Public Affairs About


University of Illinois Public Affairs

The Office of Public Affairs strategically shares the stories of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the state of Illinois, the nation and the world. We communicate through speeches, stories, news releases, images, videos, designs and technology. We help others tell the story of Illinois through tools, training, support and services to communications professionals across campus.

As the campus-level strategic communications unit, we also manage the university’s website, lead university-wide announcements, manage the university social media presence, respond to national surveys and handle Freedom of Information Act requests, in addition to a wide array of special projects.

Communications Vehicles

Public Affairs is responsible for developing strategies to make the best use of campus communications vehicles, as well as day-to-day management of these channels.

The entire list of the communications vehicles managed by Public Affairs is available online, as well as services and resources to assist campus communicators.

Public Affairs Teams

You can learn more about our Public Affairs teams by visiting their pages:

Public Affairs Staff

Alyssa Aiello's portrait
Alyssa Aiello Front End Developer

Alyssa Aiello is a front end developer who works on web projects for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. With experience in web design and development, she strives to make the user experience the best that it can be. Outside of the office, she enjoys hiking with her dog and trying new recipes on Pinterest.

Jaclyn Banister
Jaclyn Banister Administrative Assistant

Jaclyn Banister is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) coordinator for the Urbana campus. She collects and reviews documents pursuant to the Act. In addition to FOIA, she also assists the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs. When Jaclyn isn’t working, she can be found spending time and traveling with her family.

Stacy Billman's portrait
Stacy Billman Assistant Director of Analytics & Alignment

Stacy Billman is responsible for assisting the Director of Analytics & Alignment with developing and documenting processes and systems for key office functions and success metric analysis. She also manages various team-based projects and provides support for the Chief Communications Officers community of practice. When she is not thinking about organizational efficiencies, Stacy can be found planning her next outdoor adventure, baking, scoping out live music preferably at dive bars, listening to music or podcasts, or getting some kind of movement in her day, usually all with her pug mix, Louie, by her side.

Thomas's portrait
Thomas Bruch Writer/Editor

Thomas Bruch is a writer and editor. He received a journalism degree from Illinois and started his career at the Peoria Journal Star newspaper before taking on writing roles in higher education. Outside of work, Thomas enjoys running, reading nonfiction, playing volleyball and watching basketball. Number of times he has seen his favorite band, My Morning Jacket, in concert: 8 and counting.

Lance Campbell Software Architect

Lance Campbell is the Software Developer behind the many tools offered by Web Services at Public Affairs. He began writing software in sixth grade on an Apple 2e. The computer back then weighed more than he could lift. Today he writes software in the cloud. If you have a great idea on how to improve communications or marketing just let Lance know. If he likes your idea he might even build a new Webtool.

Phil Ciciora
Phil Ciciora Editor for Business, Labor & Law

Phil Ciciora is the business and law editor at the News Bureau. He writes and edits news releases that spotlight the innovative research and teaching in the Gies College of Business, College of Law and other units on campus. Stories based on his releases have appeared in print, radio and television, including Stephen Colbert’s show. Outside of work, he enjoys long-distance running and coaching youth baseball.

Taylor Dent portrait
Taylor Dent Social and Digital Strategist

Taylor Dent is the social and digital strategist, assisting with the organic and paid digital campaigns for the university-level social media accounts. She enjoys telling colorful stories using multimedia. Outside of managing her small photography company, Taylor is an avid reader and loves snuggling her baby boy.

Sydney Flowers portrait
Sydney Flowers Front End Web Developer

Sydney is an adept web developer who is passionate about building visually stunning and user-friendly websites that prioritize accessibility and inclusivity. Her expertise in HTML, CSS and JavaScript, combined with her keen eye for design, allows her to create exceptional web experiences that balance aesthetics and intuitive functionality. When she's not coding, Sydney can often be found teaching her dog, Bebop, new tricks, pranking her husband or making a latte. Whether she's working on a complex web project or spending time with her friends and family, Sydney approaches everything she does with dedication, creativity and a deep sense of compassion.

Sharita Forrest Editor for Education & Social Work

Sharita Forrest is a writer and editor who covers education, social work, food science and other units. During her nearly two decades with the News Bureau, she’s covered the campus administration and arts beats. When not writing, rewriting or tweeting, she serves as a library trustee at her hometown public library, caters to the whims of four spoiled pets and cruises the backroads on her motorcycle.

