Media Career Night

Media Career Night

Media Career Services hosts virtual Media Career Nights each semester for student based on a variety of themes. Panels of College of Media alumni share stories about their career path in how they went from the University of Illinois to where they are now. Panelists also share career advice and job and internship search tips. This is a great way for Media students to network and connect with Media alumni.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to

Upcoming Media Career Night Panels

Stay tuned for Spring 2024 Media Career Night announcements! In the meantime, learn about various careers in media by watching a recording from one of our past panels below.

If you are an alum interested in being a panelist for a future Media Career Night, please reach out to


Watch Past Media Career Night Panels


Recorded October 4, 2023.

Panelists include: 

Joan Cetera (BS ’97, journalism) is currently the Vice President of Communications at PepsiCo Foods North America, where she is responsible for internal and external communications across customers, employees, the media and other key stakeholders. Before serving in this role, Joan led public relations strategy and reputation management for Frito-Lay and its portfolio of snack brands. Prior to joining Frito-Lay in 2015, she served in various leadership roles directing consumer communications across a variety of brands and companies in both domestic and global public relations at the most highly regarded public relations agencies. Her expertise spans industries: from consumer packaged goods and health and wellness to home products and financial services. Joan holds an MBA in marketing from the Keller Graduate School of Management and a B.S. in news-editorial journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Joe Hercik (BS ’04, advertising) is currently the product owner for the Quantum Computing team at State Farm's Innovation Group. Over the past four years, he has been a part of horizontally-focused teams and enterprise-wide initiatives in roles that have involved driving out leadership directives and strategies, creating various media deliverables, as well as coordinating department meetings and executive-level council sessions. Most of his responsibilities at State Farm to date have centered around internal communications, change management, and employee engagement. Prior to State Farm, Joe spent 15 years in the nonprofit industry working with organizations of different sizes and with varying scopes of impact, establishing or growing fundraising initiatives for nearly every aspect of the philanthropic lifecycle. Beginning with sales, marketing, and communications roles, he eventually moved to operations and project management work, before settling into database administration where he enabled business units to leverage the technology they relied upon to be successful.

Angie Hummels (BS ’01, journalism) is currently the Dealer Communications Strategy Manager at Caterpillar Inc., an American construction, mining, and other engineering equipment manufacturer. The company is the world's largest manufacturer of construction equipment.  She has a rich background in global, multi-channel communications and brand management, project leadership, event planning, speechwriting, crisis response, customer experience, and employee awareness/engagement programs. Angie has held other roles at Caterpillar, Inc., including serving as the Marketing Communications Manager for Caterpillar Defense, Recruitment Marketing and Communications Lead, and Communications and Talent Development Consultant. Prior to her tenure at Caterpillar, she also worked as a Speechwriter at Bradley University, Director of Public Relations at the Alzheimer's Association and Newsroom Assignment Editor for the Journal Star in Peoria, IL. Angie obtained her Bachelor of Science in Journalism (’01) and Master of Business Administration (’21) from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 


Recorded September 8, 2023.

Panelists include: 

Mike Dalton (BS ’12, journalism) is currently the Programmatic Sales Director at Raptive. Mike has a dynamic background in adtech, specializing in programmatic and social media sales with a track record of driving revenue growth and forging strategic partnerships, most recently in alcohol/CPG, retail and travel sectors. As the Programmatic Sales Director at Raptive, Mike has developed innovative sales strategies that capitalize on data-driven insights to optimize results. He spearheads revenue generation while nurturing strong client relationships within the competitive landscape of retail and travel industries. Before joining Raptive, Mike held roles at Twitter as the Senior Client Partner for Alcohol/CPG, Mike facilitated impactful advertising campaigns and helped brands maximize their presence in the digital space in the midst of a public transition of ownership. He also worked at Teads, as the Senior Sales Director, he led the Mid-Market Team, driving revenue growth and shaping Teads' market position within the SSP space. Additionally, during this time at Tumblr/Yahoo his was the Sales Director where Mike worked to pair the power of Yahoo (former owner) and Tumblr to deliver innovative social solutions for brands looking to reach the unique audience set on the social platform. Mike earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism, with a Minor in Cinema Studies, from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2012.

