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Counselors to Higher Education Section Leadership


Sheena McFarland
Immediate Past Chair
Executive Director of Public Affairs & Communications
Reed College
Portalnd, OR

Sheena McFarland Bio

Sheena-McFarlandSheena McFarland, Ed.D., is the Director of the Marketing + Communications team at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. Sheena brings more than 5 years of higher education communications and marketing experience, and more than a decade of experience working at a daily newspaper. During her 6 years at the Eccles School, Sheena has served as a Communications Specialist, Associate Director, and Director of Marketing + Communications. She also has spent the past 3 years serving as an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Marketing at the Eccles School.

Sheena is passionate about equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education spaces and beyond. She serves on the University of Utah’s MLK Week Organizing Committee and was the Morris Media & Society Lecture Keynote Speaker at Utah State University in 2019, addressing “Minoritized No More: Ending Marginalization in Marketing.”

Sheena joined the PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Executive Committee in 2019. She is serving as the chair-elect in 2021, and she hopes to serve as chair in 2022. Sheena previously served on her local Greater Salt Lake Chapter’s Board from 2016-2017.

Sheena earned her Master of Public Administration and Doctorate of Educational Leadership & Policy at the University of Utah in December 2019. Her doctoral research focused on which factors increase persistence of women students in STEM fields. She also holds a certificate in Integrated Marketing and Communications from the University of Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in communication and minors in French and biology teaching.

Sheena is an avid traveler, having visited all 7 continents, and enjoys stargazing and spending time with her husband, James, and their Jack Russel terrier, Amber. Sheena is a rabid Real Salt Lake fan.

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sheena-mcfarland/

Renea Morris, APR, Fellow PRSA
Vice Chancellor for Marketing & Communications
University of Denver
Denver, CO

Renea Morris Bio

Renea-MorrisRenea Morris is vice chancellor for marketing and communications at the University of Denver, and as a member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, leads the strategy for developing a cohesive brand narrative to enhance the reputation of the university.

Prior to her position at the University of Denver, Morris was at Ohio University for 9 years. As Chief Marketing Officer, she led the university’s communication and marketing department and while there, extended an existing brand campaign to support a major fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal by $50M. She also created the university’s first comprehensive research-based marketing campaign, “Ohio University: it’s you,” to increase awareness and enrollment at its residential campus, medical school, and five regional campuses. At the undergraduate level, the university experienced year-over-year historical highs in applications, students, and class quality for seven straight years. The campaign received two Emmy nominations, several industry awards, and a PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence. Additionally, Morris endowed a scholarship to support students in The Scripps College of Communications named for her father-in-law and grandfather, both veterans, who didn’t attend college.

Including more than 12 years of public and private higher education leadership, Morris has worked in marketing and communications for nearly 3 decades, managing teams of more than 50. Her experience spans the corporate sector as well as serving as co-founder of a non-profit organization created to support job development for inner city youth after the Rodney King riots.

As co-founder, Morris created and published a magazine and distributed 50,000 copies weekly in communities hardest hit after the riots and worked with area employers to secure more than 3,000 jobs for young people. The magazine, “Fresh Start,” was chosen for a special insert into the national printed edition of “AdWeek.” Her efforts inspired the California Governor to establish a community service commission as a provision under President Clinton’s National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 (now AmeriCorps). This legacy, known as CaliforniaVolunteers, continues today.

Morris is a longstanding member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and holds an accreditation in public relations (APR designation). She was inducted into the PRSA College of Fellows in 2021, considered the gold standard for public relations professionals. For several years, Morris has served on the executive committee of PRSA’s Counselors to Higher Education (CHE), comprised of nearly 600 communication professionals serving higher education institutions. For two years, when she served as sponsorship chair, CHE experienced the highest membership and fundraising totals in its 20-plus year history. She also served on the national nominating committee and the College of Fellows mentoring and coaching program for HBCU students. Morris is the 2023 Chair of CHE.

Morris earned her Master of Education degree from Ohio University. Originally from Chicago, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also holds a Professional Designation Certificate in Public Relations from UCLA.

