To celebrate diversity month at the most recent monthly meeting for the PRSA Phoenix New Pros Mentorship Program, we heard from Paula Pedene, APR, Fellow PRSA, who was honored as PRSA’s PR Professional of the Year for her government whistleblowing activities in 2015.
For those who are unaware, a whistleblower is a person who exposes information on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity.
Pedene was one of the first whistleblowers at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, which led to her being stripped of her title, staff and duties.
As news of whistleblowers currently floods the media, it’s important to take a step back and address the courage it takes to come forward with unethical claims. For Pedene, doing what’s right meant losing her job, having no access to her work phone and email, being put under an illegal gag order and being sent to work in the basement library.
Along with her legal team and fellow whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote, Pedene stuck to her morals and channeled the PRSA Code of Ethics, and it paid off. The House Veterans Affairs Committee exposed Phoenix VA Hospital for its wrongdoing and Pedene won her whistleblower case and ultimately helped save the lives of thousands of veterans.
It was inspiring to hear Pedene’s story and learn from her why morals, ethics and values are important in all we do as PR pros. In our industry, following a code of ethics is crucial to gain and maintain trust between the media, our clients and the public.