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Medill inducts Six Women into its 2020 Hall of Achievement Class

Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications welcomes six inductees into its Hall of Achievement this year. The all-female class celebrates 150 years of co-education at Northwestern. Medill’s Hall of Achievement was established in 1997 to honor Medill alumni whose distinctive careers have had positive effects on their fields.

“Northwestern’s 150 Years of Women is a celebration of catalysts — individuals who take risks, chart their own course and inspire change,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “Each of this year’s inductees is a pioneer and innovator in her field. We are honored to call them alumnae and induct them into this year’s class.”

Jeanie Caggiano (COMM82, MSA83)

Jeanie CaggianoJeanie Caggiano is an executive vice president and executive creative director at Leo Burnett Chicago. Currently, she is the lead for UnitedHealthcare, UnitedHealth Group and Feeding America, among other clients. In addition to UnitedHealth, she is best known for her two Allstate campaigns: “Mayhem” and the “Our Stand” campaign featuring Dennis Haysbert. She has contributed writing to Disney, McDonald’s, Hallmark Cards, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Morgan Stanley. In February 2019, the women’s media group She Runs It (formerly Advertising Women of New York) named Caggiano a “Trailblazing Mother” at the Working Mothers of the Year awards.

A member of the 2016 Cannes Lions Outdoor Jury, Caggiano also has judged film and direction at the One Show, chaired the OBIE Awards jury, judged London International (mainline and Health & Wellness), the Facebook Awards and more.

Cindy Chupack (BSJ87)

Cindy ChupackCindy Chupack has won two Emmys and three Golden Globes as a TV writer/producer whose credits include “Sex and the City,” “Better Things,” “Divorce,” Modern Family,” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and most recently, Showtime’s darkly comic hour, “I’m Dying Up Here.” In 2018, she directed her first episode of television for “I’m Dying Up Here” and her first feature, OTHERHOOD, starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette and Felicity Huffman.

Chupack has written about dating and relationships for many magazines, has been published in The New York Times’ Modern Love column and is the author of two comic memoirs: “The Between Boyfriends Book: A Collection of Cautiously Hopeful Essays” and “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife”.

Chupack grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Right after graduating from Medill, she moved to New York City to work in advertising. She sold her first humorous essay to a women’s magazine in 1990, and the piece was spotted by a TV producer who encouraged her to pursue comedy writing, which she’s been doing ever since.

Mary Dedinsky (BSJ69, MSJ70)

Mary DedinskiMary Dedinsky is the director of the journalism program and associate professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q). A long-time editor and reporter, Dedinsky was the first woman to be named managing editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. At the Sun-Times, she was also an education reporter, investigative reporter, editorial writer, metropolitan editor and director of editorial operations. For her work at the Sun-Times, she was elected to the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. She has twice served as a Pulitzer Prize juror.

After the Sun-Times, Dedinsky became associate dean and associate professor of journalism at Medill where she taught media management to graduate students and news writing to undergraduates for 10 years. She also directed the Teaching Media Program, now called Journalism Residency, in which undergraduate students work for a quarter at media outlet or communications company. She has consulted for the Associated Press and numerous newspaper companies, among other things facilitating a major reorganization of a client’s editorial staff.

Helene Elliott (BSJ77)

Helene ElliottHelene Elliott was the first female journalist to be honored by the Hall of Fame of a major professional North American sport when she was given the Elmer Ferguson award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.

She began her career at the Chicago Sun-Times and later went to Newsday before joining the Los Angeles Times, where she has worked since 1989. She has covered 16 Olympics, as well as countless Stanley Cup Finals, in addition to covering the World Series, men’s and women’s World Cup soccer tournaments, the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl and other events.

Elliott also won the Best Breaking News Story award from the Associated Press Sports Editors for her story on the labor agreement that ended the National Hockey League lockout in 2005. She became a general sports columnist in 2006.

