Spotlight on Thomas Jefferson Award Winner: Beth Monroe, APR

Beth Monroe, APR, public relations director of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 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.

Professionally, I appreciate the recognition for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The initiatives outlined in my nomination were the result of many people working together. They required bold leadership, teamwork and unwavering support. I believe these characteristics are what make the Garden so special, and I see the Thomas Jefferson Award as a reflection on all my colleagues’ achievements. Personally, I am also extremely touched. I’ve chaired the special awards committee before and have been part of the “surprise reveal” – I never thought it would be me being surprised!

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.

Certainly the decision to work at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was one of my best career decisions ever. It’s extremely exciting to see the Garden evolving from a place recognized for its beauty to an organization that’s also known for its role in improving communities. The work is meaningful and there’s still much to be done.

Being surrounded by smart people has been another hallmark of my career. Hiring Jonah Holland to manage the Garden’s social media was a great move, as was the decision to work with our integrated marketing firm, Elevation.

The opportunity to collaborate with tourism partners and create the Richmond Garden Trail stands out as a highlight. It’s a great example of people working together. I’m grateful to my boss, the Garden’s Executive Director Shane Tippett, who said “go for it!” and for the support from Richmond Region Tourism and Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Finally, one of my favorite career and personal moments was in 2015 when Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was invited to visit the White House Kitchen Garden. One of our summer camp students and her mother represented the Garden. They are also personal friends of mine and it was such a thrill to watch the live feed and see this Somalian refugee family meet First Lady Michelle Obama!

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

My parents have always been a strong, positive influence in my life, so I would say they are my original mentors. I’ve already shared a story of how supportive my boss Shane Tippett is; I cannot adequately express how important his example and leadership is — not just for me, but the entire Garden. I think we are all mentors, whether we realize it or not. I often look at the people I work with and am impressed by their strengths and experience. It’s my hope that I can learn and model their positive qualities. I also love the idea of reverse mentoring, which is listening to and valuing what younger people have to offer. We learn a lot from our interns!

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

Richmond PRSA provides a valuable service to the Richmond PR community, and from my perspective, especially for those of us who work for nonprofits. Our departments are often small with limited resources. PRSA Richmond provides opportunities for professional development, networking and making new friends. The result is a stronger PR community, which translates to a stronger RVA as a whole.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Just a huge thank you to all of those who work hard to make PRSA Richmond one of the best chapters in the country – this includes Chapter Administrator Sara Hunt and all of the board and committee members. I also want to say how much I value the many wonderful relationships I’ve made through PRSA Richmond and I hope to make many more. Finally and most importantly, I’d encourage members to continue to help aspiring and new practitioners through activities such as mentoring and supporting the Foundation scholarships.