Class notes

News and updates about your J-School classmates

Fall 2018 Edition


1960s

James Merrill (j’68, g’76, PhD’82) is retired president of Applied Marketing Research Inc. He lives in Olathe with Ellen Cohn Merrill (d’76).

Jo Ann Marinelli Weber (j’69) is a sales executive at Reece Nichols Real Estate in Overland Park.

J.B. Forbes , (j’73, right) and  Rob Rains  (j’78, left) were inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame earlier this year. Forbes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was a guest panelist at the "Politics and the Media" panel discussion during the William Allen White birth year celebration in April. Rains was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 and runs STLSportsPage.com with his wife, Sally, (left) who also was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame. Rains has written more than 30 books, most of them about baseball, and he and Sally have co-written numerous books.

J.B. Forbes, (j’73, right) and Rob Rains (j’78, left) were inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame earlier this year. Forbes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He was a guest panelist at the "Politics and the Media" panel discussion during the William Allen White birth year celebration in April. Rains was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017 and runs STLSportsPage.com with his wife, Sally, (left) who also was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame. Rains has written more than 30 books, most of them about baseball, and he and Sally have co-written numerous books.

Forbes-HOF.jpg

1970s

Joe Vaughan (j’70) is an author and journalist in Prairie Village. He wrote Colonel Wilkinson’s Diary: A Kansas Doctor in World War I France, which was published this year by Mennonite Press.

Jack Nixon (j’72) has been awarded the National Sports Media Association Sportscaster of the Year award for the state of New Mexico. Nixon is the play-by-play announcer for New Mexico State University athletics and is in his 38th season with the Aggies.This is the third time Nixon has earned national sportscaster of the year recognition after earning the same accolade in 1980 and 2013. (Read the story here.)

Tom Throne (j’72) was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame by the Kansas Press Association earlier this year. Throne has held leadership roles at six different newspapers in three states. He and his wife, Pam, are retired and live in Bentonville, Arkansas. (Read the news story here.)
   
Jerome Vokracka (j’73) is regional manager at Akkase, a home health care company in Omaha, Nebraska.

Conrad Bibens (j’77) retired in July 2018 as a business wire and copy editor after 28 years at the Houston Chronicle. He also worked at the St. Joseph News-Press, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee, the Houston Post and the St. Louis Sun.

Gordon Docking (j’77) is a consultant at Gordon Docking Consulting in Overland Park, Kansas.

Bill French (j’77) was elected first vice president of the Tulsa Men’s Club, which was established in 1949.

Stephen Paddock (j’78) directs sales for Nokia and lives in Lenexa with his wife,  Alison. They have two children, Brandon and Mallory, who live in Los Angeles.

Ron Altman (j’79) retired in December as an account manager at AT&T.

Steve South (j’79) is president and general manager of KSNW-TV in Wichita, where he makes his home with his wife, Linda.

Sarah Thomas (j’79) is living in Leawood, Kansas, where she recently retired after directing communications for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Tom Throne  (j’72, above) was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame by the Kansas Press Association earlier this year. Throne has held leadership roles at six different newspapers in three states. He and his wife, Pam, are retired and live in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Tom Throne (j’72, above) was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame by the Kansas Press Association earlier this year. Throne has held leadership roles at six different newspapers in three states. He and his wife, Pam, are retired and live in Bentonville, Arkansas.

1980s

Mary Jo Howard Dively (j’80, c’80) is vice president and general counsel at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In January, she was elected to the board of directors of F.N.B. Corporation and First National Bank of Pennsylvania.

Barbara Kinney (j’80) is a photographer and photo editor at Emerson Collective in Palo Alto, California. She lives in Larkspur. She published a new book, “#StillWithHer: Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Moments That Sparked a Movement,” an inside look at Hillary Rodham Clinton's historic campaign for president. The book is available on Amazon.

Jan Anne Dubin (j’81), founder and CEO of Jan Anne Dubin Consulting, was selected by the Chicago Business Journal as one of its 2018 Women of Influence. (Read the article.)  

Brian Purdy (j’81) is Dallas market president at CBS Radio.

