Matt Adams

Director of Audience Growth and Engagement, The Texas Tribune

Before joining the Tribune in 2023, Matt was the supervising editor for NPR’s audience team, focusing on digital expansion. He previously served as a senior producer at National Geographic, managing an online photo community of over one million members and leading a notable redesign. Under his leadership, a community member’s photo was featured on Traveler magazine’s cover. Matt holds a bachelor’s from Point Park University and a master’s from Ohio University. Though based in Austin, he considers Pittsburgh his eternal home.

Jill Ament

Lecturer of Practice, Co-Faculty Advisor KTSW, Texas State University

Jill Ament is an award-winning journalist who worked as a political producer for Spectrum News in Austin and has produced and reported for other central Texas TV and public radio newsrooms. Her work has appeared on NPR, The Takeaway, Here and Now, the Texas Tribune, KUT News and Spectrum News. Jill was a producer and reporter for the public radio program The Texas Standard prior to joining Texas State SJMC as a lecturer of practice and co-faculty adviser at KTSW 89.9.

Carla Astudillo

Senior Data Visuals Developer, Texas Tribune

Carla Astudillo focuses on elections and political data. Before joining the Tribune in 2019, she was a data and interactive visuals journalist at NJ.com and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, where she helped build a database of police use of force in the state as part of a 16-month investigative project. She earned a master’s degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Andrea Ball

Investigative Reporter, Houston Chronicle

Andrea Ball has more than 30 years experience in journalism, including at the Houston Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman and USA Today.

Dale Blasingame

Associate Professor of Practice, Texas State University

Dale Blasingame, a recipient of the 2017 and 2023 Presidential Excellence Awards, teaches courses at Texas State on the intersection of technology and journalism, including Advanced Social Media and Drone Storytelling. Prior to this, he worked for nine years at WOAI-TV in San Antonio, earning two Lone Star Emmy awards. He also served as a news anchor for KTSA-AM and co-founded the marketing agency, Leadhub.

Harry Bowers

Senior Lecturer, Texas State University

Harry Bowers is the Associate Director for Undergraduate Affairs, Senior Lecturer, and Academic Advisor at Texas State University. Handling a range of initiatives from course scheduling to online development, he also advises the Mass Communication Living-Learning Community. With degrees in Political Science and Mass Communication from Texas State, he has earned accolades, including the AAF James H. Fish Award.

Kate Brannen

Senior Account Supervisor, Corporate Reputation US, Edelman

Working at Edelman’s D.C. Corporate Reputation team, Kate specializes in media relations, executive positioning, and strategic communications for Fortune 500 companies. Recognized for her award-winning work, she previously managed crisis and reputation at a boutique firm for tech, transportation, and defense sectors. Kate holds a B.A. in Public Relations from the University of Oklahoma (2015). Additionally, she supports the American Heart Association and is part of Edelman’s Culture Committee.

Lauryn Briggs

Social Media Manager, The Cosmos Labs

Lauryn Briggs, a 2022 graduate of Texas State University, majored in Digital Media Innovation with a minor in Business Administration. Passionate about digital design, she excels in creating innovative content and applications. Proficient in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Adobe Suite, Lauryn interned at Circuit of the Americas in Digital Marketing. Connect with Lauryn on Linkedin.

Rob Cartwright

News Director, KEYE CBS-4 Austin

Rob Cartwright graduated from Texas State in 1996, worked as a news producer for a couple of years at KSAT in San Antonio, then went to WFAA in Dallas for seven years. He has been a news manager for 18 years and says he loves to hire Texas State grads!

Kate Connors

Social Media Coordinator, Houston Texans

Kate Connors graduated from Texas State in 2021 with a degree in Digital Media Innovation, then spent a year-and-a-half doing marketing for Texas State athletics. She joined the marketing team at the Houston Texans last summer. Her work appears on a variety of Texans’ social media and online platforms. While she was a student, she covered sports for the University Star where are you can still find her outstanding sports photography.

