my favorite people love to be on a cruise ship!


My leadership tip is… to model/practice behaviors you want others to emulate.

My mentorship tip is… to follow up with your mentor/mentee and build a relationship, not a resume bullet point. Mentorship is not a checkbox. It’s a lifelong opportunity (and, for me – a blessing!).

Every mentor is… busy. Make the time to build the relationship.

A lesson that took you the longest to learn… saying no. I’m still a “work in process,” but at some point, you have to decipher what works into your schedule and what simply cannot. Being realistic up front and setting boundaries helps to eliminate disappointment with a lack of follow-through. So when I say ‘no’ to a project, I think I’m doing us all a favor by giving plenty of time to find someone who can commit to the ‘yes.’

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… colored and erasable pens help me stay organized and keep up with commitments.

Three things you do to inspire and encourage teamwork

  1. LISTEN first. Speak second.
  2. Capitalize on each team member’s strengths.
  3. Communicate clearly and often.

2023 John ”Jack” Koten Corporate Award Recipient, Jennifer Temple

The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala. Our question-and-answer series introduces the 2023 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.


Meet Jennifer Temple

Jennifer Temple joined the Hewlett Packard Enterprise leadership team as chief communications officer in July 2018. She has devoted her career to advising chief executives and building high-performing teams to create customer loyalty, enact cultural change, and manage large-scale transformations. As executive vice president and CCO, Jennifer is leading the transformation of the global communications function to distinguish HPE in the marketplace, enhance the employee experience and demonstrate societal impact.

Read on to learn what mentorship means to Jennifer!


What Have You Found To Be the Most Important Key To Having a Successful Mentor/Mentee Relationship?

Like any relationship we have about having the constant check-in on how we’re doing as a unit (SO, siblings, parents), making sure you’re checking on the original objectives and seeing if we are achieving the goals we want to hit. Never take the relationship for granted; “any healthy relationship we have doesn’t just sit there with no watering.”

What Is One Powerful Thing You’ve Learned From Mentoring Someone?

It works both ways (from being a mentee to a mentor), and to think of their career as a mosaic of experiences instead of a ladder. It’s limiting to think about a career as place A to B – instead, think of the accumulation of experiences that make it fun or scary to go to work.
Ask for opportunities that seem out of left field. Say yes to opportunities that seem out of left field. I say this to my mentees who are put into a box for a skill but not looking at what they could give to some of their experiences.

There Are a Myriad of Changes Going On Around Us. What Issues Have or Will Become a “Wake-up Call” to the Profession?

The employer trust factor, as it relates to employee engagement, always had value placed on external communications (can’t launch a product or land a news story without this); I don’t think there was an appreciation for internal employee communication. We need to transform how we think about internal communication and culture within the company as the backbone of the whole organization.


Invest in ways to engage people. Employees also need to be engaged when going back to their offices. Employers should think of how to cross-train their people and get them to apply their craft to the office. I have loved to see the rise and appreciation for all things internal!


Now it’s time for some fun and rapid-fire questions!

What’s Your Favorite Way To Spend a Saturday?

Watching and cheering for the University of Michigan’s football team with my family – Go Blue!

Favorite App?

CouchTo5K. It’s the app that got me fired up for fitness while we were quarantining during the pandemic and has reminded me of the value of setting and meeting goals and then working towards even bigger ones!

If Given the Choice to Trade Places With Anyone (Living or Dead) For One Day, Who Would It Be and Why?

I’d trade places with my son, Jack, a freshman at the University of Michigan. I envy the opportunity he has to focus on learning and being curious. I would love to dive into some of his coursework on Roman Archaeology, Coding and the History of the American Economy!

Favorite Place to Vacation and Why?

Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, California. It’s a place that reminds me of new beginnings. Twenty-two years ago, I took a risk and moved from San Francisco to Southern California to chase an enticing career opportunity. I arranged for CNBC’s Bill Griffeth to broadcast Power Lunch from Pelican Hill. Their then-head golf pro, D.B., gave Bill a putting down the coast from our home in the Bay Area to Newport at least every other year to relax and revisit some of our favorite memories at Pelican Hill – these days, often with our teenage boys in tow.


My leadership tip is… ask smart questions.

My mentorship tip is… don’t just aspire to move up a ladder in your career. Instead, consider building a mosaic or a patchwork of experiences. When we think about growing our careers as a mosaic instead of as rungs on a ladder, we uncover a whole realm of possibilities that may not have been obvious, really appreciating that the accumulation of experiences that allow you to do something a little scary or try something you’ve never tried before is what will make for the most enriching career and also afford the best success.

Every mentor is… a sounding board and an ally.

A lesson that took you the longest to learn… it took me time to appreciate that my personal bar for achievement can seem unrealistically high and perhaps daunting to others. The reality is that I work on this every day, striving to find the best recipe for unlocking potential and performance without creating feelings of deflation in my peers, my team or myself.

