Alumni Advisory Council
The general mission of the COMS Alumni Advisory Council is to enhance relationships between the School of Communication Studies and its alumni. Specifically, the council provides advice and counsel in support of the School’s alumni initiatives, as well as priorities identified in alumni surveys. Its members serve as ambassadors in their spheres of influence and encourage alumni engagement with School faculty and students, and with one another.
Alumni Advisory Council
School of Communication Studies, Ohio University
Karen Atwell, PCC (OHIO '18 MA - Organizational Communication) is a dynamic leader with over 35 years of leadership, consulting, and coaching experience. Accomplished in talent strategy and development, HR consulting, executive assessment, coaching, training, and facilitating; Karen focuses on both people and productivity through a passion to grow others.
Karen has extensive experience helping organizations and leaders in transition identify the shifts necessary to embrace new ways of being. She focuses on the Culture Articulation, Organizational Mapping, Initiative Strategy, and Accountability. Karen continues to be a key player in the development and delivery of formal training and coaching programs, providing development experiences for leaders, managers, and sales professionals.
Karen is Chief Strategist of Dynamic Perspectives, LLC. Her previous experience includes VP of Leadership Development with First Command Financial Services, Executive Director and Master Coach with UBS Global Wealth Management and various sales management and senior leadership positions with Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Prudential Securities.
Karen holds an MA in Organizational Communications, is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and is Master Certified in The Leadership Challenge© and Deep Transformational Coaching. Her consulting client list includes Ohio University, Precipart, First Command Financial Services, MetLife, Penn Medicine, Southern Methodist University, PNC Bank, and Franchise Update Media.
Karen lives in St. Augustine, Florida, and Deer Isle, Maine. She serves as president of her Rotary Club and has a long history of community involvement around the education, development, and health of young people.
David (Dave) Abram (OHIO '89 BSC - Organizational Communication) is a Territory Sales Representative with Andersen Corporation, one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of windows and doors. Having made his first gift to OHIO in the form of a donation to the College of Communication in 1989, the year of his graduation, he has provided time, talent and treasure to his alma mater.
In his professional career, Dave has worked in sales, marketing and new business development roles in several industries, including consumer packaged goods, sporting goods and building materials. Additionally, he has served on boards for a variety of institutions/organizations.
In service to Ohio University, Dave served as President of the Massachusetts Chapter serving New England for eight years, was a member of the OHIO Alumni Association Board of Directors and was a Regional Chair of the Promise Lives Campaign. He currently serves on the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees and the OHIO Bobcat Club Board of Directors (Intercollegiate Athletics Development). During his tenure as Massachusetts Chapter President, he created and led the eventual endowment of the Bunch of Grapes Scholarship, which provides an annual scholarship for a student residing in New England, and also created its anchor event, Manasseh Cutler’s Lobsterfest, an annual fundraiser for the scholarship.
Katrina E. Bell-Jordan (OHIO '93 BSJ - News Editorial Journalism, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism; '94 MA - Interpersonal Communication with focus in Rhetorical Studies; '97 Ph.D. - Interpersonal Communication with focus in Rhetorical Studies and Media Studies)
Dr. Katrina E. Bell-Jordan currently serves as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, Illinois and Professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre. She served for 7 years as Chair of the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre at Northeastern and 2 years as Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. Katrina joined the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre in 1997 as an Assistant Professor, teaching in the areas of media literacy/media theory, rhetorical theory and criticism, and news writing/journalism. Her research has focused on critical media studies, the politics of gender and race in the media, and the rhetoric of popular culture. She has published in journals such as Critical Studies in Media Communication, Women’s Studies in Communication, and Performance Studies; published book chapters on race and representation in the media; and written for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the New York Daily News. Katrina has also served her local community since 2011 as an elected member of the Skokie, Illinois, District 68 Board of Education.
