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College of Information and Communications

Advisory Groups

Dean's Leadership Council

The Dean’s Leadership Council is a diverse group of leading professionals and thought leaders committed to supporting the vision of the College of Information and Communications. The council also assists with activities that align with the most current industry drivers in both the commercial and public sectors worldwide.


Manager, Digital & Advocacy Communications, IBM 

Brandi Boatner is an award-winning digital communication, public relations, social media professional and prolific public speaker based in New York City. Currently, she is a member of IBM’s newly formed corporate affairs function supporting global influencer and advocacy efforts across social platforms (includes enablement and activation) both internally and externally for social media driving market education around brand and reputation.

Boatner is a two-time Hall of Famer having been inducted into the Loyola University New Orleans School of Mass Communications Hall of Fame known as the Den of Distinction, the youngest member ever inducted. She was also honored and inducted into the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) Hall of Fame. She has been recognized and named by PR News as a Changemaker as one of the Top Women in PR and received Honorable Mention for PR Week’s Outstanding In-House PR Professional – an incredible industry honor (2021).

Boatner is a true advocate for diversity and inclusion and is very active in the public relations industry where she holds several leadership positions within the Public Relations Society of America  (PRSA) on both the local and national level. She is the Chair of the PRSA Tri-State District, and a member of the Executive Committee for the PRSA Westchester/Fairfield chapter. Additionally, she is on the Board of Directors for New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) serving as the Chief Programming Officer, a member of the Board of Directors for the Better Business Bureau of New York City and Hudson Valley and a member of the Advisory Board of Poster House, the first ever museum in the US dedicated exclusively to posters based in New York City.


CEO, Bespoke Sports & Entertainment

Mike Boykin is CEO at Bespoke Sports & Entertainment, a consulting and marketing services company providing insight driven solutions for brands that leverage consumer passions to drive tangible business results. Boykin is responsible for creating and implementing the strategic direction of the agency and oversight of all service offerings and client teams, with a focus on client growth and industry relationships. The agency and its clients have been recognized as best-in-class by numerous media companies such as Sports Business Journal, Inc. Magazine and Event Marketer.

For more than 30 years, Boykin has led brand strategy, consultation, property negotiation, event marketing activities, account team management and activation platforms across the collegiate landscape and motorsports, as well as Olympics, MLB, NASCAR, NBA, NFL and PGA Tour. His diverse background serves as the foundation to his success. He previously led the global sports practice at GMR Marketing. Prior to that, he held leadership positions at marketing, media and facilities companies within the sports industry, including ESPN Regional, Host Communications, Supersports and the Checkerdome. 

Boykin has served as a speaker at various industry conferences and universities. He is also a published writer in the pages of Sports Business Journal and is regularly sought for insight on marketing trends in the pages of industry trade publications, business magazines and consumer media. Boykin led the founding of the Charlotte Sports+Business network, which brings together industry professionals for networking, business generation, professional development and promotion of their respective sports business communities. 

Boykin is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and the Ohio University Sports Administration program. He is a recipient of the Charles R. Higgins Distinguished Alum Award from the Ohio University Sports Administration program and was also named one of Charlotte's Most Admired CEOs.

Stephen Brown

President of Cookerly PR

Stephen Michael Brown, APR, Fellow PRSA is president of Cookerly Public Relations.

He helps ideate for consumer and corporate campaigns, develop social media programs and strategize for all facets of integrated marketing and lead generation. Favorite recent assignments have included brand activations for nationwide clients at the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, the Kentucky Derby and the Academy Awards. Brown is in his element facilitating brainstorms and branding workshops, leading media training sessions and coaching executives for public speaking.

Some of Brown's notable campaigns include the introduction of Coca-Cola Freestyle technology and the McCafé line of coffees to U.S. restaurants; celebrations of The Home Depot’s pioneering work in the DIY industry and InterfaceFLOR milestones in sustainability; and social media activations for Mercedes-Benz, General Mills, LexisNexis and Procter & Gamble.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina and of Leadership Atlanta, Brown is on the board of directors for Ron Clark Academy and Aurora Theatre; past president of PRSA Georgia, Actor’s Express and Jerusalem House; and involved in advisory boards for Alliance Theatre and Center for Puppetry Arts. He is a fan of theatre and movies and reviews films weekly on his blog


Pamela (P.J.) Browning

Chief Executive Officer, Evening Post Publishing

Pamela (P.J.) Browning is Chief Executive Officer with Evening Post Publishing.  She also serves as President and Publisher of The Post and Courier in Charleston.

Prior to Charleston she was President and Publisher of The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, and President and Publisher at The Telegraph in Macon, GA, both owned by The McClatchy Company. During her time with The Sun News, Browning guided the newspaper in a highly competitive market in which tourism plays a pivotal role. She also did extensive work bringing the newspaper into the digital era. Under her leadership, Macon became one of the top newspapers in terms of re-engineering operations and innovative use of the internet.

Before arriving in Macon, Browning served as President and Publisher of the Centre Daily Times in State College, PA, a Knight-Ridder owned newspaper. Her first role as Publisher was at the Sentinel in Carlisle, PA. 

Browning was named Executive of the Year by the Inter American Press Association for 2023.  She was named Editor and Publisher’s 2019 Publisher of the Year. She currently serves as President of the SNPA Foundation Board; Stars and Stripes Advisory Board; INMA Board of Directors; and Trident Technical College Board of Trustees. Browning also served as President of Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and Vice President of S.C. Press Association.


