IABC Calgary knows how to celebrate 50 years

Networking is a hallmark of IABC. Calgary Mayor Nenshi has known Calgary IABC President Will Tigley since Will was a lad. So, guess who dropped in to IABC Calgary’s Black-and-White 50th Anniversary Gala January 28? The USA’s travel ban on Muslim countries was on the mayor’s mind as he spoke to the importance of community, how stories help to make communities, and how communicators are expert storytellers.

The event was held at Calgary’s fabled Olympic Park with the ski jump made famous by Eddie “The Eagle” in the background. A jazz duo [keyboards and voice] entertained with classics. Instead of the usual seat-down, an informal atmosphere with ample standing-room tables encouraged camaraderie. Appetizers were delicious, the buffet was outstanding, and the wine was reasonably priced.

Incoming IABC Chair, Sharon Hunter from Montreal, was in town. She adroitly delivered the IABC corporate message without trying the patience of the crowd. Via video, tributes poured in from IABC chapters around the world, including Edmonton 😆.

On behalf of the IABC Canada Master Communicator program, I had the honor of recognizing Calgary’s fifth Master Communicator, Allison Mackenzie and presenting her with her medal. [My speaking notes appear below].

I’ve organized several dozen corporate dinners and conferences, but special events are not my forte, especially the complexity of this gala with its entertainment, corporate sponsors, and details down to assistance in arranging in taxis. There’s a Gold Quill just waiting to be had.

My Speaking Notes

On behalf of the Master Communicator program of IABC Canada, thank you to IABC Calgary for having us as part of your evening.Will … congratulations to you … the organizers … the chapter executive … and all members of Calgary IABC.

But – as you can see from how John [Larsen] and I are dressed [in tuxedos] … we didn’t the get the memo from Will [IABC Calgary President Will Tigley] about “black tie” meaning … well, “black tie.”

  • 50 years … half-a-century. WOW!
  • And, a Black-and-White Gala!

To borrow a small-town Prairie expression:

  • It’s so impressive to see everybody dressed up in their Sunday best … but wanting to behave like it’s Saturday night and it’s been happy hour all day at the local bar.

Yep, I’m feeling right at home.


We also had galas in the small town where I grew up. And … black-and-white was extra special.

  • Black … brush your cowboy hat
  • White … T-shirt right out of the plastic – not ironed
  •  Gala
    • Wash your blue jeans
    • Clean ALL the manure off your cowboy boots

When I mentioned this to my wife … she looked at me and said,

“Ron, this is Calgary. It isn’t Grandview, Manitoba.”

  • Which is why I’m dressed the way I am tonight.
  • And, besides, as I mentioned, I didn’t get the memo from Will.



The Chair of the 2016 Master Communicator program was Jacqui d’Eon from Ontario. As Past Chairman, I was one of the six master communicators on the committee.

It is my privilege tonight to represent Jacqui, the other committee members, all other Master Communicators … and the program itself.

Master Communicator is the highest honor that IABC Canada can bestow on an IABC member.

Since the program began 36 years ago … in 1980 … there have only been 52 recipients.

One with Calgary connection of three years is Tudor Williams, now in Vancouver. Tudor is also a Fellow of IABC. Another from Vancouver … and with us tonight, is Jennifer Wah. Jennifer is also an IABC Fellow.

But four Master Communicators made their mark and earned their reputations here in Calgary.

They are:

  • John Larsen – 2012
  • Glenna Cross – 2005
  • Elaine Dixson – 2004
  • Basil Skodyn – 1992

Last year … 2016 … the number of Master Communicators across the country increased by two to 54. And … the Calgary number increased from four to five.

In addition to being an Accredited Business Communicator … an ABC … there are five criteria for Master Communicator.

  1. Contributions to the organizational communication field and profession.
  2. Communication career achievement.
  3. Authorship, speaking and lecturing on communications topics.
  4. Contributions to IABC.
  5. Other … for example, community activities and volunteerism

A more extensive description can be found on the IABC Canada website.


But … before I present the Master Communicator medal to one of your colleagues … please allow me one very personal and heartfelt observation.

  • I have always said I would have had a career without IABC
  • But … I have had the career I have had … because of IABC.


Now … on with the show.


Allison Mackenzie … would you please come forward.


Allison … as you look out on the room … I know there are many faces who once were in your classroom.

You have played a pivotal role in the careers of hundreds of professional communicators. Your influence is generational.

Judging by the feedback that the Master Communicator Committee received, you are an amazing:

  • Professor
  • Teacher
  • Guidance counsellor
  • Mentor
  • Coach

Indeed, if you were to take that DNA test offered by Ancestory.dot.com … I’ll bet they’d find that mentoring and coaching are imbedded in your DNA.


Allison … just think of how many careers you have launched … and the successes your students have already had … and will have.

A common theme in your letters of support was your generosity … sharing your time … sharing your experience … and sharing your expertise.

It’s also important to applaud your leadership at the university. The communications department owes you a debt of gratitude.

Your leadership with IABC includes your chairmanship of the IABC Academy.


Someone who knows Allison better than most people is John Larsen.

John … would you please share your thoughts about this remarkable woman and outstanding communicator.

John’s Remarks/Thanks, John.


Ask Allison to step forward

Allison … On behalf of IABC Canada and all the other Master Communicators, it is a privilege to present you with your Master Communicator medal.

Present medal


Allison … Now, it’s your opportunity to say a few words.

– 30 –







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