Our People

Denise Bortree

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Associate Professor, Advertising/Public Relations

Director, Arthur W. Page Center

Denise Bortree is an associate professor in the department of advertising and public relations in the 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, a research center in Penn State’s Bellisario College of Communications. 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.

George Anghelcev

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Associate Professor in Residence, Northwestern University at Qatar
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

George Anghelcev brings an array of international teaching and research experience to his position. He previously worked as assistant professor of advertising at Babes-Bolyai University (Romania) and was visiting lecturer at University of Nantes (France) and Eotvos Lorand University (Hungary). His industry experience highlights include working in strategic planning for Campbell-Mithun Advertising in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and for Romania’s Ministry of Public Information.

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.

Marcia DiStaso

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Associate Professor of Public Relations, University of Florida
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Marcia DiStaso leads the digital media research initiative for the Page Center. She is a national leader in research on digital/social media and financial communication/investor relations in public relations, and is widely known and respected for her distinguished career in research, teaching and service. 

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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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Michel Haigh

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Professor of Public Relations, Texas State University
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Michel M. Haigh brings a mix of practical and teaching experience to her position at Texas State University. Haigh teaches the public relations writing, campaign courses, research methods and freshmen seminar. She has also taught Mass Comm and Society as part of the LEAP program. She has authored more than 35 conference presentations, seven of which have been recognized with a "Top Paper" award, and published more than 30 articles. Haigh’s recent research examines how social media messages impact stakeholders’ perceptions of the organization – public relationships, corporate social responsibility, and future purchase intent. A Page Legacy grant examined how public relation practitioners handled negative, user-generated content.

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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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