Executive Committee


D. Joel Whalen
, President
DePaul University

color head and shoulders photo of Caucasian male Joel WhalenABC service: Board of Directors Member, Teaching Committee Chair, and Business & Professional Communication Quarterly Section Editor and Editorial Board Member. You may have seen Joel chair My Favorite Assignment sessions. Hundreds of ABC members have shared their Favorite Assignments and published their teaching innovations in BPCQ. He also curates the authors’ My Favorite Assignment teaching collateral for ABC’s webpage.

University affiliation: Marketing professor at DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business and Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, and Curriculum Director, Center for Sales Leadership. Joel leads a team of 15 instructors who teach the required communication class that he designed for the College of Commerce’s 4,600 undergraduate students, as well as the required graduate-level class.

Scholarship: Published over 200 journal articles, conference proceedings, and papers. Joel writes for Business & Professional Communication Quarterly, Marketing Education Review, and Journal of Marketing Education, among others. He has authored two business communication books by Sage Publications: I See What You Mean, and The Professional Communications Toolkit, and published the e-book: 4-Second PowerPoint Slide Toolkit 2014. Joel’s Hit-Play.net website offers over 70 videos designed to grow learners’ communication skills by applying the latest psychology and neurobiology discoveries.

Teaching honors: Received the DePaul University Teaching Award, in addition to the college’s graduate and undergraduate teaching award multiple times. Joel is also the recipient of numerous business and professional awards.
ABC initiatives and issues: Joel supports strengthening global reach through international membership and conferences outside the U.S., advancing ABC’s diversity & inclusion, offering members practice-based scholarship with useful learning tools transferable to their classrooms, prioritizing the mission of basic scholarship and graduate education through high-level scholarship, and enhancing business communication professors’ reputation and prestige among
university administrators (provosts, deans, & chairs).

Judith Ainsworth, First Vice President
McGill University

Dr. Judith Ainsworth holds a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the University of Montréal, Quebec, Canada. She currently teaches professional and management communication at McGill University in Montréal and holds Visiting Faculty positions at Ashesi University, Accra, Ghana where she teaches Written and Oral Communication and at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, China, where she teaches a course on the Basics of Leadership and Management.

Before joining McGill University, Judith taught Professional Writing, Professional Communication and Professional Communication for Accountants for specialised master programs, as well as Professional Writing for the Professional MBA program at the Warrington College of Business, University of Florida, and business communication at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. Previously, she held pedagogical appointments with Canada’s McGill University, University of Montréal and University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM). Corporate clients include Bombardier Aerospace and Michelin Tire Manufacturing.

Her research focusses on student learning and engagement during teamwork, international and cross-cultural management communication, Critical Discourse Analysis, and the discourse of branding authenticity in the Chilean wine trade. Recent publications include a book chapter entitled Un/ethical Leadership: a Critical Discourse Analysis of a CEO’s email to team members in Fernández-Vázquez, J. S., Álvarez-Delgado, R. C. & Sancho-Rodríguez, A. (eds.), Ethics in Business Communication: New Perspectives and Challenges, Bern: Peter Lang, and articles in Accounting Education: an international journal and Business and Professional Communication Quarterly (forthcoming). She has also published in the Journal of Management Education, Global Advances in Business Communication and the Journal of Language for International Business.

In 2019-20, Judith was awarded a research grant from the Association for Business Communication C. R. Anderson Research Fund for a study entitled Towards a Balanced Multinational Treatment of Cross-Cultural Learning for Management Students: A Situated Cultural Learning Approach. In 2018-19, she received a Temple University Internationalisation Grant for her project: Temple in Australia: Faculty Research, Student Cultural Enrichment, Overseas Cooperation with the University of Queensland. In 2016, she received a grant from the Team-Based Learning Collaborative for a study entitled Team-Based Learning in Communication Courses for Accounting Graduates: Investigating Student Engagement, Accountability and Satisfaction.

From 2018-2020, Judith served as the Association for Business Communication Eastern U.S. Region Vice President. In addition, she continues to serve on the Business Practices and International Issues Committees, and participated in the decision-making process of the ABC ad hoc Strategic Plan Committee that led to the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

Erika Darics, Second Vice President
University of Groningen

Untitled (150 x 150 px).pngDr. Erika Darics is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of applied linguistics, business communication and discourse analysis. Her published work has appeared in scientific journals including the Journal of Politeness Research and the International Journal of Business Communication, where her article on instant
messaging in virtual work was nominated for outstanding article in 2015. 

