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College of Information and Communications

Alumni notes

Updates from alumni which were published in the Fall 2020 InterCom.


Sam McCuen, BA, 1963, died Dec. 29, 2020. McCuen received Columbia Museum of Art’s 2019 John Richard Craft Leadership Award.


Robin Roberts, BA, 1976, is president of National Media Group. Roberts and his firm received TVB’s Excellence Award for Political Agency of the Year.


Lou Kennedy, BA, 1984, was one of 11 women honored by South Carolina ETV’s Women Vision SC initiative. Kennedy is president, CEO and owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals in West Columbia.

Margaret Gregory, BA, 1985, writes for the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and College of Pharmacy.

Mark Bryan, BA, 1989, will release his fourth solo album, Midlife Priceless, in April. Bryan is a founding member of Hootie & the Blowfish.

Rita Cosby, BA, 1989, has been named chair of the Global Service Institute at Long Island University in New York. Cosby is an Emmy award- winning TV host, veteran correspondent and bestselling author.

Randall Hawk, MLIS, 1989, has retired. He is having a blast working in his garden.


Martha Blackwell, BA, 1991, is executive editor of Texas Monthly in Austin.

Chris Winston, BA, 1996, has joined South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority as spokesman. Winston previously worked as managing editor of WorkLife at Colonial Life in Columbia.


Maha Bashri, BA, 2002, Ph.D., 2007, is co-editor of Minority Women and Western Media: Challenging Representations and Articulating New Voices, which was published by Rowman & Littlefield this year. Bashri is an association professor of communication at United Arab Emirates University.

Rachel Beanland, BA, 2003, wrote her first novel, Florence Adler Swims Forever. It was published by Simon & Schuster in July 2020.

Marikay “Katie” Gomez Kervi, BA, 2003, has been named principal of Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Andy Pierrotti, BA, 2003, was nominated for six 2020 Southeast regional Emmy awards.

Eva Pilgrim, BA, 2004, has been named to Variety’s 2020 New York Women’s Impact Report for her reporting following the city’s first responders during the COVID-19 outbreak. Pilgrim is a correspondent with ABC News.

Merritt McNeely, BA, 2005, has been promoted from VP of marketing to executive vice president at Flock and Rally in Columbia. In addition to leading the agency’s marketing and advertising operations, McNeely’s role has expanded to include management of the company.

Katie Santilli, BA, 2005, has joined Southeastern Grocers as manager of internal communications and events. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, SEG is the parent company of BI-LO, Harveys, Fresco y Más and Winn-Dixie grocery stores. 

Hilary Dyer Brannon, BA, 2008, MMC, 2012, has been named director of continuing education and conferences at the University of South Carolina. Brannon previously served as director of communication and events for the university’s department of student life. 

Santi Thompson, MLIS, 2008, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Eva Digital Research Endowed Library Professorship at University of Houston Libraries. 2000s.

Laura Goldman, BA, 2009, was part of an Alabama Media Group team that won a 2020 Southeast regional Emmy in the sports interview/discussion category. Goldman is a senior sports video producer with


Anya Bonnette, MLIS, 2010, was named Teacher of the Year at Robert E. Howard Middle School in Orangeburg, where she works as a school librarian.

Colin Jones, BA, 2010, has joined New York- based Courier Newsroom as growth director. Jones previously worked as director of audience development for Vice Media in New York.

Adam Lautenschlager, BA, 2012, is a morning producer/AM director for WLTX in Columbia. Lautenschlager won the 2020 Southeast Emmy Award for Director at WLTX. 

Patrick Sutton, BA, 2013, has been named director of communications for AVA Labs, one of the most anticipated cryptocurrency and blockchain technology products to launch this year.

Jade Unser, BA, 2013, has been named account supervisor at Mode in Charlotte, North Carolina. Unser directs the company’s largest account, Boar’s Head, and has led the agency to two gold ADDYs and a Best of Show for her work.

Kellie Smith, MLIS, 2015, is a media specialist at Landrum High School in Campobello, South Carolina. Smith has been named Spartanburg County Literacy Teacher of the Year, and her program has been named Outstanding School Library Program of the Year by the South Carolina Association of School Librarians.

Cecilia Brown, BA, 2016, has received the South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution Public Relations and Media award. Brown is editor of the Moultrie News in Charleston.

Collyn Taylor, BA, 2017, and Michaela Baker, BA, 2019, married in October. Taylor, a journalism alumnus, is a reporter for Gamecock Central. Baker, a visual communications alumna, is a member of the CIC’s communications team. 

Hailee Ellsworth, BA, 2018, has joined Mashburn Construction in Columbia as its first communications coordinator.

Kristen Schneider, BA, 2018, has joined the digital team at WJLA, the ABC affiliate covering Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland. Schneider previously served as a senior news producer at WACH Fox in Columbia. 

A’ja Wilson, BA, 2018, was named the 2020 WNBA Most Valuable Player. A forward for the Las Vegas Aces, Wilson was the 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year and a WNBA All-Star selection in 2018 and 2019.

Emily Chavez, BA, 2019, was one of the first University of South Carolina students to take and pass the Certification in Principles of Public Relations through the Public Relations Society of America in summer 2020. Chavez is now a junior communications strategist at Vansary, a marketing and events organization in Brooklyn, New York.

Lee Goble, MMC, 2019, has been named to the Columbia Opportunity Resource Board of Directors. He is also a member of Public Relations Society of America South Carolina Chapter. Goble works as a communications associate for Central Carolina Community Foundation. 

Kelsey Hagon, MMC, 2019, has joined the UofSC College of Arts and Sciences as a communications coordinator and has been accepted into the health communications graduate certificate program at the Arnold School of Public Health.

Mills Hayes, BA, 2019, has joined KATV ABC 7 in Little Rock, Arkansas, as a general assignment reporter.

Zoe Nicholson, BA, 2019, covers Clemson University and the city of Clemson for The Independent Mail and Greenville News.

Tori Richman, BA, 2019, has been hired as a photographer by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She is one of just five full- time, female photographers in the NFL.

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