2023 NCA Award Winners

NCA Award Winners by Year

NCA’s annual awards will be bestowed on several distinguished members at the NCA 109th Annual Convention in National Harbor, Maryland. Below is the list of those who will be honored at the awards presentation.

Teaching Awards 


Donald H. Ecroyd Award for Outstanding Teaching in Higher Education 
Heather Ashley Hayes, University of Alabama

ManningDr. Heather Ashley Hayes’s dedication towards inclusivity, innovation, and social justice while embracing the non-traditional community, including incarcerated individuals and citizens with a passion for social justice, within the space of the traditional classroom, is exemplary and exceptional. The spirit of the Ecroyd award shines through Dr. Hayes’s commitment to start a nonprofit organization in 2020 titled The Teach Out, which is active in seventeen U.S. states and three countries and was established to reach communities underserved in educational access. It is in this profound commitment to make a difference in structural, personal, and lived ways that Dr. Hayes’s pedagogical trajectory truly exemplifies the transformative spirit of higher education.

Marcella E. Oberle Award for Outstanding Teaching in Grades K-12 

Aaron M. Dechant, Millington High School, Millington, Tennessee & Shawnee Heights High School, Tecumseh, Kansas.

ManningAaron M. Dechant shepherded the forensic debate team to multiple state championships and produced several individual state champions at Shawnee Heights High School. At Millington High School, Mr. Dechant helped the team win both first-time team and individual awards and taught the first-ever dual credit speech communication class. Mr. Dechant’s students were able to present in front of school officials and community leaders. This impact made a difference since some of their recommendations were implemented by the city administration. It is in recognition of Mr. Dechant’s innovative contribution to integrating speech communication in the classroom, in the community, and the school district that makes Mr. Dechant deserving of the Oberle Award.  

Michael and Suzanne Osborn Community College Outstanding Educator Award 

Terri Easley-Giraldo, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas

ManningDr. Terri Easley-Giraldo’s accomplishments encompass the breadth and depth of what it means to mentor, advise, serve, and teach: Dr. Easley-Giraldo’s contributions span from mentoring community college students as co-advisor of LUNA (Latino* United Now and Always), crafting innovative intercultural communication pedagogical approaches by partnering with Udmurt State University in Izhevsk, Russia, and Universidad Nacional Costa Rica–Sarapiqui, and embedding community-based learning. Dr. Easle-Giraldo’s commitment to publish, present, and perform service is equally exemplary.

Scholarship Awards 


Bernard J. Brommel Award for Outstanding Scholarship or Distinguished Service in Family Communication 

Jennifer A. Theiss, Rutgers University

ManningDr. Jennifer A. Theiss’s research, particularly her work detailing how individuals navigate the challenges and tensions within their personal relationships, has made a significant contribution to the field of family communication. As one of Dr. Theiss’s nominators states regarding Relational Turbulence Theory, “Dr. Theiss literally and figuratively wrote the book” on how “uncertainty reflects questions or ambiguity about the relationship which creates heightened reactivity to relationship events.” Another nominator states that Dr. Theiss “has worked tirelessly to help mentor the next generation of family communication scholars and to help them find their own unique voice.”

Charles H. Woolbert Research Award 

Patrice Buzzanell, University of South Florida

ManningFor the article, “Gaining a Voice: Feminist Organizational Communication Theorizing,” published in Management Communication Quarterly in 1994.

Dr. Patrice Buzzanell’s article, “Gaining a Voice: Feminist Organizational Communication Theorizing,” offers an analysis of how varied feminist approaches can provide unique insights into the consequences of traditional gender interactions in everyday organizing processes. According to one nominator, this article, “(a) changed the conversation about feminist communication scholarship [across the discipline of Communication], (b) is still being honored with reprints, inclusion in textbooks and handbooks, NCA panels, and a 2021 special issue; and (c) provides a template for praxis that enables activists and engaged communication scholars to put their commitments to work for social justice. 

Diamond Anniversary Book Award 

V. Jo Hsu, University of Texas at Austin

ManningFor the book, Constellating Home: Trans and Queer Asian American Rhetorics, published by The Ohio State University Press in 2022. 

Dr. V. Jo Hsu’s book, Constellating Home: Trans and Queer Asian American Rhetorics is rigorous, creative, readable, and cutting-edge. It intersectionally provides readers with archives of trans and queer Asian American and Pacific Islander rhetorics that encompass oral history, photography, personal essays, and performance. It fills a much-needed gap in existing literature, pushing us into new and exciting conversations. This book is a much-needed resource for scholars across rhetoric, performance, race, queer, and trans studies who study difference, marginalization, and resistance. Most importantly, Hsu’s Constellating Home shows that theoretical scholarship can also be accessible and very engaging. 

