Purpose of the Board of Advisors
The Emerson College Board of Advisors assists the President and the Board of Trustees in carrying out their duties to ensure that the College sustains and implements sound strategic plans to ensure Emerson’s long-term institutional health.
Advisors offer advice and recommendations to the President and the Board of Trustees on plans and initiatives related to the schools, the student experience, industry outreach and engagement, diversity and inclusion, fundraising, and special projects identified by the President.
Role of the Board of Advisors
Each Advisor serves to connect Emerson students and faculty to industry. Achieving this goal occurs both during the three annual meetings and through individual activities that occur throughout the year coordinated by the President's Liaisons to the Board of Advisors. These activities include: participation in Emerson task forces, serving as a guest lecturer, introducing industry leaders to the College, mentoring students, and creating pathways to internship opportunities for Emerson students.
Joshua Wachs, BS ’87, ChairENTREPRENEUR/FUTURIST
Joshua Wachs is a seasoned entrepreneur whose career thrives at the nexus of creativity and technology. In his senior year at Emerson College, Wachs founded his first technology company Natural Intelligence, a pioneer in commercial software for Apple’s Macintosh. At Natural Intelligence, he discovered his knack for bringing talented people together for a shared goal when he created an innovative developer apprentice program.
After selling Natural Intelligence to digital marketing agency Circle.com, Wachs served as Circle’s CTO and worked with the executive team to support the company through an IPO and then a sale of the company to Havas Creative, the fifth-largest marketing communications group in the world. Wachs co-founded a second company, Jivjiv, to create a mobile marketplace for thousands of independent artists and musicians. He later became Managing Partner and CEO of digital marketing agency Echo & Co., which operates as a social enterprise and works primarily with nonprofits to further their missions.
More recently, he has applied his team-building and technical expertise to his role as chair of the Emerson College Advisory Board, where he led the charge to add an esports curriculum to the college's sports management program. Alongside his consulting work as an executive coach, he serves on the board of directors for Circus Smirkus, a nonprofit education organization that teaches the circus arts to children, and the board of the Emerson Prison Initiative, which provides high-quality college courses to people incarcerated in Massachusetts.
Mark Donovan, BA ’89, Co-Vice ChairVENTURE FOUNDER, INVESTOR, STRATEGIST & ADVISOR
Mark Donovan is a seasoned executive leader in technology-centric venture building.
Mark is currently a founding partner of Karmist and Athlete Journey—consumer monetization platforms which sit at the intersection of behavior and engagement. Over his career he has built, scaled and, in some cases, liquidated businesses with focuses ranging from AI and Blockchain (as interim COO of EPIC.ai), participatory sports services and wellness (as a seed investor and board member of imATHLETE, acquired by Gannett in 2019), proximity and contextual sensor-based mobile engagement (as COO of Thinaire), consumer mobile health, incentives and behavioral economics (as CEO of GoMed), VoIP managed services (as CEO of Flyfone International, acquired by IBN in 2005), residential real estate (as a founding executive team member of Rent.com, acquired by eBay in 2005), behavioral health services (as VP of Operations and Product at Lifescape, a JV between TCI Cable and Value Options) and think tank services (as Director of Development for Digital Evolution, IPO 1999 as US Interactive). His affiliated ventures have seen liquidation events generating in excess of $900M in shareholder value and had successful international adoption in over 65 countries.
In addition to his work in new venture development, Mark has been engaged with some of the world’s most prominent brands to provide innovations advisory with a client list including SegurCaixa Adeslas, Pfizer, Walgreens, adidas, British Telecom, Bill Blass and Unilever, mastering the intersection of fast paced growth and evolution within large scale enterprises.
Prior to his current entrepreneurial focus, Mark worked for Mercer Management Consulting and the Strategic Planning department at the Walt Disney Company. Mark currently serves on the Board of Advisors for Emerson College (as vice chair), Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, and Rutgers University’s Center for Innovation Education, Disruptive Innovation Program, as well as the Board of Directors for Athlete Journey.
In non-professional endeavors, Mark is a classically trained vocalist, by way of the Tanglewood Music Center in the Berkshires, and has been an accomplished marathoner for over three decades. He is the author of multiple issued patents and has a bachelor's degree in communication from Emerson College and a master's degree in education from Columbia University. He lives with his wife and gaggle of girls in New York City.
Sandi Goldfarb, BFA ’78, Co-Vice ChairSENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, RASKY PARTNERS
An award-winning communications professional, Sandi has more than 25 years of experience working in a variety of settings, including advertising, public relations and marketing firms, cultural institutions, and government agencies. She has secured coverage for clients from top-tier outlets such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, NPR and the Washington Post.
