Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award

The Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award recognizes a practicing school public relations professional for outstanding efforts in mentoring colleagues new to school PR,  for providing counsel and advice on job success, and for assisting colleagues in their professional development by creating or offering programs and activities designed to improve PR skills and knowledge. This award is given in memory of Barry Gaskins, APR, an NSPRA past president who was known for his deep commitment to supporting and mentoring colleagues as well as for his passion for public education. The award is presented during a General Session of the NSPRA National Seminar

Eligible nominees must:

  • Hold a professional membership in NSPRA.
  • Belong to their state NSPRA chapter (unless nominee’s state has no chapter).
  • Hold (or have held during their career) a full-time school PR position for a minimum of five years. 

Any professional member of NSPRA may submit one nomination.

In the spirit of this award, the recipient is allowed to designate a mentee of their choice to receive a scholarship to the NSPRA National Seminar. The funding for the scholarship is provided by the NSPRA Foundation for the Advancement of Education through memorial donations from NSPRA chapters and colleagues.

 Nominations for the 2021 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award have closed. 

2019 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award Recipient

Susan Hardy Brooks, APRSusan Hardy Brooks, APR
Director of Communications and Marketing
Great Plains Technology Center, Okla.

The spirit of mentorship is part of Susan’s core. Through her work as a member and leader in OKSPRA and NSPRA, she has helped countless colleagues new to the profession. Her willingness to serve as a mentor started with her Oklahoma colleagues and quickly spread to so many others throughout the country.

Over the past 20 years, Susan has been a frequent presenter at NSPRA seminars and chapter conferences. She conducted numerous NSPRA audits and has contributed to many NSPRA publications to write and share her expertise.

When Susan served in official NSPRA leadership roles as the South Central Regional Vice President and the 2015-2016 NSPRA President, she pushed for inclusion, getting more people to feel part of the NSPRA family. Whether colleagues were new to the profession or seasoned veterans, she reached out to make them feel at home.

Along with helping colleagues to seek and prepare for new positions in school public relations, Susan has a long record of serving as an advisor to colleagues who are navigating a crisis or challenging situation. She brings a mountain of experience to these conversations along with a calm demeanor. Many of her colleagues have noted her skill at guiding school leaders during stressful and unpredictable situations. She is more than willing to advise colleagues on a wide range of issues and can do so effectively because of her broad and deep experience.

Susan has shaped the careers of so many of her colleagues by offering wise counsel, strategic advice and plain, old common sense. And she does it with her unmatchable Southern charm.

It is the testimonials from colleagues that truly highlight why Susan has earned their respect and admiration.

“Susan is known as someone who can be counted on to provide high quality advice and guidance in a timely manner, and who will drop what’s she’s whatever she’s doing to help a colleague in need. Susan is an extremely talented communicator – a real strength in today’s over-communicated world where it is increasingly difficult to catch a patron’s attention for more than a few seconds. She brings a wealth of talent and experience to her work ”

~ Jim Cummings, APR
Director of Communications
Glendale Elementary (Ariz.) School District

“When Susan sees an opportunity, she is sure to share it with others. Many of our OKSPRA colleagues found their current jobs thanks to Susan. And when Susan’s professional colleagues succeed, she is the first to celebrate with them, sharing their achievements with others to amplify their moment.”

~ Nicole Kirby, APR
Director of Communication Services
Park Hill (Mo.)School District

“When I entered school public relations 18 years ago, Susan immediately embraced me and taught me the best practices of the profession. She has never been too busy to lend a helping hand or to provide needed words of advice. Throughout my career, she has been a sounding board, a teacher, a mentor and a friend. When people ask me how I gained my knowledge and talents in school public relations, I always answer, ‘OKSPRA …. and Susan Hardy Brooks.'”

~ Amber Graham Fitzgerald 
Executive Director of Human Resources & Communications 
Enid (Okla.) Public Schools

The purpose of the Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award is to recognize outstanding efforts in mentoring, inspiring and motivating others. Advocating for public education and mentoring others is not just a job for Susan, it is a way of life. School PR professionals in Oklahoma and across the nation are stronger thanks to her mentorship and guidance and for this reason we are very proud to recognize Susan Hardy Brooks, APR as our 2019 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award recipient.

View a list of previous award recipients