Lee Bussell

Chairman, Chernoff Newman

After 25 years as Chairman and CEO, Bussell recently stepped down as CEO, but continues to provide agency leadership as Chairman.  He is a trusted senior counselor on a wide range of business, public relations and marketing issues. Lee has expansive expertise in using communication strategies to help solve complicated issues.

Since 1975, Bussell's picked up quite a number of accolades, including New Carolinian of the Year, Public Relations Practitioner of the Year for South Carolina, Distinguished Alumnus of the USC College of Mass Communication, Alumni Life Service Award for the USC College of Mass Communication, Life Service Award for Leadership Columbia, the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year.

Bussell is an active participant in the business community, having completed a term as the Chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and as Chairman of the South Carolina Business Alliance for Transportation. He recently served as a member of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees and as President of the University of South Carolina Alumni Association. He is Past-Chairman of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, served as a member of the advisory board for South Carolina Competitive Initiative and as a member of the Vision South Carolina Team that established the State’s long term vision of moving South Carolina’s per capita income to the national average. He has served on the executive committee of EngenuitySC, and the executive committee of the Midlands Business Leadership Group.

And if you couldn’t already tell, Bussell is a Gamecock for life.

Jeff Charney

Founder & Chief Creative Officer of MKHSTRY

Jeff Charney, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of MKHSTRY, is a marketing visionary known for his transformative impact. Previously, he steered Progressive as CMO, overseeing the company's marketing efforts from 2010 to 2022.

In April 2022, Charney launched MKHSTRY, an innovative nationwide virtual collective of groundbreaking marketers on a mission to "Make History." The invite-only company combines disruptive ideas and cutting-edge technologies, such as AI, Blockchain, Web3, and the Metaverse, with traditional and digital marketing strategies.

Charney's track record includes iconic brand creations like Progressive's "Flo" and the Aflac duck. He has a rich history of leadership roles, including CMO positions at QVC and, and he founded Fringe Ventures, LLC.

His groundbreaking work has earned him numerous accolades, including Advertising Age Magazine's "2021 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of the Year" and Adweek's "Brand Genius: Marketer of the Year."

Charney is actively involved on the boards of Investors Exchange (IEX), UnifyWork, Brand Innovators, and the Mobile Marketing Association. He also contributes his expertise to the University of South Carolina (USC) and Ohio State University (OSU) as a member of their advisory councils, with both institutions honoring him with Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Charney holds a BA in journalism from USC (summa cum laude) and an MA in communications (highest honors) from OSU.

Jack Claypoole

Chief of Staff for Research and Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives, University of South Carolina

In May of 2023, Jack W. Claypoole was named Chief of Staff for Research while continuing in his role as Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives for USC. In addition to providing management support to the day-to-day operations of the institution’s more than $230M research portfolio, Claypoole is actively involved in developing projects and building partnerships that further the strategic direction of the University’s Administration. Before becoming the COS, Claypoole oversaw strategic planning efforts as well as key community development activities for USC. He also served as Executive Director/CEO of the USC Alumni Association where he oversaw the design and construction of the Association’s 60,000sq/ft $26M Alumni Center and increased alumni advocacy and global engagement. 

A native of South Carolina, Claypoole has served at executive levels in federal and state government, not-for-profit organizations, and grassroots community groups. Prior to joining the University of South Carolina in 2012, Claypoole served as Associate Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) as well as Administrator of the Office’s Drug Free Communities (DFC) program under both the Bush and Obama Administrations. During his tenure Claypoole oversaw the annual nationwide mobilization of over 30,000 volunteers and managed the expenditure of more than $620M in federal support funding. 

A 1987 graduate of the University of South Carolina College of Information and Communications, Claypoole led the creation of the College’s alumni society, the first of its kind at USC and was named the college’s 2007 Distinguished Alumnus. He also holds an Executive Masters in Leadership degree from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Claypoole is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), is past president of the South Carolina chapter and served for several years as the University of South Carolina chapter advisor for public relations students. During his career, he has won over 40 communications and public policy awards and was named South Carolina’s Public Relations Practitioner of the Year by PRSA.  


Angela Craig

Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library

Angela Craig has been  since April 2019. Under her leadership CCPL has been consistently ranked among the top libraries in the U.S. in Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Service. In 2022, CCPL received the coveted five-star rating in its peer group, the highest star rating awarded by the Library Journal, and is the only five-star library in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, or Florida. 

Craig started with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in 2005 and has worked in almost all departments within public libraries. While adept at working with all populations, Craig has specialized in increasing library access to vulnerable populations and underserved communities. In 2013, she published Serving At-Risk Teens: Proven Strategies and Programs for Bridging the Gap, culminating in a visit to South Korea as their keynote speaker for the International Youth Symposium in 2015.

In addition to her leadership of CCPL, Craig is currently an American Library Association Counselor-At-Large and chair of the Public Library Association’s Digital Literacy Committee.

She proudly holds a master’s degree of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina (class of 2009) and a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Administration from Texas State University (class of 2002).

She has been married to her wonderful husband, Donovan Craig, for 19 years, and is a mother of two awesome children, Claire and Benjamin.


Krystal (Webber) Deiters

Partner, Global Design & TransformationStrategic Partners & EcosystemsIBM Consulting

Krystal (Webber) Deiters leads the global design and transformation capability for IBM Consulting’s Strategic Partners & Ecosystem, leveraging the power of ecosystems to accelerate business outcomes all over the world. Current ecosystem partners include Amazon Web Services, Adobe, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and more.  

