Class of 2019
Sophia Koleno (Class of 2019) earned her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration while pursuing her MA in Communication along with a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. She is interested in the rhetorical strategies that Muslim figures, predominantly in the West, utilize when engaging in civil society. Specifically, her research focuses on Muslim family law, cultural movements, and performative instances that signify nuances of being Muslim while living in the West and interacting in the public sphere. Sophia’s BA is from UWM.
Megan Orcholski (Class of 2019) completed her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration, along with a Women’s & Gender Studies Certificate, as part of her PhD in Communication. She is very passionate about teaching and envisions herself using rhetorical leadership to continue making change both inside and outside the classroom. Her interests circulate around public speaking, performance, sexuality and gender communication, while being particularly interested in exploring critical and queer theories to interrogate existing systems and boundaries. Megan received her MA in Communication Studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato where she was able to do a performance thesis. Her BA is a joint degree in Communication and Theater Performance from North Central College in Naperville, IL
Class of 2017
Marnie Lawler McDonough (Class of 2017)completed her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration while pursuing her PhD in Communication. Marnie’s research interests focus on deception and manipulation in the rhetoric of leaders and violation of norm expectations. Having worked for several global organizations prior to pursuing her PhD (e.g., BBC, Comcast, Golin Harris), Marnie experienced firsthand the importance of developing a deep understanding of ethical and effective rhetorical leadership. She has spent part of her professional career consulting for organizational leaders on communication development and strategies, as well as change and crisis management. After earning her PhD, Marnie hopes to merge her interests in organizational leadership and rhetoric through teaching and also apply her academic knowledge in practical settings to educate leaders on ethical and effective rhetorical practice. Marnie holds an MA in Corporate and Organizational Communication from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, and a BA in Communication from the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania
Class of 2016
Josh Miller (Class of 2016) finished his Rhetorical Leadership Concentration while completing his PhD in Communication at UWM. His research focuses on public deliberation and controversies involving gender, sexuality, race, ability, and religion. He uses concepts learned in the rhetorical leadership program in his research to examine how rhetorical leaders use symbols to empower people to fight for social change. During his program, he used his rhetorical leadership training to help Milwaukee’s Department of Health craft messages that might promote awareness and action to prevent pollution of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee’s other freshwater resources — #LoveYourLake. He also incorporates rhetorical leadership concepts in his classroom teaching, highlighting to his students that they can use symbols to create shared action, alter others’ perceptions of a situation, and ultimately change the circumstances in which they find themselves. Josh hopes to earn a tenure-track faculty position at a four-year state institution. He earned his BA in Social Relations and Policy from Michigan State University and his MA in Communication Studies from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Hilary A. Rasmussen (Class of 2016) completed her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration while pursuing her PhD in Communication. Hilary’s primary research interests are political communication, social movements and argumentation. She deeply appreciates the role of rhetorical leaders in bringing about meaningful change in people’s lives. Specifically, Hilary has turned to the notion of rhetorical leadership when analyzing progressive argument strategies in LGBTQ rights discourses. In addition, she has advised rhetorical leaders in her native state of Wisconsin as they negotiate current economic and environmental challenges related to freshwater resources management. Her goal is to secure a position at a teaching-oriented university and to continue her work as an advocate for social justice and environmental stewardship. Hilary earned her MA in Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University and her BS in Public Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Class of 2015
Vinessa Gingrass (class of 2015) earned her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration while working on her MA in Communication. She has also completed a certificate in Mediation and Negotiation. Following graduation Vinessa is hoping to find work in either community organizing or political campaigning and foresees her Concentration in RL being advantageous in helping her make decisions about effective and ethical messages to disseminate to the public as well as helping her make appropriate choices for internal communication. Both of these fields require one to set directions and inspire vision, and strategic discursive choices are essential to successfully accomplishing these tasks. Vinessa hopes someday to return to academia to pursue a PhD in Communication. Her research interests lie in connections between rhetoric and culture or social movement rhetoric and the role of rhetoric in music.
Class of 2014
Kiranjeet Dhillon (Class of 2014) is pursuing her doctorate in Communication at UWM. Her goal is to research and teach rhetoric at a comprehensive state university. Kiran uses ethical rhetorical leadership as a tool for critical inquiry and advocacy in her research, classroom, community, and day-to-day life. She finds ethical rhetorical leadership to be instrumental in negotiating a variety of complex issues in the public and private spheres. Kiran completed her MA in Communication at University of Northern Iowa and holds a BA from University of Iowa with double majors in Communication Studies and Political Processes.