Mary L. Bradley, Esq. (OHIO ’80 BSC - Communication in Organizational Communication; Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, Cleveland State University, 1998, Juris Doctor) holds an Of Counsel position with Jackson Lewis PC in the firm’s Cleveland, Ohio, office. Jackson Lewis is one of the country’s preeminent workplace law firms. She was previously a Senior Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, in Cleveland. Her professional career began at the Xerox Corporation where she sold copiers, memory typewriters, and supplies. She transferred to the Information Systems Division as a customer-training representative. Mary moved to Houston, Texas, and worked as a trainer for Allied Bank of Texas writing training materials and presentations. She returned to Ohio to work for Banc One Corporation, in Columbus, as a Business Systems Analyst. Mary transferred into Human Resources where she worked as an organizational development trainer, an employee relations specialist and a recruiter. She became an Officer. Mary left banking to attend law school full time. She is licensed to practice law in Ohio. Her first legal job was as an associate for Millisor and Nobil, (now Fisher & Phillips). She went on to general practice in personal injury, probate, and family law.
As a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service sorority, Mary devoted her life to public service. She volunteers for the Legal Aid Society and the Cleveland Bar Association. She mentors first year law students and served on the Board of Trustees for the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association.
Dr. Michael Burns (OHIO ’05 BSC- Organizational Communication) is active in both industry and academia. He is known as a dynamic educator, leader, speaker, consultant, trainer, and production manager.
Dr. Burns' industry experience includes working for NBC’s TODAY Show at the 2006 Torino, 2008 Beijing, 2012 London, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, 2018 PyeongChang, and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. While at the TODAY Show he works on the production management and logistics team while overseeing their intern program. Dr. Burns’ TODAY Show career started with an internship he had with the TODAY show in New York City his senior year at OHIO. Dr. Burns also serves as a Communication Strategist and Consultant for Code 4 Emergency Services in Austin, TX. His past work experience included working as a communication specialist for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Dr. Burns is also an active academic. He is a Senior Lecturer and the Director of Career Readiness in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas State University. Dr. Burns also serves as the Co-Founder of the College of Fine Arts and Communication’s research startup program, CoSearch, and is a co-curator for TEDxTexasStateUniversity. He has published and presented research in the areas of persuasion, message development, higher education and the college transition, narrative influence, interpersonal communication, health communication, and family communication. Dr. Burns is an award-winning instructor who teaches several courses including: Human Communication, Interpersonal Communication, Sport Communication, Leadership, Persuasion, Training and Development, and honors courses titled Re-Humanizing Communication and Talking Like TED. In 2020, Dr. Burns won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Service, which is the highest honor you can receive at Texas State University.
Dr. Burns is a proud Midwesterner and Bobcat and he loves having the opportunity to give back to OHIO. He earned his M.A. in Communication Studies from Texas State University in 2007 and his Ph.D. in Communication from North Dakota State University in 2012.
John A. Cassese (OHIO ‘76 BSC - Radio and Television; ’79 MA - Organizational Communication) is a senior level business communications/production professional with over 40 years of experience. He was one of the founding partners and principals of Concentric Communications, a business communications agency and SVP of ACG Communications, serving as Managing Director of ACG Healthcare specializing in new product launches and national sales meetings in the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently he was Vice President of New Business Development at PineRock Productions in New York City.
Leaving behind the corporate world, John relocated to Charlotte, NC where he is on the adjunct faculty at UNCC, Queens University, Winthrop, and Wake Forest. For Ohio, John is teaching an on-line class for the Masters program in Organizational Communication. John has also been a guest lecturer at Hanover College working with the Business Scholars program. For 7 years he had been a guest lecturer for the Integrated Marketing Communications Course in the Masters in Public Relations Program at NYU’s School of Professional Studies.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, John has begun a communications consultancy, focusing on helping corporations develop and execute internal communications campaigns, field force and employee messaging and national meetings.