Prior to her role with IBM Strategic Partners & Ecosystem, Deiters served at the global design leader for both IBM Blockchain Services and IBM Cognitive Process Services. She spent nearly a decade working at both traditional and digital agencies, focusing on public relations, marketing and user experience before coming to IBM in 2015.

Deiters is a leader, mentor, and key contributor to IBM's veteran employment initiatives. She resides in Austin, TX and works from IBM's worldwide design headquarters.


Steve Dnistrian

Founder & President of STEVE 

As Founder & President of STEVE brand & strategic communication LLC, Steve Dnistrian started his business to help professionals and leaders achieve great things in all facets of brand + strategic communication.

His wealth of experience spanning the communication industry, includes being a trained journalist, delving deeply into public relations, advertising, branding, market research, and more, while immersing himself in the disruptive force of social, digital and mobile communication.  

Before launching the advisory firm that bears his name, Dnistrian served in two Chief Operating Officer roles at Omnicom Group Inc., one of the world's largest holding companies in the marketing communication industry with reported global revenues of more than $15 billion in 2019.

Prior to joining Omnicom, Dnistrian held senior communication leadership roles with global responsibilities at Johnson & Johnson, including reputation-building initiatives during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. Dnistrian currently serves on the board of The Burke Foundation, honoring his long time mentor Jim Burke, former chairman & CEO of Johnson & Johnson. 

Dnistrian is the son of immigrant parents who came to the US from different ends of Europe. Against all odds, they achieved the American dream.  Their courage and perseverance continue to serve as a source of inspiration for him. 

Jim Donofrio

NBC Sports - Vice President, Olympic Sales & Strategic Partnerships     

Jim Donofrio is currently with NBCU Sports where he is responsible for directing sales and sponsorships monetizing NBCUniversal’s Olympic and Paralympic interests, a pillar of the global media company’s programming. In recent years, NBCU has dug even deeper into the Olympics Games, the world's premier sports competition, which we have rights to broadcast through 2032. In a first-of-its kind agreement struck with LA28, an organizing committee behind the 2028 Olympics, Donofrio is delivering long-term deals to strategic partners encompassing TV, digital, live event advertising, access to Olympians, as well as brand activations and associations with Team USA. The events covered under the deal include the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games in Paris, plus the 2026 and 2028 Games.

Prior to joining the Olympics, Donofrio led new business sales, sponsorships, and strategic partnerships across NBC Sports. This involves building and leading a top-performing Sports Sales, Sponsorships & Strategy team across a portfolio that National Hockey League, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown Racing, French Open, and many more. Additionally, he managed NBC’s partnership with league partners, Fortune 500 clients and sports marketing agencies. Role entailed developing go-to-market strategies, driving cross-portfolio data products, leading emerging categories (AI, VR, and Sports Betting) and owning P&L representing over $210M in annual sales budget.

Donofrio is a Senior Executive with over 20 years’ experience in the Sports, Entertainment, Media & Technology industries. Throughout his career, he has been fortunate to lead sales and business development teams for blue-chip companies including NBCUniversal, Turner Sports, IMG, Bank of America, and the City of New York. 

“All business success hinges on relationships and there is no one with better relationships than Jim. One of the most connected and strategic leaders I know.”  Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBCUniversal Media Group

Outside of the office, Donofrio helped launch the Community Engagement Opportunity Council where he sits on the board along with Linda Yaccarino, former NBCUniversal Chairman, and current CEO of X, along with Scott Turner, former NFL player and Texas State Representative. CEOC’s mission is to revitalize the communities of America through sports, mentorship, and economic opportunity.

Donofrio also serves on the Dean’s Leadership Council at the University of South Carolina for the College of Information & Communications, and Advisory Boards for both the University of Delaware Lerner School of Business and Rutgers Business School. Donofrio, his wife, and two teenage daughters currently reside in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Their oldest daughter attends the University of South Carolina where she is studying Sports & Entertainment Management. Donofrio and his family are very active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, as their oldest daughter has had type one diabetes since the age of seven. Their efforts have raised over $250,000 to help find a cure.

Rosalyn Durant

Executive Vice President, Programming & Acquisitions, ESPN

Rosalyn Durant returned to ESPN in March 2023 as executive vice president, programming & acquisitions, leading programming, media rights deals, ESPN+, ESPN International, Andscape and espnW. Durant spent the past three years as senior vice president of Disney Springs, Water Parks, and ESPN Wide World of Sports, playing a critical role in helping restart the 2019-20 NBA season in the “Bubble” at ESPN Wide World of Sports during the pandemic.

Prior to her stint with Disney Parks, Durant most recently served as senior vice president of ESPN’s College Networks, overseeing ESPNU, SEC Network and Longhorn Network, and was a central member of the cross-functional leadership team that successfully launched the ACC Network. 

Durant’s 24-year Disney and ESPN career features numerous honors, including making Sports Business Journal's 2019 Power Player list and Savoy Magazine’s 2020 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. Durant was named a 2020 Multichannel News Wonder Woman, honored as a Charlotte Business Journal Women in Business Award winner in 2020 and recognized on CableFax lists for their Most Powerful Women (2017, 2018, 2019) and Most Influential Minorities (2018, 2019), as well as Sports Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2015. 

She is a member of The Walt Disney Company's CEO Diversity and Inclusion Council and sits on the executive committee for the board of directors of the T. Howard Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing diversity in the multimedia and entertainment industry.


