2022 Honorees

ComArtSci is proud to recognize our 2022 class of honorees who will be honored at The Celebration.

Mark Bellissimo | Dr. Norma Fay Green | Aisha Howard | Jacqueline (Jack) Howard  | Arun Sinha | Darien Harris | John Zaffarano

HONORARY ALUMNI

John Zaffarano

B.A. Hospitality Business 1987

John Zaffarano attended MSU to pursue a degree in Hospitality Business. During that time, he became President of the Hospitality Association, the largest student organization on campus. Ultimately, his formal education and dedication to customer service would kick-start a career reflecting his curiosities and passions.

Upon graduation he was hired by The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles as a management trainee. He later transitioned to the world of magazine publishing and ultimately pursued his entertainment career at 20th Century Fox Studios, where he held leadership roles in the International Film Marketing division. At Fox, he contributed to over 90 film campaigns including "Titanic," "There's Something About Mary," and "Fight Club." Zaffarano was also instrumental in launching the billion-dollar franchises, "Ice Age" and "X-Men."

Zaffarano later embarked on a journey across four Hollywood creative advertising agencies, producing award-winning trailers and creative campaigns. In 2015, Zaffarano joined Mob Scene as its first President, Global Creative Marketing, charged with expanding the agency's offerings across film studio, streaming, and brand clients. During this time, the agency doubled in size, with Zaffarano overseeing creative campaign materials for "Deadpool 1 & 2," "A Quiet Place," "The Greatest Showman," and "Rocketman." During his tenure, Mob Scene garnered over 30 CLIO Entertainment Awards recognizing work by his team, including the 2019 Grand CLIO award for Best Home Entertainment Campaign for "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Recently recruited to join Amazon Prime Video, Zaffarano leads Global Integrated Creative Production responsible for all Creative Production, Art/Print Production, Audio/Visual Post Production and the A/V Content Studio supporting Amazon series, movies and brand marketing. Current projects include "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," "Making the Cut," "The Boys," and the upcoming "Lord of the Rings" franchise.

Zaffarano's engagement with ComArtSci has been invaluable towards enriching the world-class education of our students who have been inspired by his success. He has demonstrated what it means to be a true Spartan by sharing expertise while hosting students for field experience visits, appearing in class, and engaging with our students at southern California events.

John Zaffarano

Head of Global Integrated Creative Production, Amazon Prime Video


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RISING STAR

Darien Harris

B.A. Journalism 2015; M.A. Marketing 2019

As Michigan State Football's first ever director of player engagement, Darien Harris oversees all off-the-field initiatives for the student-athletes, which includes facilitating the "Overtime Program," a player development platform, directing the EverGreen program (MSU Athletics' NIL education tools) and spearheading the efforts for student-athlete transitions from high school to college, and college to post graduation. Harris' role also includes media training, personal branding, community service opportunities, internship opportunities and career readiness development, team culture development, and university partnerships between the football program and several campus resources. He also serves as the President of the Michigan State Football Players Association and is responsible for all alumni engagement efforts. Additionally, Harris contributes to content curation on social media which entails working closely with the creative team on Black History Month, fan engagement, in stadium experience, and managing the Overtime Program social media pages.

Upon graduation Harris signed with the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL in 2016 and spent two more subsequent seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Ottawa RedBlacks. Harris quickly established a reputation of excellence as a sportscaster and media analyst he served as the color commentator for MSU Football Spring games on Big Ten Network, was a weekly panelist on BTN Live, co-hosted/hosted "The Drive with Jack" and "The Spartan Beat" sports radio programs, including many more.

Harris was an accomplished athlete playing in 54 career games, and was a part of 43 victories, both are school records, which included two Big Ten Championship victories, a Rose Bowl victory in the 100th edition of the historic game, a Cotton Bowl victory, and a trip to the College Football Playoffs. Harris can be seen giving back in myriad of ways including active involvement with the Sadler Foundation, Kids on the Go, and the NFL College Football Administrator Committee.

