Alum of the Year Award


Annually, our school awards a single Alum of the Year Award to a distinguished graduate who has made significant contributions to his/her field, has transformed lives through communication, and has been a role model of the Hugh Downs School. 

It is the Hugh Downs School’s premier expression of praise and esteem.

2023 Recipient

Jodi Low

Jodi graduated from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication in 1994 and has since distinguished herself personally and professionally. 

Jodi is the founder and CEO of U & Improved, a Scottsdale-based, award-winning leadership development and training company. Her organization works with Fortune 500 companies, small and medium-sized businesses, and individuals who want to learn, grow and improve their lives and relationships.

Most recently, Jodi published a book entitled, From Me to U: Lessons on Life, Leadership, and Living Your Legacy. The book details Jodi’s personal journey and teaches readers to reframe life’s many challenges as lessons and opportunities for growth. 

In the community, Jodi has been recognized as one of Arizona’s Outstanding Women in Business, by the Phoenix Business Journal. She has been named an Amazing Woman by the Phoenix Suns basketball organization. 

In 2021, the Better Business Bureau awarded Jodi and her company U & Improved the highly esteemed Torch Award for Ethics.

Jodi and her company have, for the fifth year in a row, been named to the Sun Devil 100, recognizing her capacities for innovation and growth and her energetic and entrepreneurial spirit. 

As this year’s awardee, Jodi represents the very best of what is possible with a degree from the Hugh Downs School. Thank you for making us proud, and congratulations!


2022 Recipient

Jennifer Kaplan 

The recipient of the inaugural Hugh Downs School Alum of the Year award is Jennifer Kaplan, a 1996 graduate, and founder and owner of Evolve Public Relations and Marketing. 

The Scottsdale-based firm founded in 2010, currently has a team of 14 employees and more than 90 clients in industries such as restaurants, retail, entertainment, real estate, medical, legal, global and international companies and nonprofit organizations.

Kaplan established the Jennifer G. Kaplan Endowment Scholarship in 2021, which provides funding to Hugh Downs School undergraduates with an interest in pursuing or studying a career in public relations.  

Jennifer's contribution helps us fulfill ASU’s critical mission of making a college education more accessible while motivating students to pursue careers in rewarding fields like public relations.

Kaplan noted that her time at ASU and the Hugh Downs School made a huge impact on her and helped shape her career.  She added that she is passionate about supporting others in their career paths through mentorship and the scholarship fund and looks forward to continuing to do so while supporting HDSHC and its students.