Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board

Leigh R. Bass 
Loeb, Block & Parnters LLP 
BA, Public Relations & Humanities 

Leigh R. Bass is a Partner at Loeb, Block & Partners LLP, a boutique law firm in Manhattan specializing in complex international business transactions, wealth management, international tax and estate planning and offshore funds. He represents clients from around the world in industries including banking and finance, real estate, iron ore, sports and entertainment, media, engineering and food products. Leigh is a member of the New York, District of Columbia and California bars and is an active member on various committees of the American Bar Association, as well as numerous civic and not-for-profit committees and boards of directors. 

He is the past Treasurer and currently a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the USC Alumni Club of New York. Leigh is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, based in New York City. Prior to his legal career, Leigh worked in corporate and investor relations for multinational corporations as well as international Public Relations firms. In 1989 he served as a Presidential intern in the Office of Media Relations at the White House for George H. W. Bush. Leigh has lived throughout the country and around the world, including Florence, Paris and most recently Sao Paulo, Brazil, which he visits frequently for work. 

Leigh's hobbies include virtually all sports, travel, politics, food and wine, and all things USC. Over the years, Leigh has helped the USC Alumni Club of New York in planning numerous social and athletic events, as well as football road trips. He also enjoys assisting USC with admissions events in the tri-state area. He has been honored with the USC Widney Alumni House Award and, at last year's Tommy Awards, the Spirit of Troy Award. 

He lives in Westchester County, NY with his wife, Karina and their three children Ariela, Joshua and Sophia. 

Corii Berg
Senior Executive Vice President, Business Affairs
Sony Pictures Television (SPT)
BA, Broadcast Journalism & Political Science   

In his role, Corii oversees production business affairs for the studio's television operations around the world. This includes managing SPT's U.S. business affairs group, which handles negotiations between SPT and its U.S. network, cable and syndicated television production partners and talent, and SPT's international business affairs group, which handles similar negotiations for SPT's production operations in the Netherlands, the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China, the Middle East and Latin America. 

Berg was appointed to this position in 2009, when production business affairs was consolidated as part of the studio's integration of the United States and international television divisions. 

Previously, Berg served as executive vice president and deputy general counsel at Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he headed the company's corporate and distribution legal affairs group, overseeing legal affairs across the company's multiple units, including international television, home entertainment, digital distribution and production, and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining Sony in 1995, Berg was a corporate associate in the Los Angeles office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Berg obtained B.A.s in journalism and political science from the University of Southern California, both cum laude. He earned his J.D. from Loyola Law School, cum laude and Order of the Coif. 

Berg is married to Cari Berg, USC Annenberg ’89, and has three kids, Eben, Elli and Aric. 

Ria Marie Carlson 
Associate Vice Chancellor, Strategic Communications & Marketing
UC Irvine
BA, Broadcast Journalism & Political Science   

Ria Carlson is the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for the University of California, Irvine, responsible for advancing UC Irvine’s mission, reputation and strategic priorities through effective communication and constituent relationships.    

Reporting directly to the Chancellor and serving on the Chancellor’s Cabinet, Carlson leads UC Irvine’s Office of Strategic Communications, which provides internal and external communications services for an institution that includes nearly 30,000 students, 22,000 employees, 16 schools and a medical center with a 500,000 square foot hospital and trauma center.  

UC Irvine is the top American university younger than 50 years old, according to London’s Times Higher Education, and the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). Carlson joined the university in March 2012 after serving more than 25 years as a chief communications, strategy and marketing officer at publicly traded corporations.  

Most recently, she was the Senior Vice President of Communications, Strategy and Global Branding at Ingram Micro Inc., the world’s largest technology distributor and ranked 76 on the Fortune 500.  She also held executive roles at FHP International Corporation and Sierra Health Services, both of which currently operate as United Healthcare.  Carlson’s personal commitment to advancing education runs deep, as she has served on the Boards of Directors of several education-related nonprofit organizations for decades.  

She is currently on the Board of Governors for the University of Southern California Alumni Association, serving on the executive committee as marketing co-chair.  She was also a member of the Boards of Directors for the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art and Hands Together Center for Children, both in Santa Ana, Calif., as well as the Long Beach (Calif.) and Clark County (Nevada) Educational Foundations. Carlson earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Southern California.  

