Merrie Spaeth

Schranz Lecturer 2013

Merrie Spaeth, Schranz lecturer, 2013Merrie is the founder of Spaeth Communications, Inc., a leading consulting and training firm in the communications industry. A pioneer in communication theory and executive training, Spaeth is considered one of the most influential communication counselors in the world. Before Spaeth founded Spaeth Communications in 1987, she accumulated one of the most unique backgrounds in media, government, politics, business and entertainment.

Spaeth Communications, based in Dallas, Texas, provides strategic communication counseling and training to individuals, companies and institutions. Clients include Fortune 500 executives as well as local, national and international corporations in diverse fields such as government, manufacturing, service and financing. Since its inception in 1987, Spaeth Communications has grown into an international operation, with offices in the United States and Singapore.

Before founding Spaeth Communications, Ms. Spaeth spent nearly a decade in government communication positions. She was a White House Fellow for former FBI Director William Webster and served as the director of public affairs for the Federal Trade Commission for two years, which lead to her appointment as the director of media relations for the White House. She held this position from 1983-1987, during which time she introduced satellite interviews and created the electronic White House News Service.

Spaeth has varied her career with positions in entertainment, business and media. She also had a career in acting, including a starring role in “The World of Henry Orient” and later served as a speech writer for William S. Paley, founder and chairman of CBS, Inc. Spaeth also serves as a Business Leadership Center Instructor for the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University where she teaches “Humor as a Leadership Tool,” and other relevant courses.

Spaeth writes regularly on timely PR topics (available at and authors numerous communications columns; “Spaeth’s Bimbo Memo,” a column covering contemporary communication blunders. Her columns have been collected into two books, Marketplace Communication and Words Matter. Ms. Spaeth is a cum laude graduate of Smith College and an alumna the Columbia School of Business.

John D. Graham

Schranz Lecturer 2012

John Graham, Schranz lecturer, 2012John D. Graham is chairman of Fleishman-Hillard Inc., one of the world’s leading strategic
communications firms.

Mr. Graham joined Fleishman-Hillard in 1966. He was elected vice president, director, and senior partner in 1970; was elected president and chief executive officer in 1974; and was named chairman in 1988. In 2006, he announced a restructuring of the firm’s senior management team. At that time, he relinquished the title of chief executive officer, but retained the role of chairman. The company’s revenues, less than $1 million when Mr. Graham became CEO, are now the largest in the industry. During this period, the firm grew from a single office in St. Louis to more than 80 around the world. During his more than 30 years at the agency’s helm, Fleishman-Hillard has built a strong reputation by using strategic communications to deliver what its clients value most: meaningful, positive, and measurable impact on the performance of their organizations.

Under his leadership, Fleishman-Hillard was recognized by the Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research Survey of Corporate Communications Executives as No. 1 in quality service to clients for 12 consecutive years among major full-service firms. In 2006, the firm was named “International Agency of the Year” by The Holmes Report, which also has rated Fleishman-Hillard the “Best Big Agency to Work For” five out of the past six years. Over the past quarter-century, the firm has won 103 prestigious PRSA Silver Anvil Awards – a record of excellence no other agency can match.

During his career, Mr. Graham has personally worked in nearly all aspects of public relations, including public affairs, financial strategy, corporate strategy, investor relations, crisis situations, employee relations, strategic media placement, opinion research, issues management, and general counseling. Although responsible for the overall operations of Fleishman‑Hillard, he remains active in planning and implementing communications programs for a number of the group’s largest clients. He has personally counseled CEOs of many Fortune Top 100 companies.

He was elected to the College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America and was named a Public Relations All-Star for agency management by Inside PR magazine in 1990. In 1994, he was selected as PR Professional of the Year by the readers of PR News. In 2000, Mr. Graham became only the third agency PR executive to be inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame. He received the Thomas Mosser Award from St. Bonaventure University for contributions to the public relations profession in 2000. In 2001, he was named PR Professional of the Year by PRWeek, andin 2002, the University of Missouri-Columbia awarded him the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism. In 2003, John received PRSA’s Gold Anvil award for his many contributions to the public relations industry. In 2005, the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) named John to its International Hall of Fame. In 2008, John received The Holmes Report’sSABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Public Relations, and the same year received the President’s Award from the International Public Relations Association. In 2009 John received PRSA’s first annual Paladin Award.

Mr. Graham has authored many articles on public relations and is a frequent speaker to industry groups. He is a founder and a past Chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, and is a member of various public relations organizations, including the Public Relations Seminar, Arthur W. Page Society, the Public Relations Society of America, and the International Public Relations Association.

