The Communication Alumni Council is made up of department graduates who are passionate about Communication and supporting the work of the department, its students, and alumni. Below are bios of current Alumni Council Members -- feel free to reach out to them on LinkedIn at any time.
To read about and connect with other Communication alumni, please visit our student-alumni UCSB Department of Communication group on LinkedIn, or check out the list of participants at past Communication Career Days events.
Maria Bianco, Class of 2012
Maria is a People Services Generalist at Houzz, the leading online platform for home remodeling and design. She uses her leadership experience to enhance employee growth and development and works to coach and mentor leaders on effective communication and crucial conversations. Prior to her transition to human resources, Maria played an integral role in growing a sales support department, a process that involved scaling a team from seven to more than 40 account representatives and developing the team's operational processes. She is passionate about career growth, personal development, and helping individuals reach their full potential. Maria earned her B.A. in communication with a minor in professional writing and editing. While attending UCSB, she contributed as a writer and editor for the Communication Department newsletter, interned as a research assistant, and explored her love for music while interning at a local radio station. In her free time, Maria enjoys diversifying her writing portfolio, traveling to new destinations, experimenting with gluten-free recipes, and doing yoga – lots of yoga. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/maria-bianco
David Bellinger, Class of 1994
David brings with him over 27 years of sales, marketing, and business management experience across a broad range of industries including retail, manufacturing, and financial services. With over 17 years in the financial services industry, he has witnessed first-hand how severe economic cycles and fiscal policies affect the financial decisions of individuals. David works as Private Mortgage Banker at Wells Fargo and provides residential financing and mortgage strategy for his clients across the country. David graduated from UCSB with his BA in Communication and earned an MBA from Chapman University. While at UCSB, David was an active member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and served as the Inter-Fraternity Council Recruitment Chair. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidbellinger/
John Bollen, Class of 1994
John received his B.A. in Communication from UCSB and earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of San Francisco. He brings over 25 years in technology and product development experience working in various start-ups in the Silicon Valley to working in multi-national corporations, such as NBC Universal and MGM Resorts. John currently serves as the Chief Digital Officer at Mobilitie, the largest private network infrastructure and services company in the United States. In this role, he currently is responsible for creating and executing the long-term strategic plan to evolve Mobilitie’s digital and product capabilities across touch points for all clients and customers. John has substantial experience in the field of information technology and he specializes in digital strategy, product development, construction, and guest experience design. Prior to joining Mobilitie, he served as the Chief Digital Officer at MGM Resorts International. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnbollen/
Tom Bracken, Classes of 1977/1980
Tom Bracken is currently the Managing Director of Sunrock Media & Marketing, a privately-owned branding, marketing and consulting service. The company specializes in helping new and early-stage businesses with branding, market development, consumer research and digital marketing strategy and planning.
Tom earned his Bachelors and Masters’ Degrees in Communication from UCSB in 1977 and 1980, respectively. He then embarked on a highly successful corporate marketing, branding, advertising and communications career. Early in his career, Tom was part of the team that developed and launched DIRECTV and was responsible for branding, national advertising, retail and channel marketing. As VP of Advertising, he was instrumental in building the DIRECTV brand into the leading digital television service in the United States and acquiring over 8 million customers. Most recently, he was VP of Marketing for Fathom Events, the leading distributor of alternative content to theatres around the world. Prior to joining Fathom, Tom led marketing for Evolution Digital, and IP video distribution company serving the Tier 2 cable industry.
