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Thomas recognized for leadership; continues to give back to the College of Media

Brandon Thomas

From professional mentorship to volunteering at his alma mater, College of Media alumnus Brandon Thomas (BSJ, 2010) has made a habit of giving back.

Thomas was recently recognized with the Emerging Leader Award by The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at their Milestones in Mentoring Gala in Chicago. The award honors young leaders who are mentoring new public relations professionals, while also providing reverse mentorship to more senior colleagues, all while advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

“It was an exciting moment, and to have Dean Diana Martinelli in attendance, along with my agency leadership team, was incredibly humbling,” said Thomas. “The Center has had the privilege of celebrating individuals who have mentored thousands of public relations professionals, and to be included in this esteemed group was truly an honor.”  

The Plank Center was founded in 2005 by public relations trailblazer Betsy Plank at her alma mater, the University of Alabama. Its stated mission is to help develop and recognize outstanding public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations.

As the vice president, general manager and head of DEI at PAN Communications in New York City, Thomas is responsible for supporting a portfolio of B2B technology accounts, establishing and leading internal and external strategy for PAN’s DEI journey and overseeing regional market strategy and operations for the New York City office. But for Thomas, the most rewarding part of his career is the impact he can have on people.

“By far the best part of my job is the mentorship, coaching and team-building aspects,” said Thomas. “Helping colleagues learn and grow professionally is incredibly rewarding and feeds, many times, into the work that we get to do on an ongoing basis.”

Thomas began his career at Widmeyer Communications, a FINN Partners Company founded by Scott Widmeyer (BSJ, 1975). As a student, Thomas received the Scott D. Widmeyer First Generation/Minority Scholarship and leveraged his College of Media relationships to secure an internship that segued into his first job upon graduation.

Since then, he’s continued to give back to the College that gave him so much. He is a mentor to students in Adjunct Instructor Chuck Harmon’s (BSJ, 1981; MSJ, 1984) Advertising and Public Relations capstone course, providing professional advice and knowledge to students on how to work in an agency and interact with clients. He also has been a guest speaker for the WVU Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and is a member of the College of Media’s Visiting Committee, a group of high-level professionals, alumni and friends who serve as advisors to the College.  

“Giving back to the College of Media has not only been a rewarding experience but it’s also something that has come organically based on the relationships that I’ve fostered throughout the College,” said Thomas. “Whether it’s supporting the unique and creative approach that Chuck Harman takes with his PR capstone course or being a part of meaningful dialogue that’s helping shape the future of what the College will look like, each touchpoint allows me to add value by sharing what I’ve experienced in the professional workforce and to say ‘thank you’ for everything the College has provided me.”