She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two daughters.

Bob Gold 
Bob Gold & Associates
MA, Communications Management 

During his more than 30 years in public relations and marketing, Bob Gold has helped launch a dozen companies, re-branded many others, and created successful campaigns for numerous start-ups. He has also helped raise millions of dollars for charities, taught hundreds of students and helped further strategic business plans for numerous businesses and associations. 

Gold founded and manages Bob Gold & Associates, one of the country’s premiere independent integrated communications PR agencies. The agency earned widespread recognition for its successes in the cable industry representing such diverse clients as ESPN, Bravo, Bloomberg Television, Comcast, Charter (where among other achievements, Gold produced a one-hour music special starring Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, Have Love Will Travel), EchoStar, Deluxe Entertainment and Sprint, among others. He has produced numerous television campaigns. 

Gold is a sought-after moderator at key cable and digital content events, interviewing industry luminaries at Digital Hollywood, Media Innovations Summit, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and more. 

His agency is the sole North American affiliate in the Whiteoaks International Network, an international public relations agency organization that includes 17 tech-focused PR companies across four continents, in 25 countries, thereby increasing client visibility in the global marketplace. 

He serves on the Board of Directors for the (SCTE) Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Foundation where he is the only non-engineer to serve on the board. In 2007 Gold was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers Hall of Fame and has served on numerous committees and boards that range from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

Gold holds a master’s degree in communications management from the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California. 

Mike Huckman
Chief Communications Specialist
Pure Communications
BA, Broadcast Journalism

Mike Huckman has covered it all. From drug approvals to drug recalls, mega-mergers to baby-biotech IPOs, from the epidemic of “diabesity” to pandemic flu scares, and everything in between.

Prior to joining the boutique life sciences public relations and investor relations firm Pure Communications in late 2013 and PR agency MSL New York, part of Publicis Groupe, in May 2010, Mike spent nearly 10 years at business cable network CNBC where he reported on general financial and economic news and the stock markets, but specialized in covering the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. He earned a reputation as a go-to journalist on breaking stories in those sectors and for scoring dozens of exclusive interviews with CEOs and key opinion leaders.  Before arriving at CNBC, Mike was a local TV news reporter for nearly 18 years in Detroit, Tucson, Boise, Billings and Great Falls, MT.

Mike works with many life science clients on corporate and media strategy, reputation management, positioning, messaging, presentation and media coaching, regulatory consulting, as well as crisis and issues planning and management.  Mike also regularly serves as a presenter, moderator and MC for corporate, industry and academic events.

Mike’s clients include major pharmaceutical companies, publicly traded biotech and medical device and diagnostics businesses across the market capitalization spectrum and smaller, start-up level and venture capital-funded firms.

In his previous 27-year TV-reporting career, Mike won many awards, including three Michigan Emmys, one of them for business and financial reporting.  Mike is a proud graduate of USC and an avid Trojan football fan.  While at USC, Mike also played trumpet in the Trojan Marching Band.  He lives in South Orange, NJ, with his partner and their golden retriever, Dory.

Patricia Polin Johnson
BA, Journalism

Patricia Polin Johnson graduated from the Annenberg School in 1978 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Following graduation and a two-month tour through Central Europe, Patti worked in public relations for RCA Avionics in Van Nuys, and then worked as a freelance copywriter and editor until the mid-90s. During that time, she also wrote two books for children. 

Through the 90s and into the 2000s, Patti worked as a volunteer with Catholic Engaged Encounter, her local church, and her son’s schools. Currently, Patti’s focus has been with USC alumni groups. Since 2005, she has served in leadership positions in several alumnae organizations, including the Association of Trojan Leagues, Trojan League of South Bay, the Alumnae Coordinating Council, Town and Gown of USC, and the USC Women’s Conference Host Committee. She was President of Trojan League of South Bay from 2010-2012, when it earned the Alumni Association’s Organization of the Year Award, and currently is President of the Association of Trojan Leagues. From 2012-2013, Patti served on the Board of Governors as a Special Appointment member. She received the Widney Alumni House Award in 2012. 

