Three students selected as Fall Tieger Fellows in Public Affairs Communications

The Public Affairs Professional Certificate in Public Affairs Communications announces the selection of three new Tieger Fellows for the Fall 2022 semester: Jenna Monnin, Olga Diaz-Nasser and Sarah Dorr. The Tieger Fellowship gives students pursuing the PAC certificate at Grady College the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to real-world public affairs work promoting the program.

These three students started their fellowships this summer and will continue their work serving the PAC program this fall. The Fellows work closely with the Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications and PAC Program Director, Joseph Watson, Jr.

“We are excited to announce the selection of Olga, Sarah, and Jenna as our newest Tieger Fellows,” Watson said. “The vision and funding of Carolyn Caudell Tieger makes the PAC program and special opportunities like the Tieger Fellowship possible. These students will bring their unique talents and sensibilities to their roles that will help promote their program and keep our current and prospective students engaged. I look forward to working with these talented students to serve the PAC program.”

The first-in-the-nation PAC program was established in 2016 to give undergraduate students practical training in public affairs strategy and practice, and its classroom instruction focuses on advocacy work, public policy, and politics.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded by Carolyn Caudell Tieger (ABJ ’69), who has decades of public affairs experience with a career that spans Capitol Hill, the White House, global PR firms, and her own company.

Fall 2022 Tieger Fellows with Professor Joe Watson
Tieger Fellows Jenna Monnin, Sarah Dorr and Olga Diaz-Nasser pose for a picture with Joseph Watson, Jr.

“The program has exceeded all expectations not only in terms of equipping PAC students with the skills to succeed but in instilling in them a respect for each other and our country’s political process,” said Tieger. “These students have now become highly sought after by the U.S. Congress, state governments, corporations, public affairs agencies, pollsters and the media. Grady College and Joseph Watson have built a one-of-a-kind program in the nation that just keeps getting better. Congratulations to these three dynamic students who will be our PAC ambassadors for promoting the program and serving as leaders for the College.”

The Tieger Fellows will promote the program through media relations, social and digital media, and through events on campus. Monnin, the Media Relations Fellow, will write about PAC students, alumni, and events for the blog. Diaz-Nasser, the Social and Digital Media Fellow, will create posts and help manage the social media platforms for the program. Dorr, the Program Promotion Fellow, will promote PAC events and help the program connect with alumni and other groups on campus.

The PAC program and its courses have prepared these three students for their future careers, and this new cohort of Fellows is excited to continue using their skills this fall to serve the program.

Jenna Monnin is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia double majoring in journalism and political science. This summer, Monnin went to Washington D.C. on the GradyDC program and had two part time internships. She interned for National Journal on their editorial team and for Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press as a policy intern. On campus, Monnin works as a volunteer for Grady Newsource, a student-led broadcasting club. She was also elected by her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, to serve as the Panhellenic Delegate last year and the Nomination Committee Chairman this fall.

“I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to give back to the PAC program, a program that has truly prepared me to enter the real-world! My goal for this semester is to find unique angles for the stories I will be writing about our amazing network of PAC students and alumni.”

Olga Diaz-Nasser is a senior from Alpharetta, Georgia, majoring in public relations with a minor in French. She is also pursuing a master’s in public administration through the Double Dawgs pathway. Diaz-Nasser spent her summer in Washington D.C. through the Honors in Washington program as an intern in the office of Representative Lucy McBath. She has previously interned for See.Spark.Go, a PR agency. On campus, she serves as the Executive Director for University Judiciary, the Member Relations Manager of Women in Media, and a Grady College Ambassador.

“I’m excited to come back to Athens this fall and further involve myself in the campus community. My goal for the semester is to make sure I create fresh and well-timed content for all social media platforms for the PAC program. I’m looking forward to connecting with the PAC community through my posts and digital content.”

Sarah Dorr is a senior from Peachtree City, Georgia, majoring in public relations with a minor in general business and a certificate in New Media. Sarah spent this summer in New York City through the AdPR NYC program working as an intern for PR Consulting, a fashion, beauty and lifestyle-focused public relations agency. On campus, Sarah served as a Yarbrough-Grady Public Relations Fellow and currently serves as Vice President of UGA’s Drewry Chapter of PRSSA. She previously interned on the digital communications team at UGA Alumni Association.

