Advertising Grad Wins a National Silver ADDY

Posted on: June 20, 2017

Recent advertising graduate Savannah Benavides ’17 reeled in a National Silver ADDY after hooking the judges with her witty 3-ad campaign for Ugly Stik, a company specializing in fishing tackle. The campaign had previously won a Gold ADDY at the local level and a Silver ADDY at districts, propelling her work to the national stage.

“I was really surprised, but mostly I was excited,” said Benavides. “It felt awesome to receive recognition for some of my work, but I was even more excited to work harder in order to create more for my portfolio. Winning awards is really nice, but it’s so important to learn as much as you can in the process.”

Benavides 1

Fishing for Ideas

Benavides’ winning campaign was produced as an assignment for an introductory copywriting class she took her junior year under the direction of Lou Schiavone. For this particular assignment, students were to create advertisements for a brand of their choice. Benavides decided on Ugly Stik because of the challenge it would present her, and went to work on a list of ideas.

“My creative process is, in a word, exhaustive,” said Benavides. “I do my best to get out all of my ideas on paper as quickly as I can. My best ideas come when I’m rapid-firing them onto a piece of paper or into a blank document.”

Benavides 2

Benavides decided to poke fun at the fisherman stereotype and produce a humorous campaign that would resonate with the target consumer audience. As the idea was further developed into three advertisements, Benavides gained constructive feedback whenever possible.

“Each step of the way, I had amazing peers and mentors giving me feedback, including criticism,” said Benavides. “It’s been so helpful to receive the insight and opinion of others, because it helps build me into a better creative.”

Enjoying the Ride

Benavides admits that she wishes she would have known the importance of finding fun in her work earlier on. In fact, her best work came when she stopped stressing and started producing because she wanted to.

Benavides 3

“Of course, getting an education at Michigan State is something to be taken seriously, but it was so important for me to find the time and energy to fall in love with my work and the creative process,” said Benavides. “I really think the most vital part of the creative process is to be in love with it and to enjoy every minute of it.”

Benavides advises other students to pursue their passions and take pleasure in the process.

“Find a way to feel comfortable having fun and enjoying the field that you chose to pursue,” said Benavides. “But if you don’t enjoy the field that you’re in, change it. Life is short.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Advertising Grads Win a National Gold ADDY

Posted on: June 15, 2017

“When work needs doing, leave it to the ladies. And keep a cold one waiting.”Flyer

These are the words, accompanied with expertly designed graphics, that earned Lauren Cutler ‘16 and Matt Richter ‘16 a National Gold ADDY. During an intensive advertising portfolio workshop, the then-students were given a creative brief to invent a micro-brewing company that is by women, for women: Lumberjane Brewing Co. was born.

“Our strategy in this campaign was to address the archaic “just for men” culture surrounding beer, so we created a microbrewery brand specifically for middle-class, hard-working women,” said Cutler, a junior art director at Güd Marketing in Lansing. “We created a campaign that is caught between delicate and rugged, for a semi-feminine beer with a punch of attitude.”

Brewing Success

The campaign has been wildly successful. Lumberjane is the winner of a Gold ADDY for Integrated Campaigns, a Gold ADDY for Packaging and a Judge’s Choice Award at the 2017 Mid-Michigan ADDY Awards Show. Following its success at the regional level, Lumberjane has gone on to win a District 6 Silver ADDY, as well as the National Gold ADDY, which Cutler accepted at the awards show in New Orleans on June 10.

3 Bottles“I have a few other ADDYs, but this one being a national award definitely takes the cake,” said Richter, who is currently interning at 360i in New York City. “ADDYs are great resume builders, and they definitely substantiate your work.”

While Cutler served as Lumberjane’s art director, Richter was the copywriter - though the distinction between their roles was often blurred. Cutler accredits much of the project’s success to the collaborative effort between Richter and herself.