Morris and her husband, Reginald, have four adult children, and are enjoying the freedom of being empty nesters and grandparents.

Connect with Morris on email or LinkedIn.

April Kaull
Chair - Elect
Executive Director of Communications
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV
April Kaull Bio


April Kaull is the executive director of Communications for University Relations and Enrollment Management, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the unit, which is charged with telling West Virginia University’s story. 

Kaull joined WVU in January 2015 after spending more than 20 years as a broadcast journalist in West Virginia, including vice president of news operations for West Virginia Media, LLC. where she led several newsrooms comprising more than 150 journalists and anchored and served as the executive producer for the company’s nightly statewide newscast. She has earned numerous awards from the Associated Press for her work, including the Douglas Southall Freeman Meritorious Award for Public Service Through Television Journalism.

A two-time graduate of West Virginia University, Kaull received her bachelor’s degree in broadcast news in 1995 and her master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication in 2016. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the WVU Reed College of Media.

Kaull has long been an active member of the Counselors to Higher Education (CHE) section of the Public Relations Society of America. As a member of the Executive Committee, she most recently served as the Programming Committee co-chair working to develop and present programming focused on the most pressing challenges facing higher education. She now chairs the Section’s Sponsorship engagement and was elected as the Executive Committee’s chair-elect for 2023.
A native West Virginian, Kaull enjoys exploring the natural wonders of the Mountain State with her family and cheering on the Mountaineers in all sports.

Connect with Kaull via email at akaull@mail.wvu.edu, via Linkedin or Twitter.


Brian Whitson
Recruitment Chair
Chief Communications Officer
William & Mary
Williamsburg, VA

Brian Whitson Bio

Brian Whitson leads University Communications at William & Mary.

As the Chief Communications Officer, Whitson serves as the university's senior communications strategist and is a member of the President's Cabinet and Executive Leadership Team. His responsibilities include university-wide media and public relations programs, issue management, crisis communications, the William & Mary News, research communications, national news, university web and design, social media, visual identity and online and print publications.

Whitson also chairs the university's Emergency Communications Team, as well as a coordinating committee of communications professionals from across campus. Since March 2020, he has led a university-wide Unified Communications Team that includes squads devoted to marketing and branding, internal and external communications, COVID response, and editorial, media and social media.

Whitson has been a part of the executive committee for PRSA’s Counselor’s to Higher Education since 2018 and currently serves as chair of the recruitment committee. He received his B.S. in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University where he completed the News Editorial track within Mass Communications. Before coming to W&M in 2003, Whitson worked as a daily newspaper reporter. His last journalism position was covering higher education for the Daily Press in Newport News.

Whitson and his wife, Monet, have two adult sons, Morgan and Garrett, and three spoiled Boston Terriers, Mo, Riley and Dexter.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-whitson-9642a89/

Christen Engel
Senior Vice President
Poston Communications
Atlanta, GA

Dana Fair, APR at large
Senior Marketing Communications Specialist
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Dana Fair Bio

Dana Fair headshot

Dana Fair has provided over 30 years of strategic communications leadership in the public and private sectors with experience in global and domestic matters. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and a M.A. in higher education administration from Eastern Michigan University.

A chief communications officer, Dana has managed communications issues in areas such as automotive, civic engagement, counseling, disability services, fraternity and sorority life, health and human services, information assurance and privacy, international affairs, LGBTQ+ affairs, multi-ethnic affairs, sexual assault prevention and awareness, technology, university housing, and more. 

He has delivered on strategic communications outcomes involving climate for marginalized communities, people of color, and religious/spiritual communities; conflicts connected to hate/bias incidents and political polarization; social matters related to child abuse, drug abuse, fan behavior, and hazing; and administrative concerns around institutional budgets and investments, immigration, mental health, town-gown relations, and vendor engagement and labor practices. 

He has been recognized by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education with a Circle of Excellence bronze medal and the Association of College and University Housing Officers International with an award for communications planning. At the Voronezh Institute of High Technologies in Russia, he received an International Program of Academic Exchanges certificate for his presentations to leadership on the importance of diversity and co-curricular education in academia. 

