Ryan Colaianni, j’07, c’07, is vice president of Edelman in Washington, D.C. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, where he leads the Washington, D.C. Alumni Network and has hosted numerous student recruitment and alumni events. In 2011, he received the Dick Wintermote Award, which honors network volunteers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to their network and the alumni association. Ryan is a Life Member and Presidents Club member and is also a member of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
I became a Jayhawk because…
I knew that I wanted to study journalism at a university that allowed me to write for the student paper my freshman year. I started working for the Kansan before my first class and by my sophomore year, I was traveling the country covering the KU football team. By my junior year I was covering the men’s basketball team. I was writing professionally for the Lawrence Journal-World and the Topeka Capital Journal before I graduated.
How has KU propelled you into your current career?
The hands-on experience I gained at KU through a variety of activities, including the University Daily Kansan, and spending a summer as an orientation assistant helped develop my writing skills and instilled an ability to meet any deadline.
Where is the most unexpected place you’ve ever heard someone yell, “Rock Chalk”?
I’ve heard it everywhere! From Copenhagen to Florence to Jamaica, there is not a place I have been while wearing a KU shirt that I haven’t heard “Rock Chalk.” That bird helps make real connections in the places you least expect it.
What made your degree program distinctly KU?
I visited a number of journalism schools while looking at colleges and most provided a bland presentation with dozens of other prospective students. When I visited KU, I toured with just one other potential student and got to meet real students and professors to hear firsthand how I could succeed at KU. That experience carried over throughout my four years.
How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?
I didn’t know a soul when I arrived at KU from the east coast. The campus community was unbelievably accepting, and I quickly had a number of different niches and groups to be a part of. From Greek life, to my classes, to the campus activities I picked, I was always challenged to go further and try something new.
My best advice for college students is…
Go to class. It will save you hours of pain when you try to cram for that exam or write that paper.
Posted on Sep 13, 2016
in Alumni News and News
New national board members are (l to r): Jay Kerutis, Portia Kibble Smith, Janet Murfin and Ryan Colaianni.
New officers and four new directors were among the University of Kansas alumni who gathered Sept. 9-10 at the Adams Alumni Center for the fall meeting of the KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors.
The national chair for 2016-’17 is Scott Seyfarth, Hinsdale, Illinois, and the chair-elect is Kevin Carroll, Johns Creek, Georgia. Both took office July 1. The new directors are Jay Kerutis, Mesa, Arizona; Janet Lusk Murfin, Wichita; Ryan Colaianni, Arlington, Virginia; and Portia Kibble Smith, Overland Park. Their five-year terms on the board began July 1.
Seyfarth earned his KU degree in accounting and business administration in 1983. A longtime volunteer leader for the Association’s Chicago Network, he joined the national board in 2010. He owns Hipskind Seyfarth Risk Solutions LLC in Chicago. He is an Association life member, and he and his wife, Eileen, are donors to the Presidents Club.
Carroll became part of the Jayhawk community in 1983, when he was hired as the first director of the Adams Alumni Center and manager of The Learned Club for the Association. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, he is now chief operating officer and general manager of the Atlanta Athletic Club.
He joined the Association’s national board in 2012. He and his wife, Lisa, have hosted KU student recruitment events in Atlanta and Florida. They are life members and donors to the Presidents Club.
Colaianni completed KU bachelor’s degrees in political science and journalism in 2007. Following graduation, he returned to his hometown of Arlington, Virginia, and began his career in Washington, D.C., where he is now vice president of Edelman public relations. He leads the Washington Network as president and has hosted numerous events to support the Association and student recruitment. He received the 2011 Dick Wintermote Award for his leadership. His wife, Erinn, earned her KU bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2007 and her master’s in 2008. The Colaiannis are Alumni Association life members and Presidents Club donors.
Kerutis earned his KU bachelor’s degree in personnel administration in 1982. He devoted his career to computer software, rising through the ranks at Digital River Inc. to become president of the software and digital commerce services division. Now retired, he is president of the Las Sendas Golf Club. He competed for KU as a swimmer and, as captain, led the team to two conference championships and organized a 25-year reunion of his teammates. He is a life member and Presidents Club donor. He is married to Pat Caldwell.
Murfin, a 1975 KU graduate in elementary education, helped create the annual Jayhawk Roundup in Wichita and with her husband, David, a 1975 KU graduate, has hosted the event every year at Murfin Stables. She is a member of the Wichita Network board and has volunteered for numerous programs. The Murfins are life members and Presidents Club donors. David Murfin is a member of the Kansas Board of Regents.
Kibble Smith earned her KU degree in personnel administration in 1978, and she owns PKS Executive Search & Consulting. She serves on the Kansas City Network board, and she has participated in numerous events, including the Rock Chalk Ball and ’Hawks, Helmets and Handlebars. She personally recruits students through her involvement in the local KU network as well as the Black Alumni Network, and she is an annual member of the Association.
The Alumni Association accepts nominations for the national board from January 1 through March 1 each year. The board’s nominating committee selects a slate of nominees in April, the board considers each member of the slate for election at its spring meeting. The board meets in the fall, winter and spring.