Comm Grad Spotlight

A degree in Communication opens the door to a wide variety of employment opportunities. The profiles below highlight people with Communication degrees who are now employed in a range of interesting positions.



Comm Grad Spotlight: Jeffrey Blount

Jeffrey Blount
B.A., Mass Communications/Broadcast Journalism, Virginia Commonwealth University

Author and Emmy Award-winning television director

An Emmy Award-winning television director, Jeffrey Blount has 34 years of network television experience and has worked on a variety of programs, including “Meet the Press,” “Today,” and the “NBC Nightly News.” Blount has written nonfiction articles for news publications, such as the Huffington Post and the Washington Post, and has written for films and interactive displays in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, the Muhammad Ali Center, and others. Blount has also written three award-winning novels: Almost Snow White, Hating Heidi Foster, and The Emancipation of Evan Walls. In 2017 and 2018, Blount served as Journalist in Residence and Shapiro Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University.

In 2016, Blount was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. Blount is a member of the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture advisory board at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Comm Grads

Comm Grad Spotlight: Jessica A. Knapp

Jessica A. Knapp
Ph.D., Communication Studies
M.A., Communication
B.A., English
Health Communication Professional and Instructor of Strategic Communication at Seattle University


As a health communication professional, Knapp offers various services to medical staff, including scripting, coaching, fostering compassionate communication skills, and teaching negotiation skills, all aimed at improving their communication with patients. Knapp argues that improved patient-provider communication ultimately improves patients’ health outcomes. Knapp has also worked as an editor and writer for branding and advertising firms and teaches strategic communication at Seattle University. Knapp has written about chronic illness on The Mighty.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Craig R. Smith

Craig R. Smith
Ph.D., Communication
M.A., Communication Studies
B.A., History and Speech Communication

Emeritus Director, Center for First Amendment Studies, California State University, Long Beach


Smith is a scholar of freedom of expression, rhetorical theory, and public address criticism. Smith served as a speechwriter for Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, an experience that is recounted in Confessions of a Presidential Speechwriter. After working as a speech writer and then forming the Communication Division at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Smith returned to Washington to serve as the Director of Senate Services for the Republican Conference of the U.S. After a year as Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca’s speechwriter for the Ellis Island-Statue of Liberty restoration, Smith founded the Freedom of Expression Foundation in Washington, DC, in 1983 and served as its President. In 1988, Smith founded the Center for First Amendment Studies at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

In addition to authoring Confessions of a Presidential Speechwriter, Smith is the author of 18 other books and dozens of scholarly articles. Smith is also an award-winning researcher and teacher, having won CSULB’s Outstanding Professor award in 2000 and its Distinguished Scholarship award in 1994. Smith also won NCA’s Douglas Ehninger Award in 2010 for contributions to rhetorical theory and the Outstanding Scholar Award from the Western States Communication Association in 2016.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Shawn Turner

Shawn Turner
M.A., Communication
B.A., Speech Communication

Professor of Strategic Communication, Michigan State University, and National Security Communication Analyst, CNN


Turner is an established expert in communication leadership, strategy, and crisis management. As an experienced practitioner, Turner’s teaching focuses on the intersection of communication theory, and the execution of effective communication practices. Turner’s research interests include examining the role of disinformation in decision making related to civic engagement, and the use of persuasive communication strategies in extremist ideology.

Turner’s previous positions include Director of Communication for U.S. National Intelligence, at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Assistant Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs at the National Security Council, and Deputy White House Press Secretary for National Security under the Obama administration.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Kassie Phebillo

Kassie Phebillo
Ph.D., Communication Studies
M.A., Communication
B.A., Communication

PhD Student and TX Votes Program Coordinator, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin


Kassie Phebillo (she/her) is a PhD student and Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) at the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication. Her GRA role is as the Program Coordinator of TX Votes, a nonpartisan student organization sponsored by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, and Coordinator of the Texas Voting Summit and Network. In her role with TX Votes, she oversees nearly all voter engagement at the university. She writes the UT Austin Democratic Action Plan, which has led to the university's recognition as a two-time Voter Friendly Campus Designee, as well as awards from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge for Most Improved Undergraduate Voter Turnout in 2016 and Most Improved Voter Turnout at a Large, Public University in 2018. In 2019, Kassie received the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge’s “Outstanding Graduate Student Award.”

