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Minnesota PRSA Honors Tom Jollie with Donald G. Padilla Distinguished Practitioner Award

Published on 5/7/2019
Tom Jollie, APR and senior vice president at Padilla, received the Donald G. Padilla Distinguished Practitioner Award at the 41st annual PRSA Classic Awards on May 2. The peer-judged award, created in 1996, honors the late public relations pioneer Donald G. Padilla and recognizes an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributions to the profession of public relations, has contributed to the mission of PRSA and has volunteered their time and talents toward making our community better. 

Jollie has devoted his 38 years as a public relations professional to helping purpose-driven organizations communicate effectively with their audiences. Many worthy Twin Cities organizations have benefited from his pro bono and voluntary board service and communications counsel.  

As an aspiring communications student at the University of Minnesota, Jollie was an active member of PRSSA for three years before landing a position at Brum & Anderson in 1981. It was the Twin Cities’ first woman-owned public relations firm – with an all-female staff – until he set up his card-table desk in the mailroom. He had great expectations, and he wasn’t disappointed; seven years later, the firm merged with market leader Padilla & Speer.

With the winning combination of energy, eloquence and hard work, it should be no surprise that Jollie was destined to win this award. Today, he leads Padilla’s Minnesota practice – and he is one of the agency’s leading award-winners, too. His industry recognition has included numerous Silver and Bronze Anvils, Classics awards, Pinnacle awards (from the International Festivals and Events Association) and an Emmy for a Bush Foundation teacher recruitment program.

Among one of Jollie’s greatest accomplishments outside the office was with the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts. When the chapter began experiencing declining membership, he spearheaded research to uncover attitudes and behaviors. The findings – and his insights – were so influential that they informed new approaches to recruitment for the national Boy Scouts organization, eventually heralding a new day for girls – who now can become Eagle Scouts.

“Whatever your aspirations, if you want to gain something, you have to give something first – freely, and without expectations,” said Jollie. “That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.”

Jollie is always ready, offering his expertise and encouragement with alacrity – especially if it means providing communications counsel that can uplift or empower those who are disadvantaged or underserved in our society.

Jollie’s sheer, unflagging enthusiasm for his work is unwavering.  He strives to sustain that perspective amid the inevitable conflicts and challenges inherent in public relations, drawing inspiration from others – including his longtime mentor, Lynn Casey, chair of Padilla and a 2018 PR Week Hall of Famer.

Since 1978, the Minnesota PRSA Classics Awards have recognized hundreds of organizations for excellence in public relations. The Classics are presented annually to public relations practitioners who, in the judgment of their peers, have successfully addressed a communications challenge with exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness.