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.
Priya Frank (BA, 2004)
Priya serves as Assistant Director of Advancement at the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, where her passion for supporting access and opportunities for students and communities of color is utilized through fundraising, communications, and community relations. Previously she spent 7 years working in the arts at the UW World Series, and continues to pursue community building through the arts by her involvement in Women of Color in the Arts, On the Boards’ Diversity Committee, and her continuing research examining how power dynamics influence and shape representation and identity formation, and its reflection within arts marketing.
“My professional and community work reflects my passion for empowerment through access to education and support services. When I was a student in the department, I didn’t have the chance to utilize the kinds of opportunities the department had to offer. To now be able to come back and feel as if I have a community and support network within the department has been invaluable, and the ability to help provide access for students to explore their own dreams and make those a reality is what I hope will come out of my time on the board.”
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.”
Evonne Benedict (BA, 1979)
Evonne is a longtime broadcast journalist who has now incorporated that background with digital media. She works as the social media manager at KING 5, managing accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and others. She also trains and supports KING 5 staff in their social media and community efforts.
“I hope to support and encourage the new generation of journalists as they navigate an ever changing world. Our profession is still of great importance, but our industry is at risk. Technical skills are now a ‘must-have’ for young journalists. With the rise of ‘citizen journalism’ -the ability to work with the community is now another skill they must learn. With the rapid-pace of information, it is of high importance to always remember the ethical tenants of our profession and our duty to the public.”
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.”
Karen Gaudette Brewer (BA, 2000)
Karen works as Food Writer and Editor for PCC Natural Markets. As the lead strategic storyteller at the nation’s largest consumer owned natural foods retailer, her articles, podcasts and videos about organic farmers, cooking and healthy living influence thousands of shoppers daily via PCC’s website, within the pages of their monthly print publications, and across a multitude of social media channels. Karen joined PCC’s marketing team after a decade as a journalist, most recently with The Seattle Times, where she covered food, residential real estate and transportation.
“As the most recent recruitment chair for the Communications Alumni Board, I’m pleased to have expanded the diversity of careers, ages and backgrounds represented to better demonstrate the numerous paths open to our students. I look forward to serving as a mentor and connecting young alums with fellow Huskies who can help them achieve their full potential.”
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.”
Jessica Herkel (student representative)
Currently a Communications major and Bioethics and Humanities minor here at UW, Jessica plans on graduating in March 2013. She works at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network as a Marketing and Recruiting Intern, reaching out to career centers and business schools at many colleges in the Greater Seattle area to forge positive relationships with them and help students find internships from which they can benefit. Jessica has also been working in various departments of Youth and Family Programming at the Pacific Science Center, and as the Executive Assistant Director and Marketing Director for UW’s Relay For Life committee.
“My hope is that by acting as the student representative to the Communication Alumni Board, I can help plan events and give feedback that will benefit students in the Communications Department. Professional Development Month was largely helpful for me this past year and I want to do all I can to continue to make it relevant and beneficial. We have many talented and successful Alumni from the Com Department and I hope to help give students opportunities to tap into those resources and make connections.”
Greg Lane (BA, 1988)
Greg is President and CEO of TVW – Washington Public Affairs Network. He manages and oversees all operations of the public affairs television network in Washington state. TVW, often called the Washington state version of C-SPAN, provides unedited gavel-to-gavel television coverage of the Washington State Legislature, Supreme Court, executive branch, state boards and commissions, elections, and public policy events of statewide significance.
“First and foremost, my goal is to help provide students with opportunities to grow their professional skills and the support necessary to land their first communications job following graduation. I hope that the Alumni Board will always be a strong resource for students in these two areas. Another goal is to keep communications alumni connected to the Department and provide opportunities for alumni to demonstrate their appreciation for the education they received by supporting current students and staff.”
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.”
Lie Shia Ong (BA, 2004)
Lie Shia is a producer at MSN Entertainment (through Denny Mountain Media). She covers TV, movies and music for MSN Entertainment, managing the sci-fi site Parallel Universe as well as Mom & Pop Culture, a site that fills parents in on what they need to know when it comes to their kids and what they’re watching and listening to. She also puts together articles, photo galleries, and interviews celebrities on occasion.
“I am a proud graduate of the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and want to give back as much as I can. I hope to help the Department any way I can whether it be by helping to fundraise or mentor current students.”
Taylor Soper (ʼ12)
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 and now the Seattle City Council, since March 2010. When not tweeting and Facebook-ing on behalf of the City Council, 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.
“As a long time member of the board, I am passionate about giving back to the students by serving as a resource and helping guide them toward their careers, the way older friends and alumni did for me when I was a student. This year I am looking forward to serving on the professional development subcommittee and connecting students and alumni with information and resources to help them succeed in their professional lives.”
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.”