Three students selected for Tieger Fellowship in Public Affairs Communications

The Three Tieger Fellows with professor

This article was originally published on the Grady website on Sept. 10, 2018. 

By: Sarah Cunningham

Students will promote first Public Affairs Communications program in the nation

The University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication announced the selection of three students as Tieger Fellows for the fall 2018 semester: Sarah Cunningham, Maria Stagliano and Avery Whitehead. The Tieger Fellowship builds upon Grady College’s first in the nation Public Affairs Communications (PAC) program by providing students with the opportunity to take on real-world responsibilities consistent with the mission of the program.

The Tieger Fellows, who are in the PAC program themselves, are responsible for day-to-day public relations activities in furtherance of the program, including media relations, social and digital media and program promotion under guidance from Joseph Watson, Jr., program director and Carolyn Caudell Tieger Professor of Public Affairs Communications.

The Tieger Fellowship is funded with support from Grady College alumna Carolyn Caudell Tieger, who graduated in 1969 and who also funds the Tieger Professorship currently held by Watson.

“The Tieger Fellowship is made possible by the generosity of Carolyn Caudell Tieger whose vision and support established the Tieger Professorship and the Public Affairs Communications program that I direct,” said Watson. “Carolyn is a constant source of support and wisdom for me and our students. Today’s announcement builds on the solid foundation of what we have begun and recognizes these outstanding students.”

The Tieger Fellows will work to promote Grady College’s novel 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. Grady College’s PAC courses help students develop specialized communications skills aimed at educating, shaping or changing public opinion on public policy, legislation, political candidates or issues.

“The creation of this Fellowship represents another extension of the Public Affairs Communications program at Grady by allowing the Fellows to create and manage a campaign to promote their own program,” said Tieger. “What a wonderful hands-on way of learning, and I commend Professor Watson for making this opportunity available to his students. The Grady PAC program, under his leadership, has truly caught on fire with almost triple the number of students this fall semester than when the program was launched in 2016, and I could not be prouder.”

The three students named are also in the University’s Public Affairs Professional Certificate Program and have complemented their academic learning with significant external experiences.

Sarah Cunningham, a Georgia native, is a senior public relations major and is expected to graduate in December of 2018. Last year, she interned for a local Athens nonprofit, the Economic Justice Coalition. Cunningham spent this past summer interning on the State Advocacy Media team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America in Washington, D.C. Cunningham plans to return to Washington after graduation to pursue a career in public affairs communications.

Maria Stagliano, a Georgia native, is a senior earning a degree in public relations and is the co-director for this year’s AdPR Connection. She also serves as the vice president of the International Association of Business Communicators’ UGA chapter, as well as heading the fundraising committee for PRSSA. This past summer, Stagliano worked as a strategy intern for Melt, a marketing firm in Atlanta. She spent the internship mastering her video production skills in addition to her work on various strategic projects. After graduation, Stagliano hopes to work in Washington, D.C., and pursue a career in crisis communications.

Avery Whitehead is a senior studying political science and public relations, with a minor in women’s studies. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Whitehead has always been interested in politics. Whitehead worked with the Democratic Party of Georgia on Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and later interned as an Assistant Account Manager at the DC-based public relations agency Stanton Communications. This past summer, Whitehead worked with the political consulting firm Precision Strategies on their communications team. Whitehead hopes to pursue a career in public affairs communications.

The Tieger Fellows are excited to enhance their skills in preparation for their careers while also promoting the Public Affairs Communications program.

You can support Grady College’s efforts to prepare the next generation of media professionals by donating to the Georgia Fund for Grady.