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Rising Star Award Recipients

Since 2012, the Rising Star Award (formerly titled the Young Professional Award) is given annually to a young professional from the chapter who has made an extraordinary contribution to their organization and also to the public relations community and profession as a whole through their work and service. 

Past recipients of the Rising Star Award have demonstrated passion of the next generation of leaders in our profession. (Please note that the summaries are from the year in which they received the award.)


2023 - Megan Karnuth

Megan Karnuth is an Account Executive at Carmichael Lynch Relate. Megan is a rising star in our profession who already demonstrates the hallmarks of an exemplary public relations professional, even though she is early in her career. During her time working in this industry, she has touched many practice areas and executed powerful work for clients large and small, adding innovative and creative thinking to foundational PR efforts. She has also strengthened Minnesota PRSA through her work as a Minnesota PRSA Classics committee volunteer and has shown that she understands the importance of paying it forward to the next generation by mentoring college students. Megan has been a guest speaker at the University of St. Thomas, the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and the University of Minnesota. By sharing her successful career journey, she is inspiring these students to learn more about the public relations profession.

Megan’s professional development over just a few years has been remarkable. Her clients and colleagues at Carmichael Lynch Relate have observed her career growth and mastery of foundational PR skills, as well as the application of her innovative thinking on campaign measurement and influencer programs.


2022 - Julie Goulette

After graduating from Luther College in 2016 with a degree in Psychology, Julie began working in the family business: Her parents and grandparents all worked in the funeral industry, and Julie followed in their footsteps, first as an administrative assistant then as the business administrator at a funeral home in North St. Paul while pursuing a master’s in counseling.

In the fall of 2019, though, she came to the realization the while psychology is a passion, it was not her vocation. In Dec. 2019 she dipped her toes into PR and hasn’t looked back.

Julie began as an administrative assistant at Edina-based Bellmont Partners, and in the wake of the pandemic, her focus on agency operations and administration shifted to support the team and clients in the ever-changing landscape. The Bellmont team quickly realized she was a perfect fit for client work, and she transitioned to being a vital part of account teams, finding it to be an energizing outlet for her creativity, organizational skills and enthusiasm for storytelling. In just a short time, she has already made a major impact on several Bellmont Partners clients, from the City of Duluth to the Taste of the NFL to Mall of America.

Over the last two-plus years, Julie has focused her time on media relations, project management, events, crisis, monitoring and reporting, social media and content development. She has expanded her role on the agency’s Tourism, Events and Minnesota group, and continues to hone her graphic design skills as part of its Design Practice Group.


2021 - Beth Wellman

Beth completed her undergraduate degree at Metropolitan State University.  Although Metro State does not have a PRSSA chapter, Beth sought after the members who guest spoke in her classes, began to network, and started attending Minnesota PRSA events. 

Beth is an active member on the MN PRSA communications committee, which helps create and promote content and events through our chapter’s social media pages. She is a huge advocate for helping PR students with networking, providing job searching advice, and overall lending a helping hand to any student or PR industry member.


2020 - Tori Norris

Tori Norris, of NetSPI, received the 2020 Rising Star Award. The award recognizes the passion of the next generation of PR leaders by honoring a young professional with three to seven years of post-undergrad experience. Norris was nominated for her commitment to client service, professional contributions and constant support of her colleagues.


2019 - Katie Volney

Katie Volney phones it in every single day. Surprised? Disappointed? Don’t be. Because when it comes to building client relationships, team relationships, media relationships and influencer relationships, Katie understands that verbal communication and conversations are intrinsic to getting it done. And Katie’s all about getting it done professionally and efficiently – whether it’s by phone, by email or in person – and graciously bringing her teams and clients right along with her in the process. 

With just seven years in the public relations industry, Katie operates with the care, expertise and wisdom of someone with much deeper experience. Her desire to grow her agency reputation and her clients’ businesses are evident in how she nurtures personal and professional relationships with the determination and finesse vital to our public relations discipline’s success. 

With local and national award-winning programs under her belt like Beech-Nut’s 2018 Ambassador Advocacy PRSA Classics ‘Best of Show’ recognition for ‘Brand Reputation/Brand Management, a PRSA Bronze Anvil commendation for ‘Best Influencer Promotion’, a Bulldog Silver Award for ‘Best Use of Influencers’, and a PRSA Classics award in ‘Public Service’ for her work on international nonprofit organization GreaterGood, it’s clear that Katie’s influence on public relations is already being felt. Her star is rising, and we can’t wait to see her shine even brighter in 2020 and beyond. 


2018 - Katie Huggins 

As a part of her job, Katie Huggins meets with leaders in Best Buy to determine PR strategies and manage potentially risky situations. At the same time, she finds ways to earn positive news coverage for the company that helps drive traffic and earn brand love. Katie has worked hard to earn the trust of upper-level executives, becoming a reliable source of support and guidance and providing thoughtful recommendations.

Prior to joining the external communications team at Best Buy, Katie completed a variety of internships that laid the foundation for a successful career in public relations. As a brand ambassador at local Minneapolis agency, Periscope, she helped to advance "brand love" for client, Target. While an ambassador, Katie engaged and educated consumers at various public venues on behalf of the agency and its client.

Katie has been a part of the Classics Committee for Minnesota PRSA for two years. While serving in this role, she has helped to organize and facilitate multiple events that have showcased some of the most successful practitioners and campaigns in the profession. She also mentors through The BrandLab, a local organization which helps prepare individuals for careers within the marketing, advertising and public relations professions.


2017 – Holli Henderson

If you’ve attended a Minnesota PRSA event in recent years, or if you’ve volunteered for one of the chapter’s many committees, then you’ve likely connected face to face or virtually with Holli Henderson.

