Communicator of the Year Award


Communicator of the Year Award

The Communicator of the Year award will be presented to the individual who, in the judgment of the CAPIO Awards Committee and Board of Directors, demonstrates exceptional abilities, skills and talents in leading their organization to greater and more successful communications and public engagement. 

Nomination Information

The CAPIO Board of Directors is soliciting nominations from members and non-members. You do not need to be a member to nominate an individual for this award.  However the nominee must be a CAPIO member.  Self-nominations are accepted.  SUBMIT A NOMINATION

How to Nominate

All entries and supporting documents must be submitted electronically to CAPIO via our online entry form.

Nominations should include a written narrative no longer than two pages in length. Supporting documents that reinforce the written narrative and demonstrate the candidate’s achievements are recommended.

The individual being nominated for the Communicator of the Year award must be a CAPIO member. In nominating a person for the award, a nominator should review the Communicator of the Year scoring rubric and might consider:

  • The nominee’s implementation of a successful program, campaign or project in the prior year (i.e. 2024 Award recipient nominated for 2023 work).
  • The nominee’s exceptional effectiveness in communications and public engagement for the entire year.

Other considerations may include:

  • The nominee’s contributions to the profession.
  • The nominee’s support and education to help others in the profession.
  • The nominee’s leadership and involvement in CAPIO.

When submitting your nomination, you may share outcome information used such as a function chart, graphics, images or links to briefings, etc. You may also provide quotes or support from colleagues, supervisors, elected officials, residents, etc. To submit supplemental information for the nomination, you may attach it to the nomination form or email it to  

Communicator of the Year Award nominee scoring rubric.

Recipient Selection

The final selection will be made by the Board or appointed selection committee prior to the Annual Conference each year.

Award Honors

For the 2024 year, the award will be presented to the selected recipient during the CAPIO Annual Conference in Indian Wells in May during the EPIC Awards Dinner on Wednesday, May 15. In addition, CAPIO will send a news release and supporting photograph(s) to the award winner’s employer and to local media following the announcement.

Deadline & Contact

Nominations for the 2024 Award are due by March 16 at 5 pm.  If you have questions, call us at 1-844-CAPIO55 or email  


Kevin Strauss awarded the 2024 Communicator of the Year Award at CAPIO’s EPIC Awards Dinner

The California Association of Public Information Officials recognized Kevin Strauss, Communications Manager for the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) with one of CAPIO’s highest honors – the 2024 Communicator of the Year – during the 2024 awards dinner on May 14 in Indian Wells.

Kevin has quickly become an influential leader in the communications industry. Kevin has supercharged his communications efforts, which have gained recognition from both his colleagues and the community.


Wendy Aguilar receives CAPIO’s 2023 Communicator of the Year Award

“The incredible work Wendy has done and her commitment to public sector communications made her stand out,” said CAPIO President Lael Wageneck. “Wendy was chosen to receive this special recognition for her expertise in digital communications and the exceptional work she has done in active outreach to her community, as well as her thoughtful commitment to her colleagues.”


2022 Communicator of the Year Award Recipient
Olivia Applegate

Honored for her exceptional leadership and excellence in strategic communications, Olivia has raised the bar in public communications.

Most recently, Olivia has transformed the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association’s communications program that serves over 44,000 members and 16 employers throughout California.

With great drive and vision, Olivia led SBCERA through an organizational rebrand, website redesign, member engagement survey designed to help drive member experience efforts, and an employer survey designed to establish mutual priorities and help build consensus on strategic initiatives, electronic newsletter campaigns, and others. Olivia also led her team through an ambitious strategic communications plan, which has served as a guide to define, shape, and communicate SBCERA’s mission, vision, and strategic priorities.


2021 Communicator of the Year Award Recipient
Thomas Christensen

Honored for his commitment and excellence in communications, the County of San Diego’s Communication Specialist, Tom Christensen, has made it his top priority to build social media campaigns that educate, inspire, and create change throughout the County of San Diego. Tom oversees more than 100 individual County department social media accounts as an administrator or content creator. His leadership has resulted in the County obtaining some of the highest follower counts for counties in the nation as well as some of the highest engagement numbers.


2020 Communicator of the Year Award Recipient
Tiffany Baca

Tiffany Baca was awarded the 2020 Communicator of the Year Award on July 13, 2020.  With an impressive collection of 20 statements of support included in her award nomination, colleagues expressed high admiration for her work ethic, talents, and character, making her a shining example of what a superstar communications professional embodies.