Michelle Frazier portrait
Michelle Frazier Senior Designer

Michelle Frazier is a strategic design specialist who loves to collaborate with units across campus to develop the university brand. She does research, brand development and execution, and helps units across campus adhere to the university brand standards while still retaining their unique identity. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family – usually at a sporting event, cooking and spending time in nature.

Andrew Gleason Associate Director of Video Services

Andrew Gleason is a director, cinematographer, editor and producer, who loves creating and watching movies. He is an active member in the local film community, creating films and volunteering for Pens to Lens, the Champaign-Urbana Film Society and Champaign Movie Makers. When he isn’t making movies, he is spending time sharing his love for movies with his two children, Eva and Liam.

Chris Harris Deputy Associate Chancellor and Senior Director of Executive Communications

Chris Harris joined the university in 1994 and is currently responsible for managing speechwriting and other executive communications activities for the Office of the Chancellor and Office of the Provost as well as coordinating the Public Affairs strategic content team. His career path has included stints in arts marketing, field archaeology, environmental communications and institutional fundraising.

michelle hassel's portrait
Michelle Hassel Senior Photographer

Michelle Hassel is a photographer whose camera lens focuses on telling the Illinois story. While shooting for Public Affairs, the News Bureau, and social media platforms, she loves to highlight the incredible work happening across campus and the inspiring individuals who bring it to life. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her sweet husband, Jonathan, and constantly reminding their Westie, Molly, how adorable she is (although, she never forgets). Living in Monticello, they can be found strolling the beautiful gardens of Allerton Park together and greeting every Fu Dog, and real dog, they pass.

Jodi Heckel
Jodi Heckel Editor for Arts & Humanities

Jodi Heckel is the arts and humanities editor for the News Bureau. She writes about the disciplines within the College of Fine and Applied Arts, as well as humanities and the University Library. When she’s not at work, she likes to spend time outdoors running, biking, swimming and sailing.

stephanie henry's portrait
Stephanie Henry Communications Associate

Stephanie Henry is a writer and editor who provides communications support and strategy for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost. She has served as a communications and marketing professional at the university since 2013. When not at work, Stephanie enjoys spending time outside with her golden retriever, Murphy, gardening, and listening to live music (preferably outdoors).

Anthony's portrait
Anthony Hicks Writer/Editor

Anthony Hicks is a writer and editor. In his role, he provides editorial expertise to departments across StratCom as well as across campus. In addition to professional writing, he spends his time critically reading literary novels and studying fiction writing. He enjoys exploring new vacation spots with his family and taking long nature walks.

Cory Holt
Cory Holt Strategic Resource Coordinator

Cory Holt is the Office Manager, who oversees Illinois in a Box and Illinois in a Basket, which provides Illinois themed items either free, for loan or at minimal cost to help units tell their Illinois stories. Cory has amassed a vast and useless knowledge of movie, movie quotes, music and all things ’80s.

Robin Kaler Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs

Robin Kaler leads the Public Affairs group and serves on the chancellor’s senior leadership team advising on issues management and crisis communications. She is the university’s official spokesperson and leads the university’s crisis response communications team. She and her family enjoy exploring the world together.

Bryan Lin portrait
Bryan Lin Strategic Design Specialist

Bryan Lin is a graphic designer who loves to tell stories that capture the attention of his audience through design. He works with the Strategic Communications and Marketing team to elevate the university branding and make sure it’s reflected across campus. Outside of the university, he spends his time playing video games, playing soccer or photographing his experience traveling the world.

david losardo portrait
David LoSardo Digital Marketing Specialist

David LoSardo is an omnichannel advertising professional experienced in media planning, data analysis, and research. He strives to achieve university goals and amplify the Illinois brand through efficient campaign execution and creative marketing strategies. Outside of work, he enjoys staying active (recently got into rock climbing), watching horror/sci-fi movies and TV shows, and watching sporting events (die-hard college football fan in particular).

