CIO, Evening Post Industries
The Dean’s Leadership Council is a diverse group of leading professionals and thought leaders committed to supporting the vision of the College of Information and Communications. The council also assists with activities that align with the most current industry drivers in both the commercial and public sectors worldwide.
CIO, Evening Post Industries
Manager, Digital & Advocacy Communications, IBM
CEO, Bespoke Sports & Entertainment
In his role as president of Cookerly PR, Stephen Michael Brown, APR, Fellow PRSA develops creative strategies to help organizations stand out in the crowded multimedia marketplace. Stephen is proud to work on a marquee roster of clients including Mercedes-Benz, Novelis, Deluxe, Pinewood Forest, Georgia-Pacific and The Home Depot.
He is also passionate about the arts in Atlanta, as board member and past chairman of Actor’s Express, advisory board member of Alliance Theatre and board member of Serenbe Playhouse. He is founder/chief critic of his own blog, SilverScreenCapture.com where he reviews movies and sometimes reports from the Oscars.
He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, whose journalism student center bears his name, and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. He is winner of the George Goodwin Award for his combination of public relations excellence and service to the community.
Pamela (P.J.) Browning became Senior Vice President with Evening Post Industries and President of Evening Post Industries Newspaper Division in July of 2013. She is also President and Publisher of The Post and Courier in Charleston.
Prior to Charleston she was President and Publisher of The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, and President and Publisher at The Telegraph in Macon, GA, both owned by The McClatchy Company. During her time with The Sun News, Browning guided the newspaper in a highly competitive market in which tourism plays a pivotal role. She also did extensive work bringing the newspaper into the digital era. Under her leadership, Macon became one of the top newspapers in terms of re-engineering operations and innovative use of the internet. Before arriving in Macon, P.J. served as President and Publisher of the Centre Daily Times in State College, PA, a Knight-Ridder owned newspaper. Her first role as Publisher was at the Sentinel in Carlisle, PA.
While attending college, P.J. began her career at the News-Leader in Springfield, MO in 1984. Journalism bound with sites on attending law school, ink soon got in her blood and plans changed. P.J. worked in advertising at the News-Leader through graduation and was later promoted to a variety of positions through her 12 years at the paper before being promoted to the Advertising Director in Fort Collins, CO. Her newspaper advertising career later took her to Grand Rapids, MI and Asheville, N.C.
She is a graduate of Missouri State University with a bachelor of science in marketing.
P.J. is married to Kerry Browning and they have three grown children, Casey, Kylie and Cody. They are also proud grandparents of four. P.J. is a resident of Mt. Pleasant.
Browning currently serves on the Trident Technical College Board of Trustees. Browning also served as President of 2018-2019 Southern Newspaper Publishers Association; and Vice President of 2018-2019 S.C. Press Association.
Lee Bussell is Chairman & CEO of Chernoff Newman, one of the Southeast's most influential integrated communications firms.
During his more than 40 years of experience he has been actively involved in Corporate Communication and Issue Management across the state and country. Bussell spent the decade of the nineties and half of the following decade working with global technology companies like Pirelli, Cisco and Ansaldo. He spent five years working out of Silicon Valley with start up telecom infrastructure companies including Avanex, which did a $13.2 Billion IPO in 1999. He returned to Columbia in 2003 with a passion for helping clients top grow their businesses.
He has served as chairman of the State Chamber Of Commerce, The Columbia Chamber Of Commerce, the usc Alumni Association and served on The usc Board Of Trustees. He was named Ambassador of the year by the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, State Business Leader of the year by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Journalism and Algernon Sydney Sullivan award by The University of South Carolina.
CMO, Progressive Insurance
Founder & President, STEVE brand & strategic communication LLC
Mike Fernandez is SVP and chief communications officer at Enbridge. He has served as US CEO of Burson-Marsteller and as a c-suite exec for six Fortune 500 companies leading communications, government relations, marketing, sustainability and risk management. He was press secretary to SC U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings. He works in Calgary, Canada. His home is in Sumter, S.C.
Lisa Fischer is Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales, for UPtv and Aspire, responsible for overseeing all sales operations for the two networks from UPtv’s New York office. The 20+ year sales veteran joined UPtv and Aspire in January 2014. She was selected as Cablefax’s Salesperson of the Year in the National Sales category in 2017 and was named one of Cablefax’s Most Powerful Women in 2018.