Today, Sandi directs Rasky Partner’s nonprofit, education and consumer practice, representing a diverse group of clients including Massachusetts General Hospital, the Museum of Science Boston, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Prior to joining the firm, Sandi directed an independent consulting practice, Goldfarb Communications Group (GCG), providing strategic communications and media relations support for clients including Zipcar, the National Park Service, and the Judge Baker Children’s Center. Additionally, GCG collaborated with advertising, television production, consulting, and communications firms on major campaigns for CNN, the Ford Motor Company, and the Boston Pops among others.
GCG was founded following Sandi’s tenure as head of Communications and Member Services at the New England Aquarium where her responsibilities included media and community relations, television production and book publishing.
Sandi is the recipient of The Bulldog Reporter Award for Excellence in Media Relations, the Public Affairs Award from the Publicity Club of New England, The Bulldog Reporter Award (Honorable Mention) for New Product Launch, the PR News Nonprofit Award (Honorable Mention), two national awards (Silver) from The Bulldog Reporter in the Best Special Events Category, the Silver Bell from the Publicity Club of New England, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson.
An Emerson graduate and an active alumna, Sandi currently serves as Vice Chair of the Advisory Board and as a member of its Executive Committee. She is Past President of Emerson’s Alumni Board of Directors and served as the alumni representative to the Board of Trustees.
David G. Breen, BFA ’78, Advisor Executive Committee MemberPRINCIPAL DESIGNER/FOUNDER, VDA, INC
Principal Designer/ Founder of VDA, Inc, an award-winning, full-service, event design and experiential marketing agency. VDA has the capabilities to create totally unique, customized event designs in both the physical and virtual/ digital worlds. An accomplished designer and consultant in Boston, David has worked to establish the unrivaled reputation for excellence that marks VDA. Having spent more than 30 years in the corporate event-marketing arena, he is well-respected throughout the industry for creating brand experiences that drive business growth through client collaboration & creative thinking. David is a graduate of Emerson College with a degree in Technical Theater and Design. He is a former President of the Emerson College Alumni Association (ECAA), current member of the ECAA Executive committee and liaison to the Emerson College Board of Advisors. A strong supporter of both the Emerson College E3 Entrepreneurial Studies program and Launch (powered by Emerson College) a business startup incubator program. David is an avid basketball player, eternal optimist and the proud father of two fine young men.
Sara Morgan '05, MA '10, Advisor Executive Committee MemberPRODUCT MARKETING, DELL EMC
Sara Morgan is a Product Marketer at Dell EMC. Previously, she has held various marketing positions focused on brand management, marketing strategy, and execution. She has worked in a variety of industries, for companies such as Pearson Education, Liberty Mutual Insurance, SAI Global and Harvard University. From 2011-2013, Sara was Marketing Director for Emerson's listener-supported radio station WERS-FM 88.9. In addition to Sara's marketing and radio experience, she produced two top-rated morning radio shows in Boston for WJMN-FM 94.5, as Assistant Producer, and WBQT-FM 96.9, as Executive Producer. From 2013-2015, Sara was an affiliated faculty member in the Marketing Communication department. During that time, she served as a capstone instructor for a campaign planning course for senior marketing majors, challenging students to develop and execute a completed integrated marketing communications strategy and campaign plan for an existing client, organization, and/or brand. As a graduate student of Emerson College, Sara received the Lagrant Foundation Scholarship, which aims to increase diversity in fields of marketing, advertising, and public relations. Sara remains involved with the Foundation.
Juliet Albin, BS ‘14Senior Sales Executive at Impactive
Juliet (she/her) is a Senior Sales Executive at Impactive. Juliet joins Impactive after serving three years as the COO of Warchest - a successful political-tech SaaS startup that provides Democratic campaigns and organizations with an innovative budget platform. She has an extensive background in political campaigning, including mayoral, gubernatorial, and U.S. Senate races in Massachusetts and Florida; she has also consulted for several early-stage startups. Juliet is an avid road-tripper and hiker. She most recently wrapped up a 21-day trip from Houston to Las Vegas, stopping to hike the beautiful Angels Landing at Zion National Park. As a transracial adoptee, Juliet also enjoys volunteering and participating in adult-adoptee support groups and initiatives that educate adoptive parents about transracial adoption. She lives in Houston, Texas, where she loves to spend time with her sister, Tabitha.
Jessica Anderson, MA ‘07Director, Strategic Giving at Dell Technologies
Jessica Anderson is Director of Strategic Giving at Dell Technologies where she and her team are responsible for helping to meet Dell’s social impact goals including "transforming lives of 1 billion people." Jessica works collaboratively across geographies and Dell Technologies business units to build programs and identify opportunities in local communities aimed to increase the number of underrepresented students interested in STEM in local communities, ultimately creating career pathways.