Donald P. Cushman Memorial Award 

Olivia Watson & Jana Kent, University of Missouri

ManningFor the essay, “’Couldn’t you get an American?’: Navigating Communicative Disenfranchisement Experienced by Transracial Adoptive Families.”

Essay submitted by the Family Communication Division

This theoretically groundbreaking essay by Olivia Watson and Jana Kent further fuels a growing body of critical family communication scholarship and addresses the social confrontations experienced by families built through transracial adoption. Understanding how racism is borne out in everyday interactions, as well as what communicative mechanisms are employed to resist such racism, advances the field of family communication, our theorizing about the process of communicative disenfranchisement, and our practical understanding of what transracial adoptive families can do to prepare themselves and their adopted children and mitigate the consequences of such racism.

Douglas W. Ehninger Distinguished Rhetorical Scholar Award 

Mary E. Stuckey, Pennsylvania State Universit

ManningDr. Mary E. Stuckey's influence on communication has been significant, both in terms of reach and depth. An author of 13 books, three edited volumes, and 80+ journal articles, book chapters, and invited contributions, Dr. Stuckey’s research focuses on political and governing rhetoric in the contexts of the presidency, national identity, and election campaigns, as well as colonialism and expansion in the United States. Dr. Stuckey has also energized the field by personally investing in the scholarship of budding and established scholars while still being considered a preeminent scholar in rhetorical studies, public address, and presidential rhetoric.

Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression 

Billie Murray, Villanova University

ManningFor the book, Combating Hate: A Framework for Direct Action, published by The Pennsylvania State University Press in 2022.

Dr. Billie Murray’s book answers a central free speech debate of our time: how should publics handle hate speech? Murray argues that, in the United States, the idea that the answer to hate speech is “more counterspeech” provides a system of meaning that both asks the most vulnerable to respond and assumes that all interlocutors respect democratic values. Using rhetorical field methods to observe activist organizations, Murray examines combative and allied tactics that move beyond counterspeech as response and identifies their democratic potential. The book offers compelling theoretical grounding and concrete advice for scholar-activists situated in this important historical moment. 

Gerald M. Phillips Award for Distinguished Applied Communication Scholarship

Mohan Dutta, Massey University

ManningDr. Mohan Dutta has created a compelling body of work in health communication with a social justice orientation and applied focus, delivering socioeconomic benefits to vulnerable communities across the world. Dr. Dutta is the pioneer of the Culture-Centered Approach (CCA), a robust participatory framework of community empowerment. As the Director of his center, CARE, Dr. Dutta has carried out over 100 applied communication advocacy projects across nine countries in at least three continents, addressing health needs in marginalized communities. These initiatives have often led to the construction of and improvements in community infrastructures. Additionally, Dr. Dutta has secured numerous grants, and served as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization.

Gerald R. Miller Outstanding Dissertation Award 

Maria Celeste Wagner, University of Florida

ManningFor the dissertation completed at the University of Pennsylvania, “Responding to Media Coverage of Gender-Based Violence in Argentina and the United States: A Mixed Methods Study of the Intersecting Roles of Gender, Class, and Racialized Ethnicity Among General and Activist Publics.”

 Advisor: Michael Delli Carpini, University of Pennsylvania


Ashley Garcia, Santa Rosa Junior College

ManningFor the dissertation completed at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “(Re)Scripting the Black-Activist-Athlete: Remembering the Racialized Politics of Sport in the NFL’s Protests During the National Anthem.”

 Advisor: Ronald Lee, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Rose A. Howerter, Temple University

ManningFor the dissertation completed at Temple University, “Discounted, Yet Still Powerful: Gofman’s Concept of the Stigma of Race Restructured in the 21st Century.”

Advisor: Deborah Cai, Temple University


Global Communication Award

Raka Shome, Villanova University

ManningDr. Raka Shome’s outstanding scholarship and service have contributed substantially to the global ecologies of knowledges and have created spaces for the voices and visions of the Global South and beyond. Dr. Shome’s name is virtually synonymous with “postcolonial approaches” in the discipline of communication as well as cutting-edge work on White femininity, transnational feminism, global motherhood, Hindu nationalism, Asian modernities, and the place of “the non-rational” in Cultural Studies. This work has offered valuable theoretical insights into de-Westernized ways of knowing and doing. By exemplary leadership in global communication over the years, Dr. Shome is well deserving of this inaugural NCA award.

