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Sharon-JohnSharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. and a proven expert in corporate turnarounds, will receive the 2014 Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award from UT’s College of Communication and Information at its awards and scholarship donor appreciation banquet on Friday, November 14.

The banquet is being held in conjunction with the college’s fall 2014 Board of Visitors meeting.

“Sharon Price John has a remarkable ability to innovate, manage change, and turn around corporations,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “In recognition of her many accomplishments as a leading business executive, we are proud to present her with the college’s highest alumni award. She is a true role model who serves as an inspiration for our students.”

She took over as CEO and “chief president bear” of Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. in June 2013. Since then, the company has experienced six consecutive quarters of improved operating performance, and it generated $3.4 million during the first nine months of 2014.

Prior to joining Build-A-Bear, John was president of Wolverine Worldwide’s Stride Rite Children’s Group LLC, another company she helped revitalize.

And before that, she held senior management roles with Hasbro, where she helped oversee the marketing of brands such as NERF, Transformers, and My Little Pony while managing key licensing relationships such as Star Wars and Marvel. She also worked with Mattel in a number of roles, including marketing director of Barbie and a vice president in the Disney business unit.

John began her career in advertising and worked at several top New York City agencies.

She serves on the board of directors of Jack in the Box and is a member of the Committee of 200, an invitation-only membership organization of women entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.

Other CCI alumni to receive awards at the banquet are:

  • Dana-McCullough-100

    Advertising Alumna of the Year: Dana McCullough (’95), vice president and account director, McCann Erickson



  • Tyler-Summitt-100

    Communication Studies Alumnus of the Year: Tyler Summitt (’13), head coach, Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team



  • Marcellus Turner

    Information Sciences Alumnus of the Year: Marcellus Turner (’88), city librarian, Seattle Public Library System



  • Viola Gienger

    Journalism and Electronic Media Alumna of the Year: Viola Gienger (’84), senior writer, United States Institute of Peace



  • Isaac Wright

    Public Relations Alumnus of the Year: Isaac Wright (’03), vice president, American Bridge; director, Correct the Record 2016 Project


The Donald G. Hileman Award is named for the first permanent dean of the College of Communications, the forerunner to the College of Communication and Information. The award was established in 1994 in celebration of the college’s twenty-fifth anniversary. It is awarded to college alumni who have made notable contributions to the field of communication and information.

Past recipients of the Hileman Alumni Award include Charles Tombras Jr., president and CEO of the Tombras Group advertising agency; Alexia Poe, director of communications for Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam; McCormick & Company Inc. chairman, president, and CEO Alan Wilson; president and cofounder of Avenues the World School and former Esquire magazine publisher Alan N. Greenberg; Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist John Noble Wilford; and former UT quarterback and five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.

For more information on the College of Communication and Information, visit the website.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,