Prior to joining Dell, Jessica worked for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay in their Health Care Training Department, where she helped low-moderate income students receive greater employment opportunities. Jessica's passion for giving back spans throughout her entire career. She also held positions at her alma mater, DePauw University, in multicultural affairs providing students with programming and as a POSSE mentor working with students to effectively transition from urban settings to a rural college environment. Jessica also led a service-learning program at DePauw for students looking to gain cross-cultural experience through work in underrepresented communities, domestically and globally.
Jessica received a B.A. in Communication Arts & Sciences from DePauw University (‘02) and a M.A. in Organizational & Corporate Communications from Emerson College (‘07). She currently resides in Dallas, TX with her husband and two sons.
Jake Bailey ’14HEAD OF MARKETPLACE SALES, WEWORK
Jake Bailey is the Head of Marketplace Sales at WeWork, where he is responsible for the incubation and go-to-market of new products and services. Previously, Jake led Enterprise Sales for WeWork in Bangalore, India, and worked on the Enterprise team in NYC.
Jake launched his first entrepreneurial endeavor, e-commerce men's street-wear label Rite Brothers Clothing, as a sophomore at Emerson. During his junior year, Jake started what would eventually become Harvest Labs—a SaaS startup based in Austin, TX that created data aggregation technology used by some of the world’s largest enterprises. He was the Co-Founder and CEO of Harvest Labs from 2013 until they sold their technology in 2018. While at Emerson, Jake co-founded the Emerson Accelerator Program (now known as Emerson Launch) after being selected by Emerson President Lee Pelton to design and implement a program that would foster innovation at Emerson and arm the next generation of the creative class with skills they’d need to thrive in the new economy. Through the program, Jake continues to mentor student startups, hold office hours, and lead workshops.
Bonnie Comley, MA ’94FOUNDER, BROADWAYHD.COM
Bonnie Comley a three-time Tony Award-winning producer. She has won an Olivier Award and two Drama Desk Awards for her stage productions. She is a member of The Broadway League and serves on their Audience Engagement and Education Committee.
Comley has produced over 40 films, winning four Telly Awards and one W3 Award. She is the founder and CEO of BroadwayHD, the world’s premier online streaming platform delivering over 300 premium live productions to theater fans globally.
Comley was selected as an Industry Leader in Cynopsis Women in Media Class of 2020. In 2019, Charlotte St.Martin, President of The Broadway League presented Comley with the Woman of Achievement Award from the WP Theatre. Comley was elected for her third term as Vice President of The Drama League and has served on their board since 2009.
The theater community has honored Comley for her philanthropic work; she is the recipient of The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, The Drama League Special Contribution to the Theater Award, The Paul Newman Award from Arts Horizons and The Theater Museum Distinguished Service Award. Comley’s educational honors include The Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson College and The Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Massachusetts and the business honor society Beta Gamma Sigma. The Music Theatre Program at Boston University is named in her honor, The Musical Theatre Society Room at Emerson College bears her name, the 500-seat theater at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is known as the Comley-Lane Theatre, and The Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley Stage is housed within the Booth Arts Complex in Boston.
Comley has been a keynote speaker or panelist at BroadwayCon, C2E2 (Chicago ComicCon), SXSW, Theatre Resources Unlimited (TRU), NYC TV Week, TV of Tomorrow, Crain’s New York Arts and Culture Webcast and City National Bank Women Entrepreneurs, and taught masterclasses or guest lectured at Columbia University, New York University, Emerson College, NYFA, Five Towns College and UMass, among others.
John C. Ford, BA, Advisor EmeritusPRINCIPAL, JOHN C. FORD ASSOCIATES
As a member of the Board of Advisors from 1976 to 2007, John Charles Ford has been a valued and respected member of the Emerson College community. Providing leadership for those 31 years through his expertise in organizational development and communications, as well as with generous financial support, John has helped Emerson become one of the most respected communication colleges in the country.
In 2008, John was nominated to emeritus status, one of Emerson's first such appointments on the Board of Advisors. John has been a member of the Management and Entrepreneurial Studies Committee of the Board of Advisors. He was also a board member of the Friends of the Majestic Theatre. He has generously and consistently supported the annual fund, the president’s discretionary fund, the EVVY Awards, the Library, and the Majestic Theatre.
Before founding his own consulting firm, John C. Ford Associates, in 1984, John had distinguished himself in the broadcasting and cable industry, where he held senior human resources responsibilities at CBS, ABC, and Home Box Office. At CBS, John established the CBS School of Management. His work in human resources earned him the American Society for Training and Development’s Human Resources Development Award in 1978. Prior to that, John worked in the financial services industry with positions at the American Stock Exchange, where he won a PRSA Silver Anvil award and at Merrill Lynch and Company.
