Seven Grady College graduates are represented in this year’s UGA Alumni Association 40 under 40 class. Profiles of several can be found after this feature. Grady College alumni honored in 2021 include:
- Angela Alfano (ABJ ’10, AB ’10)
- Jennifer Bellamy (ABJ ’08)
- Greg Bluestein (ABJ ’04, AB ’04)
- Marie Greene Broder (ABJ ’06, AB ’06, JD ’10)
- Bowen Reichert Shoemaker (ABJ ’06)
- Brittany Thoms (ABJ ’04)
- Raquel D. Willis (ABJ ’13)
We are proud of their successes and are pleased to highlight them in their own words.
Angela Alfano is the senior director of corporate communications at Major League Soccer. She used her Grady College public relations education and experience with UGA Athletics sports communications to embark on a trailblazing career. Alfano has also worked in corporate communications for the National Football League, Washington Football Team and Tough Mudder. She regularly shares her time and expertise with current UGA students. Alfano was our 2019 John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award winner.
Grady College: What lessons learned from your time as a Grady College student have most helped you succeed in your professional life?
Alfano: “Grady College and professors set the standard of excellence in journalism and mass communications. The lessons learned are endless and the network Grady has developed is priceless. Grady taught me to be a ferocious consumer of media, to focus on developing exceptional written communication skills, to be passionate about your profession, and to positively impact your community. Grady taught me that details matter; and first impressions in any form of communication sets the tone for how that information is received by your intended audience. Make the effort and do it right the first time.”
GC: What advice would you give to your 20-year old self?
Alfano: “Be confident in your abilities, yet coachable, and do not be intimidated by your new surroundings or workplace. If you have something of value to add, don’t be afraid to speak up; but don’t talk just to be heard. Above all, maintain and follow your personal moral compass; and don’t let others lead you to compromise it. When colleagues realize you have high standards, they will respect you more. And one of my favorite pieces of advice … keep lacing up those cleats, popping on those high heels, and keep shattering glass ceilings.”
GC: What motivates you?
Alfano: “Reimagining ways to communicate important narratives and strategically place stories motivates me daily. Finding innovative ways to cut through the clutter, garner positive publicity, and highlight the business behind my organization’s brand inspires me. I’m also extremely committed to positively impacting the next generation of sports PR executives, championing the new wave of leadership in the industry, and serving as an accessible mentor to many colleagues across all areas of sports business. On a very personal note, this September my husband, Mike, and I are expecting our first child (can you say baby Bulldawg!). I hope to inspire our baby, and others, to give back, dream big and work hard to achieve your goals – even during life’s new chapters such as becoming a ‘working mom.’”
GC: What skill(s) or advice should graduates and young alumni have for success early in their careers?
Alfano:: “Below are my four core pieces of advice to free agents – young alumni or graduates – for success early in their careers:
- Experience is your currency in any industry, especially sports. Internships are synonymous with interviews and can be the pipeline into full-time jobs.
- Personal branding. You are unique. Find and define your “it” factor.
- Executive presence. Pair incredible work ethic and professionalism with developing leadership skills to be positioned as a young executive.
- Informational interviews. The opportunity to connect with influential leaders in any industry is a game changer. Build your network while you parallel crafting your skillset.
“Now, get out there, cultivate your real-world experience, develop those industry relationships, and jumpstart your career!”
GC: What is your favorite place on UGA’s campus?
Alfano: “Between the Hedges. Sanford Stadium holds such a special place in my heart. Not only is it home to our beloved Georgia Bulldawgs, but it is also the football field and press box where my sports PR career began. As an undergrad student media assistant, the foundation of my career began while working for Claude Felton, Loran Smith Senior Associate Athletic Director, and Mike Mobley, Associate Sports Communications Director, in UGA’s Sports Information Department. Claude and Mike generously mentored me throughout my time at UGA and both had a profound impact on my career. From setting up press boxes and interfacing with media, to writing game notes and working on media guides, they taught me valuable lessons that I utilize to this day. Most importantly, they taught me what it is like to be a great leader, to give back to the next generation of students, and to treat your co-workers like family.”