Meet the 2023 Cohort

Kortni Alston

Chair, Department of Communications, Art and Design, Gardner-Webb University

Dr. Kortni Alston is a happiness scholar, TEDx speaker and transformational trainer. Her area of research is interdisciplinary, combining positive psychology, business administration and media management. Her research concentrations value happier workplaces, well-being and meaningful work. 

She is a podcast host for Kourting Happiness, which helps listeners learn how to commit to well-being one episode at a time fueled by positive psychology. According to Feedspot, the podcast is among the top 80 for happiness and the workplace. She is the department chair and associate professor of journalism and communication for the Department of Communication, Art and Design at Gardner-Webb University. 

Dr. Alston is an advisory board member for the Carter Center’s Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism. The program helps journalists increase effective and accurate reporting on behavioral health issues while equipping them with the tools to produce high-quality work. Dr. Alston advises journalists worldwide with the resources to report on mental health, strengthen their abilities as empathetic storytellers and focus on their well-being. 

With nearly 20 years of journalism industry experience, Dr. Alston has worked as a news director in Baltimore for WEAA-FM, an NPR affiliate station. She has served as a television reporter in Houston, Philadelphia and Youngstown, Ohio. 

She has a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, College of Journalism and Communication, and an MBA from Morgan State University. Her bachelor’s degree is in mass communication, focusing on television production from Delaware State University. 

Jesús Ayala

Broadcast Journalism Professor, California State University, Long Beach

Jesús Ayala is one of the most distinguished and decorated broadcast journalism professors in the country and brings over 20 years of professional journalism experience into the classroom. Ayala is a dynamic professor who specializes in broadcast journalism, field producing, multimedia production, international reporting and reporting about race and ethnicity.

He has also overseen nationally recognized award-winning student media. Under his leadership, his students have won over 70 national collegiate journalism awards including a College Television Award/student Emmy, four Hearst Awards, a Pacemaker Award for overall excellence and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV newscast. He has trained and mentored 10 Emmy winners and nine Murrow Award winners. In 2022, the College Media Association selected Ayala as one of the most distinguished broadcast advisers in the nation.

Prior to transitioning into academia, Ayala covered breaking news stories from around the world as a producer for ABC News. He excelled as an expert covering Latin America and South America and covered the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Pope’s visits to Cuba, civil disturbances in Venezuela and the rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile. In 2008, he covered Barack Obama’s historic presidential campaign as a White House pool producer. He has covered major natural disasters— from earthquakes, wildfires and floods to tornadoes, tsunamis and hurricanes including Hurricane Katrina. While at ABC, he worked with noted journalists including Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Ted Koppel and Peter Jennings. Ayala was recognized with four national Emmys and seven Edward R. Murrow Awards for his work.

Ayala serves as a judge for the Golden Mike Awards, the News Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Awards and countless collegiate journalism competitions. He aspires to be the director of a journalism school in the future.

Ben Bogardus

Interim Associate Dean and Tenured Associate Professor of Journalism, School of Communications, Quinnipiac University

Ben Bogardus teaches courses in broadcast and digital journalism, including communications storytelling, broadcast news writing, reporting for television, podcasting, journalism ethics and the “QNN Newscast” journalism capstone course, where students produce, write, report, edit and anchor a local television newscast on Thursday afternoons.

While at Quinnipiac, Bogardus has reported, written, edited and produced two separate podcast series for the Quinnipiac University Podcast Studio: “Reporting on 9/11,” a 13-episode narrative documentary-style show about journalists who covered the September 11 attacks; and the award-winning “Hunger in Hamden,” a six-episode series looking at the ways people are fighting hunger and food insecurity around Hamden, Connecticut. He also has had peer-reviewed academic and opinion pieces published in outlets including: the Journal of Media Education, Broadcasting & Cable Magazine,, and the New York Post. He is an internationally quoted expert on media-related topics.

