The Communication Alumni Board is a vibrant and engaged group of alumni dedicated to the goals of mentoring students, providing lifelong learning experiences for alumni and friends, creating opportunities for alumni to network with one another, and contributing to community service, outreach and collaboration.
The group works closely with Department of Communication faculty and staff to provide opportunities to students and alumni through career workshops and other events.
Stacey Engle (BA, 2008)
Stacey is the Director of Marketing at Fierce Inc., a global leadership development and training company. She works collaboratively across all business functions to develop and implement a multi-tiered global marketing strategy for Fierce and Fierce programs. Her professional background includes nonprofit and corporate work including public relations, B2B and B2C marketing and communication as well as leadership development and professional training.
“My mission on the board is to help fuel and support the relationships between current UW Communications students and the community. My hope is to approach current students’ challenges with new and innovative ways to help them follow their passions after graduation. As a board member, it is my goal to make sure we, and everyone we touch, have a great time and lots of laughs while doing this important work.”
Phyllis Fletcher (MC, 2011)
Phyllis works as Editor at KUOW Public Radio where she helps reporters develop news stories, and gives stories final approval before they air. She helps coordinate strategic and tactical planning to cover major news events, providing research and technical assistance for reporters filing from the field. Phyllis also trains interns, and seek professional development opportunities for her staff. She asks KUOW listeners for their financial support, and she makes public appearances to promote public radio journalism.
“I want help undergraduate students in the Department learn that public radio isn’t just for their parents. For those who grew up listening to it, I want them to see themselves as someone who can be on the other end, producing it. For those who’ve never heard it, I want them to hear it with a critical ear, and envision making radio they would listen to. I want Com students to know about opportunities at the beginning of the public media career path. And I want public broadcasters to know about the great Com students at UW.”
Alex Diaz (BA, 2012)
Alex Diaz is a Product Marketing Specialist for marketing consultation firm, Projectline, where he helps manage the social media and creative content initiatives in the Xbox digital space. Alex is also active in the community—having organized two Startup Weekend events and two TEDx events, he also currently sits on the board of advisors for the UW American Marketing Association. In his spare time, Alex also co-founded tech startup, MyUnfold, a passion project focused on getting jobs for recent graduates and military veterans through a skills validation platform meant to help recruiters see a candidates potential as an employee and not a perceived “lack of work experience”.
“All in all, ‘be the person you needed when you were younger’, is what drives me to be on this board. My mission on the board is to offer opportunities and insight that will provide the most value to those in my alma mater. There are many opportunities that I had to fight for and these are the type of opportunities that can be a benefit for all students—if even one student can gain something from what I went through and have to offer, that’s a major win and an incredible honor.”
Edgar Gonzalez (BA, 2004)
Edgar 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.
“My mission is to support students by enhancing the educational experience and connect the alumni community back to the Department in meaningful ways. The Department should work to connect busy alumni, and the alumni board is a great way to do that.”
Kadee Gray (BA, 2009)
Kadee works for Wheelhouse Search as the Social Marketing Manager, with a focus on social campaigns, blogging, brand identities, content optimization, community building, and blogger/public relations. Her specialties include social media strategy and platform (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram); B2B and B2C marketing and PR, niche blogger and hyper-local media relations.
“My mission for being on the Communication Board is a two-fold. First, being on the University campus has always felt refreshing to me. It takes me back to the innocent, collegiate mind-set that anything is possible and allows me to really check myself. Second, while I absolutely love my job, getting here wasn’t easy. After graduating, I found the job market tough and discouraging so I ended up creating my own path. Because of my poor luck, I found I can connect well with not only eager students willing to get a jump start, but recent graduates who are going through the same thing I had to go through as well.”
Ali brings a valuable perspective to the board as a junior communication student, who is also working toward a sales certificate. She was the Director of Formal Recruitment at her sorority Alpha Phi this fall, and is serving as Director of Member Services for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) this year. While keeping an open mind and taking in advice from experienced professionals, Ali hopes to land a career in event planning, PR, or marketing after graduation.
