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, but current NSPRA Executive Board members and NSPRA staff are ineligible for nomination.

Up to one Gaskins Award winner may be identified each year. A screening committee, comprised of several Executive Board members, reviews all nominations and identifies the winner.  As part of the selection process, the committee  considers whether the nominee:

  • Is actively engaged in mentoring colleagues new to the school PR profession;
  • Unselfishly gives of his/her time to counsel and advise colleagues on a range of issues;
  • Shares expertise by providing professional development training for chapter members and others, and presents workshops/sessions at state and national conferences, including the NSPRA National Seminar;
  • Has developed materials or programs designed to help new school PR professionals succeed and thrive in their jobs and the profession;
  • Practices strategic communication management and effective public engagement processes;
  • Demonstrates excellent personal communication skills and models the NSPRA Code of Ethics;
  • Believes in the importance of ongoing professional development, advocates the value of accreditation in public relations (APR), and encourages colleagues to pursue APR (ideal candidate also is APR); and
  • Demonstrates a commitment to supporting fellow NSPRA members through regular outreach, encouragement and acknowledgement of their efforts to promote public education as a cornerstone of our democracy.

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. 


2021 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award Recipient

Susan Brott, APRSusan Brott, APR
Senior Strategic Consultant
CESO Communications, LLC
Minneapolis, Minn.

The National School Public Relations Association is honoring Susan Brott, APR, with one of its most prestigious recognition awards: the Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award. The award recognizes a practicing school public relations professional for outstanding efforts in mentoring colleagues new to school public relations; providing counsel and advice on job success; and assisting colleagues in their professional development by creating or providing programs and activities designed to improve PR skills and knowledge.

Brott currently serves as a senior strategic consultant for CESO Communications, LLC, which provides strategic communications counsel and support for public school districts. Prior to joining CESO in 2020, she spent more than 20 years handling communications for school districts in Minnesota. She has also been an active contributor to her state chapter, Minnesota SPRA (MinnSPRA), and to NSPRA throughout her career.

Over the last two decades, Brott has demonstrated her dedication to mentoring colleagues in the profession in a variety of ways. 

“Susan is a life-long learner whose thoughtful questions and reflective insight constantly push her colleagues to grow. You can’t help but learn something new or think differently about an issue after a conversation with her,” said Chris Tennill, APR, the chief communications officer for Clayton School District in Missouri.

Brott, who is the daughter of public school teachers, frequently serves as a mentor for those who are new to the school public relations profession. For example, she co-facilitated the New Professionals workshop offered prior to the annual National Seminar for six years until 2019. As part of that work, she set up ongoing opportunities for participants to stay connected throughout the year.

“Her warmth and commitment to helping us newbies learn, grow and adjust to a complicated and challenging career was invaluable,” said Christine Paik, the chief communication officer for Poway Unified School District in California. “I suddenly felt like part of a large, extended ‘family’ with built-in support, camaraderie and networking.” 

At the state level, Brott co-facilitated the MinnSPRA Emerging Leaders program, a year-long learning cohort to provide learning for younger leaders who wanted to advance their skills in school communication. 

While working in four school districts over the course of her career, Brott also has supervised younger colleagues in ways that helped them advance their skills and pursue other positions. 

“Susan made my transition into the field seamless and was incredibly forthcoming and patient in introducing me to the field during a time of constant change for our district. The learning experience was invaluable,” said Wesley Drey, a communications coordinator for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 in Minnesota.

NSPRA leaders are proud to recognize Susan Brott, APR, as the Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award winner. She will be honored at the NSPRA 2021 National Seminar during the General Session on Tuesday, July 13, in New Orleans, Louisiana.


View a list of previous award recipients