Class Notes




A trip to nostalgia now and then is good for the spirit.

—Dan Bartolovic, Sports Announcer






AmeriCanadaWilliam L. Seavey (BA ’69), recently authored his 12th book, AmeriCanada?: Cross Border Connections and the Possibilities for Our One Big Town.  In the book, Seavey attempts to educate Americans about Canadians, urging readers to consider stronger ties with them. Seavey is the former director of the Greener Pastures Institute­­—a rural relocation consulting organization.



Kevin Boatright (MA ’75) retired in 2016 as emeritus director of external affairs in the office of research after 14 years at the University of Kansas and a 41-year career overall.

Cathy Breitenbucher (BS ’79), a Milwaukee-based writer, co-authored a book in 2016,  My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver. She had a 13-year career as a newspaper sportswriter, highlighted by covering the Olympic Games in 1984 and 1988. Since 1992, she has been a freelance writer for publications such as People magazine, USA Today, and The Washington Post. This is her third book.



Heidi McNeil Staudenmaier (BA ’81) was named as one of  AZ Business Magazine’s 2016 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business  and the 2016 Best Phoenix Gaming Lawyer by Best Lawyers in America. She is a senior partner with Snell & Wilmer, one of the largest law firms in the western United States. Her practice emphasizes Native American law, gaming law, and business litigation.

Julie Deardorff  (BA ’89/MBA ’90) is the director of communications and outreach at Northwestern University’s School of Education and School Policyfollowing a 23-year career as a reporter with the Chicago Tribune.


Jay Hamilton (PhD ’93) is a professor, head of the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, and director of the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia. His third book, Explorations in Critical Studies of Advertising, was published in 2017.

Sonja West (BA ’93) was named as the inaugural holder of the Otis Brumby Distinguished Professorship in First Amendment Law at the University of Georgia, a post shared by the law school and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.


Amir Efrati (BA ’04) helped launch The Information, a subscription technology news publication three years ago after spending nine years at The Wall Street Journal. The Information’s core readership is a who’s who of the tech and media worlds—people like Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, James Murdoch of Fox, and many of the executive staff at companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.—who get two original articles a day sent to their email inboxes. But readership has gone far beyond that as they have expanded into covering areas like transportation, China, tech, and soon, biotech.

Shawna McDonald (BA ’04) leads strategic planning and communications for Google’s executive development team. In her role, she works with critical leaders and teams to provide powerful development experiences to help Google’s business and culture thrive.


Lauren Neale (BA ’10) started work as the multimedia outreach specialist for the Montana Stockgrowers Association in Helena, Mont. She traveled the state taking and sharing photos and video to give consumers an understanding of how their beef is raised and who raises that beef. In this role, she published a 200-page coffee table photo book, Big Sky Boots: Working Seasons of a Montana Cowboy. She is currently the director of communications for the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where she manages the website and social media, writes press releases, and publishes a monthly 60-page magazine for 7,000 subscribers.

Robin Johnson  (PhD ’10) was promoted to associate professor with tenure at Sam Houston State University, where he is currently the graduate program coordinator for the Mass Communication Department’s Digital Media Studies and Digital Media Production degrees.

Sarah Larson (BA ’13) began working at her favorite place in the world, Universal Orlando Resort, last June. While she misses agency life in Chicago, she does not miss the cold weather.

Brianna SudrlaBrianna Sudrla (BA ’14) spent the summer after graduation interning in Cedar Rapids at Amperage Marketing. In the fall she accepted a position at Starcom, an advertising agency in Chicago, where she called on accounts such as Hallmark, Crayola, P&G, and LEGO. Last November, she began working at Snap Inc. as an account coordinator in Chicago.

Casey Levigne (BA ’15) recently took a marketing arsonist, aka project manager, position with MindFire Communications in LeClaire, Iowa, where she is pursuing a career in advertising and PR.

Bill Cooney (BA ’16) is the news editor of the Anamosa Journal-Eureka in Anamosa, Iowa.

-‘80s Flashback-

Temba Sipho B. MasilelaTemba Sipho B. Masilela (MA ’87/PhD ’94) has done great things since he graduated from Iowa—many of which have gone unrecognized in the United States.

Masilela’s family moved to Kenya after they were exiled from their home country of South Africa when he was just four years old. “Seeing the failed military coup in Kenya was a crucial moment that I witnessed first-hand as a journalism student,” Masilela says.

Citing his father’s influence on the importance of returning to the place of your ancestral roots, Masilela returned to South Africa after graduation to make a difference. He has held several high-level positions, including his favorite thus far: serving as the special adviser to the minister of social development in the government of a democratic South Africa.

Currently, Masilela is the executive director of the Research Use and Impact Assessment unit in South Africa’s Human Science Research Council (HSRC).

In this role, he oversees large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations, and international development agencies.

Masilela says his professors had a substantial impact on him, especially Joe Ascroft, Al Talbott, and John Erickson. Professor Emeritus Ken Starck remembers Masilela well.

“He was quiet-spoken, and that tended to mask the fact that his life trajectory was to be marked by leadership,” Starck says.

HSRC’s mission says, “As South Africans we can achieve anything we wish, including putting human and social science research into action…and work together with a common purpose to uplift our people beyond inequality and gender differences.”

With Masilela at the helm, that mission is closer now than ever.


-10's Flashback-

Alex Schuman

Alex Schuman (BA ’11) worked at various TV news outlets as a reporter but dreamed of producing documentaries and films.

Love v. Kentucky

This year, he finished his second documentary film, Love v. Kentucky, which follows the plaintiffs and attorneys involved in the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

The film was picked up by one of the largest all-rights distributors in the world, Gravitas Ventures.

His first film, Drop by Drop, takes a fresh look at the sharp rise of allergies in the developed word.

“What drives me as a producer, writer, and director is the challenge of finding new, fun ways to tell important stories,” Schuman says.



Vivian StringerCoach Vivian Stringer leads the women’s basketball team to their 4th consecutive 20-victory season to a Big Ten Championship.


Hunter R. Rawlings III is named the UI’s 17th president


U.S. Space Shuttle program resumes two years after the Challenger disaster.



Felix BaumgartnerFelix Baumgartner is the first person to break the sound barrier when he jumps from the stratosphere to New Mexico.



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