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Alumni Weekend 2014 Awards

—Diversity leader Tisa Jackson, television music editor David Klotz, television executive producer Tara Sandler, and theatrical composer Scott Wittman to be honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards; Broadway producer Jason Grossman and online host Shira Lazar to be presented with Young Alumni Achievement Awards—

BOSTON, MA (May 27, 2014)—On Saturday, May 31, Emerson College will honor six distinguished alumni during the school’s Alumni Weekend festivities. This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Union Bank (selected as one of “The Most Powerful and Influential Women in California” by the California Diversity Council) Tisa Jackson; Emmy Award–winning television music editor (Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Glee) David Klotz; president of Pie Town Productions (House Hunters, House Hunters International) Tara Sandler; and Grammy Award–winning composer (Hairspray, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) Scott Wittman. The College’s Young Alumni Achievement Award will be presented to Jason Grossman, Tony Award–winning producer, Radio Mouse Entertainment (Peter and the Starcatcher, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Shira Lazar (named one of Fast Company’s 2011 Most Influential Women in Technology), host of the online daily show What’s Trending.

Each year, Emerson College honors alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award and Young Achievement Award—celebrating those who have excelled in their fields and also share a commitment to students, programs, and initiatives. The award honorees return to the campus, located in the heart of Boston’s Theatre District, to accept their individual awards among fellow Emerson alumni. This year’s alumni award presentation takes place at the Emerson College’s Paramount Theater, Mainstage.

Biographical Information

Tisa Jackson ’95, Altadena, CA
Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion, Union Bank

Recently selected as one of “The Most Powerful and Influential Women in California” by the California Diversity Council, Jackson has been a key architect in the creation and transformation of diversity and inclusion functions and programs within the financial services, high-tech, and nonprofit industries for Global 100, Fortune 100, and mid-size companies, nonprofits, and a start-up company. Her professional experience and knowledge encompasses strategic human resources management, community outreach, branding and event marketing, career development, training development, and organizational development for numerous organizations. Jackson founded the Professional & Technical Diversity Network (PTDN) of Greater Los Angeles, a diversity consortium comprising companies committed to diversity and inclusion. The consortium’s mission is to strengthen the economy and community by educating and providing resources and networking opportunities for businesses, organizations, and professionals.

David Klotz ’94, Los Angeles, CA
Television Music Editor

An Emmy Award–winning television music editor whose credits include television series Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Glee, Flash Forward, Breakout Kings, and Prison Break, Klotz also served as music editor for the films Eat, Pray, Love, Iron Man, and The Glee Movie 3D, as well as working as music supervisor and music editor on Memento. He won Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013 for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special for American Horror Story and in 2012 for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series for Game of Thrones, as well as two Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA Golden Reel Awards in 2010 and 2011 for Best Sound Editing: Short Form Musical in Television for Glee. He has received two other Primetime Emmy nominations for American Horror Story and Game of Thrones, as well as MPSE, USA Golden Reel nominations for Game of Thrones, Iron Man, and Prison Break. He and Emily Cook are the primary members and songwriters of the Los Angeles band Fonda, which wrote and performed the title song to the Disney movie Spy Kids.

Tara Sandler ’84, Pasadena, CA
President, Pie Town Productions

Owner and executive producer of Pie Town Productions, a reality television production company based in North Hollywood, California, which has been in continuous production since 1996, Sandler has produced such memorable hits as House Hunters, House Hunters International, Joan Knows Best, A Baby Story, $40 A Day with Rachael Ray, Chefs vs City, Flip or Flop, and Downsized. As of 2013, well over a thousand episodes of House Hunters have aired on HGTV. In the 16 years it has been in operation, Pie Town has produced over 5,000 episodes of television for cable networks including Food Network, MTV, VH1, Lifetime, TLC and Discovery. Sandler earned a degree in broadcast journalism and moved to LA and started working in reality TV, where her new journalism skills readily translated to nonfiction television. She started her career answering phones and worked her way up the ladder, progressing from production coordinator to production manager to line producer to coordinating producer to vice president of production. By age 27, she was overseeing a staff of 75.

Scott Wittman ’76, New York, NY
Theatrical Composer

A lyricist and an artist who conceptualizes how to present stars as themselves on the Broadway stage, Wittman served as executive producer and co-lyricist for NBC’s musical drama Smash. He also co-wrote the lyrics for the musical Hairspray with Marc Shaiman. For their score, they won the Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Awards. They teamed up again for Broadway’s Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and Catch Me If You Can. Their current work, the original musical Charlie & the Chocolate Factory directed by Sam Mendes, opened in London in June. Wittman created and directed two Broadway shows, three recordings, and two sold–out Carnegie Hall concerts for Patti LuPone. He also co-created Christine Ebersole’s successful nightclub appearances. For television, he has conceived and directed performances for Nathan Lane and Sarah Jessica Parker, and co-wrote musical numbers for Neil Patrick Harris for the Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award broadcasts.

Jason Grossman ’02, New York, NY
Producer, Radio Mouse Entertainment

An award–winning theatrical producer, most recently represented on Broadway by Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (winner of the 2013 Tony, Drama Desk, NY Drama Critics, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Play) starring Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce, Grossman’s other producing credits include the Broadway and National Tour engagements of Peter and the Starcatcher (winner of five Tony Awards) and The Pee-wee Herman Show, and the Olivier Award–nominated West End production of Lend Me A Tenor The Musical, a new musical comedy based on the international hit play by Ken Ludwig. For three-and-a-half years, he worked for Scott Sanders Productions, the lead producer of The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway and the musical The Color Purple, and a producer of the Disney film The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Prior to that, he was with Eric Krebs Productions as coordinating producer. Independently, he directed and produced the 2004 IRNE-nominated show Riding the at the Greenwich Street Theater as part of the New York International Fringe Festival.

Shira Lazar ’04, Venice, CA
Online Host

Lazar is the host and executive producer of the Emmy–nominated live interactive daily show and news hub What’s Trending. She is also the host and creator of the YouTube talk show Partners Project, interviewing the biggest YouTube stars. She was named one of Fast Company’s 2011 “Most Influential Women in Technology” and Huffington Post’s “Women in Tech to Follow on Twitter.” She is a Webby Awards honoree and a two-time International Academy of Web Television winner for best web series live host. She is the host of the social media reality competition The Tastemaker on Previously, she launched her blog/vlog On the Scene on in 2009. She has also hosted television shows including NBC’s 1st Look and Open House and DirecTV’s Havoc on the 101.

About Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College is one of the premier educational institutions with a concentration in visual and media arts. The College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. Emerson has 3,660 undergraduates and 829 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 80 student organizations and performance groups, student publications, honor societies, television stations including the Emerson Channel, and WERS-FM, the nation’s highest rated student-run radio station. Emerson is internationally known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. A new permanent facility on Sunset Boulevard is being constructed for its L.A.-based program, estimated to be completed by January 2014. Emerson has an active network of 32,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit


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