Rochelle Ford receives PRSA-NY’s Makovsky Excellence in Mentoring Award

The School of Communications dean was recognized during a virtual event on Dec. 8 by the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

During the Dec. 8 presentation of the Makovsky Excellence in Mentoring Award, held during a virtual event hosted by the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, attendees applaud Communications Dean Rochelle Ford (top row, second from left).

In his lead up to presenting School of Communications Dean Rochelle Ford with this year’s Makovsky Excellence in Mentoring Award – an accolade bearing his name – Ken Makovsky touted the recipient’s “exceptional track record in mentoring students at three major universities – Howard, Syracuse and Elon.”

Rochelle Ford, School of Communications dean

As his introduction continued, Makovsky also thanked Ford for her work in raising scholarship funds and securing grants for students of color. Her efforts, he said, have been “significant.”

“We respect your tireless advocacy that you have exhibited to bring diversity and inclusion to our industry. It is for these reasons and more that I am proud to present you with the Makovsky Excellence in Mentoring Award,” said Makovsky, on behalf of the awards and honors committee of the New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NY).

Ford was honored on Dec. 8 as part of a PRSA-NY virtual awards program and panel event, receiving the organization’s top mentorship award presented to individuals who lead, guide and selflessly counsel and stimulate the careers of PR professionals. The accolade was previously named the Dorf Award.

In her award acceptance, Ford explained that she has been drawn to mentorship because of the guidance and support she received during her own personal and professional development. “To whom much is given, much will be required,” she said, reciting the familiar Bible passage, Luke 12:48.

Ford championed the need for public relations professionals to nurture and counsel future generations, building relationships that last beyond the beginning of a person’s career. These mentorships can – and should – benefit both parties, she said. This sentiment was echoed by Makovsky, who serves as president and CEO of Makovsky + Co., a prominent independent public relations firm.

Students need mentors who look like them, but they also need mentors and coaches and sponsors from a whole host of backgrounds very different than their own. Sometimes these intercultural relationships are just as valuable for the mentor as they are for the mentee.

– Rochelle Ford, School of Communications dean

“I hope others will be willing to take the time to mentor a young person, especially those who are Black, indigenous or people of color. Because, indeed, we are all in this together,” said Ford, in her conclusion.

Following the award ceremony, Ford participated in a panel discussion examining the importance of senior leaders in the PR industry providing mentorship during the COVID-19 environment and the best practices to bring into 2021. Among the panelists was Barri Rafferty, head of corporate communications for Wells Fargo and a member of the School of Communications’ National Advisory Board.


The New York Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NY), organized in 1948, is a founding chapter of the PRSA, the world’s largest professional organization for public relations practitioners. The chapter has approximately 700 active members, and provides services to members in business and industry, counseling firms, government, associations, hospitals, schools, professional services firms and nonprofit organizations.