“Concept development is the most important part, and both Matt and I spent a lot of time making sure the goals of the campaign completely lined up with the way we would execute it,” said Cutler. “I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”

The Summer Intensive Workshop

Lumberjane was created entirely in the realm of ADV 455, the Intensive Portfolio Workshop that is only offered during the summer semester. Cutler admits that the workshop is not for the faint-of-heart, as it is held Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.‒5 p.m.Bottle Logo

“The Intensive Portfolio Workshop is an absolute must for creative advertising students,” said Richter. “It’s the closest you will ever get to working in an agency while still in school. Deadlines are strict, it involves a lot of late nights and you will regularly get scolded, but at the end of it all, you will have some really great work to show off to recruiters.”

While Cutler advises other students to “Have fun, work hard and believe in what you do,” Richter wants advertising students to take advantage of everything the program has to offer.

“Do everything. Take the summer Intensive Portfolio Workshop,” said Richter. “It’s not just a great portfolio builder, it gives you a taste of what work will be like after school. It also leads to the creation of great relationships with people like Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles and Lou Schiavone. These aren’t normal professors. These are people who will bend over backwards to get you a job, because they believe in you.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Field Experience Trip Leads ComArtSci Students to Prestigious Internships

Posted on: May 31, 2017

When five newly graduated ComArtSci advertising alums headed to New York for a field experience trip, they didn’t expect for it to lead each of them to an esteemed internship. For Claire Meads, Savannah Benavides, Ryan Lowe, Jacques Chouinard and Matt Richter, this trip was just a glimpse into the success their futures would hold.


From May 7-13, the group traveled alongside ComArtSci Advertising and Public Relations professor Henry Brimmer, who has traveled to New York the past seven years. The students who attend these field experience trips are selected among ComArtSci’s best. It’s in NYC that they attended the One Club Creative Week.

There are various reasons for the trip, but first and foremost are the portfolio review sessions with creative directors and talent recruiters from the top agencies,” said Brimmer. “During these sessions, each one of our students has an opportunity to show their portfolio to 12 to 18 folks who might offer them an internship, a job or give them valuable feedback.”

In addition to portfolio reviews, Brimmer also notes that they visited agencies such as Red Peak, Pereira & O’Dell, HAVAS, Droga5 and Ogilvy. Claire Meads, who now interns at GTB, encourages current MSU students to go on a field experience trip.

The trip allowed me to learn more about the industry and how the hiring process works,” said Meads. “It allowed me to learn what fit would be best for me in the sense of agency environment and location, and helped me strive for the best position I could reach.”

Savannah Benavides, who, along with Ryan Lowe, received an internship at Geometry Global, stresses the importance of networking when it comes to standing out in the professional world. She credits the field experience trip for providing the means to talk to those currently working in her profession.

During the trip, I was able to learn a lot about interacting with potential employers and recruiters, and gained a lot of practice mingling and networking in a professional setting,” said Benavides. “Because of this practice and experience, I was able to properly network and interact with the recruiter that reached out to me in regards to my portfolio.

For Jacques Chouinard, who now has an internship at Doner, the feedback each student received on their portfolio was incredibly helpful in applying for internships.

“The most important thing any young creative can do is to show their portfolio to as many reputable people in our industry early on,” said Chouinard. “This is invaluable as it provides you with feedback that you can use to improve your portfolio.”


Chouinard also acknowledged the ComArtSci career fair when seeking out his current job.

“I secured my internship by attending the ComArtSci Connect career fair in the spring. I spoke with a recruiter during the fair and he passed my resume off to the writers at his agency that then reviewed my online portfolio,” said Chouinard. “I can't stress enough the importance of developing a strong portfolio early on as it, along with your perseverance, is how you will secure an internship.”

Reid Masimore, who went on the NYC study away trip in 2014, also points to his portfolio as a key aspect in receiving an internship. Reid currently works at Ogilvy & Mather in NYC as a copywriter.

I don't think my portfolio would be what it was had it not been for my portfolio preparation classes and the guidance of Henry Brimmer and Larry Steinberg,” said Masimore. “Preparing my portfolio, doing my research on New York ad agencies and practicing for portfolio reviews significantly helped me get the most out of my trip.”

According to Matt Richter, who landed an internship at 360i in New York, it’s the people at ComArtSci that make all the difference. Richter notes that Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles, Paula Storrer, Lou Schiavone, Karl Gude and Jef Richards positively impacted his experience at MSU.