Fischer joined UPtv and Aspire from ION Media Networks, where she was Senior Vice President, Network Advertising Sales since 2010. In that role, she was responsible for all of the network’s sales efforts.
Before joining ION, Fischer spent 12 years at Discovery Communications, most recently as Senior Vice President of Sales. During her four years in that position, she led sales on multiple networks including Discovery Health, Animal Planet, Fit TV, Discovery Kids and Investigation Discovery. She also launched ad sales operations for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.
During her first six years at Discovery, Fischer served as Vice President, Advertising Sales, eastern region after joining the company as an account executive.
From 1988-1998, Fischer was an account executive at USA Network and Syfy Channel.
Before joining the cable industry, she was network supervisor at Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt; and network buyer at Young & Rubicam.
Fischer is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and member of the Deans Council of the school of Communications and Information. She is a graduate of the WICT Senior Executive Summit at the Stanford Graduate school of Business.
She is an avid skier has two adult daughters and lives in NYC.
Vicky Free is the Global Brand Marketer for adidas .She is a proven expert in brand strategy, digital media, integrated marketing, branded content, consumer insights and business analytics across various consumer-centered industries. With more than twenty years of B2B and B2C experience, Vicky has developed strategic, innovative and results-driving campaigns for best-in-class global brands including McDonald’s, Warner Media, BET Networks, a division of VIACOM, The Walt Disney Company and Novant Health. Vicky has built a reputation as a general management leader with solid business acumen rooted in a culture of innovation, data-driven decision-making and collaborative relationships to deliver enterprise-wide impact.
A South Carolina native, Free holds an executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. She is actively involved in many professional organizations and has earned leadership certifications from UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management & Harvard University’s Executive Management program. Vicky is a member of the board of directors for PromaxBDA and serves as the Secretary of the Executive Board.
As a champion for strategic diversity, inclusion and equity, Vicky has played key roles in establishing and supporting the success of business resource groups across her career. She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and has been recognized by various publications and organizations for executive leadership and marketing expertise including Ad Age, Ebony, CableFax 50 Most Powerful Women & Minorities in Cable Television (2008-2018), NAMIC, Multicultural TV Leadership Awards, PromaxBDA, Black Enterprise, The Network Journal, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Vicky is a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council for the College of Information and Communications need at the University of South Carolina where she also sponsors an annual scholarship for students in need. She is passionate about sharing her experiences to support future generations and is a highly sought public speaker on topics ranging from personal branding, marketing strategy, career navigation and diversity, inclusion and equity.
Director of Libraries, Dallas Public Library
Jeff is a consultant and former CMO, Chief Catalyst Officer and General Manager for Turner Broadcasting. Jeff lives in Atlanta.
Executive VP, Evening Post Industries
Jeff Hoffman is the Chief Growth Officer of EP+Co. The largest advertising agency in South Carolina and recently named to the AdAge A-List. As part of the Executive Leadership Team, Jeff is charged with driving organic growth, identifying new agency partnerships and developing industry-leading revenue opportunities.
With over 17 years of marketing and agency experience, Jeff’s entrepreneurial spirit has seen him lead teams across account management, strategy, content & social production as well as leading the agencies new business practice. He developed and implemented a strategic growth playbook for Verizon across retail advertising and their social ecosystem that saw Verizon move from #4 to #1 in the marketplace.
As the agencies lead for new growth Jeff has overseen the acquisition of new partners with some of America’s most iconic brands; John Deere, Mens Wearhouse, Morgan Stanley, Tempur Sealy, LinkedIn, ESPN & General Mills. In 2019 EP+Co saw a 33% increase in revenue and was recognized on AdAge A-List and PR Week as a Top 5 Up and Coming Agency.
Jeff is a 2001 graduate of the University of South Carolina. He and his wife, Megan Heidlberg (USC 2002) are also long-term committee members for the regional Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, where they have helped raise over $3.5M in research funding. Jeff and his family reside in Greenville, SC and have 3 children, William (11), Griffin (6) & Sophie (2).
Melanie Huggins is the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, SC, which received the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor.
