ElonComm faculty members attend AEJMC conference in Washington, D.C.

The annual conference held this summer in the nation's capital provided an opportunity for School of Communications faculty to showcase their areas of research, interest and expertise.

Six professors stand in a hotel lobby in Washington, D.C.
Several School of Communications faculty members gather while attending the 2023 AEJMC national convention held in August in Washington, D.C. Pictured (from left) are Israel Balderas, Karen Lindsey, Vanessa Bravo, Amanda Sturgill, Hal Vincent and Shannon Zenner.

A contingent of School of Communications faculty members attended the 106th annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference held in early August in Washington, D.C.

ElonComm faculty appeared throughout the event’s programming contributing to a wide range of topics, including corporate social advocacy, education, freelancing and gig economy, social issues and technology. A listing of faculty and student awards and activities at AEJMC is below. The full program is available on the conference website.

Presentations and panels

  • Professor Vanessa Bravo presented a refereed paper, titled “Impact of Movies Coco and Encanto in the Media Portrayals of Mexico and Colombia,” and served as a discussant for a session titled “Minorities’ Identities and Higher Education.” Additionally, she moderated the Minorities and Communication Division’s top paper session.
  • Two men stand together with arms around each other.
    While in Washington, D.C., Balderas (right) reunited with Howard Mortman, director for communications at C-SPAN. The two worked together when Balderas was a political journalist in the nation’s capital.

    Assistant Professor Israel Balderas served on the panel “Don’t Say Gay: How States are Silencing Expression About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” addressing recent bills prohibiting public elementary school teachers from using a curriculum that addresses topics related to gender identity and sexual orientation. Additionally, Balderas served on a research panel session, titled “What Does It Mean to be a Journalist? Epistemology in the Practice of Digital Journalism,” and presented an extended abstract, titled “Strict Scrutiny Applies: Except in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota and …”

  • Assistant Professor Shannon Zenner served on the teaching panel sessions “Labor-based Grading in Multimedia Courses” and “Teaching Ideas Competition Panel: Celebrating Winning Ideas in Cross-disciplinary Teaching.”
  • Senior Lecturer Hal Vincent served on three panels, “The Gig Economy: How Freelancing Has Become the New Norm and How We Can Teach It,” “Let’s Go Team! Fostering Dynamic Teamwork for Career Readiness,” and “Preparing Students for Careers in Political and Government Communication.”
  • Associate Professor Amanda Sturgill served as a discussant for the “Communication Technology and Fact Checking” session and as a panelist for a research panel session, “Technology, Pandemic and Doctrine: How the Changes in Online Practice During COVID have Affected the Landscape of Faith.”
  • An ElonComm professor stands before a mounted poster.
    Lecturer Margaret Ritsch presented her GIFT (great idea in faculty teaching) topic, titled “Ungrading in a PR Writing Course to Deepen Learning and Unleash Student Creativity,” during a scholar-to-scholar (poster) session.

    Professor Barbara Gaither co-presented a scholar-to-scholar (poster) referred research paper, titled “You Asked, We Listened: Examining Accountability Through Actions and Listening in Corporate Social Advocacy.”

  • Lecturer Margaret Ritsch presented a GIFT (great idea in faculty teaching) topic, titled “Ungrading in a PR Writing Course to Deepen Learning and Unleash Student Creativity.”
  • Associate Professor Jessalynn Strauss presented a GIFT (great idea in faculty teaching) topic, titled “Pioneers of Strategic Communication.”

Awards and honors

  • Zenner was recognized in the Innovations in Teaching Competition, presented by the Visual Communication and Magazine Media Divisions. The competition solicits submissions of teaching tips that are innovative, creative and relatively easy to implement in a visual communication classroom.
  • Five women stand arm to arm for a photographer in a conference room.
    Professor Vanessa Bravo (center) poses for a photograph with the Minorities and Communication (MAC) Division executive board. Bravo served as research chair during the past year and will become the division’s vice head this fall.

    A website, www.doveyouthdevelopment.org, created by the 2023 Interactive Media cohort won first place in the Website (Individual/Team/Single Class – Small School) category. The robust online platform supports a nonprofit organization in the Dominican Republic that provides educational opportunities and afterschool programs. The student group consisted of Olivia Archer ’22, G’23, Shaina Catchings G’23, John Donohue G’23, Abby Lachance G’23, JaRiah Morris G’23, Sequoia Nichols G’23, Maya O’Neal G’23, Hana Sedivy ’21, G’23, Courtney Simmons G’23, and Michaela Zeno G’23. Associate Professor Nicole Triche advised the students.

  • Morgan Chisholm ’23 earned second place in the aforementioned category for her website, The Chronicler. Associate Professor Ben Hannam advised Chisholm’s project.
  • On the Grid, a student group project advised by Rebecca Bagley, won first place in the contest’s App – Individual/Team/Single Class – Small School Category. Produced as part of Bagley’s Web and Mobile Publishing class, the project allows users to create an account to collect and share their adventure experiences. Users can record and post notable details and photos while earning “badges” along the way. The student group consisted of Anne Kalinowski ’22, Kayla Shaw ’22, Natasha Osses-Konig ’21, Kathryn Quinn ’22 and Sally Long ’22.
  • Interactive Media graduate student Abby Lachance G’23 captured second place in the aforementioned app category for her Sport Creative Hub entry, an interactive social media platform that builds a community with sport creatives, sports agents and sports fans. Associate Professor Derek Lackaff served as a project adviser.
  • Lastly, a second student group project advised by Bagley earned third place for its Fuel Space mobile application entry. The app is designed to help consumers locate the cheapest gas options and available parking based on location. Group members included Molly Mahoney ’23, Patrick Hanrahan ’22, Ashleigh Garcia ’22 and Aulani Barnes ’23.


The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) is a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals. The association’s mission is to advance education, foster scholarly research, cultivate better professional practice and promote the free flow of communication.