2017 Alumni of Distinction Honorees Announced
Every year, the UW Department of Communication honors outstanding alumni who are making a difference in their careers and out in their communities by inducting them into the Department’s Alumni Hall of Fame. We also recognize the exceptional work of our recent graduates through the Outstanding Early Career Award, as well as celebrating the invaluable contributions of those who receive the Alumni Award for Excellence in Mentoring.
Learn more about this year’s honorees below:
2017 Alumni Hall of Fame
Dolores H. Eyler (B.A., 1971)
Dolores Eyler has an extensive background in feature reporting, including working on the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, The Oregon Journal, and the Rocky Mountain News. She also helped start a community newspaper in Winnetka, Illinois, and was the founding editor/publisher of The Rye Record in Rye, New York. Currently, she is a business trainer via role-playing for Performance Plus in the New York City metropolitan area. She also taught in the public schools in Rye, New York.
Moving frequently due to family business opportunities, Eyler has been an active volunteer in Santa Monica, Portland, Denver, the Chicago area, and New York. She currently volunteers with the New York State Prison System. Some of her past and present boards include Oregon National Public Radio, the Denver Art Museum Auxiliary, the League of Women Voters, the Rye YMCA, the Posse Foundation, Operation Respect, Rye Arts Center, the Rye Library Auxiliary, and the Presbyterian Church, as well as starting a community book club wherever she has lived.
Kriss Turner Towner (B.A., 1984)
Kriss Turner Towner is a television writer and producer. She has written on such shows as Cosby, The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, Living Single, Whoopi, and Sister, Sister. She is currently a co-executive producer on the upcoming Matt Weiner (Mad Men) Amazon drama series, The Romanoffs. Turner Towner has been honored for her writing with a Peabody, Humanitas, and NAACP Award. Her first feature film, Something New, won a Black Filmmakers Award for best screenplay.
Turner Towner was born in Hawaii and raised in Los Angeles. In her sophomore year of high school, she moved with her family to Bellevue, Washington and graduated from Forest Ridge. In 1984, Kriss graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in communication. The day after graduation, she drove down to Los Angeles and worked in the Nordstrom shoe department during the day and wrote scripts at night. Eventually, her spec Seinfeld got into the hands of a producer, which ultimately led to her first writing job on Sister, Sister.
Being an active Husky Alum, Turner Towner welcomes students from the Communication Department to Los Angeles where she answers questions about careers in show business. Turner Towner lives in Hollywood, California with her husband, daughter and three dogs.
Scott B. Wilson (M.A., 1986)
Over his 40 years in journalism and community media, Scott Wilson has been a champion for independent media, open government, tough journalism, early adaption of digital media, and opening doors to young journalists.
Since 1989, he and his wife Jennifer were co-owners then sole owners of the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader. Wilson served in the roles of investigative reporter, editor, publisher, marketing rep, delivery boy and sidewalk sweeper. He won three dozen community media awards for journalism, photography, editorials, marketing and community service, and sustained the Leader as one of Washington’s best independent community media companies. The Leader was Washington’s first newspaper company of any size to launch a news website, in mid-1995.
Wilson was a founding board member and early president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government; was president of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association; was the longtime chair of the WNPA Foundation and its scholarship program for college journalists; and his peers gave him community journalism’s highest honor, the Miles Turnbull Master Editor/Publisher Award.
He graduated from the UW School of Communications with a B.A. in 1978, where he was editor of the UW Daily. He returned to the UW for the master’s program, advised by Professors Richard Kielbowicz and the legendary Bill Ames, and graduating in 1985. He was Olympia Bureau chief of the Tacoma News Tribune, leaving to return to his roots in community media and joining Frank Garred at the Leader in 1989.
Outstanding Early Career Award
My Tam H. Nguyen (B.A., 2006)
My Tam Nguyen is the Vice President of Business Development at Blokable Inc., a modular housing technology company made in Washington state – with the mission to make housing accessible for everyone. Prior to Blokable, Nguyen was the deputy campaign manager for the 7th Congressional District race in 2016, the first social media manager for Governor Jay Inslee, and the public engagement lead for the City of Seattle planning team for many years.
Nguyen has a B.A. from the University of Washington with a major in journalism and a minor in international studies, and a Master in Urban Planning from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She is also a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow, the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation’s Community Leadership Program, and the Institute for a Democratic Future. Nguyen is currently a fellow with the Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project’s Young American Leaders Program, working on the region’s workforce development with a cohort of 10 cross-sector colleagues. She is also currently a political partner for the Truman National Security Project; the leading think tank supporting progressive national security solutions that unite veteran, political, and policy leaders in developing principled solutions to global challenges.
Nguyen lives, cooks and gardens in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and spends her free time speaking publicly and providing food tours of Little Saigon/ID to nurture the importance of equitable food systems and the power of food to build civic engagement and community.
Alumni Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Kaci Aitchison (B.A., 2001)
Kaci Aitchison is an Emmy-nominated host and reporter for Q13 News This Morning and proud graduate of the UW Department of Communication. She joined Q13 as a features reporter in 2009 before being named co-anchor of the morning show in 2012; and continues tackling feature stories that celebrate local heroes and highlight communities all over the Puget Sound area. Aitchison also hosts several local events, including Seattle Humane’s Tuxes and Tails, and Valve Corporation’s “The International,” an annual DOTA 2 gaming tournament viewed by millions.
Born and raised in the Seattle area, Aitchison has spent the last 18 years as a local broadcasting personality- and it all started with a radio internship while at the UW! By junior year she was reporting traffic for KISS-FM Seattle and spent the next few years there as an on-air personality. In 2004, she joined The Bob Rivers Morning Show on KZOK as a co-host and news anchor, and sang with their band. She currently only sings in her car.
Aitchison graduated from the UW in 2001 with a degree in communication and Political Science, and currently serves on the Alumni Board for the Department of Communication. Aside from her husband and cat, Aitchison’s passion is sharing people’s stories; she believes we all have a story to share, and that every single one is worth celebrating.
The Communication Leader Award
Andrea Zeller (M.C., 2007)
Andrea Zeller crafts Virtual Reality and 360 experiences at Facebook. She earned her undergraduate degree in Film & TV from NYU in 2000, which led her to produce and edit documentary videos specializing in healthcare and international non-profits. Andrea then earned her M.C. from the UW Communication Leadership program in 2007, and led content strategy for Expedia’s hotels and activities businesses. Her first career as a filmmaker allowed her to think about perception and participation in experiences, which led to early thinking about writing beyond the screen at the University of Washington. When not thinking about virtual reality, you can find her in the reality of the East Bay, hiking and biking with her two kids and husband, Pete.
Join us on the evening of October 4 at the University of Washington Club as we honor these exceptional alumni and celebrate their personal and professional successes. RSVP for the event HERE