ASU faculty, students earn top honors at national communication conference

December 14, 2022

Five faculty members from Arizona State University's Hugh Downs School of Human Communication received honors of distinction at the National Communication Association’s 108th annual convention in New Orleans on Nov. 17–20. 

The NCA is the largest national academic organization that focuses on communication. More than 7,000 communication researchers, practitioners, faculty and students are members of the NCA, and more than 4,000 attended the convention.  human communication Download Full Image

The late ASU Associate Professor Daniel Brouwer, who passed away in May 2021, received the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, along with Charles E. Morris III of Syracuse University, for the article “Decentering whiteness and AIDS memory: Indigent rhetorical criticism and the dead of Hart Island,” published in the Quarterly Journal of Speech in 2021.

In a letter nominating the two scholars for the award, Assistant Professor E. Cram from the University of Iowa wrote, “This essay is a theoretically sophisticated model for criticism at the intersection of racial rhetorical criticism, public memory and space/place that simultaneously offer important correctives to much of our disciplines’ approach towards the raced and classed politics of AIDS.”

Hugh Downs School Director and Professor Sarah J. Tracy, a friend and associate of Brouwer’s for more than 20 years, reflected on the award and its meaning for the discipline.

“Dan dedicated his scholarly career to marginalized communities, and by doing so, fundamentally transformed the field of rhetorical criticism as we know it. As an intellectual leader in counterpublic theory and public memory, his final essay will have a lasting impact on the field, and his foundational legacy will live on in perpetuity. The field is forever indebted to his innovative ideas and his thoughtful scholarship,” she said. 

Associate Professor Sarah Amira de la Garza was awarded the Legacy Award from the Ethnography Division and the Córdova-Puchot Scholar of the Year Award from the Latina/o Communication Studies Division. 

In a letter nominating de la Garza for the Córdova-Puchot Scholar of the Year Award, one scholar wrote, “Her teaching is inspirational, innovative and empowering. She has demonstrated her longstanding passion and commitment to mentoring Latinx students and colleagues across the U.S. The high impact of her Latinx postcolonial scholarship and performance-based dissemination efforts cannot go unrecognized. Overall, with her outstanding teaching, mentorship, research and service, she has become a sought-after and well-respected role model for Latinx students and scholars, and she is highly worthy of this award.”

In a nomination letter for the Ethnography Division Legacy Scholar Award, Tracy wrote, “From my years of working with and talking with Amira, I know that she was writing critical ethnography about personal experience and creative writing as cultural ethnographic expression long before it became the dominant form of autoethnography that many practice in communication and other fields. She calls her form of writing 'chicanography,' a term she coined and has been developing as a distinct genre of Chicana critical creative writing.” 

Accepting the awards, de la Garza said, “Both of these awards mean an incredible amount to me as they recognize the work that has always been the most meaningful to me during my career. They reinforce my commitment to continue doing what I do no matter where I am. I am grateful to ASU for providing the interdisciplinary community to support my work over three decades."

Assistant Professor Loretta LeMaster was awarded Book of the Year by the GLBTQ Communication Studies Division for "Gender futurity, intersectional autoethnography: Embodied theorizing from the margins," co-authored by Amber Johnson. 

That division also awarded LeMaster Monograph of the Year, for "'It’s a ... [inaudible blood-curdling screams, chaos]!’: Gender reveal party fails as ideological rupture" published in Peitho, a peer-reviewed jounral of the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition.

In response to the awards, LeMaster said, “The Book of the Year and Monograph of the Year awards instantiate the importance of transgender cultural performance and rhetorics to the discipline's future. I am both honored and humbled to win these awards (one of which I share with Dr. Amber Johnson). I am honored to be included among fellow GLBTQ scholars whose award-winning work has helped to shape and enrich the discipline, including developing my own thinking.

"And I am humbled to win these awards in light of the recent Club Q tragedy in Colorado Springs ... in which five people were murdered in a queer club, including two transgender workers. More than recognition, these awards help to normalize trans presence in and beyond the discipline. I dedicate this award to my fellow trans and gender-expansive community.”

Assistant professors Liesel Sharabi and Jenna N. Hanchey.

Assistant Professor Jenna N. Hanchey received a New Investigator Award from both the Critical and Cultural Studies Division and the Rhetoric and Theory Communication Division.

She also received an Outstanding Article Award from the Critical and Cultural Studies Division for “African communication studies: a provocation and invitation,” co-authored with Godfried A. Asante.

In her nomination letter for Critical and Cultural Division’s New Investigator Award, one scholar wrote, “I believe that critical future studies will animate the next wave of groundbreaking scholarship in the field, and Hanchey is poised to lead that work through her careful and nuanced attention to the rhetorical dimensions of Africanfuturism.”

In a nomination letter for her New Investigator Award from the Rhetoric and Communication Theory Division, one scholar wrote, “She is a star and I believe she will have a distinguished career. Her early career accomplishments are astounding. I am in awe of how much she has contributed to the field and beyond. She asks big questions and is not afraid to transgress disciplinary or methodological boundaries to find the answers.”

Accepting these awards, Hanchey said, “That I have been honored with these three awards this year is demonstrative of the growing recognition of African communication studies as a subdiscipline, and the community of African scholars being built in the discipline. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to Godfried Asante, Joëlle M. Cruz, C. Nthemba Mutua-Mambo and Gloria Nziba Pindi for their conversations and collaborations — without their support and feedback, the research honored by these awards would not have been possible.