Melanie was named a 2018 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina - Mountains to Midlands for her lasting impact in the community, and was an honoree of Columbia Regional Business Report’s 2018 Women of Influence. She recently received the 2018 Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award from One Columbia for Arts and History. She has been included on Columbia Business Monthly’s list of the 50 Most Influential People for the past three years. Her work is influenced by her belief that libraries are uniquely positioned to make communities more livable, resilient, and inclusive.
Melanie is a recognized leader and speaker in the library profession having held trustee positions with both the Urban Libraries Council and the Public Library Association. In 2012, she was named South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association. She is a Liberty Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network; a member of the Spring 2018 class of Furman University’s Riley Diversity Leaders Institute; Chair of the TogetherSC Board; President of the University of South Carolina’s University Associates Board; City Center Partnership Board Member; and a harried, forgetful mom to Adeline, Lila and Shepard and concert-going buddy to her super-smart husband, J.C.
Lou Kennedy is President, CEO and Owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation – a certified woman-owned business. She has held a variety of marketing and operational roles at Nephron and created the Nephron national sales force.
Under Kennedy’s leadership, Nephron has experienced unprecedented growth. The company employs nearly 2,000 people, produces one billion doses of life-saving medication annually and is a nationwide leader in manufacturing opioid-free pain management drugs.
Kennedy has been widely recognized for her achievements in business and leadership.
She has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Award and an Outstanding Leadership Award from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), at the NAM Institute STEP Ahead Women’s event. Nephron won an honorable mention award for Global Facility of the Year in 2017 from the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering. The award hailed Nephron innovation and automation. Kennedy, now a member of the judge’s panel for the global facility of the year award, joined the ISPE board of directors in 2019.
In addition to serving on the ISPE board, Kennedy is Chairman of S.C. BIO, a statewide association promoting the life sciences industry. Kennedy is a member of the Columbia Urban League board and a recipient of the Urban League’s award for impact on education. Kennedy is Governor Henry McMaster’s appointee to the South Carolina Research Authority executive committee. She is past Chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
Kennedy received South Carolina’s highest civilian honor – the Order of the Palmetto – from Governor Nikki Haley in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding service. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations from the University of South Carolina.
EVP & CMO, Cox Automotive
City Librarian, San Francisco Public Library
General Manager, Cargo Customer Support Experience at Delta Airlines
Currently the Managing Partner of Inventus Media, an independent media planning, buying and strategy company. He has over 25 years of active media planning, buying experience in television, digital, radio, out of home and research experience.
He is a performance media specialist using data to drive to business outcomes for clients across categories including healthcare, CPG, Financial services, media and automotive. He has advised clients on integration of media, data and marketing automation and also has a window into the digital creative area.
He has held CEO roles at direct-response agency Mercury Media and Omnicom’s PHD. Previously, he had been Chief Development Officer at WPP’s Group M He started on the client side at The Walt Disney Company’s London office.
He is widely regarded as a thought leader in marketing communications and a veteran executive who has led agencies and clients into new digital markets.
Andrew is a Brit by birth and a long-time US resident and citizen. He has served on the board of the 4As and as the Chairman of the New York Chapter of the International Advertising Association.
Shari is an accomplished marketing expert with a wealth of experience spanning marketing research, brand strategy, integrated campaign strategy, advertising production, new marketing capability development, and training.
Shari is currently CMO of Smart Eye Technology, a new cybersecurity startup she helped launch in 2020. Prior to that she started and led the Brand and Content Centers of Excellence for the Consumer Business at Georgia-Pacific where she spearheaded development of brand equity/brand purpose and award-winning advertising campaigns for iconic brands such as Brawny, Dixie, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Vanity Fair Napkins. Prior to that Shari was Insights Director at Zyman Group where she leveraged insights to deliver growth-driven brand strategies for Miller Lite, Coors, Healthy Choice, the NFL, Vodafone, Caterpillar, Enbrel and many others.
Before that, Shari served as Managing Director of Strategic Services at General Motors R*Works, a sponsorship and events agency dedicated to General Motors where she created their proprietary sponsorship screening and ROI measurement system. Prior to that she held a series of positions at The Coca-Cola Company - starting as Global Research Manager on brand Coca-Cola where she developed new research methodologies and helped create the first global brand positioning and architecture for Coca-Cola; and ending as Advertising Planning Director where she guided regional advertising campaigns for core Coca-Cola brands in Europe, based in London.