Daryl Evans 

Consultant and former Chief Marketing Officer of Great Southern Wood Preserving | YellaWood

Daryl Evans brings more than 30 years of experience spanning branding, sponsorship, sports marketing, retailing, mobile technology, advertising, media, digital content creation and communications across wireless, beverage, building products, insurance, and other industries.

In the wireless space, Evans led AT&T consumer advertising as well as marketing communications, sports marketing and merchandising for AT&T Wireless, Uverse TV, AT&T Digital Life and other connected wireless products for 14 years. Evans joined AT&T in 2001, founding year of Cingular Wireless, and drove the creation of the Cingular brand. In 2007 Cingular was rebranded to AT&T and Evans’ responsibility expanded to all the company’s consumer products. 

Following AT&T, Evans was Senior Vice President, Mobile, Media and Advertising Strategy for MediaLink, a strategic advisory firm working with companies at the intersection of media, marketing, advertising, entertainment, and technology.

Most recently Daryl was CMO of Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc.  A privately held company and the largest in the treated lumber industry, GSWP’s primary brand is YellaWood—marketed to both consumer and B2B audiences for use in home and commercial construction. The brand is rapidly extending its equity into other related categories.

Earlier, Evans served McCann-Erickson Worldwide as senior vice president/deputy general manager and managed accounts such as Coca-Cola, Motorola, Georgia-Pacific and helped found the AFLAC business.  

Evans also served as Vice President, Strategic Sports Alliances for the American Cancer Society (ACS)--responsible for leveraging sports to drive ACS fundraising and brand value through development of long term, multi-dimensional/integrated relationships throughout the sports landscape and sports media.

He and his teammates have won numerous awards including four Cannes Lions, seven Effies and others.

Evans holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 


Mike Fernandez

SVP and Chief Communications Officer, Enbridge

Mike Fernandez is a Senior executive with a track record of helping organizations navigate reputation challenges, build brands and relationships with stakeholders, and make a difference in the world.

His career has included several C-suite roles with Fortune 200 companies and serving as a strategic advisor to CEOs, Boards and other leaders looking to protect and advance their organizations. 

Fernandez has served as US CEO of Burson-Marsteller and as a C-suite exec for six Fortune 500 companies leading communications, government relations, marketing, sustainability, and risk management. He was press secretary to SC U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings.  

Lisa Fischer

Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales, UP Entertainment, LLC

Lisa Fischer is Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales, for UP Entertainment, LLC, responsible for overseeing all sales operations for the two linear networks from UP’s New York office. The 20+ year sales veteran joined UP Entertainment in January 2014. She was selected as Cablefax’s Salesperson of the Year in the National Sales category in 2017 and was named one of Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women in 2018.

Lisa joined UP from ION Media Networks, where she was Senior Vice President, Network Advertising Sales, since 2010. In that role, she was responsible for all of the network’s sales efforts. Before joining ION, Lisa spent 12 years at Discovery Communications, most recently as Senior Vice President of Sales. During her four years in that position, she led sales on multiple networks including Discovery Health, Animal Planet, Fit TV, Discovery Kids and Investigation Discovery. She also launched ad sales operations for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.During her first six years at Discovery, Lisa served as Vice President, Advertising Sales, eastern region after joining the company as an account executive.

Lisa is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and a member of the Deans Leadership Council for the USC School of Communications and Information Science. Additionally, she is a member of Chief and on the Board of Directors for the IRTS Foundation.

Jeff Gregor

Consultant and former CMO, Chief Catalyst Officer and General Manager, Turner Broadcasting.

Jeff Gregor is a principled and accomplished C-Suite executive with a stellar reputation and record of achievement with over 30 years in sports and entertainment television, media and marketing.  

Gregor is the former Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Catalyst Officer and General Manager for Turner Broadcasting and proven leader in business development, brand marketing, strategic planning and general management for TNT, TBS, Turner Classic Movies.  He earned multiple industry honors over 18 years at Turner including two Peabodys, an Emmy, Promax and Clio awards.  

Prior to Turner, Gregor worked for The Coca-Cola Company in the sports marketing asset management group, the Miller Sports Group for  Wunderman Cato Johnson, and in MLB for the Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies. Since leaving Turner, he launched Gregor Marketing Advisors and continues serving a variety of sports and entertainment clients.

Jeff Hoffman

EP+Co, Partner, ESM

Jeff Hoffman is the Chief Growth Officer of EP+Co. The largest advertising agency in South Carolina and recently named to the AdAge A-List. As part of the Executive Leadership Team, Hoffman is charged with driving organic growth, identifying new agency partnerships and developing industry-leading revenue opportunities.

With over 17 years of marketing and agency experience, Hoffman’s entrepreneurial spirit has seen him lead teams across account management, strategy, content & social production as well as leading the agencies new business practice. He developed and implemented a strategic growth playbook for Verizon across retail advertising and their social ecosystem that saw Verizon move from #4 to #1 in the marketplace.

As the agencies lead for new growth Hoffman has overseen the acquisition of new partners with some of America’s most iconic brands; John Deere, Mens Wearhouse, Morgan Stanley, Tempur Sealy, LinkedIn, ESPN & General Mills. In 2019 EP+Co saw a 33% increase in revenue and was recognized on AdAge A-List and PR Week as a Top 5 Up and Coming Agency.

Hoffman is a 2001 graduate of the University of South Carolina. He and his wife, Megan Heidlberg (USC 2002) are also long-term committee members for the regional Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, where they have helped raise over $3.5M in research funding. Jeff and his family reside in Greenville, S.C. and have three children, William, Griffin and Sophie.

