Bellisario College of Communications

Annual Page Center Awards shine a light on authentic, ethical communicators

The Bellisario College research center honored three communications leaders at its annual event

More than 200 communicators gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City to honor Bill George, Gwen Ifill and John Onoda at the second annual Arthur W. Page Center Awards.  Credit: Donna AlbericoAll Rights Reserved.

NEW YORK — In an age of skepticism and mistrust, it is vital for communicators to conduct themselves ethically and with integrity. This was the message throughout the second annual Arthur W. Page Center Awards dinner.

Hosted by Bill Nielsen, Center advisory board chair, and Marie Hardin, dean of Penn State’s Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, the Feb. 21 event showcased the value of truth and integrity for the more than 200 communicators in attendance.

Nielsen spoke about the importance of promoting integrity to younger generations, especially during a time so turbulent and full of change. Hardin echoed those thoughts and thanked dedicated faculty members who prepare students to be “critical, ethical and engaged” leaders in society.

Each honoree was presented with a Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication, named after the center’s founder. The first honoree was Bill George, senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic. During his speech, he discussed the importance of being forthcoming and authentic in public communication, and admitting mistakes rather than ignoring them. He advised communicators to showcase the good their organization accomplishes, rather than merely responding to the bad.

The Page Center posthumously honored PBS NewsHour host Gwen Ifill at the dinner. In a video, Ifill’s friend and Newshour co-anchor Judy Woodruff continued the night’s theme of authenticity by highlighting Ifill’s rare commitment to fact-based, unbiased reporting. 

“Her mantra, even as the appetite for opinion increased around us,” Woodruff said, “was to stick to what we knew and to let the audience interpret the facts for themselves."

Lisa Davis, who accepted the award on Ifill’s behalf, talked about how Ifill, who past away in 2016, was the very model of objective and ethical journalism. She said Ifill had the unique ability to put her opinions aside, and “rise above the adversity she faced with grace and dignity.”

Davis, a life-long friend of Ifill’s and VP of communications at Northrop Grumman Corporation, added that the fact that Ifill continues to inspire so many to this day demonstrates how much of a trailblazer and a “unicorn” she was in both her personal and professional life.

John Onoda, consultant at Gagen MacDonald and the night’s final Larry Foster award honoree, discussed the importance of the Page Principal “prove it with action.” He emphasized that ethical consideration should be the concern of the entire organization, and not just the communicators. Onoda ended the evening on a hopeful note, and expressed gratitude that organizations like the Page Center exist, and that many communications professionals still understand what it means to conduct oneself with integrity.

The event was again held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Last year’s honorees were Ann Barkelew, Alan Murray and Dick Martin. Learn more about last year’s event here.

Foster, a 1949 Penn State alumnus, founded the Page Center in 2004 with fellow public relations legends Jack Koten and Ed Block. The awards program was created to honor communicators who share in Foster’s vision. Funds raised from the event support innovative research and educational programs by the Page Center.

Last Updated February 23, 2018