“I’m super excited to serve as the Program Promotion Fellow for PAC this fall. Since the pandemic, it’s been hard to get all of us together in person. My goal is to bring back that aspect of peer networking that makes the program so unique.”

#ProfilesOfTenacity: Olga Diaz-Nasser

Olga Diaz-Nasser is a fourth year public relations major with a minor in French and a certificate in public affairs communications. She is also a double dawg and will be getting her masters in public administration. She is heavily involved in and outside of the Grady community, serving as the executive director of University Judiciary, the member relations manager for Women in Media, a Grady Ambassador and a Carolyn Caudell Tieger Fellow for the public affairs communications certificate.

What does “tenacity” mean to you?

Tenacity means going after your goals no matter the obstacles that are in your way. To me, it means determination, perseverance, and resilience. It’s something I hope to embody throughout my daily life.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?

Professor Watson is definitely my favorite Grady Professor. His public affairs communications classes have helped me explore my career interests and develop my goals for the future. His experience, advice, and kindness have been invaluable as I’ve delved further into the intersection of politics and communications.

Diaz-Nasser gives a speech as the incoming executive director of University Judiciary at their Jenny Penny Oliver ceremony in April of 2022. (Photo:submitted)
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?

I’m involved in an organization called UniversityJudiciary and it has truly defined my path here at UGA. University Judiciary has given me a supportive community to encourage me as I work towards my dreams and allowed me to gain the confidence in myself needed to achieve them. I’ve met my closest friends through the organization and the Office of Student Conduct staff have become some of my mentors. Judiciary has helped me grow as a person, leader, and friend.

What are you passionate about?

Helping others! My senses of justice and empathy have always driven me to serve others and that is what I’ve tried to do throughout my time here at UGA. I hope to keep working hard to help underprivileged and minority communities around the nation in my future career.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students?
Diaz-Nasser poses for a picture with other members of the 2021-2022 University Judiciary executive council. (Photo:submitted)

Getting involved is absolutely essential. Freshman year is tough and your first year when you officially get accepted into Grady is tough too. Having people who support you and encourage you to go for it will be vital to your success and happiness. Grady has so many opportunities for students to get involved, learn new skills, and meet other passionate, driven Grady students. Don’t let any of these opportunities pass you by. Branch out and get involved!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Ok, in all honesty I found this quote on Pinterest but it still echoes in my head every day, “The grass is greener where you water it.” I struggled a lot freshman year. I was shy and nervous about getting involved on campus and making new friends. I had spent so long wanting this ideal version of what my freshman year was supposed to look like, that I forgot that I was the one who was supposed to make it happen. This quote pushed me out of my comfort zone. I realized it was my responsibility to put myself out there, join clubs, meet new people, and water my own grass. I try to live by this quote every day. Everything I do is to water my own grass, because I know if I put in the effort then no matter what happens I’ll be proud of myself.

What motivates you?

My parents are my biggest motivators. My mom is a Colombian immigrant and her story is what has inspired me to want to work in immigration policy. Both her and my dad have always been my biggest supporters and I do everything I can to make them proud. I’m thankful for all of their encouragement; without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Diaz-Nasser smiles for a photo with Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-GA 6) during her summer internship in Representative McBath’s D.C. office. (Photo:submitted)
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

This past summer I had the opportunity to intern in the office of Congresswoman Lucy McBath and live in UGA’s Delta Hall in Washington D.C. through the Honors in Washington program. Getting into Honors in Washington is definitely my biggest accomplishment this year. I was so honored to have been a part of the group of talented, passionate students that were in Washington D.C. with me and blessed to have been able to work in the office of my own representative, Congresswoman McBath. This summer was one of the best of my life and I’m so grateful to have been able to experience it alongside the UGA students in Delta Hall.

What are you planning to do after you graduate?