Tom has a deep background in the cinema industry and previously held multiple senior executive management roles with Technicolor, a leading services provider to major motion picture studios. As Global Project Director for Technicolor 3D, he led the effort to develop and launch a low-cost alternative for 3D movie projection. As VP of Worldwide Marketing and Communications, he created integrated marketing and communications programs to launch several new businesses for Technicolor that drove revenue from $2.6B to $3.5B in just 3 years. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tombracken
Carol Pfiffner Bridgeman, Class of 1979
Carol received her BA in communication from UCSB. As a community organizer with a passion for team-building and mentorship, she has spent more than 30 years working in education, HR/administration, and project-and-event management. She spent over a decade as the Director of Children’s Ministries at a church in Southern California, and currently works in early childhood education in Seattle. In addition to her professional pursuits, she has been deeply involved in several local non-profits and theater companies. While at UCSB, she was an active member of Delta Gamma. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carol-bridgeman-46783358/
Scott Carper, Class of 1998
Scott graduated with a double major in Communication and Law & Society. He is the president of SCMN CONSULTING, a media/advertising, talent representation, and real estate consulting firm. His focus remains in improving his clients’ overall brand and helping them create detailed marketing and action plans taloyered for their specific needs. He also has reconnected with the film industry and is on his 6th film as an executive producer. His most recent Film, “life in color,” has been selected as a finalist for best short film at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Scott also is a minority owner for United Studios of Self Defense, in which he oversees the marketing and advertising division. While at UCSB, he worked for the minority leader, Richard Gephardt (House of Representatives) on the National Television Violence Study and was awarded the Chuck Loring Greek Man of the Year Award. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/scott-carper-92b10056/
Nick Duggan, Class of 2000
Nick lives in Santa Barbara and is the Director, Learning and Development at AppFolio. He helps leaders drive business outcomes by making work more meaningful. He’s been developing people and organizations for more than 20 years. He also offers private leadership coaching through my Deeper Work business. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickduggan/
Jake Edson, Class of 2014
Jake graduated from UCSB in 2014 with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in History. As a student, he was heavily involved with the Communication Department as a Peer Advisor and President of the Communication Association. After graduation, Jake worked as a Community Manager at an education technology company called Course Hero. In 2019, he graduated from the George Washington University Law School and will begin his legal career as an Associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in Washington, D.C. Jake is originally from Maryland and in his free time enjoys playing music, reading cheap thriller novels, and hanging out with family and friends. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/
Wendy Garcia, Class of 1990
Wendy lives in Irvine and works as a Human Resources Consultant at Enlightened HR Services. Extensive background in employee relations, as well as workers’ compensation and unemployment claims management. Development and delivery of training on a variety of topics, including Sexual Harassment Prevention (AB1825), Recruiting & Hiring, Performance Management and Disciplinary Action. She co-founded Ole' Orange County and is an active Mother and Community Leader. She is joining the Events Team. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-garcia-sphr-phrca-shrm-scp-1ab493a/
Jeanette Gibson, Class of 1992
Jeanette graduated with a BA in Communication and has more than 20 years of experience in communication and digital marketing. She is currently advising startups and companies in the high tech sector on social media strategy and customer advocacy. Previously, she served as VP of Community at Hootsuite, a leading social media company, where she was responsible for creating vibrant online communities for Hootsuite’s 12M+ users. Prior to Hootsuite, Jeanette was Sr. Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy at Cisco Systems where she championed B2B social media engagement and led social media, digital and PR teams during her 15 year tenure. She is passionate about communication and serves as a keynote speaker at industry conferences, hosts webinars and corporate training sessions and enjoys mentoring and sharing her experience with others. While at USCB, Jeanette was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and worked at KCSB radio station, LaCumbre yearbook, and interned at KSBY-TV and KTMS Newstalk Radio. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanettegibson/
Justin Hannah, Class of 2011
Justin is the Manager of Marketing Technology at Hulu. He is responsible for the technology partnerships and integrations that support Hulu’s marketing efforts across the digital ecosystem. This role has afforded him the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most well-known companies, such as Facebook, Google, and Salesforce. Before joining Hulu, Justin spent five years at SteelHouse, a Culver City based Ad Tech company, where he worked his way up from an Ad Operations role to Director of Emerging Solutions in a position responsible for testing new technologies and developing partnerships. Justin earned his B.A. in Communication and in Psychology. While at UCSB, he held research assistantships with several professors and spent a great deal of time playing hockey. Outside of work, Justin continues to find time for hockey and has recently started rock climbing. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/
Jason Kearnaghan, Class of 1995
Jason Kearnaghan is a Labor & Employment Partner in the downtown Los Angeles office of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP, an AmLaw 100 international law firm. Jason represents employers in state and federal courts with respect to all facets of employment law including wrongful discharge, employment discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, and hostile work environment. He also has substantial experience representing employers in union negotiations, organizing campaigns, elections, union grievance proceedings and unfair labor proceedings. Prior to joining Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, Jason practiced business litigation in the healthcare context. His practice included contractual disputes and managed care liability for Fortune 500 healthcare service providers and subsidiaries. He also served in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps as a trial attorney in criminal prosecution. While at UCSB, Jason was an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jasonkearnaghan/
Meghan Killian, Class of 2010
