Introducing the Jeff Wilson, APR Scholarship of Excellence

We must increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the public relations industry. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

Last year, the Richmond Public Relations Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PRSA Richmond, began a strategic planning process and identified diversity and inclusion as a key goal.

As part of this work, the Foundation is excited to introduce a new $1,500 annual scholarship for students of color.

The scholarship is named after a familiar face to many in the chapter: Jeff Wilson, APR.

The Jeff Wilson, APR Scholarship of Excellence will be offered every year alongside the Foundation’s other three scholarships.

With more than 25 years of experience in communications, Jeff serves as vice president of workplace culture and chief of staff at Padilla. He has been involved in PRSA for more than 15 years in a variety of capacities, including serving as president of PRSA Richmond and president of the Foundation. He currently serves on the PRSA National Board, representing the Mid-Atlantic District.

The Foundation’s Board couldn’t be more excited to name the scholarship after Jeff. His contributions and servant leadership have made PRSA Richmond and the Foundation stronger organizations.

You can learn more about the scholarship here. Please encourage a student you know to apply.

To celebrate Jeff and the scholarship, we caught up with Jeff to answer a few questions.

What do you find most rewarding about your career in public relations?

As a profession, public relations is essential to helping organizations solve business problems. We help organizations – whether it’s corporations, nonprofits, government agencies and others – tell their stories truthfully, ethically and authentically. Throughout my 20+ years working at a PR agency, I’ve had the pleasure of working across numerous sectors, including technology, health, higher education and consumer.

What inspires me most is the fact that public relations is constantly evolving as our audiences and channels are evolving. That’s exciting and dynamic. As the adage goes, “change is the only constant in life.” Public relations certainly proves that to be true.

How has your connection to PRSA impacted your career?

PRSA has been part of my life for nearly 20 years! I joined in 2004 at the encouragement of colleagues who were active in the organization. Since joining PRSA, it has had an immense impact on my career through networking and professional development opportunities, including successfully going through the APR process in 2007. PRSA also has afforded me the opportunity to contribute to the PR profession through service to the Society at the local and national level. I can honestly say that PRSA Richmond is one of the best chapters in the entire organization. I’ve also met wonderful people and made great friends through PRSA, who have offered career advice and served as sounding boards on many occasions.

Why should students apply for this scholarship?

Students should apply for this scholarship – and others – because finances shouldn’t be an overwhelming barrier to higher education. As a first-generation college graduate, I was able to attend college partly because of scholarships and other financial aid. The fact that the Richmond Public Relations Foundation, as the charitable arm of PRSA Richmond, offers scholarships to college students in Central Virginia is another reason I’m proud to be part of Greater Richmond’s remarkable PR community. I couldn’t be more humbled and appreciative that the Foundation has chosen to name its new scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a BIPOC student in our region, in my honor.