Stephanie Macias (BS ’16, advertising) is currently the Inside Sales Account Executive at SpotOn. Before SpotOn, Stephanie worked at DoorDash as a Regional Account Executive and Sales Development Representative. In these roles, she was able to manage a portfolio of over 200 restaurant partners across multiple markets, developing and executing strategies to increase revenue, retention, and loyalty. She has also worked at companies such as Ruby’s Resaurant Inc., LaSalle Network, and the Bradford Group. Stephanie obtained a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 


Recorded April 4, 2023.

Panelists include: 

Ravi Bhatia (BS ’11, journalism), production director at ICF Next and freelancer

Charlotte Collins (BS ’18, journalism), freelance writer and editor and incoming Architectural Digest’s associate digital features editor at Condé Nast

Joseph Longo (BS ’18, journalism) freelance editor and writer, specializing in editorial content for print and digital publications, and current entertainment editor at BuzzFeed News


Recorded March 1, 2023.

Panelists include: 

Adam Hamilton (BS '11, advertising; MBA '19)
Adam is currently the Global Social & Digital Director at McDonald's. Adam is a digital and social media expert with experience in digital content strategy, building and executing multi-channel programs, branded and sponsored content and social activations, and community management. Having worked for two of the world’s most iconic brands, McDonald’s and Caterpillar, he understands what it takes to build and lead a communications team in complex, global organizations. Once he traded bulldozers for burgers, Adam built McDonald’s first team dedicated to brand-led, creative storytelling—the Global Story Lab. Organized like a true newsroom, an Editor in Chief leads a team of storytellers who are “reporters” covering key reputational beats. The team established a tone of voice to ensure content is consistent, recognizable, authentic and uniquely McDonald’s. Most recently, in his expanded role as Director of Global Social and Digital, he transformed the corporate channels ecosystem, creating a new corporate website and newsroom, kickstarting an SEO strategy, unifying social handles, establishing a community engagement program and launching the CEO’s social presence. While he’s lovin’ moving the needle in brand reputation, Adam feels his most important role as a leader at McDonald’s is in the company’s PRIDE network.

Steven Pratten (BS '15, media and cinema studies)
Steven is currently the senior digital media manager at Gies College of Business, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He collaborates with professors and instructional staff to produce, record, and edit video for the launch of several online-open-courses on He has been able to reach over 20,000+ prospective students. Previously, he worked as a multimedia content editor for Smile Politely magazine in Urbana-Champaign. He produced, recorded and edit weekly video features that spotlight the political, artistic, and business culture. He also managed digital media content for publication in articles and on social media platforms including photography and graphic design.


Recorded February 1, 2023.

Panelists include: 

Maggie Huynh (BS ’14, journalism)
Public Relations Coordinator at Chicago Police Department

Amelia Sacco (BA ’14, media and cinema studies)
Production Coordinator at Edelman 


Recorded November 1, 2022.

Panelists include: 

Alex Hedlund (BS '05, media studies; MS '06, journalism) Head of Development & Production at Eat The Cat

Barb Markoff (BS '94, journalism) Investigative Producer at ABC 7 News Chicago 

Catherine Schramm (BS '96, advertising) Freelancer at Smooth Still & Motion Production  

Libby Smith (BS '15, media and cinema studies) Production Manager at Nickelodeon


Recorded October 5, 2022.

Panelists include:

Linda Crouchelli (BS '88, advertising) is currently the Director of Marketing and Sponsorship at Navy Pier in Chicago. In her current role, Linda is responsible for generating awareness to drive attendance and revenue for Navy Pier through advertising campaigns and sponsorship alignment. As the most-visited destination in the Midwest, Navy Pier welcomes 9M annual visitors and is known for spectacular views of Lake Michigan, the Centennial Ferris Wheel, and over 250 free cultural programs. Prior to joining the Navy Pier marketing team, Linda spent 16+ years as the Director of Partnership Marketing at Brookfield Zoo where she created engaging sponsorships, built a group sales program, and developed a vibrant assortment of events to help drive 2M visitors to one of the area’s most beloved zoos. Prior to her tenure with Brookfield Zoo, Linda held positions with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Megan Danielson (BS '00, journalism) is the Interim Director for the Food, Beverage and Restaurant industry at Google, Megan and her team partner with the largest companies and agencies in the world to leverage Google's consumer platforms and help brands leverage the full Alphabet and Google ecosystem. Prior to this role, Megan spent 12 years at Google leading various teams in the Travel and Healthcare verticals, and helped shape many of Google's current Travel product offerings. Directly prior to her current role, she spent nearly two years launching and building the Travel and Tech-Telco verticals at Pinterest. She was responsible for national sales strategy and development and shaping Pinterest's product development for those verticals. She was an active leader on the Women@ Pinterest group in Chicago and was a frequent speaker at industry events. She "boomeranged" back to Google in 2019 to help drive digital innovation with Food, Beverage & Restaurant brands. Earlier in her career, Megan worked at an Omnicom advertising agency overseeing relationships with brands in the Finance and Retail verticals. She started her career in market research for Restaurant and CPG brands, helping to launch digital research teams at comScore and The NPD Group. Megan also is an active #IamRemarkable facilitator, a program that serves to lift women and underrepresented groups by celebrating the power of diversity and self-advocacy. She currently resides in a suburb just outside of Chicago with her husband and three children.