Chris Cobler (j’82) was recently named publisher of the Victoria Advocate in South Texas. He has been the newspaper's editor, a title he retains in his new role, since 2007. The Advocate also was named earlier this year as the Newspaper of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and received the Texas Press Association's Sweepstakes honor. Of the Advocate, the AP judges wrote: "This is a really good local paper, and its readers are very fortunate.” (Read the story here.)

Janet Murguia (j’82, c’82 l’85) lives in Washington, D.C., where she’s president and CEO of UnidosUS. In June, she received an honorary degree from Williams College.

Jerry Green (j’84) is an online community strategist at The Community Roundtable.

Mark Mears (j’84) served as an executive in residence in the School of Journalism. In this role, Mears served as a guest lecturer in several classes and provided career advice. He also played a role in supporting the successful launch of the J-School's alumni mentoring platform.

Jeff Taylor (j’84) who is currently the Midwest regional editor for the USA TODAY network and served as the executive editor of The Indianapolis Star for four years starting in July 2012, has been named executive editor for news for USA TODAY. (Read the news story here.

Cheryl Waldron (j’84, l’88) lives in San Antonio, where she’s a senior attorney editor at Practical Law, a Thomson Reuters company.

Shon Barenklau (j’85) is publisher of the Kearney Hub in Kearney, Nebraska.

Tammy Wiard (j’86) manages retail programs for the National Mango Board in Orlando, Florida. She previously worked for the state’s Department of Citrus.

Bob Kealing (j’87) won an Emmy Award in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Suncoast Chapter contest in the Historical/Cultural category.

Lisa Frerker Austin (j’87) directs communications for Blue Valley Educational Foundation in Overland Park.

Michelle Johnson (j’87) reports on race, identity and culture issues for KCUR in Kansas City.

Jill Jess (j’89) is the public relations manager for Western Governors University in Columbus, Ohio.

K. Scott Matthews (j’89) is vice president of UMB Bank in Kansas City. He lives in Mission Hills.

Gwen McKillip O'Brien (j’89) has been appointed associate director of internal communications for the University of Notre Dame.

R. Scott Seifert (j’89) has been elected president of Hiersche, Hayward, Drakeley & Urbach, P.C., a commercial law firm in Addison, Texas. (Read the press release.

Drew Sidener (j’89) is creative services director for CBS4 in Denver, which won two NATAS Heartland Emmy Awards. The station won the prestigious "News Excellence" award, recognizing the most outstanding overall news operation in the region, as well as the Team Coverage award. 

1990s

Ann Gardner  (j’75) received the Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor Award from the Kansas Press Association this year. The award recognizes a Kansas editor for a lifetime of achievement that involves commitment to community, the Kansas newspaper industry and the state. Gardner is a former Lawrence Journal-World editorial page editor who lives in Lawrence.

Ann Gardner (j’75) received the Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor Award from the Kansas Press Association this year. The award recognizes a Kansas editor for a lifetime of achievement that involves commitment to community, the Kansas newspaper industry and the state. Gardner is a former Lawrence Journal-World editorial page editor who lives in Lawrence.

Stephen Wade (j’90) has been named publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal.  Wade has most recently served as general manager and president of The Augusta Chronicle. (Read the news story.

Sarah Sneed Malone (j’91) manages media accounts at Walz Tetrick Advertising in Mission. She and Deryck (b’91) live in Shawnee.

Cynthia Leitich Smith (j’91) has published a new young adult novel, "Hearts Unbroken."

Nicole Vap (j’91), director of investigative journalism for KUSA and TEGNA Inc., was part of an investigative team at KUSA-TV in Denver that won a national Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for large market TV news series for their segment, “Show Us Your Bills.” Vap and her colleagues also won a Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in Television Journalism (Large-Market Station, 1-50 market) for a series exposing improper billing by medical providers in Colorado. (Watch the series here.)

Sandee Buller Astrachan (j’92) is lead product manager of digital tax at H&R Block in Kansas City.

Jeffrey Hook (j’92) is executive vice president of development and marketing for Hard Rock International. He lives in Lighthouse Point, Florida.

Nancy Leonard (j’92) started a new career as a journalism teacher at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa. She had been working as a writer/producer and a senior communications associate.

Jeffrey Risley (j’92) is chief strategy officer at Saxum, an integrated marketing communications agency in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

John McNulty (j’93) is executive vice president of marketing at Thin Film Electronics in San Jose, California.

