Four students named Yarbrough-Grady Fellows for Fall 2022

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication has named four students Yarbrough-Grady Fellows for the Fall of 2022: Emily Alexander, Ashley Balsavias, Elise Kim and Emma Stefanik.

Alexander and Stefanik are Yarbrough-Grady Crisis Fellows, and some of their responsibilities include planning for the 2023 Crisis Communication Think Tank Conference, developing social media content, Crisis Communication Coalition member outreach and active discussion of current crisis trends.

Balsavias and Kim are Yarbrough-Grady Communications Fellows, and some of their responsibilities include content and graphic creation, helping to develop communications strategies, writing articles and helping to manage Grady College’s social media accounts.

Alexander is a fourth-year public relations student with a minor in English from Louisville, Kentucky. Throughout her time at UGA, she has been involved in many student organizations, such as Alpha Delta Pi sorority and UGA Miracle. She has also served as the public relations assistant for Strike Magazine.

Additionally, Alexander has had multiple internships at both Verde Brand Communications and Heaven Hill Brand.

Upon graduating in May of 2023, Alexander hopes to move to Chicago to pursue a career at a consumer or entertainment-focused public relations agency.

Balsavias is a fourth-year journalism student with a minor in law, jurisprudence and the state and a certificate in news literacy. She is from St. Louis, Missouri, and during her time at UGA, Balsavias has served as a reporter for the Grady Newsource Election Show, a production manager for Grady Newsource and the digital director for Online News Association and Society of Professional Journalists at UGA. She is also a member of DiGamma Kappa and Delta Zeta sorority.

In the summer of 2022, Balsavias was a news and sports intern for Atmosphere TV in Austin, Texas. She was also a Yarbrough-Grady fellow over the summer and is excited to be continuing that role into this semester.

“My favorite part about being a Yarbrough fellow—besides working with the amazing communications team—is that I’m given the freedom to work on projects that I’m interested in,” Balsavias said. “I recently expressed interest in writing more, and now I am working on two feature stories for the college website. I love that I am given the trust and responsibility to work on projects that spark my interest.”

After graduating in May of 2023, she plans to pursue a career as an on-air reporter.

Kim is also a fourth-year student studying journalism and international affairs with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in public affairs communications. She is from Greenville, South Carolina.

Throughout her time at UGA, Kim has been heavily involved in UGA HEROs, serving as a team leader, the recruitment chair and presently the co-executive director. She is also a student tour guide at the UGA Visitors Center and she is a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Over the summer of 2022, Kim was selected to participate in the Grady in D.C. study away program and she lived in Delta Hall while interning with PLUS Communications and the Student Press Law Center.

Upon graduating in May of 2023, Kim hopes to move to New York City or to move back to D.C. to work in the communications industry.

Stefanik is a fourth-year public relations major with a fashion merchandising minor from Richmond, Virginia.

She is also a public relations specialist with Talking Dog Agency, a student-led advertising and public relations agency at UGA that gives members the opportunity to create and implement real campaigns for different brands and, in turn, get hands-on experience in the advertising and public relations sphere.

Stefanik has also interned with Strait Insights in Charlotte, North Carolina. After graduation in May of 2023, Stefanik hopes to work at a public relations agency.

The Yarbrough-Grady Fellowship is funded by Dick Yarbrough (ABJ ‘59), an alumnus of Grady College who has helped promote the success of Grady students for many years. Yarbrough also gives back to students via the C. Richard Yarbrough Student Support Fund, which has provided stipends to hundreds of Grady students for more than a decade.

“I am honored to be able to fund fellowships at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia,” said Yarbrough. “I can never repay my alma mater for what it has meant to me.  I am so impressed with the quality of the students there today and hope that perhaps the fellowship will give the recipients a learning opportunity they might not have been able to receive otherwise.  The only thing I ask in return is that when they are able, they give back to the next generation that will succeed them.”

