Grady College celebrates retiring faculty Karen King and Leara Rhodes

Grady College proudly recognizes faculty members Karen King and Leara Rhodes as they embark on retirement.

Karen King, a Jim Kennedy New Media Professor, specialized in advertising media and campaigns. She began teaching at Grady College in 1985 and served two stints as advertising and public relations department head. King’s research centers around health communications and advertising industry issues.

Karen King (center front) and their campaigns students at the AAF competition in 1999 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo: submitted)

Prior to Grady College, King worked as a media planner, research supervisor for FCB Communications, Inc. in Chicago  and visiting researcher for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She earned her bachelor’s, graduate, and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana.

King recently established the Karen W. and Daniel J. King Distinguished Professorship in Advertising.

“Karen King’s contributions to the college span decades, and scores of students who have told me personally that she changed their lives,” said Charles Davis, Grady College dean. “I can’t tell you how many times an alum has written me or stopped me at a Grady event to tell me that Dr. King was “their” professor, that one who they stayed in touch with through the years, who they called with big news, and who helped shape their careers.”

Multiple generations of students have had opportunities in the advertising field because of Karen King’s dedication to connection current students to advertising industry professionals.

Some of King’s students, along with current and former colleagues, join in the celebration after she assumed the role of president of the AAA. King is seated in the front row. (Contributed photo)

“As much as I feel a part of Grady College and the University of Georgia, Dr. King feels a part of the Delta family,” said Tim Mapes (ABJ ’86), senior vice president and chief marketing & communications officer for Delta. “Dr. King has interacted with countless members of our advertising and corporate communications teams during student-led campaigns competitions and she embodies the open-minded, engaged, empathetic qualities we seek in our leaders here at Delta.  Not a day goes by at Delta in Atlanta that I do not draw upon my experiences in Athens.  In fact, I like to say that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us in leading Delta.  Dr. King’s shoulders provided me with an unshakeable foundation on which to build our brand and the communications that support it.”

Karen King connects students to professionals. Here, she welcomes Marni Shapirio (ABJ ’96) back to Grady for the Kennedy Symposium.

King has been a Lilly Teaching Fellow and is a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, UGA’s highest teaching honor, among other honors during her time at UGA.

“Karen King has been a strong voice to keep our advertising program a leader in the field,” said Bryan Reber, C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership and department head of advertising and public relations. “In addition to being a great media strategy and campaigns teacher she has been a proponent of, and often volunteers to lead, extracurricular enrichment programs.  Such programs give students a competitive edge entering the profession. It seems her devotion to the advertising profession, advertising education, and the University of Georgia advertising major really knows no bounds.”

King has served in leadership roles in a variety of national advertising organizations including president of the American Academy of Advertising.

“Instead of writing some long, fawning quote about Dr. King, just imagine me hoisting her up on my shoulders, handing her twenty dozen long stem roses and then parading up and down Broad Street with tears streaming down my face,” said Jason Kreher (ABJ ’00), creative director for entertainment and editorial at Wieden + Kennedy. “That should give you a pretty accurate picture of how I feel about her retirement.”

King begins retirement August 1, 2020.

Leara Rhodes (ABJ ’72), associate professor of journalism, retires from Grady College after 26 years as a faculty member. She focused her instruction on magazine writing, management and design.

Leara Rhodes celebrates with Michaela Patafio (AB ’18) at senior sendoff in 2018. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman/Grady College)

Rhodes was a freelance writer with published articles in many prominent magazines and newspapers. She also wrote for some of the nation’s largest businesses including Coca-Cola and Cox Communications. Rhodes authored three books including the latest, “Peace through Media.” She earned her bachelor’s degree from Grady College. Her master’s and doctoral degrees were completed at Temple University.

“Leara Rhodes, to many Grady students, is the face of narrative writing and of the world of magazines,” said Davis. “An eloquent, masterful wordsmith, her professional acumen and high standards help keep Grady journalism graduates at the top of their game. Leara’s selfless commitment to the college can be seen in so many facets of the program, from her advanced editing and production courses to her leadership in advancing issues of diversity and inclusion.”

One of Rhodes’ primary interests is the role media plays in societal development. She worked extensively in the Caribbean as a guiding resource for media outlets in the region. Recently, Rhodes launched “Caribbean Voices,” a podcast exploring the lifestyles and traditions of the Caribbean Basin.

Rhodes and students outside of Grady College in 2015.

“I can’t imagine the Journalism Department or Grady College without Leara Rhodes,” said Janice Hume, Carolyn McKenzie and Don E. Carter Chair for excellence in journalism and journalism department head. “She taught experiential classes long before it was trendy, launching more than 40 magazines in her classes. She mentored so many writing students who have gone on to successful magazine careers. Her research earned her the Haitian Studies Association’s Award for Service presented to those who contribute beyond the usual to the Haitian community. She has been a wonderful colleague. We will miss her, but wish her wonderful adventures to come.”

Former students say Rhodes became a mentor to them through the writing process and publication development.

