The Communication Alumni Council is made up of department graduates who are passionate about Communication and supporting the work of the department, its students, and alumni. Below are bios of current Alumni Council Members -- feel free to reach out to them on LinkedIn at any time.
To read about and connect with other Communication alumni, please visit our student-alumni UCSB Department of Communication group on LinkedIn, or check out the list of participants at past Communication Career Days events.
Please stay in contact! Send us or update your contact information so we may update our alumni directory and include you in future newsletters. Just click on this link: http://bit.ly/ucsbcommalumni Or, contact Leslie Klonoff, Chair of the Alumni Council's Engagement Team, at email@example.com
David Bellinger, Class of 1994
David brings with him over 27 years of sales, marketing, and business management experience across a broad range of industries including retail, manufacturing, and financial services. With over 17 years in the financial services industry, he has witnessed first-hand how severe economic cycles and fiscal policies affect the financial decisions of individuals. David works as Private Mortgage Banker at Wells Fargo and provides residential financing and mortgage strategy for his clients across the country. David graduated from UCSB with his BA in Communication and earned an MBA from Chapman University. While at UCSB, David was an active member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and served as the Inter-Fraternity Council Recruitment Chair. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidbellinger/
Carol Pfiffner Bridgeman, Class of 1979
Carol received her BA in communication from UCSB. As a community organizer with a passion for team-building and mentorship, she has spent more than 30 years working in education, HR/administration, and project-and-event management. She spent over a decade as the Director of Children’s Ministries at a church in Southern California, and currently works for the regional office of the PCUSA in Orange County. In addition to her professional pursuits, she has been deeply involved in several local non-profits and theater companies. While at UCSB, she was an active member of Delta Gamma. LinkedIn: https://www.
Shamara Carney, Class of 2018
Shamara Carney is currently the Head of Brand at Altro. She has experience in Marketing and Public Relations for multicultural audiences, previously representing companies like Nike and Blue Cross Blue Shield California. Shamara’s experience in entertainment publicity adds a unique voice to the fintech space. Shamara received her Masters in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California after receiving her Bachelors in Communication at UCSB. Shamara strongly believes that without the support and motivation she received at UCSB, she would not be where she is today and she wants to do her part in providing the same experience for other UCSB students and alumni. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shamara-carney/
Nikki Calderon, Class of 2016
Nikki is currently a publicist at Amazon Studios, working across multiple Prime Video titles on a local and global scale. Before joining the Amazon Prime Video team, she worked her way up from an intern to studio publicist at Warner Bros. Television. During undergrad, Nikki served two terms as an on-campus senator in the Associated Student Senate and was the first woman of color to serve as the Residence Hall Association President. Nikki graduated from UCSB with a double major in Communication and Political Science in 2016. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where you can find her reading comic books or baking pastries in her free time. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/
Dylan Casey, Class of 1995
Dylan is the Chief Product Officer at REEF Technology and leads the Product, Engineering and Design teams to focus on Product Development for REEF's proximity platform. Prior to joining Reef, Dylan has held Product Management executive roles at Goldman Sachs, Fair, Yahoo, Path and Google. Dylan is also a retired professional cyclist, who rode for The US Postal Service Cycling Team alongside Lance Armstrong. He is an Olympian from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and is a 4 time national champion. While attending the University of California at Santa Barbara he earned a degree in Communication. He recently moved from Menlo Park, CA and now lives in Ridgewood, NJ and is married to Jessica Grieco-Casey with two children. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/
Jennifer Leavitt Cruz, Class of 2016
Jennifer is an experienced and accomplished corporate communications professional, who has held positions of increasing scope and responsibility in all facets of organizational communication. She currently serves as Vice President, Communication at PennyMac Financial Services in Westlake Village, California, where she oversees a large-scale communications operation, focusing on improving strategy and execution of executive communications as well as internal impact and engagement. Jennifer obtained a BA in Communication from UCSB, where she completed a thesis on Moderators to Teammate Hostility. She obtained her MBA from the University of Southern California, with a focus on Strategy and Communication. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jleavittcruz/
Nick Duggan, Class of 2000