John is an active supporter of his Alma Mater, Ohio University, having endowed the John A. Cassese Chair of Forensics program (public speaking) and named outstanding alumnus for the Ohio University School of Communication Studies. He has also served as President of his college fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta’s Graduate Association. He has endowed a leadership scholarship for the fraternity, in his name. He has served on both the Ohio University Alumni Board of Directors, and the Scripps College of Communication Dean’s Advisory Council. A frustrated actor at heart, his television credits include The HBO Series “OZ” and Law and Order SVU.
Jennifer Dougherty (OHIO ’99 – BSC – Organizational Communication; State University of New York at Albany, 2001, Master of Arts) is the Vice President of Talent at Cengage, a global education technology company committed to enabling the power and joy of learning. Jennifer began her career teaching communication courses at two universities, and has had a passion for learning ever since.
Jennifer has more than 20 years of experience leading teams in operations, revenue enablement, and human resources. At Cengage, Jennifer leads teams focused on the talent lifecycle, including talent acquisition, learning & talent development, and talent management with a focus on leadership development, performance management, and talent identification. Jennifer is certified in several organizational talent solutions and enjoys facilitating workshops to accelerate high-performing teams. Helping her company drive and accelerate change by delivering talent solutions with positive results, Jennifer finds meaning in helping Cengage grow and transform through, for, and with people. In all of her work, Jenn prioritizes authentic connections with others, and has a deep passion for development.
Jennifer lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her wife and their daughter.
Julia Louise Krahe (Kindl) (OHIO HTC ‘03 BSC - Political Communication with minors in political science and math) lives in Washington, DC, and is Senior Vice President of Crosby Marketing. Julia has divided her career between leading communications operations for federal legislators and advising federal agencies through her work at various public relations companies.
During her time at OHIO, Julia was an active member of the forensics team, participating in multiple national public speaking tournaments, and she presented original research at the National Communication Association annual conference. As an alumna, Julia has served on the HTC Board of Visitors Communications Committee and the board of the Nation’s Capital Chapter.
Jeff W. Reed (OHIO '06 BSC - Political Communication) Upon graduation in 2006, Reed held communications and public-policy positions for national nonprofits in Washington, D.C. and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Reed next joined Cummins Inc., a Fortune 250 company headquartered in Indiana, as its global communication leader in corporate social responsibility. While in Indianapolis, he also led Ohio University’s Indiana alumni chapter and co-founded and served as board chair for an urban, blended-learning public charter school.
Since 2016, Reed has served in communications and external relations roles for American Honda Motor Co., Inc., just outside Columbus, Ohio. He also is a member of the Ohio University Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Erin Scholes is President and Founder of SD Meetings & Events, a third-party meeting management business specializing in hotel sourcing, full-service meeting planning, and event operations staffing. She has over 20 years in meeting and event management experience planning hundreds of meetings and events. Erin and the team at SD Meetings have successfully converted their years of managing in-person events and are now sought after digital event experts. They have been helping clients find the right technology, tools, and tricks to produce events in the virtual and hybrid world.
Erin has been a dedicated member of the San Diego Chapter of Meeting Professionals Int'l since 2000 including serving as Chapter President. She is also a faculty member for San Diego State University’s Hospitality and Tourism Management meetings and events program. During her tenure in the business, Erin has been recognized with numerous industry awards including the coveted MPI Chair Award, Smart Women in Meetings winner, and MPI San Diego’s Community Leader Award. She has also earned the respected professional designations Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP), Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM), and most recently Digital Event Strategist (DES).
Jeff Tyus (OHIO ’93 BSC - Telecommunications; ’95 MA - Telecommunications; ’99 Ph.D. - Interpersonal Communication) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at Youngstown State University. From 2004-2006, he served as President of the Ohio Communication Association and has stayed actively involved since 2002. Prior to joining the faculty at YSU in 2007, he taught at Ohio University (while completing his Ph.D.), Furman University, and Sinclair Community College. He has published in the Ohio Communication Journal and has written a book chapter in the Sage Handbook of Family Communication in 2015. Jeff has been instrumental in leading his department’s online teaching efforts since 2009.
