COMMAlum Advisory Board


The mission of the Advisory Board is to support the research, instructional, and public engagement missions of the Department of Communication as it seeks to enhance its top national ranking and reputation for excellence. More specifically, the Advisory Board will provide advice and counsel at the request of the Department in matters relating to communication with alumni. It will also serve as a potential liaison for the Department’s current students to the professional world and council students as they enter the workforce. Finally, the Board will help generate the human and material resources necessary to attain the goals and objectives of the department.

Strategic Goals

To achieve its mission, the Advisory Board will:

  • Meet annually to advise the Department on alumni communication, the changing nature of the professional world, and issues related to student preparation.
  • Help advise students about career opportunities, and assist in securing internships and other professional opportunities for undergraduate and applied graduate students.
  • Encourage and identify additional sources of revenue to support the general objectives of the Department.
  • Serve as ambassadors on behalf of the Department in arenas outside the University.
  • Promote alumni networking and connections between current and former students


The Advisory Board is comprised of a select group of alumni. Individuals are appointed to serve on the Board by invitation only. The Department Chairperson, in consultation with the Faculty Advisory Committee, selects Board members that represent the diversity, breadth of occupational careers, and varied accomplishments of Communication alumni. Board members typically serve a period of two years, with the possibility of additional terms at the request of the Department. The Board meets once a year, typically in the Washington, DC metro area. In line with the Board’s mission of assisting the Department in generating resources, members are encouraged to be donors to the Communication Department.

COMMAlums Advisory Board Members

Board President: Ryan Swann, Director of Data Analytics, Office of Government-Wide Policy
Board Vice-President: Steve Drake, Principal, Steve Drake Associates
  • Daniel Cronin, Senior Associate Dean for Finance & Administration, Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
  • Angela Dimopoulos, Director of Sales & Marketing, University of Maryland Alumni Association
  • Deborah Ellinghaus, Managing Director, Olney Theatre Center
  • Chris Finnegan, Senior VP for Communications, Animal Planet and Velocity, Discovery Communications
  • Kristen Fleckinstein, Director of Marketing & Communications, UMD Baltimore Washington Medical Center
  • Malka Goldberg, Digital Communications Professional, Goldberg Consulting Group
  • Emily Kleiman, Communications Change Agent, Lockheed Martin
  • Tara McVey, Jr. Marketing Communications Analyst, ICF International
  • Ryan Merkel, Senior Manager for Individual Giving, Newseum
  • Jennifer Sherman, Account Executive, SpeakerBox Communications
  • Timothy Strachan, Acting Director for Legislative Affairs, FCC
  • Christian Videla, VP, Client Relationship Manager, Old Dominion National Bank