Meghan double majored in Communication and Psychology at UCSB. While at UCSB, she served as treasurer for the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society and was a research assistant for a graduate student researching communication accommodation within law enforcement-civilian interactions. Meghan received her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she specialized in Intellectual Property Law. She currently lives in San Francisco and works as an Associate Attorney at Duane Morris LLP where she specializes in trademarks, copyrights, and brand protection. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meghankillian/
Leslie Solomon Klonoff, Class of 1980
With her BA in Communication Studies, Leslie's background is in recruiting, event planning, and community organizing. She was a founding member of Cameron-Brooks, Inc., the most respected Junior Military Officer recruiting firm in the world, helping Corporate America find its future leaders from the military's top Junior Officers. While at UCSB she served as Panhellenic Chair for Alpha Phi, worked at Ortega Dining Commons, and was a Section Editor for the La Cumbre. She currently focuses most of her volunteer time at UCSB. In addition to Chairing our Dept. of Communication Alumni Council Alumni Engagement Committee, she is an active member on the UCSB Alumni Board of Directors. She Co-Founded All Gaucho Reunion GreekFest, serves on the UCSB Greek Interconnect committee, and is a mentor for many of the greek chapters desiring stronger alumni engagement. She and her husband, Jeff, are proud members of the UCSB Alumni Founders Circle. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leslie-klonoff-6631639/
Annie Ly, Class of 2001
Annie brings over fifteen years of diverse marketing experience and her business acumen to help companies build brand value. She has worked on global projects for Alere Health, Samsung, NXP, Kia Motors, ADP, Novartis Diagnostics, Pearson, The College Board and LG. As a strategist at BrandingBusiness, a B2B brand consultancy, she helps companies unlock their competitive advantage, find their greatness, and tell their story. Annie is responsible for managing research and strategy projects for companies and products ranging from digital technologies to healthcare. Annie played an integral role at Sega to bring one of the company's biggest franchise brands to market. She started her career at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners implementing digital campaigns for Wall Street Journal and Hewlett-Packard. Annie holds an MBA in Marketing from University of California Davis and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Francesco (Fran) D. Mancia, Class of 1980
Fran earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco. He is the Vice President of Government Relations for Muniservices, LLC. and is responsible for overseeing company legislative, regulatory, and government relations activity throughout the country. With a focus on fiscal impacts to local districts, Fran monitors, analyzes and leads company lobbying efforts related to legislation, state mandates, and regulatory changes and policies that affect client revenue streams and special district tax allocation. Over the past twelve years, Fran has spent a significant portion of his time interacting with mayors and council members, members of the State Board of Equalization, county assessors and tax collectors, state legislators, and state agency directors. He was recently elected to serve as one of four Regents for the University of California system. He also served a two year term as President of the League of California Cities’ Partner Program. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fran-mancia-35976a1/
Valeria Melucci, Class of 2003
Valerie earned her BA in Communication at UCSB and brings over 15 years of marketing and business development experience to the Council. During her time at UCSB, Valerie was member of the Communication Association, the Outstanding Students Honor Society, the Executive Council of Gamma Phi Beta, and worked as a Comm 199 Research Assistant. Valerie is currently the Marketing Director for Obalon Therapeutics, a medical device company based in San Diego, CA. She guides the retail development strategy for the company and leads marketing and patient experience initiatives for medical practices. Before joining Obalon, Valerie spearheaded marketing programs and led communication teams within national and global corporations in the healthcare and retail space, including Pacific Dental Services, VF Corporation, Billabong, and Charlotte Russe. http://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriemelucci/
Justine Miller, Class of 2009
Justine double majored in Communication and Slavic Languages and Literature and minored in French. She studied abroad in Moscow and after graduation, taught English in Thailand and traveled for a year before moving to New York City. There, Justine was a freelance photographer/writer and a strategy consultant for a Manhattan-based start-up. She then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and won the Bloomberg Made in NYC award for a story produced during her time there. After working as a multimedia journalist for The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina, Justine returned to New York City and is an on-camera TV reporter for News 12 Bronx/Brooklyn. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justineimiller/
Jamie Morgan, Class of 1999
Jamie received her B.A. with a major in Communication and a minor in English at UCSB. She also holds a M.A. in Organizational Management. She has been working in talent acquisition for 20 years and specializes in building teams and in candidate generation strategy. Her background in recruiting for technology and infrastructure roles spans both Fortune 100 companies, as well as small organizations. Jamie was the Director or Sourcing Channels Strategy for Microsoft. In this role, she drove Microsoft's global talent sourcing strategy to optimize candidate generation efforts, and she leads a global team that delivereds market insights and intelligence, diversity programs, storytelling strategy, channel performance, and HCM innovation. Currently she is Head of Technical Recruiting at Cruise. She maintains that the best outcomes derive from a human, unguarded approach; and that doing the right thing, over the easy thing, is in the best interest of all parties. While at UCSB, Jamie served as Panhellenic President, Rush Chair for Alpha Chi Omega, and Patient Advocate for the Student Health Center. She resides in Northern California with her husband (also a UCSB grad), her two kids, and a spoiled dog. Her whole family enjoys travel, new restaurants and spending time on their boat. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamiepmorgan/
Rachyl Pines, Ph.D. Class of 2020
Rachyl Pines is a Research Scientist at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. After completing her PhD in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation and University of California, Los Angeles under the direction of Dr. Amy Waterman. Rachyl conducts research in behavioral health, population health, pediatrics, and communication topic areas to improve patient education and care. Rachyl serves as an executive officer for the Intergroup Communication Interest Group for the International Communication Association, and for the International Association of Language and Social Psychology.