Nick has been developing people and organizations for more than 20 years, and is passionate about making work more meaningful for all. Nick currently serves as Senior Director, Inclusion & Development, at Santa Barbara-based software company AppFolio, leading the organization’s diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI), learning & development, and talent management functions. He also offers leadership development resources and coaching through his Deeper Work business, which he founded in 2017. Nick previously led global employee and executive communications for Citrix GetGo (now LogMeIn), makers of GoToMeeting software. Prior to this, he founded QuestSpace Coaching, where he innovated a soul-centered coaching model to help clients find solutions to their life and business challenges. He began his career in the healthcare industry with event planning and corporate training roles at companies including DaVita, the American Heart Association, Prometheus Laboratories, and The Zitter Group (now Zitter Insights). In addition to his communication degree from UCSB, Nick also holds a master's in organizational psychology from William James College, with a thesis on “Engaging the Soul within Organizations: Practical Implications of Workplace Spirituality Research.” LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickduggan/
Jake Edson, Class of 2014
Jake graduated from UCSB in 2014 with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in History. As a student, he was heavily involved with the Communication Department as a Peer Advisor and President of the Communication Association. After graduation, Jake worked as a Community Manager at an education technology company called Course Hero. In 2019, he graduated from the George Washington University Law School and will begin his legal career as an Associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in Washington, D.C. Jake is originally from Maryland and in his free time enjoys playing music, reading cheap thriller novels, and hanging out with family and friends. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/
Desiree Flores, Class of 2013
Desiree is the Director of Employee Social Impact of the UTA Foundation, UTA's philanthropic arm. UTA is a global entertainment and media company representing some of the most acclaimed figures in film, television, news, music, sports, theater, fine art, and more. Desiree oversees employee volunteerism initiatives and community partnerships for the agency globally. She leads the UTA Foundation’s Employee Social Impact team, with a focus on year-round volunteerism, youth mentorship, climate focused initiatives, and civic engagement. Desiree joined UTA as an intern in the summer of 2012, and directly after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013, joined the entertainment company as a full-time employee in the UTA Mailroom and worked her way up the ranks to her current position. While a student at UCSB, Desiree was a Communication major and Spanish minor. She joined Alpha Phi and served as the President and VP Recruitment of the chapter. Desiree lives in Los Angeles with her husband, James. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/
Kyle Garcia, Class of 2013
Kyle Garcia is a Copywriter at Ring. Kyle's writing has been used to advertise many of the most popular products at the company. He influences advertising strategy and messaging within Ring. Diving into advertising was a career change for Kyle that started in 2019 and came to fruition in 2021. Prior to this, he was a journalist. Kyle reported and wrote for several news outlets including NPR affiliate station KPCC where he was part of an award-winning team. During undergrad, Kyle was a Resident Assistant, a member of the Community Affairs Board, part of Urban Dance Company, double majored in Communication and Linguistics, and studied abroad in Beijing, China. Kyle lives in Los Angeles, CA and enjoys rock climbing, dancing, and cooking. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/
Wendy Garcia, Class of 1990
Wendy lives in Irvine and works as a Human Resources Consultant at Enlightened HR Services. Extensive background in employee relations, as well as workers’ compensation and unemployment claims management. Development and delivery of training on a variety of topics, including Sexual Harassment Prevention (AB1825), Recruiting & Hiring, Performance Management and Disciplinary Action. She co-founded Ole' Orange County and is an active Mother and Community Leader. She is joining the Events Team. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-garcia-sphr-phrca-shrm-scp-1ab493a/
Jeanette Gibson, Class of 1992
Jeanette graduated with a BA in Communication and has more than 20 years of experience in communication and digital marketing. She is currently advising startups and companies in the high tech sector on social media strategy and customer advocacy. Previously, she served as VP of Community at Hootsuite, a leading social media company, where she was responsible for creating vibrant online communities for Hootsuite’s 12M+ users. Prior to Hootsuite, Jeanette was Sr. Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy at Cisco Systems where she championed B2B social media engagement and led social media, digital and PR teams during her 15 year tenure. She is passionate about communication and serves as a keynote speaker at industry conferences, hosts webinars and corporate training sessions and enjoys mentoring and sharing her experience with others. While at USCB, Jeanette was a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority and worked at KCSB radio station, LaCumbre yearbook, and interned at KSBY-TV and KTMS Newstalk Radio. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanettegibson/
Rick M. Goldberg, Class of 1979
During his 28-year career studying litigation dynamics, Trial Psychologist Rick Goldberg has prepped well over 1,500 witnesses involved in all types of high stakes and high-risk commercial, family and criminal litigation. He focuses his time on assisting attorneys in teaching their clients to testify authentically, credibility and confidently in depositions, arbitrations, hearings and trials. When he's not preparing witnesses to testify, Rick and his team conduct jury research (i.e. focus groups, mock trials, and community attitude surveys) throughout the country while also assisting in jury selection and the creation of compelling demonstrative aides. Rick has participated in over 200 jury trials in his home state of Texas and as far away as California, Brazil, France, Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico, England, South Africa, and Australia. Board Certified by the American Psychotherapy Association, Rick is a Professional Counselor (BCPC), has a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara), and a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. Rick lives in Houston, TX and Santa Fe, NM. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/hirerickmgoldberg