In 2021, John and his wife Sandra Sollod Poster, jointly received the University of Maryland's distinguished alumni Legacy Award for their contributions to the fields of education, the arts and philanthropy.
John currently works with a variety of financial services and entertainment clients, chairs or serves on four other higher education boards and delivers in-person and online executive development programs, including for the Harvard Business School's Leadership Direct program.
Michael Gilday, BA ‘99VP, Storytelling & Creative at DataRobot
Michael majored in Visual and Media Arts at Emerson with a focus on Audio & New Media Production and a minor in Literature. He was heavily involved with WERS as host of ‘Radio Babylon’ and its offspring ‘Revolutions’ along with serving as Asst Music Director. In Post-Production, Michael was a manager in the Digital Production Lab and was the first to oversee the new ‘Mix to Pix’ Audio for Film/TV suite. Additionally, Michael worked as a senior tour guide for the Admissions office in charge of training incoming tour guides.
Beginning his professional career in Digital Marketing, as it was still being invented in the late 90’s, Michael worked in early digital video on the internet at the Boston agency Circle. As an Interactive Producer, he worked primarily on the truth anti-smoking campaign before becoming an On-Air DJ at WFNX/Lynn and then KUCD/Honolulu upon moving to Hawaii.
In Hawaii, Michael got a job on the pilot of ABC’s Lost and continued working as IATSE crew for the first two seasons (including on-camera cameos in 2 episodes as the founder of the Dharma Initiative). Subsequently moving to LA to work in Film/TV and play Bass in a gigging band.
Michael is now a Producer/Director/Editor with 20 years’ experience in video Production and Post with a specialization in building and growing internal Video Production Capabilities at Agencies and Brands. Michael is currently VP, Storytelling & Creative at DataRobot, an Artificial Intelligence Startup headquartered in Boston that has attained Unicorn status.
Driven by the belief that “you can make good video affordably, but you can’t make it cheap”, Michael strives to create the highest quality video Brand content that achieves client’s objectives while staying on time and on budget. Drawing on his varied experience to create Video that is rooted in story and authenticity. He has created thousands of videos for brands that have received over 7 million organic views.
Former member of IATSE Local 695 (Hollywood) and 665 (Honolulu) Hatch Award Winner Member of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America)
Jan Jacobs Greenhawt, BS ’69RETIRED SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST
Jan Jacobs Greenhawt has been an Advisor since 1996, and joined the Alumni Association Board in 1987. She received a BS in Speech from Emerson College in Speech Pathology and Audiology and an MA from University of Maryland. While working for Prince George’s County Board of Education, she was employed as an itinerant speech pathologist and as a teacher of pre-school deaf. During her employment with the York County Easter Seal Society, Jan provided speech and language services to both children and adults and taught lip-reading classes to senior citizens. Since 1986, she served as a speech-language pathologist, a curriculum development specialist in the area of written language, training special education teachers and speech-language pathologists in literacy, and a consultant for the School Board of Broward County. Currently, Jan has been serving as the president of a cancer organization in Boca Raton, FL.
Cedric A. Harmon, BS ‘88Founder/Executive Director of Many Voices
Cedric Harmon is the Executive Director of Many Voices: A Black Church Movement for LGBT Justice and a speaker, writer, and activist. He is recognized as having taken a “leading role in trying to convince the faithful to support LGBT rights,” his work acknowledged in the National Park Service 2016 Centennial report LGBTQ America: A Theme Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History. He has also written for outlets such as the Huffington Post and the Advocate. Harmon has been a guest speaker, facilitator, panelist at Harvard University School of Law, Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University, University of Maryland College Park, Salisbury University, Morgan State University, Howard University School of Divinity, The George Washington University, Bowie State University, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Seattle University, Pacific School of Religion, University of the Redlands and San Francisco Theological Seminary at San Anselmo.
David Hudson, BA ‘91Head of Original Programming, Scripps National Networks
David Hudson is an Emmy® Award-winning creative executive with more than two decades of experience in creating content for both television and digital platforms.
Hudson is Head of Original Programming for the new Scripps Networks (ION, Bounce, Laff, Court TV, Court TV Mystery, Grit, Defy TV, TrueReal, Newsy), which includes oversight and creation of movies, scripted series, limited series, and specials. Prior to his current role, Hudson served as Senior Vice President for TBS and TNT, developing and overseeing late night (CONAN), reality, and special event programming (Screen Actors Guild Awards®). He has also produced alternative programming and specials for the likes of HBO, FOX, Paramount Studios, NBC, and TLC.
Hudson is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston and The John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management's Executive Leadership Development Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is credited with a Primetime Emmy® for Outstanding Variety Special and was named a Next Generation Leader by NAMIC in 2010.
