2009 Speaker Biographies

Charles Bloom
Associate Commissioner, Media Relations, Southeastern Conference
Bloom is in his 13th year as director of the Southeastern Conference office’s
media and public relations efforts, and his 9th year as Associate Commissioner.
In the Southeastern Conference office, Bloom supervises media and public relations
operations for the league’s 20 sports, directly overseeing football. He is the chief spokesperson for the conference office and oversees communication strategies for the office in areas such as academics and minority hiring. He has developed the SEC’s internet media policy, dealing with real-time rights issues, and also serves as media director for the SEC Football Championship Game and various other conference and NCAA championships.

Bloom assisted with the creation of the Bowl Championship Series, including its formula
for ranking teams and also developing its media relations policies and procedures. Since 2000, he has also served as chief administrator for baseball in the SEC office,
setting conference schedules, serving as liaison for the league’s coaches and umpires and overseeing game operations with the conference tournament.

Bloom came to the SEC from East Carolina University, where he served as Sports Information Director/Assistant Athletics Director from 1988-95. Prior to joining the ECU staff, he was an associate SID at Ole Miss from 1987-88 and an assistant SID at LSU from 1985-87. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Carolina.


Mitchell Diggs
Associate Director of Media & Public Relations, University of Mississippi
Diggs earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ole Miss in 1982. He worked for newspapers in Mississippi and Alabama for more than 16 years and was a contributing food editor for Scripps Howard News Service. In 1996, he became editor of a small chain of trade magazines for Oxford Publishing Co.

He returned to UM in 2000 as science writer and edited the university’s research magazine, UM Quest, until he was named associate director in 2004.


Beth Fortune
Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, Vanderbilt University
Fortune leads the university's comprehensive communications, government and community initiatives and serves as the chief spokesperson. She joined Vanderbilt University as associate vice chancellor for public affairs in September 2000 after serving as press secretary to former Gov. Don Sundquist for more than six years. A member of the Governor's Cabinet and the first female gubernatorial press secretary in Tennessee history, Fortune served as the primary spokesman for the Sundquist administration. Before joining the Governor's staff, Fortune served as Sundquist's campaign press secretary.

She previously worked as a principal in The Fulton Group, a former Nashville lobbying and public affairs firm, and as manager of public affairs for the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. From 1985 to 1992, Fortune was a political reporter for the now-defunct Nashville Banner. In 2002, she was nominated by the Tennessee Women's Forum and was one of 16 women worldwide selected by the International Women's Forum to participate in its prestigious yearlong fellowship on executive leadership that included programs at Harvard University and the University of Cambridge in England.

A 1985 graduate of Anderson University, Fortune earned an M.A. in journalism and public affairs from The American University in 1990.


Rusty Jabour
Vice Chancellor for Communications and University Relations,
Louisiana State University
Jabour leads the overall communications efforts on behalf of LSU, his alma mater. He has served in that role since January 2008 and is a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Council. Jabour manages a staff of 34 employees and directs various forms of communications, including marketing campaigns, media relations, crisis communications, graphic design, TV and radio production, and Web site and new media development.

Previously, Jabour was Director of Governmental and Public Affairs for Cox Communications Greater Louisiana where he created national award winning campaigns to increase voting among 18-35 year olds and to increase contributions to the Baton Rouge Food Bank. He also hosted two national award-winning television shows.

Prior to his work at Cox, Rusty served for 26 years as the chief spokesman and adviser for two governors (Mike Foster and Buddy Roemer), two attorney generals (Richard Ieyoub and William Guste), two cabinet secretaries (Bobby Jindal and Sandra Thompson), the University of Louisiana System, and the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare in Washington, D.C.


Pamela Johnson
Director of Strategic Marketing & Special Initiatives, Belmont University
As Director of University Marketing/Special Initiatives, Johnson works closely with academic deans, admissions and President Robert C. Fisher in designing and implementing Belmont’s marketing opportunities. Johnson is in charge of special projects happening at Belmont, which last year included the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate.

Johnson comes to Belmont from the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles where she served as Vice President of Communications and Corporate Relations. She previously served as President of the Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center at Cheekwood in Nashville and also worked with the American Association for State and Local History.

Prior to her role with the J. Paul Getty Trust, Johnson founded the public relations firm, Pamela Johnson Associates, Inc. in New York City, providing national and international marketing and branding for clients such as Philip Morris International, JPMorgan Chase, AT&T, Polaroid, a broad range of public television programs, cultural organizations, film festival, and others. She has also worked with Serino Coyne, Inc. and Rogers & Cowan, both in New York City, the San Antonio Museum Association and the Smithsonian Institution and Rogers & Cowan in Washington, D.C.


Tysen Kendig
Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations, University of Arkansas
Kendig serves as the University of Arkansas’ senior communications administrator and spokesperson. He generally is responsible for the development and management of university-wide communication strategies, public relations, media relations, marketing and advertising, as well as the university’s overall Web presence. He is charged with developing and implementing strategies to increase public understanding of, and support for, the university and its mission, as well as enhancing the image and reputation of the university, its programs, its faculty and its more than 19,000 students. He also provides public relations counsel to the chancellor, senior administrators, deans and others, and manages all aspects of crisis communications.