He was recognized as a Distinguished Professor in Service in both 2013 and 2018. He has taken both graduate and undergraduate students to conferences where they have won Top Research Paper awards multiple times. Jeff has engaged in multiple philanthropic events since arriving in Youngstown, including running a half-marathon to raise money for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation in 2009 and hosting a Halloween Costume Contest to raise money for the American Cancer Society for the last 9 years. Jeff has participated in multiple university service activities such as being the Reader at graduation since May 2008 and traveling to Ghana to help recruit students to attend YSU in 2016 and 2017. In March 2020 he led the university’s first Study Abroad venture to Ghana. He will receive the YSU Student Services Award in April 2021.
Aimee Chambers is a sophomore Communication Studies major with interests in health communication, the Peace Corps, and a passion for creating an equal and comforting environment for all wherever I go. She understands the values of having a strong network of peers and resources, providing a voice for those who cannot be heard, and the importance of human connection, especially right now. Her previous local business workgroup described her as "the little boost of energy and sunshine we all need on a rough day," and she strives to promote positivity and kindness through all her endeavors and to remain dedicated to her projects and passions in life.
Her previous experiences and leadership positions in organizations like West Virginia 4-H and FFA, National Honors Society, and student government, as well as past work in sales, advertising via social media, and customer service, provide her with the necessary skills to be a positive and impactful student representative. In short, she is empathetic, dedicated, inclusive, and eager to begin!
Kaitlyn Cummings is a senior majoring in Communication Studies, pursuing a minor in Political Science and earning certificates in Political Communication and Appalachian Studies. On campus, she is the president of the Ohio University Speech and Debate team working to support the team with performance excellence and to build a positive group environment for all teammates. Additionally, she is the newest president of OU's Beta Mu chapter of Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honors Fraternity, a highly motivated group of students who work to create opportunities for COMS peers to engage in activities within the department.
Kaitlyn actively engages in governmental and non-profit interests in the Appalachian region, especially concerning environmental conservation and justice. In the summer of 2020, she interned with the Mayors' Partnership for Progress, a non-partisan group of mayors and city managers representing Southeast Ohio counties focused on solving commonly faced issues in the region. For the summer of 2021, she is working as a Summer Fellow with Sunday Creek Horizons and the Appalachian Children Coalition to engage in advocacy efforts in Southeast Ohio communities.
Emily Dengler is a Senior majoring in Communication Studies, minoring in Marketing, and working towards certificates in both Social Media and Entrepreneurship. On campus she is involved with the Ohio Fellows, a non-traditional scholar’s program, which helps bring students together from different educational backgrounds to widen their horizons to what is possible. She is also the President of the Student Professionals of Communication Studies (SPCS). In this position, she leads meetings and plans the schedule for each semester. She was also selected for membership in Lambda Pi Eta, a honors program for Communication Studies students.
Currently, she is marketing intern for a trailer manufacturer company. She was also a Social Media/Marketing intern for a salon in Columbus. Her favorite internship thus far is working as an Events Assistant for a wedding venue and flower farm.
After graduation, Emily wants to go into any sector of the events industry. Being able to work in a variety of different environments is important to her. The end goal is that she hopes to one day be able to open her own wedding and event planning business.
Rebecca (Beck) Harhai is a fourth-year Communication Studies major with minors in Health Services Administration, Marketing, and Advertising & Public Relations. In addition to her role with the Alumni Advisory Council, Beck serves as president for the Ohio University’s Women’s Club Basketball Team and is membership chair for Ohio University’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. On campus, Beck works as a communication intern for Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and as a telerecruiter for Ohio University Undergraduate Admissions. She has also served as an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) for Introduction to Communication Theory and will serve as a UTA for Dr. Harter’s health communication for non-majors class during the fall 2021 semester. She also was elected as treasurer of SPCS for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Beck has a strong passion for health communication, marketing, and administration. In summer 2021, she will serve as a marketing intern for Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions, a managed care organization in North Carolina focused on proving healthcare to people and families with diagnoses in intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health, and substance abuse disorders. In this role, she will create and distribute marketing materials, perform market analysis, and build relationships within the company.