“I have been more places, met more people and created more things in the last year than I ever have before, and I owe it all to the people of the MSU advertising program,” said Richter.

His advice? Don’t waste any time.

“Do everything. I know that sounds cliche, but seriously, work your butt off,” said Richter. “Meet your professors, do the summer intensive portfolio workshop, do Minds Wide Open, go to Shanghai and go to New York. And when you're doing all these things and going all these places don't waste a second, because there is a very good chance you may never be back there.”

If there’s two things that these alumni suggest, it’s to work on your portfolio and network to the best of your ability. A strong portfolio can make or break an interview, and ComArtSci has plenty of resources to help you get organized. Also, don’t forget about the college’s vast alumni base, with over 48,000 ComArtSci alumni who are more than willing to help current students find opportunities after graduation.

“Meeting with alumni was also very helpful because they understand where you are coming from,” said Richter. “They understand the program at MSU, and have great insights on how to get where you want to go.”

One thing is for sure: ComArtSci has the trips, tools and resources students need to find success post-commencement.

By Katie Kochanny


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AD+PR Alumna Finds Success as Producer and Development Executive

Posted on: April 11, 2017

As a freelance director, producer and development executive for unscripted television and digital series, Melanie Reardon ’99 looked out to the crowd of film students in front of her and offered sage advice on the world she works in every day. She shared knowledge gained from her experiences developing and working on shows like National Enquirer Investigates, Broke-Ass Bride and Chopped and for brands like VOGUE, Vanity Fair, Glamour and most recently, People.

Reardon just wrapped the first season of American Doers for, with Happy Marshall Productions. She is the co-creator and executive producer of the series, and came to ComArtSci to speak with students about the business of producing, including the process of developing and pitching ideas, working with production companies and networks and the importance of people skills in her line of work.

Among the many tips and tricks Reardon shared with the students on her visit, the one item she stressed the most was the art of the coffee run. Because just like the others who came before her and those following in her footsteps, Reardon started out as a production assistant.

“Getting coffee is step one because it gets you into the meetings with the executives. It builds trust. Get the coffee and lunch orders right and then people start trusting you with more,” said Reardon.

Reardon explained that menial tasks like grabbing coffee or lunch for executives shows you can follow directions, you listen and take initiative. “Once you prove to me that you can do that, you’re going to be taking field notes, you're going to be sitting in development meetings, you're going to be producing. And that’s how it starts. You gotta take the coffee order,” she said.

Reflecting back on MSU
As an undergraduate student in the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Reardon studied advertising. She wanted to make commercials, and would take any classes that would give her the skills needed to make that dream a reality. With the help of her academic adviser, Dr. Larry Red, Reardon was able to build a curriculum that prepared her for a future in production.

“He knew I was a unique student and I had a unique set of experiences, skills and interests when I came to MSU. He really dug in and made sure I was taking the right classes, I had the right tutors. I was able to pull from different parts of the ComArtSci umbrella,” recalled Reardon.

She took advertising, journalism, production and law classes that prepared her for the real world. In the beginning of her career, Reardon started as an intern working for National Parks Magazine in Washington D.C., an experience that helped her realize the power of “putting yourself out there.”


Melanie Reardon

Building a career
After a few years working in events, media relations and production, Reardon spent three seasons on the Food Network favorite, Chopped where she picked up industry knowledge from the strong women she worked with every day.

“A lot of the people I’ve worked with over the years have been very inspiring and influential to me. Certainly, Co-Executive Producer, Vivian Sorenson on Chopped and, Executive Producer, Linda Lee who created the series… Those women are fierce and incredible,” said Reardon.

After Chopped, she landed at Condé Nast working with some of the most iconic brands in the world, meeting, collaborating and spending time with magazine editors and producers.

Reardon told us, “There is a certain tingle that you get when you walk into the Condé Nast building and you go to a meeting at VOGUE or Vanity Fair and it’s a pinch-me moment. It’s like wait, how did I get here? I’m just a girl from Mason.”

Working with and Advil
In her latest project, American Doers, Reardon partnered with James Marshall of Happy Marshall Productions to tell real, honest, uplifting stories of people in America. As host of the show, Marshall completely immerses himself in the lives of the people he meets, working in their businesses and walking in their shoes.