A season ticket holder, Patti attended ten USC football game this season, including away games in Hawaii, Notre Dame, and Las Vegas. She recently enhanced her USC athletic ties by becoming an adviser on the Trojan Club of San Pedro-Peninsula’s Advisory and Emeriti Board, an athletic support group. 

Patti was active as a student with the USC Newman (now Caruso Catholic) Center, where she met her future husband, A.J. He is a transplanted Illini. She also served as Editor-in-Chief of the 1978 El Rodeo yearbook. Patti and A.J. have supported the Annenberg School for many years, and she is enthusiastic about participating on the Alumni Advisory Board. 

Patti & A.J. live in Palos Verdes Estates with their son, Matt, and their black Lab, Padfoot. 

Julie Lindeen
Senior Consultant
BA, Communication

Julie Lindeen is a Sr. Consultant in Deloitte's Human Capital practice where she provides human capital advisory, strategy, and execution expertise to Fortune 500 clients. She specializes in integrating talent management strategy with business strategy to enhance an organization’s performance, productivity, and profitability through its people and focuses specifically on organizational development, leadership development, and strategic communication. Her clients have included a global commerce leader, a multinational biopharmaceutical company, and a global oilfield chemical company.

She previously worked at Warner Bros. Entertainment in Human Resources on the Learning and Development team. She was responsible for organization effectiveness, change management, and leadership development. During her time at the Studio, she was Executive Director of the Emerging Professionals Business Resource Group, a group dedicated to providing early- to mid-level Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Warner employees with opportunities for networking, professional development and community involvement.

Julie holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in May 2008. She has served on the University's Board of Governors, Annenberg Alumni Ambassadors, and Young Alumni Council. She has received the USC Alumni Association Widney Alumni House Award for her dedication and volunteerism with USC.

Todd Nelson 
Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives
HealthCare Associates Credit Union
MA, Communications Management 

Todd Nelson got his first exposure to national communications and journalism as the only student serving on the executive planning committee for President Ronald Reagan’s dedication of the Gray Center for the Communication Arts at Hastings College, his undergraduate alma mater. Robert K. Gray, Gray Center benefactor and Chairman of Hill & Knowlton Worldwide, was impressed with Todd and invited him to Washington, D.C. to work with the legendary H&K team. Mr. Gray was also a friend of Walter and Lee Annenberg and, with his encouragement, Todd moved to Los Angeles to pursue a master’s degree at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. 

Today, with more than 20 years of experience in increasingly senior roles with corporate, civic, education, and nonprofit organizations, Todd is an expert at developing comprehensive programs incorporating marketing, communications, brand strategy, public relations, and internal communications, with the result of raising the visibility of an organization, enhancing its reputation, and achieving measurable results that contribute to an organization's bottom line. 

Recognized as an innovative leader able to do more with less, Todd is a critical thinker, creative problem solver and change agent with a reputation for having fun and laughing a lot while getting the best contributions from the most people, seeing opportunities the competition doesn’t see, and maintaining appreciation for how an organization’s history can help to shape its future. 

Callie Schweitzer 
Director of Digital Innovation
TIME Magazine
BA, Print and Digital Journalism 

Callie is the Director of Digital Innovation at TIME Magazine. She is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Mashable, The Huffington Post, People magazine, The Daily Muse, L.A.’s Neon Tommy and more. She was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in Media in December 2012 and 2013. TIME magazine named her Twitter feed one of the world’s best in 2013. Business Insider named her one of the “30 Most Important Women in Tech Under 30” in 2013. 

She was previously the Director of Marketing and Communications at Vox Media, overseeing the branding, marketing, and audience growth for sports site SB Nation, tech/culture site The Verge, and gaming site Polygon. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Publisher of Talking Points Memo, overseeing the business, publishing and tech side of the company. She joined Talking Points Memo as the assistant to the publisher in June 2011 and was promoted to Deputy Publisher in January 2012. She was also responsible for project and digital product management of mobile, tablet, video and content partnerships, and increasing and maintaining audience growth. 

She has a BA in journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in May 2011. 