Golden Anniversary Monograph Award 

Robin E. Jensen, University of Utah

ManningFor the article, “Re-envisioning Fertility Science: From J. Marion Sims’s Invasive Gynecology to Sophia Kleegman’s “Conservative Surgery” Hermeneutic,” published in Quarterly Journal of Speech in 2022.

 Dr. Robin E. Jensen’s essay offers a critical-comparative analysis of Dr. J. Marion Sims’s mid-to-late-nineteenth-century medical publications and Dr. Sophia Kleegman’s mid-twentieth-century medical publications to highlight the differing pedagogies within the history of U.S. gynecology. This essay explores the discursive means by which ingrained trajectories of medical knowledge and practice have been re-envisioned and recalibrated in U.S. history. As mentioned by Dr. Jensen, “this research illustrates the unparalleled value of rhetorical history as an approach that is uniquely capable of addressing questions about why and how contemporary problems of inequity, harm, and injustice persist.”

James A. Winans - Herbert A. Wichelns Memorial Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Rhetoric and Public Address 

A. Freya Thimsen, Indiana University

ManningFor the book, The Democratic Ethos: Authenticity & Instrumentalism in US Movement Rhetoric after Occupy, published by University of South Carolina Press in 2022.

The Democratic Ethos brilliantly puts rhetorical, social movement and political theory in the conversation to explore the broader legacy of the Occupy demonstrations. Challenging critics who have dismissed Occupy for its lack of clear demands and definitive policy agenda, Dr. Thimsen argues that Occupy was persuasive insofar as it presented a model of performative consistency that other collectives could draw upon in resistance to corporate control over public life and electoral politics. Dr. Thimsen shows the relevance of scholarly literature from multiple fields to rhetorical theory and builds a case for a revisitation of a familiar rhetorical concept for understanding politics in our day.

James L. Golden Outstanding Student Essay in Rhetoric Award 

Julien Burns, Louisiana State University

ManningFor the essay, “Demagoguery vs. Counter-Hegemony in the Rhetoric of Huey P. Long”

This paper is a theoretical examination of the concept of demagoguery, using as a case study the rhetorical strategies employed by Huey P. Long, the former governor and senator of Louisiana. By applying a Gramscian analysis of the strategic deployment of the label “demagogue,” it shows how the term is used to marginalize and discredit populist movements. Specifically, the paper argues for a rejection of attempts to redefine and rehabilitate the term and calls on critics instead to challenge its use altogether.    

Karl R. Wallace Memorial Award 

E Cram, University of Iowa

ManningDr. E Cram continues their tradition of intellectually creative and important work that productively pushes the boundaries of rhetoric and public address scholarship. Disability Ecologies is a multi-year project encompassing a podcast, two disciplinary essays, and a scholarly book. This project explores the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm, which was established in 1855 and operated until 1953 to provide residence for disabled persons and the poor, as mandated by an Iowa law. This law enabled county supervisors to establish a “poor house” within each county to provide care for those who could not house or care for themselves, most often poor and those deemed “unfit or insane.” This project demonstrates a strong ethical commitment and will serve as a model for future work in rhetoric and the public humanities.

Leslie Irene Coger Award for Distinguished Performance

Charles Parrott, Kennesaw State University

ManningDr. Charles Parrott is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre & Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University. For nearly 12 years, Dr. Parrott has been a trusted mentor as the Director of the KSU Tellers, a storytelling troupe that has produced close to 100 outward facing performance events on the local, regional, national, and international level. Dr. Parrott has also mentored more than 15 individual performance-based undergraduate research projects presented at local, regional, and national venues. Dr. Parrott’s performance work includes devising, writing, and directing original ensemble stage performances as well as being a prolific solo-performer known for polished comedic timing that is relatable, thoughtful, and delightful.

Lilla A. Heston Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Interpretation and Performance Studies 

Lisa Biggs, Brown University

ManningFor the book, The Healing Stage: Black Women, Incarceration, and the Art of Transformation, published by The Ohio State University Press in 2022.

In the Healing Stage, Dr. Lisa Biggs traces four ensembles of currently and formerly incarcerated women and their collaborating artists who use performance to challenge harmful policies and popular discourses that justify locking up “bad” women. This exceptional work brings to the fore the critical performance work being done by Black women artists in dialogue with incarcerated women. The Healing Stage recognizes and illuminates the rigors of performance studies research, where artistic practice is studied as both subject and method of transformative justice. Biggs weaves stories and analysis, drama and healing, performance theory and method to draw back the curtain on incarceration, womanhood, and survival of the spirit.

