Meet your Faculty

As you progress through the Master of Arts in Leadership Communication, you'll work with expert faculty.

Lauren Edelman
Photo of Lauren EdelmanDr. Edelman is Director of the Washburn University Leadership Institute. As director, Lauren oversees both academic and co-curricular leadership development programs. Additionally, Lauren teaches several courses within the Leadership Studies Minor and the Masters of Communication and Leadership Studies. She oversees the development and execution of pillar programs such as the Leadership Challenge Event™, the High School Leadership Academy, and provides leadership for the Leadership Institute Advisory Board. She also provides mentorship to the three Leadership Institute Fellows. At Washburn University, Lauren serves on the Washburn Leadership Retreat Planning Committee, High Impact Community Engagement Practices Committee, and University Honors Advisory Council. She was a participant in the Leadership Washburn class of 2014-2015.

Dr. Edelman completed her doctor of education in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Kansas. Her dissertation explored the relationship between leadership development programs and the development of the psychological capital constructs of hope, resilience, and self-efficacy in college women. Dr. Edelman earned a master of arts in educational administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a bachelor of arts in mass media from Washburn University.

Cynthia Hornberger
Photo of Cynthia Hornberger Cynthia Hornberger is a Professor Emeritus at Washburn University. A member of the faculty since 1989, Cindy served as the Dean of the School of Nursing from 2000 to 2009 and Special Assistant to the President from 2010 to 2016. Her past administrative responsibilities included leadership of the School of Nursing; and the University Relations, Strategic Analysis and Reporting, and the Alumni Association departments. In her role as Special Assistant she oversaw the development of the Leadership Washburn professional development program and the Vision 2022 Strategic Plan. As professor her academic interests began in medical-surgical nursing and finished with health policy and finance, leadership in complex systems, quality improvement, and international education. Her research and publications topics over a 30-year span included tobacco cessation, heart failure management, the nursing shortage, international double degree programs and her favorite, leadership. She is certified as a Lean Six Sigma: Green Belt and formerly as a Clinical Nurse Leader by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Together with colleagues she co-created the Masters in Communication and Leadership degree program at Washburn.

Dr. Hornberger currently serves on the Stormont Vail Health Board of Directors and the Douglas County Extension Council Board, and is President of the Douglas County Extension Master Gardeners. She served previously as President of the Kansas Association of Colleges of Nursing, and board member of the Capital Area chapter of the American Red Cross, St. Francis Health, Brewster Living, and Heartland Visioning. She has received numerous teaching, leadership and service awards and is a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow, a 2006 graduate of Leadership Kansas, and a Washburn University Alumni Fellow. Her academic degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development, a Master of Science and PhD in Nursing, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kansas; and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Washburn University. In addition, she holds a certificate in Health Care Outcomes Management from the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Carson Kay
Carson KayCarson Kay is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies specializing in political rhetoric, public dialogue, and public deliberation. Prior to joining Washburn University in August of 2020, Dr. Kay spent several years coaching speech and debate, working in graduate program recruitment, and teaching at Ohio University. Before joining the communication studies discipline, she studied animal science and worked at small, university and community-centered, educational farms. With over a decade of professional public speaking experience, Dr. Kay mentors young adults by facilitating programs affiliated with 4-H and previously the American Association of University Women (AAUW). To date, she has received numerous leadership awards, including the undergraduate student-nominated 2017 Excellence in Service to Students Award from the Ohio University Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. She is also an alumna of the Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership (BCIL) Carper Mentoring Program and received the 2021 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the Berry Alumni Association.

Currently, Dr. Kay is a member of Faculty Senate and the Institutional Review Board (IRB). She also serves as the Humanities Division secretary, vice-chair elect for the Political Communication Division of the Southern States Communication Association, and secretary for the Public Dialogue and Deliberation Division of the National Communication Association. Within the Department of Communication Studies, she serves as the advisor of Lambda Pi Eta and co-advisor of Communication Club.

Dr. Kay holds a Ph.D. and master's degree in communication studies from Ohio University and a B.S. in animal science from Berry College. Her research examines political and politicized identity representation in contentious U.S. spaces and conversations, with a particular focus on the rhetoric emerging in public dialogues.

Kevin O'Leary
Kevin O'LearyKevin O’Leary is a Senior Lecturer in the Communication Studies Department. Dr. O’Leary is the Director of the Washburn debate team, which has won national championships in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  His scholarly interests include hip-hop and rock music, conflict and negotiation, and the philosophy of language and communication.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where he competed on the debate team, a master's degree in communication studies from St. Louis University, and a Ph.D. in communication studies from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Dr. O’Leary was recognized as Coach of the Year in 2008.