I hope to work in Washington D.C. My studies in the field of public affairs communications has really ignited a passion for policy and politics in me. I’d like to work in immigration policy on a federal level, hopefully in a committee in Congress!

Where is your favorite study spot?

I love to study on the fourth floor of the Main Library. It’s the floor where you can talk or take zoom meetings if you need to, and nobody will get mad if you’re speaking at a normal level. I hate studying in absolute silence so I love being able to study without being afraid of typing too loud or rummaging through my backpack too much.

Public Affairs Communications Certificate program welcomes 29 newly admitted students

The Public Affairs Communications program has announced its 2022 Public Affairs Professional Certificate cohort. With 29 students, this is the largest cohort in the program’s five-year history.

“I am encouraged that year after year, students remain interested in this program and getting involved in public affairs to better the state and our nation,” said Joseph Watson, Jr., PAC program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The PAC program and Tieger fellowship are the product of the vision and funding provided by Grady College alumna Carolyn Caudell Tieger. The program is celebrating its fifth anniversary this spring.

This year’s Tieger Fellows coordinated a social media campaign and information session geared toward growing applications and educating students about the certificate program. Student testimonials also contributed to the successful application season.

As the first undergraduate program of its kind in the nation, the PAC program offers students a unique opportunity to develop a focused skill set in strategic communications. Through coursework and experiential learning offered by the program, students in the 2022 cohort will be trained in educating, shaping or changing public opinion on public policy, legislation, political candidates or issues.

Below is the Public Affairs Professional Certificate’s 2022 PAC Cohort:

  • Diana Avina
  • Sierra Baker
  • Jenna Bertschi
  • Callie Bolemon
  • Sydney Branton
  • Madeline Brechtel
  • Emma Brumsey
  • Parker Denton
  • Erin Diehl
  • John Dillon
  • Emily Eith
  • Lauren Ellison
  • Gracie Englund
  • Edward Feininger
  • Zoe Flores
  • Jacquelyn Fox
  • Lauren Kim
  • Katherine Gates
  • Cale Ledford
  • Rosalia Little
  • Margaret Martin
  • Mack Morris
  • Abby Peacock
  • Virginia Quinn Phillips
  • Jordan Ross
  • Sydney Senical
  • Elisabeth Strong
  • Anna Womack
  • Hannah Yahne

Grady Society Alumni Board Profile: E.R. Anderson

We are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of our Grady Society Alumni Board members. This series profiles members of the alumni board who make a positive difference in our College.

E.R. Anderson (ABJ ’88, MMC ’89) is the director of public affairs for the global staffing firm Randstad.  She is establishing the company’s first-ever public affairs and government relations function in the nation’s capital where she is building relationships and telling the story of a Netherlands-based company with its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta that puts people to work. Anderson spent 20 years at the nexus of government, politics, policy and communications. She served as the communications director for U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in the four years leading up to his reelection. Prior to that, she was the committee spokesperson for Ranking Member Susan Collins on the Senate Homeland Security committee. In the George W. Bush administration, Anderson held roles of increasing responsibility at the U.S. Commerce Department. She began as the communications advisor to the undersecretary of economic affairs, later chief of staff and finally deputy undersecretary for economic affairs. Anderson started her time in D.C. working in the U.S. House of Representatives. She observed elections in Cambodia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Slovakia and Ukraine. 

E.R. is an avid golfer and Georgia football season ticket holder.

E.R. Anderson received a degree in public relations from Grady College. In her spare time, she is an avid golfer.
Why are you involved with the GSAB?

The GSAB has been a great way to reconnect with the J-school and with Athens. I enjoy meeting the other members of the board and learning about their cool jobs. It’s a good way for me, as a mid to late career person, to learn what’s new in communications and storytelling. 

What advice do you have for today’s Grady College students?

Do not turn down a job that hasn’t been offered. You aren’t too big to hold the Senator’s purse. Don’t talk in the elevators on Capitol Hill. Nod and say good morning to the janitors and the lunch ladies. 

What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today? 

Professor Roland Page and his experience as the press secretary for the governors of Florida and Pennsylvania made politics-centric public affairs sound exciting and meaningful. I enjoyed his real world experience, and because of him I never use the word “utilize.” 