Before coming to Quinnipiac in 2010, Bogardus worked as a major-market local television newscast producer in the Washington, D.C., Houston and Jacksonville, Florida markets. His work received an Emmy, Edward R. Murrow, and two Associated Press awards for “best newscast,” and a national Edward R. Murrow award for “best breaking news coverage.”  He holds a B.A. in political science from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in American government from the University of Virginia and an M.S. in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University.

Jan Lauren Boyles

Associate Director and Associate Professor, Iowa State University’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

Jan Lauren Boyles previously held appointments as Faculty Fellow for High Impact Practices within Iowa State University’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost and as Director of Graduate Education within ISU’s Greenlee School. She is completing a four-year elected term on the board of directors for her professional disciplinary association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. In this capacity, she acts as the head of the Council of Divisions, the governing body that leads the association’s annual conference activities.

She also serves as International Engagement Editor for the academic journal “Digital Journalism.” Her research centers on the intersections of news, data/code and civic technology. She has been recognized with numerous awards for exemplary instruction and mentoring. Boyles joined Iowa State from the Pew Research Center in Washington, and previously served as a Google Journalism Fellow. She received her doctoral degree from American University in Washington, and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University. A native of Fairmont, West Virginia, Boyles began her career as a newspaper journalist.

Benjamin A. Davis

Chair of the Department of Multimedia Journalism, Morgan State University

Benjamin A. Davis is a board member emeritus for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations at Princeton University. Davis served on the launch team for as an interactive producer/editor. He was the Washington editor for NPR and an executive producer for NPR’s special projects department. He also served on the assignment desk for ABC News in New York. He was a CBS reporter at WBTV News in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1992, Davis was the inaugural Burton R. Benjamin Fellow at the University of Michigan Knight-Wallace Fellowship in Journalism.

He has won numerous awards for journalism, including two Alfred I. duPont awards for broadcast – one for reporting and the other as executive producer. He created a writing model, that builds on the century-old, analog-based inverted pyramid, called the “digital media pyramid,” about which he wrote the e-book, “The Digital Media Pyramid: A Guide for 21st Century Bloggers, Reporters and Citizen Journalists.” Davis was a Fulbright Scholar Finalist in 2021. He graduated from Whittier College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and studied international relations at the University of Copenhagen. He taught journalism for 10 years at Rutgers University, three years at Florida A&M University and seven years at California State University Northridge.

Nathaniel Frederick II

Associate Professor of Mass Communication and African American Studies, Winthrop University

Nathaniel Frederick’s research interests include African American mediated cultural production in the 20th century, civil rights movement activism and oral history. His teaching areas include media history, media law, media entrepreneurship, media literacy and representations of minorities in media.

Dr. Frederick’s recent work has been published in refereed journals and edited volumes. He is co-editor of “Media Ethics at Work: True stories from Young Professionals, 3rd ed.” published by Great River Learning. His research has been awarded by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the American Journalism Historians Association. He has also received multiple fellowships from the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Dr. Frederick currently serves as adviser to the Winthrop University Association of Black Journalists and the Roddey McMillan Record, Winthrop’s multicultural student newspaper.

He received his doctorate in mass communication and master’s in media studies from Pennsylvania State University and bachelor’s in mass communication from Claflin University.

Robert (Ted) Gutsche, Jr.

Associate Professor, School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, Florida Atlantic University; Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Informatics, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

Robert (Ted) Gutsche, Jr. is a former journalist whose work appeared in the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post. Gutsche studies issues of power and inequalities in digital journalism. Prior to joining FAU in January 2023, where he is co-founder of MediaLab@FAU and teaches on digital cultures, Gutsche was associate professor in critical digital media practice in the sociology department at Lancaster University, in Lancaster, England. There, he taught journalism and implemented critical practice into curricula. During that time, he created and oversaw digital communication and journalism degrees at UA92, a public-private university in Manchester, England. Before that, Gutsche served as assistant professor at Florida International University in Miami, where he taught digital media and founded the Mobile Virtual Reality Lab, a space for students to communicate issues of sea level rise through immersive media.