Tim Peterson
Tim PetersonTim Peterson is a Senior Project Director at the Kansas Board of Regents, and the Washburn University Dean Emeritus of Academic Outreach. His career spans forty years of adult and continuing higher education administration at several two-year and four-year institutions. He has also taught several online undergraduate and graduate courses. Dr. Peterson earned a bachelor of arts in social science from the University of Northern Iowa, a master’s degree in adult education at Texas A&M University, an educational specialist degree at George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Maryland. 

Mary Pilgram
Mary Pilgram Mary Pilgram is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies specializing in organizational communication. Dr. Pilgram has been a participant and facilitator of the Leadership Washburn program. Prior to university teaching, Dr. Pilgram spent over twenty years in the public and private sectors as a training and development and assessment professional in the areas of leadership and management development. This experience includes more than twenty years of progressive leadership positions. She is the former Co-Chair of the Training and Development Division of the National Communication Association. Leadership positions at Washburn include former department chair and program director for the Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership degree program, Leadership Institute Board Member, Faculty Senator, Graduate Council Member and Internship Coordinator for the Communication Studies Department. Dr. Pilgram was awarded a Lean Six Sigma: Green Belt by Washburn University. She is a graduate of Leadership Overland Park and holds a B.A. in Communication from William Jewell College and a M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Kansas.

Tracy Routsong
Tracy RoutsongTracy Routsong is a Professor in the Communication Studies Department, Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Director of the Bachelor of Integrated Studies. In 2018, she was honored to be named the Ned Fleming Excellence in Teaching award recipient. A Teaching Fellow for the Center for Teaching and Excellence in Learning (CTEL) since 2015, she focuses on active learning, diversity, and redeveloping the teaching consultation program for the university. In 2017, she and her co-collaborator, were awarded the CTEL pillar award for diversity. Dr. Routsong was part of the inaugural class, and then participated on the senior leadership team for Leadership Washburn from 2011 – 2017. After serving as chair of the Communication Studies department, Dr. Routsong transitioned to become Director of the Institutional Review Board from 2013 – 2017. She has served on a variety of University committees including Faculty Senate, College Faculty Council, Program Review, University Honors Board, Health Benefits Committee, search committees, and others. Dr. Routsong serves as the liaison for the Concurrent Enrollment Program for the Communication Studies program and the faculty advisor for the Communication Club and League of Legends. Dr. Routsong earned a  Lean Six Sigma: Green Belt  from Washburn University.

Dr. Routsong attended the University of Northern Iowa and earned her ma in Organizational Communication focused on crisis communication and the rhetorical strategies of image restoration and apologia. Following a three year stint teaching at Winona State University serving as both assistant director and then director of forensics, she attended the University of Iowa where she earned her Ph.D. in interpersonal communication. There she specialized in health and family communication with additional areas of emphases in research methods and communication theory.  

Jim Schnoebelen
Jim SchnoebelenJames (Jim) Schnoebelen is Professor and Chair in the Department of Communication Studies. In his nearly twenty years as a full-time faculty member at Washburn, he has served in numerous leadership roles. He has been a participant and facilitator for the  Leadership Washburn program, member and secretary of Faculty Senate, the Humanities Division representative on the Colege Committee on Promotion and Tenure (CCPT), the Faculty Senate representative on the Graduate Council, a member Women’s and Gender Studies Advisory (WAGS) Committee, and the former coordinator of Washburn’s Pre-Law Camp and Great Plains Regional Mock Trial Tournament. He currently serves as member and secretary of the Academic Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and is a faculty advisor for both the Mock Trial team and the Washburn student-run online radio station. He was Assistant Director of Forensics at Washburn from 2001 to 2008, and went on serve as Director of the Undergraduate Mock Trial team from 2008 to 2016. His scholarship focuses on the U.S. presidency, particularly the ways in which political communication represents and reinforces the gendered nature of human communication and our notions of executive leadership. He has degrees in speech communication (bachelor of science in 1999 and master's degree in 2001) from Central Missouri State University and communication studies (Ph.D. in 2010, emphases in Political Communication and Rhetoric) from the University of Kansas.

GET IN TOUCH WITH Department of Communication Studies

Communication Studies Department
Morgan Hall, Room 206
1700 SW College Ave
Topeka, KS 66621

Phone & Email
Phone: 785-670-2230

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