Dennis Wilson (2016 Recipient)
Dennis Wilson holds bachelor’s degrees from Wright State University in Communication Studies and Select Studies as well as an Associate of Arts from Sinclair Community College. At Sinclair Wilson became an advisor for the National Society of Leadership and Success program and has expanded the program to over 800 members. Additionally, he completed more honors classes than any other student in the then 125-year history of Sinclair College.
As an undergraduate student Wilson served as the Vice President for the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Student Advisory Board. He also developed a Select Studies project and thesis called The Living Resume, which focuses on social media in leadership development. The Living Resume has been developed into a first-year class curriculum in which he will teach. Wilson is currently a graduate student in the Master of Humanities program and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Theta Kappa and the National Society of Leadership and Success. He is also the new Director for External Affairs for Student Government and will continue his service to Wright State as a President’s Ambassador. Wilson is also a lifelong musician and father.
Karli Lightner (2015 Recipient)
Karli Lightner graduated from Wright State University in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership, and a minor in Marketing. While at Wright State University she dedicated most of her time to academics, campus organizations, and philanthropic work. Lightner’s greatest collegiate achievement is holding several leadership positions throughout her four-year tenure.
Lightner is currently a Corporate Recruiter for The Reynolds and Reynolds Company. In this role she works with upper management to match company hiring needs with qualified candidates. She handles the entire recruitment cycle from interviewing applicants to extending job offers.
Lightner continues giving back to Wright State University through her career. She attends numerous campus events and classes in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Education and Human Services, conducting presentations about her company and recruiting students for job openings, which is her favorite part about her position.
Sandy Collins (2014 Recipient)
Sandy Sloan Collins worked 20 hours on September 11, 2001, and then anchored news coverage for another 8 hours overnight for 8 stations. Such dedication to her audience is typical of this WSU mass communication graduate. A Dayton native, Collins’ passion for truth and timely news is apparent in her work at The Dayton Daily News, WHIO Radio, WHIO Channel 7, and on Facebook and Twitter. Midwest Cox Media's Vice President of Content Ms. Jana Collier says, "Sandy exemplifies how converged platforms can be orchestrated to get quality information out quickly, and she helps her fellow professionals at the same time."
Communication Department Chair Dr. Melissa Spirek concurs: "The Annual Communication Department Outstanding Alumni is selected as a role model for our students. He or she exemplifies the Communication Department's motto of striving for excellence to make the world a better place. You cannot turn your head without running into Sandy's service like that of the ThinkTV PBS auction, Beavercreek community auction, department networking host, professional panel expert for the Communication Department and, yes, career mentor. This star sets the bar high and then helps students to stand on her shoulders, cheering them all the way."
How fitting that this Cox Media Group News Writing Desk Team Leader be celebrated for her multimedia expertise, for her innovative organizational leader-ship, and for her philanthropy by being awarded the 2014 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Communication.
Robert Leonard (2013 Recipient)
As the 2013 Western States Communication Master Teacher honoree and the 2012 National Communication Association’s Outstanding Community College Educator recipient, Dr. Robert Leonard is celebrated by the Communication Department not just because he earned his BA in Communication in 1989 at WSU but also because this Kettering native continues to share his pedagogical excellence with the field of communication in a multitude of ways.
Dr. Leonard is celebrated by his students because of his teaching innovations and because he inspires them by having earned his graduate degrees from two of the premier communication programs in the US. This dedicated Raider’s MA thesis was advised by Dr. Raymie McKerrow at the University of Maine. His University of Utah dissertation was entitled Identification, Representation, and Meaning Making: A Symbolic Interaction Analysis of Visiting The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Dr. Leonard’s scholarship builds upon identification and meaning in communities. His spring semester WSU class will study the implications of signs and symbols with Hospice’s outreach program.
In WSU’s classrooms, at theater and music productions and at art exhibits, Dr. Leonard is on campus on a regular basis. Students note that he bleeds green and gold while faculty observe that this scholar always took advantage of the events WSU has to offer. That is of course when he is not rooting for WSU’s athletic teams. He already has his schedule for basketball mapped out.
Abdourahmane Dia (2012 Recipient)
Abdourahmane Dia (MA ICP '07) joined the Master of Arts Program in International and Comparative Politics after completing the B.A. program in Communication Studies at Wright State. Prior to his studies in the United States, Abdou had completed training in Media Management at the National Institute of Audio-Visual Studies in Paris, France, and studied journalism at the Cesti School of Journalism in Dakar, Senegal. His thesis, "Military Leaders-Turned Civilian Head of States and Democratization in West Africa" assessed the political and economic performance of executive leaders in Nigeria, Mali and Ghana. He studied the impact of leadership transformation on democratization, testing models of development and democratization and pointing to the challenges and achievements of civilian transformation in contemporary contexts.