Countdown to the Olympic Games: Dick Yarbrough

This year officially marks 25 years since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. These games have gone down in history for bringing international attention to the south and also for the tragic bombing in Centennial Park. 

University of Georgia broadcast journalism graduate Dick Yarbrough was instrumental in planning these Games and in the subsequent crisis management after the bombing. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Atlanta Games, Yarbrough has re-released his book And They Call Them Games detailing his experience. 

He served as managing director for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games from 1993-1996 where he was responsible for media relations and government relations. Yarbrough worked hard for three years alongside his team to ensure that the United States — and the state of Georgia — was prepared to host an event with as great a magnitude as the Olympics while the entire world was watching. 

While there were certainly stressful times that came along with the Games and the planning, Yarbrough says this time in his life was filled with fond memories.

A page from Yarbrough’s book.

“There were many. Seeing the Olympic Flame lit in the ancient city of Olympia. Having the opportunity to travel to many countries across the globe. Watching young Olympic athletes interacting with each other in the Olympic Village, not caring about their own countries’ political positions,” he remembered. “It was brought home to me that no matter how well an athlete fared in their competition, they were and always would be known as Olympians. I was also heartened by the enthusiasm of the five million who attended the Games and the 50,000 volunteers who showed everyone the true meaning of the term ‘Southern Hospitality.”

After the Games had ended, Yarbrough said he kept waiting for someone to write a book about everything that had happened, from the idea to host the Olympics in Atlanta to the planning stages to the fruits of the ACOG’s labors to the bombing. 

While working on the planning committee, Yarbrough recorded tapes of what had happened each day on the way to and from work. His habit of documenting everything had been reinforced by his career, which had him regularly visiting the White House, working with Congress, navigating “high-profile issues” and traveling the globe.

“After the Games, it became clear no one was planning to do a book on the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games,” Yarbrough said. “I asked if I would be interested in taking on the project. With 82 tapes as a resource, I produced the book in roughly six months.”

Yarbrough’s book is available for purchase on Amazon. (Graphic by Sam Perez)

His goal for his book is that readers would see the complexity surrounding the planning and staging of the Olympics. As for the name, And They Call Them Games, Yarbrough says it holds a very intentional meaning.

“It is easy to forget that the Olympics are a chance for nations to put aside their differences for even a brief period and allow people to engage in peaceful competition,” he explained. “With all the politics, money, controversy, special interests involved, the title was meant as a dig at those who forget that.”

Dick Yarbrough graduated from Grady College in 1959 and has gone on to accomplish many impressive achievements. Most recently, he has been named Georgia’s most widely-syndicated columnist with his name appearing regularly in over 40 newspapers across the state. 

“The Georgia Press Association has recognized my column with first place awards for humor, although a number of politicians would like a recount. They don’t find me that funny,” he said. 

Throughout his exciting — and impressive — career, Yarbrough has managed to stay connected to his alma mater. He served as president of UGA’s National Alumni Association, received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1995, was recognized as an Outstanding Alumnus and Fellow of the College at Grady, has the C. Richard Yarbrough Laboratory named in his honor and established the C. Richard Yarbrough Chair in Crisis Communications Leadership

“I owe more to Grady than I have the words to express,” he said. “A chance internship led to a job in radio upon graduation. That led to an opportunity to join Southern Bell as a public relations manager. Twenty year later, I was a corporate vice president of BellSouth Corporation.  Having developed a reputation for crisis management, I was offered a once-in-lifetime opportunity to become a managing director of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.  And it all started with a dedicated faculty who saw some merit in a raw kid from East Point, Georgia.”

The revenue from Yarbrough’s column goes toward fellowships for students at Grady. He also funds the Crisis Communications professorship under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Reber, which he says is a “small effort to repay Grady for all it has meant to me and done for me.”

You can buy his book on Amazon here

Editor’s Note: This feature was written by Sam Perez, a 2021 Yarbrough Fellow in the Grady College Department of Communication. As part of the fellowship, she is helping market the re-release of Yarbrough’s book.