Page Center honoring George, Ifill and Onoda at annual awards dinner

January 4, 2018 • Jonathan McVerry

Honorees: Bill George, Gwen Ifill, John Onoda

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During turbulent times, honor and integrity shine brightest. This is why each year the Arthur W. Page Center recognizes icons in the communications industry who have demonstrated the highest levels of integrity over long, distinguished careers.

For its second annual awards dinner, the Page Center is honoring Bill George, senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic; John Onoda, consultant at Gagen MacDonald and posthumously honoring PBS NewsHour host Gwen Ifill. The awards dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 21, 2018 at the Grand Hyatt – Midtown Manhattan Hotel in New York City.

Each honoree earned the respect of colleagues, clients and customers by committing to the truth and maintaining ethical practices in all aspects of their work. The Center believes it’s important to shine a light on these communicators and share their legacies with the greater community.

“It’s our goal to advance ethics in as many areas of public communications as possible, from the news outlets to the corporations to the non-profits,” said Denise Bortree, Center director and associate professor of public relations/advertising. “Our awards showcase professionals who established their integrity through challenging times and over long careers. We hope their good work will help us promote ethical decision-making in our field today and in the future.”

Each honoree will be presented with a Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication. Foster was a renowned communicator during his time as both a journalist and public relations practitioner. He founded the Page Center in 2004 with fellow public relations leaders Jack Koten and Ed Block. The Page Center is a research center in the Bellisario College of Communications at the Pennsylvania State University, Foster’s alma mater.

“We continue to honor Larry by highlighting those who shared and share his vision,” said Bill Nielsen, Center advisory board chair. “Larry believed it was our job as communicators to fully inform the public truthfully and accurately. Gwen, John and Bill are shining examples of that mission.”

Funds raised from the event support innovative research by Page Center scholars who represent universities all over the world. The Center’s research projects aim to build the scholarly and public understanding of ethics in communications. To date, the Center has funded more than 200 scholars and awarded more than $750,000 in research funding. Areas of focus include corporate social responsibility, digital ethics, sustainability communication, fake news and more. Other Center initiatives focus on educational opportunities like an annual speaker series, oral history archiving and online educational modules.

About the 2018 Larry Foster Award honorees

Bill George
George began his career as assistant to assistant secretary of defense for the U.S. Department of Defense. In 1969, he moved his career to Litton Industries where he served as director of strategic planning and president of Litton Microwave Cooking followed by a position as executive vice president at Honeywell. George accepted the role of president at Medtronic and became CEO in 1991. He led Medtronic for 10 years building a strong reputation by demonstrating ethical leadership and integrity. He has been a professor at Harvard Business School since 2004. He has written several bestselling books including True North, Discover Your True North, Authentic Leadership and 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis.

Gwen Ifill – Posthumous recognition
Ifill spent 23 years building her reputation as a knowledgeable, pioneering and ethical journalist. Between 1981 and 1994, she worked her way from the Baltimore Evening Sun to The Washington Post to The New York Times, where she covered the White House. Ifill joined NBC as a Capitol Hill reporter in 1994 and moved to PBS in 1999, where she became the first African-American woman to host a national political talk show, Washington Week in Review. At PBS, she was a senior correspondent for PBS NewsHour. She was the first African-American woman to moderate a vice presidential debate, and led the debates in both 2004 and 2008. Ifill died of cancer in 2016.

John Onoda
Dubbed the “Yoda of PR” by colleagues and mentees, Onoda built a reputation of being a provocative, yet ethical leader in the corporate communications field. Onoda’s career began in 1977 as a journalist for the Omaha World-Herald. He switched to corporate communications leading departments at major companies such as Levi Strauss, General Motors, Visa USA and Charles Schwab. He then worked for FleishmanHillard as a senior consultant. In 2018, he joined the strategy execution firm Gagen MacDonald. Onoda founded Dozen Best books, a passion project fueled by his love of reading, in 2015.