Professional Achievement Awards

To learn more about the Edward L Bernays Award and how to submit nominations here.

2021 Edward L. Bernays Award Recipient

Susan Spruce, APR
Public Relations and Communications Manager
Northern Light Health

The 2021 Bernays Award winner is described by her peers as a pragmatic, energetic, and

compassionate woman from Aroostook County, who has established herself as a leading expert

in crisis communications, media relations, and brand reputation management.

She began her career in broadcast news, spending time as both a news director and managing

editor, and after two decades she moved to healthcare communications. In 2001, she assumed

the role of senior communication specialist at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. She quickly

became a valuable member of the communications department and moved up the ranks to

director in 2005, and then to her current role as associate vice president and chief

communication officer in 2012. This year’s Bernays Award recipient is credited with turning the

once ‘party planning’ department into a well-respected, fully functioning, strategic

communication team that is a significant resource to the executive suite. Her dedication in

redeveloping the department earned her the distinction of becoming the first communication

leader to be given the title vice president at the Northern Light Health corporate office.

Her colleagues say if there is one saying that this year’s Bernays Awards Winner is known for, it

is “tell it first; tell it right.” No matter the crisis, she guides those she advises to uphold

communication ethics to the highest of standards with no exception. Her calm, trusting

demeanor and strong work ethic has earned her the credit of being a trusted advisor to not just

the CEO and the top leaders across her system but to the city of Bangor as well, where she

serves as vice chair for the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In

addition, she has guided her team towards achieving numerous regional recognitions through

the NE Society for Healthcare Communications Lamplighter awards, including a Gold for Ebola

Preparedness and a Silver in Crisis Communication for Infection Control.

If leading her department though daily challenges wasn’t enough, she also spear-headed a lofty

rebranding transformation in 2018.

For these reasons alone, this year’s Bernays Award recipient is truly a worthy candidate.

However there is more. Above and beyond her individual efforts, accolades, and successes,

her passion and commitment for mentoring is truly remarkable and thoroughly impressed the

MPRC nominating committee. She volunteers her time to speak to classes at both the

University of Maine and Husson University about communication ethics, crisis communication,

and strategic communication planning. She has also lead discussions and presented at Maine

Public Relations Council events and has personally supported many of her teammates earning

their accreditation in public relations. She is playing a leading role in developing the next

generation of public relations professionals. I am proud to congratulate Susan Spruce, APR,

for being selected as the 2021 Bernays Award recipient.

MPRC President’s Award

2021 Recipient: Sarah Delage

Director Of Public Relations and Communications

University of New England



2020 – Michelle Clements

2019 – Eric Blom

2018 – Paul Badeau

2017 – Nancy Robert, APR

2016 – John Lamb, APR

2015 – Linda Varrell, APR

2014 – No submissions received

2013 – No submissions received

2012 – Susan Tompkins

2011 – Nancy Marshall

2010 – Jon Paradis

2009 – John Diamond

2008 – Russ Donahue

2007 – Wayne Clark

2006 – Dan Marois

2005 – Midge Vreeland, APR

2004 – Michael Bourque, APR

2003 – Tony Payne

2002 – Kathleen Duris Tarbox, APR

2001 – Linda Frechette

2000 – Judy Katzel, APR

1999 – Stephen H. McCausland

1998 – Mark Ishkanian, APR

1997 – Dick Dyer, APR

1996 – Meredith Strang Burgess

1995 – Deborah Hammond

1994 – Susan Swain

1993 – Edward O’Meara

1992 – Leslie Gall

1991 – Shelley Dunn

1990 – Robert Caswell

1988 – Dan Davidson, APR

1987 – Chip Carey

1986 – James Harnar, APR

1985 – John McCatherin

1984 – Bill Harkins & Kate Perry

1983 – Ron Palmquist