ADPR Honored with National and Regional DEI, Rotary Awards
From left: Dionne George, Associate Professor María de Moya, and Director Beth Foster hold up the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations’ Diversity Action Alliance for the Best Internal DEI Initiative award.
The Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations (ADPR) has been well represented on the awards circuit this summer, helping make history locally, and receiving a major honor nationally.
ADPR Assistant Professor of Practice Joe Stabb and ADPR alumna Margo Hughes (‘08) recently received the Rotarian of the Year award from the Rotary Club of Knoxville. It was the first time the club has awarded two individuals in the same year.
“We both said if we had to share with somebody, we were glad it was with each other,” Hughes said. “It’s really fun to have that connection to the ADPR program at Tennessee.”
Nationally, ADPR was honored by Diversity Action Alliance for the Best Internal DEI Initiative, which is presented to the organization that has initiated an impactful and compelling DEI-focused program, policy or collaboration within the past year.
ADPR was recognized for its development plan to make diversity, equity, and inclusion as the main drivers of the growth of the school. That includes strategic initiatives to address underrepresentation, strengthen inclusion, and ensure equity for advertising and public relations students through student support and opportunity, faculty recruitment, development and retention, and community engagement.
“The awards are really a huge validation and exciting recognition of our concerted efforts to serve at every level, from our community and beyond,” said Beth Foster, director of the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations. “It also ties back to the land grant mission of the university in that we are interacting and serving and getting recognized for as much.”
Foster is in the running for an award of her own. She is a finalist in the Education category of the YWCA’s 38th annual Tribute to Women awards. The ceremony honoring women in Eastern Tennessee is Sept. 28 at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Stabb, who was featured this month in a headline story in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, has been a part of Rotary since 2018, including the last two years in Knoxville, after moving from New York to begin working at UT.
He is the chair of two committees, including the committee that oversees UTK Rotaract, the Rotary-sponsored service club for UT students. He custom-built the Rotary Club of Knoxville’s new website, manages the club’s social media accounts, and led three community volunteer activities this year.
“As they were reading off the criteria for the award and hearing all the things Joe had done listed, it was really impressive,” Foster said. “He personifies what it means when we talk about serving the community.”
Hughes, the director of operating services for Bluemont Group, LLC, a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise network, was recognized largely for her work to raise millions of dollars for the Rotary’s mission of eradicating polio.
Hughes spearheads the Purple Pinkie Donut Project, which has generated nearly $5 million in donations to End Polio Now over the last five years.
Children in developing countries have their pinkie dipped in purple ink when they receive a polio vaccine so health workers know which children received the vaccine. On October 24, World Polio Day, certain Dunkin’ Donut locations in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi that are part of the Bluemont Group network, all sell donuts with a purple icing tip.
Thanks to matching funds, a 10-count box of donuts for $25 provides vaccinations for nearly 30 children.
“It is easy to be cynical nowadays. It’s a weird time to be alive. But one of the beautiful things about Rotary is it truly is just a service organization and everyone there believes in serving,” Hughes said. “I’ve always had a heart for giving back, and thankfully I work at a company that encourages and supports their employees who want to do it.”
Because of the relationship between Hughes and Stabb through Rotary, ADPR students will be helping with this year’s Purple Pinkie Project.
One of Stabb’s graduate students wrote the brand guidelines as a class project this past spring, and Stabb’s advertising campaign class this summer has taken Hughes on as a client.
The class is creating a brand strategy for the Purple Pinkie Project and trying to find ways for Hughes to most effectively reach her targeted audience. Groups of students will pitch their campaigns to Hughes at the end of the summer session.
“As a one-woman show the last five years, I could not be more excited about this. It’s such a blessing,” Hughes said. “Hopefully it comes out with something that is real-world applicable and functional, and gets used with the campaign.”
Stabb is happy his class can assist Hughes on such an impactful campaign while also giving students practical experience that serves a greater good.
“Margo is great to work with. As an alum, she went through all these classes and she is really invested with the students,” Stabb said. “It has worked out really, really well.”
The connections Hughes made while studying at UT led to all her job opportunities. Being able to make new UT connections while serving the community has been equally as rewarding.
“I really enjoy being an alumni,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the ad program at UT.”
Written by Rhiannon Potkey