Fellowship Profile: Robin Hommel

The following is one installment of a series recognizing alumni and friends who will be honored at the 2023 Grady Salutes celebration on April 28, 2023. For more details, please see our posts about our Fellowship honorees, Alumni Award recipients and Dean’s Medalist.

Congratulations to Robin Hommel (ABJ ’96) who has been named to this year’s class of Grady Fellowship inductees.

Hommel pictured at a “Grady Greats” panel in 2019, held in collaboration with ABC News. She was the creator and executive producer of the series.

Hommel is a three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and showrunner whose career spans network news, daytime talk and primetime programming. She currently serves as the executive broadcast producer of the ABC News daytime talk show, “The View,” where she has worked since 2015. Prior to “The View,” Robin served as co-executive producer of VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live.” Hommel was the creator and executive producer of “Grady Greats,” a panel series in collaboration with ABC News featuring Grady College alumni, ABC talent and media leaders offering insight and analysis into and decisions made behind the scenes.

Hommel oversaw production of a months-long project in collaboration with the non-profit, “Homes for Our Troops,” which included building a custom home for injured veteran NAVY PO2 Timothy Birckhead. “This was one of the most meaningful projects I have ever had the privilege of working on,” Hommel said.

Following are excerpts from an interview with Hommel which have been minimally edited for length and clarity.

Hommel on set with “The View” co-host, Joy Behar, in celebration of her 80th birthday.
What class at Grady College did the most to prepare you for your current career?

There were two classes in particular that helped prepare me: communication law, taught by Professor William Lee, who presented “ripped from the headlines” First Amendment cases, which are still relevant to this day, and Allan MacLeod’s television production class, where I learned every job on the studio floor and in the control room. I booked and produced talk shows at Grady, which set me up for a career in daytime talk.

What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?
DiGamma Kappa members attended a live taping of “The View” in February 2023. Members participated in a Q&A with Hommel and co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin.

The relationships made at Grady have been essential to my growth and success. As a member of DiGamma Kappa, I had the privilege of meeting award-winning journalists and media giants who generously shared their insight and advice. The dean’s office also connected me with alumni who became mentors and friends, including my ABC News colleague Deborah Roberts. That experience led to me to partner with Professors Dodie Cantrell and Parker Middleton on a panel series called “Grady Greats,” paying tribute to the trailblazers who opened doors for so many of us.

What skills and/or values and/or circumstances do you attribute to your success?

Curiosity, passion, and a little bit of chutzpah. Maintaining a sense of humor is essential. Without it, I would have died a thousand deaths.

What advice do you have for today’s young professionals?

Learn every job and make yourself indispensable. Consider the word “no” as a detour – not a dead end. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, elevate your work and believe in you.

Hommel has worked as a producer at the ABC News daytime talk show, “The View,”  since 2015.
What do you miss the most about being at UGA?

I miss the beauty of the campus, the charm and laid-back vibe of Athens, and of course, the overwhelming excitement and bonding with thousands of strangers on game days- there is nothing like it!

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Hommel oversaw the production of building a custom home for injured veteran NAVY PO2 Timothy Birckhead. Here, she’s pictured in New Jersey for the reveal with Birckhead, Steph Curry, Whoopi Goldberg and Sara Haines.

Nothing about this will be easy. You’ll be tested and challenged in ways you never could have imagined. Take risks and use fear as a motivator. Relish your Grady ties and the gravitas that comes with it. You’ll make mistakes. Take three steps backwards before propelling forward, but nothing will come close to the highs you get from doing what you love and knowing you’re right where you should be.

What does this recognition mean to you?

This is a tremendous honor and one that furthers my commitment to giving back to the place that has left an indelible imprint. Thank you, Grady!

What motivates you?

Meeting extraordinary and unforgettable people who have entrusted me to share their stories fuels me. Working at a ground-breaking show, “The View”, created by broadcast icon, Barbara Walters is the pinnacle. I can’t think of anything more invigorating than being in the company of smart, fearless and influential women who speak truth to power every single day. The connections I made at UGA and the lessons I learned at Grady laid the foundation that allowed me to thrive both personally and professionally.

Tickets to Grady Salutes: Celebrating Achievement, Leadership and Commitment on April 28, 2023, are available for purchase. Register here.  


An interview with Robin Hommel, Summer 2022, courtesy of the UGA Alumni Association

Three students selected as Fall Tieger Fellows in Public Affairs Communications

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of three new Tieger Fellows for the fall 2021 semester: Caroline Kurzawa, Megan Mittelhammer and Jake Strickland. The Tieger Fellowship gives students pursuing the Public Affairs Professional Certificate in Public Affairs Communications (PAC) the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to real-world public affairs work promoting the PAC program.

The fall Tieger Fellows are responsible for day-to-day efforts to promote the program through media relations, social and digital media and events on campus for current and prospective PAC students. Fellows work under the guidance of Professor Joseph Watson, Jr., program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

“We are delighted to announce the selection of Caroline, Megan, and Jake as our newest fall Tieger Fellows,” Watson said. “This fellowship, made possible by the vision and funding of Carolyn Caudell Tieger, continues to serve a vital role for the PAC program and its students. These students will bring their unique talents together to support the promotion of our program and keep our students connected. I look forward to working with these talented students to serve the PAC program.”