An accredited (APR) member of the Public Relations Society of America, Dana has served on CHE’s executive committee for nearly seven years – returning in 2021 to collaborate with the multi-university team of executive leaders and to assist in delivering on the section’s mission and goals.

Jamie Ceman
Vice President for Marketing and Communications,
Chapman University
Orange, CA

Jamie Ceman Bio
Jamie-CemanJamie Ceman is the Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications for Chapman University. Jamie began her role as vice president on February 6, 2018. She came to Chapman with 20 years of marketing and digital experience in both the public and private sectors. Prior to joining Chapman, she served as the Assistant Chancellor of University Marketing and Communications at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh.

Originally from the Midwest, Jamie’s career includes e-business consulting in the private sector and e-commerce marketing for two national brands prior to entering higher education in the University of Wisconsin System. She is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including being an honoree of the 2022 PRNews Top Women award, and recognition from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (Hermes and MarCom Awards) and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence. In fact, Jamie and her team at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh were the first-ever winners of the American Marketing Association’s Higher Education Marketer of the Year Award.

At Chapman, Jamie leads the continued evolution and roll-out of the University’s branding strategy to continue the push to national and international stature for the institution.

An alumna of the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Jamie earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in management information systems. She also holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University and is currently a doctoral candidate in leadership and organizational change at the University of Southern California (USC).
Jasmine Hoffman, APR
Assistant Vice President, Internal Communications
Emory University
Milton, GA

Jasmine Hoffman Bio

jasmineJasmine Hoffman, APR, is an accomplished leader in communications and marketing. She currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Communications and Marketing and Chief of Staff at Emory University. With a keen focus on strategy, operations, and internal communications, Jasmine has provided invaluable leadership to the university since joining in 2010. 

Jasmine's extensive experience at Emory includes serving as the Assistant Vice President for Internal Communications and the Associate Dean and Chief Operating Officer for the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Prior to joining Emory, Jasmine led successful PR initiatives for the University of Pittsburgh's $2 billion-dollar fundraising campaign. 

Jasmine's contributions to the field of communications and marketing have been recognized with numerous awards from prestigious organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the International Association of Business Communicators, and the Council for the Advancement and Support for Education. Her exceptional work has earned her accolades such as the PRSA's Shining Star Award in 2015, PRSA's Forty Under 40 Award in 2019, and Emory University's Award of Distinction, the university's highest honor for staff. 

In addition to her impressive accomplishments, Jasmine is an active member of PRSA since 2005. She served as the president of PRSA Georgia in 2019. She is also on the board of directors for two Georgia-based non-profits—HealthMPowers and McClure Health Sciences High School.  

Jasmine holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Alabama. She also earned Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from PRSA in 2010. 


John Della Contrada
Vice President for Communications
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY


Jamie Hunt
Vice President for University Communications and Chief Marketing Officer
Old Dominion University

Jamie Hunt Bio

Jaime-HuntTransformation has been a hallmark of Jaime Hunt’s career. In her more than 18 years working in higher education, Jaime has proven herself to be a strategic, entrepreneurial, and innovative leader. Advancing higher education communications and marketing and – as she says – “busting silos” to achieve business objectives are her passions.

Prior to joining the ODU family in 2022, she served as vice president and chief communications and marketing officer at Miami University (Ohio) and vice chancellor for strategic communications and chief marketing officer for Winston-Salem State University. She has also served in public relations, marketing, digital strategy and media relations leadership roles at three other institutions. 

Jaime is a prolific thought leader with regular columns in Forbes, VoltEDU, and Inside Higher Ed, and is the host of a popular podcast on the Enrollify network: Confessions of a Higher Ed CMO with Jaime Hunt. She believes a rising tide lifts all boats and strives to help her colleagues join her in maturing their communications and marketing operations.
Jonathan Riskind
Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs
American Council on Education
Washington, DC
Jonathan Riskind Bio

headshot of Jonathan RiskindJonathan Riskind oversees ACE’s Office of Public Affairs, which works to maintain the Council’s presence as a top source for media on higher education issues and policy, enhance public understanding of a wide range of higher education topics, advocate on behalf of ACE membership on key issues, and promote the important work of ACE programs. He works closely with ACE’s Office of Government Relations to help communicate the Council’s public policy positions to policymakers and the media, and works with divisions across the Council to increase visibility and awareness of ACE programs and initiatives.


