AGENCY FOUNDER MARIA RODRIGUEZ, PR ACADEMIC MITCH MAROVITZ TO BE INDUCTED INTO NATIONAL CAPITAL PUBLIC RELATIONS HALL OF FAME
Lifetime Achievement Awards to be Bestowed at Annual Thoth Gala
Falls Church, Va. Aug. 3, 2016 – The Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) is pleased to announce the induction of Maria Rodriguez and Mitch Marovitz, APR, Fellow PRSA, into the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame. Rodriguez and Marovitz will be honored at PRSA-NCC’s Annual Thoth Awards Gala, Thursday, September 22, 2016. The ceremony will occur from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tickets are now available at: www.prsa-ncc.org.
“It is with great honor and enthusiasm that we recognize Maria Rodriguez and Mitch Marovitz this year for their lifetime contributions to the public relations profession in the D.C. area,” said National Capital Hall of Fame Chair and 2013 Chapter President Samantha Villegas, APR. “The PRSA-NCC board joins me in congratulating both inductees on such impressive and esteemed careers. We thank them for their service to our local PR community, and for the incredible example they’ve set for us all.”
In 1987, Rodriguez co-founded Vanguard Communications, a public relations and social marketing firm in Washington, D.C., committed to marketing and promoting social issues. Today, she is the sole owner and president of the award-winning firm, and leads a team of more than 40 communicators working to advance change in public health, mental health, education, diversity and inclusion, environmental protection, and sustainable agriculture. Under her leadership, Vanguard became the first Hispanic woman-owned firm to earn the highly coveted PR Week PR Agency of the Year Award in 2003. That same year, Rodriguez also was selected as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Hispanic Magazine.
A native Washingtonian, Rodriguez is a first-generation American whose Spanish parents emigrated to the U.S. in 1957 from Venezuela. Their example of bravery inspired their daughter to start Vanguard, despite being only 27 years old. Though it was a unique and risky PR business move, Rodriguez developed a PR firm dedicated exclusively to improving the world we live in as there were few firms at the time that focused on social issues. Even through tough economic times, Rodriguez has helped Vanguard stay true to its mission. The core social marketing principle of “meeting audiences where they are” is at the center of her work. With her extensive background in PR, social marketing and multicultural engagement, she has led countless public education and social change campaigns for a broad spectrum of nonprofit organizations and government agencies.
A pioneer in communicating about children’s mental health, Rodriguez helped conceive and launch the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, to raise understanding about the importance of children’s mental health. The annual observance, observed every May during Mental Health Awareness Month, engages hundreds of community organizations across the country and produces millions of media impressions.
Rodriguez’s commitment to improving the lives of those in the larger D.C. community is reflected in Vanguard’s pro bono work for local nonprofit organizations with limited resources. Some examples of Vanguard’s pro bono clients include ZuriWorks for Women’s Health, which aims to reduce health disparities that affect vulnerable women; and Faces & Voices of Recovery, which advocates recovery for the more than 23 million Americans addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
Personally, Rodriguez volunteers her communications expertise to elevate public conversations about critical social issues and reduce associated stigma and discrimination. Understanding the difficulty of seeking treatment for mental health issues (especially for Latinos, who are further challenged by the dearth of Spanish-speaking and culturally-responsive providers), Rodriguez currently serves on the board of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association. She also served as a board member for both the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR). While serving as the WCR marketing chairperson, Rodriguez developed and led WCR’s public opinion campaign for the Clinton Administration to hire the White House’s first female chef — Cristeta Comerford — who currently serves as executive chef of the White House..
Marovitz, who will also be inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows this year, is the immediate past president of PRSA-NCC, and currently chairs the public relations program at the Graduate School of the University of Maryland University College. He previously served as an adjunct professor for Webster, George Mason and George Washington universities. Marovitz has 30 years of distinguished military service, including assignments as commander of the American Forces Network Europe, Commander/Publisher of the European Stars and Stripes newspaper and chief of the Army public affairs office in Los Angeles.
After his military public affairs service, and before becoming a communications professor, Marovitz was the principal author of the 2004 Army public affairs plan supporting the release of the Army Inspector General’s Report on Detainee Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq following the scandal at Abu Ghraib. Later, he led communications teams for Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., serving clients in the defense and intelligence communities. There, he led a communications team supporting the management services directorate of the National Reconnaissance Office. He also led a 42-person, $10 million per-year project that produced and distributed six quarterly magazines in 11 languages with a combined annual circulation of 400,000. As a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, he led a 10-project strategic communications portfolio for the U.S. Army. For his efforts, Marovitz received the Booz Allen Hamilton Team Appreciation Award in 2007 and 2009. During his outstanding career in the Army, Marovitz also received a number of awards, including the Army Legion of Merit in 1995 and the Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters in 1998, 2000 and 2002.
One aspect of Marovitz’s career that sets him apart is his commitment to advancing other professionals. With more than 30 years in the field of PR, Marovitz sees mentoring as a core responsibility. He loves to work with young people, who he believes are the most creative and energetic in the world, and to that end, has mentored ten protégés in the last five years.
In addition to mentoring individuals, Marovitz has been a staunch supporter of the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) certification with more than three years serving on the Universal Accreditation Board and more than 10 years actively mentoring professionals through the APR process. Through his work advocating for, and mentoring others in, the APR, he is very focused on helping aspiring professionals at all stages in their career understand what works, why, and under what conditions.
Marovitz has a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation from Syracuse University, and a B.S. in Communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He earned his PRSA Accreditation in Public in Relations in 2007.
PRSA-NCC started the National Capital Public Relations Hall of Fame in 1999 by inducting 50 leaders with significant accomplishments in the public relations field as part of the chapter’s 50th Anniversary celebration. The Hall of Fame members hold more than a thousand awards, distinctions, honorary degrees, advisory positions, charity board seats, and Who’s Who citations among them. Criteria for induction in the PRSA-NCC Public Relations Hall of Fame includes 30 or more years of distinguished accomplishments, visionary leadership, mentoring, commitment to the profession, positive and significant impacts on the industry, and contributions to the local public relations community. Inductees must have worked in the Washington, D.C. area for at least 10 years. View the list of Hall of Fame Members at the PRSA-NCC website.
About PRSA’s National Capital Chapter
The National Capital Chapter of PRSA (PRSA-NCC) is a professional public relations association of more than 1,300 members in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. PRSA-NCC provides professional development programs, accreditation instruction, and networking. PRSA-NCC also promotes public relations education through five area Public Relations Society of America student chapters. For more information, please visit www.prsa-ncc.org. Connect with us on Facebook at PRSANCC or follow us on Twitter @PRSANCC with #Thoth2016.