January 10, 2013
Donald (Don) Kirchoffner, APR, Fellow PRSA, a past member of the Public Relations Society of America’s Board of Directors, died on Jan. 10 in Boulder Colo., after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 68.
Kirchoffner was an accomplished executive known for creating and implementing strategic communications that proactively addressed a broad array of challenges with innovation, foresight and action. He was a driving force behind a number of high-profile media campaigns, crisis management situations and public outreach programs — both in the United States and overseas.
Most recently, Kirchoffner was a senior communications consultant at Don Kirchoffner & Associates in Broomfield, Colo. He served on PRSA’s Board of Directors in 2009-10. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the PRSA Foundation.
“Anyone who worked with Don came away impressed and changed by his passion, his commitment to his work and his clients, and his strong belief in ethical conduct,” said Mickey G. Nall, APR, Fellow PRSA, the Society’s 2013 chair and CEO. “He was outspoken in support of his beliefs, which were born out of decades of service to the country and profession he loved. We all benefited from his contributions.”
Following a distinguished 26-year career with the United States Army, Kirchoffner completed his military service as chief of media relations for the Department of the Army with the rank of Colonel. Kirchoffner was also chairman of the Military Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh from 1984 to 1988.
During his military career, Kirchoffner was the first public affairs officer on the ground following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces and served as the director of communication for Kurdish Relief Operations in Northern Iraq following the war. In addition, he was the director of communications for three hostage release operations and handled Department of Defense efforts during the Los Angeles Riots. During the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Kirchoffner was very visible as European Command's deputy public affairs officer.
Kirchoffner also served as the senior director of communications for all federal relief efforts during Hurricane Andrew and supervised more than 40 federal, military and nonprofit public affairs personnel.
He was previously the director of communications for the Biomedical Services Division of the American Red Cross. In this capacity, he directed all communications activities for 38 member blood centers across the United States. He also served as vice president of communications with Commonwealth Edison in Chicago, which eventually became known as Exelon following a merger with Philadelphia Electric, forming the largest utility in the country.
He was a past president of PRSA’s Chicago Chapter. Kirchoffner was also a member of the Army Public Affairs Hall of Fame and the Arthur Page Society. In addition, he served as a board member of the Army Public Affairs Alumni Association. The Association will recognize him with the Joe Galloway Lifetime Achievement Award for his many contributions in improving the professionalism of the career field and his active role as a mentor to many Army PR professionals.
In 2006, the Chicago Chapter awarded Kirchoffner the Chicago Public Relations Professional of the Year. In 2009, the Colorado Chapter honored Kirchoffner with the Swede Johnson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kirchoffner graduated from St. John’s University in 1966. He also held a master’s in public administration from the University of Georgia.
He is survived by his wife, Elaine, daughters Megan and Jill, son Matt and four grandchildren.
Memorial services are pending.
Ed Note: We encourage readers to use the comments section (by clicking the "View Comments" link below) to share your favorite memories about Don and pay tribute to his life.
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