Shari currently resides in Atlanta, GA.
Clay Owen (‘82- Broadcast Journalism) has decades of experience in public relations and international journalism. During more than 20 years in public relations at AT&T, Clay has led the company’s efforts in numerous technology and product launches from the original iPhone to the latest in 5G. He also led the PR strategy around the launch of Cingular Wireless. Before his PR career, Clay worked as a senior producer at CNN, launching World Business Today in London. While there, he produced daily shows as well as on-location coverage of G7 Summits, The World Economic Forum in Davos and numerous European Union Summits. He also produced news programming at CNN in Atlanta, including coverage of the terror attack at the 1996 Olympics.
Clay and his wife Grainne currently live in Dallas, Texas where he serves on the board of his family’s charity, Curing Kids Cancer.
SVP, Director of Account Planning, Havas Health Plus Advertising Agency
Director/General Sales Manager, Comcast Spotlight
Owner, National Media Inc.
General Manager, Hearst Television
VP, Communications, University of South Carolina
Dave Tovar is the Senior Vice President, Communications & Government Relations at Grubhub.
In this role, he oversees strategic internal and external communications efforts to support business growth. This work includes oversight of franchisee, executive and employee communications; proactive reputation-building efforts and issues management; legislative outreach and engagement; and large-scale public relations campaign execution. David prides himself on building and maintaining strong teams that are thoughtful, creative and effective in how they contribute to the realization of business goals.
Prior to McDonald’s, David served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications
for Sprint. He joined Sprint in 2015 after eight years serving numerous communications
roles at Walmart. At Walmart, he strategically directed and oversaw the teams responsible
for crisis and executive communications, public relations, global e-commerce, digital
and social media, financial and legal communications and corporate social responsibility
Before Walmart, David was Director of Corporate and Government Affairs for Kraft Foods, Inc. There, he led a team that managed all corporate and government affairs activities for Kraft’s North American snacks, cereals, cheese, dairy and beverage sectors, including media relations, crisis communications, federal and state government affairs, public relations and issues management.
David joined Kraft Foods from Altria Corporate Services, Inc., where he served as District Director of State Government Affairs. In this position, he was responsible for developing and executing the political, legislative and regulatory agenda at the state and local levels in California, Hawaii and Alaska on behalf of Altria, Philip Morris USA and Kraft Foods.
David graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He is a member of the Arthur Page Society and the Public Relations Society of America. David also serves on the board of directors of the 1Million Project, a non-profit organization helping one million high school students achieve their full potential by ensuring they have the internet connectivity they need to succeed in school.
He also serves on the board of advisors for the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Public Relations and the dean’s leadership council for the University of South Carolina’s College of Information and Communications.
David lives in the Chicagoland area with his wife and two children.
Paul Trelstad has served TEGNA (formerly Gannett Broadcasting) for 30+ years, the most recent half as Senior Vice-President, providing management oversight to a group of TEGNA media properties. Trelstad also serves alongside the Revenue Team, driving performance in multi- platform advertising sales. Political advertising relationships, rules and regulations are an area of specialization.
Prior to his time at the home office, Trelstad was President and General Manager of two TEGNA stations: WKYC-TV (NBC) Cleveland and KTHV-TV (CBS) Little Rock. Trelstad was General Sales Manager for KPNX-TV (NBC) Phoenix, National and Local Sales Manager for WUSA-TV (CBS) Washington, D.C.
As a charter member of their management training program, Trelstad started his career with Cincinnati-based Taft Broadcasting, and was later assigned to WDCA-TV (Ind) in Washington, D.C., starting as an Account Executive and then National Sales Manager.
Trelstad earned his Master of Arts degree in Communications Management from the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California. He completed his undergraduate work in Communication Arts at California Lutheran University, graduating Summa cum Laude.
A current member of the Board of Directors for the Television Bureau of Advertising, Trelstad also serves as a member and past chairman of the TVB Station Sales Advisory Committee. Trelstad is also a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council for the College of Information and Communications at the University of South Carolina.
Personally, Trelstad takes great pride in being a husband and a father to three adult children and a golden retriever.
Michael is the SVP of Business Development and Growth for Al Jazeera Network. Michael’s daughter Hazel is a senior majoring in Public Relations. He is based in New York.
Design Partner, IBM Blockchain Services