Dr. Kelly Damphousse

President, Texas State University

Dr. Kelly Damphousse, the tenth president of Texas State University, previously served as the chancellor of Arkansas State University and dean at the University of Oklahoma. Beginning his academic career in Alabama and Texas, he later earned distinction as a Presidential Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma, focusing on terrorism and criminal justice research. Born in northern Canada, Kelly transitioned from early dreams of hockey and law enforcement to academia in Texas, where he met his wife, Beth. Completing his bachelor’s in criminal justice at Sam Houston State, he further pursued a Ph.D. in sociology from Texas A&M, establishing deep roots in the state. A native Canadian, he considers Texas his “home state” and has served at two Texas State University System institutions. Adopted and a first-generation student, Kelly champions inclusivity and the transformative power of higher education. Passionate about athletics, he holds roles with the NCAA and the Sun Belt Conference. Kelly’s approachability and dedication to ensuring every voice is heard are hallmarks of his leadership style.

Lydia Crow

Intern, Bhava Communications

Lydia provides administrative and tactical support to multiple client accounts spanning industries such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and more. Lydia earned a master’s in mass communication in May 2023 and a bachelor’s in public relations in May 2020 at Texas State University.

Alisha Ebrahimji

CNN Digital Writer

Alisha Ebrahimji is a writer for CNN Digital Worldwide focused on national, U.S. news. At CNN, Ebrahimji has covered the coronavirus pandemic, internet culture, cold cases, stories about the wrongfully convicted and more. She is an Emmy-nominated journalist and an Associated Press award recipient. Additionally, she is the recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award winner for a story that took her to Bihar, India. Ebrahimji comes to CNN after a career in local news as a TV reporter, most recently spending time at WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas. Prior to her time in Dallas, she was a TV reporter in Norfolk, Virginia and Phoenix, Arizona.

Rob Edwards

Head of Community and Growth, Ambire Wallet

Edwards is Full Stack systems builder with 15 years of experience making products, launching campaigns, and creating solutions using innovative technology. He has built successful teams and capabilities for a variety of projects, products, campaigns, and clients.

David Elizondo

Assignments Manager, WOAI-TV News 4 - San Antonio, TX

As Assignments Manager, David supervises coverage, championing collaboration. With exemplary skills in breaking news, logistics management and story development, he has a knack for producing content that resonates with audiences and significantly boosts ratings. Previously, David served as the Executive Producer of Investigations and Special Projects. Prior to that, he was an Assignments Editor.

Kiana Fitzgerald

Freelance Music Journalist, Podcaster and DJ

Kiana Fitzgerald likes to do a lot of things, but most of her time is spent with music. She specializes in analyzing the art form as a journalist, podcaster, and on-air commentator. Additionally, she’s a cultural critic and a champion of Black culture. She moonlights as a personal essayist and DJ.

Elissa Fontenot

Assistant Director of Digital, Division of Marketing and Communications, Texas State University

A native Texan, Elissa Fontenot has over a decade of experience in digital marketing. An SJMC alum, she’s thrilled to once again be a part of the Bobcat community and to lead the digital presence of the university. In her free time, Elissa enjoys reading, attending live music and comedy shows and getting outdoors with her husky, Nova.

Ali Forbes

Assistant Professor, Texas State University

Dr. Ali Forbes specializes in teaching broadcasting, journalism ethics, and sports journalism. She received her PhD from Arizona State University, with prior degrees from the University of Ottawa and Brock University. As co-chair of the Student Sports Division of the Broadcasters Educational Association Festival, she plays a pivotal adjudicating role. Forbes has experience with PGA Live Entertainment and as a broadcaster for Troy University Athletics on ESPN. Through her Video and Broadcast Production for Sports course at Texas State, students gain hands-on experience with ESPN+.

Diana Fuentes

Executive Director, Investigative Reporters & Editors

Diana Fuentes has more than 30 years of journalism experience, rising through the ranks at newspapers, from police reporter to publisher. She is currently executive director of Investigative Reporters & Editors, the nonprofit that trains journalists across the country. Fuentes is past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and Texas AP Managing Editors and continues to serve on those boards. She also is a member and past president of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. Diana has a bachelor’s from UT-Austin and a master’s from Texas State University.

