Sarah Prohaska, Communications Director City of Port St. Lucie
Ross Schwartz , What Works Cities
August 5, 2021
NEW YORK – Results for America announced that the Communications Department of Port St. Lucie will receive the third annual Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers. The award, which honors the memory of What Works Cities’ founding Director of Communications, recognizes a city official or team that draws on the power of public communication to cultivate trust and collaboration between local government and residents.
The annual prize is given by Results for America, lead partner of What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that helps cities use evidence and data to tackle their most pressing challenges.
“We are proud to announce this award recognizing the City of Port St. Lucie,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America. “Sharman believed strongly in the power of public communication to inform and build trust with residents, and this award honors Port St. Lucie for its creative communications strategies that have helped city residents engage in civic life and address local challenges.”
Stein devoted her career to advancing storytelling that drives positive change in local communities. She spent decades working as a journalist for newspapers across the country and later led communications for city agencies and nonprofits in New York City. At What Works Cities, she helped city leaders embrace the importance of using data and evidence to make better decisions, and encouraged them to engage with residents to solve problems. Stein passed away from ovarian cancer in May 2018.
“When my team partnered with the Communications Department to educate residents about the City’s strategic planning process, it opened up a new level of data-driven engagement and communication with residents that I believe few other cities in the nation have achieved,” said Kate Parmelee, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Innovation at City of Port St. Lucie. “Their innovation and ideas allow us to reach thousands each year to gather the needed data, but also to educate and report the data back to citizens. The Communications Department helps engage our citizens in making significant changes in their city.”
Port St. Lucie’s Communications Department was selected as the winner of this year’s award, recognizing the team’s commitment to advancing Stein’s vision for cities to engage the community to build trust and to become actively involved in civic life. A few sample achievements include:
● Over the past five years, the Communications Team’s work has earned more than 100 local, state, and national awards for its creativity and community impact.
● According to the National Community Survey, more than 60 percent of resident participants rated the City’s availability of information, use of social media, and quality of video as excellent or good.
● The team’s creative outreach efforts dramatically increased attendance at the City’s Citizen Summit, including for its virtual event this past year. Outreach included a new website dashboard and Feedback Report video.
● Helped the city achieve its goal of exceeding its 2010 response rate in the 2020 US Census through a targeted data-centric Census educational and marketing campaign, ultimately helping Port St. Lucie to exceed the county, state and national response rate in 2020.
● Created an extensive COVID-19 outreach program, including Facebook Live Town Halls with state and national representatives, weekly update videos with the City Manager, direct emails to residents, and a constantly updated website landing page, targeted to both residents and businesses.
“Our department’s vision is to reinvent government communication. By utilizing data and listening to our residents’ feedback, we are achieving that vision,” said Sarah Prohaska, Port St. Lucie’s Communications Director. “We have an incredible team and are extremely honored that Results for America and What Works Cities have chosen us to be among the cutting-edge cities recognized as Storytelling Changemakers.”
Team Members of Port St. Lucie’s Communications Department include:
Sarah Prohaska, Communications Director
Nicole Hricik, Marketing Supervisor and Communications Liaison
Melissa Yunas, Communications Project Manager
Maureen Kenyon, Social Media Coordinator and Digital Storyteller
Gus Nadasi, Digital Technology Coordinator
Avi Monina, Digital Media Production Coordinator
Benjamin Elliot, Digital Video Producer
Matthew Dutiel, Digital Video Producer
Patricia D’Abate, Web Content & Graphics Specialist
Alyssa Taylor, Graphics and Digital Content Specialist
Winners of the Sharman Stein Award for Storytelling Changemakers are selected based on their embodiment of the communications philosophy Stein championed; proactively leveraging modes of communication that reach residents with information about their city’s progress; and contributing to improving community trust, understanding, and/or engagement through their efforts. The City of Arlington (TX)’s Office of Communication was the inaugural winner of the award. Last year the award was presented to Gilbert, AZ.
About Results for America:
Results for America is helping decision-makers at all levels of government harness evidence and data to make progress on our greatest challenges. Our mission is to make investing in what works the “new normal,” so that when policymakers make decisions, they start by seeking the best evidence and data available, then use what they find to get better results. For more information, visit results4america.org.
About What Works Cities:
What Work Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, helps cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives. The initiative’s What Works Cities Certification program is the first-of-its-kind national standard of excellence in city governance that evaluates how well cities are managed and whether cities have the right people, processes, and policies in place to put data and evidence at the center of decision-making. Through the initiative’s expert partners, cities around the country are receiving support, guidance, and resources to succeed. For more information, visit whatworkscities.org.
The City of Port St. Lucie is proud to be a hometown where people live, learn, work and play, and celebrate all of life’s opportunities. With over 202,000 residents, Port St. Lucie is Florida’s seventh largest city by population (South Florida’s third largest city). The City occupies an area of 120 square miles in St. Lucie County on Florida’s east coast, about 50 miles north of West Palm Beach, halfway between Miami and Orlando. The City provides most traditional municipal services including law enforcement, water and sewer and public works. For more information, visit www.cityofpsl.com