Maudlyne Ihejirika (MSJ87)

Maudlyne IhejirikaMaudlyne Ihejirika is an award-winning Chicago Sun-Times urban affairs columnist/reporter with 30 years of experience in journalism, public relations and government. Recently named among the Power 25, an annual ranking of the 25 most powerful women in Chicago journalism, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Iowa before attending Medill. She currently writes the Sun-Times “Chicago Chronicles,” long-form columns on “people and places that make Chicago tick.” She is the author of “Escape From Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War,” a tale of her family’s survival of the brutal Nigerian-Biafran War, and miracles that brought them to the U.S.

Ihejirika is president of both the Chicago Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists Chicago Chapter. She is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, and a member of the prestigious Council of 100 at Northwestern.

Kary Mcllwain (MSA86)

Kary McillwainAs chief marketing and communications officer for Lurie Children’s Hospital, McIlwain leads marketing for the hospital and Lurie Children’s Foundation as well as all media relations and strategic communications. Her team is responsible for all owned, earned and paid media, CRM and direct marketing efforts, annual giving physician marketing and driving awareness, preference, volume, donations, reputation and reach for the top-ranked children’s hospital.

Lurie Children’s represents a capstone on a 25 plus year career in advertising. As President and CEO of Y&R Chicago, McIlwain was responsible for the strategy and operations of a full-service digital and traditional agency. Under McIlwain’ s leadership, Y&R grew exponentially, reinvented its digital offering, created a digital content studio, revamped its creative product and was named top 10 “Creative Heavyweights” by Creativity magazine.

Medill will honor the Hall of Achievement class of 2020 in the spring of 2021 in Evanston.

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Medill selects alumnus Jeremy Gilbert as Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy

Endowed chair holder charged with leading journalism in digital age
July 6, 2020

Medill welcomes alumnus Jeremy Gilbert (BSJ00, MSJ00) as the new director of strategic initiatives at The Washington Post, as Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy.

At The Washington Post, Gilbert directed a lab dedicated to experimental storytelling that aimed to create unique digital products and stories. In 2016, he built The Post’s first artificial intelligence storytelling system, called Heliograf, which used machine generated text to expand elections and Olympics coverage. Gilbert also helped to create The Post’s first augmented and virtual reality projects — the most recent of which, 12 Seconds of Gunfire, debuted at the Tribeca film festival and won a Webby.

In his position as Knight Chair, Gilbert is tasked with creating new knowledge and advances in media strategy and exploring how new technologies can further the creation, consumption and distribution of media. The Knight Chair helps Medill graduate and undergraduate students explore how new and emerging ways of delivering news and information on digital platforms and provides hands-on, full-time instruction to undergraduate and graduate students.

“Technology continuously transforms how we tell stories—every generation and sometimes multiple times in a single generation,” said Gilbert. “I am looking forward to using my time at Medill to experiment with and explore the new techniques and approaches that will shape the next generation of media and storytellers.”

Gilbert has a long history at Northwestern and Medill. Starting as an assistant professor in 2008 before moving up to associate professor, he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in interactive storytelling, multimedia presentation, user experience design, innovation projects, and journalism and technology. He also served as a faculty adviser for undergraduate students participating in Journalism Residency, Medill’s quarter-long course that allows students to work in the media industry. He was as a founding faculty member at the Knight News Innovation Lab, helped advise Design for America and the Daily Northwestern and was a core faculty member at the Segal Design Institute.

“We are very excited to have Jeremy return to the Medill faculty,” said Dean Charles Whitaker. “He is a talented teacher, a visionary news executive and an inspiring leader. His expertise in using cutting-edge technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways will build on the work that Medill is already doing with the Local News Initiative, the Knight Lab and the Bay Area Immersion Program and will help us prepare students and the industries we serve explore the challenges and possibilities of the digital frontier.”

Former Medill Dean Ken Bode was the first Knight Chair at Medill when it was established as the Knight Chair in Broadcasting in 1999 by the Knight Foundation. The focus of the chair was later changed, and, in 2009, Medill Professor Owen Youngman was named Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy—a position which he held until his retirement earlier this year.

The Knight Foundation has established endowed chairs in journalism at top universities nationwide as part of its focus on sustaining democracy by leading journalism to its best possible future in the 21st century.

“Medill student journalists will benefit from Jeremy’s work at the intersection of journalism, technology and design as they prepare to create journalism’s future,” said LaSharah Bunting, director of journalism for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.