Truth Initiative wins inaugural Clarence B. Jones Impact Award

 Copyright Truth Initiative

Copyright Truth Initiative


Truth Initiative(R)  has been named the inaugural winner of the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award, an honor from The Communications Network that recognizes and celebrates the impact of transformative communications campaigns in the social sector. The award is sponsored by The Heinz Endowments.

Truth Initiative, a nonprofit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past, launched its truth(R) campaign in the early 2000s to reduce teen smoking and has sustained it with incredible success:  rates of teen smoking have declined from 23% in 2000 to less than 6% in 2017. The effort represents an integrated, concerted communications campaign that has been transformational in American society.

The judging panel unanimously selected Truth Initiative as the winner based on criteria that accounted for significance, effectiveness, innovation, and leadership in social sector communications.

“Dr. Jones shares the values of The Communications Network and is a paragon of what communications for good can mobilize,” said Network Board member and Jones Award judge Jade Floyd, of The Case Foundation. “We created the Jones Award to honor him and recognize the game-changing effect strategic communications can have across the globe. Impact is at the core of this award.”

Truth Initiative’s work embodies the spirit of the Jones Impact Award because it catalyzed a movement through coalition building, was creative and sustained, and achieved meaningful change through communications.

“Truth Initiative has achieved remarkable success in helping a generation of young people to reject tobacco,” said Jesse Salazar, The Communications Network Board Chair. “They deployed the latest and best communications techniques to shift the way people think about tobacco use and its health impacts. Their example shows how professional communicators can drive the world toward positive change. We are proud they are the inaugural recipients of the Jones Impact Award.”

The judges for the award were:

  • Jesse Salazar, Network Board Chair
  • Jade Floyd, Network Board member and Vice President for Communications at The Case Foundation
  • Ken Weine, Network Board member and Chief Communications Officer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Alfred Ironside, former Network Board Chair and Vice President for Global Communications at the Ford Foundation
  • Vidya Krishnamurthy, Director of Communications at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Melanie Newman, Chief Public Engagement and Communications Strategist at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • Jennifer Oldham, Program and Communications Officer at The Healing Trust
  • Richard Tate, Vice President of Public Affairs at The California Wellness Foundation

Eric Asche, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Truth Initiative, will give a keynote address on how truth has successfully built the generation to end smoking, and accept the Jones Award on October 11 in San Francisco at ComNet18, The Communications Network’s annual conference.

The Communications Network is the premier leadership organization for social sector communications professionals. With over 1,400 members from influential and consequential foundations and nonprofits from around the world, we connect leaders seeking to elevate and advance communications for good and promote community, learning and leadership among those working in communications for good.


Recognizing and celebrating communications for good that makes a difference.


The Jones Award: It's about impact.

Social sector communicators wake up every day with the aim of making the world a more just and equitable place. To get there, successful communications must educate, persuade, and inspire in order to change lives for the better. In short, these efforts must have impact.

What does impact in our sector look like? And can you measure it?

The answer is yes, you can measure impact. Communications work that creates impact will:

  1. Elevate and advance issues
  2. Influence attitudes and beliefs
  3. Inspire action in pursuit of social change

The social sector communicators who make up The Communications Network strive to achieve those goals every day.

Beginning in 2018, The Communications Network is going to showcase and honor the best of what communications in our sector looks like so that others may learn from it, recreate it, and invest more deeply in the transformative power of communications for good.

We’re proud to announce the Clarence B. Jones Impact Award, a new recognition program from The Communications Network, named for a hero of the Civil Rights Movement who helped draft Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and a paragon of what communications for good can accomplish.  To learn more about Dr. Jones, watch a replay of his keynote address at ComNet15 with The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart.


Ideas, in order to have impact, have to move.


What is the Jones Impact Award?

The Clarence B. Jones Impact Award will honor the game-changing effects of smart, strategic communications. It will be given by The Communications Network annually, beginning in 2018, to the member (individual, team, or group) whose work best represents the extraordinary impact of our craft.

Why is The Communications Network giving it?

We aim to showcase effective communications in our sector so others may learn what works and use those insights to inform their own efforts. By drawing attention to the best our field has to offer, we hope to encourage other organizations to make deeper commitments to the transformative power of communications for good.

Who is Dr. Clarence B. Jones?

Dr. Clarence B. Jones is a communications hero and self-described “old lion” of the Civil Rights Movement.  He served as political advisor, counsel, and draft speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was also a successful attorney, entrepreneur, and investment banker. Currently affiliated the University of San Francisco and Stanford, he continues to educate and inspire, as well as write and speak widely. His entire career has been about impact.

Who is eligible to win the Jones Impact Award?

Only members of The Communications Network are eligible to win the Jones Award. Recipients may be an individual, team, or organization.


Communications is no longer an appendage to our work, but an integral part of it. In other words, it is the work.


How do Jones Impact Award nominations work?

Only members of The Communications Network can submit nominations, and self-nominations are permitted. There is a $75 nomination fee.

What will a successful nominee look like?

We are seeking to celebrate individuals, teams, or organizations that have successfully used strategic communications to demonstrably elevate and advance issues, influence attitudes and beliefs, and inspire action in pursuit of social change. Given the nature of achieving impact in communications, this work can have occurred over any timespan.

To be considered, nominees must:

  • Be current Network members
  • Demonstrably show the impact of their strategic communications work by detailing how it elevated and advanced an issue, influenced attitudes and beliefs around that issue, and inspired action
  • Have incorporated data and research into their strategy

Preference will be shown to nominees whose work exhibits:

Significance: The nominee’s work addresses an issue that is critical to improving lives.
Effectiveness: The nominee has been highly effective in achieving positive change. Their work has a measurable record of accomplishment.
Innovation: The nominee is advancing an innovative strategy that directly improves people’s lives. The work represents a leap in creativity or a fundamental departure from usual practice.
Field leadership: The nominee has demonstrated an interest in sharing his or her model within the field for possible replication.

Full nomination criteria can be found in the nomination form here.

How is the Jones Impact Award winner decided?

The Jones Award jury panel will comprise strategic communications leaders including selected members of The Communications Network, The Network’s Board Chair, and Network staff, who will consider applications for their rigor and worthiness. Access the judging rubric here.

When are things due? What’s the timeline?

Nominations open: September 29, 2017
Nomination deadline: January 12, 2018
Award winner(s) notified: April 2018
Award winner(s) announced: June 2018
Award winner(s) honored: ComNet18 in October 2018

Winning = ?

Awardees will be honored at ComNet, The Communications Network’s annual conference that takes place in early fall, where they will be recognized. Winners will receive free admission to the conference and will be invited to deliver a keynote session on their work. They will also have the opportunity to share their story in Change Agent, The Network’s print journal, and a Network webinar.

How do I submit a nomination?

Nominations are now closed. If you have questions, email


Nominations Are Closed