“It’s hard for me to put into words the impact that Dr. Leara Rhodes has had on my life,” said Ramsey Nix (ABJ ’99, MA ’06), freelance writer and part time instructor at Grady College. “She continues to erect signposts at pivotal points in my journey. She creates connections. She opens doors. Leara has defined the role of mentor for me.”

Rhodes has published three books in addition to her many published articles.
(Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

Rhodes was the Journalism Teacher of the Year at Grady College in 2006. She was awarded the first UGA diversity award for advancing UGA’s mission of diversity. In 2004, Rhodes received the Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship from the National Conference of Editorial writers for work in attracting minority students. Rhodes was also a 2007-08 UGA Service Learning Fellow. She has used her experience and knowledge to help students work cohesively in the creation of new publications.

“Her mentorship taught me so much about how a publication works, how to edit stories and work with writers, how to lead a team, and about health communication as a field,” said Aashka Dave (ABJ ’15), Researcher/Community Manager for the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab. “Dr. Rhodes is so invested in her students, and I know other Grady classmates of mine feel similarly about the impact she had on our educations.”

Rhodes begins retirement June 1, 2020.

‘Caribbean Voices’ podcast explores community and culture

A podcast, “Caribbean Voices,” created by Leara Rhodes and sponsored by Grady College in partnership with the Latin American-Caribbean Studies Institute (LACSI) at the University of Georgia can be found online on the Caribbean Voices website.  The podcast aims to share the lifestyles and traditions of the Caribbean Basin and serve as an outreach for the LACSI community. The program includes music, interviews and discussions surrounding issues involving the Caribbean nations.

“Most people when they think of the Caribbean envision cruises or resort areas,” explained Rhodes, who has researched, worked and visited many of the island nations in the Caribbean. “My experience has been that the Caribbean offers so much more and by sharing their culture, traditions, thought and insights, the region might be viewed differently.”

Topics presently on the “Caribbean Voices” podcast include four episodes of drumming: about community, building drums, entertainment and prayer. Other episodes include:

  • Vodou: Religion, Music and Festival
  • Day of Gede (November 2, also known as All Souls’ Day)
  • Caribbean Dance Party as a benefit for the children at the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-of-Prince, Haiti, to show gratitude during our Thanksgiving week.

Episodes in production include:

  • Literature—featuring Puerto Rican guest Mayra Santos-Febres who will talk about her work as a writer, literary critic, essayist, radio and television personality and community activist
  • Music—with Curaçao musicians, Toni Sherman and Maruja Bogaard, who will talk about the difficulty of recording albums and sharing music
  • Sports—featuring a Jamaican long jumper, Chanice Porter, who will talk about being a female athlete in the Caribbean competing in world events
  • Environmentalists—with Trinidadian activists, Molly Gaskin and Karilyn Shephard, who will talk about the problems of protecting the red ibis in wetlands
  • Science—featuring geoscientist, Xavier Moonan, who will talk about mud volcanoes in Trinidad and Dominica.

The podcast is available for listeners to stream on the hosting website Podbean.

Leara Rhodes explores peace journalism in new book

Among the many tips included in “Peace Through Journalism,” is this reminder: Attribution, attribution, attribution … never make an opinion or claim seem like a fact.”
Among the many tips included in “Peace Through Journalism,” is this reminder: Attribution, attribution, attribution … never make an opinion or claim seem like a fact.”

Leara Rhodes (AB ’72), associate professor of journalism at Grady College, has published a book to teach students how to cover conflicts entitled, “Peace through Media.”

The book is a culmination of the 24 years that Rhodes has taught international communications and three years of research. Her research included meeting with journalists around the world and with professors from Ulster University in Belfest, exploring how conflict can be covered by journalists to include all affected people.

Rhodes was empowered by the life of Johan Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist and the principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. His idea that “conflict should be covered like we cover health issues (offering all facets of an issue), and not like sports games (with winners and losers)” inspired Rhodes to write this book.

“I researched his influence in Northern Ireland and in Australia and came away with the notion that we need to do more to educate aspiring journalists on how to cover conflict with the hope for peace,” Rhodes said.

The book aims to teach students how to be better journalists in the middle of the conflict through the idea of peace journalism. Rhodes describes peace journalism as looking at issues from as many sides as possible. Since media influences every aspect of society, Rhodes believes that “journalists have an opportunity to present information so that the conflicting parties can reach a more peaceful solution.”

“Most western trained journalists and educators believe that if journalists are objective, all the factors affected by conflict will be covered,” Rhodes said. “I suggest, in my book, that that is not the case. I offer a theoretical base of covering conflict, a logical base of covering conflict and then I offer an action plan of how we can incorporate the concept of peace journalism in our curriculum using Galtung’s steps and offering concrete examples.”

Rhodes, a recipient of the Journalism Teacher of the Year Award and the Roland Page Graduate Teacher of the Year Award, has a Ph.D. in international communication from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Georgia. Her research focuses on the role media plays in society. She is the author of “Democracy and the Role of the Haitian Media,” published by Mellen Publishers in the U.K., as well as “Ethnic Media: Reshaping the American Dream.”