Between receiving his B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa, Gutsche helped launch the online nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism at UW-Madison and co-founded The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism at Iowa. The author of several books on critical journalism studies, Gutsche is associate editor of the scholarly journal Journalism Practice and founded and hosts “The J Word: A Podcast by Journalism Practice.”

Dr. Karla Kennedy

College of Communication, Architecture and the Arts (CARTA) Director of Online Programs and Assistant Director, Scholastic Journalism for the Lee Caplin School of Journalism and Media, Florida International University

A native Floridian and former high school journalism adviser, Dr. Karla Kennedy believes that students should be given every opportunity to learn and explore. She has a master’s degree in student media advising from Florida International University and a Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida. Dr. Kennedy’s research focuses on contemporary student speech and student voice issues. She studies Supreme Court and district courts decisions and opinions in student speech and student press cases. She aspires to open a journalism and media school for marginalized students to increase diversity in the mass media. She served as the first scholastic journalism outreach coordinator for the University of Oregon at the George S. Turnbull Center in Portland, as well as the executive director of the Northwest Scholastic Press Association from 2012 to 2015. While at Oregon, she was honored with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Award in Equity and Inclusion.

Ammina Kothari, Ph.D.

Professor of Journalism and Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island

At Rhode Island, Ammina Kothari, Ph.D., is director of a school with five departments, six undergraduate majors and two graduate programs. Before joining the university, Kothari was an associate professor and graduate program director in the School of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology. She was one of the recipients of the Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching, RIT’s highest honor for tenured faculty. She has taught classes in data journalism, data ethics, social media, communication theories and research methods. Her research explores how technology transforms communication and journalism practices. Currently, Kothari is working on multiple grant-funded projects and is the principal investigator for the Worlds of Journalism study in Tanzania. Kothari was the 47th head of the International Communication Division of AEJMC, where she served in several leadership positions and was appointed to the President’s Taskforce on Strengthening our Community in 2018.

Dr. Christopher McCollough

Department Head of Communication, Jacksonville State University

At Jacksonville State, Dr. Christopher McCollough led the department’s successful push for full ACEJMC reaccreditation. Under his leadership, the unit completed facility and curriculum updates to meet industry standards, made the curriculum more flexible and accessible for students, and re-engaged alumni and industry to support program development and to bring industry into the classroom. The ACEJMC site team report described the programmatic changes as a difference of “night and day, and noted the comments of one alumna and advisory board member stating the program is, “the best it has ever been.” His approach to leadership at Jacksonville State University is couched in cultivating community through mutual understanding and empowerment of his colleagues.

Dr. McCollough cultivated his approach to leadership through an active, robust service record with colleagues in public relations at national and regional conferences. In addition to previous executive leadership experience at Southern States Communication Association and current executive leadership in AEJMC’s public relations division, Dr. McCollough currently serves as the senior associate editor of the Journal of Public Relations Education.

McCollough joined the faculty at Jacksonville State University as an accomplished educator and award-winning scholar, studying the practice of public relations in public and political sectors, as well as the impact of high-impact forms of public relations pedagogy on communities, the institution, and the faculty and students involved, as well as examining the integration of digital platforms and analytics in strategic communication classrooms.

Logan Molyneux, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Chair, Journalism Department, Temple University

Logan Molyneux (Ph.D., University of Texas Austin) is a former journalist turned researcher, studying journalism practice and norms as they adapt to new technologies. His research has received international recognition and is published in more than a dozen peer-reviewed journals. His commitment to journalism education stems from a belief that journalism is a crucial element of a functioning democracy.