Erika is very passionate about business communication, specifically how linguistics intersects with business communication and professional discourse. She is the co-author (with V. Koller) of the widely adopted text, Language in Business, Language at Work (2019, Palgrave) and the editor of Language Awareness in Business and the Professions (2021, CUP). 

Erika is very passionate about language awareness as a key skill for future professionals. Together with V. Koller and B. DeClerk she co-hosts the "Words and Actions" podcast (http://wordsandactions.blog) and promotes the idea through her role as the VP for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East for ABC.

Geert Jacobs, Immediate Past President
Ghent University

color head and shoulders photo of Caucasian male Geert JacobsDr. Geert Jacobs is a Professor of English Business Communication in the Department of Linguistics at Ghent University, Belgium.

Geert has been a long-standing member of ABC, promoting the internationalization of the association and working together with the Executive Committee to introduce differential membership fees in 2013. From 2008 to 2016, Geert served two terms as ABC’s Regional Vice-President for the Europe, Africa and Middle East region.  From 2011 to 2015 he headed ABC’s C. R. Anderson Research Fund Committee, overseeing financial support by the C.R. Anderson Foundation to innovative research projects in the field of business communication. In the same period, he served as Associate Editor for the Journal of Business Communication (now International Journal of Business Communication). In 2018 Geert joined the Executive Committee, where he coordinated the creation of ABC's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.  Starting in 2020, Geert was ABC President for two years.  During this double term he worked with the Board to implement a number of leadership structure changes.

In 2015, Geert was awarded the Bernardine P. Branchaw Spirit of ABC Award. In addition, he won the award for Outstanding Article of the Year in Business Communication Quarterly in 2005 (with Liesbeth Opdenacker and Luuk Van Waes) as well as the award for Distinguished Publication on Business Communication in 2016 (with Glen Alessi). Geert was named Fellow of the Association in 2020.

Geert’s main research interests are in organizational communication, media discourse, news production, institutional discourse and linguistic pragmatics. He is the co-founder and head of the international NewsTalk&Text research group, which brings together scholars from across the globe in the field of media discourse studies. He is currently teaching Business Communication and English for Specific Purposes in various Bachelor’s and post-graduate programmes at Ghent University.

Kathryn Rybka, Interim Executive Director
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

color head and shoulders photo of Caucasian woman Kathryn RybkaDr. Kathryn Rybka was the recipient of the 2016 Bernadine P. Branchaw Spirit of ABC Award. Her engagement with the ABC community includes serving as chair of the 2018 ABC Midwest/Southeast Regional Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio; chair for the 2016 ABC Midwest/Southeast Regional Conference in St. Louis, Missouri; co-chair for the 2013 ABC Midwest/Southeast Regional Conference in Louisville, Kentucky; peer proposal reviewer for ABC conferences; and she has been Book Review Editor for the International Journal of Business Communication since 2010. Kathryn has been an active presenter at many ABC Conferences including the 2018 Miami, 2017 Dublin, 2016 Albuquerque, 2015 Seattle, 2014 Philadelphia, 2013 New Orleans, 2011 Montreal, 2012 ABC Europe and 2010 ABC Europe+GABC.

Kathryn was a faculty member in the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) from 2005-2017 where she taught management communication in the College’s professional master’s programs and also taught an undergraduate class in human resource management. She then transitioned to a new role and affiliation with the College, but continues to provide leadership for communication-focused experiential learning activities for MBA and other specialized business master’s programs. Additionally, she works with the UIUC Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society, including an ongoing initiative supported by BP, and is co-creator of a newly designed Study Abroad course, “Professional Responsibility in Business.”

She has 20 years of extensive professional management communication experience in both corporate and higher education settings. Kathryn holds a B.A. in Advertising from Michigan State University, a Master’s in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina, and received her Ph.D. in Educational Organization and Leadership in Higher Education Administration from UIUC. She has also taught at the University of South Carolina, South Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, and in the College of Communications (now Media) at UIUC. Her research interests include the role communication and storytelling play in strategic business planning, organizational change and leadership development.