Dan Hoover

VP, Director of Strategy, Cyberwoven

Dan Hoover is Vice President and Director of Strategy at Cyberwoven. He translates business goals into actionable digital strategies that deliver results for clients. He has guided the creation of digital brand, web, and marketing solutions for organizations like BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Unum, Colonial Life, Sonoco, AgFirst, University of Southern California, and the University of South Carolina over his 20-year career.

Hoover is a graduate of Furman University, where he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa. He earned an International MBA at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business. He also completed the High Potentials Leadership Program at the Harvard Business School. 

Hoover has three children and lives in Columbia.

John Humphries

President & General Manager, Hearst Television

John Humphries has been President and General Manager of WYFF 4 since July 2016. Prior to his return to the Upstate of South Carolina, Humphries held the same position from 2012-2016 at Hearst Television sister station, WGAL-TV, the NBC affiliate serving the Lancaster-Harrisburg-Lebanon-York, Pennsylvania television market. Prior to WGAL, Humphries oversaw sales for WYFF-TV,, WYFF 4 Mobile and the digital multicast channel MeTV Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Speech from Appalachian State University, in Boone, NC, for which he has served on the Alumni Council.

Under his stewardship the Associated Press of South Carolina named WYFF 4 Outstanding News Operation in 2017. The station was also honored with a Southeast Regional Emmy for Outstanding Newscast in 2018. The South Carolina Association of Broadcasters recognized WYFF 4 as their Station of the Year in 2021. In 2022 WYFF News 4 was awarded a prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Award. In 2018 Humphries was named General Manager of the Year for mid-size television markets by national publication Broadcasting & Cable.

Among Humphries' industry associations, he is immediate past president of the board of the South Carolina Broadcasters Association and currently president of the SCBA Educational Foundation. He has served on the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) Sales Advisory Committee. Among his civic and charitable associations, he has served on the board for United Way of Greenville County, and currently serves on the boards of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the South Carolina Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Urban League of the Upstate. He is recognized by The Riley Institute at Furman University as a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow.  

Melanie Huggins

Executive Director, Richland Library in Columbia

Melanie Huggins is the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, SC, which received the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor. 

Huggins was named a 2018 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands for her lasting impact in the community, and was an honoree of Columbia Regional Business Report’s 2018 Women of Influence. She recently received the 2018 Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award from One Columbia for Arts and History. She has been included on Columbia Business Monthly’s list of the 50 Most Influential People for the past three years. Her work is influenced by her belief that libraries are uniquely positioned to make communities more livable, resilient, and inclusive.

Huggins is a recognized leader and speaker in the library profession having held trustee positions with both the Urban Libraries Council and the Public Library Association. In 2012, she was named South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association. She is a Liberty Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network; a member of the Spring 2018 class of Furman University’s Riley Diversity Leaders Institute; Chair of the TogetherSC Board; President of the University of South Carolina’s University Associates Board; City Center Partnership Board Member.

She is also a devoted mom to Adeline, Lila, and Shepard and enjoys concert outings with her husband, J.C.

Misty Jones

Director, San Diego Public Library

Misty Jones is the Director for the San Diego Public Library overseeing the Central Library and 35 branches. Previously, she was Deputy Director for the Central Division which included overseeing the move, opening and operations of the Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common. 

A graduate of the Masters of Library and Information Science program from University of South Carolina, Jones started her library career at the Greenville County Library in South Carolina. She then worked for nine years at the Charleston County Library where she founded and chaired Libraries Out Loud, a grassroots advocacy program to help restore funding to the library system by promoting libraries to the public as well as legislators and other elected officials throughout the state. After moving to San Diego she immediately sought the opportunity to continue this and joined the California Library Association Legislative and Advocacy Committee. She served as President of CLA in 2016 and currently serves on the Boards of Califa, Urban Libraries Council and The Center for Library Leadership and Management at USC.  

Jones believes libraries are the great equalizer, always inclusive and never exclusive. She thrives on change and believes that the strength of libraries is in their ability to redefine themselves to fit public need. She is intent on changing perceptions and showing that libraries are a vital part of the educational and economic ecosystem and essential to the success of a community and its members. She is committed to making San Diego Public Library the place for opportunity, discovery and inspiration. 

Lou Kennedy

President, CEO and Owner, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Lou Kennedy is the chief operating officer, president and owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation – a certified woman-owned business. She has held a variety of marketing and operational roles at Nephron and created the Nephron national sales force.

Under Kennedy’s leadership, Nephron has experienced unprecedented growth. The state-of-the-art pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in West Columbia produces one billion doses of life-saving medication annually and is a nationwide leader in manufacturing opioid-free pain management drugs.

In 2022, Kennedy announced a historic, job-creating expansion with the opening of Nephron Nitrile, a medical-grade nitrile glove production facility established as part of the effort to shore up the domestic supply chain. Nephron Nitrile represents an investment of more than $100 million and will generate 250 jobs in the Midlands.

Kennedy has been widely recognized for her achievements in business and leadership. As a worldwide pandemic reached South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster appointed Kennedy to #acceleratesc – the state’s coordinated COVID-19 advisory and recovery team. Kennedy is past chair of S.C. BIO, a statewide association promoting the life sciences industry, which has also given Kennedy its Pinnacle Award for significant contributions to the advancement of life sciences in the state.

Kennedy received South Carolina’s highest civilian honor – the Order of the Palmetto – from Governor Nikki Haley in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding service. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in public relations from the University of South Carolina.

