The Outstanding Early Career Award was developed to honor and support a recent graduate (within approximately 10 years) of the UW Department of Communication who has shown both impressive career accomplishments and a commitment to the public good, broadly defined. We choose people who have superb beginnings to careers and have sought to make a difference in the world, beyond their lives. These criteria are in line with our selection of Alumni Hall of Fame members.
2017 – My Tam H. Nguyen (B.A., 2006) 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.
2016 – Alixandra Nozzolillo (B.A., 2004) is the Associate Director for Player Relations with the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, where she is responsible for overseeing former NFL player engagement, participant enrollment and retention for the Study. She leads the team of community liaisons between former NFL players and the Study: building trust and rapport as well as fostering longitudinal participation in multiple research protocols looking at many aspects of former player health and wellness. In addition, she manages both the Former Player and Family Advisor boards.
Prior to this work, she provided program management to the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network and the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she worked to improve care for children. Alix spent several years in public health policy towards establishing an evidence base for systems of care for children and youth with special healthcare needs, and also engaged in writing evidence reviews of nominated conditions for potential inclusion in the newborn screening recommended panel set forth by the Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children, chartered to reduce mortality and morbidity from heritable disorders in newborns and children.
Early in her career, Alix worked as a clinical research coordinator at Boston Children’s Hospital, and spent several years in the lab as a research technician for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and in the Department of Neuro-oncology at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She has published several papers in academic journals. Alix holds a B.A. in Communication with a minor in Chemistry from University of Washington, and an M.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Boston College. Read more about Alix’s professional journey >>
2015 – Priya Frank (B.A., 2004) is the Associate Director for Advancement for the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell, where she is responsible for philanthropy, alumni engagement and industry/community partnerships for the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs. She is also Art Director at LUCID Lounge in the University District, curating art exhibits and designing interactive components that provide opportunities for interaction. Previous work at the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity and the UW World Series fueled a passion around inclusion, community building and the arts. Priya is a board member and Diversity Committee Chair at On the Boards, has co-founded a local women of color in the arts gathering group, and is a member of Leadership Tomorrow’s class of 2015. She holds a B.A. in Communication and American Ethnic Studies from University of Washington Seattle and an M.A. in Cultural Studies from University of Washington Bothell. Read more about Priya’s professional journey >>
2014 – Philip Garland (B.A., 2001; M.A., 2003), Ph.D., is a consultant in the areas of survey methodology, saber-metrics, online marketing, and data mining. Previously, Garland was Vice President of Methodology at SurveyMonkey where he informed product design to ensure that the company’s products produce optimal data quality. He architected a survey sampling product that grew to more than $10 million in revenue in two years. He spearheaded companywide survey training as the company grew from 30 to more than 250 during his tenure. He also led a team of researchers to correctly predict the outcome of the 2012 presidential election in 48 of 50 states and Washington D.C., using SurveyMonkey site traffic.
Prior to SurveyMonkey, Garland was Knowledge Director/Chief Methodologist at Survey Sampling International (SSI). At SSI, he created new sampling policies that saved the firm more than twenty percent of its operating costs.
Garland has published several papers in academic journals and two book chapters in the areas of public opinion, Internet marketing, media coverage of political affairs, and intergroup relations. Garland holds a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in Political Science from Stanford University, as well as an M.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Political Science/Communication from the University of Washington. Read more about Philip’s professional journey >>
2013 – Megan (Coppersmith) Szerwo (B.A., 2004) has grown up exploring and loving this city. A longtime bureaucrat, Megan started her work career while studying Communications at UW, with an internship with King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Since that time, Megan has worked with the media and the public, marketing programs and services for King County Elections, King County’s Department of Executive Services, the Seattle City Council, and most recently as a Public Information Advisor for the City of Seattle. When not helping run the city, Megan can be found at her home on Mercer Island crafting, cooking, generally enjoying life and always cheering on the Huskies. Megan was recruited to help create the Alumni Board in 2004, serving as the founding President. She has happily served on the board since. Read more about Megan’s professional journey >>
2012 – Edgar Gonzalez (B.A., 2004) works on campus as the Assistant Dean for Advancement at the College of Built Environments. His job is to oversee all the fundraising and externally focused communication for the College. He and his staff work to connect all of their external constituents to the college’s various people, programs and research in meaningful ways. In doing so, they also raise money to support students, faculty and innovative research in the built environment that will impact our neighborhoods and cities. He is also a member of the Alumni Board. Read more about Edgar’s professional journey >>
2011 – Lesa Linster (B.A., 2000) is the owner of Linster Creative, a full-spectrum marketing, PR, digital and creative agency in Seattle. With more than 15 years of experience in project management, business development, events and marketing, she now works with both profit and nonprofit companies. She gained marketing, branding and public relations experience working for bedrock Seattle entities such as The Seattle Mariners, MSNBC, The Seattle Times, University of Washington and The Moyer Foundation. She now works with companies to expand their reach, engage customers, share stories and drive sales through new and creative paths. Linster Creative has designed, developed and launched multiple websites; assisted in the opening of award-winning restaurants; developed and managed countless marketing, PR and social media campaigns; and produced promotional videos.
2010 – Maria Crisanta Castro-Naoe (B.A., 2001) is the first recipient of the Department of Communication’s Outstanding Early Career award. Since graduating, Maria has made a career in real estate and mortgage banking in both Los Angeles and New York City. Despite enjoying both East and West coasts simultaneously for 7 years, having a family lead to a formal base in Manhattan Beach, CA. Prior to moving to New York, Castro finished an MA in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California. Maria prides herself in her close involvement in St. Ignatius NYC soup kitchen, belonging to Ranger Rosary (a group that makes rosaries for the troops abroad), and Gawad Kalinga – an international nonprofit that empowers the impoverished in the 3rd world through shelter, education, and livelihood programs.