BYU Head Football Coach Kalani Sitake said it best when receiving the 2016 Utah Communicator of the Year award: “I stand on the shoulders of others who paved the way for me to receive this recognition and owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
His words perfectly reflect my sentiments as I was honored as the 2016 Utah Professional Communicator of the Year alongside Sitake.
I want to express my appreciation to so many who have come before me, including selfless mentors and colleagues, wonderful friends in the industry and a very supportive family. Additionally, I owe a big thank you to my amazing team and to our clients who provide us with the opportunity to do great work.
The night was particularly meaningful for me because of an unanticipated turn of events.
In my remarks in accepting the award, I referenced my maternal grandfather, Thomas Reese, whose communication skills during World War II quite likely spared his life. As a result, he became an incredible father figure and inspiration to me.
As I was sharing the experience, I noticed my mom, who flew in from Denver, crying. I quickly dismissed her tears as the emotions of a proud mom. When she pulled me aside later in the evening, I learned the reason for her reaction and also became emotional.
A few days before the awards ceremony, my mom found the only medal my grandfather was awarded during the war, which had been lost for many years. Without knowing I would mention her father, she decided to give me the medal as a congratulatory gift. When she handed it to me and relayed the story, I was overcome with emotion. I was speechless.
While I am incredibly proud of the recognition, I will always treasure my grandfather’s medal and all that it represents. The experience brought Sitake’s words full circle. I, too, am profoundly grateful for those whose shoulders I stand on and for the trust of my team and our clients who give me the opportunity to honor their legacy every day.