Darshan Patel (BS '14, journalism) is currently a Writer and Researcher at TravelZoo. During his time at Illinois, he worked at The Daily Illini, where he wrote about the U of I administration before becoming editor-in-chief. He also interned at several places including WGN Radio in Chicago, WCID in Champaign and ABC News in New York. After college, he worked at three TV stations: KCRG in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; WDJT in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and then WMAQ in Chicago.


Recorded September 7, 2022.

Panelists include:

Jim Bosiljevac (BS '98, advertising), VP, Head of Brand Creative at Yahoo, leads a team of 60+ creatives, producers, strategists, engineers, and brand marketers. After graduating from the University of Illinois advertising program, he completed the VCU Brandcenter’s portfolio program, then worked as a copywriter in Chicago for four years on accounts like McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, and Beef (It’s what’s for dinner!). He then spent 12 years at DDB San Francisco, where he started as a copywriter and eventually led the creative team. After DDB and a little freelance work, he joined Yahoo as the head of their creative team in 2016. Over his career, he and his teams have produced thousands of TV, print, and digital ads, events and experiences for a wide range of brands, including tech (Yahoo, Google, Apple Beats, Facebook, Oracle), things you can eat (Heinz, Slim Jim, Chef Boyardee), and things you definitely should not eat (Clorox, Fresh Step, Delta Airlines, ESPN). He has also taught classes at the Chicago Portfolio School, Miami Ad School, and the University of Texas. He lives in Austin with his wife, three kids, and one bulldog.

Grace Chen (MS '10, advertising) is originally from Taiwan, and she arrived in the U.S. in 2008 for the College of Media’s master’s program in advertising. She knew very little about brands, research methods, industry terminology, and not to mention how to get internships and make herself competitive in a tough economy. Fast-forward 12 years, she is currently a product manager at Facebook (META) and has been able to work in multiple functions throughout her career, by working in: product management, product marketing, vendor management, analytics, and media planning. She has worked for a few big-name companies such as Amazon, Expedia, Starcom Mediavest Group, and Ogilvy & Mather. Her experience at the College of Media was the beginning to many important milestones in her career.

Dave Wesolowski (BS '83, advertising) is currently an Accenture Song Account Lead with a background in digital business transformation with 20+ years solving complex strategic, operational, organizational change, and governance challenges. Additionally, he has helped drive new customer/employee experience, products, sales, e-commerce, content, social, and digital marketing solutions for B2C, B2B, B2D2B, and B2B2C clients. Dave infuses design thinking, innovation, and business management expertise to develop holistic, experience-led, and executable plans that help organizations reach their digital ambition. Dave launched his career in leading brand advertising agencies creating big ideas as a copywriter and art director. Through this foundation, he acquired deep knowledge in strategy, ideation, innovation, brand marketing and customer experience. Dave earned an Integrated Marketing Communications (CPE) degree from DePaul University in 2012, and a bachelor’s in advertising from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


Recorded April 12, 2022.

Panelists include:

Renee Cogdell Lewis, Legal and HR Consultant, Private Investigator, Mediator, and Coach at MFR Law Group PLLC (BS '90, Journalism)

Aura L. Lichtenberg, Partner and Divorce and Family Law Attorney at Berger Schatz (BS '06, Journalism)

David E. McCraw, Lead Newsroom Lawyer at The New York Times (BS '76, Journalism)

Todd Stern, Entertainment Attorney and Shareholder at the law firm of Weintraub Tobin (BS '85, Advertising)


Recorded March 2, 2022.