The PAC program provides students with practical training in the strategy and practice of public affairs communications focused on public policy and politics. The program is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded by Carolyn Caudell Tieger (ABJ ’69) who spent 40 years in Washington, D.C. working in public affairs and politics.

“I continue to be in awe of the success of the PAC program, which is the only one of its kind in the country,” Tieger said. “Professor Watson is making a significant contribution to the future of our democracy by equipping PAC students with not only the skills to succeed but instilling in them respect for each other and the political process. Congratulations to these three students who will be our ambassadors for promoting the program and serving as leaders for the college.”

This summer, Mittelhammer and Strickland put their PAC education to good use for the program. The addition of Kurzawa will prove beneficial for spreading word on campus about what PAC has to offer students now and in their early careers.

Mittelhammer is charged with writing about PAC students, alumni and program events. Strickland will continue to manage the program’s social and digital media. Kurzawa will organize in-person events throughout the semester.

The new Tieger Fellows are excited to get started and use their training to serve the program that has helped prepare them for their future careers.

Megan Mittelhammer is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. This summer, she interned in the communications office for the Office of Governor Brian Kemp. On campus, Mittelhammer has experience working as editor-in-chief, news editor and social media editor for The Red & Black. Mittelhammer also serves as a Yarbrough Public Relations Fellow through Grady College.

Jake Strickland is a senior from Dallas, Georgia, majoring in public relations and political science with an Arch-Ready professional certificate. Strickland spent his summer in Washington, D.C. through the GradyDC program and interned as a digital media and marketing intern for the Human Rights Campaign. Strickland has previously interned for The Partnership, a PR agency, and as a field intern for Let America Vote. On campus, he has worked as engagement editor and social media editor at The Red & Black and for the Professional Clothing Closet as communications director.

Caroline Kurzawa is a senior from Johns Creek, Georgia majoring in journalism with a women’s studies minor. She spent her summer in Washington, D.C. through the GradyDC program as an integrated communications intern with Lockheed Martin. On campus, Kurzawa is involved with Women in Media as communications director and recording secretary of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. She has previously served as a Cox-SABEW Fellow with Grady’s Cox Institute.

Grady InternViews: Morgan Gonzales

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities. 

I work for the Dallas Morning News, my title is Medicine and Science Reporting Fellow and I am working from my apartment in Athens, GA.

I am on the Business desk and report on medical and science news. I am responsible for reporting and writing my stories. A typical day includes our morning team meeting over video call, reaching out to sources, planning stories, writing and editing.

How is it structured? 

I’m working remotely. Many of my co-workers are still working remotely, so the team has been fantastic about accommodating my lack of physical presence. It’s difficult to not be able to go check out things that I’m covering in person, so I’ve made a ton of phone calls, looked at places on Google Maps and attended some live streams of events. Last week I covered a nurses strike and “attended” via Facebook live. I got help from a veteran reporter on a story about a new, more affordable insulin option, and Google Docs made it easy for us to both be in the document and talk through it together. That experience was so informative. I’m really grateful for the team on the business desk.

What has been the biggest growth you’ve experienced so far?
Morgan Gonzales sits at her desk as she works remotely from Athens, GA. (Photo: submitted)

My writing and interview styles have been the most noticeable improvements to me. I think both of those require experience and time to improve, so I’m so grateful for this opportunity to hone my skills.  

How do you feel that Grady has prepared you for tackling the job?

My professors in the journalism department have done such an amazing job preparing me for this! Professor Sabriya Rice told our class about this opportunity, and because of the reporting skills I gained from her class I decided I should apply. She has been truly inspirational. I came into grad school with no experience actually reporting, so her class taught me critical skills that I’ve relied on heavily during my fellowship. My advisor, Dr. Karin Assmann, has been so supportive while I’ve been in school and during the fellowship. She always checks in on me and makes sure I am doing alright, and has been instrumental in my progress as a reporter. I am so lucky to be in this department and to have the mentors I do!

What is the most memorable experience you have had during your internship? Tell us a story if you have one!

I got to interview a gold medal winning Olympian, Laura Wilkinson, for one of my first stories! That was a highlight for sure. She was great to talk to and that story was fun to write. I’m going to Dallas to do some in-person reporting the first week of August, so meeting my coworkers and working on projects together will be the most memorable experience, I’m sure.

What lessons will you take back with you to Athens in the fall?

I’ll definitely be utilizing the lessons I’ve learned with my writing in the future. But also flexibility, I’ve learned stories don’t always go the direction I think they will, and my day often goes in a different direction than I anticipate. The stories that surprise me are usually the best.

The purpose of the Dallas Morning News-Grady Health, Medicine & Science Reporting Fellowship will be to train the next generation of health care journalists over the next several years. More specifically, the fellowship program will provide journalists-in-training at the University of Georgia with hands-on reporting experience in a big-city newsroom. Each summer, a Grady journalist will work with a Dallas Morning News editor and cover the business of healthcare.