Suzy Im, MA ’95, MA ‘96Managing Partner & Founder at BDMT Global, Marketing Professor at Emerson College
A widely-known name in global business development and an award-winning marketing transformation leader featured in publications such as Fortune Magazine, Suzy established Business Development & Marketing Transformation (BDMT) Global. BDMT Global is an innovative business model that combines the two most critical functions for international companies entering the U.S. market and reflects the key values it brings to its clients, like its name indicates.
As Managing Partner & Founder of BDMT Global, Suzy recently won the Silver Stevie® Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year. Despite COVID-19’s threat to businesses worldwide, Suzy and her team at BDMT developed new pandemic-based strategies that benefited their clients successfully. Suzy led her team in adapting to major challenges, turning them into opportunities that have driven success for entrepreneurs, global clients, and professional women alike.
Headquartered in Boston, BDMT Global is led by a group of award-winning experts focusing on specific industries, providing complete end-to-end solutions for transforming and driving market demand and leadership. Both as a business development consultant and a hands-on practitioner, Suzy has played a transformative role in helping to generate powerful global business operations for clients worldwide, especially in the life sciences, healthcare, wellness, medical devices, technology, and manufacturing industries. Suzy has also been a member of the marketing faculty at Emerson College since 2004.
In the life science arena, Suzy works with the Senior Science Advisory Group and Business Development managers who have expertise in commercial strategy, licensing (out and in bound) for finding strategic partners/licensees, securing appropriate potential targeted partners/licensees, and scouting for technologies/companies for both out- or in-licensing/acquisition.
In the medical device, healthcare, and overall B2B technology arena, Suzy works with leading IT or medical industry analysts and influencers to help technology/healthcare vendors gain visibility, build valuable references, penetrate global markets, and create strong demand. She has also worked with a wide variety of technology enterprises and has worked with leading global brands including Siemens, GE, Gateway, Konika, HP, Teradyne, and Samsung.
Suzy has been recognized in many global and local media publications and has written two books in leadership communications. As an engaging event speaker, she has delivered numerous keynote addresses and seminars. At many global organizations and events, Suzy hosted executive training sessions and spearheaded conference marketing, business development, and leadership communications efforts. In addition to her business career, Suzy is passionate about creating opportunities for entrepreneurs and highlighting the work of female leaders, especially in STEM. She is a co-founder of For Creators, By Creators and founder of Empower Women in STEM.
Gary Krantz, BS ’81FOUNDER & CEO, KRANTZ MEDIA GROUP (KMG); KMG NETWORKS | KMG STUDIOS | KMG EVENTS | KMG TELEVISION | KMG MUSIC
Gary Krantz, Founder and CEO of Krantz Media Group LLC, is an internationally recognized business strategist operating at the intersection of the media, advertising, technology, and entertainment industries. KMG (www.krantzmediagroup.com) is a leading New York City-based advisory and business development firm that provides critical direction on issues of content syndication, marketing, advertising, media, entertainment and digital technology. KMG offers strategic marketing and brand development, implementation roadmaps, technology solutions for media, media sales and revenue generation, business development, organizational planning, and competitive brand analysis. KMG is currently working with such brands, companies and organizations as Viacom Networks, iHeartMedia/Premiere Radio Networks, Cumulus Media/Westwood One, Disney’s ABC Radio Networks. CBS Radio Networks, AXS TV, Yoshiki Pictures LLC, Harris Media Group, CBS’s Peter Greenberg’s Worldwide Travel Network, TuneGenie Networks, an online audio and video dashboard used by over 1000 radio stations and media outlet, the Levon Helm Studios/Barn in Woodstock G.E. Smith’s “Portraits, and the estate of Thelonious Monk.
In 2012, KMG launched KMG Networks—an independent, multi-platform content and services syndication company. Its services and products include, The Studio Center Network, AXS-TV’s “The Big Interview with Dan Rather. The Classic Rock Awards, The John Bachelor Show, syndicated Urban talent “Chubb Rock”. “Always in Fashion”, heard on WABC-AM and hosted by former LVMH Chairman Mark Weber, and a suite of broadcast products developed by the well- respected “morning voice” news broadcaster, Lee Harris (mornings on Entercom’s 1010 WINS): QGoLive, Anchor Dashboard, and Motion Mixes.
In 2016 KMG launched KMG TV, specializing in the creation, acquisition and representation of high quality video content, specifically in the music category. Current projects Yoshiki Live with the Tokyo Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.
KMG is also a leader in the cause related/non-profit sector, with multiple clients including The Listen Campaign, BillofRights.org, The Wounded Warrior Project and The Harlem House.
Mr. Krantz has held high-level positions for some of the country’s largest, most influential media companies, including Chief Digital Media Officer for Westwood One Inc, President of Air America Radio, EVP/Music and Operations at Premiere Radio Networks/Clear Channel (Now iHeartMedia), Executive Vice President of AMFM Radio Networks and was a founding partner and Vice President/General Manager of MJI Broadcasting.
