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Franklin Pierce Honors News Collaborative Partners

Published Tuesday May 3, 2022

Author Staff Report, Franklin Pierce University

Fitzwater Media Honorees

Franklin Pierce University held its annual Fitzwater Center Honors ceremony on Friday, April 29 bestowing Fitzwater Medallions upon select honorees at an event on the Rindge Campus. The Fitzwater Medallion for Leadership in Public Communication is presented annually to those who have demonstrated a commitment to the critical role free speech plays in a democracy and to an electorate fluent in the issues of their time.  Established in 2004, the Fitzwater Honors is the hallmark event of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce University. 

“The University is honored to award the Fitzwater Medallion to leaders in public communication,” said Kim Mooney ’83, president of Franklin Pierce, before the event. “This year, as the University celebrates its 60th Anniversary and the Fitzwater Center’s 20th Anniversary, we are proud that the Center continues to be a world-class center for teaching civic engagement through public communication.”

The honorees were:

• Lori Shibinette, M.B.A. ’13, Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Fitzwater Medallion for Leadership in Public Communication by an Alumnus

• The Granite State News Collaborative, Melanie Plenda, Executive Director, Fitzwater Medallion for Public Service

• Kaitlyn Acciardo ’22, Student, Fitzwater Scholar , Fitzwater Medallion for Contributions to the Public Discourse

• Paul Lambert, ’22, Student, Fitzwater Scholar , Fitzwater Medallion for Contributions to the Public Discourse

“A commitment to service is the thread that binds our honorees tonight,” said Dr. Kristen Nevious, director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication. “Service to the University, service to the citizens of New Hampshire, and service to each other as human beings facing a global pandemic that overwhelmed our world with frightening speed.” 

Commissioner Shibinette has led the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services since February 2020, coinciding with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. An integral member of the state’s response to COVID, her work has earned widespread praise. Prior to joining DHHS, she was the CEO of New Hampshire Hospital, the state’s inpatient psychiatric facility in Concord. Previously, she was the state’s deputy health commissioner. A registered nurse, Shibinette also served as the CEO of the Merrimack County Nursing Home. A graduate of Franklin Pierce’s M.B.A. program with a concentration in healthcare administration, she was an adjunct professor teaching business and organizational behavior from 2013 to 2017. 

The Granite State News Collaborative (GSNC) is a collective of more than 20 local media, education and community partners working together to produce and share news stories on the issues that most impact New Hampshire and its communities. Under the leadership of Melanie Plenda, the Collaborative has won numerous awards and recognition for their focus on inclusive and responsive coverage.

“As a journalist, getting awards for your work is really gratifying, but getting an award for public service, that’s everything,” said Plenda, executive director of the GSNC, after receiving her medallion. “I am so humbled, so honored, and so grateful to be recognized for this work, this labor of love. Thank you.”

Members of the Granite State News Collaborative, who will be receiving a medal, include: The Berlin Sun, Business NH Magazine , The Business Journal, Citizens Count, The Concord Monitor, The Conway Daily Sun, Diversity 603, The Eagle Times, The Eagle-Tribune, The Keene Sentinel, The Laconia Daily Sun, Manchester Ink Link, The Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, The Nashua Telegraph, New Hampshire Bar News, New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, New Hampshire Humanities, New Hampshire PBS, New Hampshire Press Association, New Hampshire Public Radio, NH Business Review, The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, Seacoast Media Group, and The Valley News.

Named for the national press secretary for two U.S. Presidents, the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication at Franklin Pierce University was founded in 2002. The Fitzwater Center’s facilities enable Franklin Pierce students to write, film, edit, and produce programming for student-run television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. In addition to supporting the hallmark goal of Franklin Pierce University—to prepare its students to function well as citizens and leaders of a democratic society—the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication is dedicated to educating leaders of conscience in public communication, from the town hall to the nation’s Capital.

The Fitzwater Honors were livestreamed, and a recording is available here

Franklin Pierce is pleased to recognize the support of the University's Board of Trustees and the Grimshaw-Gudewicz Charitable Foundation as the Pierce@60 yearlong celebration's presenting sponsors. In addition, we would like to thank our Fitzwater Honors sponsors, Marlin and Melinda Fitzwater and Robert ’69 and Nancy Patterson.

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