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Date: Dec 07, 2009
Melissa Kane Connolly, vice president for university relations, honored as PR Professional of the YearHofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Vice President for University Relations Melissa Kane Connolly has been named PR Professional of the Year for an academic institution by PR News, the national publication for communications professionals.
The 2009 PR News’ PR People Awards, which honor outstanding achievements in public relations across a variety of industries and media platforms, were announced on Dec. 1, 2009 at an awards luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Connolly was recognized for her work coordinating and managing media relations and communications in connection with Hofstra hosting last year’s third and final presidential debate. In particular, Connolly created a program called “Educate ‘08” that used the debate as a springboard for a year of free lectures, conferences and other events about politics and public policy. The program featured national media and political figures as guest speakers, including George Stephanopoulos, Maureen Dowd, Ari Fleischer, James Carville and Mary Matalin. This year, “Educate ‘08” gave way to “Define ‘09”, a program which brought to campus various speakers to examine the impact of the historic election of the nation’s first African-American president and the policy challenges facing the Obama Administration.
“Working on the debate was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Connolly said. “I was fortunate to see it through from its very inception – to see it morph from a thought to a plan to an application to an event with thousands of people. It taught me a lot about planning, persistence and organization, as well as how important internal communications are to general public perception.”
President Stuart Rabinowitz noted that Connolly’s efforts stand out because they not only effectively promoted and enhanced the university’s image, but did so by providing exceptional educational events for students.
“Vice President Connolly’s tireless work in conceiving and implementing “Educate ‘08” was instrumental in turning our role as the host of a historic debate into a once-in-a-lifetime educational experience for our entire campus and the surrounding community,” Rabinowitz said. “I’m delighted that she is being recognized for her outstanding efforts on behalf of Hofstra. This honor is well-deserved.”
Connolly joined the University in June 2003 as assistant vice president for University Relations, and in September 2003, assumed overall responsibility for the office of University Relations, including Hofstra's communication, marketing and public relations efforts. Besides her work on Educate '08 and Define '09, she has co-chaired the Hofstra University Gala Journal committee, and is currently chairing the 75th Anniversary committee.
Prior to joining Hofstra, Connolly served as director of communications for New York State Senator Kemp Hannon and as the first director of marketing for Farrell Fritz, P.C., one of Long Island's largest law firms. She was named one of Long Island's "50 Most Influential Women" in 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Long Island Business News, one of Long Island Business News' "40 Rising Stars Under 40" in 2002, and has been noted as one of the paper's "Marketing Achievers." She currently serves as the immediate past president for the Long Island Women's Agenda, and is a member-at-large on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County and the YMCA of Long Island. She has served as a co-chair for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County's annual awards luncheon, the U.S. Open Hospitality, and the new walkathon committees.
She is a frequent speaker to business, trade and student groups, and under her leadership, Hofstra University's communications team has won several Admissions Marketing, CASE Accolades, Communicator and Telly Awards, as well as a CASE Silver Circle of Excellence Award.
Connolly received a bachelor of arts in communication arts from Hofstra University in 1989, where she was a member of Alpha Epsilon Rho.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from more than 150 undergraduate and 160 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied health services and honor studies, as well as a School of Law.