Distinguished COMM Alumni Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement in Communication - 2024

Mike Soltys (CLAS '81)

Bio by Matthew Barrows (CLAS '24)

Mike, a native of Storrs now residing in Southington, developed a passion for communication at a young age, inspired by his father's role as the sports information director at the UConn athletic department. His formative years were spent assisting his father with various UConn athletics tasks, fostering a deep-rooted interest in sport that persisted throughout his academic journey.

Mike spent his summers while in college working at the UConn Public Information office.  His entry into the realm of ESPN was facilitated by a connection through his father, who had ties to Bill Rasmussen, the network's founder.  Bill offered Mike an unpaid intern position at ESPN, to which he eagerly commuted from Storrs twice a week during his senior year. His dedication paid off as ESPN extended his tenure, ultimately leading to a PR role post-graduation.

In the nascent stages of ESPN, Mike thrived in the company's dynamic environment, wearing multiple hats and contributing across various departments, including lobbying efforts. Reflecting on his journey, Mike attributes much of his success to the internship requirement of UConn's communication program, which steered him toward his career path and enabled him to cultivate a diverse skill set.

Armed with a master's degree in communication from the University of Hartford, Mike briefly contemplated a teaching career but found fulfillment in his current trajectory. Alongside his professional pursuits, Mike dedicates his time to Bread of Life, a Southington-based soup kitchen. Serving as board chairman for a decade, Mike played a pivotal role in the organization's mission to combat food insecurity through meal deliveries and a summer lunch program for students.

Offering sage advice to aspiring professionals, Mike underscores the importance of securing internships, particularly in the competitive sports industry, to distinguish oneself. He also emphasizes the critical role of writing skills in various communication-related fields, including PR.

Mike was selected as the Distinguished COMM Alumnus in 2017.

Connect with Mike on LinkedIn.


Distinguished Alumna 2024

Maureen Ahern (CLAS '85, MA '87)

Maureen's career trajectory epitomizes adaptability and leadership. Starting at The Associated Press, she swiftly rose to lead the Satellite Networks division. Transitioning to Standard and Poor’s Comstock, she excelled as Director of Operations, expanding sales across the US and driving business in Asia and South America. At Mainstream Data, she secured a landmark deal with Technicolor, marking a career highlight. Venturing into entrepreneurship, Maureen founded Ahern Consulting before joining momAgenda as COO, steering it to success for 13 years. Passionate about leadership coaching, she obtained certification from Georgetown University and launched Ahern Leadership Coaching and Consulting.

Maureen's impact extends beyond the boardroom; as an Adjunct Professor at UCONN Stamford for over 20 years, she instilled leadership potential in her students. Committed to mentorship, she volunteers with CT NEXT and the Freshman Founders Program at the Werth Institute. Personally, she cherishes family time with her husband of thirty years (whom she met while at UConn), their three children, and beloved black lab, Nino, while finding solace in yoga, literature, and beach walks.

Throughout, Maureen's mission remains steadfast: empowering leaders to reach their full potential, blending firmness with compassion to drive transformative growth.

Connect with Maureen on LinkedIn.


Alumna to Watch 2024

Ama Appiah (CLAS '19)

Ama Appiah is a visionary and prolific marketing leader from Middletown, CT, now based in New York City. She graduated in 2019 as a Communication and Molecular and Cell Biology double major during her undergraduate tenure at UConn. At UConn, Ama served in many leadership roles, most notably as the first Black, female Undergraduate Student Body President. In this role, she successfully advocated for students through programming, policy changes and diplomacy - increasing funding for campus mental health programming, restructuring general education course requirements to include additional experiential learning, implementing diversity education opportunities, and expanding career development support for students entering post-grad. Additionally, she successfully led the charge to revise the final examination week schedule to include more reading days for students, increase opportunities for non-honors students to participate in research, and increase accessibility to advising resources online.

As an alumna, Ama continued to stay involved by serving on the UConn Life Transformative Education task force, which focused on cultivating methods to improve inclusive learning, improve advising, and identify support needed to implement life transformative education in the university culture. Ama was awarded the prestigious Forte Fellowship to pursue an MBA and Global Business Management certificate at George Washington University (GWU). At GWU, Ama served in diverse roles that included teaching English to GW Korean international students, serving on the Board of Trustees Environment, Social, and Governance Committee, holding leadership positions in the GW Student Association as a two term Graduate senator and Vice Chairperson for Education Policy, mentoring in the GW Black Girl Mentoring Program, and guiding international students as an Exchange Student Ambassador.

