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Cathy Ackermann
Cathy Ackermann

Cathy Ackermann, president and CEO of Ackermann PR, will receive the 2016 Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award from UT’s College of Communication and Information.

The award will be presented at the college’s awards and campaign kickoff banquet on Friday, November 11.

Ackermann founded her public relations firm in 1982. It has grown to be one of the top 100 firms in the country, with client service offices headquartered in Knoxville. Ackermann began her career as director of corporate marketing and promotions for the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair.

Her leadership has guided Ackermann PR from an Inc. magazine fast-growing company to a regional powerhouse recognized by Working Woman magazine’s Entrepreneurial Awards in both the Best Employer and Socially Responsible categories.

Ackermann has been honored by the East Tennessee Women’s Caucus with the Champions Award for fostering a positive working environment. She received the YWCA Tribute to Women Award in 1992 and the Harvey Cobert Award from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). In 2016, the Volunteer Chapter of PRSA honored Ackermann with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

She is a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Council for PR Firms in New York and is a founding member of the Croft Society, a group of 20 of the top regional PR firms in the country. She is a nationally published author on the topic of integrated marketing and communications and on how to grow a successful professional services firm.

Ackermann is very involved in community organizations as a volunteer and serves on numerous boards of directors, including the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Legacy Parks Foundation, the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, the Alliance for Better Non-profits, and the Metropolitan YMCA of East Tennessee. She also served as a member of the College of Communication and Information’s Board of Visitors from 1998 to 2016.

“Cathy Ackermann has had a remarkable professional career and provided outstanding service to her college, university, community, and profession,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “She is an outstanding role model for our students to follow as they move into the professional world, and we are proud to present her with the 2016 Hileman Award in recognition of everything she has accomplished.”

The Donald G. Hileman Award is named for the first permanent dean of the College of Communications, forerunner to the College of Communication and Information. The award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college’s 25th anniversary. It is awarded to college alumni who have made notable contributions to the fields of communication and information.

Past recipients of the Hileman Award include Mark McNeely, founder and senior partner of McNeely Pigott and Fox; Sharon Price John, CEO and president of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc.; Charles Tombras Jr., CEO of the Tombras Group advertising agency; Alexia Poe, principal at Poe Consulting and former director of communications for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; Alan Wilson, McCormick & Company Inc. chairman; Alan N. Greenberg, president and co-founder of Avenues the World School and former Esquire magazine publisher; John Noble Wilford, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times science journalist; and Peyton Manning, former NFL quarterback, former UT quarterback and five-time NFL Most Valuable Player.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,