Darien Harris

Director of Player Engagement, Michigan State University Football


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OUTSTANDING ALUMNI

Mark Bellissimo 

B.A. Advertising 1986 

Mark Bellissimo has worked for 36 years in marketing and advertising, culminating in his current role as CEO of the JRT agency. Yet, after all this time Bellissimo still thinks young. Why? Because marketing communication challenges continue to relentlessly evolve for brands and emergent generations. Leading the digital-first JRT agency, Bellissimo continues tackling challenges for brands by acutely understanding audiences and delivering results that matter in todays dynamic marketplace.

Over his career Bellissimo has stewarded well-known brand marketing efforts including Chevrolet, KFC, and Dodge just to name a few. Bellissimo's portfolio transcends industries including automotive, entertainment, healthcare, and many more. His career has taken him to agency communities from coast-to-coast. Along the way, some of his milestone accomplishments include successful rejuvenation of the Chevrolet brand on import-dominated West Coast, and overseeing the entire "Like a Rock" Chevy Truck campaign nationally.

Leading a highly experienced team of business analysts, strategists, researchers and (of course) creatives, Bellissimo launched what became the most successful campaign in advertising history for USPS, the "If it Fits, It Ships." Flat Rate Box campaign. From that moment forward, he became a trusted advisor to the USPS organization regarding marketing and advertising related matters.

   

Bellissimo is an active contributor to the College of Communication Arts and Sciences student experience by spending time guest lecturing, sharing case studies from his work at the JRT Agency, and providing ComArtSci students internship opportunities to gain meaningful work experience.

Bellissimo has been recognized for his outstanding campaign accomplishments by receiving two Advertising Research Foundation Grand Ogilvy Awards, numerous Effie and other awards for strategic and creative excellence.

Mark Bellissimo

Chief Executive Officer, the JRT agency, CG Detroit 


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OUTSTANDING ALUMNI

Dr. Norma Fay Green

B.A. Journalism 1969; Ph.D. Mass Media 1993

Dr. Norma Fay Green is professor emerita of journalism at Columbia College Chicago where she was Graduate Journalism Director for 20 years, taught 24 different undergraduate and graduate courses, including 9 she created; and served for 15 years as Fulbright Scholar Liaison.

As an undergraduate, she worked for The State News and, upon graduation, became a newspaper reporter at the Plymouth Mail & Observer and then a staff writer and copy editor for The Monroe Evening News. She pursued graduate study at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism where she was a U. S. Supreme Court correspondent for Medill News Service. Upon receiving her M. S. J. she stayed in Chicago working for Crain Communications Inc., Follett Publishing Co. and other book firms. After being recruited to teach part-time at Medill, she decided to launch a full-time academic career. Following a stint as a guest Editor in Residence at MSU's School of Journalism, Green was accepted into the CAS Mass Media doctoral program, one of only two women in her incoming class.

She has collected many accolades as a writer and contributed to 13 books including, "Political Pioneer of the Press: Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Her Transnational Crusade for Social Justice" (2018), "Curating Culture: How 20th Century Magazines Influenced America" (2021), as well as publications about marginalized groups, and four refereed journals.

National recognition for her work includes The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications Minorities & Communication Divisions first ever Multicultural Curriculum Award, AEJMC's Edwin Emery Award for Exceptional Historical Research, and National Federation of Press Women first place award for print journalism research, as well as the Fulbright Association Chicago Chapters annual service award. She received grants and faculty fellowships from the Lilly Endowment, Ford Foundation, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Poynter Institute for Media Studies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. Norma Fay Green

Professor Emerita of Journalism, Columbia College Chicago

 

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OUTSTANDING ALUMNI

Aisha Howard

B.A. Journalism 2007

Aisha Howard is an Emmy nominated news anchor and reporter. You can find her before the sun comes up as she helps you get ready to start your day on 11Alive weekday morning news in Atlanta.

Prior to joining the 11Alive team the proud Spartan landed her first news job behind the scenes as an assignment editor in Atlanta. After learning the ins and outs of the business Howard got her start in front of the camera in New Bern, North Carolina, a city she'd never heard of. Howard credits her MSU education for preparing her to take on the role as a one-man band reporter, meaning she was her own photographer along with writing and editing every story. Carrying 50 pounds of equipment across campus truly paid off.

From there, the Flint, Michigan native returned home to serve as morning and noon anchor in mid-Michigan alongside the on-air talent she grew up watching with her grandmothers. With a fierce determination for storytelling, Howard elevated her journalism career and made the transition from field reporting to the anchor desk. During her time in Indianapolis, Indiana she hosted her first solo evening news show which reached the number one spot.