“For me as a producer, the most rewarding work is telling the kinds of stories that matter to me and I had a fantastic opportunity to do that with James,” said Reardon. “We believed so much in this project, we knew somewhere, somehow there was somebody that was going to resonate with this message and care about it as much as we did. That happened for us when we met with People and Advil to pitch the series.”

The first season of American Doers is available on As for other projects coming up? Reardon said she always has something cooking, but there is nothing she can share quite yet.

By Nikki W. O'Meara

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MSU Advertising alum holds a sweet and savory position with Frito-Lay

Posted on: November 28, 2016

Chris Kuechenmeister graduated from the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences in 1995 with a bachelor’s in advertising and a specialization in public relations. After spending his early career in agencies working with clients on corporate reputation and brand building projects, Kuechenmeister found his place with Frito-Lay, a sector of PepsiCo. Stationed in Dallas, he has been with Frito-Lay for 8 years, serving as the vice president of communications for the last two and a half years.

Before his current position, Kuechenmeister worked in Detroit in agencies that served the auto industry. He spent a few years in North and South Carolina agencies, as well as in a corporate communications role with Michelin. His last stop before Dallas was Los Angeles, where he spent six years working on the agency side of the industry.

“I feel the diversity of roles, responsibilities and work settings I’ve had helped prepare me for my current role,” said Kuechenmeister. “Having a multi-disciplined background provides a helpful foundation for the various twists and turns this career brings.”

Kuechenmeister says he has always been very open to new opportunities – a mindset that has helped advance his career. He says he aims to grow with each challenge.kuechenmeister-1

“When there are bumps in the road–which always come–I do my best to learn from each situation and apply it to my future,” said Kuechenmeister.

As the VP of Communications for Frito-Lay North America, he leads a team that manages all internal and external communications for the company, including external media relations for 30-plus brands, internal communications with 55,000 associates, community relations and more.

His fast-paced job also includes day-to-day tasks that vary from managing new product launches to generating media coverage.

“The variety keeps things interesting and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Kuechenmeister.

Since PepsiCo is a globally recognized organization, Kuechenmeister says, “the possibilities from a communications standpoint are endless.”

He works his hardest to remain thoughtful and structured while immersed in a leadership position that continually presents unforgettable opportunities.

Kuechenmeister says he has had many memorable experiences, but the best are those when he and his team can have a positive impact on the lives of consumers. One of these memorable experiences was during the Tostitos sponsored Fiesta Bowl.

“The brand‘s positioning was all around bringing people together to share memorable experiences, and we created a surprise reunion for some members of the military stationed in Iraq with their families back in the states,” said Kuechenmeister. “These families had been apart for several months and being involved with them reuniting was pretty special.”

Kuechenmeister continues to be inspired by his organization and all the people in it. And as a consumer, Kuechenmeister says his favorite Frito-Lay product is Wasabi Ginger Lay’s Kettle Cooked Potato Chips.

“The people at Frito-Lay and PepsiCo are committed to doing the best work they can - providing great products for our consumers and supporting our fellow associates all along the way,” he said. “It creates a high-performance atmosphere and the feeling that you can achieve your true potential.”

By Lily Clark

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Advertising Alumna Recognized for a Life of Giving Back

Posted on: January 25, 2016

Carrie Hummel Woman of the Year

Carrie Hummel is more accustomed to hearing other people's stories than telling her own.

So when Hummel was asked to talk about being named the California State Assembly's "Woman of the Year" for the central Orange County district, she didn't know where to begin.

"It was such a shock to me," said Hummel of the 2015 honor. "There were so many high profile people being recognized, and then there was me. It was so humbling. I still have no idea why I was picked."

Despite her modesty, the alumna of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences is more than deserving of an honor that acknowledges her nearly 30 years of volunteer service in California's 68th district. Hummel's volunteering isn't exclusive to ages or to socioeconomic groups, spanning arts to kids to seniors to the homeless. She's tireless and persistent, motivated by what she says is a desire to make the world a better place

"We're here on this earth for such a short time," Hummel said. "I just want to spend my time helping others. I want to make a mark on the world, no matter how small that might be."

