CoJMC Annual J Days Celebration

Students, alumni and distinguished professionals will be honored during the college’s J Days celebration April 8-12.

Elizabeth Sanzone of LaunchSquad in San Francisco, Calif., will deliver the keynote address at the annual honors convocation April 11. 

The college will induct students into the journalism honor society, Kappa Tau Alpha, and recognize students who made the dean's honor roll and university honors. In addition, scholarship recipients and those who won regional and national competitions in advertising, public relations, broadcasting and news and special awards will be recognized. 

Alumni and professionals being recognized during the honors convocation include:

  • Elizabeth Sanzone, the Will and Susan Norton Award for International Journalism.
  • Rich Bailey, the Dean's Award for Outstanding Service.
  • Eileen Wirth, the Kappa Tau Alpha Outstanding Service Award.
  • Stacy James, the College Distinguished Teaching Award.
  • Joe Dejka and Jeff Robb, the Thomas C. Sorensen Award for Distinguished Nebraska Journalism.

Advertising faculty member Stacy James will be recognized as the recipient of the 2013 College Distinguished Teaching Award. She will formally receive that award at the university-wide honors convocation.

The college will present the College of Journalism and Mass Communications Awards of Excellence at a luncheon April 12 to the following:

  • Robin Fitzgerald, Jenny Bohuslavsky, Paula Lavigne and Kristine Johnson, alumni awards of excellence.
  • John C. Mitchell, the Broadcast Pioneer Award, presented in conjunction with the Nebraska Broadcasters Association.

Begun in 1992, J Days is a week-long celebration of the accomplishments of the students, faculty and alumni of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

J Days logo

Students, alumni and distinguished professionals will be honored during the college’s J Days celebration April 8-12.

Bios and photos of the honorees are below.


Elizabeth Sanzone

Elizabeth (Beth) Sanzone

Elizabeth (Beth) Sanzone is currently a vice president at LaunchSquad working with a variety of growth technology companies helping her clients develop handcrafted PR strategies and campaigns. She helps create their stories, their strategies, their entire communications programs.

Before moving to San Francisco and entering the world of start-ups, Beth served as the communications officer at the U.S. Embassy in Panama. She was responsible for helping shape the public diplomacy strategy, which included composing messaging and speeches for the U.S. Ambassador and other senior U.S. government officials.

Prior to living in the “Banana Republic”, she was a senior associate at APCO Worldwide, a global communications consulting firm, located in Washington. D.C. At APCO, she provided Fortune-500 clients as well as non-profit organizations strategic counsel on communication strategy, crisis management, external affairs, issue advocacy and corporate social responsibility.

Additionally, Beth served as the U.S. Embassy spokesperson and media affairs attaché in Kabul, Afghanistan. Before her tour in Afghanistan, Beth served as press secretary for the then U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a Master of Business Administration from Florida International University.


Rich Bailey

Rich Bailey

Rich Bailey co-founded Bailey Lauerman in 1970. The Nebraska-based marketing communications firm has consistently gained national recognition and was selected as one of Ad Age magazine’s agency of the year recipients in 2012.  Rich retired as chairman and CEO in 2007.  He is a 1967 graduate of UNL and continues to maintain close ties to the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.  

Rich serves frequently as an adjunct instructor and guest lecturer.  For the past six years, he has been an adviser to the UNL National Student Advertising Competition class, including last year’s national championship team.  He is a past recipient of AAF’s 9th District ad person of the year award and the Nebraska AAF silver medal.


Eileen Wirth

Eileen M. Wirth

Dr. Eileen M. Wirth is chair of the Department of Journalism, Media and Computing at Creighton University, Omaha. She joined Creighton in 1991 and serves on numerous university committees in addition to writing a weekly blog called “Your Online Advisor” that appears on the websites of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Creighton Career Center. She is a former reporter for the Omaha World- Herald and a former public relations official for Union Pacific Railroad. She holds three degrees from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln including a B.A. in journalism and political science, an M.A. in journalism and a doctorate in political science; she also has an M.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota. She is a member of Cather Circle, consisting of UNL women alums of distinction.

Eileen is the author of six books including “From Society Page to Front Page: Nebraska Women in Journalism,” the history of the first hundred years of Nebraska’s female journalists just published by University of Nebraska Press. Her other books include “How to Adopt a Child From Another Country,” “The Omaha Experience,” written for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and “They Made All the Difference,” a book about the nation’s Jesuit high schools. She also has done freelance writing for numerous local, regional, national and scholarly publications and conducts workshops connected with public relations for a variety of community groups.


Jenny Bohuslavsky

Jenny Bohuslavsky

Jenny Bohuslavsky has spent the past 14 years launching, building and supporting some of the greatest brands in the world. As senior vice president of consumer marketing at Weber Shandwick Worldwide in New York, Jenny guides business development and strategy and develops and executes buzz-worthy PR and social campaigns.

As the global client relationship lead for Weber Shandwick’s Pepsi business, Jenny launched Pepsi NEXT, the world’s only mid-calorie cola, with a Desperate Housewife, hunky telanovela and action star mash-up; convinced America’s favorite vampire (Ashley Greene) to wear zero (except body paint) to launch SoBe Lifewater Zero; brought one of the world’s most powerful women (PepsiCo CEO Indra K Nooyi) to thousands of Internet moms at BlogHer; rallied America’s communities around the Pepsi Refresh Project; resurrected a life-sized version of “PepsiColand” to inspire product portfolio discovery; and most recently took a poke at Coke on the Super Bowl stage.

