Hall of Fame

The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to recognize the distinguished accomplishments, commitment and leadership of professional public relations practitioners and educators from the southeastern United States, for the benefit of promoting the public relations profession. Inductees are current and former southern public relations practitioners or educators who have brought honor to the field of public relations.

Congrats to our 2018 Inductees!

Elizabeth Gregory North       

For more than 25 years Elizabeth Gregory North has worked as an extension and land-grant communications and marketing professional. She has earned numerous state and national awards as well as recognition as a national leader in her field. She joined Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service as the head of agricultural communications and leading strategy, branding, marketing and communications for the office in 2013.         

In this role, she has created a quarterly magazine to promote the impact of Extension to stakeholder and opinion leaders, and a weekly television news feature series, The Food Factor. The show, broadcast in five markets across Mississippi, focuses on food and nutrition.     

Prior to joining MSU, she spent nearly 17 years with the Texas A&M University System, in a number of marketing communications roles for Extension and Research. She began her professional career in Extension communications for Auburn University’s Alabama Cooperative Extension Service from 1989 to 1993.      

North earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Auburn University and a master’s degree in arts from University of Rochester (New York). She has worked toward her doctorate, most recently with Texas A&M, in agricultural education with a special emphasis in communication.     

Professionally, North is actively involved with many professional associations, including the Public Relations Society of America, Public Relations Association of Mississippi and Southern Public Relations Federation. She was named president of the Association for Communications Excellence in August 2018.

Donna Ritchey, APR 

Donna Ritchey, APR, joined GodwinGroup as a public relations assistant in 1989. Today, she serves as vice chairman and chief strategy officer of the 80-year-old, privately-held communications firm – the oldest and largest such firm in the South.      

Throughout her nearly 30-year tenure at GodwinGroup, she accepted increasingly responsible roles including environmental affairs coordinator supporting clients on environmental permitting, public policy and litigation matters, and as vice president and director of public relations. As senior vice president she also led GodwinGroup’s research division. Ritchey became an agency shareholder in 1995.      

Her planning and consultation specialties include energy, healthcare, manufacturing, education, banking, professional services, not-for-profits; and environmental, public and government affairs. GodwinGroup’s public relations practice has been recognized by O’Dwyer’s as: “2nd” Largest PR Unit within an Ad Agency;” the “12th largest PR Firm in the Southeast” and “12th in Environmental and Public Affairs.”      

Previously, Ritchey worked in public relations at Hinds General Hospital and as a student writer for the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). A 1987 graduate of Southern Miss, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in marketing.      

Ritchey earned her APR certification in 1993, was named one of Mississippi’s Top 40 under 40, and listed among the Top 50 Business Women in Mississippi. In 2009, she was inducted into the USM School of Mass Communications & Journalism’s Hall of Fame. Ritchey serves on advisory boards for Jackson State University’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies and for USM’s School of Mass Communication & Journalism.  

For more information, contact Hall of Fame Chair Leigh Perry-Herndon, SPRF Past President.

Click here for more information about members of the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame.

Induction into the Hall is intended to identify leaders in our industry who should be recognized and honored for their extraordinary achievements, accomplishments and contributions to their organizations, communities and the public relations profession.

The Hall is co-sponsored by SPRF and the Mississippi State University Department of Communications and is permanently installed outside the John Grisham Room inside in the Mitchell Memorial Library on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville.

Hall of Fame candidates must be SPRF members to be considered for selection, but a membership application may be submitted along with the Hall of Fame nomination form, and the waiting period will be waived.

Criteria for selection includes 25 years or more of professional experience by candidates who:

  • have brought honor to the profession of public relations (Inductees may also be recognized for some strong contribution to their company, organization, city, state or region.);

  • may be deceased;

  • may have shown leadership at the local, state and regional levels of SPRF and member organizations and chapters; and/or

  • may have demonstrated professional practice and behavior that are characteristic and consistent with the SPRF Code of Ethics.

Southern PR Hall of Fame 2016

Members of the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame gathered in Starkville, Mississippi, in August 2016 to welcome the new inductees. Pictured left to right are Rex Kelly (2010); Carol Mann, APR (2013); Ken Hair, APR (2012); Daniel Gardner (2016); Steve Renfroe (2016); Joseph V. Trahan III, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA (2016); Eva Golson (2016); John Forde, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA (2014); John S. Hightower, APR (2016); and Suzanne Fornaro, APR (2015).


Members of the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame include (from left:): Ken Hair, John Wittig, PhD, APR; Sherry Harlow, APR; Suzanne Fornaro, APR; Karla Gower, PhD (representing the late Betsy Plank, APR, Fellow PRSA); Carol Mann, APR; John Forde, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA; and Philip Shirley, APR. They gathered at Mississippi State University in Starkville during the 2015 induction ceremony. 


Members of the Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame gathered in Starkville, Miss., in July 2014 to welcome the new inductees. Pictured left to right, Rex Kelly of Gulfport, Miss. (2011); Ken Hair of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (2012); Joe Purka, of Niceville, Fla. (2014); Sherry Harlow, APR, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (2011); Shelia White, of Gulfport, Miss. (2014); John Forde, PhD, APR, Fellow PRSA, of Starkville, Miss. (2014) and Philip Shirley, APR, of Jackson, Miss. (2014).

2013 HOF

Inductees of the 2013 Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame were recognized in a ceremony at the John Grisham Room of Mitchell Memorial Library on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville. Pictured left to right, Ken Hair of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (2012 inductee); Sherry Harlow, APR, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (2011 inductee); Betsie Gambel of New Orleans, La.; Renie Saucier of Alexandria, La., accepting on behalf of her late husband, Charles "Chuck" Saucier; Caron Blanton, SPRF president; Carol Mann, APR, of Mobile, Ala.; Tony Bahou of Jackson, Miss., PRAM Central president, accepting on behalf of the late Neal W. Cirlot; and John Wittig, PhD, APR, of Hoover, Ala.