J-Talk Speakers 2016

New for last year's J-School Generations was J-Talk, a TED-style lecture event featuring three of our talented alumni, who shared stories of inspiration and innovation that has guided them on their path in their lives and careers. We'll be announcing speakers soon for this year's J-School Generations on Oct. 5-6, 2017, so stay tuned!


Erica Hawthorne

Erica Hawthorne

Erica’s professional career has been a balance of both business and creative experiences leading to an interest in positively impacting the city's creative economy from the individual artist, to businesses and cultural organizations. Erica graduated from the J-School in 2002 from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Erica is the founder and executive director of Small But Mighty Arts, an organization that connects Philadelphia artists to capacity-building resources to advance their creative careers. Prior to starting the organization, Erica’s resume included work with college-prep programs, nonprofits, universities and small businesses where she was responsible for developing new programs, enhancing marketing efforts, producing events, and managing community outreach efforts. 


Andy Marso

J-Talk topic: ​"Everything Happens for a Reason -- or Does It?: A Personal Examination of the World's Worst Cliche"

Andy is a journalist for the Kansas Health Institute News Service, an author and a vaccination advocate. 
Andy's award-winning memoir, "Worth the Pain," chronicles the near-fatal bout with bacterial meningitis he faced in 2004 as he was preparing to graduate from the J-School.

Despite losing parts of all four of his limbs, Andy recovered to earn a master's degree from the University of Maryland and write for several publications, including The Washington Post. Andy previously covered state government news for the Topeka Capital-Journal, where he won the Burton W. Marvin Kansas News Enterprise Award. He was named to the University of Kansas Hospital's Rehabilitation Hall of Fame in 2015 and his second book, "The Klinefelter Legacy," was published in January.


Johanna Maska

​J-Talk topic: "The Audacity of Tenacity"

Johanna was the Director of Press Advance for President Barack Obama, managing the president's public image on trips across the United States and to 40 countries including extended tours of Asia, South America, Europe and Africa. She worked for President Obama for eight years and played an important role on both successful presidential elections, starting in Iowa in 2007 and concluding in early 2015. Johanna graduated from the J-School in 2004.