Our People

Headshot of Denise Bortree

Denise Bortree


Associate Professor, Advertising/Public Relations
Director, Arthur W. Page Center

Denise Bortree is an associate professor in the department of advertising and public relations in the College of Communications at Penn State University and the director of the Arthur W. Page Center. She brings more than 10 years of industry experience to the position, including work as communications manager for two Fortune 500 companies. Bortree’s research focuses on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and nonprofit communication. Her award-winning research has been published in over 25 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is a leading expert in volunteer communication, and her work on this topic led to her selection by the United Nations Volunteers to write for its State of the World’s Volunteerism study.  Her work at the Page Center has resulted in two co-edited books and a number of peer reviewed publications.

Bortree is the head of the public relations division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the largest division of public relations faculty in the world, and she is the  chair of the executive committee of the association/nonprofit section at the Public Relations Society of America.

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Headshot of <p>Lee</p> Ahern

Lee Ahern


Associate Professor, Advertising/Public Relations
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center
Project Manager, Sustainability Communications Initiative

Lee Ahern joined the faculty at Penn State in 2008 as an assistant professor, after a 20-year career in industry. Most recently he was marketing manager for an international custom publishing company, where he also oversaw development and implementation of all new media products. His Ph.D. and current research focus on environmental communications, applying empirical research and communications theory in the areas of persuasion, advertising, public relations and ethics. In particular, he has explored psychological effects and cognitive processing implications of different environmental message factors. In an international context, Ahern also studies the roles of culture and media system development on environmental attitudes and behaviors.

In 2007, Ahern received the Betsy Plank Graduate Student Research Award, which is presented annually at the Public Relations Society of America International Conference. He has presented multiple papers at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference.

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Headshot of <p>Colleen</p> Connolly-Ahern

Colleen Connolly-Ahern


Associate Professor , Advertising/Public Relations
Senior Research Fellow, Arthur W. Page Center

Colleen Connolly-Ahern brings a strong research background and a commitment to educating future public relations professionals to the Arthur W. Page Center. An associate professor in advertising/PR, Connolly-Ahern researches international political advertising and health communications. She also focuses on culture, media framing and media access in strategic communications.

She has been published in a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly; Journal of Public Relations Research (JPRR); and Communication, Culture and Critique. Connolly-Ahern is also former head of the Public Relations Division of AEJMC and a member of the editorial board of JPRR.

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Elaine Files


Coordinator of Research Administration, Staff

Elaine Files is the main contact person for the Arthur W. Page Center. She joined the College of Communications in December of 2012 after working 12 years in the University research administration area of Penn State. Her educational background in English and Business added to her 14 years in research administration has benefited her ability to help write and submit proposals and budgets for faculty. She assists faculty with the budgeting and monitoring of funded accounts for the College of Communications. Her past experience has helped to streamline the Grant process for the Legacy Scholar program in the Page Center. She has received an award for her excellence in customer service and facilitates collaboration between the faculty in her college and the university.

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Jonathan McVerry


Communications Strategist, Staff
Communications Strategist, Arthur W. Page Center

Jonathan McVerry is a communications strategist for the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, a research center in Penn State’s College of Communications. He also teaches COMM 260W:News Writing and Reporting as an adjunct lecturer.

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