Robert Beasley

General Counsel for Paws Incorporated

Robert Beasley has served as General Counsel for Paws since 1993, and is responsible for the legal affairs of the Company, including the establishment and protection of intellectual property rights. He is a graduate of the IU School of Laws and has been actively engaged in the practice of law since 1980. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Youth Opportunity Center in Muncie, Indiana.

Jim Davis

Creator of the comic strip Garfield and President of Paws Incorporated

Jim Davis is the creator of the comic strip, GARFIELD, and President of Paws, Incorporated, a licensing and creative studio that handles the worldwide business affairs for the Garfield property. GARFIELD is the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world. Davis also had many successes with GARFIELD including four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program and induction into the Licensing Hall of Fame (1998), but his most prized awards are from his peers in the National Cartoonist Society: Best Humor Strip (1981 and 1985), the Elzie Segar Award (1990), and the coveted Reuben Award (1990) for overall excellence in cartooning.

Madelyn Ferris

Vice President Marketing, Paws Incorporated

Madelyn Ferris has been with Paws, Inc. serving in various capacities since 1984, and is currently vice president, Digital Marketing and is responsible for digital sales and marketing for the Garfield brand worldwide. She holds a BS in secondary education from Ball State University and an MBA from Indiana University. In the recent past, she has served as National Director and presenter for Show Your Spark!, the school assembly program for the now closed Madelyn has previously served as a director for American National Bank Corporation (now Old National) and is currently an elder for Commonway Church, Muncie, IN. Ferris is secretary of the Professor Garfield Foundation Board.

Jennifer George-Pallionis

George & Francis Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia and an associate professor in the Department of Journalism at Ball State University

Dr. Jennifer George-Palilonis is the George & Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Multimedia and a full professor in the Department of Journalism at Ball State University. There she is the co-director for the Center for Emerging Media Design & Development ( and director of the Ball State Digital Publishing Studio. She teaches graduate courses in design thinking, human-computer interaction, usability and user experience design. Prior to launching EMDD, she was the coordinator for the nationally recognized journalism graphics sequence in the Department of Journalism. Since 2002, Jennifer has been a media design consultant, both independently and as an affiliate with Garcia Media Group. She has worked on the redesigns of more than 30 newspapers nationwide. Jennifer is also the author of two books, The Multimedia Journalist (Oxford University Press, 2012) and A Practical Guide to Graphics Reporting (Focal Press, 2016). In 2012, she was named the Scripps Howard Journalism & Mass Communication Teacher of the Year and honored with by Ball State with the Outstanding Teaching Award given to one faculty member on campus each year. In 2006, she was named the Young Alumnus of the Year by the Ball State University Department of Journalism and Graduate of the Last Decade by the Ball State University Alumni Association. Jennifer holds a PhD in Human-Computer Interaction from the Indiana University School of Informatics.

Sharnell Jackson

President of Data-Driven Innovations Consulting

Sharnell Jackson is the president of Data-Driven Innovations Consulting.  With 35 years of educational experience, she helps school systems design and implement comprehensive curriculum, instruction, assessment, and data-driven inquiry-based professional development.  She was formerly the Chicago Public Schools Chief eLearning Officer and was responsible for training teachers and administrators in: online learning, data analysis, interpretation of student academic achievement results for school improvement, and effective use of technology resources for curriculum instruction to accelerate and motivate 21st century student learning.

John E. Jacobson, Ed. D.

Dean and Professor at ball State University

John E. Jacobson, Ed.D., Ed. S, M.Ed., has served as dean of Teachers College and professor at Ball State University since 2009. He oversees five academic departments, Burris Laboratory School, The Indiana Academy for Science, Math and Humanities, and other units of the college. Prior to joining BSU, he served six years as education dean at Stephen F. Austin State University. In addition to his thirteen years as dean, he served three years as associate dean at The University of Missouri-Kansas City and ten years in a variety of positions at the University of Texas-Arlington.

John holds degrees in elementary education with a science minor, curriculum and instruction, educational administration, and a doctorate in reading education. He has chaired or served on various professional and governmental committees and boards at all levels. He has received numerous awards for teaching and service. Prior to his career in higher education, he served 15 years in the public schools—6 years as teacher and 9 as principal.

