Bill Stafford Class of 2000- William (Bill) Stafford is a three-time Emmy award-winner and the vice president of engineering and technology at Raycom Sports. In his position, he leads all engineering and technology operations for pre- and post-production, live event production, media archival, technology development and strategic planning. Stafford was recognized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his work as a technology and camera operator for CBS, ESPN, ABC, Fox, and NBC. Over the course of his career, Stafford has collaborated on hundreds of productions, including Daytona 500s, Stanley Cup, MLB & NHL All-Star Games, Olympic Qualifiers, NCAA, and NFL live events. Stafford helped develop and demonstrate technologies including wireless video connectivity, automated sports officiating, robotics, AR/ VR cameras, OTT and FAST channels, and sports production using hydrogen fuel power. Stafford is a member of Sports Video Group (SVG) and Project Management Institute (PMI). Prior to Raycom Sports, Stafford had a 15-year career with NASCAR, working his way from a field technical manager in 2007 to the director of field operations in 2009. In 2013, he was promoted to the director of facility and studio operations and the director of building operations. Stafford was promoted once again in 2016 to senior director of technology operations and senior director of facility and studio operations. At NASCAR, Stafford earned the “Leadership by Example” award. Stafford graduated from SRU in 2000, where he majored in Communication and worked with WSRU-TV. Stafford was also a member of the Slippery Rock Rugby Club. Stafford fills time outside of the office volunteering on the board of directors for environmental conservation groups, Mecklenburg Wildlife Club, and Charlotte Ducks Unlimited.
Jennifer Izzo, Class of 1993- Jennifer Izzo has over 25 years of experience in media marketing. Currently, Izzo is an international digital accounts manager with Business News Publishing (BNP) in New York. In this position, she works with digital sales for e-magazines and websites such as Dairy Foods, Beverage Industry, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, and the National Provisioner. Izzo is responsible for $98.3 million in advertising revenue at BNP Media. Prior to BNP Media, Izzo was the vice president at Media People, Inc. for twenty years, where she oversaw six sales representatives on 15 publications, and was responsible for all advertising sales and a net revenue of four million dollars. At Media People, she worked alongside the top publishing companies in New York City, including Time Inc., Meredith Corporation, Rodale, Condé Nast, and Readers Digest Corporation. She also worked with PBS’s “This Old House” (TV and magazine) as their national direct response business. From 1996-2022 Izzo worked with Smithsonian Magazine, which has an annual paid circulation of two million copies and a $1.3 million annual advertising revenue, as a national direct response manager. From 2000-2002 she was employed with Good Housekeeping Magazine as a direct response account manager. Good Housekeeping has an annual paid circulation of 4.5 million copies and a $2.3 million annual advertising revenue. Izzo has also worked with other publications such as Men’s Health, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart Living, Weight Watchers, The Atlantic Monthly, Readers Digest, Fitness Magazine, Parents, Faily Handman, and Eating Well. Some of Izzo’s largest advertising clients in her portfolio include Bed Bath & Beyond, Bose, E-Bay, Gorilla Glue, Life Alert, Lumber Liquidators, Sleep Number/Select Comfort, WeatherTech, and Yankee Candle. Izzo graduated from SRU in 1993. At SRU, she majored in English and minored in Communication. Outside of class, Izzo contributed to The Rocket and was the social chairperson for Alpha Xi Delta. She also worked at the SRU bookstore.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Hatfield, Class of 1973- Daniel (Dan) Hatfield retired in 2017 after a 45-year career in the newspaper industry. His resume includes working as a police, courts and city reporter for the Fort Lauderdale News (now Sun-Sentinel) from 1975-1979; serving as the city editor and the capitol bureau chief, a political columnist and assistant city editor and reporter at Capital City Press in Baton Rouge from 1979-1995; and as the editor of the editorial pages at East Bay Times/Oakland Tribute in San Francisco from 1996-2017. Hatfield was also a journalism faculty member at Southern University for two years, Louisiana State University for five years, and has guest lectured at several other universities. Hatfield was part of the team at the East Bay Times to win the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for their breaking news coverage of the “Ghost Ship” fire, … which killed 36 people at an unauthorized residential artist collective in an industrial warehouse, and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city of Oakland’s failure to take action that might have prevented it. During his tenure at the East Bay Times, his editorial pages won 17 first or second-place awards in California Newspapers Publishers Association Competition of Journalism Excellence. Some of Hatfield’s other accomplishments include receiving the Knight Ridder Employee Excellence Award for Journalism, the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association for investigative reporting and the Meeman Award for environmental reporting. He is also a retired member of Sigma Delta Chi, Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. At SRU, Hatfield worked as the sports editor for The Rocket, the news director and sports director at WNFT (now WSRU-FM), and a staff writer for The Rock alumni magazine. After graduating from SRU in 1973, Hatfield earned his master’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University.