Before joining TPM, Schweitzer worked as the Editor-in-Chief of Neon Tommy, Annenberg’s 24/7 online news site, which is the number one most trafficked online-only university publication in America. She also served as a staff writer and the senior news editor. 

Scott Tamkin 
Nest Realtors
BA, Communication Arts & Sciences 

Scott is the President of Nest Realtors, an affiliate of John Aaroe Group, specializing in residential homes and multi-family income property. Together with his wife and fellow Trojan, Melinda Lane Tamkin, Scott represents buyers and sellers of single family homes, condos and income property in the Greater Los Angeles area. Melinda and Scott have been active in the real estate business for over 14 years. 

After graduating from USC with a B.A. from the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, Scott began his career by working with international franchises in Barcelona, Spain. He then applied his experience to his sales career with a global telecommunications company where he managed the data and voice accounts or multi-national corporations. Scott decided to leverage his expertise in sales and marketing and couple it with his real passion- helping people with their real estate needs- and began his illustrious career in residential real estate! 

Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, Scott has a profound understanding of the various neighborhoods and diverse cultures this amazing city has to offer. From the school systems to cultural centers to hot restaurants, he has proven to be a great resource to his clients. 

Scott and Melinda are raising 3 children, Scotty- a freshman at Loyola High School, Jacob- a 7th grader and Lily- a 1st grader. The Tamkins are both very involved in the community- foremost among their participation is USC. Scott is active in the Second Decade Society and is thrilled to be more deeply involved in Annenberg. 

Jane Wells
CNBC Reporter
CNBC Los Angeles
BA, Broadcast Journalism 

CNBC business news reporter Jane Wells is based in Los Angeles, where she covers retail, agriculture and defense as well as reports on California's economy, West Coast real estate and Las Vegas. Wells also writes the blog Funny Business for covering a variety of unusual items. Wells came from CNBC's "Upfront Tonight," where she served as a senior correspondent.

Wells joined CNBC in 1996, providing special coverage of the O.J. Simpson civil case for "Rivera Live." Prior to joining CNBC, she was a correspondent for the Fox News Channel and Los Angeles reporter for NBC's flagship television station, WNBC, in New York. Her television news career includes reporter positions with KTTV, Los Angeles; WTVJ, Miami; and KOB, Albuquerque. She has also contributed international reports for CNN.

Wells has received numerous honors for her work, including a 1992 Peabody Award and duPont Award for her role in the live coverage of the Rodney King Trial. That same year, she earned a Los Angeles Emmy Award for her investigative reporting. She also has received UPI, Press Club and Emmy Awards for feature reporting; three Florida Emmy Awards for news reporting; and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for team reporting.

Wells holds bachelor's degrees in broadcast journalism and philosophy from the University of Southern California, where she graduated with honors. She and her husband have two children and live in Los Angeles.

Tal Woliner
Managing Account Supervisor, Public and Corporate Affairs
Ketchum Washington, D.C.
BA, Communication 

Since joining Ketchum in 2005, Tal Zavlodaver has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, coalitions and state agencies – spanning industries including technology, transportation, health care, energy and financial services – to create and execute inside-the-Beltway, regional and national public affairs campaigns and build corporate reputations. 

During that time, Tal has worked on numerous front-page and award-winning assignments such as Louisiana’s efforts to secure federal funding for disaster recovery post Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; Delta Air Lines’ successful campaign to fend off US Airways’ hostile takeover bid; The Clorox Company’s launch of its first natural cleaning line, Green Works; and IBM’s year-long centennial celebration. 

Tal most recently ran a successful public affairs campaign for Airlines for America (A4A), the trade organization for leading U.S. airlines, to end furloughs of air traffic controllers due to the federal sequester. The campaign is a "Public Affairs Campaign of the Year" finalist for the PRWeek Awards. 

Tal graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and with minors in Business Administration and Philosophy. Upon graduation, Tal received an Annenberg Service Award. 

During her time in Washington, Tal has also served in a number of leadership roles for the USC Alumni Club of Washington, D.C., including social chair, president and immediate past president. She currently serves as the Annenberg liaison to the executive board. In 2007, she was honored with the USC Widney Alumni House Award.