Currently nearing completion of a master’s degree in higher education at the University of Arkansas, Tysen obtained his bachelor of arts degree from Penn State University in May 1995, upon which he embarked on a brief career as a sports reporter and editor at The Trentonian in Trenton, N.J. Kendig moved into higher education through a communications position at Rider University, where he worked for more than four years as associate director of public relations. He then returned to his alma mater, where he held communications positions of increasing administrative responsibility for nearly seven years, serving as assistant director of public information for the 24-campus Penn State system for his last four years in State College, Pa.


David Mills
Associate Director, State Policy and Legislative Affairs, at Vanderbilt University
A historian and political scientist, Mills was elected to political office at age 25. He has written essays and speeches on the U.S. Constitution; higher education administration and policy; biographical essays; contemporary politics and international affairs. Mills’ career includes service with the Tennessee General Assembly; Gov. Ned McWherter; Tennessee Supreme Court; Tennessee Department of Education; and Fisk University.


Emily Pearce
Associate Director, Video, Vanderbilt News Service
Pearce oversees video projects, coordinates live television interviews from VUStar, Vanderbilt’s campus broadcast facility, and assists with the daily operation of the Vanderbilt News Service. A 15-year veteran of television news, Pearce spent six years at ABC-TV owned stations in San Francisco and New York. She has won numerous broadcasting awards including a national Ohio State Merit Award and multiple regional Emmys, including several Emmys for her work at Vanderbilt. As a veteran special projects producer/executive producer, Pearce has planned and overseen live news coverage of events ranging from the Super Bowl to Presidential trips to elections. She spent five years at the University of California San Francisco where she handled international, national and local media. She was a senior account executive at a public relations agency in Nashville before joining Vanderbilt in January 2000.


Pat Slattery
Broadcast Production Manager, Vanderbilt News Service
Slattery, a national award-winning videographer and longtime chief photographer at Nashville’s WSMV-TV, joined the News Service in August 2006 as broadcast technical and production manager. He serves the university and medical center as videographer for live shots at VUStar, Vanderbilt's campus broadcast facility, as well as facilitating audio production and shooting and editing stories for external media and VUCast, Vanderbilt's news Web site. Slattery was on staff at WSMV-TV for more than 24 years, serving as chief photographer for the past 11 years. He has won more than 20 regional Emmy awards, including the prestigious Silver Circle award as well as Emmys for his work at Vanderbilt.


Lee T. Todd, Jr., President, University of Kentucky
Todd became the 11th president of the University of Kentucky on July 1, 2001. He is a native of Earlington, Ky. and a graduate of UK and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Todd is the sixth UK alumnus to hold the presidency. He is a former UK engineering professor; a successful businessman who launched two worldwide technology companies, both based in Kentucky; and a public advocate for research, technology, and an entrepreneurial economy in the Commonwealth.

President Todd is Chair of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). He also is President of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Executive Committee. President Todd serves on the Equitable Resources Board of Directors and is chair of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Task Force. He is chair of the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education's (NCCI) Leveraging Excellence Award selection panel. President Todd also is a member of the Business Higher Education Forum and the Council on Competitiveness.


Chuck Toney, Speechwriter, University of Georgia
Toney has been a speechwriter and policy analyst in the University of Georgia’s Public Affairs office since September 1999. His primary responsibility is to provide writing support, research and policy analysis for President Michael F. Adams. He is also a member of the Public Affairs issues management team.

Toney previously worked as a public information director at Clemson University, press secretary for a Georgia Congressman and reporter and editor for several northeast Georgia weekly newspapers. He holds degrees in English from Presbyterian College and Clemson University.

He is a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Oconee County, a youth sports coach and serves on the boards of several local organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and YWCO.


David Williams
Vice Chancellor for University Affairs & Athletics, General Counsel and Secretary of the University, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University
Williams oversees Student Athletics, the 13-member General Counsel Office, the Office of Risk Management, the University's Compliance and Conflict of Interest functions and the operations of the University's Board of Trust. He is a tenured full professor at the Vanderbilt School of Law.

He is a member of the State Bars of Tennessee, and Michigan, as well as the District of Columbia Bar. He is an active member of the American Corporate Counsel Association (ACCA) and the American Bar Association (ABA). He is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) Board. Williams is a member of the ABA's Bar Admissions Committee. As a member of ABA's Section of Business Law, Williams has served as Co-Chair of the Corporate Counsel Committee. He also has served on a number of ABA Accreditation site visits of Law Schools and has completed a three-year term for the Membership Review Committee of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS). Mr. Williams is currently serving his second three-year term as a member of the Nashville Branch of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Board, and his second one-year term as Chair. Williams also serves as a member of the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee and the NCAA General Counsel Advisory Board.

A native of Detroit, Mich., Mr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science (Social Science) and Master of Arts (Education) from Northern Michigan University; a Master of Business Administration and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Detroit; and an LL.M. (Taxation) from New York University. Mr. Williams came to Vanderbilt in August 2000.