Public interest communicators spend a lot of time with words. Framing language that drives strategy. Stories that engage audiences. Statements that inspire action. We deeply believe that words can save lives and make the world a better place.
As the first-ever chair in public interest communications, Ann Christiano is pretty obsessed with words. But she’s even more obsessed with the values behind the words. The respect that she feels for all points of view manifests when she asks everyone, “What do you think?” The inclusion that she champions is evident as she strives to build a big-tent definition of this growing communications field. And her warmth is evident behind every “yes” she says when colleagues want to collaborate and students ask for help.
When she isn’t teaching, Ann has managed to pull off two inspiring frank gatherings which have grown in size and reputation as the “go to” place for those who see public interest communication as a force for good in the world.
So it’s no surprise…drum roll…that the University of Florida named Ann as its teacher of the year. That’s not just UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, but the entire university.
It’s been our absolute pleasure to watch Ann identify her charge to create curriculum, encourage a body of research and connect practitioners to further build this new field. Sure, we think it’s cool because we do this type of work. But we find it especially fantastic that she’s embraced this charge with a commitment to these values, a belief that damn-near anything is possible and a focus on having students alongside her for every step of the way. We’ve watched her challenge Gators in the classroom, push them to take on professional roles for frank and place them in jobs across the country. She doesn’t say goodbye to students when they complete her class. Ann fully expects that she’ll see them again, because they’ll become a part of the industry that she’s building.
Well, Ann, you’re right. Our numbers are growing in this industry, and that means more voices speaking for the greater good. Those voices start by asking, “Are we creating awareness?” Ann teaches them that awareness isn’t enough. It’s action that matters, and she models that every day. Thank you, Ann, for inspiring your students and so many more of us.