Each year, the Chapter Awards recognize the best of the best PRSA Georgia members who have demonstrated leadership within the Chapter and the public relations profession. Nominations for the Rising Star (fewer than eight years of experience), Shining Star (eight to 15 years of experience), and Luminary Star (more than 15 years of experience) awards, are submitted by PRSA Georgia members, with winners selected by a panel of judges.
In addition, the Chapter presents two distinct honors: the Distinguished Public Relations Award and the George Goodwin Award. The Distinguished Public Relations Award recognizes a prominent Georgian outside the public relations practice who has made an outstanding contribution to Georgia’s regional, national or international reputation through public relations practices and principles. The George Goodwin Award recognizes a PRSA Georgia member for their significant contributions to the community through volunteer service.
Please join us in celebrating this year’s Chapter Award winners.
2023 Distinguished PR Award
William Pate, president and CEO, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau
As president and CEO of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), William Pate is responsible for maintaining tourism as one of the city’s top economic drivers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry brought an estimated 57 million visitors annually to metro Atlanta, generating $16 billion in visitor spending and sustaining approximately 300,000 jobs.
A native of Atlanta, Pate is respected locally for his leadership and marketing expertise. He is an appointed member of the Georgia Tourism Foundation, charged with increasing the state’s position as a destination for travel. In 2022, he was named one of Atlanta’s 500 most powerful leaders by Atlanta Magazine. American Marketing Association’s Atlanta chapter awarded him its lifetime achievement award in 2020. Atlanta Business League previously named him Herman J. Russell CEO of the Year. Atlanta Business Chronicle honored Pate multiple times as one of Atlanta’s 50 most admired CEOs and named him to its 100 most influential Atlantans list every year since 2009. He is a past honoree of Atlanta Magazine’s most influential leaders in Atlanta and Georgia Trend magazine’s Notable Georgians
Luminary Star Award
Heather Kirksey, public relations director, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau
Heather Kirksey is the director of public relations at Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), where her team leads media relations efforts to bolster the city’s $18 billion hospitality industry. Along with developing and implementing strategies to increase Atlanta’s visibility as a top leisure travel and meetings destination, Kirksey also oversees issues management and crisis communications for the organization and provides counsel to ACVB’s executive leadership team.
She is actively involved in several professional organizations including PRSA Georgia, where she serves on the board of directors. She is a member of Destinations International’s Public Relations and Communications Task Force and sits on U.S. Travel Association’s Communications Advisory Committee.
Previously, Kirksey served as chair of the marketing and communications committee for the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four, member of the communications committee for Super Bowl LIII in 2019 and member of the marketing and communications committee for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. She was also recognized by PRSA Georgia as an inaugural Forty under 40 honoree in 2019.
Before joining ACVB, Kirksey worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and supported the healthcare system’s sports medicine, orthopedic, transplant and foundation programs by managing external media relations efforts. Prior to life in public relations, she was an award-winning journalist who spent a decade in sports broadcasting in various markets throughout the Southeast.
Shining Star Award
Ashley Pilgrim, vice president, corporate reputation, MSL
Ashley Pilgrim is an accomplished public relations professional with over a decade of experience. As a vice president at MSL, Ashley leads reputation-building communications programs and profile-raising executive visibility strategies to make companies, brands and leaders more influential.
For three years, Ashley collaborated with agency leaders to produce MSL’s Leadership Index: The C-Suite’s Guide to Influence. In 2022, Ashley won the inaugural MSLoves Award, recognizing her unwavering commitment to upholding the agency’s values. In 2023, she was appointed the community lead for the MSL Atlanta office.
Over the course of her career, Ashley has crafted C-suite communications for a mutual insurance company during a global pandemic, helped a 12-foot skeleton go viral for the world’s largest home improvement retailer, framed the ESG platform for a North American spinoff company, led the editorial strategy for an apparel and footwear company’s global intranet, and secured a first-ever multi-brand executive visibility engagement for a global restaurant company.
Ashley has a passion for nurturing next-gen talent and enjoys being a guest speaker for university communications departments and PRSSA Chapters. Ashley is currently serving her second two-year term as an assembly delegate for the PRSA Georgia Chapter following her two-year term on the board of directors.
In 2019, Ashley was named one of PRSA Georgia’s Forty Under 40 Award winners and in 2015, she received the Chapter’s Rising Star Award. Other industry accolades include recognition from PR News, PRSA, PRWeek and Ragan’s PR Daily for client campaigns.
Ashley graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Ashley lives with her husband Justin and two dogs, Coco and Otis, in Mableton. She loves Taylor Swift, iced lattes and traveling to new places.
Rising Star Award
Lindsey Raimondi, public relations manager, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau
Lindsey Raimondi is the public relations manager for Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), where she leads domestic media to increase Atlanta’s visibility as a top U.S. travel destination. She has secured more than 150 placements in publications ranging from Conde Nast Traveler, Forbes, Money Magazine, Southern Living, Travel & Leisure and Washington Post.
Prior to ACVB, Lindsey worked as public relations coordinator at Georgia Aquarium and public relations trainee with the Atlanta Braves. Lindsey is an active member of PRSA Georgia and currently serves as co-chair on the college relations committee. In 2022, Lindsey was named Chapter Champion in recognition of her service and support of PRSA Georgia.
Lindsey earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Liberty University. When she’s not pitching positive headlines about Atlanta, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors and spending time with her husband, daughter and dogs.