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Communicator of the Year

Mary Pat Pfeil Communicator of the Year Award

The Mary Pat Pfeil Wisconsin School Communicator of the Year Award honors one outstanding individual from the school public relations profession in the State of Wisconsin. The first annual award was given at the 2023 WSPRA Fall Conference in Green Lake on November 7. To learn more about Mary Pat’s legacy, please view the video from the 2022 Fall Conference where this award was introduced.

This program is designed to recognize the outstanding leadership and contributions of active, front-line school communicators who work full-time in school districts or education service agencies.

The state level winner will be eligible to compete for the inaugural National School Public Relations Association Communicator of the Year Award to be announced at the National Seminar in Seattle in July 2024.

Award Winners

Photo of Stacy Tapp2023

Stacy Tapp
Chief of Communication & Community Engagement
Racine Unified School District


Mary Pat PfeilMary Pat Pfeil
November 18, 1947  -  February 4, 2022 
- Honorary Lifetime Member of WSPRA
- WSPRA President in 1992-93
- Recipient of the Past-President Award in 2002-23
- WSPRA Service Award, 2013
- Served on the NSPRA Board

Mary Pat served as the Director of Public Relations for the Wauwatosa School District. She garnered a national reputation for crisis and issues management. That experience eventually took to her to her alma mater, Marquette University where she spent the remainder of her career as the Senior Director of Communications.


Each candidate of the Mary Pat Pfeil Wisconsin School Communicator of the Year Award will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Leadership: Demonstrated leadership in successfully meeting the communication needs of their school system/educational service agency and WSPRA.
    Examples may include leading successful communication campaigns, overcoming an internal communication challenge, creating a robust strategic communication plan, earning a highly credible reputation with peers, and serving WSPRA in various capacities. 
  • Communication: Demonstrated strength in both personal and organizational communication.
    Examples may include evidence of persuasion, the power of engagement, or influence in decision making.
  • Professionalism: Constant improvement of knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and mentoring to others. Demonstrates ethics and professionalism in communication.
    Examples may include achieving accreditation in public relations (APR), serving as a speaker at the chapter or national level, counseling other educational leaders on communication issues, or earning recognition as a role model and someone whose communication skills have impacted the lives of others.
  • Community Involvement: Active participation in their local community activities and an understanding of regional and national issues.
    Examples may include volunteering in their local community, organizing a fundraising event for their community, or writing an article that demonstrates broad knowledge of the complexities of public education.


  • Candidates must hold a current membership in WSPRA.
  • Candidates must plan to continue working in the profession.
  • Candidates can have other duties, but primarily must serve as front-line school communicators who work full-time in school districts or education service agencies.
  • Self-nominations are not accepted.


Nominators will submit the following via an online awards software program (OpenWater).

  • Written statements addressing each of the four criteria: Leadership, Communication, Professionalism, and Community Involvement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • May also upload a written document (maximum of two pages) that provides additional information to support the nomination. The document may include links to examples of work.


  • A physical award presented at the Fall Conference Spectrum Award luncheon
  • Statewide recognition through WSPRA publications, website, and social media
  • Notification of the winner’s local media outlets, superintendent, and school board
  • Invited to help represent WSPRA at statewide events 
  • Free registration for the subsequent WSPRA Fall Conference
  • NSPRA Professional Level Membership for the subsequent year


  • The WSPRA Board of Directors, plus three additional non-board members, shall determine the winner.