Thomas Salek (Class of 2014) earned his Rhetorical Leadership Concentration while working toward his PhD in Communication. His interests lie at the intersection of political communication, rhetoric, and cinema studies. He appreciates rhetorical leadership as a unique form of scholarship that offers a practical application of communication theory. Tom has used rhetorical leadership as a lens to understand the rhetorical impact of America’s current political leaders like President Obama or Tea Party activists, as well as offer rhetorical strategies on how to ethically affect social change. He is preparing for a position at a research university. Tom’s MA in Cinema Studies is from New York University, and he majored in Journalism and Communication while earning his BA at Dominican University.
Jansen Werner (Class of 2014) completed his Rhetorical Leadership Concentration as part of his PhD in Communication. Jansen researches the interconnections between rhetoric, culture, and public life, particularly as it pertains to issues of race and identity. He draws upon rhetorical leadership to better understand how activists, intellectuals, and social movements emerge as agents of change in society. His goal is to teach at a university with a graduate program. He earned his MA in Communication Studies from Mankato State University and his BA in Communication from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Class of 2013
Rachel D. Davidson (Class of 2013) is completing her PhD in Communication at UWM. Rachel looks forward to a career as a teacher-scholar at the university level. Her special interest is in developing ideas that can be of practical use to advocates for social justice, particularly in rhetorics surrounding care-giving. Rachel earned certificates in both Women’s Studies and Rhetorical Leadership, and holds BA and MA degrees in Communication from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Her dissertation is entitled Rhetorical lessons in advocacy and shared responsibility: Family metaphors and definitions of crisis and care in unpaid family caregiving discourse
Jonathan Dellinger (Class of 2013) is pursuing a PhD in Communication at UWM and is currently working as a teaching assistant in the department. He earned an MA in Communication with a concentration in Rhetorical Leadership. Dellinger is interested in intercultural communication, health communication, and conflict resolution, and has a passion for working with First Nations as they seek greater prosperity and social justice. He has taught undergraduate public speaking and middle-school English in Japan. Jonathan’s BA is from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he majored in East Asian Languages and Cultures.
Ryan Hudziak (Class of 2013) is a Project Auditor at Paul Davis National (Maven Research) where he supports nationwide emergency mitigation and disaster recovery operations that aid commercial property owners. He uses his rhetorical leadership skills to lead employees within his organization, but also as a volunteer in helping the medical non-profits achieve their goals. Ryan completed his MA in Communication and Business Administration at UWM, and also earned graduate certificates in both Mediation and Negotiation and in Rhetorical Leadership. Ryan’s BA is from University of Wisconsin – Whitewater where he majored in print journalism.
Jim Vining (Class of 2013) was a Pastor specializing in college and young adult ministries when he returned to school for his Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and, ultimately, a PhD in Communication. His interests lie at the intersections of religious rhetoric and social movement rhetoric in the contemporary secular public sphere particularly as it relates to social justice advocacy and activism. His goal is an academic position where he could also pursue community engagement. Jim has MAs in Communication and Culture from Trinity Graduate School and in Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His BA is from Taylor University where he double-majored in Christian Education and Biblical Literature.
Class of 2012
Christina Bauer (Class of 2012) did a Rhetorical Leadership internship for Johnson Controls and, after graduating with her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and MA in Communication, was hired by that company as a Marketing Communications Specialist. Christian became interested in RL as a concentration when she realized how it could complement her public relations background. She hopes someday hope to take her skills to Germany, where she can also use her knowledge of the German language. Christiana’s Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism/Strategic Communication and German is from UWM.
Andrew Cole (Class of 2012) is interested in communication technology, pedagogy, and multiple research methodologies. He is completing his PhD in Communication. Andrew got involved in the rhetorical leadership program because his favorite aspect of communication as a discipline was its applicability. He anticipates that his rhetorical leadership studies helped prepare him for his long-term goals of assuming leadership roles in higher education and in the community. Andrew’s BA is from University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, and his MA, as well as a Certificate in Mediation and Negotiation, are from UWM.
Philip Rippke (Class of 2012) earned his MA with a Rhetorical Leadership Concentration so that he could become a teacher. He recognized that rhetoric is pervasive and studying rhetorical leadership could better his life and equip him to teach others, empowering his students to understand and create rhetoric that will change their lives. Philip is Instructor of Communication at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. His BA in Communication is from the University of Northern Iowa.