Looking back at your time at Grady, is there anything you wish you had done (classes you had taken, skills you would have liked to have learned, clubs to be involved with) that would help you with what you are doing today?

Oh yes. I wish I had written for The Red and Black every week, not just every semester. I wish I had volunteered with Claude Felton in the sports information office. I wish I had studied for a term in St. Andrews, Scotland and played the Old Course every afternoon. 

How has the network of fellow Grady College alumni helped you in your career? 

When I started at Randstad this May both my contract lobbyist and my public relations vendor were Grady grads. I knew I was in good hands. 

What modern challenges would you like to see current students and recent College alumni solve? 

I’d like for students today to put the phones down. I see a lot of people watching life on the three-inch screen. 

How has your field changed from your graduation to now? 

Everyone thinks politics is more divisive than ever. I am not sure that’s true. I mean we had a Civil War, duels and one congressman beat a senator with a stick in the 1800s. But it is divisive today. I think there are several reasons but here are three: siloed media and social media where you only see news you agree with and the increase of “safe seats” in the House. Technology and demographic trends allow the redistricting to be so precise as to carve out a neighbor or a house, eliminate purple seats and make it more difficult for moderate candidates to win. 

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.

Two students selected as Summer Tieger Fellows in Public Affairs Communications

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of two new Tieger Fellows for the summer of 2021: Megan Mittelhammer and Jake Strickland. The Tieger Fellowship gives current students pursuing a 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 summer Tieger Fellows are responsible for day-to-day efforts to promote the program through use of media relations and social and digital media. Fellows work under the guidance of Professor Joseph Watson, Jr., program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The PAC program provides students with practical training in the strategy and practice of public affairs communications focused on public policy and politics.

This summer, Mittelhammer and Strickland are putting their PAC education to good use for the program and in their workplaces. Mittelhammer is charged with spotlighting students and alumni, especially those participating in the GradyDC summer program. Strickland will manage the program’s social and digital media.

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 am delighted to welcome Megan and Jake as our 2021 Tieger Summer Fellows,” said Watson. “This fellowship, made possible by the vision and funding provided by Carolyn Caudell Tieger, allows us to provide exceptional students like Megan and Jake with the opportunity to promote the PAC program and develop skills that will prepare them for their careers. It is increasingly important to provide students with a practical education in public affairs communications and these students recognize this. I am confident that Megan and Jake will do an excellent job of managing the day-to-day activities of the program this summer and I look forward to working with them.”

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, from Atlanta, Georgia, is a rising senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She is interning this summer in communications 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. This past semester, Mittelhammer served as a Yarbrough public relations fellow, which she will continue in the fall.

Jake Strickland, from Dallas, Georgia, is a rising senior majoring in public relations and political science with an Arch-Ready professional certificate. Strickland’s summer will be spent in Washington, D.C. at the University’s Delta Hall where he is participating in the GradyDC program 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.

PAC Alumni Spotlight: Jenni Sweat (AB ‘17)

In January of 2017, Public Affairs Communications certificate alumna Jenni Sweat left her home in Georgia and packed her bags to spend a semester in D.C. interning on Capitol Hill. However, that semester-long press internship turned into a four-year stay on the Hill where she now serves as the press secretary for Senator David Perdue.

Ironically, Sweat never aspired to work in politics or public affairs communications. Originally focused on business, she bounced around a few other majors before finding her place studying public relations at Grady College. Once there, Sweat involved herself in various Grady organizations like PRSSA and ADPR Connection. Throughout her time at UGA, she was always looking for another way to make herself more marketable.

It was then, intrigued by the 2016 presidential election and in accordance with her desire to acquire a unique skillset, that Sweat joined the inaugural cohort of the Public Affairs Communications program. The certificate program introduced her to the role that communications plays in connecting elected officials to their constituents.

The program coupled with her work at the Athens-Clarke County library showed her the difference that effective public policy can make in the lives of citizens.  So, when Sweat heard about UGA’s Washington Semester Program through PAC, she jumped on the opportunity. From there, Sweat worked up to her current position, balancing her full-time job while finishing her degree from UGA online.