Some of Howard's most memorable assignments include covering the Hillary Clinton campaign on the night of the 2016 presidential election in New York City, and her trip to Hollywood to cover the American Idol finale and interview celebrities like Jennifer Lopez on the red carpet.

Howard's character is often described as tenacious, hardworking, and ambitious. These attributes are demonstrated through her passions which include, supporting teen girls, advocating for domestic violence survivors, and volunteering at events geared towards aspiring journalists. Howard is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Aisha Howard

News Anchor, 11Alive News


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OUTSTANDING ALUMNI

Jacqueline (Jack) Howard

B.A. Journalism 2003

Jack Howard manages the operational processes of the Wealth Advisor business for Ally Invest. She is also responsible for the Inclusive Wealth strategy that is part of the Ally enterprise Financial Social Inclusion efforts and serves as secretary for the Ally Charitable Foundation.

Before joining Ally Invest, Howard served as senior director of Ally Corporate Citizenship. She was responsible for the creation and execution of strategic programs for the organizations financial literacy program, corporate giving initiatives and employee giving/volunteerism programs.

Howard has had numerous opportunities to serve as a corporate spokesperson and expert on financial education and economic mobility, including features on CNBC, Essence Magazine, and TV One Women of Power. As a passionate advocate for financial social inclusion, Howard recognizes the significant wealth disparities and is committed to be a change-maker by creating programs that help prepare underserved communities with tools for wealth creation. Her work has earned her a spot as one of 15 women on the 2019 Next list - an extension of the American Banker Most Powerful Women in Banking program.

Howard's personal life is grounded in giving back. She is a breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 2011. She completed chemotherapy, double mastectomy surgery, radiation, and breast reconstruction. This experience led her to mentor recently diagnosed young women and be an advocate for the Young Survivors Coalition. Howard's Relay for Life Team, Jacks Joy Warriors, raised more than $30,000.

An active professional, Jack is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill of America, Inc. She serves on the national board of directors for the American Bankers Association Foundation and Society for Financial Education and Professional Development, and the Boys and Girls Club of SE Michigan. Her family and health serve as a constant reminder that anything is possible.

Jacqueline (Jack) Howard

Senior Director of Wealth Advisors Operations, Ally Invest


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OUTSTANDING ALUMNI

Arun Sinha

M.A. Advertising 1984

Arun Sinha is a board advisor, global chief marketing officer and leading business builder in technology and financial services. He recently launched Vestrata, a global fintec wealth management platform that provides world class investment solutions. According to the Financial Times, "Vestrata aims to shake up Europe's private banks." As a CMO, Sinha has led marketing, communications, and growth at some of the world's most successful companies, including MSCI, J. P. Morgan, Zurich Financial and Pitney Bowes. As a board advisor, Sinha has coached CEOs and executive leadership teams in digital and consumer marketing companies including Bounteous, Olson, Guthy|Renker and Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Sinha specializes in transforming businesses from obscurity to customer centric, growth driven, and top 100 global brands by driving cultural change.

Sinha credits the grounding at MSU that led him straight to Young & Rubicam where he built some of the biggest brands including Ford, Lincoln-Mercury and Colgate-Palmolive from the very start of his career. He then joined Philip Morris, where he launched their fastest growing brand and was then responsible for all of their Premium Brands.

As a lecturer and senior fellow at Yale School of Management, Sinha co-created a unique marketing class, Strategic Marketing Leadership: The role of a CMO. He is a frequent media commentator and author of several highly acclaimed business strategy books including, "Sweet Spot: How to Maximize Marketing for Business Growth." His expertise has been widely recognized receiving, CMO of theYear, Marketer of the Year, and multiple other awards.

Sinha is a stellar example of a business leader and thought leadership in marketing, supporting his peer community, and mentoring aspiring marketers. He regularly contributes to the student experience within the College of Communication Arts and Sciences by participating in events with students and coaching graduating students on their career goals. Sinha also contributes through his active participation with the CMO roundtable discussions and the Spartan CMO Symposium.

Arun Sinha

Global Chief Marketing Officer  


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