Gainesville, Fla., – Wendi Strong, retired executive vice president of corporate communications at USAA, will receive the Institute for Public Relations Alexander Hamilton Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Strong will accept the Institute’s highest honor and speak at the IPR Annual Distinguished Lecture & Awards Dinner on November 29 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.

The Alexander Hamilton Medal is named in honor of the carefully planned strategies President Hamilton used to gain acceptance and adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Each year the Institute for Public Relations presents its highest award to someone who has made major lifetime contributions to the practice of public relations, including effective use of research.

Strong recently retired from USAA, a Fortune 200 financial services company serving more than 12 million current and former members of the military and their families. From 2000 to 2016, Strong served as executive vice president for enterprise affairs, chief communications officer and a member of the senior leadership team directing the strategy and operations of the company.

“Wendi embodies all the qualities that we celebrate with this award,” said Linda Rutherford, vice president and chief communications officer at Southwest Airlines and Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Institute of Public Relations. “Her dedication and contributions to our profession are inspiring to her peers, and she is most deserving of this recognition.”

During her tenure, Strong was responsible for brand and reputation management, public relations, military affairs, employee engagement, marketing communications, social media, and corporate responsibility and philanthropy. As chief steward of USAA’s reputation, Strong led a companywide strategic initiative to define and leverage USAA’s corporate character, connecting USAA employees with each other, the company’s members, the military community, and other stakeholders. Today, USAA is internationally recognized as one of the top global brands, regularly appearing on the leadership lists of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies.

“I am deeply honored to follow in the footsteps of the former Alexander Hamilton Award winners, all of whom are my heroes, role models, and mentors,” said Strong. “I am particularly indebted to my public relations colleagues who are committed to using research and facts as the basis of truth in our profession.”

Strong holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in journalism, both from the University of North Texas. She serves on the board of trustees for the Arthur W. Page Society, the Institute for Public Relations and the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas.

Tickets for the Distinguished Lecture & Awards Dinner are available for $500 each. Tables of 10 can be purchased for $5,000 and premium tables of 10 are available for $10,000. The price includes a networking cocktail reception (sponsored by the UF College of Journalism and Communications), the awards dinner, and Distinguished Lecture.

About the Institute for Public Relations

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit research foundation dedicated to fostering greater use of research and research-based knowledge in corporate communication and the public relations practice. IPR is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. IPR provides timely insights and applied intelligence that professionals can put to immediate use. All research, including a weekly research letter, is available for free at

Jenn Moyer
Director of Operations
Institute for Public Relations

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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