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Nov 22, 2019

Caesars and Chesapeake take top prizes at Corporate Governance Awards

Winners announced at 12th annual Corporate Governance Awards in New York City

Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Chesapeake Utilities Corporation last night took home two of the most prestigious honors at the 12th annual Corporate Governance Awards.

Caesars was awarded the governance team of the year (large cap) prize, while Chesapeake was named best governance team of the year (small to mid-cap).

In all, 43 different companies were short-listed for the awards. Of these, 15 companies received an award across 16 categories. The awards were presented at a black-tie gala at Cipriani 25 in New York City. Almost 400 leading members of the US governance, risk and compliance community gathered to celebrate the work of companies and individuals over the past year.

The awards for best proxy of the year, which are separated by market cap, went to General Motors Company (large cap), NorthWestern Energy (mid-cap) and Coeur Mining (small cap). IBM was honored for having the best shareholder engagement.

The title of best compliance and ethics program (large cap) went to VF Corporation, while Comscore won the same award in the small to mid-cap category. AT&T took home the award for best ESG reporting. was recognized for having made the best use of technology. Royal Bank of Canada took the prize for best overall corporate governance – international, and The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America was honored for having the best overall governance for a private company.

Among the individual categories, Hope Mehlman of Regions Financial Corporation was named governance professional of the year (large cap), while Adam Kokas of Atlas Air Worldwide took the small to mid-cap governance professional trophy.

Carol Ward won this year’s lifetime achievement award. Ward started out in the governance world with a 23-year stint at Cigna Corporation in Philadelphia, where she was corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.

She then spent 12 years at Kraft Foods – later Mondelez International – as vice president and corporate secretary. During her time at the company, she played important roles in Kraft Foods’ acquisition of Cadbury and the 2012 spin-off of Kraft Foods’ North American grocery business, which led to the company’s renaming as Mondelez International. In January 2019 she joined Corporate Governance Partners, a corporate governance software start-up, as senior adviser.

The full list of winners is:

Governance team of the year (large cap)
Caesars Entertainment Corporation

Governance team of the year (small to mid-cap)
Chesapeake Utilities Corporation

Best proxy statement (large cap)
General Motors Company

Best proxy statement (mid-cap)
NorthWestern Energy

Best proxy statement (small cap)
Coeur Mining

Best compliance and ethics program (large cap)
VF Corporation

Best compliance and ethics program (small to mid-cap)

Best ESG reporting

Best shareholder engagement

Best use of technology

Best overall corporate governance – international
Royal Bank of Canada

Best overall governance for a private company
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Governance professional of the year (large cap)
Hope Mehlman, Regions Financial Corporation

Governance professional of the year (small to mid-cap)
Adam Kokas, Atlas Air Worldwide

Rising star
Connor Kuratek, Marsh & McLennan Companies

Lifetime achievement
Carol Ward

The Corporate Secretary editorial team reviewed all the nominations submitted by the industry. Once the short lists were agreed, they and their supporting evidence were passed to the independent judging panel to select the winners. This year’s judges were:

  • Lydia Beebe, LIBB Advisors
  • Douglas Chia, Soundboard Governance and Rutgers
  • Lucy Fato, AIG
  • Matt Geekie, Graybar
  • Carol Strickland, Trireme Energy Holdings
  • Paul Washington, The Conference Board

The awards were hosted by David Brancaccio, host of American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report.