Tribute to Karen Plunkett

Karen Plunkett 'Iron Lady' Loved Mentor Role

On July 19, 2010, Karen Plunkett died of congestive heart failure.  She battled cancer for over three decades, but you would never know it.  She seldom talked about it, and remained very courageous and upbeat.  Plunkett was a mentor of Communiqué, the student chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) at Rollins College.  She was recently a guest speaker at the annual Professional Networking Roundtable hosted by Rollins College.  Carolyn Planck, the student advisor for Communiqué, along with the members, honored Karen at the annual Professional Roundtable on March 20, 2010 for her roles in founding Communiqué, and creating the Professional Roundtable workshops.  The award noted high respect for her stellar professional accomplishments as a respected mentor and role model who exemplifies dedication, and professionalism through her enduring service, teaching, and achievements.

Karen Plunkett, APR was a consultant, teacher and former President of both FPRA and FPRA - Orlando Area Chapter.  She was an accredited public relations professional, business communicator and a certified fund raiser who specialized in marketing and public relations for large and small businesses and non-profit organizations.  She served as an adjunct faculty member at Rollins College and other higher education institutions for 15 years, focusing on bringing theory as well as real world advice to students seeking careers in communication.  By gubernatorial appointment, she spent eight years as a Commissioner of Higher Education (Post-Secondary) Planning for the State of Florida, and on the State of Florida Excellence Task Force based on the Malcolm Baldridge Award processes.  She was a frequent workshop facilitator and speaker on various marketing and public relations topics.   

Plunkett earned a master's degree in communication from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, and undergraduate degress in mass communication and management from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.  She also held certification in public relations from Ball State University and Community Service certification from Boston College and the Points of Light Foundations.   As a marketing and PR consultant, Karen counseled management at many of Central Florida's largest companies and non-profit organizations.  Her clients circled the globe and called upon her experience in business to business marketing, media relations, special events, community relations, strategic planning and business development, and her specialty in the areas of professional services marketing, planning and set-up of in-house departments and staffing. Perhaps the most important example of how Karen supported and helped those in the communication industry is through mentoring students and advising companies on how to find great interns.  She provided counseling and job search information for adults returning to school through the work force with desires to begin a second career.  As an executive, she helped and supervised numerous students create career pathways to management as they retained the flexibility to accommodate academics, raising children, and family responsibilities. 

Many referred to Karen as a gracious lady with style and a steel backbone.  We knew her best as a friend who was kind, and caring, and will be missed by many. 

Karen is survived by her husband, Stephen Plunkett, of Orlando, Florida.


Submitted by Sherry Lewis
July 28, 2010