After graduation, Beck hopes to work for a healthcare system or hospital that focuses on providing care to vulnerable populations and, eventually, obtain a graduate degree in healthcare administration. In her free time, Beck enjoys playing basketball, working out, professional development, watching sports, and cooking.
Anthony Mirisola is a driven Junior in Communication Studies with minors in Marketing and Business Administration. He has attended a regional campus for the entirety of his college career and has participated in various activities in Athens and regional locations. Anthony is a campus liaison for the Student Professionals in Communication Studies (SPCS).
In the fall of 2020, Anthony began as a social media/marketing intern for the Chillicothe Farmers Market. In this position, he plans/road maps commercial content, creates social media posts, aids the Market’s online store, and physically helps the market in various ways every weekend. This position has strengthened his social media creativity and exposed him to a new community that has broadened his social and networking skills.
Anthony has a strong passion for leadership, communication, and advertising. He is currently a manager at ALDI. He plans to intern as a district manager with the company his senior summer and become a full-time district manager outside of college. With an expected graduation date of May 2023, Anthony is honored and excited to serve as a student representative on the COMS Alumni Advisory Council.
Former Advisory Members
Timothy J. Brown (OHIO ’97 Ph.D. - Rhetoric & Public Address) is Dean of the Knight School of Communication at Queen’s University of Charlotte. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication Studies at West Chester University where he served ten years as department chair and four years on the university’s tenure and promotion committee. He is a rhetorical scholar whose scholarship and presentations focus upon African American culture and communication, black masculinity, and communication and sport. He is the co-author of two textbooks, Public Speaking for Success: Strategies for Diverse Audiences and Occasions, and Argument and Debate: A Public Speaking Approach. His most recent essay, “Public memory as contested site: The struggle for existence at the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” will appear in Roger Aden’s edited book, The Soul of the Nation: U.S. Public Memory and the National Mall.
At West Chester University, Tim held several leadership positions such as Special Assistant to the Provost and Chair of the Council of Chairs. Moreover, he was the co-founder of WCU’s Multicultural Faculty Commission and WCU’s Faculty Mentoring Program. At the national level, he was appointed by the President of the National Communication Association (NCA) to serve as one of six team leaders who led faculty workgroups to create student learning outcomes for the discipline of Communication Studies.
Laurie Sheridan Lach (OHIO ’92 BSC - Organizational Communication). A native of Athens, Laurie’s professional life began in sales at TRW. The information systems division was later divested, and Experian was then created where she enjoyed an extensive and highly successful sales career working in multi-national financial services companies. Following a stint at NCR-Teradata, selling enterprise data warehouse solutions, Laurie joined Alliance Data as Director of Client Sales in 2007. There, she led a team of marketing and business insights professionals and delivered custom solutions to major retailers. Laurie also served on the advisory board for OHIO’s Schey Sales Centre and quickly discovered the rewards of helping students learn and grow. In 2012, Laurie joined OHIO as Director of Alumni Affairs for the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and focused on engagement, philanthropy, and innovative ways to support the college’s expansion to Dublin and Cleveland. As Director of Regional Campus Development and Alumni Engagement at Ohio University, Laurie now oversees fundraising, external outreach, and traditions that sustain OHIO’s strong community connection. Laurie is a member of the OHIO Today advisory board, a co-creator of Ohio Women in Medicine, a member of the Lancaster Rotary, and serves on Lancaster Festival’s board of directors.
