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

Eligibility and Nomination Criteria

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.

Recipient Selection

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 their 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.

Recognition and Award Presentation

The current year Gaskins Award winner will receive:

  • Complimentary registration to the upcoming NSPRA National Seminar,
  • A formal presentation of the award during a General Session at the Seminar and
  • One night of lodging, arranged by NSPRA, for the evening before the award presentation. 

In the spirit of this award, the recipient also 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.

 2022 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award Recipient

 Jill Filer
Director of Communications and Community Relations
Harrisonville Schools, Harrisonville, Mo.

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) is pleased to announce Jill Filer, director of communications and community relations for Harrisonville Schools in Harrisonville, Mo., as the recipient of the 2022 Barry Gaskins Mentor Legacy Award. She will be honored at the NSPRA 2022 National Seminar during the General Session on Tuesday, July 19, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Hotel.

The annual award, named for NSPRA past-president Barry Gaskins, APR, 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.

“Jill’s ongoing commitment to mentoring professionals new to school public relations is inspiring,” said NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, APR. “Her guidance and counsel have been invaluable to so many during a time of continued change, and her actions will be felt for years to come.” 

Over the course of her more than 20 years in school communications, Filer’s dedication to school PR, the professional development of colleagues and to serving others has been a hallmark of her career. 

“Jill’s method for mentoring is simple: She makes herself available,” said David Luther, executive director of the Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA), a chapter of NSPRA. “See a problem? Address it. Find a gap? Fill it. Recognize that a colleague is struggling? Lift them up. That’s what Jill has been doing for the past 20 years.”

Filer spearheaded the creation of MOSPRA’s “Colleague Connections” mentorship program as well as organized sub-regional meetings for the chapter, which provide opportunities for members to come together at nearby locations to share best practices in school communications. Her “ready-to-serve” demeanor has made her a go-to advisor for school PR colleagues across the nation. 

“It’s hard to find those colleagues whom you know you can trust for professional and personal advice,” said Lana Snodgras, director of communications and community relations for the West Plains (Mo.) School District. “Jill listens, then questions, and instead of telling you what to do, helps you determine what is best for the situation.”

Filer previously served as the MOSPRA president in 2010-2011 and was honored as an NSPRA Front-Runner in 2011.

View a list of previous award recipients