Before launching KMG, he launched many of network radio’s most successful shows and brands, including The Grammy Awards Radio Network, The CMA Awards Radio Network, Cinemax’s “CenterStage” performance series, Rockline Classic, Country Live Tonight!, American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest, On the Air with Carson Daly, Desert Island Discus, and the groundbreaking series “The Comedy Hour”, hosted by the late Len Belzer, and countless others.
Krantz is a past President of the Country Radio Broadcasters, and currently holds a position on the Emerson College Board of Advisors, and is active in several industry organizations including N.A.R.A.S., The Country Music Association, and Leadership Music.
Krantz is currently on the New York City Department of Parks Arts Committee, producers of the annual Summerstage Concert Series. He also serves on the Board of XLIVE the organization that convenes industry leaders at the intersection of music, sports, film, culinary, beverage, eSports, technology, brands and the experiences that culminate at festivals and live events. In 2017, he developed the “Innovators & Entrepreneurs” series for Radio Ink Magazine.
Malia Lazu, BS ‘99CEO, Founder, The Urban Labs & Lecturer at MIT
Malia Lazu, an award winning, tenured strategist in diversity & inclusion has sparked deep economic development and investment in urban entrepreneurship for over twenty years. In her most recent role as EVP and Regional President at Berkshire Bank, Malia worked to generate wealth for communities by expanding access to capital and spurring economic growth —especially in communities of color that have traditionally been left behind.
During her time at Berkshire, Malia evolved the $13 billion bank’s strategic focus beyond traditional community banking services to prioritize tangible community impact. She helped to diversify the board of directors; developed a suite of financial products and programs that support entrepreneurs of color; and launched ReevX Labs, a collaborative workspace and innovation hub for the urban start-up community.
Malia began her career as a political organizer and bridge-builder founding Mass VOTE, a state-wide voter engagement campaign. She has led culture-shifting campaigns for the actor and civil rights activist Harry Belefonte, as well as businessmen and philanthropists like Peter Lewis and George Soros.
Malia currently sits on the boards of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, Revolutionary Spaces, Chica Project, Artist Asylum and the Nation Magazine Editorial Board. She was named one of Essence Magazine’s 50 founders to watch in 2017 and Boston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business in 2019.
Hadeel Reda '90PRODUCER/EXECUTIVE PRODUCER; FOUNDER, PURPLE PICTURES
Hadeel Reda has over 25 years of experience in developing, producing, and financing feature films. Most recently she completed production on Ride, starring Ludacris and Sasha Alexander, and American Wrestler: The Wizard starring Jon Voight and William Fichtner, which Warner Brothers released in May 2017. Other recent credits include Harbinger Down, the 2015 theatrically-released film Into the Grizzly Maze, which Reda developed and produced starring Billy Bob Thornton and James Marsden. Reda also arranged financing for the Jason Bateman-directed film Family Fang, starring Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken in 2016 and is currently developing The Berlin Game, a WWII heist thriller with Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) to direct.
Formerly Chief Executive Officer of Winchester Films, which she founded in 1998 as the Los Angeles division of the UK-based Winchester Entertainment, plc, Reda established innovative film financing structures and international output deals for Chuck Gordon (Die Hard), and created overall first look deals with producers/directors Richard Donner/Lauren Shuler Donner (X-Men) and Wind Dancer Producer Group (What Women Want).
As the former Head of Production at Winchester Films, Reda developed and executive produced a slate of co-financed films including 16 Blocks starring Bruce Willis and directed by Richard Donner; Heartbreakers starring Sigourney Weaver and Gene Hackman; the comedy Scorched starring Woody Harrelson and John Cleese; as well as Joel Silver’s Jane Doestarring Teri Hatcher. Also in an executive producing capacity, she has projects with Sony, Paramount, Universal, Fox and Warner Brothers.
Previously, Reda served for four years as an executive at The Walt Disney Company, where she got her start in feature film development at the studio and rose to an executive position in Marketing and Distribution in the International Division for Disney’s feature films, Buena Vista International.
Reda graduated with a BS in Mass Communication, Film from Emerson College, 1990.
Michael RogersCO-FOUNDER, MADANWALL
What follows is 99.99 true. Mike began his career as a copywriter at the preeminent creative agency of its time, Doyle Dane Bernbach. At DDB, he created award-winning advertising for Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Hershey, Michelin, Mobile, The New York Lottery and IBM. After leading the team that developed the long-running Give me a Break advertising for Kit Kat, creating the famous baby-in-the-tire campaign for Michelin, and winning the biggest account in the history of the agency, he went on to lead the New York Office, as Vice Chairman, Chief Creative Officer.