Jonathan Gruber, Class of 2017
Jonathan Gruber is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Managing Director for Capstone Partners based in Los Angeles, CA. He brings 5 years of experience in the areas of personal financial planning and wealth management since graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Communications Studies in March, 2017. He is also currently pursuing his Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation and Series 24 qualification. During his undergrad, Jonathan volunteered as the Marketing Director for an on-campus non-profit organization called Swipes for the Houseless, as well as fundraising for the Special Olympics. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/
Renée Houston, Class of 1991
Renée is a Communication teacher/scholar, experienced higher education administrator, and organizational consultant with an extensive background in mentoring, program development, education technology, communication (speaking and writing) coach, and lifelong champion of wholistic approaches to work/life. Renee is the Founder of Level Up Pro Consulting, which helps leaders develop human-centered organizations by focusing on communication, purpose, belonging, retention, and productivity. Renée (Ph.D, Florida State University 1996) is also a Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State. Her classes explore the intersection of organizational communication, technology, diversity and gender. Her research focuses on the study of organizing that creates opportunities for people to build healthy work lives and equitable organizations. In particular, she addresses inequities centered on issues of gender, social class and race. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ren%C3%A9e-houston-ph-d/
Jason Kearnaghan, Class of 1995
Jason Kearnaghan is a Labor & Employment Partner in the downtown Los Angeles office of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, LLP, an AmLaw 100 international law firm. Jason represents employers in state and federal courts with respect to all facets of employment law including wrongful discharge, employment discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, and hostile work environment. He also has substantial experience representing employers in union negotiations, organizing campaigns, elections, union grievance proceedings and unfair labor proceedings. Prior to joining Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, Jason practiced business litigation in the healthcare context. His practice included contractual disputes and managed care liability for Fortune 500 healthcare service providers and subsidiaries. He also served in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps as a trial attorney in criminal prosecution. While at UCSB, Jason was an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jasonkearnaghan/
Meghan Killian, Class of 2010
Meghan double majored in Communication and Psychology at UCSB. While at UCSB, she served as treasurer for the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society and was a research assistant for a graduate student researching communication accommodation within law enforcement-civilian interactions. Meghan received her law degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she specialized in Intellectual Property Law. She currently lives in San Francisco and works as an Associate Attorney at Duane Morris LLP where she specializes in trademarks, copyrights, and brand protection. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/meghankillian/
Leslie Solomon Klonoff, Class of 1980
With her BA in Communication Studies, Leslie's background is in recruiting, event planning, and community organizing. She was a founding member of Cameron-Brooks, Inc., the most respected Junior Military Officer recruiting firm in the world, helping Corporate America find its future leaders from the military's top Junior Officers. While at UCSB she served as Panhellenic Chair for Alpha Phi, worked at Ortega Dining Commons, and was a Section Editor for the La Cumbre. She currently focuses most of her volunteer time at UCSB. In addition to Chairing our Dept. of Communication Alumni Council Alumni Engagement Committee, she is an active member on the UCSB Alumni Board of Directors. She Co-Founded All Gaucho Reunion GreekFest, serves on the UCSB Greek Interconnect committee, and is a mentor for many of the greek chapters desiring stronger alumni engagement. She and her husband, Jeff, are proud members of the UCSB Alumni Founders Circle. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leslie-klonoff-6631639/
Claire Knowles, Class of 2015
Claire received a BA in Communication and Global Studies from UCSB, which lead her to pursue a career in Global Marketing Communications. During her time at UCSB, she was involved in the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honors Society and Team Manager of the PowerSave Campus Program, which promoted energy efficiency on campus through events, marketing campaigns, and energy audits. After graduating, Claire took a job working as a Supervisor at a resort on Guam in the Sports, Entertainment and Activities department where she led the Kids Club program and nightly activities for guests. After a year of working and traveling abroad, she returned to start her career in marketing. Claire has a background in high-tech marketing and is currently a Marketing Communications (MarCom) Manager at Infineon Technologies, a world leader in semiconductor solutions. She loves that her days always look different and involve everything from campaign production and content creation to project management and event planning/execution. LinkedIn: https://www.