Portrait of Cassidy Marcum
Cassidy Marcum Design Specialist

Cassidy Marcum is a graphic designer and artist who loves to create visually stunning work both in and outside of work. She collaborates on a range of design projects for the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing. She recently graduated from Illinois and is excited to support the university’s brand in this new position. When she’s not designing or crafting, you can find Cassidy collecting vinyl, testing new recipes, playing board games and pursuing antique malls.

todd mette portrait
Todd Mette Front End Developer

Todd has always had a passion for web technology, and started building websites as hobby in high school. Working as a developer for Strategic Communications and Marketing, he helps keep many websites updated and consistent with the latest standards. He also enjoys collaborating with other professionals at the university to learn more about keeping websites accessible, fast and secure.

Grace O'Malley Lamb portrait
Grace O'Malley Lamb Digital Marketing and Media Manager

Grace Lamb is a digital marketing and media manager who works to develop, execute and optimize digital marketing campaigns and strategies across campus that are aligned with the university brand standards. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading and catching up on Bravo TV.

lea peck portrait
Lea Peck Senior Assistant Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy

Lea Peck helps manage vision and content for the university-level social media accounts. Coming from a journalism background, she enjoys sharing unique stories found on the Illinois campus. At home, Lea spends her free time taking photos of food, hitting “still watching” on Netflix, and obsessing over her asthmatic cat.

Charlotte Peloquin portrait
Charlotte Peloquin Designer

Charlotte Peloquin is a designer, creator and problem solver who loves all things visual design. She supports the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing and the Office of the Provost with any visual communications and design needs. After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she made a goal to travel to all 50 U.S. states. She enjoys reading, with her dog, Bingo, and cat, Socks, cuddled next to her.

Emily Polk Video Production Specialist

Emily Polk is a director, cinematographer, editor and producer, who is active in the local film community. When not making or watching movies, she likes checking things off of lists, playing video games and hanging out with her pets and husband, Thomas.

Thomas Polk
Thomas Polk Video Production Specialist

Thomas Polk is a director, cinematographer, editor, and producer for Public Affairs. He met his wife Emily at a filmmaking club on campus, and together they’ve created a long list of (often bizarre) narrative short films. His other loves and hobbies include his incredible pets, prop design, Legos, and interior design.

Portrait of Maeve Reily
Maeve Reilly Writer/Editor

Maeve Reilly is a writer and editor. She started her career at Illinois in Public Affairs but has had a few diversions along the way, mainly in various campus communications units. When not at work, Maeve enjoys gardening, reading, cooking (and eating) and hanging out with her four adult children.

Andy's portrait
Andy Savage Social Media Videographer

Andy Savage works with the social media team creating short-form video content for the university-level social media accounts. He enjoys capturing campus events and meeting new people. Outside of work, Andy enjoys traveling and exploring the outdoors with his wife Megan and their two dogs Zion and Roo.

August Schiess Director of Digital Strategy and Development

August Schiess leads the social media, digital marketing, web and design teams for the university. She enjoys working with colleagues to develop and execute digital content to effectively and strategically tell the Illinois story—and helping others do the same. When she’s not checking her phone for notifications, she’s reading, running or finding her next piece of chocolate.

Matt Sharkey portrait
Matt Sharkey Front End Developer

Matt Sharkey has been designing and building on the web for over 20 years. As a consultant, he worked closely with educators and non-profits to create sites that engaged audiences and empowered content creators. In his current role as front end developer, he works with units and other developers across campus to make sure that their sites are adaptive, accessible and on-brand.

anna catherine simon portrait
Anna Simon Senior Associate Director

Anna Simon specializes in event safety, event production, and audio visual needs. She specializes in learning and implementing technology that will enhance an event from the user experience and works to streamline office processes. While away from the office she and her husband wrangle their three children, and dog.

Kaitlin Southworth
Kaitlin Southworth Director of Video Development

Kaitlin Southworth is an Emmy Award-winning producer, editor, and videographer for Big Ten Network Campus Programming at Illinois. She creates documentaries that air nationally on the Big Ten Network and highlight a vast array of incredible stories from our university. In her spare time, you can catch her watching movies with her husband, Kevin, and loyal dog, London.

Pam Steele Executive Assistant to the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs

Pam Steele is the executive assistant to the Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs. As part of her role, she also leads all business and human resources activities for the unit. When she’s not working, she enjoys volunteering in her hometown of Tolono and spending time with her grandkids.

