CoJMC announces honorees for annual J Days celebration

Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 6:00pm

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications announced alumni and industry professionals who will be honored during the college’s annual J Days celebration, Feb. 26-27, 2015. Begun in 1992, J Days is a celebration held each spring to honor and recognize the work and achievements of alumni, graduate students and industry leaders.

Outstanding Alumni Awards are being given to Lance Koenig, senior vice president and strategy director, Mullen of Boston, Massachusetts, for advertising; Kevin McMahon, film director of Los Angeles, California, for broadcasting; Kirstin Swanson Wilder, vice president and managing editor, Variety of Los Angeles, California, for journalism; and Chris Anderson, associate athletic director, Husker Athletics of Lincoln, Nebraska, for public relations.

Industry leaders being recognized are Dennis Kellogg of Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) who will be receiving the Thomas C. Sorensen Award for Distinguished Nebraska Journalism; Gil Poese will be receiving the Broadcast Pioneer Award; and Kyla Brennan, CEO HelloSociety will be receiving the Advertising and Public Relations Wings Award. The Hitchcock Outstanding Graduate Student awards are being given to Monica Blaser of Papillion, Nebraska, and Stephanie Shipp of Houston, Texas.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, the CoJMC will host panel discussions featuring honored CoJMC alumni from 11–11:50 a.m. The panel will be followed by a networking event from 5–7 p.m. The J Days networking mixer is an opportunity for students to informally network with industry veterans who will share their experiences about trends, mass media communications and finding jobs in their industries. The J Days awards luncheon will be held on Friday, Feb. 27.

Bios of the honorees are below: 


Lance Koenig is a senior vice president and strategy director at Mullen and has worked on campaigns for Disney, The Washington Post, TD Ameritrade, ConAgra Foods, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and JetBlue.

Kevin McMahon is the vice president of sales and production for California Pictures on the Paramount Pictures Studio Lot and is slated to co-produce a $30 million feature as well as D.P. two other films and direct a third.

Kirstin Swanson Wilder is vice president and managing editor of Variety magazine. She oversees newsroom operations alongside editors-in-chief, paying particular attention to the budgeting process and financials. She also edits various sections in the print magazine and oversees daily newspapers which are published at film festivals around the globe.

Chris Anderson has been a member of the Nebraska Athletic Department for nearly 30 years. She is Nebraska’s Associate Athletic Director for Community Relations. She serves as the liaison to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Chancellor’s Office and on-campus communication coordinators; is a department liaison to the Big Ten Network and the Husker Radio Network for scheduling purposes; assists patrons with special needs; supports the Director with all external communications, radio shows, media requests and appearances, and serves as the department’s open records request coordinator.


Dennis Kellogg serves as the news director for NET, a statewide public broadcaster in Nebraska.  He is in charge of all news content for the television, radio and online platforms. Kellogg worked as the news director for KHAS-TV in Hastings, Nebraska, for 12 years before taking his current position with NET in 2010.

The Thomas C. Sorensen Award for Distinguished Nebraska Journalism is given to a journalist for any story distributed through Nebraska’s mass media, whether cablecast, telecast, newspaper, magazine, online or radio. Thomas C. Sorensen was a former Nebraska journalist who left the state to pursue a career in government service. He came from a Nebraska family notable for its service in politics, education and business at the state, national and international levels.


Gil Poese, a native of Emma, Missouri, graduated from high school in Waverly, Missouri, and graduated Pathfinders School of Radio in Kansas City in 1948. His first job in radio was at WLOI, La Porte, Indiana, from 1949 to 1952. While there, he also served his country in Korea.

In 2005, Poese was named Nebraska’s Outstanding Older Worker. He remains active in his community as a member of the American Legion and serves on their color guard/firing squad at veterans’ funerals. 

The Broadcast Pioneer Award is chosen by members of the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and the broadcasting faculty and students of the college. This award recognizes those individuals whose long term leadership has contributed to the high quality of Nebraska broadcasting and the high quality of broadcast education.


Kyla Brennan is the Founder & CEO of HelloSociety, a full-service Pinterest influencer analytics firm she founded in 2012 to help brands optimize their marketing efforts through strategic partnerships with influential pinners, robust analytics and creative consulting. She drives the company’s vision, strategy and goals and oversees all business development efforts. Under Kyla’s leadership, HelloSociety’s network of more than 300 influential pinners has generated 2.9 million new user sign-ups and 22 million unique page views for the visual discovery platform. 

The Advertising and Public Relations Wings Award recognizes a rising young professional who has made significant contributions to the advertising or public relations profession in a short period of time.


Monica Blaser is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications’ Integrated Media Communications program. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from University of Nebraska–Lincoln in studio art and advertising and public relations.

Stephanie Shipp is a student in the Integrated Media Communications program and is a research assistant in CoJMC. She received her M.A. in Philosophy from University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 2014 and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow (Scotland) in 2010. She currently serves as the graduate representative and secretary for the Student Advisory Board and as a graduate ambassador for Graduate Studies.

The Hitchcock Outstanding Graduate Student Award recognizes and rewards exceptional work in scholarship, research, creative activity, leadership, service and teaching.

J Days
J Days