Annie Ly, Class of 2001
Annie brings over fifteen years of diverse marketing experience and her business acumen to help companies build brand value. She has worked on global projects for Alere Health, Samsung, NXP, Kia Motors, ADP, Novartis Diagnostics, Pearson, The College Board and LG. As a strategist at BrandingBusiness, a B2B brand consultancy, she helps companies unlock their competitive advantage, find their greatness, and tell their story. Annie is responsible for managing research and strategy projects for companies and products ranging from digital technologies to healthcare. Annie played an integral role at Sega to bring one of the company's biggest franchise brands to market. She started her career at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners implementing digital campaigns for Wall Street Journal and Hewlett-Packard. Annie holds an MBA in Marketing from University of California Davis and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Francesco (Fran) D. Mancia, Class of 1980
Fran earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.B.A. from the University of San Francisco. He is the Vice President of Government Relations for Muniservices, LLC. and is responsible for overseeing company legislative, regulatory, and government relations activity throughout the country. With a focus on fiscal impacts to local districts, Fran monitors, analyzes and leads company lobbying efforts related to legislation, state mandates, and regulatory changes and policies that affect client revenue streams and special district tax allocation. Over the past twelve years, Fran has spent a significant portion of his time interacting with mayors and council members, members of the State Board of Equalization, county assessors and tax collectors, state legislators, and state agency directors. He was recently elected to serve as one of four Regents for the University of California system. He also served a two year term as President of the League of California Cities’ Partner Program. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fran-mancia-35976a1/
Taylor Owens, Class of 2016
Taylor double majored in Communication and Film & Media Studies at UCSB. She was also very involved on campus as she was a board member of the Communication Association and worked at the Pollock Theater as an assistant to the Theater Director. After graduating, Taylor began reading scripts for a producer and working on set as a production assistant. Taylor also volunteered yearly for the San Diego Latino Film Festival and San Diego International Film Festival. As Taylor’s passion for working in the film industry was very strong, she also wanted to tap into her love for event planning and, for this reason, got a job working as an event planner at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. Taylor immensely enjoyed this job and coordinating various events, from corporate meetings to social events. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the events industry shut down, and Taylor began pursuing a marketing certification. After receiving the marketing certificate, Taylor got a job working at her current company PHD - a global media and marketing communications agency. Taylor enjoys working with other members of the strategy team to implement and oversee the entire campaign process for the client. She has learned many new skills working in the media world and looks forward to continuing to grow her career in marketing. In her spare time, Taylor loves reading, walking with her dogs, soaking up the San Diego sun, and spending time with family and friends. Taylor is also involved in PHD's women's association and writes for PHD's culture club newsletter Taylor is grateful for all her professional and volunteer experiences because they allowed her to tap into her interests and pursue a career path where she feels most fulfilled and happy! LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/taylor-owens
Rachyl Pines, Ph.D. Class of 2020
Rachyl Pines is a Research Scientist at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. After completing her PhD in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara, she completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation and University of California, Los Angeles under the direction of Dr. Amy Waterman. Rachyl conducts research in behavioral health, population health, pediatrics, and communication topic areas to improve patient education and care. Rachyl serves as an executive officer for the Intergroup Communication Interest Group for the International Communication Association, and for the International Association of Language and Social Psychology.