Marcus Funk

Associate Professor of Mass Communication, Sam Houston State University

Dr. Funk is an experienced journalilst and published journalism scholar. He worked as an editor, reporter and Legislature correspondent for a variety of newsrooms across Texas before returning to graduate school. His research focuses on podcasting, digital journalism, disinformation and partisan media. He teaches classes on podcasting, media literacy, copy editing and digital journalism.

Derick Garcia

Anchor and reporter CBS 4 News - Rio Grande Valley

Born in Brownsville, Texas, Derick has a deep-rooted passion for the Rio Grande Valley and storytelling. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he earned a BA in Communication Studies from Texas State University and engaged in various media roles, including radio and TV. Derick produced for CBS 4 in Harlingen and later for Time Warner Cable News in Austin. With extensive newsroom experience, he’s committed to sharing impactful stories from his beloved community.

Giselle German

IT Business Analyst, General Motors

Giselle German, a 2022 graduate from Texas State University, specializes in web and UI design. With a degree in Digital Media Innovation, she excels in crafting communications, designing user-centric sites, and prototyping. She has a passion for design, human-computer interaction and tech in general. She loves developing new skills to challenge herself. She brings a modern and timely skill set to professional environments while focusing on excellent execution.

Michelle Germano

News Director, WOAI/KABB

Michelle Germano went to work in TV news in Corpus Christi immediately after graduation. She worked there seven years, rising to the title of news director, then worked in Arizona and North Carolina before returning to Texas. She now manages San Antonio’s WOAI NBC 4.

Novalie Gomez

Intern, HER Campus Media

Novalie Gomez is a student at Texas State University studying public relations and an influencer marketing intern for HER Campus Media. She is an on-campus ambassador for Alani Nu and Bumble. Novalie is also a micro-influencer who focuses on college lifestyle, beauty, and fashion and works with brands like Aquaphor, Clinique, and Sol de Janeiro. She hopes to go into influencer marketing post-graduation and continue her love for content creation.

J.R. Gonzales

Executive Vice Chair, Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC)

J.R. Gonzales is Executive Vice Chair of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC). He is a veteran business leader, nationally recognized speaker, communications consultant, leadership development trainer, and political strategist.

Maren Gowland

Account Executive, Ketchum

Maren Gowland has worked with Ketchum for over 4 years — starting as a summer intern in college. During her time at Ketchum, she has worked with several clients across healthcare, food, and now retail where she is 100% allocated to the Wendy’s business. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2020 with a degree in Public Relations.

Saul Gray

Senior Public Information Specialist, City of Austin

Saul Gray is a bilingual public relations professional specializing in high-stakes crisis situations, executive-level content creation, and complex stakeholder management. He earned his B.S. in public relations from Texas State in 2019 and has a master’s degree in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Texas Tech University.

Raegan Haggard

Account Executive, Giant Noise

Raegan Haggard is a public relations specialist with experience in the luxury real estate, travel, tourism, and hospitality industries. A media relations maven, she prides herself on securing her clients top-tier media coverage and connecting them to the audiences that matter the most. Her client roster consists of Wu Chow, Chameleon Companies Hospitality, Garbo’s Lobster, SXSW Film Festival, and a new boutique hotel coming to Austin (shhhh).

Emilee Hall

Social Media Coordinator, Chuy's

Emilee Hall is a multi-disciplinary creative based in Austin with over five years of experience and a proven track record of designing and executing successful digital media campaigns. She’s currently the social media coordinator for Chuy’s, a Tex-Mex restaurant chain headquartered in Austin. Hall graduated from Texas State in 2020 with a degree in public relations and mass communication.