Dr. Nathian Shae Rodriguez

Associate Professor of Digital Media and the Associate Director of the School of Journalism and Media Studies, San Diego State University

Dr. Nathian Shae Rodriguez is an associate professor of digital media and the associate director of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. He is also a core faculty in the Area of Excellence: Digital Humanities and Global Diversity, a public speaker and podcast host. Dr. Rodriguez specializes in critical-cultural media studies, critical communication pedagogy and pop culture pedagogy. His research focuses on historically underrepresented identities in media – specifically LGBTQ+ and Latinx/e portrayals – intersectional identity negotiation, pop culture, identity, radio broadcasting and issues of masculinity/mascing. Dr. Rodriguez has 10 years of professional radio experience in on-air talent, sales, promotions and social media marketing.

Ava Sirrah

Senior Global Manager, Boston Consulting Group

Ava Sirrah teaches at NYU Stern, where she enjoys crafting syllabi that encourage students to think critically by highlighting the limitations of technology like generative artificial intelligence. Her full-time role is at Boston Consulting Group, where she is a senior global manager that helps companies address their AI and climate goals. Prior to working at BCG, she completed a Ph.D. at Columbia Journalism School. Her dissertation, “Invisible Ads: How Marketers Shape Our Information Economy,” will be published as a book by MIT Press next year. Previously, Ava has spent years working as a strategist for The New York Times and at BBDO.

Charles Strouse

Assistant Director of the Lee Caplin School of Journalism and Media and Digital Director of Caplin News, Florida International University

Charles Strouse has worked at the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun Sentinel, Los Angeles Times and – for two decades – at Miami New Times and New Times Broward Palm Beach as editor-in-chief. He is fluent in Spanish and Russian, with an honors degree in Russian Studies from Brown University and a masters in Spanish-language journalism from FIU. Strouse has been a Knight International Press Fellow in Albania and consulted for nonprofit media groups across the former Soviet Union on founding a free press. He has reported from two dozen countries and spent eight years on the board of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia.

Yong Volz

Roger Gafke Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Chair of the Journalism Studies Faculty, Missouri School of Journalism

Yong Volz has been chairing the journalism studies faculty at the Missouri School of Journalism since 2019. Currently, she also serves as president of the Chinese Communication Association. She is an elected member on the AEJMC’s Standing Committee of Research and on the Board of Directors of the American Journalism Historians Association.

Volz’s scholarship centers on journalists and their place in society and history. She was a 2013-14 Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow, during which time she completed the oral history project “Herstory“, bringing to light the experiences of senior women journalists.

Volz teaches at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. She has served on more than 60 dissertation committees and 100 master’s thesis/project committees. She believes in the power of mentorship, and her teaching and mentorship has been widely recognized.  At Missouri, she received the 2017 MU Alumnae Anniversary Faculty Award for her “teaching excellence and contributions to the education of women,” the 2020 Jordan Hoyt Tribute to Women Award for “contributing to an environment of equity, fairness and justice for women on the MU campus” and the 2021 Ann K. Covington Award for Undergraduate Mentoring.  She was the 2018 winner of Adviser of the Year from Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society for Journalism and Communication. Most recently, she received a 2021 Faculty-Alumni Award from the Mizzou Alumni Association and the 2022 O.O. McIntyre Professorship for Teaching Excellence at the Missouri School of Journalism. 

Gi Yun

Vail M. Pittman Associate Dean and Professor, Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno

Gi Yun’s research focuses on the social psychological aspects of media and communication. The topics of his publications include theories of communication, internet research methodology, social media, health communication, agenda-setting, community capital of media, risk communication, surveillance, social network analysis and big data analysis.

Current projects cover areas including machine bias in information production and consumption on online maps, healthcare advertising in local media, farmers’ market information campaigns, cybersecurity training and surveillance in media. His research projects are funded from sources including the National Science Foundation, Google, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. State Department and the Online News Association.

His teaching portfolio includes various courses that belong to the traditional media research discipline, such as media research methods or new media research. Additionally, he has been developing many new courses that are becoming increasingly relevant to the discipline, such as cybersecurity, privacy, surveillance society, social media and big data.

Professor Yun received his Ph.D. and M.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communication is from Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea.