Leslie Graf Ackerson
Leslie Graf Ackerson ’13 is a multimedia journalist and fill-in anchor for NBC affiliate WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has had the incredible privilege of working in several different places in the newsroom, but likes it best when she’s out in the field in the action. She’s passionate about creative storytelling, trying new camera angles, using her GoPro and giving viewers a unique perspective through the lens.
Jon Acuff `98 is the New York Times retelling author of six books, including Stuff Christians Like, Do Over and his most recent book Finish. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jenny (JMC ’99), and their two daughters.
Alejandro Betancourt ’12 is a producer and editor for the Miami Heat basketball team’s Emmy award-winning broadcast department. He and his wife Charity opened their own company, Foxtale Media LLC, providing social media and video content solutions in the digital age to clients around the world.
Sam Chandler ’17 is an assistant sports editor and community reporter at Starnes Publishing. He served as the sports editor and managing editor of The Samford Crimson and as the president of the Samford chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.;
Emma Crist ‘15 is the director of marketing & communications for Wyndy, a mobile app for babysitting that connects college students with local families. At Wyndy, she recruits sitters and families through online and offline marketing efforts and is spearheading Wyndy's expansion to new markets. She's also the tour manager for popular comedian John Crist (JMC '06). Previously, she was the assistant digital editor of MyRecipes.com at Time, Inc., one of the world's largest media companies that's home to popular brands such as Sports Illustrated, People, Southern Living, and more.
John Crist ’06 is a standup comedian with over 100 million video views. Best known for viral videos like “Millennial International" and “Road Rage in the Church Parking Lot,” he has solidified his comedic prowess with more than 200 live shows a year. Crist has shared the stage with some of the best in the business, including Dave Chappelle, Jeff Foxworthy, Tim Hawkins, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Adam Carolla and Louie Anderson.
Paula Greenwalt Cuadrado
Paula Greenwalt Cuadrado ’04 is a media programs specialist in the Seacrest Studios at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. She hosts children’s programing, facilitates interviews and special events for patients and teaches local college students about broadcasting. Paula spent 10 years in television news as a producer in Birmingham (WBRC), Washington, D.C. (WTTG) and Phoenix (KPNX), where she was awarded six regional Emmy awards. She also worked as a reporter and meteorologist in Midland, Texas (KMID).
Ben Davies ’13 is an actor, best known for his co-starring roles in Courageous and I'm Not Ashamed. He received the "Light in Hollywood" award in 2012. In addition to acting, Ben is a popular public speaker who enjoys sharing his faith and encouraging others.
Justin Firesheets '03 was the first-ever director of broadcasting for the Samford Department of Athletics, overseeing the live radio, TV, and web broadcasting and video post-production for all 17 sports. He then managed the print and web enterprises for the Birmingham Barons baseball team as the director of media relations. Since 2009, he has been the production manager at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham. He oversees live production and lighting elements at all of the church’s campuses, and is also actively involved in regional and national events to train church tech leaders in team-building and leadership development principles.
J. T. Geren ’13 is the director of marketing for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, where he oversees the marketing and promotion of their nineteen Division I athletics programs, and serves as the daily contact for football and men’s basketball.
Franklin Graves ’10 is corporate counsel for Naxos Music Group where he provides in-depth and wide-ranging legal guidance to a global media/technology company with over 300 employees across more than a dozen regional offices around the world. He's a Young Lawyer Fellow for the American Bar Association's Section of Intellectual Property Law and recently received an "Outstanding Leadership Contribution Award."
Franklin also runs a YouTube channel, Law School Strategy, devoted to sharing career & professional advice for current, future and recent law school students. Franklin earned his J.D. degree, with an Entertainment & Music Business Law certificate, from Belmont University College of Law in Nashville.
Carol “CJ” Guthrie ’93 graduated from Samford with a B.A. in journalism and English literature. After seven years as a television news producer in Birmingham, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., she served in various political roles. She joined the administration of President Barack Obama in 2009, where she served as assistant U.S. trade representative for public and media affairs. She was named senior adviser to the U.S. trade representative in 2013. In 2014, Guthrie became head of the Washington center for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and in December 2016, she moved to Paris to serve as the head of media and public affairs for the OECD.
Tony Hale ’92 is best known for his work as Buster Bluth in Arrested Development and as Gary Walsh in the HBO comedy Veep, for which he has won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He is married to Emmy Award-winning make-up artist Martel Thompson, and they have one daughter.
Lauren Womack Johnson
Lauren Womack Johnson ’11 is a marketing and communications manager at The Washington Center, where she oversees marketing to prospective students and collaborates on outreach initiatives to college and university partners. Learn more about Samford’s partnership with The Washington Center.
Hannah Jones ’16 graduated from Samford with a major in print journalism and a minor in general business. She is now an editorial assistant at Hoffman Media, working for Taste of the South and Southern Cast Iron magazines
Emily Kirkpatrick ’11 has held jobs as director of social media, media coordinator, communications and marketing consultant and corporate graphic designer. She operates her own custom design company, 521 Designs.
Allison Klaubert Lavender
Allison Klaubert Lavender ’14 is a senior account manager at Markstein, a Birmingham-based marketing and communications agency, where she leads communications and marketing activities for clients nationwide. Allison was connected with the agency through Samford professors and joined the company full-time after completing a JMC internship.
Ashten Legg ’16 serves as the marketing communications director for Swagelok Alabama | West Tennessee in Birmingham, where she focuses on strategic planning and developing marketing initiatives. Ashten formerly served as the Client Relations Director for Carr Allison Medicare Compliance Group, where she served as liaison, traveling across the United States representing the practice and securing leads.
Lauren McCaghren ’07 is the senior director for alumni affairs and annual giving at University of Mobile, working closely with donors, board members and UM alumni. She is married to fellow Samford graduate Chris McCaghren.
Carol Nunnelley ’65 has enjoyed a distinguished career in journalism, including as managing editor of The Birmingham News, projects Director for Associated Press Managing Editors Association, Executive Director of the Alabama Initiative for Independent Journalism and editor of BirminghamWatch. She is also is author of the books Building Trust in the News and Janie Shores: Trailblazing Supreme Court Justice, and co-author and editor of Cussing Dixie, Loving Dixie: 50 Years of Commentary by H. Brandt Ayers.
Carrie Rollwagen ’01 is a co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books in Mountain Brook, Alabama, and the author of The Localist. She was named one of 50 People Changing the South in 2015 by Southern Living. She works as a featured speaker at small business events, particularly in the area of social media.
Kathleen Sharp ’16 is a digital media coordinator for Lewis Communications in Birmingham, doing media planning for a wide range of clients including academic medical centers, natural gas providers and a luxury motorhome manufacturer.
Christopher Smith ’08 oversees the digital strategy team for the Cox Media Group sports verticals. Christopher also spent time as the editor-in-chief of Saturday Down South, as a sports reporter for the Farmington Daily Times, as the website and publications editor for the San Diego Chargers, as the FBS senior editor for Football.com and as a freelance writer.
Allison Hubbard Strickland
Allison Hubbard Strickland ’13 is the coordinator for Samford alumni programs and the Legacy League. She and her husband, Taylor, a 2010 Samford graduate, live in Vestavia Hills with their golden retriever Major. They are active supporters of Samford Athletics.
Chenelle Terry '13 is a content producer for CNN Newsource in Atlanta. She works with the team that is responsible for newsgathering from CNN's 900+ affiliates throughout the United States. Her division secures live and taped images of the news of the day, editorial information, news tips and live hits for local reporters. Chenelle previously worked as a Reporter and fill-in Anchor in Shreveport, Louisiana, where she shot, wrote and edited her stories for broadcast.
Nathan Troost ‘09 worked at Samford as the university's videographer before starting his own company Lantern Vision, an award-winning non-profit video production house that produces videos, shows, films and still photography for Christian ministries across the globe. He has worked in more than 30 different countries. His wife, Flori [pictured right], works with him and travels alongside as his assistant, among other responsibilities.