NSPRA Presidents Award 2018 Recipient

The NSPRA Presidents Award is the highest honor bestowed by the association. It is given to recognize a (living) individual NSPRA member for outstanding professionalism and integrity throughout a career as an educational public relations practitioner and for contributing to the advancement of educational public relations. In addition, it recognizes the member’s active involvement and leadership at a national-level as well as substantive professional contributions to NSPRA. 

2018 NSPRA Presidents Award Recipient

Karen H. Kleinz, APR

Karen H. Kleinz, APR
Associate Director

As a school public relations practitioner for over 35 years, Karen Kleinz, APR, has demonstrated her professionalism and commitment at three levels — as a local school district communicator and state chapter leader, in regional leadership as an NSPRA Vice President, and in national leadership as NSPRA Associate Director for over 20 years.

Karen exemplifies what every school professional should be — focused on two-way, consistent, objective and planned strategic communication, committed to professional development and improvement, and dedicated to helping others build their professional competence and confidence.

In the course of her career at NSPRA, Karen has led our public engagement efforts, representing NSPRA in collaborative partnerships with the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Kettering Foundation. Early on she helped expand NSPRA’s crisis communication resources, from Bonus Items for members to coordinating regional Crisis Communication Academies, to helping provide on-site assistance to the Jefferson County (Colo.) Public Schools communication department in the aftermath of the Columbine High School tragedy. As manager of NSPRA’s communication audit service she has helped build it into one of our most valuable offerings, positioning NSPRA as the premier provider of audits for school systems across North America.

Members probably know Karen best as a liaison to Chapters and for Accreditation, as a key member of NSPRA’s Seminar planning team, and as an on-call strategic counselor. She never fails to drop everything and answer a call from a member in need of help, taking time to counsel them through whatever issue they are dealing with and then providing a wealth of resources to address the issue. The relationships she has developed and maintained with members over the years have also made Karen a fantastic connector. If a member has a problem, she usually knows several people across the US and Canada in the NSPRA network who have also dealt with their issue, and connects them so they can share experiences and resources.

NSPRA has benefitted time and again because she takes the time to get to know members as PR professionals and as friends. She is quick to spot trends and find NSPRA members who are ahead of the curve on issues so they can share their strategies and tactics. Whether it’s finding mentors for members, identifying timely Seminar workshops and sessions, searching our resources for tools to address breaking issues, or encouraging colleagues to pursue their APR, Karen is always seeking ways to make school communications better and NSPRA stronger. No matter the task at hand or the resource challenges, she is always the one “to make it happen.”

The breadth and depth of her understanding of both NSPRA and our members has been an invaluable asset to our association over the years. Her innate ability to balance the often conflicting needs of the two has helped our leaders make the right decisions as well as consistently position NSPRA favorably in the eyes of our members. NSPRA Past President Jim Cummings, APR, may have captured it best in reminiscing on his 30 year friendship with Karen: “From the start, Karen pushed and taught me how to be a better communicator, to think differently, and to never be afraid to stand my ground if I believed what I was doing was good for students, teachers and my school district. She did that by urging me to reach out and work with fellow ASPRA members and to join NSPRA. She taught me the great value of networking, and of exchanging ideas. She encouraged me to share the things I was doing through presentations at the local and national level. Karen showed me that, when shared, small ideas can become big ones and big ideas help kids and teachers and schools.”

We are very proud to recognize Karen Kleinz, APR, as our 2018 Presidents Award recipient for her dedication to raising the profile and effectiveness of the school public relations profession by helping our members and NSPRA excel in our quest to make a difference for public education.