Jackson Schroeder is the public relations specialist for Grady College’s external relations team. He graduated from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism with a bachelor’s degree in journalism news and information and a specialization in political science. 

Prior to UGA, Jackson served as the editor-in-chief of a local news publication in Brooklyn, a content manager for an online higher education publication and a sports reporter in both Athens, Ohio, and Brunswick, Georgia. He has also spent time as a freelance culture reporter in Brooklyn, covering everything from restaurant openings to the history of local bookstores.

In his role at Grady College, Jackson assists with the communications efforts of the college through the website, media relations and social media. Jackson is also the host and producer of the Grady Research Radio podcast. 


Chris Thompson graduated from Athens Technical College with an associate’s degree focused on applied science in emerging technologies. He comes from a long background in the service industry as well as years of experience in live production and recording arts. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, going camping in their camper and making music on his computer and then playing it for people at shows.


Marcella Genut (AB ’18) joined the academic advising team in January 2022. Prior to serving Grady College as the prospective student academic advisor, she worked for the CDC and nonprofit Extra Special People in a variety of communications roles. Marcella is a University of Georgia alumna, having earned a B.A. in Public Relations.


Mary Ellen Barto has more than 30 years experience working in advertising and media agencies, client marketing organizations, and as an industry consultant.  Prior to joining UGA, Mary Ellen worked for Luckie & Co, establishing a Media Center of Excellence within the agency.  She also spent 13 years as Vice President of Brand Media and Field Marketing at Arby’s Restaurant Group, where she oversaw strategic media planning and field marketing for the company, managed multiple agency relationships, and was part of the marketing leadership team responsible for the brand’s revitalization.  Mary Ellen also held senior positions in some of the industries most respected advertising agencies, including Ogilvy & Mather/Mindshare (New York and Atlanta) and BBDO/OMD (Atlanta), working with a diverse array of clients, including consumer package goods (Kraft Foods, Hershey, Pepperidge Farm, McCormick), telecommunications (ATT), insurance (Nationwide,) financial (American Express) hotels (Sheraton Hotels), Tourism (US Virgin Islands Tourism), as well as retail and QSR brands.

Mary Ellen has an undergraduate degree in Business/Psychology from Albright College (Reading, Pennsylvania).

She joins UGA as Manager of the Talking Dog Agency, guiding and supporting and growing the student-led organization.


Tyler was first acquainted with the New Media Institute as an Entertainment and Media Studies student. In order to explore his growing interest in user experience design, development, and all things NMI, he became a member of the inaugural Emerging Media Double Dawg class earning his Emerging Media Masters in 2021. Now Tyler can be found roaming the fourth floor as an NMI admin and the faculty advisor to incoming and returning undergraduate and graduate students in the New Media Certificate. He’s also teaching a variety of New Media courses and helping expand the NMI through the cultivation of industry relations.


Ashton Hedrick joined the academic advising team in July 2021. Prior to serving Grady College as an advisor, she worked in an administrative role in Franklin College undergraduate advising here at UGA. Ashton is a University of Georgia alumna, having earned a B.A. in History (2016). She also holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from Valdosta State University (2019).


Sara Cook grew up in Athens and has more than 20 years’ experience in fundraising and foundation experience.  Prior to Grady College, Sara held positions as the Senior Director of Parent Giving, Senior Director of the Franklin College of Arts & Sciences and Major Gifts Officer at the Terry College of Business.  In addition to UGA, Sara held positions as a Regional Director of the College of Charleston Foundation and Director of the HomeBanc Foundation.

In her role at Grady College, Sara will oversee all fundraising efforts and serve on the external relations team at Grady College.

Sara graduated from UGA in with a degree in political science. She and her husband Mike (BA ’98, JD’03) are raising three daughters who are also passionate Bulldog fans. Sara’s family history with UGA began with her grandparents who met at Grady College and graduated in 1948.