Amy Laughter (BA, 2004)
Over the past ten years, Amy has enjoyed a progressive career in non-profit fund development, most recently joining the staff at Overlake Medical Center Foundation as Major Gifts Officer in 2011. Fundraising is often considered a thankless task, she says, but what keeps her focused is the daily learning that must take place to fully connect incredibly intelligent and grateful people with meaningful outlets for giving back. “It’s not rocket science, but when someone says, ‘I don’t really know what I can do to help,’ and I am able to provide a vehicle for them to do so, and they feel good for having done so, it is worth every effort.”
“I joined the UW Department of Communication Alumni Board because I believe no other school or program at the UW is as poised as this one to receive support from its community. The teachers, staff, students and alumni all do amazing work with superior skills developed here. During my time on the board, I want to help widen the base of engaged alumni, and ramp up their giving back to a program that gave them so much.”
Neil Neroutsos (BA, 1986)
Neil Neroutsos, APR, has more than 20 years of experience in communications and marketing in the public and non-profit sectors. He serves as the chief spokesperson for Snohomish County Public Utility District, north of Seattle. In that role he has handled a broad range of issues, from green energy and conservation to emergency response and corporate corruption in the energy market. Prior to working for the PUD, he held communications positions with Community Transit, the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the City of Highland Park, Illinois.
“The UW School of Communication Alumni Committee serves an invaluable role in the community. It works to connect us all as communications professionals of varied backgrounds, ages and interests. While the nature of our jobs is rapidly changing as technology transforms the ways in which we communicate, our underlying motives haven’t changed dramatically. Our field is still about making connections, engaging our audiences, educating our key stakeholders and inspiring people to take action. I encourage other UW alumni to join us. Your participation ensures the Department of Communication remains vibrant and evolves to meet the needs of both students and professionals alike.”
Michelle works as the Advocacy & Outreach Manager at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She builds relationships with patients & families, doctors, researchers, community partners, and legislators to improve patient wellness and survivorship by enhancing access to quality, affordable, and coordinated care. Previously, she served Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in Washington, DC as a Legislative Aide.
“With a strong foundation in public policy and political communications, I am passionate about connecting students to resources and opportunities that will allow for a robust and productive alumni network. My goal is to provide opportunities for connection and foster growth by investing time and energy into the students and the Department.”
Anna Petrocco (BA, 2009)
Anna is a Senior Account Executive at Colehour+Cohen, a full service PR and marketing agency with an emphasis on companies that make people’s lives better. She coordinates, writes, produces, researches…you name it she’ll get it done. In 2012, she was named Outstanding Young Professional by the Puget Sound chapter of PRSA and received an Emmy for her work on BECU’s Bow Down to Washington video.
“While in the undergrad program, I frequently attended the Communication Department networking lunches. It was an incredible experience to meet people in the industry and not feel overwhelmed about networking. I want to make sure students feel comfortable going into the workforce and are setup for success.”
Taylor Soper (BA, 2012)
Taylor Soper is a Staff Reporter at GeekWire, a national technology news website based in Seattle. He writes, takes photos, produces video, handles social media and has a ton of fun working with the GeekWire team to help strengthen the local tech community. Taylor has degrees in Business Administration and Journalism from the UW, where he worked all four years at The Daily.
“I was honored when asked to be on this board and am looking forward to connecting with alumni and students. As the youngest member and a recent grad, I hope to provide insight from a student perspective in today’s world. I’m confident this will help the board become more in touch with the current students and ultimately help improve their college experience.”
Megan Szerwo (BA, 2004)
Born in Seattle, Megan Coppersmith Szerwo 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.
Amy Rolph is a news editor at Microsoft, working on MSN News and Bing News apps. She’s worked as a Seattle-based journalist since graduating from the University of Washington in 2006, most notably at the Everett Herald and the Seattle PI. Amy earned a masters degree in digital communication strategy from the UW’s Communication Leadership program in 2011 – and she’s currently a Comm Lead Fellow, assisting with teaching efforts and mentoring students.
“The relationships you cultivate as a student lay the groundwork for your career after school — I was lucky to meet a number of journalism professionals who believed in me and helped me learn when I was still a student. Serving on the alumni board is one way I can pay that kindness forward.”
Manuel Valdes (BA, 2007)
As a multimedia reporter at the Associated Press, Manuel pursues text enterprise stories as well as video and photo elements. He also covers immigration and minority issues in Washington state.
“I’m always happy to see young people pursue journalism and I want to be able to help them along the way, either through mentoring or networking help.”