Ken Kraft

Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Cox Automotive

Ken Kraft is the Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Cox Automotive, where his primary focus is driving profitable growth. Ken and his team are leveraging customer insights, strategic pricing strategies, product marketing, content/digital marketing, and 360 marketing campaigns to generate demand and drive revenue. Kraft also leads sales operations as well as all internal communications and public relations and drives all branding efforts for Cox Automotive’s extensive portfolio of industry leading brands.

Before joining Cox Automotive, Kraft helped to generate explosive growth and double the size of Cox Business, the $3B commercial services division of Cox Communications.  In his role as senior vice president for marketing and sales operations, he was responsible for overall marketing and sales strategy that drove new customer acquisition, customer retention and accelerated growth of the New Business Venture and Smart Communities.  Prior to joining Cox, Kraft served in a variety of marketing and sale leadership roles at AT&T, BellSouth, and Sprint.

Kraft is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina and is honored to serve on the Dean’s Leadership Council for the College of Information & Communications. 

A longtime resident of Atlanta, Kraft is passionate about giving back to the community and currently sits on the board of the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers and has previously served on the boards of the Trust for Public Land, Fernbank Museum, Adaptive Spirit, and the Sandy Springs Education Force. 

Michael Lambert

City Librarian, San Francisco Public Library

Michael Lambert is the City Librarian for the City and County of San Francisco. He was appointed to the position in March 2019 by Mayor London Breed. During his tenure, the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) was named the 2018 National Library of the Year by Library Journal. Michael Lambert has championed increased and equitable access to libraries through expanded hours and a fine-free library system.

Prior to his employment with the City and County of San Francisco, Lambert managed library operations at San Mateo County Libraries and at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina. He began his career in his hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, at the Richland Library.

He is a proud alumnus of the University of South Carolina with a degree in History and earned his Master of Library and Information Science Degree from South Carolina’s College of Library & Information Science.

Lambert currently serves as the President-Elect for the Public Library Association (PLA), the nation’s largest professional membership association supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. He also serves on the City and County of San Francisco’s Children and Families First Commission and Committee on Information Technology (COIT). Born in Seoul, Korea, he is the first Asian American to lead the San Francisco Public Library.

Kevin Lord

Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Fox Corporation.

Kevin Lord serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Fox Corporation. In this role, he oversees the Company’s talent acquisition, colleague development, succession planning, diversity and inclusion, compensation and benefits and employee volunteering strategies.

Before the March 2019 spin off of FOX by 21st Century Fox and the establishment of FOX as a standalone public company, Lord served as Executive Vice President of Human Resources at the FOX News Channel. Prior to being named to this position, Lord was the Chief Human Resources Officer at TEGNA Inc. (formerly known as Gannett, Co. Inc.). While there, he oversaw employee relations, performance management, employee development, total rewards administration, diversity and inclusion for a workforce of more than 10,000.

Earlier, Lord served as the Executive Vice President of Human Resources for NBC News and was the HR Integration leader during NBCUniversal’s transition from General Electric (GE) to Comcast ownership. His initial role at NBCUniversal was Senior Vice President of Human Resources for its Integrated Media & International divisions.

Before his tenure at NBC, Lord held several HR leadership positions with General Electric, including Chief Human Resources Officer for GE Plastics, HR Leader for Commercial & Communications at GE Corporate, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for GE Vendor Financial Services, as well as various HR roles at GE Aviation.

Lord began his career in human resources at Burlington Industries, later moving on to similar positions at Hewlett-Packard, Colgate-Palmolive and Roche.

A graduate of State University of New York at Brockport with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Lord also received his Master’s Degree in Human Resources from the University of South Carolina.

Lord is married and has three adult children. He currently splits his time between two residences in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.


Leo Malloy

General Manager, Cargo Customer Support Experience, Delta Airlines

Leo Malloy  (‘88 - International Studies) has over 30 years of aviation experience in multiple roles including operations, corporate communications, human resources, and customer service. 

Currently, Malloy leads the Delta Air Lines International and Joint Venture Cargo Operations teams.

Prior experiences include executive roles with Midwest Airlines, Skyway Airlines, Independence Air and Atlantic Coast Airlines.

Additionally, Leo has held multiple roles supporting the University of South Carolina. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the Alumni Association, President of the Washington D.C. Alumni Association Chapter, and currently is a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council for the College of Information and Communications.

Malloy and his wife Cris, a registered dietitian, currently live in Peachtree City, Georgia. They are the proud parents of five children, Nikki who is beginning her career as a physical therapist, Caroline, a 2023 PR graduate from the CIC and 4-year Carolina Coquette, Carsen a second year International Studies major at USC, and a Carolina Coquette, and Trey & Charlotte who presently attend McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, GA. 

Andrew McLean

Principal & Managing Partner, Inventus Media 

Currently the Managing Partner of Inventus Media, an independent advertising, marketing planning, publicity and media buying and strategy company. Andrew has over 25 years’ experience in complex businesses using PR, social media, advertising, creative content and media and from companies like Sutter Health, GSK, Tivity Health, Slingshot Health, WPP, Omnicom, Deluxe and Disney and has been a client, advertising business leader and relationship manager dealing with some of the world’s leading consumer and healthcare advertisers, agencies and content companies.  

He began his career in publishing before entering the advertising business as a television buyer in the UK, quickly rising to a lead position at DMB&B, he oversaw top accounts including Procter & Gamble Twentieth Century Fox and Burger King.  

He joined Disney’s motion picture group to manage creative advertising and media where he worked on successful campaigns for blockbusters like The Lion King, Toy Story 2 and Armageddon. He oversaw advertising on International releases and worked closely with other divisions to maximize synergies from their entertainment properties working with ABC & ESPN. 