Class of 2011
Tracy Anello (Class of 2011) spent the first 17 years of her career at News America Marketing, a division of News Corporation, eventually holding a position of Vice President, Midwest Division and then National Director of Training & Development. In 2004 Tracy joined Manpower and over a five year period held a number of Sales and Marketing position, most recently Manager of Proposal Management for North America. In late 2008, Tracy started her own consulting company – Tracy Anello LLC., with a primary focus on small businesses, non-profits and individuals, providing Executive Coaching, Leadership Development and Career Coaching. She returned to school to earn the Rhetorical Leadership Certificate to help her with her endeavors.
Marion Artner (Class of 2011) worked for AT&T before returning to school part-time to earn her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and her MA in Communication. Marion appreciated the real-life applicability of Rhetorical Leadership and found that her RL coursework provided her with effective tools for her career, especially at times when she may not have a formal leadership role but must inspire and motivate a team. Upon graduation, Marion continued her career as a Senior Specialist Equipment Design Engineer for AT&T. Marion earned her BA as a double major in Human Resources and Communication from UWM.
Ruth J. Beerman (Class of 2011) is interested in argument and advocacy and Women’s Studies. Her goal is to teach at a comprehensive state university. In January 2015, she successfully completed her PhD in Communication. Her dissertation was entitled,“Containing Fatness: Bodies, Motherhood, and Civic Identity in Contemporary U.S. Culture.” While writing her dissertation, Ruth worked as an Instructor at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. She completed her BA at Mercer University, where she debated and double majored in Political Science and Women and Gender Studies, then earned her MA in Communication at the University of Northern Iowa.
Craig Casetta (Class of 2011) served 10 years in the U.S. Army before being honorably discharged. Craig’s interest in rhetoric and Rhetorical Leadership came from his realization through the military that communication and rhetoric are the essence of leadership. After completing his Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and MA, Craig became an Account Executive with Division 10 Personnel/Aero Staff. In his words, this position allows him to put “rhetorical leadership in action” every day as he advises and advocates for his clients. Craig gets special pleasure from the many veterans whose skills he matches to good jobs to produce “tangible life changing results.” Craig holds a BA in Communication from UWM.
Lindsey Harness (Class of 2011) saw her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration as a foundation on which a relationship between her interests in academic scholarship and community advocacy could emerge and flourish. While she completing her dissertation for a PhD in Communication, Lindsey worked as a Learning Technology Consultant at UWM and as a visiting faculty member in Rhetoric and Media Studies at Lewis and Clark University in Portland, OR. Lindsey came to UWM with a BA and MA in Communication Studies from Missouri State University.
Mridula Mascarenhas (Class of 2011) is Assistant Professor of Communication at Hanover College in Indiana with a research focus on public and political discourse and social movements using primarily a rhetorical perspective. Mridula came back to UWM and earned her PhD (Rhetorical Leadership Concentration) in 2014. After earning an MA in Communication from UWM, Mridula spent several years teaching at Ithaca College and Saint Cloud State University. She also holds an MA in Industrial Psychology from Mumbai University and a BA in Psychology from St. Xavier College in Mumbai, India.
Lara Stache (Class of 2011) completed her PhD in Communication with an emphasis in rhetoric in 2013. Before returning to school to complete a doctorate, she worked in the advertising on national campaigns for companies such as Sears and Kmart. Her research and teaching interests include rhetoric, workplace issues, and pedagogy, and Lara strives to get her students actively engaged in the world around them. Lara is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Communication Department at Northern Illinois University. Her MA is in Communication from Northeastern Illinois University, and she has a BS in Advertising from University of Illinois.
Kaori Yamada (Class of 2011) is interested in rhetorics of national identity and issues of gender. Her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration is part of her PhD in Communication. Kaori earned her Communication MA from Northern Iowa University and her BA in Intercultural Communication from Dokkyo University in Japan.
Class of 2010
Anne E. Davis (Class of 2010) completed both her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and her M.A. in Communication at UWM. She returned to Minnesota where she has a fulltime job organizing a website for an HVAC distributor. Her undergraduate degree is in Communication from University of Minnesota-Duluth.