Liz Holman Reilly, Class of 2013
Liz received her BA in Communications from UCSB where she was a member of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honors Society and a Communications Research Assistant. She was also an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and participated in UCEAP and UCDC. Following graduation, Liz moved to the east coast and began her career in the Wine and Spirits industry with Breakthru Beverage and Diageo and held a variety of roles in sales, marketing, and revenue management. In 2018 Liz received her MBA from UNC Chapel Hill with a dual concentration in Marketing and Data Analytics. Liz recently moved to Orange County with her husband, two young children, and their two dogs to continue her career with Diageo as the Business Performance Manager for Southern California. Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/lizhreilly
Bryana Ryan, Class of 2015
Bryana Ryan is an entrepreneur, expert marketer, paid ads and funnel expert. Bryana and her funnel expert team have helped several multi-million dollar businesses scale their services online in the past 3 years. She is currently the CEO of Bryana Ryan Cosultancy, one of the most innovative lead generation marketing firms, Founder of The Top Suite Lead Flow Systems, and is a proud member of the Partnerships & Development Team on the Comm Alumni Council. Through her agency and consulting services, Bryana and the team have helped scale three different businesses to over 7-figures in revenue. She’s proud to be living in her God-given purpose of helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses profitably with Paid Ads, funnels and advanced marketing strategies. While at UCSB, she was an Resident Assistant in San Rafael Hall and enjoyed salsa/bachata dancing at nearby locations. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida where she is being mentored by multi-million dollar marketer and Forbes Agency Council Member Rudy Mawer. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bryanaryan
Alejandra Saragoza, Class of 2012
Alejandra is a content strategist and digital marketer with a decade of experience across various industries. Currently, she's the managing editor for Zendesk, spearheading the daily editorial operations and overseeing content production for the award-winning SaaS company. Prior to this role, she was the managing editor for California.com, where she helped build a media site from the ground up, grew its audience, and led an editorial team. She's also worked as an editor for Diablo magazine, Healthline, and other media companies. While she's a California girl at heart, she now resides in Spokane, Washington, with her husband (also a UCSB grad) and portly cat (affectionately named Biggie). She enjoys hiking, brewery hopping, reading novels, and writing about food and travel in her spare time. Her writing has been published in The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Via, and SFGate. She also serves on the board of directors for Local News Matters, a nonprofit site bringing community coverage to the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Linkedin: https://www.
Matt Schermerhorn, Class of 2009
Matt graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in Sport Management. He currently serves as a Professional Services Consultant for www.Alchemy.us. He focuses on implementing the Workday Student platform for Colleges and Universities throughout the U.S., helping to design and customize the product to meet their institutions’ needs and to help support administration and students. Prior to that, Matt worked for four years in the Oakland Athletics baseball organization where he specialized in promotional marketing and special events. Ultimately, Matt hopes to one day transition back into collegiate athletics by sharing his current and past professional experiences, to bring added stability to an organization that is the NCAA, which constantly affects and shapes the lives of young athletes each day. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mattschermerhorn/
Morgan Steffen, Class of 2016
Morgan is Client Services Manager for Impulse Advanced Communications. From her first job to her current one, helping people navigate problems has always been at the forefront of her career and something she truly loves doing. It is extremely important to her to not only understand the core problem but see it from everyone's point of view. She loves to throw herself into the situation and will not be satisfied until everyone is cracking jokes and the problem is not only resolved but the relationship is better than what it was before. In her spare time, she serves as a Board Member for Domestic Violence Solutions. Morgan is also an avid runner, cook, and self-named sommelier (she sticks to the policy that almost all wine is good wine). LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/morgan-steffen/
Karen Thorland, Class of 1990
Karen is Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). In this capacity, she manages domestic content protection civil litigation and oversees the Association's global voluntary initiatives and civil litigation efforts. She has experience in a broad range of litigation and intellectual property matters, including copyright and trademark, rights of publicity and privacy, First Amendment, entertainment contractual disputes, and appeals. Prior to this appointment, Karen was a Partner at Loeb & Loeb, LLP, as the co-lead counsel for MPAA member companies in a national litigation campaign related to peer-to-peer file-sharing. Karen graduated from UCSB with Highest Honors, College Honors, and Distinction in Communication, and she received her law degree from UCLA School of Law.
Eric Zackrison, Class of 2017
Eric is the President and CEO of IDI.US Inc. which controls the rights to the Interpersonal Dynamics Inventory, a powerful multi-rater personality/behavioral styles measurement tool. After 25 years as a manager and entrepreneur and completing his MA, MBA, and PhD, Eric has taken up the mantle of his father both in furthering the awareness and use of IDI through training and licensing others, as well as adopting the name of his father’s consulting firm, Effectiveness Consultants. He focuses heavily on relationships as key to success and integrates this into his consulting and into his role in the community. Eric received his PhD from the Department of Communication at UCSB in 2017. Most importantly, though, he is the father of two amazing children. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eric-zackrison/
Yardena Zwang-Weissman, Class of 2003
Yardena Zwang-Weissman is a Litigation Partner in the Los Angeles office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. Yardena focuses her practice on environmental, mass tort and product liability litigation and is a member of her firm’s crisis management practice. She also counsels clients in investigations, internal examinations, and she represents financial institutions and clients in the technology industry in commercial litigation with an emphasis on class and mass actions, as well as contract and business disputes. Yardena graduated from UCSB with Highest Honors, Distinction in Communication, and she received the Steven H. Chaffee Award for Excellence in Research. She received her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law.