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Outstanding Alumni|College of Arts and Sciences

Judith A. Mühlberg - 2012 Outstanding Alumna

Bachelor of Science - 1974 - Communication

“When one is with Judith, anything and everything is possible. She sees the good in others and celebrates it joyously,” said Maril Gagen MacDonald, CEO of Gagen MacDonald. Judith Mühlberg’s extensive career portrays her belief that everything is possible. After receiving a B.A. in communication, she later went on to receive a J.D. from Michigan State.

Mühlberg began her career in the White House during the Ford administration as an aide to two chiefs of staff, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and as assistant to the director of the White House communications office, Dave Gergen.

After her early experience in Washington, D.C., Mühlberg joined Ford Motor Company and progressed through a series of positions in government affairs, corporate contributions and communications and public affairs over a 22-year career, culminating in becoming the director of public affairs for the automotive company.  Her skills at Ford Motor Company landed Mühlberg the chief communications officer position at Boeing where she served as senior vice president of communications and was a member of the company’s executive council. At Boeing, Mühlberg led a strategic global transformation of Boeing’s brand image from a commercial airplane manufacturer to a broad-based aerospace company. Following the Boeing transformation,  Mühlberg served as senior vice president of communications at Sprint Nextel, where she oversaw the merger communications of these two companies.

Mühlberg has served on the Board of Directors of State Farm Mutual Insurance Company for the last 10 years where she also advises on issues before the legal issues committee, the nominating and corporate governance committee, and the risk committee.

Working at Gagen MacDonald, a strategy execution firm, Mühlberg helps drive results for many Fortune 500 companies, including United Airlines, BASF, Collective Brands, Estee Lauder, Mars-Wrigley, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Dean Foods, Financial Services Roundtable, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. and Pfizer. “I have never had the experience of working with someone in a communications role that had such breadth, depth, and business knowledge as she did,” said Elizabeth Klebe, vice president of corporate communications at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

Due to her experience and hard work ethic, Mühlberg is highly qualified to handle communication issues, including major strategy shifts, crisis management, mergers and acquisitions, leadership transitions, regulatory reform, competitive disruption, and culture change. “Judith is a visionary, decision maker, and she motivates others in the field and inspires people,” said Lin Cummins, senior vice president of communications at Meritor.

Serving as an adjunct professor in the master’s degree program for public relations and corporate communications at Georgetown University, students strive to take classes from Mühlberg. With a caring, yet professional attitude, she has dedicated herself to supporting students and encouraging them to reach their goals. “Judith is the finest example I know of someone who enables younger people to grow toward the golden ideal of self-actualization,” said Bruce Harrison, chairman of EnviroComm International. “Here is a teacher who understands that teaching is not telling; it’s getting to the level of desire to do one’s best, to learn together how to be of service and to achieve goals that matter, and to not shy away from being passionate about the work or to add emotional intelligence.”

In addition to being an adjunct professor, Mühlberg’s authenticity and infectious positivity have aided in her success. She has received many awards and honors, such as giving the keynote commencement address at George Washington University’s Business school, as well as being an active member and former board member of the Arthur W. Page Society, a peer-nominated membership organization for chief communications officers. She also served as a board member of the Institute for Public Relations. “I found my true love in communications and political science, and I cannot thank UW enough for the early experiences that launched my life,” Mühlberg said. “The college of Arts and Sciences focused on me, as an individual, as a valued member of the debate team, and as a person who succeeded in the liberal arts program.”

Mühlberg’s passion for her liberal arts degree in communications has led her to become well-liked and well-respected within her community. Always positive and upbeat, when you ask Mühlberg how she is doing, her response is “I’m fabulous.” And she always is, notes one peer.

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