Thomas Kinghorn

Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer of Ball State University

Thomas J. Kinghorn has been Vice President for Business Affairs and Treasurer of Ball State University since 1980. He has served in various capacities in Business Affairs since 1968, including 10 years as the university’s representative to the Indiana General Assembly. He has been a member of the Ball State University Foundation Board since 1980. He is an alumnus of Ball State University, receiving his B. S. in Business Administration in 1965 and his M.A. in Business Administration (Management) in 1966. Primary areas of responsibility include all finance and business services, state and federal governmental relations, human resources, auxiliary services, facilities master planning, building construction, and facilities management.

Anita Kishel

Professional educational consultant for urban schools

Anita Kishel was a professional educator in urban schools for over 25 years. She was awarded an Eleanor Roosevelt Teacher Fellowship in 1996, received the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship in 1998 and is a 1999 graduate of the National Staff Development Academy. Anita served as a TopHat Mentor in a collaborative program between the Indiana Department of Education and Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) to support the implementation of research-based, effective practices in low performing schools. After leaving the classroom, she worked with aha! Process, Inc. for almost a decade teaching schools and communities about working with children and adults from poverty. Currently, she is the President of Palmetto Planters, LLC.

Robert Levy

Director of Educational and Online Initiatives for Paws Incorporated

As Director of Educational and Online Initiatives for Paws, Inc., Bob supervises all online programs and services that address the millions of Garfield fans worldwide. He also oversees all content development for Before joining Paws, Bob spent 3 years as VP of Sales for Assa International, an international manufacturing firm, and 12 years with VF Corp., a Fortune 500 company, as Director of National Accounts. Bob has a degree in Computer Science from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Don Mikesell

Former Dean of Students at Ball State University

Before retiring, Don Mikesell served as Ball State University’s Dean of Students, an associate professor, and director of Graduate Programs in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education. His career as a Student Affairs professional began in 1961 when he accepted a position as a Ball State residence hall director. The year before, he had been a student himself earning a bachelor's degree in physical education, and in 1963 he completed a master's degree in guidance counseling. In 1970, he earned his doctoral degree in higher education administration from Indiana University.

Jon H. Moll

Attorney, law firm DeFur Voran LLP

Jon Moll is an attorney with the law firm DeFur Voran LLP, which has offices in Muncie, Fishers and New Castle, Indiana. His principal areas of practice are higher education, banking and employment law. He and his family moved to Muncie in 1971 following his service in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General Corps during the Vietnam War. He is presently serving or has served as an officer and director of numerous civic and community welfare organizations, including the United Way of Delaware County, the Community Foundation of Muncie & Delaware County, the George & Frances Ball Foundation, the Hamer & Phyllis Shafer Foundation, the Harry & Janet Kitselman Foundation, the Mary Garr Scholarship Trust, the Youth Opportunity Center Foundation, Delaware Advancement Corporation, the Muncie Symphony Orchestra, The Nature Conservancy, the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, the Indiana Heritage Trust, and the Indiana Environmental Quality Service Council. He earned his doctor of jurisprudence degree in 1967 from the Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana (now the Indiana University Maurer School of Law).

Stan Silverman

Professor, New York Institute of Technology

Professor Stan Silverman, New York Institute of Technology, is widely regarded as a pioneer and national leader in distance learning and educational technology. He combines a physicist’s knowledge of technological hardware with a teacher’s insight into how they can be applied to enhance learning. He is a full professor in the School of Education and the director of the school’s Technology Based Learning Systems Department and Educational Enterprise Zone. He is a nationally known speaker and author on technology and education, serves on the NYS Regents Technology Council and Chairs the NYS Teacher Center Technology Committee. He has been honored by inclusion in the USDLA Hall of Fame and was the September, 2003 profile winner of the Center for Digital Education's "In the Arena" program. Most recently he has directed numerous grant projects to include multiple State Funded Title IIB STEM project, Title IID Enhancing Education Through Technology Grants and Federally funded Institute for Museum Library Services (IMLS) 21st Century Museum Professionals Grant, and an Innovation Challenge Grant.