Natalie Smith Receives PRSA Richmond’s Thomas Jefferson Award of Excellence in Public Relations


Natalie Smith, APR, senior vice president, has been honored with the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Award of Excellence in Public Relations from the Richmond chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA Richmond). The lifetime achievement award recognizes a seasoned public relations practitioner in Central Virginia who has made an ongoing commitment to advancing the profession.  

Natalie has been an active PRSA member since 1993 – achieving her APR credentials in 1998. She currently oversees Padilla’s Employee Engagement Team, within the agency’s Corporate Advisory Group, which is focused on change communications, employee engagement, corporate culture, internal brand activation and corporate responsibility. As a well-respected business leader, she has mentored numerous up-and-coming professionals within our industry, especially young women.  

Along with professional achievements, the Thomas Jefferson Award also recognizes senior public relations professionals for their community involvement. Natalie served as an executive board member with VIRGINIAforever, a diverse coalition dedicated to protecting the Commonwealth’s natural resources. Her public service also included board involvement with Family Lifeline, a nonprofit organization that provides home- and community-based services to families in need.  

Natalie earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications arts from James Madison University, and a master’s degree in mass communications and media management from Virginia Commonwealth University.  

On Wednesday, October 6th, PRSA Richmond will host the Virginia PR Awards Celebration at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to celebrate the chapter, sponsors and all the winners – and include remarks from Natalie as this year’s Thomas Jefferson Award honoree.  

Previous Padilla honorees of the Thomas Jefferson Award include Mark Raper (2007) and Mike Mulvihill (2016). 

About Padilla
Padilla is an independently operated, globally resourced public relations and communication company with offices across the United States. The agency builds, grows and protects brands and reputations worldwide by creating purposeful connections with the people who matter most through public relations, advertising, digital and social marketing, investor relations and brand strategy. Padilla includes the brand consultancy of Joe Smith, the food and nutrition experts at FoodMinds, and the research authorities at SMS Research Advisors. Clients include 3M, Avocados From Mexico, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Dole Food Company, Mayo Clinic, Prosciutto di Parma, Rockwell Automation, Sanofi Pasteur and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. Padilla is an AVENIR GLOBAL company and is a founding member of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, a partnership of 132 independently owned partner offices in 115 cities on six continents. Connect with purpose at

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