Peter Fulmer (j’94) is a real estate appraiser at Fulmer Appraisal in Oklahoma City.

Jenni Carlson (j’97) has been named an APSE Diversity Fellow for 2018-2019. She is a sports columnist for The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.

Kristin Crain (j’97, c’97) directs marketing at ZGF Architects in Portland, Oregon. She’s also an instructor at the University of Oregon School of Architecture.

Samer Saba (c’97) is assistant manager at Baron MINI in Merriam, Kansas.

Amy Woodling George (j’97) is director of direct marketing strategy for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta.

Grant Moise (j’98) has been named executive vice president, publisher and president of the Dallas Morning News. (Read the news release.

Carrie Mulligan (j’98) directs corporate development and events marketing at Standard Beverage Corporation in Lawrence.

Julie Johnson Staples  (j’78) was inducted into the KU Women's Hall of Fame in April. Staples (right) is pictured with  Lynette Woodard  (c’81 left), who also was inducted. Staples is executive director of Intersections International in New York City. She recently served as interim senior minister of the 116-year-old Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York. As a KU student, she was the first African-American editor of the University Daily Kansan. She eventually became the White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and The New York Times. In 1994, she earned her law degree from Georgetown University and went on to serve as the Justice Department correspondent for ABC News. She later began a career in international investing at Warburg Pincus and became the firm's first African-American partner. Her career shifted again when she returned to graduate school to study theology and became ordained in the Congregational and American Baptist Church. Also inducted was  Lydia Beebe  (j’74, l’77, pictured on the wall behind Staples), who has a long history as a business leader. She has served on several corporate boards and has been a champion for working women. She received lifetime achievement awards from the Professional Business Women of California and Corporate Secretary magazine and was honored by the state of California as a Civil Rights Hero in 2009.

Julie Johnson Staples (j’78) was inducted into the KU Women's Hall of Fame in April. Staples (right) is pictured with Lynette Woodard (c’81 left), who also was inducted. Staples is executive director of Intersections International in New York City. She recently served as interim senior minister of the 116-year-old Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church in Brooklyn, New York. As a KU student, she was the first African-American editor of the University Daily Kansan. She eventually became the White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and The New York Times. In 1994, she earned her law degree from Georgetown University and went on to serve as the Justice Department correspondent for ABC News. She later began a career in international investing at Warburg Pincus and became the firm's first African-American partner. Her career shifted again when she returned to graduate school to study theology and became ordained in the Congregational and American Baptist Church. Also inducted was Lydia Beebe (j’74, l’77, pictured on the wall behind Staples), who has a long history as a business leader. She has served on several corporate boards and has been a champion for working women. She received lifetime achievement awards from the Professional Business Women of California and Corporate Secretary magazine and was honored by the state of California as a Civil Rights Hero in 2009.

2000s

Krista Tatschl-Eyler (j’00) played the lead role of Velma Kelly in the musical "Chicago" at the Arts Asylum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Melissa Yeager (j’00) has accepted a position at the Arizona Republic as the consumer travel reporter.

Matt Gardner (j’01) has been promoted to vice president, digital media and emerging technology, for the St. Louis Blues. He previously was senior director, promotions and digital strategy. 

Matt Tait (j’01) is sports editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, where he will cover University of Kansas basketball.

Doug Donahoo (j’03) is now public relations manager at The Salvation Army Kansas & Western Missouri. He was previously creative services manager at KCTV-5 in Kansas City. 

Sarah Henning (j’03) had a book signing at Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas, for the release of her book, "Sea Witch."    

Momo Yamamuro Hirai (j’03) is a TV journalist at NHK, Japan’s national public broadcasting organization. She and her husband, Masataka, live in Tokyo with their two children, Mako and Kei.

Todd Smith, M.D., (j'03) published his first book, "Murder, Romance and Two Shootings," with Ninestar Press. He was a St. Louis Suburban Journals reporter shot while covering a Kirkwood City Council meeting when Cookie Thornton shot six people on Feb. 7, 2008, and has included what happened that day in his memoir. The book is available on Amazon.

Shahira Bishara Stafford (j’03) lives in Topeka, where she’s vice president of government affairs for the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. She previously served as the organization’s vice president of communications.