Riskind arrived at ACE in April 2012 after a career in journalism. He was a longtime reporter and Washington Bureau Chief for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, where he covered Congress, the White House, federal agencies and state and national political campaigns, and was the recipient of numerous journalism awards. Prior to joining the Council, he served as Washington Bureau Chief for a group of papers in Maine, including the Portland Press Herald.


He holds a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College (MN), and is a native of Chicago.

Katie Drake
Associate Director, Marketing and Communications
David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah  

Katie Drake Bio

Katie-DrakeKatie Drake is a communications professional with more than 10 years of experience in the public relations field. She is currently the Associate Director of the Marketing + Communications team at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. Before joining the Eccles School M+C team in March of 2017, Katie served for five years as the Director of Education at the social media marketing company Social 5, and before that worked for nearly five years as a reporter at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Katie is deeply dedicated to open, transparent, and proactive public relations in higher education. Her tireless work has resulted in several faculty members at the Eccles School being featured in prominent news sources such as The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and more. She maintains excellent relationships with local reporters at news outlets in Utah, ensuring they receive prompt and accurate information and sources. This work has elevated the reputation of the Eccles School and University of Utah, helping the school to continue to rise in national rankings, which typically are based on opinions of fellow business school deans and former students, and has been an important part of donor stewardship communications.

Katie’s work goes even deeper into public relations as she also recognizes and understands the transformational power of higher education and strives to find new ways to make higher education accessible to all. She is passionate about representation for voices from diverse backgrounds, and works to tell the stories of historically underserved people. Katie has worked to give back to fellow public relations professionals through activities such as co-organizing the 2019 David Eccles School of Business Communications Summit, a free day of professional development open to any public relations professional on a Utah campus. The event won the 2019 Best in Show Golden Spike Award for its success and positive impact on the public relations community of Utah. This year, she organized and moderated a panel focused on how to work with faculty members to streamline their research findings and get that information into the hands of reporters at the 2022 PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Senior Summit held in Washington, D.C. in August.

Katie was elected to the national PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Executive Committee in November 2021 and began serving in January 2022. She previously had demonstrated her dedication to the section as a member through her volunteerism on planning committees for the Counselors to Higher Education Forum and Summit for several years, and through her service as co-chair of the planning committee for the 2022 Senior Summit. She will serve as planning committee co-chair for the upcoming 2023 Senior Summit. Katie has served the Greater Salt Lake PRSA Chapter as well, having served on the planning committee for the Golden Spike Awards in previous years, taking a particularly strong role in organizing its 30th anniversary event.

Lance Kisller
Associate Vice President of University Relations
Eastern Washington University
Cheney, WA

Lance Kisller Bio
Lance Kissler headshot

Lance Kissler is the Associate Vice President of University Relations at Eastern Washington University, overseeing marketing, communications, and alumni relations for the university. Lance brings more than 15 years of experience to this role, including prior experience at STCU and Pacific University. He earned his Masters of Science in Communications and BA in Graphic Communications from Eastern in 2010 and 2004, respectively. He also teaches classes on social media, digital marketing and PR at both EWU and Whitworth University as an adjunct instructor.

As a member of PRSA since 2005, his commitment to the public relations profession includes serving on the Counselors to Higher Education section executive committee, as well as former officer roles with the Greater Spokane PRSA and Portland chapters. 

Lance currently serves as the Chair of the City of Spokane Human Rights Commission. He formerly served on the boards of INBA (the regional LGBTQ+ and ally chamber of commerce), CASE District VIII, and Leadership Spokane, as well as gubernatorial appointments on the Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. He graduated with the Leadership Spokane Class of 2014 and has volunteered with the End the Violence campaign (a collaboration of domestic violence service organizations in the Spokane area), the Red Cross, SNAP, Spokane AIDS Network, and the Spokane Humane Society, amongst others. In 2012, EWU honored him with the inaugural Inspirational Young Alumnus Award, and in 2016 he received the Spirit of the Red Cross award for his service to the community.


