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Dr. Alisa Haushalter Named PRSA Communicator of the Year for 2020

Dr. Alisa Haushalter

The Memphis Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has selected Alisa Haushalter, DNP, RN, director of the Shelby County Health Department, as its Communicator of the Year for 2020. The award was presented Friday, Jan. 29.

Dr. Haushalter is both an alumna of the UTHSC College of Nursing and an associate professor on the college faculty. The 2020 Communicator of the Year Award reflects Dr. Haushalter’s courage and focus in leading the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, even when her message met criticism at times. She has led regular media briefings exhibiting communications skills that are honest, direct, understandable, and always focused on protecting the community and moving it safely through the pandemic, the organization said.

Carla Kirkland, MSN, APRN, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, ENP-BC, president of the Tennessee Nurses Association, spoke of Dr. Haushalter’s impact as a nurse leader over the last year.

“The year 2020 was slated to be celebrated as the Year of the Nurse. However, nurses came to be celebrated in ways we never imagined, as we became acknowledged as the backbone of the health care system in the fight against the pandemic,” said Kirkland, who is also an alumna of the UTHSC College of Nursing.

Carla Kirkland

“Nurses are everyday leaders in health care and in our communities. Dr. Haushalter epitomizes all that nurses are as experts in patient care, and all that they do, which is to always advocate for what is best for our patients and to communicate our health plans clearly and succinctly,” Kirkland said. “We can all appreciate her passion and leadership.’’

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris also lauded Dr. Haushalter’s leadership during the pandemic. “At a time when trust in government and media are at their lowest, Alisa Haushalter and her team really stepped up to the plate.”

“She has spoken the truth even when it is not convenient,” Harris said. “And she has always put the mission of public health at the forefront.”

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Haushalter offered thanks to members of her public health team. “I am honored and humbled to receive this award on behalf of many others who do the work day to day.”

Dr. Haushalter also noted what an honor it was to join the list of previous Communicators of the Year, whom she views as “change agents.” The list of honorees includes Ron Terry, Cecil Humphreys, Allie Prescott, Linn Sitler, D’Army Bailey, Mayor W.W. Herenton, John Calipari, Dr. Scott Morris, Fred Jones, Beverly Robertson, Molly Meisenheimer, Otis Sanford, and last year, Penny Hardaway.

This is the 44th year that PRSA Memphis has selected its Communicator of the Year. The award is given to a member of the community who exhibits the ability to communicate effectively to general or specific publics, has visibility, and is a respected member of the community who invests their time and talent conveying a specific message.

The Memphis Chapter of PRSA is an organization of about 175 public relations professionals representing hospitals, non-profit agencies, large corporations, small private companies, consulting firms, educational institutions, marketing firms and freelancers across the region. The chapter was founded in 1952. Today, the members meet (currently via Zoom) throughout the year for programs, professional development seminars, awards programs and social events.