College of Charleston Martin Center Announces Mentor Awards

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The Martin Center for Mentorship in Communication's 2024 Mentor Awards will be presented during the Celebration of Mentoring on March 27, 2024.

Linda Rutherford
Linda Rutherford (Photo by Brianna Juda)

The College of Charleston Martin Center for Mentorship in Communication has announced the winners of its 2024 Mentor Awards, which will be presented during the Celebration of Mentoring ceremony at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston on March 27, 2024.

Chris Piedmont
Chris Piedmont

The Distinguished Mentor Award went to Linda Rutherford, chief administration officer at Southwest Airlines. The Martin Center’s founder, Tom Martin, notes Rutherford’s profound influence in the communications profession.

“Linda Rutherford has been a mentor, role model, coach and champion to so many, both at Southwest Airlines and throughout the communications profession,” says Martin. “She exemplifies the sense of dedication to others and selflessness that defines all great mentors.” 

The Emerging Mentor Award went to Chris Piedmont ’14, associate vice president of communications and insights at Slide Nine, a 100% women-owned, integrated marketing and communications agency. Since graduating from the College of Charleston, Piedmont has worked in the communications profession for several firms, including Peppercomm and Hot Paper Lantern. In his current role, he counsels clients on corporate and crisis communication, public relations performance analytics, issues management, community engagement, social media strategy and employee communications.

“Since he was a student at the College of Charleston a decade ago, Chris has always looked for ways to help his fellow students, co-workers and peers advance in the communications profession,” says Martin. “Chris now serves on our National Advisory Council as membership chair, frequently speaks to classes here and has served as a Martin Scholars mentor for the last few years. He is setting the example for his fellow graduates in his willingness to give back.”

mentorship awards martin center
National Millennial and Gen Z Community

The Distinguished Mentoring Organization Award went to the National Millennial and Gen Z Community, an organization that hosts executive conversations and think tanks for millennial and Gen Z students across the nation. By partnering with academic institutions across the country, the Community has developed a wide network of professionals and industry influencers to engage with millennial and Gen Z students. Communication students from the College of Charleston represent the state of South Carolina in the Community. Bill Imada, who founded the NMGZ Community in 2016, will accept the award on behalf of the Community. 

“Bill Imada saw a need among college students for a greater understanding of the professional world they were about to enter, and he created a community to address that need,” says Martin. “Thanks to his vision and perseverance, over 1,000 students have benefited from the learning provided by the NMGZ Community. These students have also become an important voice, speaking to executives from some of the world’s leading brands.”

The Martin Center, which is part of the Department of Communication at the College of Charleston, was founded in 2023 to teach, research, facilitate and inspire mentorship in the communications profession and beyond.

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