After Mike left DDB (or more accurately after agency management strongly encouraged him to leave) he became President and creative director of a New York advertising agency he generously characterizes as a fixer-upper. While he was busy fixing the creative product, the owners were even busier unfixing the financials. So, despite a run of major new business wins, the agency spiraled into bankruptcy. True to his optimistic nature, or perhaps his naiveté or just plain stupidity, Mike seized the opportunity, started his own agency, inviting all the clients to join him, which much to his surprise they did.
Fast forward 10 years. In 2012, Mike sold his agency to Dentsu, a global agency network, where for two years he served as Vice Chairman, a position that sounds more impressive than it actually was. Because he breaks out in a rash whenever he hears the word retirement, Mike started a new agency, madandwall, which serves hedge funds, mutual funds, banks and ETFs. His close association with the movers and shakers of the financial world has yet to benefit his portfolio.
In addition to being a member of Emerson board of advisors, he is on the College’s investment committee, where he takes his fiduciary responsibilities seriously. Meaning he tries to make decisions that won’t get him sued.
Besides his work in advertising, Mike is pursuing his true passion, writing musicals. He is now working on his second one.
Janet Scardino, BS ’81CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER, XIX ENTERTAINMENT
Janet is thrilled to have rejoined Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment this past year in a global role as CRO. It is an exciting time to be back, working on a number of creative properties and ventures in music, film, TV and fashion.
She has expanded brands and businesses for Disney, MTV, AOL, Reuters and 19 Entertainment. Her experience spans the US and international markets—in Europe, LatAm and AsiaPac—building brands, increasing engagement and driving income growth. Loving the thrill of start-ups, Janet has launched over 10 successful new businesses and franchises, within corporations as well as independent new ventures.
While at 19 Entertainment working with Simon Fuller, she saw how American Idol’s charity special Idol Gives Back brought the country together to help those in need. It inspired her to fuse her experience in media, entertainment and marketing to make a social impact. Most recently, as the first CEO for the non-profit Comic Relief USA, she launched the successful Red Nose Day campaign in America, which helped nearly 20 million children living in poverty - in the US and around the world.
Janet studied at Emerson College, where she graduated with honors and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. She has been honored by The Girl Scouts, The Women's Venture Fund, and has been recognized with an Irma Mann Distinguished Speaker Award.
Leigh Wilson Smiley, MC BA ‘82Former Director of and Associate Professor at the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Leigh Wilson Smiley is the former Director of, and Associate Professor at the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland College Park, and a professional voice, dialect, acting, and presentation coach. She has taught acting, voice, and accents at Emerson College, University of Pennsylvania, University of the Arts, NYU, and Fordham University. Smiley works with artistic teams at Center Stage, Everyman Theatre, Round House Theatre, Fords Theatre, Arena Stage, John F. Kennedy Center, and The Folger Shakespeare Theatre. She has coached NBC on-camera news spokespeople, Cirque du Soleil performers, lawyers, doctors, scientists and numerous other professionals in performance and presentation skills. At the University of Maryland she combined chairing the department with producing nine professional Main Stage dance and theater performances per year. Smiley developed and maintains the Visual Accent and Dialect Archive, a web based resource for dialect and accent samples. She is a member of Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the Voice and Speech Trainers Association.
Michael Jay Solomon, Doctor of Law ’91ENTERTAINMENT EXECUTIVE
For forty years, Michael Jay Solomon has been the largest distributor of American television content worldwide, pioneering the international marketplace for the American television industry and running major media companies.
Aged eighteen, he began his career loading films onto trucks for United Artists while attending New York University at night. In 1960 UA sent him to Panama to open the territory for American films in Central America. He next moved to Colombia, thereafter to Peru, as Manager of Peru and Bolivia.
He was then hired by MCA/Universal, to open their Latin American television division, becoming a Vice President at age thirty.
In 1978 he founded Telepictures Corporation, and as Chairman and CEO took it public after just fourteen months, raising their shares from $3 to $32 within two years. Starting with the “People’s Court” TV series, they became the biggest U.S. syndicator and one of the largest international television distribution companies, owning six television stations and publishing six magazines.
Seven years later, when Telepictures merged with Lorimar, forming Lorimar Telepictures Corp., Solomon became President and Member of the Board of Directors. When Lorimar Telepictures was acquired by Warner Bros., he became President of Warner Bros. International Television, heading up the company’s sales and marketing to television, cable and satellite companies internationally, to become the largest distributor of TV programming worldwide.
Following five years at Warner Bros. when he increased international television revenues by more than 400 percent, he launched his own television communications company, Solomon Entertainment Enterprises, while simultaneously creating El Camino Entertainment Group, Inc. (now North American Midway), the largest Midway operating company in North America, and partnering with SMGBB (Shanghai Media Group Broadband).