Ama has a dynamic career in international marketing across seven different industries, including entertainment, technology, media, gaming, fashion, higher education, government - all through the lens of youth culture, pop culture, internet communities and digital marketing. She is a trailblazer in the online media space. She had her start with running a media business for news on her favorite artist. While managing a global team of 5, her page attracted 65K+ followers, including news organizations such as iHeartRadio and Yahoo News UK. From designing statewide youth public health campaigns with former CT governor Dan Malloy to developing digital marketing strategies for startups in Ghana, Ama has developed a sharp/creative acumen in bringing stories that target global audience to life. Currently, she works at HP as a Global Brand and Partnerships manager. In this capacity, she leads the global commercial brand campaigns and high-profile partnerships. Her most recent activity includes partnership campaigns with the Real Madrid football club in Spain and Wrexham AFC in Wales.

Ama's commitment to amplifying voices and fostering community engagement extends beyond her professional endeavors. As the host and producer of "The Bonnet Talks" podcast, she engages Gen Z from around the world in conversations on current issues, trends, and driving meaningful dialogue. The podcast is currently streamed in 88 countries by thousands of listeners globally. She also serves as the Communications Director of Raised By Grace Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping those on the Autism Spectrum transition successfully from school life into adulthood.

Connect with Ama on LinkedIn.


Alumnus to Watch 2024

Marvin Louis (CLAS '18)

Marvin Louis is an innovative leader hailing from Bridgeport, CT, recognized for his adept management of services, resources, and facilities to meet community needs and enhance local engagement. With a robust background in strategic planning, program development, and fiscal management, Marvin excels in fostering collaborative environments and cultivating inclusive, productive relationships with diverse stakeholders.

His career trajectory saw significant milestones at the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, where as Unit Director, he spearheaded the development and implementation of comprehensive programs catering to over 250 members, spanning the areas of STEM, athletics, and mentoring. Marvin's strategic vision was evident in his adept management of a $2M operational budget, forging partnerships, and securing grants to expand program offerings. Notably, Marvin's initiatives included the establishment of an aquatics program, internship program, and culinary initiative, all of which garnered acclaim and positively impacted member engagement. Furthermore, his dedication to mental health initiatives and community partnerships underscores his commitment to holistic youth development.

Prior to his tenure at the Boys & Girls Club, Marvin played pivotal roles at Digital Media Connecticut and The Business Council of Fairfield County, where he demonstrated his versatility in project coordination and talent development.

Marvin is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications & Media Studies.  Complementing his academic achievements are certifications in Youth Mental Health First Aid and First Aid/CPR, reflecting his commitment to holistic well-being.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Marvin is deeply engaged in community service, serving on the boards of Friends of the Ferguson Library and Future 5, and actively participating in Heart & Purpose initiatives.

With a track record of transformative leadership and unwavering dedication to community enrichment, Marvin Louis continues to be an inspiring beacon in the field of youth development and community engagement.

Connect with Marvin on LinkedIn.


Distinguished Alumnus 2023

Edgardo Rossetti (CLAS '09)

Edgardo is currently Senior Marketing Director at Adams & Knight, a branding and marketing consultancy based in Avon, Connecticut.   Ed has been with Adams & Knight for over 14 years, during which he has overseen integrated, digital, traditional, PR, experiential, and influencer initiatives. He currently manages the social media marketing team—focusing on strategy & insights and overseeing execution & optimization across all paid social channels. His ability to efficiently translate analytics and insights to actionable optimizations helps clients reach their goals and meet their KPIs.

His work has been recognized by the Internet Advertising Competition (IAC), Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), AVA Digital Awards, Content Marketing Institute, Ad Club of Connecticut, and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). Ed was also recognized as a Social Media Mover and Shaker by the Social Shake-up Show.

In addition to his client work, Ed frequently contributes to the agency blog, podcast, and regularly speaks to students at his alma mater, the University of Connecticut--frequently serving on COMM career panels and guest speaking in the Social Media Research and Practice, Advertising, and Persuasion classes, as well as attending student-alumni events organized by CLAS and UConn School of Business.

Connect with Edgardo on LinkedIn.




Adams & Knight specializes in results-driven advertising, digital marketing, PR, social media, content marketing, and marketing technology services. For more than 30 years, the agency has been serving leading healthcare, financial services, and travel/lifestyle brands that help others live financially, emotionally, and physically healthier lives.

Alumna to Watch 2023

Brianna ​Régine Walston (CLAS '17)

Founder and CEO o​f the full-service agency ​Brianna Régine Visionary Consulting, LLC (also known as BRVC)​, Brianna Régine Walston is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, brand growth strategist.