Alexei Pizarev, Class of 2012
Alexei is currently the Director of Operations and Product Strategy at Publicis Media. During his career in digital advertising, he held a senior M&A role during an integration between two media companies, built multiple successful operations teams, managed an office in Europe, and currently oversees team operations as well as new product development and partnerships at Publicis Media's business unit, APEX. At UCSB, Alexei was the Philanthropy Chairman for Sigma Pi, involved in the establishment of the Sean Vernon Feliciano Amazing Day Foundation as Sigma Pi’s national philanthropy, a Research Assistant for Prof. Walid Afifi, and a member of the Communication Association. He graduated with a B.A in Communication and a Minor in Russian Language. LinkedIn: https://www.
Alexandra Platt, Class of 2012
Alexandra graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in Communication and Global Studies in 2012. She currently serves as the IT Business Relationship Manager with Procore, supporting the implementation, administration, and optimization, of HR business systems at the rapidly-growing tech company. Prior to this, Alex was a Program Associate for the Henry Crown Fellowship at the Aspen Institute in Washington D.C. and completed her graduate studies through the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Global Studies program, earning an MSc in Global Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science and an MA in Global Studies from Roskilde University in Denmark. Her thesis analyzed the motivations of emerging nations in the bidding and event production processes of mega-sporting events with a focus on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. While at LSE, Alex served as stage manager and executive board member for the second annual TEDxLSE conference. While at UCSB, she worked as manager of the on-campus hotel, the Summer Inn Santa Barbara; as Program Coordinator for the UCSB Alumni Association; and as Student Supervisor for the UCSB Faculty Club. Outside of work, Alex is passionate about travel, fitness, and a cappella music. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandraplatt/
Victoria Quint, Class of 1997
During her time at UCSB, Victoria was active in several student organizations including Associated Students and was part of one of the first groups to conduct an assessment on housing quality and landlord practices in Isla Vista. She was also a participant in the UCDC program in the winter of 1997 and has been a resident of the greater Washington, DC area since graduation. She then completed graduate work at Georgetown University in social and public policy. Professionally, her career began in public relations and marketing, working both on the agency and the corporate side. However, she quickly found her passion in strategic selling and spent more than 15 years at CEB (Corporate Executive Board) and Gartner leading their North America revenue organizations, supporting Finance and Legal executives . She als served as the Executive Sponsor of the sales development program, stewarding more than 300 new graduates through the first three years of their professional journey. In recent years she has led the large customer program of CEB/Gartner and now serves as the SVP, Global Accounts for Diligent, a New York based SaaS company that supports Boards of Directors on a variety of risk and governance issues. Victoria currently serves on the Board of Directors for Girls on the Run, Montgomery County, Maryland and is active with Holton Arms School as a member of the Finance Committee for the Board of Trustees. She resides in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and two children. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-pettibon-quint-1833374/
Matt Schermerhorn, Class of 2009
Matt graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Sport Management. He currently serves as the Assistant Director of Admissions for the School of Economics and Business Administration’s MBA program at Saint Mary's College in California. He focuses on advising and vetting prospective students for the program, while working on creating advantageous processes and marketing campaigns through hosted events and digital advertisement. Prior to that, Matt worked for four years in the Oakland Athletics baseball organization where he specialized in promotional marketing and special events. Ultimately, Matt hopes to transition into collegiate athletics by sharing his current and past experiences from both Saint Mary's College and the Oakland A's, to bring added stability to an organization that is the NCAA, which constantly affects and shapes the lives of young athletes each day. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mschermerhorn406/
Ken Sterling, Class of 2012