Kevval Hanna

Senior Vice President, Social Impact & Sustainability, Edelman

Kevval is a seasoned strategist at Edelman, focusing on social impact, sustainability, and forging trust between businesses and society with clients like McKinsey and Stanford. Before Edelman, she enhanced inclusive economies across 100+ cities at the Centre for Public Impact and led global health partnerships for giants like Pfizer and Merck. As a former World Banker, Kevval advised governments globally on topics from economic development to gender equity. With a Master’s from American University and economics study at Beloit College, she’s bilingual and has worked in over 20 countries.

Alex Hartman

Digital Strategies Coordinator, City of New Braunfels

Alex, a Texas State University alumnus from 2022, was honored as the PR Student of the Year and received the prestigious Gold Key Award from PRSSA. Beginning her career in 2018 as a camp counselor for the City of New Braunfels, she later transitioned to a recreation instructor in 2020. By April 2022, she advanced to the role of Digital Strategies Coordinator for the city’s Communications and Community Engagement Department. In this capacity, Alex oversees all social media channels, spanning the city to the police department, and optimizes the city’s website content and navigation.

Tim Hayden

CEO, Brain+Trust

Tim Hayden, with over two decades of experience, is the CEO of Brain+Trust and the Chief of Business Strategy at The Next Practice. As a social anthropologist, he studies the intersection of human behavior, technology, and communication, driving growth and intelligence for diverse industries. Actively investing and advising in market-shifting ventures, Tim is deeply committed to non-profits, holding multiple leadership roles.

Gabrielle Herrera

Senior Communications Advisor for the Office of Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City of San Antonio

Gabrielle’s passion for storytelling and creating engaging content that connects brands to users stems from her love of photography. Her work in social media, content creation and design have helped provide digital solutions for organizations such as Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, SXSW and award-winning nonprofit, Devils River Conservancy.

Jessica James

Senior Lecturer, Texas State University

Jessica serves as the faculty advisor for Texas State’s SPJ student chapter and coordinates the foundational MC1313 Media Writing course. She co-coordinated a research grant at Texas State examining Medicare-eligible Texans’ media habits. Her master’s thesis on mobile dating’s gamification has been featured in “Wired” and “Bustle.” With a background in Ohio journalism, Jessica holds an M.A. from Texas State and a B.S. from Bowling Green State University.

Carson Jones

Assistant Account Executive, anthonyBarnum Public Relations

Carson, a former president of the Texas State PRSSA chapter, PR Student of the Year, and PRSSA Gold Key Award recipient, graduated with his B.S. in Public Relations in May 2023. He now works as an Assistant Account Executive at anthonyBarnum Public Relations in Austin, specializing in tech PR. He collaborates with C-suite executives to craft and implement communication strategies that align with business objectives through technical concept writing and media relations.

Chuck Kaufman

Senior Lecturer, Texas State University

Mr. Kaufman teaches Sports Media (MC4329). For 25 years, he published a bimonthly publication, Sweet Spot for 25 years, reporting on vintage and autographed sports memorabilia. He contributed to chapters to American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols and Ideas (Greenwood Press, 2013) and wrote a Collectibles Column for a weekly publication published by the New York Post (2001). His “Bibb Falk: The Player Who Filled the Shoes of Shoeless Joe Jackson” was published in the annual National Pastime (1999) by The Society of American Baseball Research. He received his master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree at The University of Texas at Austin.

Youjeong Kim

Associate Professor, Texas State University

Dr. Youjeong Kim specializes in writing for electronic media to prepare students for the modern media landscape. With degrees from Kansas State and Pennsylvania State Universities, she offers courses like Electronic Media Writing and Digital Media Issues. Dr. Kim’s research explores new media technology’s impact on health communication, especially AR/VR’s influence on health behaviors. Her notable achievements include the Distinguished Paper Award and securing research grants, such as one from The Breneman Jaech Foundation on interactive plants’ impact on autistic children.

Ryan Kitchens

Brand Director,Helms Workshop

Ryan masterfully harnesses his team’s diverse talents to bolster brands. With a Journalism and Mass Communications degree from the University of Oklahoma, he began his career at McGarrah-Jessee in Austin, contributing to notable brands like YETI and Shiner Beers. After joining Helms Workshop, Ryan has collaborated with renowned clients like Academy Sports + Outdoors and Austin Beerworks over seven years. He has made a home in Dripping Springs with his wife Ashley, children Lincoln and Kinsley, and Golden Retrievers Lucy and Bailey.

Giselle Kowalski

Digital Marketing Strategist, Division of Marketing and Communications, Texas State University

SJMC grad Giselle Kowalski was born in Texas and raised in the Hill Country, with roots stretching back to Puerto Rico. When she’s not busy expanding the reach of TXST online, she’s probably analyzing the favorites to win the next Formula One race.

Blaise Labbe

Group News Director, Sinclair Broadcast Group

Blaise Labbe has worked in television for more than 20 years, the last decade as Group News Director for Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair is the second-largest ownership group of television stations in the US, with 193 stations in over 100 markets across the country.

Bruce Levinson

Former Vice President of Distribution Partnerships, Scripps Networks

With three decades of sports and event management expertise, Bruce stands out in business development, marketing, and sponsorships. Recognized for strategic acumen and driving team excellence, Bruce prioritizes efficiency, quality, and cost management. His dedication to organizational objectives, combined with an emphasis on superior customer service and strategic selling, has crafted an impressive career trajectory.

Callie Lewis

Project Manager, Division of Marketing and Communications, Texas State University

Callie Lewis, an SJMC alum, wanted to serve her alma mater and work in an environment that pushes her to reach higher. When she’s not working, Callie likes to play with her pets, go to Texas country concerts and spend time with family.

Paul Livengood II

Digital Producer, KCEN-TV San Antonio

Paul Livengood II graduated from Texas State in 2016 from our Electronic Media program. He spent two years reporting on sports for a couple of local newspapers then got hired at KCEN-TV in San Antonio as a Digital Producer. He spent four years at KVUE in Austin in that same role and is now a Digital Content Producer at WFAA in Dallas where he produces multimedia journalism with a special interest in sports.

Gilbert Martinez

Senior Lecturer, Texas State University

Gilbert Martinez has been teaching Media Law at Texas State since 2003 and once served as the assistant director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2012 to 2019. He earned his J.D. from Fordham University in 2000 and has led educational trips to Japan. Before his academic career, from 1993 to 1997, he was a reporter at The Jersey Journal in New Jersey. His teaching and research interests span Media Law, Media Writing, and the intersection of teaching, law, and ethics.

Claudia Marvin

Assistant Account Executive, Ketchum Inc.

During Claudia’s time at Ketchum, she has interacted with clients from various industries, including travel, finance, and professional services. Most recently, she has been in retail, assisting the Wendy’s business. She graduated from Texas State University in 2021 and has a degree in Public Relations with two minors in Media Studies and Pop Culture.

Andrew McNeill

Vice President, Esports Monumental Sports & Entertainment

Andrew McNeill is a 2008 graduate of SJMC and is now Vice President, Esports, at Monumental Sports & Entertainment in Washington, D.C. He oversees the Wizards District NBA 2K League team which won back-to-back championships in 2020 and 2021. Before he moved to D.C., Andrew spent 10 years working for South by Southwest, including serving as Head of Gaming.

Fabiana Meléndez Ruiz

Founder and CEO, Refuerzo Collaborative

Fabiana, a Venezuelan-American communications expert, is the Founder and CEO of Refuerzo Collaborative, a Latina-owned agency specializing in multicultural strategies. In 2023, she earned distinctions from Reagan Communications, PR Daily, and the AWC for her exemplary work, including an accolade for her campaign with HEXAH. In 2022, she received awards from WCA and AWC for her contributions and mentorship. Fabiana’s achievements have been spotlighted in prominent media outlets like Fast Company, Austin Woman Magazine, and Refinery29.

Alex Muk

Associate Professor, Texas State University

Alex Muk holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Southern Mississippi and has expertise in advertising, highlighted by his dissertation on SMS advertising. He’s served in academic roles at Texas State-San Marcos and UW-Whitewater, currently as an Associate Advertising Professor at Texas State since 2014. Professionally, he has held prominent roles in creative advertising, notably with McCann-Erickson in Hong Kong. Muk’s academic interests revolve around creative advertising, strategy, and cross-cultural research in consumer behavior and digital marketing.

Prisca Ngondo

Associate Professor, Texas State University

Ngondo specializes in strategic communication and international public relations, aiming to bridge the theoretical and practical divide. Her work has been recognized in publications like the Public Relations Journal and at conferences such as AEJMC, where she’s garnered top paper awards. She holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communications from Texas Tech University and has teaching interests in strategic communication, health communication, and social media. Her research delves into public relations, digital media, and health communication.

Melanie Pearce

Strategic Relationship Manager, Handshake

Pearce is a Texas State alumna and has over 10 years of experience in career services, serving undergraduate and advanced degree students, employers, faculty, and staff. In her most previous position in higher education, she served as the Associate Director of Graduate Employer Education and Experiences at The University of Texas at Austin. Today, as a Strategic Relationship Manager at Handshake, Pierce works with education partners, consulting on product updates, student engagement, and ensuring customer success.

Morgan Perry

Social Media Coordinator, Nike Communications

Morgan Perry lives in New York City and works as a social media coordinator at Nike Communications, a luxury PR agency based in New York City. She graduated from Texas State University in May with a major in public relations and a minor in fashion merchandising. Throughout her college career, she participated in the Texas State Strutters, multiple Study in America opportunities, and FMA.

Blake Pousson

Account Associate, ECPR Texas

Blake works with clients such as Texas Mutual Insurance Company, Kerbey Lane, The Downtown Austin Alliance and runs the firm’s very own newsletter, The Austin 100. Blake earned a B.S. in Public Relations at Texas State University in May 2022.

Debra Price

Assistant Professor of Practice, Texas State University

Debra Muller Price, with 30 years in journalism and public relations, joined Texas State University in 2018, specializing in public relations and media writing courses. Earning her journalism degree from The University of Texas, she launched her career in New York, working for esteemed publishers and later freelancing for notable magazines such as Coastal Living and Veranda. Price authored two books, including “Christmas With Country Living.” Transitioning to public relations in the Southeast, she led marketing for an institute aiding children with special needs and collaborated with diverse organizations in Tennessee and Texas.

Allison Jones Ralston

Communications Associate, INK Communications Co.

Allison conducts media relations for clean energy and tech companies. Allison earned her Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication and Public Relations from Texas State University in December 2019 and her Master of Arts in Mass Communication from Texas State University in May 2022.

Summer Richie

Assistant Account Executive, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Dallas TX

Summer provides account support, media visibility, corporate communications and strategic public relations for clients in various key practice areas, focusing on Mobility + Transportation. Her work includes supporting the nation’s largest freight-hauling railroad, a leading American multinational automobile manufacturer, a partnership company revolutionizing vehicle security and a national nonprofit gifting mortgage-free homes to veterans. Summer graduated from Texas State University, receiving her B.S. in Public Relations with a minor in Diversity Studies.

Dyhanara Rios

Multimedia communications specialist, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Dyhanara combines her passions for the environment and digital media at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. She’s an SJMC alum, majoring in electronic media and mass communication. In her free time, Dy is involved in various volunteer organizations that promote community engagement, environmental stewardship and leadership development.

Kellyn Rixford-Dunn

Research Director, Strategy and Insights, VMLY&R

Kellyn is deeply passionate about creativity, cultural impact, and ensuring brands prioritize people. Possessing a sharp insight into consumer behavior, she excels in driving significant changes and has led research and strategy for diverse brands, from regional favorites like Whataburger to global names like Intel. Her expertise spans category disruptors like SkinnyPop to international giants like Mazda. Kellyn’s commitment shines in understanding consumer demands, boosting brand success, and making positive organizational impacts.

Christina Rodriguez

Marketing and Social Media Manager, Caster Studios

Christina Rodriguez graduated in December 2020 amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. She began her career managing various business social media accounts, where she honed her skills in digital marketing. As the Marketing and Social Media Manager at Caster Studios, Christina oversees the digital presence of multiple accounts and has expanded her role to include attending marketing conferences and, more recently, serving as the Production Coordinator for the studio’s current ongoing production.

Jakob Rodriguez

Producer, KENS5 - San Antonio, TX

Jakob was the editor-in-chief in 2019 for the first Star Stories event. He also helmed The Star through the start of the pandemic. He has since worked in multiple television newsrooms in San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

Marianna Ruiz

EVP, Executive Creative Director, Edelman

Marianna is an executive creative director at Edelman and leads creative work for a variety of brands and businesses across industries. She and her team are dedicated to creating relevant work that emphasizes and grows sustainability practices, pushes companies to think more strategically about creative ideas, and ultimately sparks compelling conversations amongst target audiences. Her passion for creativity focuses on helping brands understand their relationship with consumers, cultures and communities alike.

Shayla Rose

Influencer Marketing Specialist, Bread & Butter

Shayla moved to Austin in 2017 from the Pacific Northwest and earned her public relations degree at Texas State University, specializing in digital media and business. She worked at Chuy’s and The Concourse Project before becoming an Influencer Marketing Specialist at bread & Butter. In this role, she collaborates with nationwide hotels and restaurants like Komodo Dallas, BrewDog Las Vegas, and Graduate Hotel in Palo Alto. Her partnerships also encompass brands like Tiff’s Treats and Noelle Nashville.

Reid Ryan

CEO, Ryan-Sanders Baseball, Inc. Former President of the Houston Astros

Reid Ryan is an American baseball executive, former college and professional player and son of Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. Ryan-Sanders Baseball owns the Round Rock Express and the Corpus Christi Hooks. He served as president of the Houston Astros from 2013 to 2019. His college playing career began with the University of Texas and ended at TCU. He was drafted by the Rangers in 1994 in the 17th Round and played A ball during a two-year span with the Hudson City Renegades, the Charleston River Dogs and Visalia Oaks. He’s also the executive producer of the documentary “Facing Nolan.”

Jennifer Scharlach

Associate Professor of Practice, Texas State University

Scharlach, with over 20 years in non-profit public relations, brings a wealth of experience to teaching future public relations professionals, emphasizing innovative research and creative solutions. Her collaborative work with the Texas Association for Mexican American Chambers of Commerce earned the 2022 Translational Health Center award. Scharlach’s public safety campaigns and Texas State marketing endeavors have received numerous accolades, including the CASE District IV Silver Medal and Gold Book awards.

Shannon Schulz

Vice President of Research, GSD&M

While Shannon has been with GSD&M, a full-service advertising agency in Austin, for most of her career, she has also worked in Strategy and Research roles at FCB San Francisco and McGarrah Jessee in Austin, where she worked alongside another one of our panelists, Kellyn Dunn. Shannon works with teams at GSD&M on everything from in-person focus groups for Ross Dress for Less to online diary projects for Southwest Airlines to nationwide surveys for the U.S. Air Force. She holds a BBA and a MA in Advertising from UT Austin.

Dan Seed

Assistant Professor of Practice, Texas State University

Dan Seed, an award-winning broadcaster and executive producer of the Global News Relay, worked as a sports director, sports anchor and reporter in a career that began at WHDH-TV in Boston and continued in Lawton, Okla., and Bryan, Texas. He received his bachelors degree from Boston University and masters degree from Texas State University.

Sara Shields

Lecturer, Texas State University

Sara Shields teaches web design, video production, and more. After obtaining her B.S. and M.A. from Texas State, she delved into roles in digital marketing and content management, producing commercials and handling campaigns for various clients. In addition to her academic role, Shields runs a creative production business and is a licensed commercial drone pilot. She has spoken at SXSW Interactive and other national conventions about tech, design, and drone journalism.

