Professional Advisory Board

The UCM PR program has an excellent group of advisors.

Shawn Arni (1986)
Director of Communications &
Marketing – Medical Children’s
Mercy Kansas City

Shawn is responsible for brand and reputation management of one of the country’s top children’s hospitals. Prior to Children’s Mercy, he served as senior communications coordinator at Health Midwest (now owned by HCA).

Shawn has served as President of the Kansas City Healthcare Communicators Society (KCHCS), the Kansas Association of Health Care Communicators (KAHCC) and the Missouri Association of Health Care Public Relations and Marketing. He’s also been the Kansas City chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators board member.

Shawn is a UCM PR graduate with a marketing minor. While at UCM, Shawn was actively involved in PRSSA and was a contributing writer for The Muleskinner. He has served as a UCM public relations capstone client and is a regular participant in PRSSA’s annual PR Pro Day.

Cory Bittner (2011) Co-Founder & COO, Falcon Wealth Advisors

As Co-Founder and COO of Falcon Wealth Advisors, Cory represents the best of public relations strategy applied to entrepreneurship and new business development. He holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® (CRPC®) designation and has completed the Investment Strategies and Portfolio Management Executive Education Program at The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. In 2014, Cory was recognized as an Ingram’s Magazine “20 in their Twenties” outstanding, young entrepreneur in the Kansas City area. 

Cory graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2011 from the University of Central Missouri. He serves as an UCM Alumni Foundation board member, hosts and produces the Central Missouri Alumni Stories podcast, and is a regular UCM PR Program speaker.


Adam R. Davis (2010)
Managing Director of Company Relations –

As the LaunchCode managing director of company relations, Adam represents world class technology learning resources and opportunities for trainees and more than 100 employer partners. He also serves LaunchCodes’ government relations needs. Adam previously served as a Missouri REALTORS(R) lobbyist, working to represent the interests of members in Missouri. As the one-time governmental affairs director for the Realtor® Association of Sarasota and Manatee, Adam led lobbying efforts at the local, state and federal levels on behalf of more than 6,500 members. He has also provided strategic guidance to a successful congressional campaign.

Adam is a 2010 UCM public relations graduate. He is also a founding member and alumnus of Innovative PR. Adam has served as a UCM public relations capstone client, and is a regular UCM PR classroom speaker.

Roxann Kinkade (1981)
PR Counselor

Currently serving in a counselor role, Roxann is the former director of public relations for Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. She has provided oversight for the Ameristar Kansas City property since 2004. Prior to joining Pinnacle, Roxann was the public information officer for Kansas State University Research & Extension in Johnson County. Roxann is a UCM public relations alumna.

Roxann is a 1981 UCM public relations graduate. She is a repeat UCM PRSSA’s PR PRO Day participant, as well as a host to UCM PR class visits including the popular PR and Entertainment special topics course.


Melissa Layton (2002) Senior Manager, Global PR & Influencer Marketing, Crocs, Inc.

Melissa is a results-driven and innovative senior marketing communications professional with a passion for branded story-telling. With more than 15-years of experience in omni-channel public relations and influencer marketing campaigns, media relations, brand and executive messaging, and social media strategy, she recently joined Crocs, Inc. Her breadth of professional experience involves work with leading organizations such as Burn’s Entertainment & Sports Marketing,  McDonald’s, and Weber Shandwick.

Melissa is a regular UCM PRSSA and PR Program speaker.



Speed Marriott (1977)
Owner/CEO P1Learning

An advocate of student education, training and media sales, Speed Marriott began his career in broadcasting over 30 years ago as a copywriter. He quickly discovered that copywriters drove cars from the previous decade, while account executives drove cars from the current decade. Based on this revelation the move was made to sales and he has never looked back.

Speed has worked for broadcast companies such as Shamrock Broadcasting (Disney), South Central Communications, and Entercom Communications. In 2000, Speed joined forces with Advantage Systems and in 2007, Speed partnered with broadcaster Katey Woolam to found the online training company, P1 Learning. Today P1 Learning caters to thousands of traditional broadcast stations and media based companies on an international basis, providing much-needed professional training through innovative and engaging delivery options.

Speed is a 1977 mass communication graduate, with a public relations emphasis. Professionally he has earned CRMC and CRSM designation, and has completed a variety of training programs including CSS, Disney’s Service Magic, War College and the NAB Executive Management course at Georgetown University.


Nick Mortallaro (2005)
State Farm Agent & Financial
Services Representative –
State Farm

Nick is founder and owner of Mortallaro Insurance Agency with two offices, one in Grain Valley and a second in Blue Springs, MO. He offers a full range of insurance options through State Farm, Inc. In addition, Mortallaro Insurance Agency also provides financial services counseling. Nick has been named to the State Farm President’s Club and the State Farm Chairman’s Circle, as well as the global industry Million Dollar Round Table.

Nick is a 2005 UCM public relations graduate. He is a repeat UCM PR classroom speaker and a UCM PR internship provider.




Lisa Qualls (1994)
Senior Account Executive –
ProActive Solutions

A senior account consultant of ProActive Solutions, Lisa is an expert in matching technology to client need. She’s held leadership positions in sales, marketing and IT/network at IBM, Summit Marketing and Sprint. She also has entrepreneur experience having served as CEO and managing partner for Fresh ID in Kansas City.

Lisa is a 1994 UCM individualized major graduate. Lisa is a repeat UCM PR classroom speaker.




Jason Roth (2001)
VP, Resource Development –
Boys & Girls Club of
Greater Kansas City

Jason serves on the serves on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City’s executive leadership team as vice president, resource development. He has a long history of serving through leadership and has provided strategic direction to Camp Fire USA, National Kidney Foundation, and Angel Fight Central.

Jason is a 2001 UCM public relations graduate. He has served as a UCM public relations capstone client, a host for visiting UCM PR student classes and a UCM PRSSA PR Pro Day participant.




Tony Winders (1990)
CMO & Principal Consultant –
Winders Consulting Group

Founder, CMO and principal consult at Winders Consulting Group, Tony is a digital marketing pioneer whose leadership, creativity, strategic insights and integrated programs have contributed to many consumer and B2B campaigns over the past 20 years. As CMO and principal consultant at Winders Consulting Group, he leads a team of content marketing and lead generation experts who provide marketing consulting and services to help sales organizations increase awareness and drive revenue at scale.

Tony has served as senior vice president of marketing at GumGum, vice president of marketing for ValueClick Media and was co-founder of one of the world’s first interactive agencies, iAgency, in 1995.

Tony is a 1990 UCM public relations graduate. Tony is a repeat UCM  visitor and PR classroom speaker.


Heather Woodard, APR (2003)
Multicultural PR & Engagement Communications Lead – McDonald’s Corporation

As Director, Multicultural PR & Engagement at McDonald’s USA, Heather leads diversity and inclusion initiatives designed to benefit McDonald’s employees, business and greater communities. She recently served as H&L Partners VP, Director – PR and social media of Atlanta.  She has also provided professional leadership to Weber Shandwick and FleishmanHillard clients, among others. Her work has received national honor through the receipt of a PRSA Silver Anvil Award.

As an accredited PR professional with a special interest in multicultural marketing, Woodard is dedicated to professional and academic excellence. She maintains membership with PRSA, and is on the local boards of the UNCF, St. Louis Crisis Nursery and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Heather is a 2003 UCM public relations graduate. She has served as a repeat UCM public relations capstone client, a regular classroom speaker, a UCM PRSSA agency tour host and a UCM PRSSA PR Pro Day participant.