Mark L. Knapp Award in Interpersonal Communication 

Tamara D. Afifi, University of California, Santa Barbara

ManningDr. Tamara D. Afifi has contributed much to research on interpersonal interaction and relational communication processes. The quality of Dr. Afifi’s published research is evidenced by the numerous awards received including being named an NCA and ICA Distinguished Scholar. Dr. Afifi has advanced relational communication research with the Theory of Resilience and Relational Load, which has helped those who study close relationships better understand how individuals and family systems respond to relational stressors. In addition to scholarship, Dr. Afifi has been an outstanding mentor and advisor to numerous M.A. and Ph.D. students, which embodies the spirit of this award

Marsha Houston Award 

Jasmine Austin, Texas State University

ManningDr. Jasmine Austin’s extensive scholarship demonstrates substantial theoretical and practical commitment to issues of representational visibility, equity, intersectionality, and anti-racism across several areas of communication. Dr. Austin’s work in both organizational communication and media studies critically challenges traditional Communication Studies scholarship, embracing alternative experiences and perspectives. Dr. Austin’s work, both scholarly and pedagogical, brings together the voices of marginalized groups, powerfully altering how we see the importance of such groups in communication theorizing.

Orlando L. Taylor Distinguished Scholarship Award in Africana Communication

Andre E. Johnson, University of Memphis

ManningDr. Andre E. Johnson exemplifies the essence and spirit of Orlando J. Taylor through scholarship, teaching, and service. Dr. Johnson's work integrates theory and social justice activism to promote what Dr. Johnson refers to as the "Africana turn" at the intersection of public address, religion, and history. Dr. Johnson's transdisciplinary approach to rhetoric and communication and a fervent passion for mentoring will continue to shape current and future generations of Black scholars in the field and beyond.

Service Awards 


Samuel L. Becker Distinguished Service Award 

Richard West, Emerson College

ManningDr. Richard West has served NCA and the field of Communication for more than 30 years, as President of NCA and the Eastern Communication Association, member of editorial boards for fifteen journals, and co-author/co-editor of ground-breaking, award-winning, internationally renowned books in interpersonal communication, communication theory, and family communication. Creator of NCA’s Day of Service to give back to convention host cities, Dr. West encourages voices that might otherwise be unheard, helps people feel included and respected, champions diversity and social justice, and uses media outreach to advance understanding of our discipline.

Robert J. Kibler Memorial Award

Carol Winkler, Georgia State University

ManningDr. Carol Winkler has served the Communication Discipline and NCA for over 40 years, supporting excellence in argumentation and debate in the public sphere while creating and nurturing a critical research effort at the juncture of media, terrorism, and violence. Winning multiple personal and organizational community service awards while serving as chair, dean, program director, mentor, and student advocate, Dr. Winkler has developed and supported applied argumentation scholarship in the public sphere, including support for urban debate leagues, work with the Department of Justice on gang violence, and leading an interdisciplinary international research initiative on Transcultural Conflict and Violence.

IDEA Awards 


IDEA Engagement Award

Patricia S. Parker, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

ManningDr. Patricia S. Parker is the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Ruel W. Tyson Distinguished Professor of Humanities, the Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, a professor of critical organizational communication studies, and former Chair of the Communication department. Dr. Parker is an award-winning scholar, activist, and leader whose work centers on Black feminist leadership and community engagement for social justice and equity.  Dr. Parker’s impressive publication record on IDEA initiatives includes two books, a coedited book series, 13 articles, and 10 book chapters. Dr. Parker’s contributions reach beyond our field and the academy through multiple ventures of community engaged activism and leadership.  

IDEA Scholarship Award 

Raka Shome, Villanova University

ManningDr. Raka Shome, Harron Family Endowed Chair of Communication at Villanova University, has taught across the globe, including at the National University of Singapore, Linkoping University in Sweden, and the London School of Economics and Political Science in the UK. Dr. Shome’s has won several NCA awards for outstanding scholarship (including recognition in 2021 as an NCA Distinguished Scholar), as well as being named an Elected Fellow of the International Communication Association. The discipline owes much of its awareness about and understanding of postcolonial theory and rhetoric to Dr. Shome’s groundbreaking and canonical publications on the subject.