Sean O’Grady (j’04) lives in Denver, where he manages local marketing at Monster Energy.

Amity Dannefer (j’05) manages senior talent at VML in Kansas City.

Monica Delaorra (j’05, g’10) lives in Gainesville, Florida, where she’s marketing manager at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy.

Ryan Greene (j’05) directs communications for the Las Vegas Lights Football Club.

Elyse Weidner Bradley (j’07, c’07) is creative director at Pace in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Tracy Perlman (j’07) was part of a team of journalists from WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that won a 2018 Upper Midwest Emmy Award for Evening Newscast.

Andrew Clark (j’08) is the lead marketing automations developer at General Electric.

Blake Cripps (j’08) lives in Wichita, where he is play-by-play announcer for basketball and baseball at Newman University.

Taylor Cole Miller (j’08) has been appointed academic director of the Peabody Media Center, where he will administer the scholarly initiatives of the center's work. Miller is an assistant professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with joint appointments in the Department of Entertainment & Media Studies and the New Media Institute. (Read the press release.)

Hanna Soltys (j’08) earned a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons University and is now a reference librarian in Prints & Photographs Division at the Library of Congress.

Rustin Dodd (j’09) covers the Kansas City Royals for The Athletic. He started at The Kansas City Star as the KU beat reporter and most recently was Royals beat writer.   

Kristin Hoppa (j’09, c’08) makes her home in Waco, Texas, where she reports on breaking news and public safety at the Tribune-Herald.

Elizabeth Cattell Kanost (j’09, c’09, g’14) manages communications at the Spencer Museum of Art at KU.

B.J. Rains (j’09) was named Idaho Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. He’s the Boise State beat writer for the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Caitlin Tew (j’09) directs global brand development at 20th Century Fox. She lives in Agoura Hills, California.

2010s

Sarah Smarsh  (j’03) has been receiving much acclaim for her book, “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth,” a personal story that illuminates the realities and struggles of poor working class families in “flyover” country. Smarsh, a fifth-generation Kansan, tells the stories of her Midwestern rural family, an example of the people and places that have been overlooked in America until pundits and journalists credited the presidency of Donald Trump to this segment of the population. Smarsh was on a book tour most of the fall and has been interviewed by scores of media outlets. “Heartland” also was a finalist in the nonfiction category of the National Book Award.  Read this feature about Smarsh in the Kansas Alumni magazine.

Sarah Smarsh (j’03) has been receiving much acclaim for her book, “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth,” a personal story that illuminates the realities and struggles of poor working class families in “flyover” country. Smarsh, a fifth-generation Kansan, tells the stories of her Midwestern rural family, an example of the people and places that have been overlooked in America until pundits and journalists credited the presidency of Donald Trump to this segment of the population. Smarsh was on a book tour most of the fall and has been interviewed by scores of media outlets. “Heartland” also was a finalist in the nonfiction category of the National Book Award. Read this feature about Smarsh in the Kansas Alumni magazine.

Caroline Goehausen Curzon (j’10) is an executive assistant at Russell Reynolds Associates. She resides in San Francisco.

Brianne Pfannenstiel (j’11) is now chief politics reporter at the Des Moines Register. 

Devinee Fitzgerald (j’12, ’17) is an account executive at Yelp in San Francisco.

Shawn Schaller (j’12)  is test development specialist for PSI Services, LLC, in Olathe, Kansas. 

Meredith Burton (j’13) manages direct marketing at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. She lives in Leawood.

Jonathan Cooper (j’13) has accepted a job as weekend anchor/reporter for KOTV-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Kathleen Gier (j’13) directs marketing and communications for Equip-Bid.com Auctions in Kansas City.

Alex Gold (j’13) has accepted a position at SB Nation hosting a show on its national network based in Houston. "The Gold Standard" airs weeknights from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Gold comes to SB Nation after hosting sports talk shows in Boise, Idaho, and Kansas City, Missouri. (Read the press release.)  

Claire McInerny (j’13) is the education reporter at NPR affiliate 90.5 KUT-FM in Austin, Texas.

Demetria Obilor (j’13) is traffic anchor at WFAA Channel 8 in Dallas.

Luke Ranker (j’13) has accepted a position covering Fort Worth and Tarrant County for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Sarah Stern (j’13, c’13) manages public relations for Netflix’s Latin America consumer division.