Chris Witherspoon (OHIO ’04 BSC – Communication Studies) is currently a correspondent/host for the movie ticketing site Fandango. Prior to working with Fandango, Chris was an entertainment analyst for CNN, and from 2011-2016 he served as the entertainment editor for NBC’s African American news outlet, theGrio.com.
Chris has appeared on various NBC platforms including MSNBC, TODAY, Megyn Kelly TODAY, NBC’s Nightly News, and E! News. Throughout his career he’s sat down for exclusive interviews with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, Harrison Ford and more.
Chris got his start at NBCUniversal in 2008 working as a publicity coordinator with the NBC News press department, covering shows including Meet the Press and Dateline. He later served as executive assistant to Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBCUniversal. He interned at ABC’s Good Morning America and worked as an NBC page from 2005-2006.
Former Student Representatives
Bayley Fields is a fourth-year Communication Studies major with a minor in Political Science and certificates in Political Communication, Social Media and Diversity Studies. She serves as a Scripps College Ambassador for the Scripps Dean’s Office and authors a biweekly internship newsletter that is sent to undergraduate Scripps students in all five schools. She also works for Ohio University Culinary Services’ Auxiliaries Department as a student procurement coordinator. Bayley has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant for Introduction to Communication Theory and also served as a team leader coaching a team of five undergraduate teaching assistants for Fundamentals of Human Communication. In the 2020-2021 school year, Bayley will be assisting Dr. Roger Aden in his research of memory and public places.
Bayley has a strong passion for nonprofits and social work and has interned at Live Healthy Appalachia, a local nonprofit that promotes healthy eating and active living through community initiatives and education programs. She is the Public Relations Chair for Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity’s Epsilon Iota chapter and is a member of Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society’s Beta Mu Chapter. In her free time Bayley enjoys exploring the beautiful Athens community and is an avid runner.
Shae Haas is currently a member of Student Professionals of Communication Studies (SPCS), Women in the Music Industry, and Lambda Pi Eta Honor Society, which is the National Communication Association’s official honor society. During fall semester 2018-2019 she served as an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) for Fundamentals of Human Communication. In spring 2019-2020, she served as a UTA for Introduction to Communication Theory.
In addition to her current extra-curricular activities, Shae volunteers at the Athens County Dog Shelter as a member of the Bobcats of the Shelter Dogs and she also volunteers at the Southeast Ohio Foodbank, Athens Beautification Day, and the Turn it Gold campaign, which raises money and awareness for childhood cancer. In addition, she is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, where she serves on the catering committee for the annual Charity Ball. She currently works at Krause Rental Properties as a leasing agent. After graduation, Shae hopes to work for a nonprofit organization that educates and advocates on behalf of climate change and environmental conservation.
Sarah E. Williams is a fourth-year student studying Communication Studies focused on Strategic Message Management and Social Media with a minor in Marketing. She is a member of the Ohio University Army ROTC Bobcat Battalion and the United States Army Reserves. Within the school of Communication Studies, Sarah serves as the Social Media Chair for the Lambda Pi Eta Beta Mu Chapter and is an active member of Student Professionals of Communication Studies. Along with campus organizations, Sarah currently serves as an Ambassador for the Scripps College of Communication Deans office, a community manager for the Scripps College social media team, and an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital.
Sarah had the opportunity to serve as an undergraduate teaching assistant during the spring 2018 for Introduction to Communication Theory and will begin working as a research fellow with Dr. Roger Aden during the fall 2019 with a focus on public memory and places. She served as a camp counselor for the Ohio University Summer Coding Camp that provides middle-school-aged females the opportunity to explore careers in coding while creating their own coding projects such as websites and game applications. Sarah serves the Athens community by volunteering in various ways. Since her first year on campus, Sarah has been an annual volunteer at the Athens Area Stand Down, a community event that gives back to local veterans as well as being a dog-walker at the Athens County Dog Shelter. With an expected graduation date of May 2021, Sarah is excited to serve as a student representative on the COMS Alumni Advisory Council.