Distinguished Scholar Award 


Bernadette M. Calafell, Gonzaga University

ManningDr. Bernadette M. Calafell , the Chair of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at Gonzaga University, has a strong record of research and publication spanning a 20-year career including two  ground-breaking books, seven edited collections, two book series, four special issues, and ninety solo- and co-authored articles and chapters. She has earned three Distinguished Scholar awards, representing WSCA and the NCA divisions of Critical and Cultural Studies and International  Communication Studies, and she has also been acknowledged for her Outstanding Contributions to  Performance Studies at WSCA and as Scholar of the Year by the LCSD and La Raza Caucus at NCA.  In addition to that she has been a tireless advocate for research and practices of diversity in the field as well as a strong mentor, teacher and an advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion. As noted by those who nominated her, “Dr. Calafell has spent her twenty years manifesting structural, progressive change so as to welcome and nurture scholars of difference who potentially bring forth innovative ideas. She has successfully advocated for (not just diversity but) a diversity of equity across race, sexuality, citizenship, gender, and ability within our discipline and within our institutions.”

Lisa A. Flores, Pennsylvania State University

ManningDr. Lisa A. Flores’ scholarship and intellectual trajectory embody rhetoric and social justice broadly construed among one or multiple intersections of feminist rhetoric; cultural and political advocacy; the discursive analysis of race and racism; the evolution of gender and sexual identities in rhetorical theory and practice; and/or queer theory as it relates to the creation and circulation of symbolic, visual, and material expression.  Professor Flores’ published work, her standing in a range of overlapping fields, and her institutional service make it clear that she is eminently deserving of the Distinguished Scholar Award. Dr. Flores is an award-winning scholar who has produced influential research. Most recently her book, Deportable and Disposable, won three national and three divisional NCA awards. Her 2016 essay “Between Abundance and Marginalization: The Imperative of Racial Rhetorical Criticism,” has been cited over 150 times and (according to her nominator) has changed the way we do rhetoric. Dr. Flores has served NCA as a member of the Committee on Committees and as chair of the Public Address Division. She is a past president of the Western States Communication Association. She has assumed administrative posts furthering social justice and inclusion goals. She is currently Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and co-chair of her institution’s diversity council. 

Karen A. Foss, University of New Mexico

ManningDr. Karen A. Foss, Regents’ Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico richly deserves the Distinguished Scholar Award.  Dr. Foss has published twelve co-authored and co-edited books.  She remains a highly productive scholar in her emerita years, recently having published a book, an award-winning article, and many book chapters on issues ranging from feminist theory to pedagogical practices, and aging.  Long before the emergence of DEI programs and practices, her scholarship has been a model of diversity, equity, and inclusion, responsible for providing diverse, equitable, and inclusive scholarship for discipline for almost 50 years. Via feminist research, Dr. Foss examined women’s forms of expression and how those differ from and expand what counts as important communication, showing how women exhibit different forms of eloquence from traditional public address. Her essays on Harvey Milk exemplify the fields engagement and development of queer scholarship. Dr. Foss’s many administrative responsibilities further attest to her commitment to the field.

Katherine Grace Hendrix, University of Memphis

ManningDr. Katherine Grace Hendrix is an award-winning teacher, highly impactful researcher, and community-engaged scholar who reflects the best values of communication as a force for progressive transformation. Her distinguished career brings together three critically important areas of the discipline, communication pedagogy, ethnography, and intercultural studies, contributing to each in exemplary ways. Her impactful analyses of the interplays of race and gender anchor includes her scholarship in the struggles of the personal, often drawing upon evocative accounts of her own life and lived experiences negotiating raced-gendered contexts. The high level of productivity she demonstrates, combined with the commitment to care and nurturing, embodies the values of excellence that thrives “in environments challenging to diversity in race and gender.” Her impact on the discipline is evident in the expansive mentorship roles she has played, supporting, guiding and raising up generations of graduate students, faculty, and administrators, anchored in a sustained ethic of care.

D. Soyini Madison, Northwestern University

ManningDr. D. Soyini Madison is an “award-winning scholar, creator, and activist whose work has significantly transformed the field of Communication Studies. Her interventions are cited and felt widely in performance studies, critical performance ethnography, African and Black Diaspora studies, women’s human rights, environmental justice studies, labor, and social justice.” Dr. Madison has made a significant impact as a scholar, activist, and teacher of Performance Studies. Her work on critical performance ethnography, African and Black Diaspora studies, women’s human rights, environmental justice studies, labor, and social justice is exemplary. She is also a generous mentor of generations of students in the discipline and in community and activist spaces. Her work connects with diverse communities internationally. For instance, she has conducted research in Ghana as a Senior Fulbright scholar and in Italy as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow. Drawn from her research she has also taken her work to the classroom via her well-known and widely used methodological approach that illuminates and critically intervenes by demonstrating “the use performance in their everyday struggles for justice.”