Whitney Antwine (j’14) has started a new marketing/advertising agency, Wantwine Creative. (Watch a video of the announcement here.) 

Caitlin Doornbos (j’14) is a foreign correspondent for Stars and Stripes. She’s currently covering the U.S. Navy in Japan.

Nikki Wentling (j’14) was named to the HillVets 100, a list of top influencers in the veterans community, for her reporting on the Department of Veterans Affairs and the veteran experience. She was honored at a gala at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Read the news story.

Hannah Wise (j’14) has been promoted to audience development editor of the Dallas Morning News. 

Hannah Barling (j’15) is now social media specialist for the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas. 

Lauren Armendariz (j’16) is a social media strategist at Anthology Marketing Group in Honolulu. 

Hank Cavagnaro (j’16) has accepted a position as a multimedia journalist for KVUE in Austin, Texas. He also won an award from the Missouri Broadcasters Association for Best News Series. 

Kelly Cordingley (j’16) has been promoted to content manager for KCPT- Kansas City PBS.

Vicky Diaz-Camacho (j’16) has joined KCPT's FlatlandKC as a community reporter.

Emma Hogg (j’16) has accepted a position as a reporter for KMOV in St. Louis. She previously was a reporter for KWQC News in Davenport, Iowa.

Allison Kite (j’16) is City Hall reporter at The Kansas City Star. 

Ally Northrup (j’16) is a marketing coordinator for Advance Auto Parts.

Abby Ogden (j’16) is a project manager at Barkley, a marketing and advertising agency in Kansas City. She lives in Mission.
Cole Anneberg
(j’17) lives in Kansas City, where he’s a marketing specialist at BKD, an accounting group.

Mary Kate Baker (j’17) is a field representative for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in Boston.  

Ryan Brinker (j’17) is the public information officer for the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Kelly Davis (j’17) is social media specialist at Rally House.

Amie Just (j’17) has accepted a position covering Louisiana State University football and basketball for NOLA.com in New Orleans.

Maddie Irelan (j’17) is a producer at Tic Toc by Bloomberg in New York City.

Marissa Khalil (j’17) is a production assistant for B17 Entertainment in Los Angeles. 

Candace Miller (j’17) lives in Kansas City where she’s a consulting analyst at Cerner.

Michael O'Brien (j’17) is social media specialist at The frank Agency.

Abby Stuke (j’17) is the director of events at the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce in Lenexa, Kansas.

Meg Talbott (j’17) manages accounts at Quest Diagnostics in Lenexa.

Alison Peterson Tyler (j’17) resides in Denver, where she coordinates social media for Red Robin.

Caroline Burkard (j’18) is a multimedia journalist at WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Madison Coker (j’18) has been promoted to communications project manager at Sprint in Kansas City.

Nick Couzin (j’18) has joined Fox affiliate KVRR in Fargo, North Dakota, as weekend sports anchor/reporter.

McKenzi Davis (j’18) is a multimedia journalist at KSNT in Topeka, Kansas.

Sarah Fisher (j’18) is a sales associate for Zizoo in Berlin, Germany.

Vanessa Gonzales (j’18) is an associate account executive for The Marketing Store.

Danya Issawi (j’18) is a news assistant at The New York Times.

Shane Jackson (j’18) is a sports reporter at the Lawrence Journal-World. He previously was at the Manhattan Mercury.

Ilana Karp (j’18) is a web editor/social video producer at Right This Minute in Phoenix.

Kathleen Keleher (j’18) is a news reporter for the News-Press & Gazette Company in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Jackson Kurtz (j’18) is a multimedia journalist at WJCL-TV in Savannah, Georgia.  

Ryan Miller (j’18) makes his home in Enid, Oklahoma, where he’s a reporter at Enid News & Eagle.

Anna Pankiewicz (j’18) is account executive at Octagon in Kansas City. 

Hanna Ritland (j’18) is a large customer sales associate at Google in Chicago.

Jayla Scruggs (j’18) is a digital interactive specialist at Capitol Federal.

Grant Stephens (j’18) is a multimedia journalist at WIBW in Topeka, Kansas. 

Ellis Wiltsey (j’18) is a multimedia journalist at KOLN in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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