Jessica Soukup

Systems Analyst, Student Success Technology Services, Texas State University

Jessica boasts a 38-year career in information technology, currently serving as a Systems Analyst at Texas State University’s Student Success Technology Services. With over six years managing Azure Cloud systems, she is also proficient in StarRez Housing System Management and Windows Server 2019. As the university’s leading Professional Development Presenter, she has conducted over 50 presentations in 8 years. Beyond IT, Jessica champions initiatives promoting diversity, inclusion, and gender education. Her systems analysis skills make her indispensable in streamlining and optimizing complex systems.

Matthew Stephens

Design Leader, Co-founder DeviantArt, Co-founder REALLY.com

Matthew Stephens, with over two decades in design and technology, co-founded DeviantArt.com, the world’s largest art community. At DeviantArt, over 65,000 new pieces are added daily to its vast collection of 500 million artworks. Recently, he became the founding designer of REALLY.com, a revolutionary decentralized cellular network. Matthew champions ethics, accessibility, diversity, and education in design. Additionally, he sees immense transformative potential in AI for the design industry.

Jordan Stern

Associate Director for Student Success, Texas State University

Dr. Jordan Stern is the Associate Director for Student Success at Texas State University’s School of Music and a lecturer in music education. With degrees from Texas State and Boston University, he has taught at various high schools. Stern’s work is published in notable journals, and he promotes vernacular music education, especially country-western genres. In 2023, Stern began research projects and a YouTube channel focused on Country-Western music lessons.

Tatiana Torres

A/V Production, San Antonio Spurs

Tatiana Torres graduated from Texas State in 2022 with a degree in Electronic Media and, even before graduation, started working with Spurs Sports and Entertainment. She now supports live sports broadcasts for the Spurs and the San Antonio Missions Baseball Club which she describes as “her dream job.”

Lucero Trevino

Social Media Videographer, Division of Marketing and Communications, Texas State University

Taking photos on her iPod Touch is where Lucero’s passion for content creation started, eventually landing her at Texas State to work at KTSW 89.9 as a videographer, photographer and social media coordinator. When she isn’t behind the scenes shooting content for social, you can find her spending her free time with her cat, Mundo, and playing video games on her Switch.

Sammy Turner

Digital Content Producer, KHOU - Houston

Sammy Turner is a 2020 grad from Texas State’s Mass Communication program. As a student, he reported on news and music for KTSW and Intern at KVUE-TV in Austin. After graduation, KVUE hired him as a Digital Content Producer and he’s now in his third TV station job with that title, at KHOU in Houston, where he produces original content for the station’s website, mobile and social media platforms.

Paul Villagran

Assistant Professor of Practice, Texas State University

Paul Villagran, with over 20 years as an Air Force Public Affairs officer, now emphasizes the influence of social media on Public Relations at Texas State University. He’s been instrumental in various veteran-focused grants, founded PR GO, a student-run agency aiding local businesses, and elevated the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at Texas State to national prominence. Before joining Texas State, Villagran held significant roles in the Air Force’s Public Affairs operations, overseeing combat camera teams and managing the Air Force’s vast social media following. He holds degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Oregon and has received prestigious PR awards, including the PRSA Silver Anvil.

Amanda Weaver

Marketing and Communications Manager, Winston-Salem Dash

Amanda Weaver, an SJMC alum, is the marketing and communications manager at the Winston-Salem Dash, a minor league baseball farm team of the Chicago White Sox. With the Dash, Amanda merges her talents and skills with a lifelong affection for the impact sports teams can have on their community.

Andrew Zimmel

Sports Director KBMW - i3G Media

Andrew Zimmel, a 2020 graduate from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is the sports director at KBMW 1450 AM in Wahpeton, North Dakota, covering local sports and major teams like the Minnesota Vikings. He hosts a weekly sports talk show, co-hosts the “Squarin’ Around” podcast on Texas State athletics, and has authored “The Sports Radio Bible: How to Build a Successful Radio Career in the 21st Century.”