Having found PRSSA membership a valuable experience, it was an easy decision to get involved with the professional chapter upon graduation from the University of Minnesota and when she began her career in public relations at Pineapple RM under Rose McKinney, APR, Fellow PRSA.

Early on, Holli served as a member on the Minnesota PRSA programming committee. Though her role shifted to corporate brand management when she started at Ameriprise Financial in 2013, the Chapter remained a fixture during her two-year tenure as the committee co-chair.

Now a marketing communications manager at U.S. Bank, Holli serves as an advocate for and educator on the value that a robust communications strategy can bring to an organization. Wielding the client-service skills she gained working for an agency, she helps her sales- and operation-oriented colleagues bring the expertise and thought leadership they possess into market. Most recently, she helped to launch the U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index, a quarterly report that’s quickly become the standard for benchmarking in the transportation industry.

Holli serves as the volunteer coordinator for the Chapter and would love to share more about how Minnesota PRSA has shaped her career and what opportunities are available so that it can do the same for you.


2016 – Keegan Shoutz

As the Vice President of Creative Services at Lola Red PR, Keegan has led PR outreach for clients like BB-8 by Sphero, Love Your Melon, Madden’s Resort, and Lift Bridge Brewery. He has also played a vital role in the client wins of J.R. Watkins, Great Clips and European Wax Center. Keegan’s ability to sell the power of PR and capture the vision of a brand through innovative strategies has enabled Lola Red to continue to connect and succeed with national brands.  

In addition to his day job, Keegan works hard to excite the next generation of public relations students through his five-year service on MN PRSA’s Student Relations Committee. He furthers this work by serving as a mentor for a staff of 13 at Lola Red.


2015 – Becca Bijoch

As a senior publicist at Lola Red, Becca has created buzz for clients, ignited brand awareness and driven home results for clients like BB-8 by Sphero, Chuck & Don’s and Creative Kidstuff. Becca also supports national brands like Famous Dave’s, Lifetime Fitness and Best Cheese Corporation’s Parrano brand.

When she’s not dreaming up idea-fueled campaigns or hunting for bargains, Becca is helping to advance the careers of young professionals in the surrounding area. As a six-year veteran and active member of the Minnesota PRSA chapter, Becca serves as the co-chair of the Student Relations Committee. She also spends time mentoring young entrepreneurs and future business leaders at Minnetonka High School.

2014 - Maggie LaMaack

As an account executive at Bellmont Partners, LaMaack uses her diverse communication skills to help her clients stay ahead of today’s instant communication. Since joining the agency in 2013, LaMaack has worked with clients such as Minnesota Wine Country, Uptown Art Fair and Red Cow. Prior to joining the agency, LaMaack honed her media relations skills by working on local campaigns, event planning and national consumer accounts at McFarland Cahill Communications and FAME retail. She gained international experience with an internship in the public relations department for Guess in London and completed four additional internships with the Ronald McDonald House, Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.

Along with LaMaack’s professional qualifications, she volunteers on the Minnesota PRSA Classics committee, serves as editor of l’étoile magazine and writes a weekly Twitter column called #MSPtweeps for the magazine’s LOL/OMG blog. She has established her writing presence in the Twin Cities with bylines in local publications such as Vita.mn and City Pages. LaMaack was recently named one of the “Top 30 Twin Cities Tweeters in 2014” by Aaron Gleeman and featured in BringMeTheNews. . She also volunteers her time with ThreeSixty Journalism Summer Camp where she shared her knowledge of public relations and journalism with young communicators. 


2013 – Shannon Heine

Heine recently accepted a position at General Mills. Prior to that she spent nearly four years in the public relations field, all of which have been spent at Carmichael Lynch Spong. Heine has been promoted twice to the position of Senior Associate and garnered praise from colleagues and clients alike. Through her work in social media, media relations, event coordination, and account management, she helped organizations including Calphalon, Jack Link’s, and Trane exceed all set expectations. At Carmichael Lynch Spong, Heine volunteers as the chair of the Interpublic Group Women’s Leadership Network, planning events to inspire skills trainings, mentorship, and leadership among young women working in the public relations and communications field. This year, she also volunteered as lead PR counsel for Adopt-a-Classroom, a program which empowers teachers with the funds needed to purchase hands-learning resources. Through her national media relations campaign, she was helped the organization spread their message, even securing an interview for the head of Adopt-a-Classroom on the “Today Show.” A member of Minnesota PRSA for several years, Heine currently serves as the sponsorship chair for the 2013 Classics Committee, securing several multi-year sponsorships for the event. 


2012 – Christina Milanowski

As social media director and account supervisor at Maccabee Public Relations, Milanowski blends the new world of public relations with that of PRSA's rich legacy. Directing public relations, marketing and communications strategies for GNP Company (Gold'n Plump and Just BARE brands), RBA and PsyBar, Christina also champions campaigns involving YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, corporate and thought leadership blogs, and content-driven inbound marketing. 

Milanowski has been a member of Minnesota PRSA for more than six years and she currently volunteers as a co-chair of the Membership Committee.

Her remaining free time is spent pursuing an advanced degree in business communications from the University of St. Thomas. Christina holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Strategic Communications.


2011 - Marnie Anderson

Marnie Anderson of Padilla Speer Beardsley was honored with the inaugural Minnesota PRSA Young Professional Award. In her work as an account executive at the firm, she serves as a core team member on two large agricultural accounts. Also, Anderson’s work organizing and staging the inaugural Minnesota PRSA John Beardsley Lecture in 2011 showcased her ability to lead a cohesive community of talented professionals.