Welcome! I am an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver specializing in organizational communication. I am also the Director of the International Studies program. My research intersects the fields of organizational discourse and security. From 2001 to 2005, I served in management positions for a Washington, DC-based provider of analytical support services to U.S. and international clients in government and industry. I have been named one of the leading experts in open source intelligence in the United States (see Loch K. Johnson, ed., Essentials of Strategic Intelligence). Since 2005, I have been affiliated with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) – a U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland. My research has been published in Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Intelligence and National Security and the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence. I have won awards for scholarship from the National Communication Association and the Western States Communication Association.
I joined the faculty of the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver in the Fall of 2009. Since that time, I have advanced the University’s mission, vision, and values through my research, teaching, and service activities. This summary statement highlights those activities and outlines my professional plan. In the year that has elapsed since my application for comprehensive review, I have acquired significant indicators of a growing national reputation for research: a commissioned essay for the first issue of a prestigious new journal; an article published in the Southern Communication Journal; an article in press at the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence; invited participation in a National Science Foundation research project on tsunami warning; an invited book review for Political Science Quarterly; an invited entry for the Encyclopedia of Health Communication (Sage); continuing review work for Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Management Communication Quarterly and Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science; invited panel participation at the Natural Hazards Center annual meeting; guest editorship for the Natural Hazards Review; and successfully organizing a panel for the National Communication Association’s upcoming annual conference in Washington, DC. I have accomplished these activities while continuing my leadership of a nearly $1 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security contract to study mobile public alert and warning communication in the United States.
In the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, I walked the halls of the White House, Pentagon, and CIA attempting to persuade officials and policymakers to purchase our company’s information and analytical services in support of homeland security and the War on Terror. These experiences challenged my assumptions about government institutions, security, and democracy and compelled me to undertake doctoral study of the communicative processes of national security organizing. My experiences in Washington, DC continue to serve as a touchstone for my research program, which intersects the fields of communication studies, organization studies, and national security affairs. Two interrelated themes characterize this research program. I investigate: 1) how discourse promotes and impedes the development of national security institutions that reflect the idealized principles of a democratic society; and 2) how communication theory can enable stakeholders including policymakers, officials, and citizens to better prepare for and respond to natural and man-made disasters. This research program has so far resulted in my authoring a book on institutional change within the U.S. intelligence community, authoring or co-authoring eleven refereed journal articles (additionally, five articles/entries/reviews are in press, and two articles will soon be under review), three refereed book chapters, two refereed book reviews, and five published research reports and white papers. This work has also led to five externally funded research grants/contracts, six internally funded research grants, and three fellowships—representing more than $255,000 in funding.
My first book, No More Secrets: Open Source Information and the Reshaping of U.S. Intelligence (Praeger, 2011), exemplifies the first of my research themes. This volume analyzes institutional and public discourse to explain how open source (i.e., publicly available) information policies and practices are developed, maintained, and transformed within the U.S. intelligence community. A forthcoming article in the International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence (based on an interview that I conducted with the former Director of the CIA’s Open Source Center) underscores the relevance of No More Secrets. As a result of my national security research, I have been commissioned by two of our field’s leading scholars to contribute an essay to a themed, first issue of a new journal, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ World Making (Michigan State University Press). My contributed piece, “U.S. National Security Culture: From Queer Psychopathology to Queer Citizenship,” examines how the case of “Wiki-leaker” Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) represents both continuity and change in the history of U.S. national security culture. Additionally, “‘The Tyranny of Metaphor’: Conceptualizing U.S. National Security Strategy, 1987—2010,” soon to be under review at Rhetoric & Public Affairs, provides a longitudinal perspective on the episodic and contextual nature of natural security strategy documents and reveals persistent ideological assumptions about the role of the United States in global affairs. As these multiple publications indicate, I am becoming a leading contributor to the development of the communication and security subfield.
The second theme of my research program is taken up in my latest collaboration with researchers from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)—a U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded Center of Excellence based at the University of Maryland. In July 2012, DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded our research team nearly $1 million to determine how to most effectively write imminent threat messages that the public receives via mobile devices. This first-of-its-kind project will help authorities keep communities safe by exploring how to best alert people to immediate dangers such as hurricanes or terrorist attacks via Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)—a public safety system developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the nation’s wireless industry. Multiple opportunities to extend and develop this research will follow the completion of this high profile, two-year project. The first publication stemming from this project (a literature review outlining the field of public warning research) will soon be under review at Public Relations Review. As a result of these efforts, I am becoming one of the field’s leading experts on public warning communication in the Untied States.
My research program’s interrelated themes collectively advance the university’s values of critical thinking, reflection, collaboration, and the application of new ideas and technologies to expand the frontiers of knowledge and human experience.
I received outstanding mentorship throughout my academic career, so I am honored that I am now able to “pay it forward” and help my students achieve their academic and professional goals. As co-director of the department’s Organizational Communication and Public Relations pathway, I teach courses that expose students to (and immerse them in) organizational phenomena, i.e., discourse, culture, technology, power, control, and strategy. For example, Principles of Public Relations introduces students to the concepts, theories, and practices of public relations. The Advanced Public Relations course widens and deepens students’ strategic communication knowledge and abilities. Specifically, students master a nine-phase strategic planning process in the context of developing a comprehensive public relations campaign for an actual organization. Both of these courses use diverse and inclusive case studies, examples, and assignments to spur student engagement. Students leverage their coursework on behalf of actual organizations, including Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Five Points Business District, and LiveWell Colorado—among many others. I have taught these courses in China to students enrolled in the International College Beijing (ICB) program. These courses emphasize community enterprises in accordance with the College’s objective to conduct teaching and learning that supports the public good.
At the graduate level, I am fortunate to teach seminars directly related to my doctoral training in Organizational Discourse and Communication and Security. Organizational Discourse uses experiential learning techniques to provide students with a substantive overview of major theoretical, methodological, and topical themes in organizational discourse research: power/control/resistance, identity, participation, change, leadership, and globalization. Several independent study projects and research collaborations have resulted from this course (including an article published in the Southern Communication Journal co-authored with two graduate students). I am pleased that former students have contacted me to explain how relevant and useful this course has been for their professional lives. In terms of my interest in security, I am currently teaching the seminar Communication and Security, which draws upon my expertise in national security affairs. In the future, I look forward to strengthening the department’s offerings within the Organizational Communication and Public Relations pathway through refining existing courses and developing new ones in light of rapid technological and economic changes. Finally, my teaching evaluations are consistently above department, college, and university averages, and I have earned a rating of “outstanding” for teaching on my last three annual reviews.
I have used service activities to enrich student learning, promote the achievements of our department, and advance disciplinary knowledge. For example, as Chair of the department’s Publicity Committee, I have supervised and guided multiple student-centered service projects. In this role, I am also responsible for disseminating news about our department community’s accomplishments. I also generate and place advertisements within the programs for national and regional conferences attended by thousands of communication scholars. I assist with promoting our department’s annual Communication Days celebration and serve as a member of several department committees. I have also worked closely with our Associate Chair at ICB (International College Beijing) to develop public relations campaigns for that program. I am a member of the college’s Faculty Assembly Educational Policies and Planning Committee and a member of the Teaching and Learning IT Governance Committee. At the disciplinary level, I routinely serve as a manuscript reviewer for the field’s top journals and attend multiple academic conferences each year. I look forward to enhancing and expanding my service to the department, college, university, community, and discipline.