She also introduced the first “no ride up” panty for Hanes; educated the laundry-challenged about high efficiency with Wisk; got Vice President Biden to take a dunk for Windows Phones on “Ellen”; rode shotgun with The Pussy Cat Dolls to “The Grammies” for GM; and rallied all the MAC VIVA GLAM divas to celebrate $100 million raised for the MAC AIDS FUND.

Jenny began her public relations career at Best Buy Co., Inc., where she supported sponsorships and events including the Sting concert in New York’s Central Park, product launches and branding campaigns that accomplished tasks like encouraging women to let men purchase that first “big screen.”

Robin Fitzgerald

Robin Fitzgerald

Robin Fitzgerald is a 1997 graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications. During her time at UNL, she enjoyed a long internship at Swanson Russell Associates, in both Lincoln and Omaha. After graduation, she began her career as a copywriter at Bozell Worldwide, back when it was still in the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha.

Robin is now vice president, creative director at Crispin Porter ­— Bogusky in Los Angeles. She got her start with the agency from 2002-2004, during which she helped to launch the MINI’s successful U.S. campaign, and returned in 2010 to work on Old Navy, Grey Poupon and Vitaminwater.

In between, Robin had a long stint at TBWAChiatDay LA, in which she created work for every car and truck in the Nissan line-up, detoxed homes with Method and produced successful campaigns for Energizer, Gatorade and VISA. Her work has been recognized by the One Show, Cannes, Communication Arts, Clios, Obies and Kelly Awards, as well as a small scrapbook her mom is putting together.

Her recent work includes “The Society of Good Taste” Facebook app and “Pardon Me” Academy Awards takeover that marked Grey Poupon’s return to advertising after a 15-year hiatus, as well as Old Navy campaigns that bring pop culture icons of the past back to the mainstream. Earlier this year, she was named one of the 33 Most Creative Women in Advertising by Business Insider.

Christine Johnson

Kristine Johnson

Kristine Johnson co-anchors the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. news at the CBS owned and operated station in New York City.  She joined WCBS in fall 2006.  Since then she has been nominated for several Emmy Awards and has won seven trophies.  Most recently she logged 10-12 hour days behind the anchor desk covering Hurricane Sandy and the blizzard of 2013.

She also covered live stories ranging from Pope Benedict’s visit to the Big Apple to the miracle landing on the Hudson. She has field anchored several historic events, including breaking news coverage from Ground Zero after the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden and the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks with former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama in attendance. She also broadcast live in the days following the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Kristine began her career in 1994 at WPRI in Providence, R.I.  She left Providence for New York City in 2004 to be a daytime anchor at MSNBC. She also anchored NBC’s national broadcast “Early Today” and was a news reader on the weekend edition of the “Today Show.” 

Almost seven years ago, she took over the evening anchor desk at WCBS in the number one market in the nation. Kristine lives in northern New Jersey with her husband (also a UNL alumnus) and their two children. She has worked closely with the greater New York chapters of the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure, March of Dimes, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Down Syndrome Society, The Brain Tumor Foundation, Arts to Grow and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run.

Paula Lavigne

Paula Lavigne

Paula Lavigne has been with ESPN since May 2008 as a reporter for television and online, working primarily for the show “Outside the Lines.” Her prior experience includes working for newspapers in Dallas, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Tacoma, Wash; and St. Joseph, Mo. She is experienced in covering several topics and is a specialist in computer-assisted reporting and statistics. She’s able to navigate a database as well as a hostile NBA locker room.
She was among the team of reporters and producers nominated for a Sports Emmy Award in 2009 for a story on Penn State University players getting in trouble with the law. She won a Gannett Foundation Award for innovation for a story on the dangers of sports stadium food in 2011. She was also the reporter on a story that was a finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award in 2012 for exposing rampant high-stakes gambling on little league football in South Florida. And, as an example of her varied background, in 2007 she was named Agricultural Journalist of the Year by the North American Agricultural Journalists organization for an investigative series on organic food fraud.

Paula is active in the National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a master’s degree in business administration from Creighton University. She lives in Omaha with her husband and their twins, and is active in fundraising for Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the disease that took their first-born son, Wyatt.


John Mitchell

John C. Mitchell

Born December 17, 1924, in Kearney, Neb., John graduated cum laude from Kearney State College, Kearney, Neb. While attending Kearney State, John worked part-time seven days a week for four years as an announcer at KGFW.

Following graduation, he went to Washington, D.C., where he graduated with honors from Georgetown University School of Law.

In 1953, John took his first broadcast ownership step by buying KGFW, Kearney.
In 1968, he moved to Omaha and five years later purchased KRCB in Coucil Bluffs and through the years acquired additional broadcast properties.

In the political world, John served as chairman of the Buffalo County Democratic party, state chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party and was elected as the first national president of the Association of Democratic State Chairmen and was one of the founders of that organization.

In addition, he served on the original Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Standardized Jury Instruction and on the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Practice and Procedure for 12 years.

He received the Outstanding Alumnus award from Kearney State College and the Kearney State College Distinguished Service Award and served on the College Foundation Board. He also served a term on the board of the Omaha Airport Authority.