Melissa Farmer Richards
Vice President for Communications and Marketing
Hamilton College

Melissa Farmer Richards Bio

Melissa-RichardsMelissa has served as vice president for communications and marketing at Hamilton College since 2019. As vice president for communications and enrollment management at Sweet Briar College from 2017 to 2019, she launched an enrollment marketing and public relations campaign that resulted in a year-over-year increase in applications by 25 percent and overall enrollment by 40 percent. From 2015 to 2017, she served as vice president for communications at St. Lawrence University where she managed university communications, including oversight for North Country Public Radio, an NPR affiliate. In 2016-17, she also managed admissions and financial aid.

From 2009 to 2015, Melissa worked at Virginia Tech where she was promoted to assistant vice president for marketing and publications. Her portfolio included licensing and trademarks and the university’s visitor center.

Melissa currently serves on the national PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Executive Committee, and as president for the PRSA-Central New York Chapter. Prior to her career in higher education she spent 16 years in the corporate sector where she held senior positions at start-up and global technology organizations. Melissa earned a Master of Public Administration at Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Virginia. 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissafarmerrichards/

Sean Rossall
CEO & Managing Partner
RW Jones Agency
Pasadena, CA
Sean Rossall Bio

Sean-RossallAs CEO of RW Jones, Sean is our senior-most public relations counselor. During his nearly two-decade career, he has played an integral role in counseling clients and helping them to implement full-scale strategic communications programs and issues management initiatives. With a lifelong passion for education, Sean works closely with presidents and executive leaders to think strategically about their institutions and their role in both shaping institutional narratives and contributing to the public discourse in meaningful ways. 

Prior to joining RW Jones, Sean led the crisis and media relations practice at one of Los Angeles’ largest and oldest PR and public affairs firms. In this role, he connected clients’ PR and political strategies in ways that supported their sometimes-disparate demands.

www.rwjonesagency.com | O: 323.999.5201 | M: 310.210.7586 | sean@rwjonesagency.com 


Tammy Demel
AVP, University Relations
Kennesaw State University
Marietta, GA

Michael Warden
Senior Counsel/Principal
Warden Public Relations
Brookhaven, GA

Michael Warden Bio
MichaelWardenMichael L. Warden, APR, is a senior communications, marketing and public relations practitioner/consultant based in Atlanta. 

Experienced chief communications and marketing officer, counselor, consultant, executive with broad expertise in all aspects of public relations, strategic communications, crisis, branding and marketing communications. Successful leading award-winning teams of creative professionals driving international brand recognition and reputation. Experienced executive in C-Suite communications counsel with a national reputation and record of leadership in the profession.

Advise and counsel leadership of colleges and universities, associations and nonprofits on strategic marketing and communications, organizational change management, strategic communication and marketing communications planning, crisis and issues management, and response. Advise leaders in building and integrating strategically focused communications and marketing communications programs, organizations, and staffing.  Provide mentoring/coaching for senior communications leaders and staff.   Conduct communications and marketing program audits, leading peer reviews and assist organizations providing transition and interim team leadership and managing recruiting/staffing.

Served in the U.S. Air Force in numerous positions worldwide including director, chief and public affairs staff officer, American Forces Radio and Television Service officer, media relations staff, aide-de-camp, research fellow and speechwriter.  Responsible for leadership of communications/marketing support for the Air Force’s highest visibility procurement, logistics, classified/unclassified research, and development programs in assignments at all echelons from the Pentagon to base- and unit-level leading staffs and teams of four to more than 400 worldwide. Held security clearances throughout all military service up to top secret.

Accredited public relations practitioner.  Former chair, Counselors to Higher Education professional interest section.  Current chair of Counselors to Higher Education Advisory Group.

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/michaelwardenapr 
Website:  www.wardenpublicrelations.com