Ken graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Applied Psychology. He is Executive Vice President at Valiant Group, managing a real estate portfolio in excess of $300 million. Ken is also a partner at BigSpeak, the leading business speakers’ bureau, serving Fortune 1000 companies. Ken's background includes co-founding a technology company (cloud computing), co-founding BigSpeak and co-founding an international manufacturing company. Ken earned his MBA from Babson College and is currently pursuing his PhD in Education at UCSB with an emphasis in technology and organizational leadership. Ken has participated in several research projects in the areas of technology, psychology, communication, leadership, mentorship and online education. Ken is passionately involved in instruction, mentoring and enriching student experiences at UCSB. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kensterling/
Karen Thorland, Class of 1990
Karen is Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). In this capacity, she manages domestic content protection civil litigation and oversees the Association's global voluntary initiatives and civil litigation efforts. She has experience in a broad range of litigation and intellectual property matters, including copyright and trademark, rights of publicity and privacy, First Amendment, entertainment contractual disputes, and appeals. Prior to this appointment, Karen was a Partner at Loeb & Loeb, LLP, as the co-lead counsel for MPAA member companies in a national litigation campaign related to peer-to-peer file-sharing. Karen graduated from UCSB with Highest Honors, College Honors, and Distinction in Communication, and she received her law degree from UCLA School of Law.
Cynthia Tucker, Class of 1994
Cynthia is the Assistant Director of Event Operations for Trojan Event Services (TES), a division of Student Affairs at the University of Southern California, since 2015. She has 12 years of venue management and 25 years of event and wedding planning experience. She has worked for the City of Santa Monica, DreamWorks Pictures, The Walt Disney Company, and a local non-profit organization. For 10 years, she was the owner of an event and wedding planning company. As the Assistant Director of Event Operations, she is responsible for overseeing the business operations of Trojan Event Services, supervising a team of 8 full-time staff, 4 indoor event venues, 19 outdoor locations, 12 shared spaces with the USC Athletics Department and 200 student workers. She works closely with campus partners for event approval, oversees the department’s expenses and labor costs, prepares financial analysis and projections, and assesses the venue’s policies and procedures. Her career in venue management started as a volunteer at a Historical Fire Station in Los Angeles turned museum and event space. She is an Adjunct Professor at USC’s Thornton School of Music and is the co-instructor for the “Venue Management” course. She is also a Capstone Advisor for the online Sports Industry Management Program at Georgetown University. She’s an active member of the International Association of Venue Managers and volunteers on the University Committee as well as the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She’s had an article featured in “Facility Manager” magazine titled “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace.” She has a MBA from Pepperdine University and a BA in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and enjoys international travel.
Eric Zackrison, Class of 2017
Eric is the President and CEO of IDI.US Inc. which controls the rights to the Interpersonal Dynamics Inventory, a powerful multi-rater personality/behavioral styles measurement tool. After 25 years as a manager and entrepreneur and completing his MA, MBA, and PhD, Eric has taken up the mantle of his father both in furthering the awareness and use of IDI through training and licensing others, as well as adopting the name of his father’s consulting firm, Effectiveness Consultants. He focuses heavily on relationships as key to success and integrates this into his consulting and into his role in the community. Eric received his PhD from the Department of Communication at UCSB in 2017. Most importantly, though, he is the father of two amazing children. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-zackrison/
Yardena Zwang-Weissman, Class of 2003
Yardena Zwang-Weissman is a Litigation Partner in the Los Angeles office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. Yardena focuses her practice on environmental, mass tort and product liability litigation and is a member of her firm’s crisis management practice. She also counsels clients in investigations, internal examinations, and she represents financial institutions and clients in the technology industry in commercial litigation with an emphasis on class and mass actions, as well as contract and business disputes. Yardena graduated from UCSB with Highest Honors, Distinction in Communication, and she received the Steven H. Chaffee Award for Excellence in Research. She received her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law.