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College of Information and Communications

Faculty and Staff

Karen L. Mallia

Title: Associate Professor
CreateAthon@USC Coordinator
Department: School of Journalism and Mass Communications
College of Information and Communications
Website: CreateAthon@USC
Phone: 803-777-1154
Fax: 803-777-4103

School of Journalism and Mass Communications
800 Sumter Street, Room 329
Columbia, SC 29208

Facebook: My Facebook page
LinkedIn: My LinkedIn profile

Curriculum Vitae



B.A., Journalism, Rider University
M.A., Communication, William Paterson University


A New Jersey native, Karen Mallia joined the faculty from The City College of New York, where she taught copywriting, advertising principles, and advertising management. Mallia spent two decades as a copywriter and creative director with New York advertising agencies: TBWA/Chiat/Day; Scali, McCabe, Sloves; Ogilvy; Saatchi & Saatchi; Rosenfeld, Sirowitz, Humphrey & Strauss — to name a few. She won numerous awards for creativity and effectiveness. Her client experience is one of unusual depth and breadth. Besides writing and producing every kind of advertising, she’s done voice-overs, conducted focus groups, and done whatever it took to make great work. Before that, she spent five years teaching in the Advertising and Marketing Communications Department at FIT/SUNY, while running a creative consultancy. 


Mallia's research interests include exploring creativity, the creative process, and creative work in advertising, as well as the evolution of advertising platforms. She is internationally recognized for her research on the relationships between gender and creative work and leadership in the creative industries. Personal passion led her there — and to cause and advocacy communications. CreateAthon@USC is her brainchild, a 24-hour pro bono marathon developing marketing communications for nonprofits. The October 2013 inaugural event brought together 62 students, 6 professional and 10 faculty mentors and 2 university staffers. They gave six nonprofits everything from business cards and brochures to logos, ads and websites — creative services worth almost $150,000. CreateAthon is a platform for skills-based community service, and service-learning on steroids. 


Mallia teaches what she knows best: creative strategy, copywriting, and building integrated advertising and marketing campaigns. She pioneered service-learning courses in Cause Communication for both South Carolina Honors College and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and in Creative Leadership. She was a 2015 finalist for AEJMC's Advertising Division Distinguished Teaching Award, and won the university’s Outstanding Service-Learning Award as well as an Excellence in Teaching Mortar Board Award in 2012.

Recent Publications

Windels, K. & K. L. Mallia. (2015). How Being Female Impacts Learning and Career Growth in Advertising Creative Departments. Employee Relations: The International Journal, 37(1), 122-140.

Mallia, K.L. (2014). Women Now 11% of Ad Agency Creative Directors. Hooray?Media Report to Women, 42(4) Fall 2014, 24-22.

Mallia, K.L. (2014). The Second Creative Revolution: Magical Thinking Meets Bits and Bytes.In Advertising & IMC: Principles and Practice 10/e by Sandra Moriarty, Nancy Mitchell and William Wells. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Mallia, K.L.  (2014). How to get ahead in advertising even if you are a girl. [men: Read this. it’ll do you good.]. In L. Minsky & B. Bendinger (Eds.), The Get a Job Workshop: How to Find your Way to a Creative Career in Advertising, Branding, Collateral, Digital, Experimental and More (pp. 284-294). Chicago: The Copy Workshop. 

Mallia, K.L., K. Windels & S. Broyles. (2013). The fire starter and the brand steward: An examination of successful leadership traits for the advertising-agency creative director. Journal of Advertising Research53(3), 339-353.

Windels, K., K. L. Mallia & S. Broyles. (Fall 2013). Soft skills. The difference between leading and leaving in the advertising industry? Journal of Advertising Education, 17(2), 17-27.


Founder and Mastermind of CreateAthon@USC 

Division Head, 2014-15, Advertising Division of the Association for Education of Journalism and Mass Communication, and seven-year veteran of the Executive Committee

Contributing organizer, The 3% Conference

Leader of several community service endeavors

Volunteer and lifelong Girl Scout


Mallia enjoys exploring the novel and interesting, travel anywhere, and hopelessly homey pursuits like cooking and gardening, as well as relaxing with her husband Bruce Bakaj.