Spotlight on Thomas Jefferson Award Winner: Beth A. Hardy, APR

Beth A. Hardy, APR, President of Hardy Communications and School Board Member of Goochland County Public Schools, is this year’s winner of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Excellence, which recognizes the achievement of a seasoned public relations practitioner who has made an ongoing commitment to the advancement of the profession.

Describe what receiving the Thomas Jefferson Award means to you.

It’s hard to articulate what winning the Thomas Jefferson Award means to me. Words fail me. When I look at the roster of past winners, it boggles my mind to think my peers place me in that same category. Very simply, it is humbling and such an honor to have my career validated by so many people I admire.

When you look back on your career, is there a particular highlight or definitive moment that comes to mind? Feel free to share a few.

There are two. Starting my own consulting business was my first definitive moment. Stepping away from the relative security of the private sector and striking out on my own proved to me that I had the skills needed to be successful in my business, while allowing me a more flexible schedule to raise my family. My second definitive moment was running for an elected public office. It was, hands down, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I truly believe all of my life’s work led me to public service so that I could advocate for public education in a productive and compelling way.

We’re sure a number of people look up to you as a mentor. Who do you consider to be your mentor, and why?

I’ve had a number of mentors over the years, though none were “formal” relationships. To me, a mentor is anyone from whom you can learn something that makes you a better person. I’ve had mentors in all walks of life – school, business, family, fitness, relationships, and public service. Some mentors have been bosses, while others are peers, colleagues, friends, and family. There are too many people to recognize. Perhaps I should write a book about the value of mentors! They are all around you, if you just take notice.

In your mind, what are the benefits of PRSA Richmond to the Richmond PR community?

The benefits of PRSA Richmond to the local PR community are significant. PRSA Richmond offers so much to its members – networking, professional development, camaraderie, public service, and partnerships. Through PRSA Richmond, I was able to enhance my professional skills, build business contacts, develop leadership skills, and achieve professional accreditation. Serving on the Board and various committees introduced me to opportunities I would not have otherwise. The work PRSA Richmond does is important. It brings great credibility to all of us as professionals and supports PR being valued as a strategic part of all businesses.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

As with anything, “you get out of it what you put into it.” PRSA Richmond was a huge part of my development as a professional. The first half of my career was spent building critical relationships with my PRSA brethren. Those relationships have carried me through my career and are incredibly valuable. I encourage members to invest their time in our local Chapter and take advantage of as many membership benefits as possible. It will pay off in spades.