Young Alumni Award (NEW): Tyhira Monet Stovall, Class of 2014-- Tyhira Monet Stovall is the co-founder of root.D PR Agency, Inc., a boutique full-service PR agency catered to uplifting the voices of women of color in business. While at SRU, Stovall studied Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. She was a project manager for PRSSA and worked on the Eastern Communication Association social media team. A true leader, Stovall founded the student-run organization Students Engaged in Living Fashion and was the organization’s inaugural president. She was also a member of SRU’s Black Action Society. After graduation, Stovall started working in a freelance capacity with VII Elements Public Relations Agency. Her largest project thus far has been for a nonprofit project called “Care Cases” that garnered $10,000 in donations and partnerships with Lego, Honey Pot, and Target. Her work has been covered in media such as HuffPost, Oprah Daily and Washington Post. Stoval is a member of Black Girls in Media and Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
Founders Award: Dr. Valerie Swarts, Professor Emeritus--After 27 years at SRU, Dr. Valarie Swarts retired from the Department of Communication (now Strategic Communication & Media) in 2017. She taught courses in career preparation, visual literacy, argumentation, persuasion, and communication theory. In addition to serving on various department and university committees, a substantial portion of Swarts’ time outside of the classroom was devoted to organizing and supervising career development activities such as mock interviews with professionals, formal senior presentations, and the etiquette dinner with senior presentations judges. She also was an advisor for Lambda Pi Eta and Zeta Phi Eta. Swarts is an award-winning scholar, mentor, and professor. She presented papers and served on panels annually at numerous Eastern Communication Association (ECA), National Communication Association (NCA), and New York State Communication Association (NYSCA) conferences. Her research interests were in rhetorical analysis of mediated communication and applied communication and pedagogy. In 2003, Swarts received an “Outstanding Poster Award” from NCA and in 2006 she received “Competitive Paper Honor” from ECA. In 2007, she was appointed by the president of the Eastern Communication Association to the "Committee of Scholars." As a member of the New York State Communication Association (NYSCA), she was elected to various leadership positions, culminating in becoming president of NYSCA from 2008-2009. At SRU, Swarts was recognized with an "Outstanding Advising Award” in 1996 and was nominated for the “Excellence in Teaching Award” by her colleagues in the Communication Department in 2002 and 2003. In 2006, she was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, a national collegiate honor society. Swarts is also a successful grant-writer, and received four SRU grants in 1993, 1994 and 1999. Most recently, Swarts was recognized in 2020 with the New York State Communication Association Neil Postman Mentor’s Award for continuous encouragement of students and junior faculty.
Undergraduate Excellence Award: Jocelyn Kytchak, Class of 2023- Jocelyn Kytchak graduated from SRU in May 2023 as a Strategic Communication & Media major with concentration in Digital Media Production and an emphasis in TV and Video Production and minors in Film and Media Studies and Environmental Communication and Heritage Interpretation. Outside of class, Kytchak was highly involved with WSRU-FM, where she fulfilled the roles of music director and training director, before being promoted to general manager her senior year. She was also involved with the University Program Board and The Rocket. Kytchak made Dean’s List in 2023. Her nominator, Dr. Nicholas Artman, said that “...academically, Jocelyn is nothing short of exceptional. She has consistently maintained a high GPA while taking on challenging coursework, including independent production projects, and an internship with the Macoskey Center. She is a critical thinker, a talented designer, and a passionate leader who consistently goes above and beyond what is expected. Finally, Jocelyn has shown incredible resilience in the face of adversity. She has overcome numerous obstacles, including personal health challenges, to succeed academically and professionally. Her determination, courage, and positive attitude have been an inspiration to everyone around her.”
Undergraduate Excellence Award: Jensen Troy, Class of 2023- Jensen Troy graduated from SRU in May 2023 as a Strategic Communication & Media major with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Leadership. Troy worked as the social media assistant coordinator for the SRU Enrollment Management Office while completing her studies. She also served as the Lambda Pi Eta president and the Rock PRSSA public relations chairperson. Troy completed three internships while in college with three separate organizations: the SRU Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator as a project management intern, WordWrite as a communication intern, and Mindful Creative as a public relations intern. Troy is the recipient of multiple scholarships while at SRU and was also recognized as the Rock PRSSA “Member of the Month” in 2019 and 2022. Her adviser, Dr. Allison Pieritsch, who is also one of her nominators for this award, said that “Jensen is an involved, active and high-performing student who is more than worthy of this award.” Her second nominator, her internship supervisor, and the owner of Mindful Kreative said, “Honestly, I don't believe we've ever had an intern that has made such an impression on the MK team... On behalf of Mindful Kreative, I am beyond pleased to nominate her for the Undergraduate Excellence Award as Jensen is truly an outstanding woman ready to begin her career as a communications professional.”