Rochelle Ford hailed as a ‘DE&I champion’ during Page award presentation

The dean of the School of Communications was presented on Sept. 27 with Page’s Distinguished Service Award, recognizing her contributions to strengthen the role of corporate communications and public relations in business and society.

Communications Dean Rochelle Ford takes the stage during the 2021 Page Annual Conference to accept the organization’s Distinguished Service Award. The award presentation was held Sept. 27 at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. All photos courtesy of Page

In recognition of her service to the public relations profession, as well as her commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry, School of Communications Dean Rochelle Ford was presented with the 2021 Distinguished Service Award at Page’s Annual Conference held this week in Washington, D.C. The honor is presented annually to PR practitioners and educators who have devoted their careers to strengthening the role of public relations and corporate communications.

Charlene Wheeless (left), chair of the Page Board of Trustees, presents Communications Dean Rochelle Ford with the 2021 Distinguished Service Award at Page’s Annual Conference on Sept. 27.

“When it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion, Dr. Ford proves it with action,” said Shelley Spector, founder of the Museum of Public Relations, in the society’s award announcement. “She is a highly respected champion of diversity in education, community and industry, and a sought-after mentor to students and colleagues.”

A leading public relations professional, researcher and author, Ford was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society in 2014 and currently serves as the co-chair of the organization’s diversity and inclusion subcommittee.

As one of the foremost experts in diversity and inclusion in the public relations, advertising and communications industries, Ford has led hundreds of presentations on multicultural communications and diversity. She has also executed award-winning research funded by several notable organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, Plank Center for Leadership, and Arthur W. Page Society.

Additionally, a Page award announcement commended Ford for overseeing several top-ranked public relations programs during her career.

Prior to leading the School of Communications’ 80 full-time faculty and staff and nearly 1,500 students, Ford served as a tenured professor and chair of the Public Relations Department in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She was also a faculty member and associate dean at Howard University for 16 years.

“Dr. Ford is tirelessly committed to our profession and to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry,” said Charlene Wheeless, chair of the Page Board of Trustees. “Her invaluable service to the profession throughout her prolific career makes her especially deserving of this honor.”

Several Elon students accompanied Ford to attend and volunteer at Page’s Annual Conference. Pictured (from left) are Emily May ’22, Morgan Hack ’23, Alicia Clanton ’23, Ford, Lindsay Gelman ’23 and Julia Johnson ’24.

Among those who congratulated Ford on social media was Barri Rafferty, head of corporate communications for Wells Fargo and a member of the school’s National Advisory Board. Following the awards presentation, Rafferty tweeted: “So well deserved. Congratulations!”

This isn’t the first time Ford’s efforts have been applauded on a national scale. She was named PRSA’s Outstanding Educator Award recipient in 2019 and was inducted into the PRWeek Hall of Fame in 2018.

Fittingly, Ford had several Elon students and aspiring public relations professionals accompany her to Page’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. These students included Emily May ’22, Morgan Hack ’23, Alicia Clanton ’23, Lindsay Gelman ’23 and Julia Johnson ’24.