Starting Out

Hummel grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Her father was an educator and was the Associate Dean of Students at Central Michigan University for 26 years. Her mother, too, was a teacher and worked as a reading specialist in a neighboring school district.

Carrie Hummel"There was no question that I was going to college," Hummel said. "Learning and that thirst for knowledge was just a way of life for me."

Hummel attended Albion College when she finished high school and earned her bachelor's in Music Education. But when she graduated, job prospects were slim for music teachers, so she decided to change course and enter the master's program in Advertising at MSU.

"Going to MSU was extremely eye-opening for me," Hummel said. "I had led a pretty sheltered life up until then, but MSU was such a melting pot, filled with people from all over the world. It was an experience that really prepared me for life."

While she met a lot of new people, Hummel also reconnected with those she knew from Mt. Pleasant, including her soon-to-be-husband Phil. The two began dating and got engaged. When she graduated in 1982 and accepted a sales job in California, Phil moved, too, and started studying law.

Hummel worked in sales and advertising for Olin Corporation for a decade before she opted to dedicate her life to volunteerism and raising three boys. Many times, she took her kids along, exposing them to the rewards of being involved and helping others.

"That was so important to me, to teach my kids," Hummel said. "Part of volunteering is wanting it to continue by showing others the value of giving back."

Being There

Carrie Hummel volunteeringToday, Hummel participates in multiple civic and community activities in the Orange and Villa Park communities, including volunteer and leadership posts through YMCA, schools, women's clubs, churches, homeless shelters and senior centers. In between, she works in her husband's law office, attending to promotions, marketing and administrative functions.

Ever passionate about the arts, Hummel has led the charge in developing arts programming for kids and for community festivals. She's also highly immersed in the business community, serving as an ambassador, committee member, or on the board of the local chamber of commerce.

"Volunteering is so fun and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do it at this level," Hummel said. "I always say, you only get from life what you put into it. Compassion, empathy, caring and love are the most important things in this world."

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Alumni-Founded Company Gives Pure Michigan Campaign a Boost

Posted on: November 5, 2015

Clicktivated main

The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is receiving a boost from interactive technology developed by a company founded by two MSU Advertising alumni.

Ben Hatala and Chris Roebuck both graduated from Michigan State in 2010 and 2006, respectively. Using the skills they gained through their college careers, Clicktivated came to life in 2011 in Birmingham, Mich.

The Clicktivated video technology makes it easy to interact with a video while it is playing, without the disturbance of advertisements or other distractions popping up. Clicking on items within a video powered by Clicktivated will create a sidebar with more details or the option to purchase on the side of the screen.

“As a society, we consume massive amounts of videos, but they lack something,” said Hatala, the company’s Chief Operations Officer. “We are adding that needed additional information.”

The Pure Michigan Partnership

The company recently partnered with the Pure Michigan advertising campaign, which has drawn global attention for its popular radio and television commercials promoting some of Michigan’s beautiful tourist towns.

“Pure Michigan knew they wanted to do something more with the advertisements,” Hatala said. “There was an opportunity to leverage that existing contact and there are so many chances for more information on products and spots in Michigan.

“And, they (Pure Michigan) loved the fact that Clicktivated was Michigan-based. It was a natural fit.”

Clicktivated also recently launched a new, more user-friendly experience where its technology can be used without the download of an app on an iPhone.

Using Their MSU Education

Hatala and Roebuck, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, credit their MSU education in helping establish the company as the main premise of Clicktivated is advertising based.

“The skill set and overall mentality behind advertising contributed to founding our company,” Hatala said. “It’s a creative thought process.”

While Clicktivated continues to grow organically and naturally in the United States, the company also has experienced international outreach from everywhere but Antarctica and is starting to work with clients in Singapore and Japan.

“There is definitely no shortage of interest and we’re starting to see the company in full swing in the market,” Hatala said. “Before, the market was stagnant. People were producing videos but now there’s Clicktivated to monetize those videos.”

Clothing brands are utilizing the powers of the company as well. A campaign is being launched with Miss Me Denim and there are plans with Abercrombie and Hollister in the works.