He founded Truli Media Group in 2010, a digital platform and aggregator of content, focusing on family and faith, and sold it in 2018 to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.
He is a Founder and Chairman of INVOLVY, a European-based advisory firm, contributing its professional skills to create international corporate growth and sustainability through innovation and technology.
Solomon is a Member of the Executive Committee of Working Nation, a U.S. nonprofit media content company, working to close the threat of the growing job skills gap.
He also serves on the Boards of the global social impact project GIVE NATION, and THE GENIUS INSTITUTE, a technology platform dedicated to personal and corporate development.
In 1991 he received an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Emerson, and has since been appointed to their Board of Advisors.
He joined the Board of Advisors of a new venture, Back To Space, which aims to inspire and enhance an interest in science and engineering by constructing a high-tech lunar landscape experience facility in Texas. The facility will have the ability to stimulate riding in a rocket, landing on the moon and experiencing a walk on the moon’s surface.
Solomon is a member of the international honor society, Beta Gama Sigma, is a founder of The Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem, and was Founding Chairman of The Jerusalem Foundation (West Coast). He is also Honorary Chairman of Actors Equity of China.
He co-founded and is Chairman of the Careyes Clinic in Jalisco, Mexico, serving four thousand people annually, and has for thirty years served on the board of The Jeffrey Modell Foundation. He also followed in the footsteps of many famous Americans in being nominated to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2013.
John A. Wentworth ’81COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT
John A. Wentworth, a television industry veteran, is an Entertainment Communications Consultant and Adjunct Professor. He serves as a Media Trainer for HBO Max, Disney+, 20th Television, ABC Studios, CBS Studios and others, having previously served as Executive Vice President, Communications, for CBS Television Distribution. In addition, Wentworth is an Adjunct Professor of Entertainment Marketing for Emerson College’s LA campus.
An industry veteran, over the years Wentworth has overseen the various corporate-level and consumer media relations efforts for Paramount Network Television, CBS Paramount Domestic Television, CBS Paramount International Distribution, King World Productions and the current entity, CBS Television Distribution. These combined divisions produce and/or distribute primetime and daytime programming for network, cable, premium television and first-run syndication, domestically and internationally. In addition, his purview included the communications efforts for CBS Home Entertainment and CBS Consumer Products, which includes managing all publicity efforts for the merchandising, licensing, events and activations for the Star Trek franchise’s 50th anniversary milestone.
Wentworth oversaw all publicity efforts for CTD’s 10 first-run syndicated shows: Dr. Phil, The Doctors, Rachael Ray, Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Inside Edition, Judge Judy, Hot Bench, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy!; as well as off-network series such as the CSI franchise (CBS), The Good Wife (CBS), NCIS (CBS), Penny Dreadful (Showtime) and Blue Bloods (CBS).
From 1993 to 1999, Wentworth served as Senior Vice President, then Executive Vice President, Media Relations and Marketing, for the Paramount Television Group, reporting to the Chairman of the Group. Prior to that he was Vice President, Advertising, Publicity and Promotion for Paramount Network Television, during which time he oversaw the ongoing publicity for such long-running hit series as Frasier, Cheers, Family Ties, Star Trek: The Next Generation, MacGyver and The Arsenio Hall Show. Wentworth first joined Paramount in 1983 as Manager of Advertising, Publicity and Promotion for Paramount Domestic Television.
Wentworth’s entertainment career also includes positions at Columbia Pictures and public relations firm Rogers & Cowan.
Born in Skowhegan, Maine and raised in the Caribbean, Wentworth graduated in 1981 from Emerson College in Boston, with a degree in Mass Communications. In 1995 he received the Alumni Achievement Award from Emerson’s Alumni Association. In 1999 he was awarded Emerson’s EVVY Award for Distinguished Alumni. In 2012, Wentworth was ranked as one of Business Insider’s “20 Most Powerful Publicists in Hollywood”. He is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Paley Center for Media, the Television Publicity Executives Committee (TPEC) and serves on Emerson College’s Board of Advisors. His philanthropic endeavors are numerous and include his 2005 appointment to the Board of Directors of The Alliance For Children’s Rights. Wentworth resides in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara County, where his husband owns a renowned restaurant.
Mary Sweig Wilson, PhD, MA ’64, Advisor EmeritaPROFESSOR EMERITA OF COMMUNICATION SCIENCES AND DISORDERS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT AND PRESIDENT OF LAUREATE LEARNING SYSTEMS
Mary Sweig Wilson received a BA in Speech and Theatre from Smith College, an MA in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Emerson College, and a PhD in Communicative Disorders from Northwestern University. She is professor emerita of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Vermont and president of Laureate Learning Systems, a software company dedicated to the development of programs to help children and adults with disabilities.