Our People

Denise Bortree

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Professor, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Advertising/Public Relations

Director, Arthur W. Page Center

Denise Bortree is the associate dean of academic affairs and professor in the department of advertising and public relations in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University and the director of the Arthur W. Page Center. She brings more than 10 years of industry experience to the position, including work as communications manager for two Fortune 500 companies. Bortree’s research focuses on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and nonprofit communication. Her award-winning research has been published in over 25 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is a leading expert in volunteer communication, and her work on this topic led to her selection by the United Nations Volunteers to write for its State of the World’s Volunteerism study.  Her work at the Page Center has resulted in two co-edited books and a number of peer reviewed publications.

Bortree is the head of the public relations division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the largest division of public relations faculty in the world, and she is the  chair of the executive committee of the association/nonprofit section at the Public Relations Society of America.

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Elaine Files

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Research Administrator, Finance Office, Staff

Elaine Files is the main contact person for the Arthur W. Page Center. She joined the College of Communications in December of 2012 after working 12 years in the University research administration area of Penn State. Her educational background in English and Business added to her 14 years in research administration has benefited her ability to help write and submit proposals and budgets for faculty. She assists faculty with the budgeting and monitoring of funded accounts for the College of Communications. Her past experience has helped to streamline the Grant process for the Legacy Scholar program in the Page Center. She has received an award for her excellence in customer service and facilitates collaboration between the faculty in her college and the university.

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Jonathan McVerry

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Communications Strategist, Staff

Jonathan McVerry is a communications strategist for the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication. He also teaches COMM 260W: News Writing and Reporting and COMM 471: Public Relations Media and Methods.

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Senior Research Fellows

Lee Ahern

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Associate Professor, Advertising/Public Relations

Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center
Project Manager, Sustainability Communications Initiative

Lee Ahern joined the faculty at Penn State in 2008 as an assistant professor, after a 20-year career in industry. Most recently he was marketing manager for an international custom publishing company, where he also oversaw development and implementation of all new media products. His Ph.D. and current research focus on environmental communications, applying empirical research and communications theory in the areas of persuasion, advertising, public relations and ethics. In particular, he has explored psychological effects and cognitive processing implications of different environmental message factors. In an international context, Ahern also studies the roles of culture and media system development on environmental attitudes and behaviors.

In 2007, Ahern received the Betsy Plank Graduate Student Research Award, which is presented annually at the Public Relations Society of America International Conference. He has presented multiple papers at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference.

Colleen Connolly-Ahern

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Associate Professor , Advertising/Public Relations

Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Colleen Connolly-Ahern brings a strong research background and a commitment to educating future public relations professionals to the Arthur W. Page Center. An associate professor in advertising/PR, Connolly-Ahern researches international political advertising and health communications. She also focuses on culture, media framing and media access in strategic communications.

She has been published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly; Journal of Public Relations Research (JPRR); and Communication, Culture and Critique. Connolly-Ahern is also former head of the Public Relations Division of AEJMC and a member of the editorial board of JPRR.

Frank Dardis

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Associate Professor , Advertising/Public Relations

Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Most of Dardis’ current research focuses on the psychological and persuasive effects that informational messages have on individuals. Specifically, he has examined message effects within both sociopolitical and marketing/consumer-related contexts. His consumer-oriented research focuses on the impact of advertising messages and corporate communications on individuals’ information processing and brand/corporate attitudes. Much of his recent research explores the effects of branded content within video games and interactive media. He also has investigated attitude formation and change pertaining to sociopolitical topics such as social movement organizations, war protest, environmentalism, capital punishment and political apathy.

Stephanie Madden

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Assistant Professor, Advertising/Public Relations

Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Madden has a passion for advocacy and social justice issues, and her research focuses on the intersections between activism, risk and crisis communication, public safety, and social media. She finished her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in 2016, writing her dissertation on the development of an extended engagement approach to issues management that explored the gendered, intersectional, and emotional aspects of issues. This work seeks to better inform communicators how to develop more proactive communication strategies for handling sexual assault and other issues of gender-based violence and harassment.

Holly Overton

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Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Holly Overton leads the 2021 call for research proposals on Corporate Social Advocacy. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in public relations and strategic communications and conducts public relations research in the areas of corporate social responsibility communication, corporate social advocacy, and sustainability communication.



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Katie Place

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Associate Professor of Strategic Communication, Quinnipiac University
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Katie Place leads the 2020 call for research proposals on Organizational Listening. She teaches courses in public relations, strategic planning, and social media, and her research examines the nexus of gender, power and ethics in public relations. Place is the Page Center's first senior research fellow from outside Penn State.

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Fuyuan Shen

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Professor, Head of the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, Advertising/Public Relations

Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Shen's research and teaching areas are media effects, persuasion, and strategic communications. He is interested in studying the effects of messages, in both traditional and new media, on individuals’ information processing and attitudes. His previous research has examined the impact of message frames and emotions on individuals’ attitudes, risk perceptions, and other cognitive or affective responses.

Research Fellows

Marlene Neill

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Assistant Professor, Baylor University
Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

An assistant professor at Baylor University, Marlene Neill has a long history with the Page Center as a scholar and advocate. She was selected as one the Center's first research fellows in 2018. She is leading a research project that will focus on implementing ethics courses into undergraduate curricula. At Baylor, Neill teaches principles of advertising and public relations, advertising copywriting, strategic communication research, advertising management and media law and ethics.

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Diana Sisson

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Associate Professor, Auburn University
Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Diana Sisson is an assistant professor at Auburn University. She was selected as one of the Center's first research fellows in 2018. She is conducting a project that will test definitions of authenticity as a part of her fellowship with the Page Center. At Auburn, Sisson teaches public relations courses. She also worked for major healthcare organizations for several years where she performed digital public relations, specifically social media content and web content management.


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