2023 Levin Leaders Recognized at Cox Institute Spring Leadership Dinner 

A group of people standing.
The Levin Leaders received their certificates and medals at the Cox Institute Leadership Dinner on March 2, 2023. (Photo/Sarah E. Freeman)

2023 Levin Leaders Recognized at Cox Institute Spring Leadership Dinner 

March 14, 2023

The Cox Institute for Journalism Innovation, Management and Leadership recognized its 2023 class of Levin Leaders by presenting the students with the Institute’s Leadership Medal.

The Levin Leaders were selected for the program from faculty nominations based on their commitment to professional development through work in student media, internships and other student activities. The Leadership Medals were presented during the Institute’s Spring Leadership Dinner held March 2 at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Library. 

The 2023 Levin Leaders are: Keith Herndon (professor), Ashley Balsavias, Grace Mains, Ryan Kerley, Sidney Chansamone, Jacqueline GaNun, Stuart Steele, Dawn Sawyer, Eric Tiongson, Eve Hernandez, DonA Traylor-Askew, Dania Kalaji, Erin Kenney, Katie Tucker, Olivia Wakim and Charlotte Norsworthy (instructor).

Kamille Whittaker, managing editor of Atlanta Magazine, who is serving as the Institute’s 2023 Industry Fellow, delivered inspirational keynote remarks and received the Institute’s Leadership Medal. The program’s benefactor, Adam Levin, attended this year’s dinner and received special recognition for his generous support of the Cox Institute and its leadership education programs. 

The program was named the Levin Leaders Initiative in 2019 to reflect the generous support provided by Adam Levin, his wife Heather McDowell, and the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation. The Levin family’s support provides for curriculum development, training materials and other expenses of running the program. Levin is a nationally recognized expert on cyber security, privacy, identity theft, fraud, and personal finance. He was chairman and founder of CyberScout and was co-founder of Credit.com. He authored the book, “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves” and is now the host of a popular podcast, “What the Hack.” 

The Cox Institute also presented several scholarship award during the dinner.  Jacqueline GaNun and DonA Traylor-Askew were awarded Conrad C. Fink Scholarships, which are presented annually in memory of the late journalism professor who founded the Cox Institute. 

Katie Tucker and Olivia Wakim received Todd M. Bauer Memorial Awards, a program established by the Bauer family to honor their son by helping young journalists establish themselves in their early careers.  Erin Kenney was this year’s recipient of the Barry Hollander Award, which was established by former students in memory of the late journalism professor known for his steadfast defense of open meetings and records. The Institute also presented an award recognizing Kate Hester for her outstanding work as the Cox Institute’s graduate assistant.

See a full album of photos from the Leadership Dinner here.

Students participating in the leadership program met weekly for eight weeks  with Keith Herndon, executive director of the Cox Institute, and Charlotte Norsworthy, an instructor with the Institute. The sessions featured student discussions about leadership principles drawn from the “Your Leadership Edge” book published by the Kansas Leadership Center. 

Several students in this year’s cohort said the program’s discussion about managing change led to new understandings about leadership. 

“I know now that leadership is about embracing uncertainty and not fearing change,” said Erin Kenney. “I think about leadership as having the courage to take risks when necessary even if you don’t have all the answers.” 

Olivia Wakim echoed those comments about taking risks and making decisions, adding that the program led her to consider how she will respond in her future organizations and relationships. “I hope I can find the strength and intent to take risks and challenge myself even when the outcome is murky,” she said.  

Eve Hernandez and Grace Mains said the Levin Leaders program focus on introspection was important to them. “This program has taught me not only to recognize the leadership qualities in myself, but to embrace them and how to work on them,” said Hernandez. Mains added, “Levin Leaders has taught me to know myself and believe in my future.” 

Since its inception 11 years ago, the leadership training program has taught more than 150 of the college’s best journalism students about leadership principles. 

“Working with passionate journalism students in a program that emphasizes how change is a constant in our lives produces deep and rewarding discussions,” said Herndon. “When students come together in the intimate setting of this program, we see how they benefit from frank and candid conversations about how media industries are transforming.”