The Werner-VonderHaar Bogart Award: Paying its History Forward

At the annual Blacksmith Awards on Wednesday evening, Debbie Copeland-Bloom becomes the 32nd recipient of the Werner-VonderHaar-Bogart award. First awarded in 1974, most chapter members know the Werner-VonderHaar-Bogart award is:

  • Named after three Cincinnati chapter members that served as local president and as national PRSA president;
  • The highest honor the chapter can bestow upon a member;
  • Perhaps better known as the WVB Award.

Unfortunately, we’ve abbreviated our understanding of this award over the years as well. The video below is a conversation with Judith Bogart-Meredith. In it she gives a brief history of not just the award, but of William B. Werner and Edward P. VonderHaar. The award is named after a specific “presidential” accomplishment each person made. But Judith confirms my assumptions that Werner and VonderHaar had a much more significant impact on our chapter and our industry. The video is brief, and does not speak to Judith’s career. But I can tell you that Judith Bogart-Meredith has made a similar, far-reaching impact.

Her leadership in public relations is acknowledged nationally by organizations including the Planck Center for Leadership in Public Relations. With more than 50 years in the industry, she started her career with the Great Rivers Girl Scout Council. She has served in roles across agencies, client side in healthcare and in non-profit, community relations roles. I was lucky enough to work for her at Sive/Young&Rubicam here in Cincinnati and I’m one of several chapter members that consider her a mentor to this day. It’s no surprise to anyone that knows her that Judith is also the recipient of the national PRSA Paul Lund Public Service Award.

 Pay it Forward

With a full understanding of the Werner-VonderHaar Bogart award, I look at it as a milestone for less of an ending and more of a beginning. As the 29th recipient of this award if I compare the impact made by William Werner, Edward VonderHaar and Judith Bogart-Meredith, to my professional accomplishments — I’m humbled in comparison. This award, and its namesakes, encourage me to pay it forward and to continue serving the chapter and our industry. 

When Debbie Copeland-Bloom accepts the award, it will be hard-earned. And I’m sure that she too will be humbled and inspired by its story.

By Kevin Dugan, APR