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… journaling. I write a lot. I have a notebook in my bedside drawer so I can deposit thoughts for the evening with the confidence they’ll be remembered and revisited in the morning. Family trips or major milestones are some of my favorite entries – and often include pictures, doodles, and drawings. Recording what I’ve experienced helps cement my memories and translates to how I document and discuss learnings from key work efforts with my team. Remembering and revisiting experiences and what they taught us helps us grow.

Three things you do to inspire and encourage teamwork… invest in relationships, create space for open and honest conversation, and set ambitious goals with clear interdependencies.

2023 Legacy Award Recipient, Patrice Tanaka

The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others, and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala. Our question-and-answer series introduces the 2023 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.


Patrice Tanaka headshot for Legacy Award recognition.

Meet Patrice Tanaka

Patrice Tanaka is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded three award-winning PR & marketing firms and, most recently, Joyful Planet, a Business & Life Strategy Consultancy to help people discover and live their life’s purpose and, in so doing, unleash their greatest success, fulfillment and joy.

Read on to learn what mentorship means to Patrice!


What Is Your Mentorship Approach and What Advice Do You Give Your Mentees?

I start by helping mentees discover their life and leadership purpose – so they have “clarity” about what is most important for them to accomplish in their one very brief and precious life. I then work with them to actively live their purpose because I know this is the most efficient and powerful way to UNLEASH their leadership potential and greater success, fulfillment, and joy in their personal life, workplaces, and communities. This is the single, most important way I can support mentees.

What Advice Would You Tell Your Early-Career Self Concerning Finding a Mentor?

If you see someone you want for a mentor, reach out, and ask them for “10 minutes of mentoring.” It’s a small amount of time I think most people would be willing to give. One of my mentees, Sabrina Browne, approached me with this request when I was attending a reception in my honor, waiting to be presented with the PRSA Foundation Paladin Award. I said, “Sure, let’s set up an appointment.” She said, “No, I mean right now.” I was surprised, but since it was only 10 minutes, I sat down with her. We spoke for more than 10 minutes, but I was so impressed by Sabrina’s boldness and courage that I continued to be her mentor four years later.

So, don’t be shy about reaching out to people you admire and want some mentoring from. You never know – you might end up with an ongoing mentor. Or you might learn something in a one-time, 10-minute mentoring session that will help you be more successful in work and life. 

Please Summarize Your Professional Career Including Its High and Low Points. (How Did You Work Your Way up the Ladder? How Has Having a Mentor Influenced Your Career Path? What Have You Learned Along the Way? What Factors Contributed Most to Your Success? How Did You Navigate Challenges To Reach Your Current Position?)

I learned how to be a good mentor and boss by working for a terrible boss and learning what NOT to do and how NOT to treat others. You can learn a lot from a bad boss. I helped that boss build her small, four-person PR agency, which she was able to sell seven years later to Chiat/Day Advertising. She left a year into our acquisition, leaving me to run our PR subsidiary.  

Two years later, I led a management buyback, involving 12 colleagues to start PT&Co., an independent PR agency that was wholly owned by the 13 of us involved in the buyback. The only reason I led the buyback was because it was the only solution I could come up with to avoid having to fire three colleagues when our biggest client told me that they had to terminate our relationship due to fears of an impending recession. 

We started PT&Co. in July 1990, which we later learned was the official start of the recession of 1990-91. Within six months, we lost half our revenues. When that happens, an agency needs to reduce that percentage in staff and other costs. I chose not to lay anyone off. Instead, I asked everyone to focus on rebuilding the lost income. We did and grew 100% between January and December 1991. We were driven by our “business purpose” to create – “Great work, a Great Workplace and Great Communities that Work” (i.e., healthy, sustainable communities within and beyond our workplace”). 

Operationalizing our business purpose helped us to grow from start-up to eight years later being recognized as the “#1 Most Creative” and the #2 Best Workplace” among all PR agencies in the U.S.  

We later sold PT&Co. to Carter Ryley Thomas in Richmond, VA to create CRT/tanaka, We built CRT/tanaka over the next eight years and then sold that agency to Padilla Speer Beardsley in Minneapolis, MN. In doing so, we created one of the “top 10” largest, independent PR firms and the largest, employee-owned PR agency in the U.S.

I am proud of having achieved this and creating the largest, employee-owned PR agency with 240 employee-owners. When I started PT&Co., I devised a way for my colleagues to obtain equity in the company without having to put in any money. Although I was the only person who put money into the venture, it was important to me that everyone had equity in the agency. Because, my mother, my first and most important mentor, drilled into me as a child – “Share your cookies and toys.”  This is why I co-founded PT&Co. as an “employee-owned” PR agency and why I’m proud of having co-founded the largest, “employee-owned” PR agency in the U.S. when we sold CRT/tanaka to Padilla, an ESOP, in 2013.

I believe any success I’ve experienced in my career and life has been the result of “sharing my cookies and toys,” creating a vision and persevering until I achieved it, and actively living my “life purpose,” which is – “To choose joy, be mindful of joy, share joy with others.”  Rinse and repeat every day. I’ve been living my purpose for 21 years now and have created tremendous joy for myself and others.


Now it’s time for some fun and rapid-fire questions!

