“God makes no mistakes.” Those were the powerful words of Jennifer Pinckney before a rapt audience of public relations professionals March 17 in New York City where she received PR Week’s 2016 Communicator of the Year Award on behalf of her late husband, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.

Now in its fourth year, the Communicator of the Year honor is bestowed upon an individual who is chosen by the chair of awards judges and PR Week editor-in-chief. This person, who could come from within or outside the PR industry, exemplifies the power of communications to make a broad and lasting impact.

It was my distinct honor to serve as chair of the awards judges this year. It was an even greater privilege to be in that New York City ballroom to see Rev. Pinckney honored posthumously and to hear from his widow.

She was spellbinding as she spoke about her “Tay,” their daughters, that fateful evening at church and life after. South Carolinians knew of Sen. Pinckney and his public service, but the world learned of Rev. Pinckney on June 17, 2015, in the aftermath of his racially motivated murder and that of eight other Emmanuel AME congregants.

PR Week Global editorial director Steve Barrett commented on Mrs. Pinckney’s acceptance remarks: “At a time when there is so much negative and divisive rhetoric in our public discourse it was truly humbling to hear Jennifer speak so bravely and emotionally, but also rationally, about her loss, the effect on her family, church, and community, but also about the values Clementa represented and displayed in his daily life.”

No doubt those who knew — and those who’ve come to know of — Clementa Pinckney are thankful for the time he spent with us. We’re equally thankful for the continued courage and strength of his widow — a powerful communicator in her own right.

Clementa Pinckney’s lessons survive him for future generations, and Jennifer Pinckney carries on his legacy through her efforts with the Honorable Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney Foundation (http: //senatorpincknev.ore/) and the Reverend Pinckney Scholarship Fund. May we never forget.

Barry Caldwell

Senior Vice President

Waste Management

Fannin Street

Houston, Texas