A 2010 Rhetorical Leadership graduate, Ashleigh Lund completed her MA in Communication at UWM in 2011. Ashleigh’s long-term interests are in politics and advocacy campaigns, areas for which her Rhetorical Leadership training equips her well. For example, her summer 2009 RL internship with Citizen Action of Wisconsin offered her the opportunity to use her rhetoric skills to advocate for health care reform, and she was instrumental in organizing Milwaukee women suffering from the current health care system to speak out. Ashleigh has worked on numerous state and local political campaigns; because of her communication background, she often writes the first drafts of letters and other campaign documents. Ashleigh’s undergraduate degree is from UWM in Communication.
Class of 2009
Pi-Ching Chang (Class of 2009) returned to her hometown of Taichung, Taiwan, upon graduation to work as a language consultant for Columbia Consulting Company. She hopes to use her Rhetorical Leadership knowledge and skills to improve her society. She is particularly interested in environmental issues, education and media phenomena, and pragmatic strategies to improve social order.
After completing his MA with a Rhetorical Leadership Concentration as a central focus, J. Alex Wright (Class of 2009) spent a summer leading tour groups comprised of foreign travelers around the continental U.S., a project that provided rhetorical challenges on a daily basis, each with its own nuanced communicative obstacles. He then became the Marketing Manager for Wisconsin’s largest liquor distributor, Badger Liquor Company, where he used his Rhetorical Leadership training daily as he negotiated terms of promotional events, sources material, and found public address and personal accountability at the heart of his position. On his own time, Alex researched potential entrepreneurial opportunities in the renewable energy sector with a goal of creating a one-stop shop for all of a small business’s or homeowner’s needs with respect to wind and solar energy.
Malynnda Johnson (Class of 2009) subsequently completed her Communication PhD at UWM with a focus in Health Communication and Public Health. Since graduating, she has published research and taught for Carroll University, Marquette University, and Assata High School. Her interests lie in researching activist groups, investigating HIV/AIDS educational campaigns, and analyzing how rhetorical strategies can challenge college students’ behaviors and perceptions.
Bekki Willems-Solc (Class of 2009) enjoys college teaching and hopes to do more of it. After graduating with her MA and Rhetorical Leadership Concentration, Bekki took classes in Urban Studies at UWM. One of Bekki’s main interest areas is community development and sustainability. With her rhetorical leadership preparation in how to organize arguments and how to critically assess an issue and approach it from multiple perspectives, she hopes to become involved in an organization that works with these issues, perhaps a fair trade business or a non-profit organization.
Class of 2008
Upon graduating with her M.A. and Rhetorical Leadership Concentration, Rachael Hill (Class of 2008) returned home to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to complete Victory Bible Institute’s year-long in-ministry internship, a program designed to train lay ministers. She then served as Teen Enrichment Leader for teens living in Tulsa project housing to provide positive recreational, academic, and community service programs as alternatives to boredom and worked in Student Recruitment Services for Tulsa Community College. Her true passions are mission work and youth; she travels to less fortunate countries as often as possible to make a difference in orphanages, schools, plazas, and refugee camps. She did her undergraduate work in Communication at the University of Tulsa.
Emily Lenard (Class of 2008) is a Senior Account Executive at Hanson Dodge Creative, a full-service branding and marketing agency, where she develops and manages integrated brand and communication strategies driven by specific business objectives. Emily provides clients such as Trek Bicycle, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day and 3D Exhibits with strategic solutions and manages internal teams. Her first job after graduation was at Nation Consulting, a political public strategies firm, where Emily specialized in nonprofit development, online strategies and management, campaign message and design, and event coordination. During her MA program at UWM, Emily completed a Rhetorical Leadership internship with the Governor of Wisconsin’s Office and served as the VP of Communications for the Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association. Emily came to UWM with a background in public relations and an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.
Angela McGowan (Class of 2008) is completing her doctorate in Communication at the University of Southern Mississippi and looks forward to becoming a professor. After graduating with her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and a Communication MA, Angela taught for several years as an Instructor of Public Speaking at Winona State University and realized that her calling was a wider career in higher education. Angela also used her Rhetorical Leadership background to participate in politics, including speech writing and campaign strategizing. While at UWM, Angela did a Rhetorical Leadership internship with Democratic Senator Lena Taylor’s Campaign for Milwaukee County Executive. Later, Angela managed Jeremy Miller’s successful campaign for the 2010 Minnesota state senate. Her candidate, a newcomer to politics, won the endorsement of the Republican Party in the first round of balloting at the endorsement convention with a surprisingly strong 64% of the votes. During her undergraduate work at University of Minnesota-Duluth, Angela double majored in Political Science and Communication and has served as a legislative aide for public officials in St. Paul.
Class of 2007
Robin Scholz (Class of 2007) teaches Special Education at Hamilton High School. After graduating from UWM with her M.A. and Rhetorical Leadership Concentration, Robin completed coursework for a Rhetoric PhD at the University of Maryland, but then decided that her heart was in secondary education. She returned to study education at Alverno College and launched her teaching career in Milwaukee. Robin also served part-time as a Communication Assistant at Wisconsin Relay to relay calls between deaf/hard-of-hearing and hearing individuals, an experience that was very meaningful for her. Robin has a BA from UW-Madison with majors in Communication Arts and Political Science.
Brian Rothgery (Class of 2007) was a professional labor organizer and social justice activist who returned to school to become more effective in his work. Since graduating, he continued his work as in both labor organizing and political campaigning. He has been especially active in communication strategies for the ongoing Palermo’s Pizza campaign and has done organizing for the Steelworkers Union. In 2012 Brian started his own LLC to provide strategic communications services to candidates, advocacy groups, and issue campaigns. After graduation, Brian worked for Citizen Action of Wisconsin first as Health Care for America Now Campaign Coordinator, then as Organizing Director, and later as Communications Coordinator for its Wisconsin Voices coalition. While at UWM, Brian served as VP for Bargaining and President of the Milwaukee Graduate Assistants Association. Brian remains active as a board member in the People’s Books Co-op. He received his undergraduate degree in History from UW-Madison.
James E. Draeger (Class of 2007) is Textbook Buyer for Waukesha County Technical College. Previously, Jim was the Co-op Director for People’s Books Co-op. After completing his Rhetorical Leadership Concentration as part of an MA in Communication, Jim spearheaded the drive to form a cooperative to save a local bookstore when its owner retired. With a colleague, Jim organized the surrounding community to found and then directed the daily operations of People’s Book Cooperative, Milwaukee’s first independent cooperative bookstore. Since graduating, Jim has also been active in causes for labor and peace and justice. He worked as a Coalition Specialist for Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Health Care Wisconsin and did political organizing for the American Federation to Teachers. He has also served as Operations Director of Peace Action Wisconsin and as Chair of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. Jim’s undergraduate degree in Communication Studies is from UW-La Crosse.
Chad Gobert (Class of 2007) is currently an Online Training Specialist for UMass Boston. From 2007 to 2009, Chad held a corporate training position for Kinex Medical Company, a small, but rapidly growing medical supply company in Waukesha, Wisconsin. That initial position included preparing and publishing online teaching materials as well as face-to-face training, and his firm encouraged his team to theoretically analyze and present at academic conferences their broader findings on how the curricular materials that they developed operated. Prior to returning to school to UWM for a graduate degree that included a Rhetorical Leadership Concentration, Chad worked as a sales representative for Charter Manufacturing. His long-term plan is to return to work in a public relations/human resources setting, a work environment where he says he uses many of the concepts of rhetoric and leadership that he gained from the Rhetorical Leadership program. As a UWM undergraduate, Chad double-majored in Journalism and Communication.
Class of 2006
Stacy Siebert (Class of 2006) is a full-time Communication Skills Instructor at Waukesha County Technical College teaching oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills. She originally returned to school after a career as a paralegal in the Dane County District Attorney’s office in Madison. Stacy’s decision to study Rhetorical Leadership was motivated by her passion for social change regarding domestic violence and a desire to examine and be empowered to address how language and social order perpetuate that problem. Since graduating with her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration and M.A., Stacy has taught communication at Cardinal Stritch University and UW-Parkside as well as working as a Program Development Specialist with the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Stacy’s undergraduate degree is in Social Work from UW-Madison, where she also earned Criminal Justice and Women’s Studies Certificates.
Class of 2005
In 2007 Colleen Simmons (Class of 2005) is a Business Analyst for Medical College of Wisconsin and volunteers at the Humane Society. After graduation she worked for WE energies, first as a Communication Support Specialist, then as Services Manager. Her first job after graduation was as a Catalogue Development Specialist for ICM, a company that markets children’s learning products to teachers. Colleen’s undergraduate degree is from UWM in English.
Class of 2004
Erin Rodriguez Martell (Class of 2004) earned her Rhetorical Leadership Concentration as part of an M.A. in Communication. She now works as an Equal Opportunity Assistant for the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The OFCCP is responsible for conducting reviews of companies that hold federal contracts to ensure that Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity requirements are being met. Erin’s undergraduate degree is in English from Marquette University.