Andrew came to the US in 2000 to be part of the Y&R group and was part of the team that built what became the successful and widely recognized operation Mediaedge. In 2001 when WPP acquired Y&R, Mediaedge was put together with Mindshare in the first group structure within WPP which became Groupm. Over the next decade he worked with MEC and at GroupM to grow the business from $2b to $12b with over a 20% profit margin through the leveraging of business development, client relationships, media, investments in tools and the consolidation of buying in some areas. His role was to view this from the client side of the business, and he forged some of the high-level relationships with global clients like GSL, Pfizer, Northwell Health, Unilever, Citibank, Chanel, DHL, Macys, AT&T, and Sony Ericsson. He was the lead client manager and bought together clients to expand the offerings in digital, television, research, and cross company synergies. 

In 2010 he was recruited by Omnicom to manage PHD and be part of the Omnicom Media Group. Omnicom and during his tenure PHD grew dramatically winning 20 new client assignments including the GSK and GAP media business with a focus on media and digital execution.  He added over $1b in new business growth and development their first digital facing media operation, winning awards in mobile, search and creative display. 

In 2012 he joined Deluxe, part of Private Equity group, McAndrews & Forbes to manage the business development for their technology, digital asset management and creative business including Zonza, Company3, Beast and Method and helped grow their business in advertising services through partnerships with WPP’s Hogarth and IPG. He also worked on Ron Pearlman’s philanthropic projects including Weill Cornell, Michael J. Fox Foundation and Apollo Theatre.

For the last 7 years his own consulting company, INVENTUS MEDIA ( has developed into a multi-faceted performance and growth-based marketing service Its ethos of “Ready, set, grow” is based on the need for focus and rapid execution in today's challenging business environment. Its focus on healthcare and financial services is supplemented by clients as diverse as WREN Kitchens, Sun West Mortgages, Heineken, Celligence, Laurel Spring Education, Morgan, and others in areas like Media, CPG, Fin Tech, Financial Services, Retail and E-com 

Andrew is a British by birth and a long-time US resident and citizen. He has served on the board of the 4As and as the Chairman of the New York Chapter of the International Advertising Association. He is also on the boards of Givsly, a social media cause-based tech platform and an advisor to Ground Truth, a digital mobile ad network and data company. He has true global experience having lived and worked in Tokyo, Dubai, Paris, San Palo, London and New York. He is married with twin boys who are college freshmen. 

Shari Neumann

VP Brand Strategy, Symphony Talent

Shari Neumann is an accomplished marketing executive with a wealth of experience spanning insights and analytics, brand strategy, integrated marketing communications, and new marketing capability development and training.  She is currently VP Brand Strategy for Symphony Talent, a leading global employer brand and recruitment marketing technology company where she leads development of employer brand and DEI strategies for companies across a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, healthcare, CPG, technology, and retail. 

Prior to that, Neumann started and led the Brand and then the Advertising & Content Centers of Excellence for the Consumer Business at Georgia-Pacific. There she spearheaded development of brand equity, brand purpose, and advertising campaigns for brands such as Brawny, Dixie, Angel Soft, and Quilted Northern. Her work led to numerous Effie, SeeHer, Webby, and Campaign Diversity awards and honors.

Prior to that Neumann was Insights Director at Zyman Group where she leveraged insights to deliver corporate and brand growth strategies for brands such as Miller Lite, Healthy Choice, Vodafone, Caterpillar, and the NFL.

Before that she led strategic services for a sponsorship agency dedicated to General Motors  where she was responsible for screening and measuring the impact of all General Motors sponsorships and events. Prior to that Neumann held a series of positions at The Coca-Cola Company - starting as Global Research Manager on brand Coca-Cola where she helped create the first global brand positioning and architecture for the brand; then became the Global Advertising Planner for Coca-Cola guiding new campaigns for Coca-Cola and The Olympics, Christmas, World Cup Football and much more.

Neumannv also served as Advertising Planning Director for the company in Europe, based in London, where she led group-wide advertising strategies for all the core brands.

Shari currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Clay Owen

Director of PR, AT&T

Clay Owen is a lifelong communicator who has been fortunate enough to find himself in the right place at the right time throughout careers in journalism and corporate communications. He was the CNN producer on location for Princess Diana’s funeral, part of the AT&T launch team for the original iPhone, and led communications for multi-billion-dollar M&A deals.

Outside of the office, Owen and wife created Curing Kids Cancer, a non-profit dedicated to funding cutting-edge cures for childhood cancer. They started the charity after losing their nine-year old son Killian to leukemia. Since its founding in 2005, they have raised more than $26 million. Clay credits his wife for doing all the real work while he shows up for photo-ops.

Owen graduated from USC in 1982 with a degree in broadcast journalism. He's won multiple awards from PRSA during his career.  He can be found on LinkedIn. You can follow his travel blog at

Barry Pearl

Senior Vice President, Brand Strategist, DIgitas Health Advertising Agency

Barry Pearl applies creativity and a strategic discipline when mining for insights to spark innovative ideas, generate exciting brand stories and uncover business opportunities. Pearl brings a unique perspective and skill set attained from advertising agency planning, client side marketing and marketing research consulting experience in solving business challenges. Pearl's category experiences include  Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare, Financial Services and Consumer Packaged Goods. Pearl has recently joined Digitas Health Advertising Agency as a Senior Vice President, Brand Strategist.