For more information on the company or to see how the technology works, visit the Clicktivated website.

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Alumnus Shares Unique Perspective on Minds (Wide) Open Event

Posted on: September 23, 2015

Mo Said main

Written by Mo Said, B.A. Advertising '12 and Copywriter at Droga5 in New York, who served as a mentor for the “Minds (Wide) Open: Communication Problem Solving From Two Sides of the World” advertising competition hosted by MSU's Department of Advertising + Public Relations Sept. 14-18

I was an advertising student at Michigan State not too long ago, and I’m now an advertising professional at Droga5. So I stood up when the MSU students were called, and again when the mentors were called upon. Besides me getting twice as much applause, I was lucky enough to have an oddly unique perspective on this whole event. And this is what I walked away with:

Mo Said main 1Professional advertising executives pay thousands of dollars during One Week to get an hour in a 200-person workshop with people like Steve Mykolyn (former Chief Brand Officer and Chief Creative Officer, Taxi, Toronto), Ross Chowles (Creative Director, The Jupiter Drawing Room, Cape Town, South Africa), Kevin Swanepoel (CEO of The One Club), etc.

And, the New York City art community lines up around the block to get a glimpse of esteemed artists like Steve Frykholm (Vice President of Creative Design, Herman Miller) and Chong Locksin (Head of Design, Serviceplan, Beijing).

But to get a week with these guys? One-on-one, learning from them, getting coached by these people? This isn’t just an opportunity that no school in the world can claim it’s gotten, but no organization no matter how well funded has ever been able to pull off.

When I saw this, I was jealous. Mad. Confused. But most of all, I was proud. I went out and bought three Spartan shirts so I could show off my colors every day I was in Michigan.

Mo Said main 2Suddenly, Michigan State wasn’t just on par with other universities that have ad programs like Texas, or ad schools with a celebrated alumni base like creative circus. Suddenly, Michigan State was a force as powerful as The One Club or Cannes.

I’d be willing to challenge anyone that this is the best thing the university has put together for its students, or any university for that matter.

A CCO stayed up all night to personally teach our team how to present. I’ve been in the industry for years and I haven’t spent more than 20 minutes with a CCO.

So thanks. From both sides of the coin – as an MSU student and as a mentor who got to be part of this event and gather a decades worth of knowledge in a week.

Please also see the student perspective on the Minds (Wide) Open event as shared by MSU Journalism student Rachel Tang, who participated in the competition. 

Photos by Jef Richards, Chair of the Department of Advertising + Public Relations

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Alumna Newly Appointed VP for Federal-Mogul Powertrain

Posted on: August 14, 2015

Colleen Hanley main 3

As early as elementary school, Colleen Hanley said she wanted to work in PR even though she had no idea what it was.

Now she knows a lot more as an experienced graduate of MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences. As the newly appointed Vice President of Communications and Investor Relations for Federal-Mogul Powertrain, Hanley possesses an exceptional understanding of public relations strategy and leadership, and exercises her public relations skills on national and international fronts to customers in business and industry.

"I'm very fortunate to love this kind of work and to love what I do," Hanley said. "I love southeast Michigan, too, and can't see myself ever leaving."

While she's traveled worldwide and across the United States, Hanley makes her home not far from where she grew up in Taylor and Novi.

Her father died when she was in second grade and her mother took a job as a bookkeeper for a public relations firm in downtown Detroit. Since her mother worked occasional weekends, Hanley and her sister would tag along, spending Saturday afternoons "playing office" in the Penobscot Building – a 1928 Art Deco office tower in the heart of the city's financial district.

Colleen Hanley main 2"We would type on the IBM Selectrics and call each other on the phone and pretend to do things," Hanley said. "I knew my mother worked for a PR company and I thought it was all so cool, even though I didn't really know what they did."

That exposure to the world of PR shaped Hanley's career choice and influenced her decision to attend MSU. She had heard of MSU's strong reputation in the communication professions, and set her sights on pursuing a bachelor's in Communication as well as a master's degree in Advertising and Public Relations.

While at MSU, Hanley interned with a local theater and gained real-word experience writing press releases and marketing materials. She also volunteered for several campus associations doing PR and promotions.

