Jennifer Jackson Sanner
KU Alumni Association

KU Alumni Association, Black Alumni Network celebrate young alumni with inaugural Emerging Leaders Award

Thu, 09/30/2021

Emerging Leader Award winners announced by the KU Alumni Association.

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Black Alumni Network this year begins a new tradition of honoring young alumni for their professional achievements and community service. Seven Jayhawks will receive the inaugural Emerging Leaders awards at the network’s biennial reunion Oct. 14-17, during Homecoming weekend:   

  • Michael Austin, Lawrence, who earned his master’s degree in economics in 2016;
  • Marcus Hollinger, Atlanta, a 2014 journalism graduate;
  • Nicole Humphrey, Coral Gables, Florida, who received her bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in 2016 and her doctorate in public administration in 2020;
  • Craig Jackson Jr., Sacramento, California, who completed his master’s degree in higher education in 2014;
  • Paul Pierce II, Lawrence, who earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2015;
  • Dr. Margaret Pruitt, Silver Spring, Maryland, who completed her doctorate in molecular and integrative physiology in 2017 and her doctorate in medicine in 2019; and
  • Joshua Robinson, Cedar Park, Texas, who received his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2016 and his master’s degree in public administration in 2018.

About the honorees:

Michael Austin is a public-sector economist and policy researcher and president of Knowledge & Decisions Economic Consulting LLC. He previously directed fiscal policy for the Kansas Policy Institute and as the chief economist for two governors. He volunteers as a high school tutor and debate coach.

Marcus Hollinger is senior vice president for marketing of Reach Records and co-founder of Portrait Coffee Roasters, an award-winning company that seeks to use coffee as a mechanism for doing good across Atlanta.

Nicole Humphrey is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Miami who researches the impact of organizational structures and processes on gender and racial inequities. She also chairs the Student & New Professionals Section of the American Society of Public Administration.

Craig Jackson is senior director of development for the University of California-Davis School of Engineering. He also co-chairs the diversity, equity and inclusion committee for development and alumni relations at UC Davis. For the KU School of Education & Human Sciences, he serves on the dean’s advisory board.

Paul Pierce, former assistant athletics director for compliance with Kansas Athletics, in July was promoted to associate athletics director for inclusive excellence to lead all diversity and inclusion efforts for staff, coaches and athletes. He participates in the Multicultural Excellence in College Athletics and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association.

Margaret Pruitt completed a fellowship at the Milken Institute’s School of Public Health and now serves as a resident physician at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and a member of the departmental council for diversity, equity and inclusion at the GW School of Medicine. She also guides high school students as a mentor and tutor.

Joshua Robinson is a senior associate and network manager at Living Cities, an organization focused on building economically and racially inclusive cities. He also is an active member of the Austin Area Urban League and the Sigma Kappa Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.

For more information about the Black Alumni Network and the 2021 Reunion Weekend Oct. 14-17, visit

About the KU Alumni Association

Through the support of members and donors, the KU Alumni Association advocates for the University of Kansas, communicates with Jayhawks in all media, recruits students and volunteers, serves the KU community and unites Jayhawks.

As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the KU Alumni Association and its networks remain strictly nonpartisan and are not affiliated with any political party, nor do they endorse any candidates for elected or appointed offices in local, state or national government. For more information, visit

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