Abdou currently serves as a producer with the BBC World Service in Dakar, a post he has held since February 2010. He helped open the BBC’s first office in Senegal. He is responsible for researching, writing, editing and producing broadcast programs for the French language service of the BBC. His most recent major assignment was to travel throughout Senegal to cover the recent Presidential elections in his home country. He is hoping to travel to the US in the Fall of 2012 to report on the US presidential election for the French speaking BBC audience. Working with the BBC has been a "dream job" for Abdou, who put his career in journalism on hold to travel to the US and earn bilingual credentials in journalism and international affairs. While studying at Wright State, Abdou taught French language at the Richard Allen Middle School, and served as a freelance contributor to AfricanGlobalNews.com.
Sheri Sword (2012 Recipient)
Sheri Sword joined your Better Business Bureau’s team in 1996. As an integral member of the senior management team, she's responsible for the development of the organization's communication strategy and contributes to its organizational strategic planning process. She directly manages communications activities that promote, enhance and protect the organization's reputation. Sheri is responsible for the development, integration, and implementation of a broad range of communications activities including: social media, publication design, event planning, media relations and more.
Her work has received multiple honors from organizations, such as Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators and Council of Better Business Bureaus. She is a current member of the Leadership Dayton Class of 2012. She was also honored with Dayton Business Journal's 40 Under 40 Award in 1999.
John North, BBB president and CEO, stated "Sheri is an asset to your BBB and the entire community. Through effective communications and marketing strategies, she’s made your BBB more visible and relevant than ever. Sheri has saturated all local media outlets, including social media, with our message to ensure your BBB remains a trusted resource. Her vision, creativity and innovation are essential to her success. Your BBB congratulates Sheri and is proud to share this Miami Valley gem with the WSU Department of Communication."
This organizational communication graduate volunteers her time and skills to a variety of area organizations, including Public Relations Society of America, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Germantown Gators Swim Team and more.
Pete Spriggs (2011 Recipient)
WSB-AM750 TALK and now 95.5 FM NEWS Cox Radio in Atlanta, Georgia are recognized for being cutting-edge. Pete Spriggs is recognized as the person behind this national reputation for innovation at these stations. In fact radio professionals point out that Pete is the personality behind the star radio show personalities at Cox Enterprises’ Cox Radio headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia. These personalities range from Neal Boortz to Clark Howard.
Working with successful syndicated talent is no small achievement and Spriggs is recognized by his peers as being among the best. Radio Ink, radio’s premier management and marketing magazine, ranked Pete Spriggs as 12th in the major markets category thanks to Pete’s dedication to excellence. This dedication was apparent to Pete’s peers at WWSU 106.9 FM in the early 1980s as well.
Travis Greenwood, the College of Liberal Arts 2010 Outstanding Alumnus and 1984 organizational communication graduate, said "Pete was always the guy at the station (WWSU) that everyone wanted to be around. He was the glue that bonded the different facets of the radio station – he had that special ability to connect us all together as a team of misfits. He was a leader without even knowing he was leading."
Pete was selected as the 2011 outstanding role model for the communication studies, organizational communication and mass communication majors because of Pete’s national reputation for making an ongoing substantial contribution to talk radio while balancing his commitment to his family and to his community.
“Mr. Spriggs has the balance of work and ethics while being dedicated to his friends and family. That makes him an inspiration to our students,” said Melissa Spirek, communication professor and communication department chair. "The first time I heard about his radio work was made in reference to how he was not present at a meeting because he promised his son he would watch him play baseball. And the professional was quick to point out that Pete always keeps his word."
Ty Greenlees (2010 Recipient)
Ty Greenlees grew up in Doylestown, Ohio where he received his first camera as a 7th birthday gift. His father recognized his intense interest in photography and taught him the finer points of manual rangefinder cameras. After saving his lawn mowing money, Greenlees assembled an odd collection of cameras and darkroom equipment from yard sales and friends to launch his photography career in 1980 as the Chippewa High School yearbook photographer. Having always been an aviation enthusiast, he was now equipped to capture images of the flying machines he admired.
Seizing an opportunity to get closer to cameras and flying machines, Greenlees moved to the Dayton area to work at Click Camera after graduating from high school and entered Wright State University’s Communication Program in the fall of 1984 – a mere two miles from the cow pasture where the Wright Brothers crafted the art of powered flight. A portfolio of his high school photography work earned Greenlees a part-time photographer position at the Dayton Daily News that same year.
The Dayton Air Show was the highlight of his summers during his teenage years and the Dayton Daily News was more than happy to accommodate his request to swelter in the July heat to photograph jets, planes, parachutes and helicopters.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in communication from Wright State University, 1988, while working at the newspaper, he found a niche for his love of photojournalism and flying in Dayton, the Birthplace of Aviation. Greenlees covered the Dayton Air Show with Dayton Daily News writer Timothy R. Gaffney from 1985 though 2006 capturing thousands of photographs of show planes and the people who make them fly. The culmination of this work was published in 2008 in a book titled: The Dayton Air Show, A Photographic Celebration. A licensed airplane and helicopter pilot, Greenlees teamed with Gaffney in 1997 to fly a small airplane across the country photographing and reporting about general aviation in a series called “Spirit of Flight” which earned the Max Karant Award for aviation journalism from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Greenlees has utilized his love of flying and artistic eye to capture unique images of people and places of the Dayton region through his work for the Dayton Daily News over the past 25 years and was awarded the Associated Press Contributing Photographer of the Year in 2008.