Panelists include:

Isabel Morales, Media Relations Manager at The Nature Conservancy (BS '13, Journalism)

Rosie Powers, Strategist at Mission Minded (BS '12, Journalism)

Bradley Smith, Program Development Manager at Children’s Miracle Network (BS '18, Advertising)


Recorded February 9, 2022.

Panelists include:

Stephen Feder, Producer, T-Street Productions (BS '02, Media Studies) 

Emma Miller, Senior Vice President, Scripted Development and Programming, AMC Networks (BS '08, Media Studies)

Mike Vainisi, Head of Original Content, ATTN: (BS '08, Journalism)


Recorded April 6, 2021.

Panelists include:

Michael Brumm is currently a producer/writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he has played a sleazy banana, an angry ear of corn, and a man with his head in a vise. He was also a consulting producer on At Home with Amy Sedaris, where he inspired Thanksgiving turkeys to rise up and murder humans. And before that, he was a 4-time Emmy-winning writer for The Colbert Report, where he wrote jokes for President Obama and the always-hilarious Henry Kissinger. Michael has also written the children's book His Royal Dogness: Guy The Beagle, which received a cease and desist letter from the Duchess of Sussex herself, and the upcoming graphic novel series The Cryptid Club (HarperCollins, due out 2022). When not working, Michael enjoys writing about himself in third-person for hastily thrown together bios. Go Illini! 

Linda Burstyn moved to LA to work as a drama writer. She’s worked as a writer/producer on a number of shows, including: Netflix’s The Girls on the Bus; History Channel’s Project Blue Book; AMC’s The Killing; NBC’s State of Affairs; CBS’s NCIS; ABC Family’s Chasing Life; USA’s In Plain Sight; NBC’s Patient Zero; CBS’s The Education of Max Bickford – among others. She just signed a deal with MGM on a 10-part limited series (The Ten Commandments of Jacob Ostreicher) that she created and together they will take out to sell to streamers this spring. She is currently pitching another drama series (Torrent Point) and is in development on a third one for Gemstone Studios.

Catherine Adel West was born and raised in Chicago, where she currently resides. She graduated with both her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Her work is published in Black Fox Literary Magazine, Five2One, Better than Starbucks, Doors Ajar, 805 Lit + Art, The Helix Magazine, Lunch Ticket, and Gay Magazine. Catherine's short story ORION'S STAR is featured in the forthcoming body positive anthology EVERY BODY SHINES (Bloomsbury, May 2021). Her sophomore novel BECOMING SARA KING is slated for release in 2022. In between writing and traveling, Catherine works as an editor.


Recorded March 10, 2021.

Panelists include:

Dave Kissel
Dave Kissel is currently a Global Business Lead at Doyle Dane Bernbach Worldwide, one of the world's most creative advertising networks. As a partner to McDonald’s in 44 countries, the world’s largest restaurant company is DDB's biggest multi-national client. Dave is responsible for the global leadership and coordination of the agency's McDonald’s relationships, helping each office deliver high-impact strategy, content and experiences to measurably grow the McDonald’s brand and business. Dave is a member of DDB Worldwide’s Executive Leadership Team, as well as a member of Omnicom's Global Client Leadership Team. 
In addition, Dave is currently a Strategic Advisor to, and the former CEO of, InStadium, a national Nielsen-measured media network consisting of 450+ pro and college teams. Under Dave’s leadership, he helped transform InStadium into a multi-media video and gaming platform for major brands. Prior to InStadium, Dave helped create the award-winning agency Zócalo Group, Omnicom’s first dedicated social media agency, a division of Critical Mass.
A frequent speaker on sports marketing, advertising and social media, Dave has more than 25 years of accomplishments and awards in sports media and marketing. Dave is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Media, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism, and is currently a director on the College’s Executive Board. He lives in Chicago's northern suburbs with his wife and three daughters.

Taylor Rooks 
Taylor Rooks is a sports journalist and broadcaster. She is the host of Take it There with Taylor Rooks on Bleacher Report and appears regularly on Turner Sports programming. Prior to joining Bleacher Report and Turner Sports, Taylor served as reporter and anchor for SportsNet New York and as a host, reporter and correspondent for the Big Ten Network.