"Those experiences were invaluable and complemented my academics," Hanley said. "I was exposed to some exceptional thinking and brilliant intellectual conversations. I came out well-rounded with a greater appreciation for the world and the value of education."

Hanley graduated with her master's in 1991 with thoughts of packing her bags and moving to New York City but decided to pursue opportunities in her hometown. She's worked more than 25 years in southeast Michigan as an integrated marketing communications professional and has held positions at Nederman, Hewlett-Packard, EDS, Meritor, CareTech Solutions, TRW Automotive and now with Federal-Mogul Powertrain.

As a member of International Association of Business Communicators Detroit since 1992, Hanley has served as the association's president, and on various leadership and executive boards. The association recently recognized Hanley's achievements by naming her IABC/Detroit Communicator of the Year in 2013.

"Most every single role I've been in has had critical moments that drove significant change," Hanley said. "While I didn't necessarily go into this career seeking that out, I relish the opportunity to support change through the communications process."

Colleen Hanley main

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MSU Alumna Leads MSU Federal Credit Union

Posted on: June 24, 2015

April Clobes, president of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, stands in the lobby of MSUFCU headquarters

April Clobes always knew she would go to college. Her mom told her so. Growing up in Bay City, Mich., Clobes took her mother's affirmation to heart. Soon, she owned it.

Today, Clobes is the President and CEO of the MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU). It's a post she never dreamed she would have. After all, she says, she originally set out to be an attorney. Regardless of where she's landed, she knows her mother would be proud.

"My mom felt like she never had the opportunity to go to college," Clobes said. "She told me the whole time I was growing up that I would go and be successful."

Clobes became the first generation in her family to receive an education beyond high school. Her mom had worked as a housekeeper. Her stepfather on the factory floor. Armed with a strong work ethic, Clobes explored campuses across the Midwest. Originally, she wanted to go to college in Chicago. Ultimately, she chose to be a Spartan.

"MSU just felt like home," Clobes said. "I can walk onto campus today and it feels just like it did to me as a freshman. I fit. I belong here. It's beautiful."

Drive to excellence

As an undergraduate, Clobes balanced her studies with work and internships, starting at a downtown law firm, then later at the MSU Union. It was there, through her work with the Union Activities Board, now the University Activities Board, that she recognized her love of marketing and community.

"I learned how to organize events, how to interact with donors and sponsors, and how to ask people to volunteer," Clobes said. "I learned that if you're passionate about what you're doing, you'll make others passionate about it too. It translates to what I do today."

Graduating with her B.A. in marketing, Clobes went on to work in sales, but kept her sights on a career in advertising and promotions. In 1996, she found the gateway she was looking for: a position as a marketing specialist for the MSUFCU.

"It was exactly what I wanted to do with marketing: design, writing and marketing. It was a great match," she said.

Clobes says the most defining moments of her career started with simply raising her hand and volunteering to do something. As she learned by doing, Clobes progressed from heading up e-commerce and e-services, to roles as a vice president, executive vice president, and chief operating officer. Along the way, she earned her master's degree in advertising and public relations from MSU, as well as an MBA from Western Michigan University. In the spring of 2015, she succeeded the retiring Patrick McPharlin as the President and CEO of the MSUFCU.

In 19 years, Clobes has seen the MSUFCU grow from about 100 employees, $400 million in assets and 40,000 members to 650 employees, $3 billion in assets and 200,000 members. That growth hasn't stopped, with the opening of new branch offices, a second building at headquarters, and the anticipated addition of 50 to 70 employees each year over the next decade.

"My work here feels just as exciting today as it did when I came here," Clobes said. "It's exciting because I believe in what we do. We make a difference for our members. We impact our community, and we make jobs."

Clobes serves on various boards, councils and committees for her alma mater, including the MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, MSU College of Music Leadership Council, Broad Art Museum International Advisory Board, and the Wharton Center Advisory Council. Her community service includes serving on boards and committees for the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Symphony and Physician's Health Plan.

"I believe that personal giving and commitment helps our community grow, and it helps retain and attract talent here," Clobes said. "And I just love being involved."

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