What’s Your Favorite Way To Spend a Saturday?

Having no plans. Waking up when the spirit moves me. Drinking strong, Spanish coffee. Reading The New York Times. Listening to Sinatra or 70’s soul music and, perhaps, an audiobook (I’m listening to Robert Caro’s, The Powerbroker, now). Going for a walk. Maybe taking a nap. Streaming a film. Perfect Saturday!

Favorite App?

Hmmm. Hard to pick just one. Uber. Spotify. Audible. YouTube. TikTok. Amazon.

If Given the Choice to Trade Places With Anyone (Living or Dead) For One Day, Who Would It Be and Why?

Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire in that long, flowy, and feathery evening gown in the 1935 film “Top Hat.” Growing up in Hawaii, my favorite films starred Ginger and Fred. She always seemed to be dancing in the arms of a debonair Fred Astaire at some swank, Manhattan Supper Club. As a young girl, I believed that if I got myself to New York I, too, could be dancing like Ginger Rogers. This is why, today, I live in New York, and I can dance ballroom, and sometimes I do so in a long, flowy, and feathery evening gown. I wrote a book 12 years ago entitled, Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dance Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smarter CEO.  And, yes, ballroom dance taught me all that!

Favorite Place to Vacation and Why?

On a boat in the Greek Islands. I believe I was Greek in my former life. I love the sun, the water, the music (I can hear the sun and water in Greek music), the food, the dancing, the language, everything!


My leadership tip is… always share your cookies and toys. This advice from my mother has served me well from the playground to the boardroom. She knew no one would want to play with me if I didn’t share. And at work, the same holds true!

My mentorship tip is… understand what your mentee believes is most important to accomplish in life and help them achieve that.

Every mentor is… someone who gets fulfillment and joy from helping others succeed.

A lesson that took you the longest to learn… stop worrying. It depletes the energy you have to work towards the outcome you seek. Just work hard and persevere until you achieve your goal. Don’t waste precious energy worrying about failure.

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… I determine the two or three things I must accomplish every day and make sure I focus on doing those things.

Three things you do to inspire and encourage teamwork… Model being a good team player. Set the expectation that your team will succeed. Celebrate teamwork and success. Rinse and repeat.

2023 Emerging Leader Award Recipient, D’Anthony Jackson

The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others, and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala. Our question-and-answer series introduces the 2023 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.


D'Anthony Jackson Headshot

Meet D’Anthony Jackson

D’Anthony Jackson is an author, founder, and award-winning marketer based in New York City. 

He is a vice president and director, strategy at Ogilvy, where he is building a team of social strategists and creating dynamic work for the agency’s social and digital health offerings and clients. He is also an adjunct professor at Tulane University, where he built the first-ever influencer marketing strategy course and teaches mass communications.

Read on to learn what mentorship means to D’Anthony!


What Is One Powerful Thing You’ve Learned From Mentoring Someone?

You won’t always have the answers, but you always have your experiences and what you learned from them.  

What Advice Can You Give Mentees in Our Profession Right Now So They Will Be Prepared To Assume Leadership Positions in the Future?

Learn as much as you can in every step of your career. Raise your hand when no one else will. Face challenges head-on. And lastly, look at your career as a building made with bricks. As Will Smith said, “Lay every single brick as perfect as you possibly can before moving to the next.” Be okay with making mistakes because that is when you learn the most.

What Do You See as the Differences Between Mentorship and Sponsorship, and How Do You Approach Each One?

A mentor is someone who provides guidance to a mentee professionally or personally. A sponsor is someone who actively advocates for professional growth. Both can happen simultaneously.

The way I approach mentorship comes in many forms, but ultimately, it depends on the needs of the mentee. Some people need a cheerleader in their corner, some need constructive feedback, others need real guidance and advice, and sometimes people just need a listening ear. All can also be true, but clarifying my role and setting expectations is important. I learned how to be a sponsor by watching a sponsor in action. I now approach sponsorship by building a genuine relationship with a person first, understanding their goals and aspirations, and publicly and privately advocating for their growth and new opportunities.


Now it’s time for some fun and rapid-fire questions!

What’s Your Favorite Way To Spend a Saturday?

I like calm Saturdays because my weekdays are so busy, so spending time with myself, my pup, friends and family.

Favorite App?

TikTok!

If Given the Choice to Trade Places With Anyone (Living or Dead) For One Day, Who Would It Be and Why?

I would trade places with Kevin Hart for one day. He seems to have a pretty dope and fun life. And who doesn’t want to be unintentionally funny all day, every day? I would just laugh at myself.

Favorite Place to Vacation and Why?

Cape Town was one of my most recent trips, and so far, it’s been placed at the top of my list of vacation spots.


My leadership tip is… to be a good listener. 

My mentorship tip is… to be open to feedback.

Every mentor is… human. 

A lesson that took you the longest to learn… You don’t always have to explain yourself. The behavior can be rooted in a desire for validation and fear of judgment from others.

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… reading, listening and communication.

Three things you do to inspire and encourage teamwork… A. Recognition and appreciation. B. Clear goals and vision. C. Open communication.


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