Chicagoan Wins First IABC Rae Hamlin Award For Volunteer Service

Jun 15, 2010, 13:00 ET from IABC/Chicago

CHICAGO, June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicagoan Joanne Kitsos, ABC*, has received the first Rae Hamlin Award for Volunteer Service to Accreditation from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Kitsos will be honored tonight at the IABC/Chicago Chapter awards reception and dinner, which also recognizes IABC/Chicago Bronze Quill Award winners and the chapter's volunteers.

"Joanne has been an outstanding leader in IABC's accreditation program, which recognizes those who have met IABC's high global standard of excellence for strategic organizational communication," said Mary Hills, ABC, chair of the IABC Accreditation Council.

"As IABC/Chicago's director or co-director of accreditation from 2005 to 2009, Joanne recruited and mentored many of the chapter's 19 accredited business communicators, or ABCs. Several years ago, she extended the Chicago accreditation group study program to communicators outside the Chicago area who didn't have a local accreditation support network. And in 2007, she was a leader in developing a study on the value of accreditation that fueled worldwide interest in IABC accreditation," Hills said.

"Joanne helped keep me sane during my work toward accreditation, which included written and oral exams and submitting two portfolios of work for peer review," said Tom Keefe, ABC, incoming president of IABC/Chicago. "Her passion for professional growth and compassion for her peers made Joanne the best possible mentor for anyone undertaking the IABC accreditation process."

Kitsos is a senior consultant in Marketing Services for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which she joined in 1998. From 1991 to 1998, she was associate director of communications for the Chicago Sun-Times. An eight-year IABC/Chicago board member, Kitsos served on the accreditation, awards, communication, membership and program committees. She continues to be an active mentor and portfolio judge in the IABC accreditation program. Kitsos holds a bachelor's degree from Northeastern Illinois University.

Since becoming accredited in 2004, Kitsos recognized the need for data to support anecdotal evidence of the value of communication accreditation. As a result, IABC/Chicago teamed up with Chicago-based L.C. Williams & Associates Research Group to determine the value of accreditation via a study of accredited business communicators around the world.

The study found that IABC's accreditation program is a gateway to learning and advancing the practice of strategic communication management. A majority of current and former supervisors who participated in the study said ABCs provided more credibility to their departments or organizations, while a majority of clients perceived ABCs as having an increased understanding of effective communication practices. Large majorities of the ABCs surveyed said that accreditation improved their resumes, increased their confidence, enhanced their credibility and gave them peer approval and recognition. For more information about the Value of Accreditation survey, visit

The Rae Hamlin Award for Volunteer Service to Accreditation was inaugurated this year in memory of Rae Hamlin, ABC, who was instrumental in the development and success of the IABC accreditation program. Hamlin, who passed away last year, was an advocate for accreditation and the association in her 25 years with IABC, including serving as an accreditation staff coordinator at IABC's worldwide headquarters in San Francisco. She managed and inspired volunteers worldwide to promote this global strategic communication management standard.

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves more than 15,000 members in 70 countries with a multi-disciplinary approach to corporate communication, public relations, employee communication, marketing communication, media relations, community relations, public affairs, financial communications and government relations. IABC/Chicago ( is the oldest IABC chapter in the world.

*ABC – Accredited Business Communicator