Becoming a Woman of Influence

The Panel


Rachel Grant

Dr. Grant joined CJC in 2019 as an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism.

Prior to joining the College, she served as an assistant professor in Xavier University of Louisiana’s Mass Communication Department teaching classes in strategic communication, social media management and media law.

Her academic research looks at media studies of race, gender and class and she has conducted extensive research with social movements, social justice, and Black feminism.

She has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Celebrity Studies, Visual Communication Quarterly, American Journalism and Southwest Education Council for Journalism and Mass Communication Journal.

Grant has worked professionally as a news reporter for local daily newspapers and statewide magazines and has worked in corporate advertising as a digital copywriter.


Allyson Park
B.S. Public Relations 1996, Hall of Fame 2014

Chief Corporate Affairs Officer
Yum! Brands, Inc.

Allyson Park leads Yum!’s global reputation, stakeholder engagement and environmental social governance (ESG) strategy known as our Recipe for Good, with functional responsibility for corporate communications, financial communications, external communications, crisis and issues management, social media, internal communications, sustainability, government relations, philanthropy, social impact, creative services and meetings and events. Yum! Brands include KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and The Habit Burger Grill. Parks also serves as chairman and CEO of the Yum! Brands Foundation.

Before joining Yum! in 2022, Park served as global vice president, Corporate Affairs, for Mars Wrigley. In that role, she oversaw the company’s purpose initiatives; internal and external communications; ESG; public policy and government affairs; the Mars Wrigley Foundation; and call centers across 170 countries for brands including M&Ms®, Snickers®, Skittles®, Dove®, Orbit® and KIND®, among others. Other roles at Mars included global vice president of Strategic Initiatives for Mars Wrigley, global vice president of Sustainability, Corporate Affairs and Health & Wellbeing for Mars Chocolate and vice president Corporate Affairs for Mars Petcare North America. Prior to her time at Mars, Park served in five roles at The Coca-Cola Company, including as global vice president of External Affairs. She began her career with nearly a decade at agencies in New York and Atlanta.

Park serves as an CJC Public Relations adjunct lecturer, a board director with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, an adviser to Globowl, an internationally-influenced organic baby food company, a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and a graduate of Leadership Greater Chicago. Park was named a UF Alumni of Distinction in 2014.

Leigh B. Radford
B.S. Advertising 1986

Board Member/ Retired Senior Vice President of Procter & Gamble
Founder P&G Ventures

Leigh Radford is an experienced board member, retired senior vice president of Procter & Gamble and founder of P&G Ventures, an early-stage start-up studio within Procter & Gamble.  Known for her business turnarounds, disruptive product innovation, and expertise in brand building, she is recognized as one of the industry’s most innovative, consumer-driven business leaders and world-class brand builders.

Over her 30+ year career at P&G, Radford built multiple billion-dollar businesses across various geographies and categories, including skin care, personal cleansing and health care.  Brands under her leadership have delivered significant and sustained business growth including OLAY becoming the #1 Global Skincare Brand, VICKS achieving $1 billion+ status and the expansion of SAFEGUARD into new markets across Eastern Europe, China, and Southeast Asia.

Presently, Radford is an active board member of The E.W. Scripps Company, VF Foundry, a start-up venture arm of the VF Corporation; FAST Studios, a media start-up company focused on the fast-growing connected TV marketplace; and Goodwill Industries International, a $7 billon non-profit organization in which she serves on both the Membership Standards and Strategic Issues Planning Committee.

As founder of P&G Ventures, Radford obtained 6+ years of corporate board experience serving as advisor to the board and CEO in the newly created ventures space.  During her tenure, Radford step-changed P&G’s launch of new brands including OPTE, a Digital Skin Care device and winner of Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies (2020), and ZEVO, a disruptive line of insect control products safe for children and pets. In 2021, P&G Ventures was recognized by Fast Company as one of the Top 20 Best Workplaces for Innovators.

Radford’s accomplishments have been recognized across the industry including: Brand Innovators’ Top 100 Women to Watch, OTC Marketer of the Year and Advertising Age Top 50 Marketers. Radford is also a recipient of the Harley Procter Award, given to less than 1% of the top marketers at P&G.

Prior to Procter & Gamble, Radford began her career in the airline business working for Eastern and Continental Airlines across multiple sales and management positions.  Radford received a B.S. in Business Administration from UF, and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.

Giselle Thomas

Multimedia Journalist
WGFL/CBS4 in Gainesville

Giselle Thomas, a 2018 graduate from the Florida A&M University School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, is a reporter/multimedia journalist with WGFL/CBS4. Previously she was a broadcast associate at CBS Mornings, one of America’s top-rated morning shows. While at CBS, she was a part of CBS Mornings co-host Tony Dokoupil’s editorial/producing team. She had previously interned for CBS Mornings/CBS This Morning in New York as part of a summer 2017 Fellowship Program. She also interned at CBS affiliate WCTV EyeWitness News in Tallahassee, Florida, while enrolled as a full-time student.

While at CBS Mornings, she aided in several sub-anchor remotes for CBS This Morning from covering the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to Hurricane Dorian’s impact in South Carolina. She traveled across several battleground states during the 2020 election season, and recently received a credit 48 Hours Forrest Fenn Treasure Hunt story.

​During the pandemic, she assisted in interviews with Senator Bernie Sanders, Oprah Winfrey, and many more notable figures.

Kalisha Whitman

Senior TV News Manager
CJC Innovation News Center

 Kalisha Whitman is an Emmy® award-winning journalist who understands how to captivate audiences through media. She coaches Students at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications to create and produce engaging non-perishable content through her motivating, futuristic and deliberate methods.

Her knowledge as an innovator, educator and journalist enables her to connect with diversified audiences and universal influencers. She has covered a range of stories from the United States 2008 historical presidential election, to one of America’s deadliest storm systems that ripped through the southern region of the United States in 2011, and the 50th commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement, in Birmingham. Her news reports afforded her the opportunity to be a vital member of an Emmy®, Edward R. Murrow and Alabama Broadcasters Association award-winning team.

She received several Associated Press awards — while working as a one-person band. She has been nominated for two additional Emmy® awards. Her stories have been featured on NBC Universal, FOX, CBS, ABC and CNN affiliated platforms.

Kalisha completed her undergraduate studies at Florida A&M University. She completed her graduate studies at Columbia University.