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by Brandi Boatner, president, PRSSA at HPU

HPU communication teacher Barbara Jeann “BJ” Whitman was elected recently to the prestigious Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) College of Fellows. Whitman teaches COM 3720, Public Relations Management, which deals with the development of strategic communication plans. Her election to the PRSA College of Fellows is a national, professional honor awarded to senior practitioners and educators, based on lifetime achievement in public relations.

“ The designation as a Fellow by PRSA is one of our profession’s most distinguished honors,” said Rhoda Weiss, PRSA national chairperson.

“ Fellows contribute immensely to the growth of our profession and the respect accorded to it,” Weiss added.

Whitman is known as Hawai‘i’s “voice of experience,” in the hospitality industry,” according to Dr. Larry LeDoux, Kalamalama advisor, who added that she provided invaluable help to him when he did a series of articles on Sheraton properties for Hawai‘i Magazine.

For more than a decade, Whitman served as the director of PR for O‘ahu’s Sheraton Hotels and as vice president at Communications Pacific, Hawai‘i’s largest public relations firm. Currently she owns and operates her own PR firm, BJW Public Relations.

“ As a mentor and role model to so many professionals in Hawai‘i, I can’t think of a better honoree,” said PRSA Hawai‘i President Sara Platte.

Whitman has been a member of PRSA since 1983 and received her public relations accreditation in 1994. She served as PRSA Hawai‘i president in 1996, and is the current national PRSA district chair.

Whitman is also involved with the student PR organization, and she works with PRSSA chapters at the University of Hawai‘i-Manoa and HPU. She served for five years as the UH-M chapter professional advisor and has worked with the HPU PRSSA chapter on the 2007 Koa Anvil Awards and PRSA Hawai‘i’s 60th Anniversary celebration.

Whitman is also involved in various community service projects such as the Food Bank of Hawai‘i, the American Heart Association, and the Blood Bank of Hawai‘i. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Kama‘aina Kids and is on the Marketing Committee for Hawai‘i Women’s Business Center.

“ Being a PR Fellow is important because it is recognition by the society of a lifetime commitment to the society,” Whitman said. “The best lesson I’ve learned during my years in the public relations industry is that in the end one’s success is based on their ability to build long-term relationships with the media, fellow professionals, and individuals outside of the profession,” she added.


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