Today, Sweat serves as the on-the-record spokesperson for Senator Perdue, drafting official statements and implementing the office’s national media strategy.

“My job as press secretary is to maintain the Senator’s brand and help him communicate with the people of Georgia in the most effective way possible,” said Sweat. “Through Grady and PAC, I learned tactical communications skills and met dozens of experienced practitioners – some of whom I still work with today. This gave me a solid foundation that I was able to build upon with real-world experience. Simply put, I would not be in my position today without the skills I learned through Grady and PAC.”

Looking forward, Sweat hopes to continue serving the people of Georgia, cutting through red tape and delivering positive outcomes for all Georgians. Sweat encourages current students to find skills that make them stand out as valuable professionals.

Three students selected as Tieger Fellows will promote the Public Affairs Communications program at UGA

The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of three Tieger Fellows for the fall of 2020: Sarah Geary, Melissa Hevener and Hannah Payne.

The Tieger Fellowship supports the college’s first-in-the-nation Public Affairs Communications (PAC) program by enabling students to apply campaign skills learned in the classroom towards promoting the program.

Tieger Fellows manage the PAC program’s media relations, social and digital media and event promotion. Fellows work under the guidance of Joseph Watson, Jr., program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded by Carolyn Caudell Tieger (ABJ ’69) who has over 40 years of experience working in political and public affairs communications. The alumna also funds the Tieger Professorship currently held by Watson, who also has extensive experience in the field.

“We are delighted to announce the selection of Sarah, Melissa and Hannah as our newest Tieger Fellows,” Watson said. “This fellowship, made possible by the vision and funding of Carolyn Caudell Tieger, is even more critical today than it was at its inception. These students will bring a fresh approach to the promotion of our program at a time when it is greatly needed. I look forward to working with these remarkable students to serve the PAC program.”

“While the PAC program was just a vision a little more than two years ago, it has become a highly competitive offering by Grady, thanks to the exceptional leadership of Professor Watson… and I could not be prouder of how far we have come.” Tieger noted.  “The Tieger Fellows have an opportunity to help the College spread the word even further about this unique and exciting program for students who are interested in a career in politics and public affairs.”

Geary, Hevener and Payne are all working towards the PAC professional certificate and have supplemented their education with numerous internships and leadership positions.

Sarah Geary, from Smyrna, Georgia, is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. Along with her role of Tieger Fellow, Geary worked as the communications intern for the Institute for Energy Research this past summer. She intends on pursuing a career in public affairs communications after graduation. Geary serves as the media relations fellow. 

Melissa Hevener, from Biñan City, Philippines, is a senior studying public relations and political science. Last year, Hevener served as the student body vice president for UGA’s Student Government Association. She spent this past summer working as a creative marketing intern at Mitchell McClure, LLC, in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduation, Hevener hopes to pursue a career in public relations or political communications. Hevener serves as the program promotion fellow.

Hannah Payne, from Rome, Georgia, is a senior majoring in public relations with a minor in political science. This past summer, Payne worked as a marketing coordinator for Abbson, a New York-based digital marketing firm, and as a press intern for U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler. After graduation, Hannah plans on pursuing a master’s degree while continuing her work in political communications. Payne serves as the social and digital media fellow.

All three look forward to using their skills to promote the PAC program.

Sarah Geary selected as summer Tieger Fellow in Public Affairs Communications

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of a new Tieger Fellow for the summer of 2020 — Sarah Geary. The Tieger Fellowship supports the mission of the College’s first-in-the-nation Public Affairs Communications (PAC) Program by promoting PAC’s unique existence.

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 allows students to apply skills learned in the classroom to real world public affairs jobs.

Tieger Fellows are responsible for day-to-day efforts to promote the program through use of media relations, event planning and social and digital media. Fellows work under the guidance of Joseph Watson, Jr., Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

This summer, Geary will manage internal and external communications for PAC, contacting and spotlighting PAC students and alumni, as well as producing digital content for the program’s social media accounts and blog.