Kassie's doctoral research, advised by Dr. Sharon Jarvis, centers on the intersection of political disclosure and college campuses. She has presented at the annual NCA conference on topics of partisan speech, political disclosure by K-12 educators, public address, and municipal websites. She has overseen undergraduate research on STEM students and political communication, women and politics, and digital deliberative dialogues via the Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE) Pre-Graduate Internship Program at UT Austin. She holds a BA from Indiana Tech and an MA from Georgetown University.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Charlotte Blain

Charlotte Blain
B.A., Communication Arts
Media Assistant for Entertainment Tonight


Charlotte Blain is a recent graduate of Salisbury University, where she interned with the public relations firm ICR Incorporated and worked with the university’s public relations office. Blain currently works in Los Angeles as a media assistant for Entertainment Tonight, where she organizes digital material, transcribes interviews, and assists with talent. In the future, Blain hopes to pursue work in the music industry and in front of the camera.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Stacy Kim

Stacy Kim
M.A., Communication
B.A., Communication and Psychology

Senior Technical Account Manager (TAM) at Microsoft


Stacy Kim is a Senior Technical Account Manager (TAM) at Microsoft in San Francisco, where she works closely with the company’s top strategic enterprise customers in the Bay Area. She is responsible for partnering closely with her customers’ IT and business stakeholders in order to understand their objectives, goals, and pain points. This understanding enables her to recommend services, remove technical blockers, and coordinate engagements in order to support her customers’ digital transformation journey. Kim credits her communication background for her strengths in connecting the dots between various cross-functional teams, in presenting to senior management, and in leading a global team of TAMs, support teams, and delivery resources.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Felicia Horowitz

Felicia Horowitz
B.A., Communication
Philanthropist, CEO and Founder of the Horowitz Family Foundation


Growing up in Los Angeles, Felicia Horowitz was the first in her family to graduate from college. Horowitz credits the Sugar Ray Robinson Foundation for putting her on the right path to finish her studies. As the CEO and Founder of the Horowitz Family Foundation, she partners with the American Jewish World Service, the GLIDE Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club, and many other organizations to advocate for and provide help to those in need.

Horowitz’s philanthropic work is driven by the need to help marginalized communities not only in the United States but around the world. She advocates for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and violence prevention, and works to unite people cross culturally through technology and community. She works tirelessly herself, helping to prepare warm meals for 2,200 people a day through GLIDE’s Daily Free Meals Program in San Francisco, and traveling the world fighting for human rights and dignity. Horowitz received the 2019 Everyday People Award from the WACO Theater Center in Los Angeles and is listed on Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul 100 list.

Comm Grad Spotlight: J. Cole

J. Cole
B.S., Communication
Rapper, Producer, Songwriter, and Philanthropist


Seven-time Grammy Award-nominated rapper J. Cole (Jermaine Lamar Cole) graduated magna cum laude from St. John's University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication in 2007. Self-taught on piano, Cole also is a hip-hop producer who has handled most of the production in his own projects and has produced singles for major artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Janet Jackson. He has also launched other ventures, including his own record label, Dreamville Records, and a non-profit organization called the Dreamville Foundation.

Through his Dreamville Foundation, Cole conducts philanthropic activities in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The foundation holds an annual "Back to School Supply Giveaway" to provide school supplies to children, hosts a book club for young men, and sponsored "The Nobody's Perfect Writing Contest and Mother's Day Brunch" for students. In addition, the foundation sponsors the annual "Dreamville Weekend," a Fayetteville event that features a discussion with the Young Men's Book Club, an Appreciation Dinner, and a Career Day panel of African-American professionals in a variety of fields.

In 2015, Cole purchased his childhood home, which had been repossessed from his mother, and created a homestead where single mothers and their children can live rent-free.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Olga Haygood

Olga Haygood
B.A., Public Communication
Director of Client Services, J. Walter Thompson INSIDE


Olga Haygood has been an integral part of J. Walter Thompson (JWT) INSIDE for over a decade, leading multi-million-dollar employee marketing and communications programs for major global brands. She was recently promoted to Director of Client Services for the firm. JWT INSIDE is a global, full-service agency creating pioneering ideas in employer branding, employee communications, and recruitment advertising. In her new role at JWT Inside, Haygood leads national account management and media team oversight, evolution of the client services model for JWT INSIDE, business development partnerships, new client onboarding, and maintenance of key client relationships.

Haygood credits her Communication degree for providing her with a generalist entree into the field, noting that her “degree provided a foundational framework, beginning with understanding how to go from insights to strategy and eventually to execution.” She adds that “studying communication has enabled me to ask the right questions, read the room, lead the discussion, and offer insights into tangible recommendations that meet client needs. At the core of each engagement with a client,” she continues, “is the ability to forge meaningful relationships and become an advisor vs. order taker, a soft skill necessary for any communications professional.”

