Dianne Danowski Smith, APR

Congratulations to PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA

Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, named PRSA North Pacific District’s 2017 PR Practitioner of the Year

District honors practitioner and founder of Answer2Cancer

After receiving a cancer diagnosis and fighting through treatment to recovery, this year’s PRSA North Pacific District Practitioner of the Year, Dianne Danowski Smith, APR, Fellow PRSA, turned her thoughts to the principles she learned in her practice of public relations to support others struggling with cancer.

Danowski Smith took her 20+ years of experience in public relations, and while she was recovering from surgery and weak from chemotherapy and radiation treatments, began creating an Oregon event called Answer2Cancer. Drawing on her connections, she secured sponsorships from dozens of heavy-hitter health care and cancer community brands. She built a consortium of support and helped host the day-long event, held on April 23, 2016 in Portland, where those impacted by cancer could learn, share and receive support from people who truly understood. Her goal was to get enough sponsorship dollars so the event could be free to cancer patients, their families and friends. She succeeded, raising 300% of her funding goal.

As she shared event information through traditional and social media, she had an epiphany; once Answer2Cancer went live on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it was shared like wildfire. At that moment she learned it was no longer a local initiative. She had just gone global, and requests to have an Answer2Cancer event in other communities began coming in.

“It’s a privilege to recognize our colleague Dianne, who used her own experience, combined with her PR expertise, to positively impact others,” said Alison Gaulden, PRSA North Pacific District 2017 Chair. “Many of us can only aspire to have our work have such a tremendous impact. Dianne is an exemplary practitioner.”

This PRSA North Pacific District Practitioner of the Year award is given annually to a PRSA member in the district who has worked full-time in public relations for more than five years and demonstrated excellence in public relations knowledge, skills and abilities. It honors those who have excelled professionally and given back to the industry through volunteer contributions.

Danowski Smith was selected out of nine nominees by a panel of judges who are PRSA members, Accredited and current or former district leaders.

“The profession and practice of public relations has taught me so much about real, honest engagement,” said Danowski Smith. “Early in my treatment, I realized no one is born knowing how to have cancer.  As I entered intensive treatment, I learned I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But using the principles of public relations has taught me about authentic communications and how to help others become empowered and engaged in their cancer care. And, research shows that those who are most engaged in their cancer journey statistically have better outcomes. That is the most important part of all of this.”

Danowski Smith has nearly three decades of experience in the management of public relations, public affairs, strategic marketing and corporate communications through her work at agencies and for large, complex organizations. She has garnered award-winning results in community programming, issues management, strategic counsel and tactical implementation. She serves on the 2017 board of directors of the Oregon Bioscience Association and the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce, chairing its Business Advocacy Council. For the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), she serves on the 2017 board of directors of PRSA Oregon as a leadership assembly delegate, and served in multiple chapter, district and national committee roles, including the 2006 president of the Portland Metro Chapter and as 2004 chair of PRSA’s North Pacific District. She is the recipient of the 2009 PRSA Portland Metro Chapter William W. Marsh Lifetime Achievement Award.

Smith counsels boards of national and local nonprofits as well as serving as an invited trainer for executives, administrators, community advocates, university students and leadership candidates. Additionally, she is a national speaker providing public relations and strategic expertise regarding media advocacy, strategic PR, scenario planning, social engagement and protecting one’s online reputation.


About PRSA North Pacific District

One of the largest geographic areas of PRSA, the North Pacific District consists of 2,500 members in 14 chapters located in Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.


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