Mentorship & Community-Support Initiatives 

Since the creation of BRVC in 2016, Brianna has built a thriving, six-figure business. While steadfastly building her business, Brianna has also taken the time to be a mentor, building up others through her collaboration with initiatives in youth development and women entrepreneurship.  Notably, Brianna launched the Black Women Entrepreneurs of America campaign; and, at the University of Connecticut (Stamford), the first Affinity Collaborative and Community Center aimed at facilitating social connection and inclusivity among college students, faculty,and staff.  She has also provided support to the Women's Business Development Council in Connecticut, and led initiatives like the Pour In My Cup workshop series and the BRVC Alliance Network, where entrepreneurial-minded women have gathered for business support, networking tips, and creative growth.

Brianna has facilitated workshops for platforms such as "Power Hours" at Rutgers University, the Southern’s Black Student Union “The Beat Goes On”, BossCamp (a CT-based branding and entrepreneurship event dedicated to women of color), and an EPK 101 Workshop with the Connecticut Office of the Arts. She has also moderated state and regional-wide panels on creative strategy, entrepreneurship and DEI, including CT Office of The Arts' READI Talks series, Greenwich Academy’s (her former high school) Senior College Readiness panels, and a Moving Your Visions Brunch Panel featuring activist & Freedom March NYC’s founder Chelsea Miller.

To the UConn Department of Communication advising office, Brianna has been invaluable. She was one of three PR agency principals invited in Fall 2020 to talk to students about communication and entrepreneurship, in the three-part discussion series, “Women Entrepreneurs and Communication Innovation.”  This Spring, Brianna returned to her home campus to join a panel of COMM alumni sharing their career journey stories with Stamford students.

Within the larger UConn community, Brianna has been one of the most prolific mentors in The Werth Institute NetWerx Program, which connects undergraduate students with UConn alumni for meaningful conversations on the entrepreneurial mindset and its application to career exploration, professionalization, and personal development.  During her time with NetWerx, Brianna mentored an astonishing thirty-seven mentees!

Accolades & Awards

Brianna’s expertise and thought leadership have been highlighted on various media outlets: BET, ValiantCEO, and the HV Times--to name a few.  For her work, mentorship, and advocacy, Brianna was recognized by New Haven Biz with the 2022 Women in Business Award; and, just recently, Brianna was named 2023 Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Connecticut SBA.

Connect with Brianna on LinkedIn.

Distinguished Alumna 2020

Lindsay Ciulla (CLAS '08)

Lindsay is currently Strategy & Planning Lead for Global Communications at Cisco.  At UConn, Lindsay studied Spanish and Communication; through a UConn connection, Lindsay secured her first job as a Marketing Assistant at Pitney Bowes.  From there, Lindsay launched a successful career in Public Relations and Marketing, working for many industry leaders: among them, OutCast Communications, Finn Partners, Highwire, and most recently, Weber Shandwick.

While she was at Weber Shandwick, Lindsay organized a COMM Careers Event that brought together senior-level executives to talk to our students about the state of the industry and to offer career advice.

Lindsay is a founding member of the UConn Alumni Association New York City Chapter and has been an instrumental part of the success of the alumni network in NYC.  She has also been a long time mentor for the School of Business.

Connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn


Distinguished Alumnus 2019

Martin Horn (CLAS '73, MA '75)

A veteran in advertising and market research, Marty retired after a fruitful career spanning over four decades. His expertise led him to found Horn Research & Consulting, specializing in qualitative and quantitative research across various industries. Prior to retirement, Marty served as Director of Consumer Insights & Research at SPM Marketing & Communications, contributing to strategic brand positioning. Marty's early tenure as Group Planning Director at DDB Chicago saw him crafting communication strategies for renowned clients such as Anheuser-Busch and McDonald's, while also overseeing innovative research initiatives. Beyond his corporate endeavors, Marty remains an active board member at the Center for Jewish Genetics, a role in which continues to serve.  Marty leaves a legacy and an enduring impact on the advertising landscape, built on uncovering consumer insights and driving brand growth.

In 2010 Marty Horn established an endowed scholarship, the Martin Horn Scholarship, within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.  It is awarded annually to an undergraduate student majoring in Communication who demonstrates academic achievement and financial need.

Connect with Marty on LinkedIn


Distinguished Alumnus 2018

Adam Cormier (CLAS '97)

Before starting JAC Comm, Adam held senior and executive roles at award-winning PR and Integrated marketing communication agencies like Weber Shandwick, FleishmanHillard, and PAN Communications.
He has served as a strategic advisor to the business leaders and stakeholders running brands large and small, leaders and challengers, and upstarts and pioneers.  Adam played key roles in the launch of companies, products like Apple’s iPhone, and business movements.
Adam has received several PR industry awards for his work on impactful campaigns and brand-saving crisis communication work. 

He earned a Bachelor’s in communication science from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s in Communication from Lasell University.

Connect with Adam on LinkedIn