2018 Communicator of the Year Event Recap

The IABC Waterloo 2017-2018 year finished off in style – honouring a local legend and truly inspiration communication professional who has helped to mentor countless communicators throughout the Region, Fran Gregory. 

Fran has had a truly inspiring and influential communications career, working in the manufacturing, financial and service sectors leading communication projects around the world. She is also a communications consultant to organizations as diverse as General Motors, the United Way of Waterloo Region, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the Kitchener Rangers Hockey Club, and others.

Most recently, she put her passion for communication to work at Conestoga College where she developed the two-year Public Relations diploma program and the four-year (Honours) Bachelor of Public Relations degree. In her 14 years at the college, she was coordinator and professor within both programs.

She continued her own professional development by working on various committees and boards:

  • Member of IABC since 1981

  • A founder and former president of IABC Waterloo, and frequent speaker and judge of IABC awards programs.

  • Co-author of the Canadian definition of public relations adopted by the CPRS in 2008. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Lorelei Kilgour Memorial Outstanding Practitioner Award for ethics and professionalism, presented by CPRS Hamilton.

  • Member of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Education Council; Co-Presiding Deputy Officer, Academic, on the Council since 2011-16

  • Co-author, Pathways to the Profession, a primer and benchmark for Canadian institutes offering programming in Public Relations and Communications Management education

One of the key take aways from the night, was the reiteration of every moms favourite words of wisdom.... ‘work hard and be nice’. According to Fran, NICE is actually an acronym for Networking, Improvement, Curiosity and Empathy. 

Networking: Exchanging information and ideas among individuals that share a common interest, for social or business purposes. 

Improvement: Mistakes are inevitable, but it's ones willingness to learn from your personal mistakes and develop those skills that set you apart.

Curiosity: The desire to know or learn something.

Empathy: The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes by identifying with and understanding the thoughts, feelings and experiences of someone else. It doesn’t mean you completely understand. It doesn’t mean you agree. Demonstrating empathy means you seek to understand and seek to help another person feel understood.


This simple acronym laid the foundation for Fran's personal brand. Whether you are a senior leader or relatively early in your career, a public relations entrepreneur or corporate communicator, you too use this to help shape your personal and professional brand. 

What people are saying about our first ever COTY recipient:

·       “Fran is a dedicated communications professional and recently retired from her role as professor of public relations at Conestoga College. Both the diploma and degree programs are her legacy as she built them from the ground up over the past 15 years.”

·       “Following a massive heart attack, subsequent triple bypass surgery and a challenging recovery that doctors told her most people do not survive, Fran dedicated herself to helping educate women about heart attack risk, partnering with St. Mary’s hospital to create educational materials and videos and serving as the Red Day ambassador for the Manulife LPGA classic.”

·       “Fran is a model communicator, leader and survivor who is now using her communications expertise to pay it forward for others in support of community health.”

Mackenzie Clement

Kaitlyn Holbein