Prior to joining JWT INSIDE, Haygood was the Associate Director of Communications for Voices for America’s Children. At American University, she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was part of the Honors Program. She minored in Spanish in college and is fluent in the language.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Bridget Lowell

Bridget Lowell
B.S., Communication
Chief Communications Officer and Vice President, The Urban Institute


Bridget Lowell has 20 years of communications and leadership experience across the nonprofit sector, on Capitol Hill, and in broadcast journalism. She is currently Chief Communications Officer and Vice President at The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC, where she oversees a 50-person department and leads an organization-wide effort to increase the visibility of The Urban Institute’s research. Prior to joining Urban in 2012, she served as Director of Strategic Communications at The Nature Conservancy, the largest environmental organization in the world. She has also served as a Communications Director for North Carolina Congressman David Price and as a broadcast reporter.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Allison Weiland

Allison Weiland
M.S., Communication Studies and Journalism
B.S., Communication Studies and Theater

Executive Director, Sioux Falls State Theatre Company


Allison Weiland is the executive director of the Sioux Falls State Theatre Company. She has been working on the State Theatre Renovation Project since 2017. Weiland is a Madison, S.D. native. She attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and theater, and a master’s degree in communication studies and journalism. She also taught communication studies and theater for two years. After her college experience, she spent five years in Minneapolis, where she worked for companies as a product coordinator, digital product manager and account executive. Her husband, David Mercer, is a music teacher. The couple has a 3-year-old daughter.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Linda Boulton

Linda Boulton
B.A., Communication
Graduate Assistant, Seton Hall University
Instructional Designer, Real Estate Sales Academy


Linda Boulton is a graduate assistant at Seton Hall University earning her Master’s degree in Strategic Communication. In her administrative role at the university, Boulton works for the Center for Graduate Studies building online resources for graduate students and planning, executing, and evaluating email-marketing campaigns. In addition, Boulton works as an instructional designer, creating online courses for a Chicago-based real estate school. Before pursuing graduate school, she earned her B.A. in Communication from Saint Xavier University.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Catherine Ryan

Catherine Ryan
B.A., Communication
Assistant Director of Marketing & Private Events, American Writers Museum


Catherine received a B.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2015. She began her involvement with the American Writers Museum that same year as the Administrative Assistant. Since then, she has been involved in general operations, event planning, and fundraising efforts, and is now the Assistant Director of Marketing & Private Events. This position has allowed her to use her event planning and salesmanship skills while learning more about the event industry. When she isn’t attending one of the many public programs offered at the AWM, you can find her chairing the NPH USA Midwest Region Associate Board.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Brian Pashkoff

Brian Pashkoff
B.A., Communication
Managing Principal, MGA, Inc.


At MGA, Inc. a leading tenant representation firm in Washington, DC, Brian provides expert real estate consultation to leading nonprofits and associations in the region. He says he uses the skills and lessons he learned as a Communication major every day, “From pitching new business to speaking in front of member boards and negotiating sale and leasing contracts.”

Comm Grad Spotlight: Giustino Bovenzi

Giustino Bovenzi
B.A., Journalism
News Editor, Good Day Columbus


At Columbus, Ohio’s ABC 6/Fox 28 news station, Giustino works as a News Editor, where he edits video content for various news programs. He also produces the station’s high school football highlight show, “First Scores.” He says, “At WSYX/WTTE, we use communication in every action and interaction of our day. From communicating with producers to communicating to the masses, the messages we send out as a team aim to engage our viewers, keeping them informed and entertained every day. Communication is the key!”

Comm Grad Spotlight: Dawn Staley

Dawn Staley
B.A., Rhetoric & Communication Studies
Head Coach, University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball; Head Coach USA Women’s National Basketball Team


Dawn Staley is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time All American at the University of Virginia, Sports Illustrated Player of the Year 1991, and a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Staley is head coach at the University of South Carolina, and head coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team through 2020. She has played in the American Basketball League and the WNBA. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 1992.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Robert Neller

Robert Neller
B.A., Speech Communication
37 th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps


General Robert B. Neller is the 37th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Prior to his current assignment, he served as Commander, Marine Forces Command from July 2014 to September 2015 and Commander, Marine Forces Central Command from September 2012 to June 2014. General Neller received a joint degree in History and Speech Communication from the University of Virginia, and was commissioned in 1975. He also holds a master’s degree in human resource management from Pepperdine University.

Comm Grad Spotlight: Lucija Straley

Lucija Straley
B.A., Communication
Deputy Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy Vientiane, Laos, U.S. Department of State


As a U.S. diplomat, Lucija Straley works to advance U.S. interests and to tell America’s story to the Lao public. She serves as the spokesperson for the U.S. government in Laos. In this role, she manages Embassy Vientiane’s relationship with Lao and international press. In addition, she oversees the Embassy’s website and social media platforms. Over the past year, Lucija worked on press logistics for several high-level visitors to Laos, including President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.