Prior to that, Pearl has held senior level advertising and marketing positions in the IPG Health and Havas Health & You networks and J. Walter Thompson.  Among his most proud achievements was leading brand strategy for the Zyrtec Rx-to-OTC switch, which resulted in the brand becoming the leading OTC Allergy treatment within its first year of launch.

Pearl holds a BBA in Marketing from Hofstra University and an MBA in Marketing from Baruch College, The City University of NY. Barry currently resides on Long Island in New York.

Robin D. Roberts

Owner, National Media Inc.

Robin Roberts oversees National Media Group, a family of companies focusing on providing research, planning and placement services to corporate, political, association and issue-advocacy clients. He is also a founding member of Purple Strategies in Washington, D.C.

In 2009, Roberts founded the Washington Media Scholars Foundation, a 501 (c)3 organization that has provided over 800 undergraduate students nationwide with scholarship and career opportunities who are interested in the public affairs advertising and communications industries.

A native of South Carolina, Roberts received a degree in Journalism in 1976 from the University of South Carolina. He served as president of the USC Alumni Association and as a member of the USC Board of Trustees from 2020-2022.

Vicky Free

Chief Impact Officer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers;Sr. Managing Director, Glazer Vision Foundation 

In February 2023, Vicky Free Sistrunk joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the Chief Impact Officer where she is responsible for leading the team's community outreach efforts and implementing impactful initiatives to drive positive change in the Tampa Bay area. With over 20 years of experience in the sports and entertainment industry, Sistrunk brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Buccaneers organization. 

Prior to joining the Buccaneers, she served as the Head of Global Marketing for adidas, where she led the development of groundbreaking campaigns and initiatives that resonated with audiences across the globe. In addition to her work with adidas, Free Sistrunk has held a variety of leadership positions for Novant Health, Walt Disney Studios, BET Networks and Turner Broadcasting Systems. 

Free Sistrunk holds an executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina. She serves on the board of directors for VIZIO Corporation, and The University of South Carolina’s advisory board for the College of Information and Communications, where she also sponsors a scholarship for minority students to study abroad. She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and has been recognized by various media publications and organizations for her executive leadership and brand building expertise. 

Vicky and her husband, Christopher Sistrunk, are the proud parents of Symba, a four-legged, sweet-spirited fur baby. 


Larry Thomas

Vice President for Communications, University of South Carolina

Thomas is a senior corporate communications executive with more than 30 years of experience in leadership roles within the oil and gas, government, maritime and defense sectors. In addition to his role as the official university and system spokesperson, the South Carolina native and University of South Carolina alumnus will lead marketing, branding and public relations efforts for the university.

Dave Tovar

Senior Vice President of Communications and Government Relations, Grubhub

Dave Tovar is the senior vice president of communications and government relations for Grubhub.

He is responsible for all external and internal communications, including consumer public relations, policy communications, brand reputation, crisis and issues management and employee communications. Tovar also oversees the company’s political, legislative and regulatory agenda at the federal, state and local levels.

Prior to Grubhub, Tovar served as the chief corporate relations officer for McDonald’s USA. Earlier in his career, he was the chief communications officer at Walmart and Sprint.

He serves on the board of advisors for the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Public Relations and the dean’s leadership council for the University of South Carolina’s College of Information and Communications.

Tovar received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware.

Paul Treistad

Senior Vice-President, TEGNA

Paul Trelstad has served TEGNA (formerly Gannett Broadcasting) for 30+ years, the last two decades as Senior Vice-President, providing management oversight to a group of TEGNA media properties. Multi-platform journalism, marketing, advertising sales and community service are the primary functions of TEGNA properties. Trelstad also serves alongside the corporate Revenue Team, driving performance in multi-platform advertising sales.  Political advertising relationships, rules and regulations are an area of specialization.

Prior to his time at the home office, Trelstad was President and General Manager of two TEGNA stations: WKYC-TV (NBC) Cleveland and KTHV-TV (CBS) Little Rock. Trelstad was General Sales Manager for KPNX-TV (NBC) Phoenix, National and Local Sales Manager for WUSA-TV (CBS) Washington, D.C. As a charter member of their management training program, Trelstad started his career with Cincinnati-based Taft Broadcasting and was later assigned to WDCA-TV (Ind) in Washington, D.C., starting as an Account Executive and then National Sales Manager. 

Trelstad earned his Master of Arts degree in Communications Management from the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California.  He completed his undergraduate work in Communication Arts at California Lutheran University, graduating Summa cum Laude.

Michael Weaver

Senior VP of Business Development and Growth, Al Jazeera Media Network,

Michael Weaver is Senior VP of Business Development and Growth at Al Jazeera Media Network, where he is responsible for guiding Al Jazeera’s digital business initiatives around distribution, experience, and monetization, including partnerships, industry relations, and M&A strategy.

A seasoned industry leader and innovator, Weaver brings over two decades of digital media and advertising experience to his role at Al Jazeera. Prior to Al Jazeera, Weaver was VP of Product Strategy at MediaMath focused on MediaMath’s mobile, video, social and audio advertising efforts across programmatic media in RTB, Direct, Private Marketplaces and other media buying methodologies.

Prior to MediaMath, Weaver was a key player in driving advertising strategy, positioning, and product strategy at Microsoft, Crisp, Phluant Mobile, Hipcricket and Waterfall. He also helped shape both desktop and digital advertising as the first employee of Bluestreak and founder of Third Screen Media, and is a regular speaker at industry events including ad:tech, Cannes Lions, CTIA, MMA and OMMA events.



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