Greenlees’ work has appeared in numerous publications including the Wright State Guardian, Dayton Daily News, The Dayton Air Show, A Photographic Celebration, 2008, Orange Frazer Press, A Place Called Home, 2006, Orange Frazer Press, Associated Press, New York Times, University of Dayton, Dayton Development Coalition, Miami Valley Research Park, Smithsonian Air & Space, Udvar-Hazy Museum, Women in Aviation International, Ohio Magazine, National Aviation Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Heritage Foundation.
Travis Greenwood (2009 Recipient)
Travis Greenwood graduated from Wright State University in 1984 with a B.A. in Communication. He earned his Master of Science in Administration degree from Central Michigan University in 1991.
Travis put his degree right to work managing a key – but troubled – relationship between a large jet engine corporation and the U.S. Air Force. By 1993, Travis had worked for two Fortune 500 companies before starting a family business called The Greentree Group. Greentree provides comprehensive solutions for public/private clients and earns yearly revenues of approximately $20 million. As an owner and Greentree’s Chief Executive Officer, Travis ensures the company’s goals are met without sacrificing its values and ethics. He also develops strategies designed to improve Greentree’s image and relations with its clients, employees and the public. Travis says, “The most important thing I do is motivate our people to do great things for our clients. Good communication skills are an absolute must in today’s business world. They are first and foremost. Without them, you will fail.”
His service on numerous boards includes Wright State’s Institute of Defense Studies and Education as well as the Greater Dayton Public Television (ThinkTV) Board of Trustees where he serves as treasurer. Travis is also a founding board member of the Clark County Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Housing Connection in Springfield. He was elected to two, four-year terms as a council member in the Village of Enon and served as its President. Travis is also a lifetime member of WSU’s Alumni Association.
Travis has been married to his wife, Lisa, for 25 years. They have two children—Tyler (21) and Caitlyn (18). He and his family reside in Dayton.
Holly Cantrell (2008 Recipient)
Holly Cantrell graduated from Wright State University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Business. She was an Honors student, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.89. Holly was on the dean's list for nine consecutive quarters and received numerous awards. She was the winner of the Outstanding Senior Award and received the Department of Communication and College of Liberal Arts' Honors Certificate.
Holly currently attends Ohio Northern University College of Law in Ada, Ohio, where she is a jurisdoctorate candidate. At Ohio Northern, Holly is the recipient of the book award in Civil Procedure I & II and Contracts II, and a recipient of the judicial scholarship. In her class, she currently ranks 6 out of 100 and has been on the dean's list with a GPA above 3.50 since attending Ohio Northern in September 2007. Holly is also a Law Review staff editor, a teaching assistant for Civil Procedure I & II, and a member and clerk of Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity.
Virginia Gimenez (2005 Recipient)
Virginia Gimenez is a native of Uruguay. After receiving an associate's degree in social communication in 1997 in her home country, she attended Wright State University and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in mass communication in 2002.
Since graduation, Virginia worked in several local video production projects, she also worked as a translations project manager and as director of the interpreting division for a local translation and interpreting company. In 2003 she returned to Wright State to become the College Technology Coordinator in the College of Liberal Arts. In this position, she works with Faculty Resources to meet their technology needs, providing training, support, and computer maintenance for the entire college.
Since her undergraduate years, Virginia has been involved with several nonprofit organizations in the area, doing all sorts of volunteering jobs from mentoring to interpreting. Virginia is currently seeking a master's degree in public administration at Wright State and hopes to enter the world of nonprofit administration in the near future.
Tamara Combs-McNew (2004 Recipient)
Tammy serves as the Organizational Development and Training Director for Montgomery County in Ohio. She is responsible for adult learning, cultural change, and performance improvement initiatives. She also markets and manages the Madison Lakes Learning and Conference Center located in the Madison Lakes Park just west of downtown Dayton.
Angela Lewis (2003 Recipient)
In 1996, with 12 years in the mortgage industry, Angel altered her career focus while working for National City Mortgage. Traveling throughout the United States to National City Mortgage branches, she trained Loan Offices in sales systems and sale techniques. Currently, Angel is the Division Manager of Retail Development for Wright-Patt Credit Union.
Lt. Col. John W. McCance (2002 Recipient)
Lt. Col. John W. Cance's undergraduate career was marked by his efforts to support broadcast instruction at the university. He served as the first general manager of Cable 4A, being primarily responsible for developing and implementing the university's cable television operations. A member of the 445 Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, McCance has served as an Air Force Legislative Fellow to U.S. Senator Mike DeWine in Washington D.C.