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. She also funds the Tieger Professorship currently held by Watson, who also has a distinguished background in the field.

“I am excited to welcome Sarah as our 2020 Tieger Summer Fellow,” said Watson. “This fellowship is made possible by the vision and funding provided by Carolyn Caudell Tieger. This support allows us to provide exceptional students like Sarah with the opportunity to promote the PAC program and develop skills that will prepare them for their careers. Now more than ever, it is important to provide students with a practical education in public affairs communications. I have full confidence that Sarah will do an outstanding job of showcasing our students and recent alumni this summer.”

Geary looks forward to using her PAC training to serve the program and prepare for her future career.

Sarah Geary, a Georgia native, is a rising senior studying public relations and political science. On campus, Geary has experience writing for the PRSSA Drewry Chapter at UGA and working as the press secretary for a UGA student government association executive campaign. This past year, Geary served as the communications intern for an immigration law firm. After graduation, Geary hopes to pursue a career in public affairs communications.

Faculty profile: Joseph Watson, Jr.

According to Joseph Watson, Jr., to understand a person, one has to understand who his heroes are and who he admires.

Watson, who spends his days teaching about public advocacy, issues management and shaping public opinion in political contexts, focuses on the ideals of individuals who have helped guide his professional path.

“Encouraging civility and civil discourse are my true motives,” Watson says, explaining not only what guides him, but what characterizes his heroes.

He is proud that his list of heroes is bipartisan, and includes Mother Teresa, William F. Buckley, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. And, then there are material nods to his other heroes, including his penchant for bow ties, a tribute to the late Democratic Sen. Pat Moynihan, and his black, horn-rimmed glasses modeled after those worn by Atticus Finch in the film, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”=

It was Watson’s father who planted the seed of a career related to politics at an early age.

Watson grew up in a household where his father, a union steelworker, followed Democratic politics and regularly watched shows like “Meet the Press” on television.

An ideology class in college led him to re-examine his political leanings, with a new fascination for conservatives like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and later, former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp.

It was also during this time that Watson started tutoring students in economics and realized the satisfaction that comes from teaching.

“I am most comfortable prepping others,” Watson explains. “I like working behind the scenes, and I get a natural high from working with young people to help them achieve their goals.”

Two years out of law school, Watson began working on Capitol Hill where he served as the legislative director for Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, which led to an appointment working on Internet policy in the George W. Bush Administration. A move to the private sector in 2005 brought him to Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy company, where he ultimately served as the director of public advocacy.

Three years ago, the urge to teach returned to Watson, and he left Exelon to serve as the Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications. The Public Affairs Professional Certificate program is offered in partnership with the School of Public and International Affairs and is the first of its kind in the country, offering an education that promotes a holistic combination of political science, journalism and public relations courses for undergraduates.

Joe Watson frequently brings guests into his class to talk with as a way of keeping his lessons fresh and current. (Photo: Dayne Young)

While Watson doesn’t care for the current climate of political divisiveness, he does appreciate the learning opportunities it provides.

“Whatever is going on, we are going to talk about it,” Watson says about his teaching that brings students together at watch-parties during political debates and mid-term elections.

Watson also relishes the special topics courses he teaches, including one on civil rights and his current class on the women’s rights movement taught for the centennial of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony used public affairs communications to achieve their objectives and create an environment where those laws were passed. I teach my students to use those same tools.”

Watson also directs the intensive Grady D.C. program each summer where students live in Delta Hall while working full-time internships and taking an online class.

“One of the most important lessons I can teach is how to renormalize bipartisan relationships and friendships,” Watson says. “It’s important at an early age for students to get comfortable with people they may not see eye to eye with and have meaningful conversations.”

Watson is proud to be working alongside Tieger in developing the program. Tieger is a 1969 alumna of Grady College who has prospered in a public affairs career spanning more than 40 years in Washington, D.C., and most currently in Naples, Florida.

“It’s an honor to lead the first program in the nation that prepares undergraduates in this area,” Watson said. “There are several master’s programs that focus on public affairs communications, but there is no reason that students should have to wait until graduate school for this education.”