"I'm so excited that the field of communication studies is starting to recognize and celebrate scholarship that centers on African epistemologies. I'm particularly proud of the Critical and Cultural Studies Division Outstanding Article Award, as it honors the introductory essay to the double issue of Review of Communication that Godfried Asante and I co-edited. I hope these awards bring more attention to African scholars in the discipline and their brilliant work!”

Assistant Professor Liesel Sharabi received the Early Career Award from the Interpersonal Division.

In a nominating letter, ASU Professor Laura Guerrero wrote, “Dr. Sharabi is a rising star in the area of interpersonal communication who is not only contributing to the academic literature but also giving interpersonal communication a place at the larger table of public discussion about relationships in the 21st century.”

Accepting the award, Sharabi said, “I’m honored to receive this award and grateful to my colleague, Laura Guerrero, for her nomination. It means a lot to have my work recognized by my peers and by the interpersonal communication discipline at large.”

In addition to the faculty awards, several other Hugh Downs School faculty and graduate students were honored at the conference with Top Paper awards:

Doctoral student Marco Denhert and Professor Paul Mongeau

Outstanding Article Award in Human Communication and Technology

"Persuasion in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI): Theories and Complications of AI-based Persuasion" by Paul Mongeau and Marco Dehnart.

Top Paper in Communication and Sport

“Finding Belonging in Sport: Narrative Turning-points among Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming Athlete Identities” by Alaina Zanin, Lore/tta LeMaster, Lucy Niess and Haley Lucero.

Top Paper in Spiritual Communication

“‘Religiously Unproductive’: Asexual-Spectrum Mormons and Navigating Rhetorics of Allonormativity” by Ben Brandley.

Top Paper in GLBTQ Communication 

“Ace Awakening: Communication Sources that Lead to Affirming Asexual-Spectrum Identities” by Ben Brandley. 

Top Paper in Critical Cultural Studies

“Surviving the Temporal Drag of the Classroom: A Collective Autoethnographic Exploration of the Mundane*” by Sarah Keeton and Ashlee Lambert.

 Top Student Paper in Performance Studies

 “Loss Shapes Itself” by Angela Labador.

 Top Paper in Ethnography

“Dancing with Data: A Collaborative and Critical Qualitative Inquiry” by Ana Isabel Terminel Iberri.

 See the full list of NCA presentations from the Hugh Downs School.

Manager, Marketing and Communication, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication


New ASU academy to pair partners of different generations for service projects

Participants to learn from each other as they collaborate on common goals

December 14, 2022

Generational knowledge-swapping has become common in many workplaces as younger workers enter the workforce alongside older employees who are pushing back retirement.

Seasoned, longtime employees share their wisdom with less-tenured workers, who in turn help their veteran counterparts learn the latest computer-related technology. Younger woman and older woman working together on a laptop. Photo courtesy iStock/Getty Images Download Full Image

That mindset of generations collaborating in detailed ways toward a common goal is the theme of the newly created ASU CoGen Service Academy, offered by the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.

The public service program brings together passionate, enthusiastic partners from different generations to design a solutions-oriented service project. By spanning the distances often found between people born at least a few decades apart, participants learn from each other, “fail forward” and celebrate their successes together, said Robert Ashcraft, director of the Lodestar Center.

Ashcraft, who is also a professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, said it’s easiest to understand what the academy is by first identifying what it isn’t.

“Holding a day of service, such as the annual Watts College event, is a terrific expression of service when several generations engage together to accomplish something like responding to a call to clean up a park. But that isn’t the CoGen model,” Ashcraft said. “The model we’re exploring considers what enduring results are possible when multiple generations align on a mutually agreed-upon issue of concern and then design service solutions together that may never have been conceived before.”

Of course, the ideas people care about may vary, spanning from environmental sustainability and youth development to arts in education, Ashcraft said.

Robert Ashcraft, ASU, Lodestar Center, School of Community Resources and Development. Watts College

Professor Robert Ashcraft, director, ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.

“We are asking individuals to come up with issues they care about and consider ideas for how best to solve for ‘x,’ whatever that may be. What makes this revolutionary is that with typical service-year experiences found in VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), AmeriCorps, etc., it’s rare to have multiple generations come together in the same space to co-produce solutions through service. That’s the experiment here,” he said.

The academy is a pilot AmeriCorps project that received $25,000 in funding through and its federal AmeriCorps grant to support the innovation, Ashcraft said.

The initial cohort will involve up to 10 people of older and younger generations who will spend 35 to 40 hours collaborating in pairs over five months, including an estimated 10 hours of in-person meetings with the rest of the cohort. Each participant receives a $500 stipend; additional funds may be available for resources and tools.

Anyone interested should fill out this form and submit it before Jan. 9, 2023.

“It’s a perfect marriage of the smarts, energy and passion of young folks with the wisdom, expertise and experience of older folks,” Ashcraft said. “One can be young and bright as all get out but that’s not the same as having wisdom. Bring the wisdom of the ages to that energy and you can really have the potential for profound results.”

The academy intersects well with the “service and solutions” framework at Watts College, Ashcraft said. 

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions