by Adam Lord

The Southern Public Relations Hall of Fame has tapped Louisiana State University of Alexandria communication professor, Melissa C. LaBorde, APR, for induction to its ranks for the Class of 2021. Induction into the Hall is intended to identify leaders in the industry who should be recognized and honored for their extraordinary achievements, accomplishments and contributions to their organizations, communities and the public relations profession. 

Established in 2010 to recognize the distinguished accomplishments, commitment, and leadership of professional public relations practitioners and educators from the southeastern United States, inductees are current and former practitioners or educators who have brought honor to the field of public relations. 

“Missy is the first to offer assistance and the last to leave from a meeting,” wrote Kelli West, past president of the local Public Relations Association of Louisiana who assisted with the nomination. “She is a servant leader in the truest sense of the phrase. Her guidance has been the catalyst for improvement for many professionals and students over the years, including myself.” 

LaBorde began her career at LSUA as a senior administrator serving as the Executive Director of the LSUA Foundation just after the organization was formed in 1992. As Director of Institutional Advancement, she was charged with the university’s public relations and fundraising efforts. Among her notable accomplishments are the LSUA Four-Year Now campaign, fundraising for and construction of the LSUA Children’s Center, and the establishment of the Alumni and Friends Association. She directed the fundraising efforts that included the university’s first million-dollar grant donation and worked to fund numerous endowed professorships and endowed scholarships to benefit faculty and students. She has also been involved in numerous civic and service organizations and projects throughout Central Louisiana. 

In 2007, LaBorde transitioned to a full-time faculty position where she currently serves as an associate professor of communication studies. In addition to teaching and mentoring her students, she has served on numerous committees during her faculty tenure. She currently serves as president of the LSUA Faculty Senate. Her students have won awards for their work in both the Cypress and Lantern Award competitions as well as in the regional BOAST public relations student competition. She is a faculty coordinator for the Certificate in the Principles of Public Relations offered to students nearing graduation and has successfully mentored students through the national certificate program. 

“Over her career, she has served exceptionally and often simultaneously in practitioner, educational administrator, and professor roles,” said John E. Forde, APR, PRSA Fellow, who helped establish the Hall of Fame in 2010. “Missy has a unique way of blending her professional pursuits to greatly impact her students and professionals alike.” 

LaBorde has mentored many students during her career and supervised numerous domestic and international public relations internships. She has been awarded three endowed professorships along with the Staff Outstanding Service Award, Innovation in Teaching Award, and the Faculty Outstanding Service Award at LSUA. She was the first practitioner to earn both the SPRF Professional Achievement Award (2003) and the Educator of the Year Award. (2011). She is a member of the SPRF Senior Leadership Council, a two-time past president of the organization, and a past member of the Universal Accreditation Board, the national board that oversees accreditation for public relations professionals across the United States and Puerto Rico.  

The Hall of Fame induction will take place in Panama City Beach, Florida, on October 11 during the Southern Public Relations Federation annual conference. The Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by Mississippi State University’s Department of Communication and the Southern Public Relations Federation. It is permanently housed outside the John Grisham Room in the Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University in Starkville. 

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