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Medill Inducts Six Alumni Into Hall of Achievement

Inductees include distinguished alumni from various media fields

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April 22, 2014

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications has selected six alumni to be inducted into the Medill Hall of Achievement for 2014. This year’s inductees include distinguished alumni from various media fields, including advertising, public relations, investigative reporting, broadcast and sports cartooning.

The six inductees are:

William Eaton (BSJ51, MSJ52), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and posthumous inductee. William Eaton’s stories led to the rejection of one of President Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees. Eaton won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting at the Chicago Daily News in 1970, and landed on Nixon’s enemies list. He rose from covering Chicago crime to lead news bureaus in Washington, D.C., New Delhi and Moscow. Before heading to Moscow in 1984, Eaton learned Russian so he could talk with ordinary citizens about the “perestroika” reform process led by Mikhail Gorbachev. Colleagues remember him chatting with Russians while they waited in line for their vodka allotments. One colleague recalled never seeing Eaton read the paper while in the office. He was too busy writing or working sources on the phone. Eaton was active in the journalism community, serving as president of the Washington Press Club and as chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents. He was also a leader of the Reporters Committee for a Free Press. Along with fellow Medill alumnus Frank Cormier, Eaton wrote a biography of labor leader Walter Reuther. He finished his career as curator of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship in Journalism, which brought foreign reporters, editors and media relations officials to study journalism in the U.S. Eaton passed away in 2005.

Mary Pat Flaherty (BSJ77), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Mary Pat Flaherty came to The Washington Post in 1993 after 15 years at The Pittsburgh Press. She joined The Post as an investigative projects editor for a team of reporters and returned to investigative reporting in 2000. Flaherty continues to work on investigative and long-range projects.  Apart from work she edited, her own work has received numerous national awards including the Pulitzer Prize, George Polk awards, SDX national awards and an Overseas Press Club award. Flaherty and fellow reporter Andrew Schneider won the 1986 Specialized Reporting Pulitzer for an investigation into violations and failures in the U.S. organ transplantation system. Flaherty was a Pulitzer finalist in 1995 for a series about careless and rushed hiring programs by the D.C. police department. She exposed design problems and command pressure at play in a much touted but flawed and lethal Marine helicopter called the V-22 Osprey and the expansive but cloaked work of American drug firms that go overseas to test experimental drugs in studies that would not clear U.S. ethical hurdles. Most recently, she and a colleague exposed the extent of massive and previously undisclosed losses from fraud and embezzlements at non-profit organizations nationwide and developed a searchable database for donors to see how groups important to them kept an eye on funds. To the extent that there is a pattern to her work it is this: pulling apart complicated subjects in a way that enables readers to understand how they are directly affected by decisions that haven’t drawn attention but ought to have.

Howard Geltzer (BSJ58, MSJ59), CEO of Geltzer & Co. public relations. During Geltzer’s 25-year career in public relations, he helped launch dozens of consumer and business products. Geltzer and his wife Sheila started their public relations agency in New York City in 1974. At the end of the 1970s, Sony gave the agency responsibility to launch the Walkman.  Sony had low expectations for the product and wanted to keep costs low. No advertising; no promotion; only the Geltzer & Co. publicity effort. The contract was three months long. The Walkman exceeded all sales expectations. The three-month assignment lasted 12 years. Sony moved all of its product publicity business to Geltzer & Co. Other clients over the years included Black and Decker Housewares, Dow Chemical, Morton Salt, Samsung and Toshiba.  They also ran the 2000 New York presidential campaign of Dick Gephardt, a fellow Northwestern alumnus. After 26 years in business, the Geltzers sold their agency to Publicis, the multinational advertising and marketing agency.

John Gerzema (MSA87), CEO BAV Consulting and best-selling author. After graduating from Medill, Gerzema began his career at Campbell-Mithun and Fallon advertising agencies in Minneapolis. He then joined Young & Rubicam Group as its Global Chief Insights Officer. He is now Chairman and CEO of Y&R’s BAV Consulting. At BAV, he leads a global management consultancy with expertise in corporate, brand and marketing strategy and innovation. His group administers BrandAsset® Valuator, the world’s largest consumer survey, which collects data on more than 16,000 consumers quarterly and 50,000 brands in fifty countries. A frequent analyst on television and radio, Gerzema’s TED talks have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. He has written for publications like Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine, WIRED and Forbes.

Brooke Bailey Johnson (MSJ74), president of Food Network and Cooking Channel. First joining Food Network as senior vice president and general manager in May 2003, Johnson was quickly promoted to president of the Food Network in April 2004 and more recently added oversight of Cooking Channel and Food Category Digital. Prior to joining Food Network, Johnson served as senior vice president of programming of A&E and The History Channel, ultimately being promoted to executive vice president, general manager. Johnson proposed the original concept for History Channel and crafted the programming launch strategy. Johnson began at A&E in 1989 and under her direction the network tripled its ratings over the next decade. Her early commitment to network-owned, original programming resulted in a more than 1,500-hour library, which was the basis for the successful launch of The History Channel, The Biography Channel and 16 overseas channels. Prior to A&E, Johnson was Program Director for WABC-TV in New York City, where she launched first locally and then into national syndication “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee.”  She served in several capacities at WLS-TV, ABC’s Chicago station, including executive producer of AM Chicago and assistant program director. Johnson’s numerous industry affiliations have included the Board of Trustees of the WICT Foundation, part of Women in Cable & Telecommunications; the board of NATPE, the National Association of Television Program Executives; the CTAM Summit Planning Committee; and a founding trustee of Cable Positive, the cable industry AIDS fundraising and awareness organization. Johnson is a 1973 graduate of Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Murray Olderman (MSJ47), Hall of Fame sportswriter and cartoonist. Olderman has profiled and drawn sports cartoons of every major sports figure in the past 60 years. From Mickey Mantle to Joe Namath and Bear Bryant to Tiger Woods, Olderman has covered them all. For 35 years he was a syndicated columnist and cartoonist whose work was distributed by Newspaper Enterprise Association to 650 daily newspapers. After serving as executive editor of NEA, he retired from the syndicate but remains active as a writer and artist. One of the leading national authorities on pro football, Olderman is past president of the Football Writers Association of America and the founder of the Jim Thorpe Trophy (for the NFL's most valuable player) and the Maurice Podoloff Trophy (for the NBA's MVP). His football murals hang in the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio. He was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and is in the writers’ wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

All six inductees will be honored at a private ceremony on Thursday, May 15, at the Chicago History Museum.

Medill’s Hall of Achievement, established in 1997, honors Medill alumni whose distinctive careers have had positive impacts on their fields – be those journalism, the arts, business, academia, nonprofits and others.

Topics: People