Holmes-Olsen and Mertens Join University Relations Staff at UNK

Glennis Nagel

The Office of University Relations has added two new directors – Dwann Holmes-Olsen, director of Marketing, and Randall Mertens, director of Media Relations and Internal Communications, effective this month.

Holmes-Olsen (UNK ’93) is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who was named one of Ebony magazine’s 2001 “30 Leaders of the Future.” As CEO and creative director of her own full-service multimedia and advertising agency for six years in Nashville, Tenn., her team received many awards and honors, including three nominations for the prestigious Emmy Award in 2000.
Also while in Nashville, she co-founded and edited Urban Flavor, a biweekly urban alternative newspaper.

While there, she led the creative and management team responsible for a successful county-wide political campaign. Most recently, Holmes-Olsen has been living and working in Jacksonville, Fla., as an independent business consultant, where she has developed multimedia/marketing plans, and campaigns for corporate and nonprofit clients. She also works as an executive life coach, and is in frequent demand as a public speaker and emcee.

In the years after earning a bachelor’s degree from UNK in broadcast journalism, she worked as a reporter, anchor, photographer and in other positions for television news operations in Lincoln and Omaha; Savannah, Ga.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Nashville.

Randall Mertens comes to UNK from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where as director of External Relations and Publications since 1991 for the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, he has developed and implemented a comprehensive national and international media strategy to showcase the work of the college and the college’s faculty. In addition to his direct work with media, he has written and produced numerous college publications–including magazines, newsletters, brochures, catalogs and advertising materials. He designed and produced the college Web page and numerous other electronic communication materials, including DVDs.

He has taught university courses in publication management, design and desktop publishing, and directed two major State of Missouri Department of Education studies on business/industry and multimedia education topics.

Aviation is an earlier personal and professional interest, which Mertens still maintains. Before his university employment, Mertens was marketing manager for an aviation management company in Kansas City, managing editor of the trade journal Pilot News Magazine and the author of several books on aviation topics. Two new books are in the research stage.

Mertens holds a B.S. in news-editorial journalism and mass communication from Kansas State University in Manhattan. He has received several awards for his work in news writing and photography, and is a member of the MU’s Public Relations Council.

Curt Carlson, vice chancellor for University Relations, said: “We are fortunate to have attracted two highly seasoned marketing and media practitioners to UNK.

“They both have unique experiences and backgrounds that are highly complementary to the University Relations team already in place, and to the characteristics and strengths of UNK, its administration and faculty. I personally look forward to learning from Mertens and Holmes-Olsen, and to working with both to advance the University of Nebraska at Kearney to levels of marketing and media success never before achieved at this institution.”