Honorees say: ‘Be informed. Be authentic. Speak up.’ at 8th annual Page Center Awards

March 25, 2024 • Jonathan McVerry

2024 Page Center Awards

This year’s recipients of the Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication covered many important topics at the 8th annual Page Center Awards. However, there was a common theme, particularly relevant for students to hear — Be informed. Be authentic. Speak up.

Honorees Ursula Burns, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Kelly McGinnis participated in the online event on March 25. These respected leaders were recognized for their career-long commitment to honest and truthful communication with the public.

The three honorees join 22 past recipients in a group of remarkable leaders representing business, journalism, public relations, and other areas. Once again, Bill Nielsen, Page Center advisory board chair, and Marie Hardin, dean of the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, hosted the event. Hundreds tuned in to the annual program, which was free and open to the public.

Watch the entire 2024 Page Center Awards on the event Watch Page

“We must apply our values to push forward and rebuild trust,” Nielsen said. “Ursula Burns, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Kelly McGinnis are iconic individuals who are richly deserving of public trust. Let’s apply their high standards so we too can deserve and restore trust at this critical moment in history.”

Burns, chairwoman of Teneo Holdings and former CEO of Xerox, joined Center board member Tom Martin to open the night with an incredible discussion about identity and authenticity. Burns talked about the power of compromise and how her mother was the foundation to her success. Giving advice to those starting their careers, Burns said the secret is to speak up.

She added that even though she expects everyone to be open and ready to share their authentic selves, many don't and, in some ways, it’s a superpower.

“I am studying and listening,” Burns said. “And then I am not at all shy when someone wants to hear my opinion … or [when] they don’t want to hear it.”

After Burns’ Q&A, Center board member Ellyn Fisher interviewed McGinnis, the CCO of Levi Strauss & Co. Their discussion focused on advocacy and activism in corporate communications, and how those choices are made. McGinnis said creating an open and welcoming work atmosphere helps every level of employee to thrive. 

“We know we’ll have a better business if we have a diverse business,” she said. “So, that makes us create a space where people can bring their authentic selves to work.”

She added that advocacy is about responsibly making a positive impact on society. McGinnis suggested that students find shared purpose with their line of work and the companies they work for and support.

Lastly, Nielsen interviewed Dr. Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, who opened the segment with five principles he hopes will help young communicators share facts and combat misinformation.

Dr. Gupta’s principles are: Be humble. Learn how to communicate the message. Read everything. Appreciate that some things are truly novel. Lean into uncertainty.

“Humans are not good at experiencing things that are novel,” Dr. Gupta said. “It’s important to be as informed as can be [and] try to put things in context.”

Dr. Gupta also shared thoughts on adapting to the challenges of artificial intelligence and prioritizing mental health – particularly for college-aged students. "Take care of yourself," he said. "Mental health is just as important as physical health."

Watch the entire program and access bonus content from the Page Center Awards on the Center’s YouTube channel.

Now in its eighth year, this year’s program was the fourth time the Page Center Awards event was streamed online. Corporate support helps keep the awards free and open to the public. It also directly supports Page Center education and research initiatives.

The Page Center is especially appreciative of its Platinum Sponsor, Johnson & Johnson.

The namesake of the award, Larry Foster, founded the Page Center in 2004. The annual program was created to honor communicators who share in Foster’s vision. Learn more about the Center and its initiatives on its website.