College Communicators Bring Home the Gold

PARAMUS, N.J – Bergen Community College has notched an institution-record four National Council in Marketing and Public Relations Medallion Awards recognizing excellence in strategic communication.

NCMPR, an affiliate of the American Association of Community Colleges, honors colleges annually as part of the Medallion program, which features entries from the more than 650 colleges in the Northeast and Canada. Bergen has earned 13 Medallions in the last eight years.

“This sets a new standard for excellence in communication at Bergen Community College,” Executive Director of Public Relations and Community and Cultural Affairs Larry Hlavenka, Ed.D., said. “The members of the Office of Public Relations work very hard to deliver excellence - the NCMPR awards help validate their work as extraordinary. I’m very proud of the team.”

Bergen earned Medallions in four categories, with first-place gold honors in two areas (communication success story campaign and microsite/landing page) and second-place silver in the other pair (newsletter and interior signage/displays).

The communication success story award came on the strength of a social media and print campaign that spotlighted the stories of Bergen’s New Jersey Stars students. Featuring the students’ own words, the campaign focused on how the College helped contribute to their success. The other gold award recognized the College’s Center for Online Learning landing page at The landing page became a key tactic in the College’s promotion strategy of the new online learning initiative. The completely redesigned Inside Bergen Community College newsletter and campus history wall installation earned the silver awards.

A panel of independent judges from both academia and industry evaluated submissions from eligible colleges in the northeastern U.S., Canada and United Kingdom before announcing the winners at the NCMPR District 1 conference that took place in Boston, Massachusetts in November.

Bergen has previously won Medallions for excellence in newsletter production (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), video programming (2015, 2017), fundraising campaign (2018), print advertisement (2018) and communication success campaign (2022).

The Office of Public Relations reports to Vice President of External Affairs Suzanne Wetzel. The award-winning team includes Executive Director of Public Relations, Community and Cultural Affairs Larry Hlavenka, Ed.D.; Assistant Director of Public Relations Jessica Fargnoli, Ed.D.; Manager of New Media Services Tom DePrenda; Graphic/Web Designer Cristina Grisales; Web Developer Frank Hablawi; and Customer Service Associate Nancy McAllister. To expand the department’s outreach capabilities, the College recently hired Kristy Italiano as director of marketing; she began this month.

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (, a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

Photo Caption: Assistant Director of Public Relations Jessica Fargnoli, Ed.D., accepted the NCMPR Medallion Awards at the organization’s Boston conference.

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