Carol Voronyak
Illinois alum (’04) Carol (Mayer) Voronyak is in her 17th year working for ESPN.  She currently serves as Director of Talent Recruiting and Negotiations.  After making connections as a student-athlete (golf) member of the Illinois Athletic Board, Voronyak secured a position as a production assistant at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, in 2004.  She has since worked her way up the ladder, relocating to ESPN's Chicago offices in 2010, and recently to a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. The Richmond, Illinois, native is responsible for recruiting on-air talent and negotiation of contracts for all ESPN platforms (ESPN, ESPN2, SEC Network, ACC Network, Snapchat, etc.) nationwide. 

Voronyak married her husband, Nate, in 2014. They have three small children: a daughter, Hope (5), and sons, Valor (3) and Lion (1).


Recorded February 10, 2021.

Panelists include:

Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He covers national politics, the presidency and Congress. He is also the author of several books including two bestsellers.

Nisha Chittal is the Director of Audience & Engagement at where she leads a team of journalists working on a multi-platform editorial and growth strategy. She has led teams and previously written for publications like,, Elle, Racked, Jezebel, Poynter, and others.

Michael Strautmanis is the Chief Engagement Officer at The Obama Foundation. He spent over a decade in Washington, DC, including serving in the Obama White House for four years as the Chief of Staff of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, and the President’s Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett.


Recorded November 10, 2020.

Panelists include:

Allan Brettman (BS ’81, journalism)
Allan works as a science writer on the project communications team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Prior to joining the PNNL, Allan was a business news reporter for The (Portland) Oregonian covering Nike and the sports business beat.  

Douglas Isbell (MS ’88 journalism) 
Doug is the Cross-Program Risk Communication Coordinator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he works on issues related to space nuclear power and sample return, including the most recent two Mars rover missions.

Emily Scott (MS ’19, journalism)
Emily is a public affairs specialist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Previously, she was a science writer at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. She has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Recorded October 14, 2020.

Panelists include:

Stephen Feder
Stephen is a producer at T-Street Productions. Prior to his current position, he was a Vice President at Lucasfilm and Senior Vice President at Annapurna Pictures.

Steve Hirsen
Steve was the original director of America’s Funniest Home Videos and Entertainment Tonight. He is currently a full-time professor at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Emma Miller
Emma Miller is Senior Vice President and co-head of AMC Scripted Development and Programming. After receiving her BA in Media Studies, she began her career with brief stints at The William Morris Agency, later WME. Her work at the agency piqued her interest in development, leading her to a job with Marti Noxon and Dawn Olmstead’s production company, Grady Twins. Later, Miller moved to Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television, where she gained extensive production experience working on multiple series, including The Americans, Under the Dome and The Borgias. She then joined AMC, where she has spent the last six years focused equally on development of new series and the overseeing of current series. Fear The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, The Son, Dietland, Nos4A2, Soulmates and The Walking Dead: World Beyond are among the series Miller has worked on during her time at the network. In 2018, Miller was named among Hollywood Reporter’s Next Gen: Rising Executives 35 and Under.

Mort Nathan
Mort was one of the creators of the Golden Girls TV series and has had a long career in comedy productions.

Frank Sinton
Frank is C.O.O. and Executive Producer at A. Smith and Company Productions. He is producer of such programs as Trading Spaces, America Ninja Warriors, and Hell's Kitchen.


Recorded September 23, 2020.

Panelists include:

Jack Modzelewski
Jack is chief executive of JackKnifePR, which provides communication advisory services to corporations, start-ups, and non-profit organizations. In his new book Talk is Chief – Leadership, Communications and Credibility in a High-Stakes World, Jack shares with leaders his life-long experiences advising organizational chiefs on messaging, media, marketing, crisis management, and stakeholder relationships. During his 35-year career with global communications agencies, he was president of FleishmanHillard International Communications, where he held other executive positions during his nearly 27 years with the firm.

Jim Schlueter
Jim is recently retired after a long career at Boeing, where he served as the Director of Technology Communications. He is a member of the College of Media Alumni Leadership Council.

Angela Sinickas
Angela is CEO of Sinickas Communications, an international management consultancy focusing on communication effectiveness, research, and strategy. She has worked with clients in 32 countries, including 25% of the Fortune 100 largest global companies. A frequent speaker at conferences and a former adjunct instructor at Northeastern University, she has published a manual, textbook chapters, and over 150 articles about measurably successful communication.