He attended the University of Missouri on both an athletic and a curator’s scholarship and graduated from the School of Journalism.

Melvin Sharpe

Schranz Lecturer 2011

Melvin Sharpe, Schranz lecturer, 2011Dr. Melvin L. Sharpe began his career at Ball State University in 1981 where he molded the public relations sequence into the highly regarded program it is known as today and educated hundreds of students for over 25 years.

During his long and illustrious career in public relations, Dr. Sharpe has been granted 30 awards including the PRSA Outstanding Educator Award, the Outstanding Professional Service Award and in 2000 was named one of the ten most outstanding public relations educators by PR Week. The Ball State community also recognized his talents: he was given the Outstanding Faculty Service Award in 2000 as well as being inducted into Ball State’s Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Sharpe is regarded as one of the top international public relations consultants. He founded the Indiana Public Relations Conference, the International Public Relations Research Conference and turned the Vernon C. Schranz Distinguished Lectureship series into the premier lecture series it is known as today. He is also highly regarded for the book he published in 1984 with Sam Black, Practical Public Relations: Common-Sense Guidelines for Business and Professional People.

Prior to his 26-year tenure at Ball State, Sharpe served as president and chair of the Hoosier PRSA chapter as well as teaching public relations at the University of Texas at Austin.

Since retiring from Ball State in 2007, Dr. Sharpe has kept himself immersed in the public relations field through consulting and writing.

Lisa Baird

Schranz Lecturer 2010

Lisa Baird, Schranz lecturer, 2010Lisa Baird was named Chief Marketing Officer of the United States Olympic Committee on Jan. 20, 2009. As the USOC’s Chief Marketing Officer, Baird directs the USOC’s Sales and Marketing Division and oversees the development of innovative corporate sponsorship and licensing programs that deliver maximum return-on-investment to the USOC’s family of Corporate Partners, while leveraging the unique attributes of the U.S. Olympic Team brand.

Baird joined the USOC from Brand Value Advisors, a consultancy advising private equity, merger and acquisition, and venture capital clients. From 2005-2007, Baird served as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Consumer Products for the National Football League (NFL), where she directed the league’s consumer products, direct marketing, e-commerce, entertainment marketing and advertising programs. She oversaw a portfolio of more than 150 licensees that delivered $3 billion in retail sales. Baird developed the league’s first consumer generated ads for the 2006 Super Bowl, launched the league’s first youth and Hispanic websites and helped develop into one of the premier e-commerce sites in sports. She also launched the first virtual sports world for kids,

From 1999-2005, Baird worked at IBM, first as Vice President, Advertising and then as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing Communications. She led IBM’s global marketing initiatives, including the development and execution of advertising, sports marketing, direct marketing, digital marketing and media campaigns in 70 countries. Additionally, she was responsible for the IBM e-business campaign which won the 2006 Grand Effie award as well as numerous advertising, direct marketing and web awards.

From 1996-1999, Baird held a series of marketing positions at General Motors, including serving as Chief Creative Officer of e-gm. Prior to that, she worked in positions with leading consumer products companies including Bristol Meyers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.

Baird is a graduate of Penn State University with both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Business Administration degree. She was named one of the top Business-to-Business Marketers in 2004 and serves on the Penn State Center for Sports Business and Research Advisory Board. She and her husband, Bob Baird, live in Connecticut with their three children.

More Past Speakers

  • Robert Grupp, 2009
  • Peter Debreceny, 2008
  • John Paluszek, 2007
  • Maj. Gen. Mari Eder, 2006
  • Cheryl Procter-Rogers, 2005
  • Marilyn Laurie, 2004
  • Willard D. Nielsen, 2003
  • Christopher Komisarjevsky, 2002
  • Bradley Wilks, 2001
  • Daniel J. Edelman, 2000
  • Lord Chadlington, 1999
  • Tim Traverse-Healy, 1998
  • Betsy Plank, 1997
  • Terrie Williams, 1996
  • Paul H. Alvarez, 1995
  • John W. Felton, 1994
  • Ann Barkelew, 1993
  • Fraser P. Seitel, 1992
  • Robert Dilenschneider, 1991
  • Carole M. Howard, 1990
  • John F. Budd Jr., 1989
  • James L. Tolley, 1988
  • David W. Ferguson, 1987
  • Denny Griswold, 1986
  • Kerryn King, 1985
  • Patrick Jackson, 1984
  • Chester Burger, 1983
  • Philip Lesly, 1982
  • Dorothy Gregg, 1981
  • Douglas Hearle, 1980
  • Edward Block, 1979