Jeff Sylvester portrait
Jeff Sylvester Market Research Director

Jeff Sylvester provides his market research and strategy skills to units across the Illinois campus. His experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative research and conveying results through data storytelling allows the university to make data-driven decisions. Outside of work he enjoys cooking, playing board or card games and going mountain bike riding.

Rashmi Tenneti Director of Analytics and Alignment

As the Director of Analytics and Alignment, Rashmi combines meaningful metrics, data-based storytelling, process documentation, and project management to enhance team efficiency and drive strategic decision-making. Beyond her role at Public Affairs, Rashmi finds fulfillment in teaching an Advertising class and serving on the board of the local not-for-profit, Ten Thousand Villages. During her leisure time, she enjoys reading, spends time with her beloved dog, Puri, and explores local food.

Liz Ahlberg Touchstone Editor for Biomedical Sciences

Liz Ahlberg Touchstone covers biomedical sciences for the News Bureau. She works with faculty and researchers to make health, medicine and biomedical research news accessible to the public. When not in the office, she can be found playing with her adorable baby, frequenting bookstores and baking.

Allison Copenbarger Vance Director of Strategy and Messaging

Allison Copenbarger Vance is a writer and editor who leads content strategy and communications campaign planning for the university. Her other duties include acting as director of communications for the Office of the Provost and being part of the crisis communications team. At home she can be found tending to her ever-growing indoor plant collection.

Michael Vincent Senior Designer

Michael Vincent is a graphic designer who loves to collaborate on the visual aspect of a wide range of projects. He leads design for Public Affairs, creating work across teams. Projects include designs for the Chancellor and Provost, the News Bureau and the university-wide social media team. He spends his free time watching bad movies, drawing and listening to way too many podcasts.

Katie Watson Associate Director of Institutional Communications

Katie Watson is a writer and editor who leads distributed campus-wide communications in close collaboration with colleges, departments and units. Her other duties include leading major communications projects for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Operations and the Office of the Chancellor. Outside of the office, she enjoys yoga, peanut butter and baby goats (not at the same time).

Laura Wilhelm-Barr portrait
Laura Wilhelm-Barr Senior Director of Special Events

Laura Wilhelm-Barr directs the team that produces and manages university-wide special events, including Commencement, New Student Convocation, groundbreakings, dedications, pregame donor events, regional advancement events, and other gatherings hosted by the Chancellor. When not at an event, she enjoys watching her son Liam’s games and walking Prancer the Aussiedoodle with her husband Jon.

E. Todd Wilson Director of Multimedia Services

E. Todd Wilson oversees Multimedia Services, which includes Video Services, Photo Services, and the producers of Big Ten Network non-athletic programming (documentaries) for the U of I. Other current duties include content curation on the campus homepage and assisting campus units with Webtools, such as the online directory, A-Z list and calendars. He is an avid motorcyclist, gardener and cook.

Jim Wilson Director of Web Services

Jim Wilson oversees Web Services and Webtools. Web Services offers solutions to all three campuses and supports every faculty, staff, and student at the university.

Diana Yates Editor for Agriculture, Applied Health Sciences & Life Sciences

Diana Yates writes about living organisms – their biology, evolution, habitat, history and psychological quirks. She likes to hike in the mountains and walk on the beach, and yet for some reason chose to live in Central Illinois.

Lois Yoksoulian Editor for Engineering & Physical Sciences

Lois Yoksoulian covers physical sciences, including engineering, earth science, astronomy, chemistry and mathematics. She loves to learn about new things and this is why she thinks being a News Bureau science editor is the perfect job. When not thinking about science, you will find Lois enjoying live music, cooking and spending time with her friends, family and pets.

Fred Zwicky Senior Photographer

Fred Zwicky is a photographer and visual storyteller who captures moments that matter at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A photojournalist at heart, Fred documents the life of the university for the News Bureau, Public Affairs and social media platforms. His work might seem like play, so off-duty, Fred works at getting better at volleyball and relaxes by playing guitar.

Contact us

If you need additional assistance, you can contact Public Affairs by email ( or by phone (217-333-5010)

Email Public Affairs