Ball State University’s School of Journalism and Strategic Communication inducted into its Journalism Hall of Fame Don Yaeger—an author, journalist, executive coach, and internationally recognized keynote speaker; and Leisa Richardson—executive editor of the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois. Ms. Richardson is the first African American woman inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.

The inductions were held at an awards luncheon on Ball State’s campus Oct. 6. 

A 1984 Ball State graduate, Mr. Yaeger’s lengthy career includes writing 35 books—11 of which were New York Times Best Sellers—plus working as a reporter and investigative journalist in Texas and Florida before serving as an associate editor of Sports Illustrated. 

Mr. Yaeger is particularly well-known for his book Greatness: The 16 Characteristics of True Champions. He is also known for his work as an executive coach—guiding leaders, teams and businesses—and as a keynote speaker. 

“Professionally and personally, Don Yaeger tirelessly devotes himself to encouraging, supporting and inspiring others,” said Dr. Johnny V. Sparks, director and professor at the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication. “He is a prodigious storyteller who has modeled and chronicled the characteristics of greatness.” 

Ms. Richardson has modeled efficient strategic leadership to maximize resources and execute award-winning multi-platform coverage that engages and grows journalism audiences. 

Her leadership has propelled her teams to top honors from the Associated Press, Gannett, and the Hoosier State Press Association. She has championed diversity as a leader in National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), as president of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists, and as president and a founding member of the NABJ-Cincinnati chapter. She has worked as a reporter, editor, and publisher at newspapers in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and at USA TODAY in Northern Virginia. 

“Writers and reporters who work with Leisa Richardson will remember her as someone who nurtures and inspires journalists to be the best version of themselves by asking questions and challenging the status quo,” Dr. Sparks said. “She has demonstrated continuous pioneering leadership in multi-platform storytelling, diversity, and inclusion in journalism.” 

The School of Journalism and Strategic Communication’s Hall of Fame was established in 1985 and has 48 inductees. 

Eight other journalism and communications professionals were also honored at the Oct. 6 event: 

• Outstanding Journalism Alumna Award: Deana Haworth — Chief Operating Officer, Hirons (Indianapolis, IN)

• Outstanding Journalism Alumnus Award: Stephen Beard — Graphics Journalist, USA TODAY (Fishers, IN)

• Joseph Costa Courtroom Photography Award: Sean Krajacic — Photojournalist, Kenosha News (Kenosha, WI)

• National Writing Award: Esmé Deprez — Investigative Reporter, Bloomberg News

• Young Alumna Award: Jennifer Prandato — Art Director, (NBCUniversal) (Brooklyn, NY)

• Young Alumna Award: Grace Hollars — Visual Journalist, The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, IN)

• Indiana Journalism Award: Hon. Marianne Vorhees — Judge, Indiana Circuit Court (Muncie, IN)

• Majeri Award for Graphic Journalism: Chiqui Esteban — Graphics Director, The Washington Post (Rockville, MD)