BATON ROUGE – The Manship School will honor Gary Hymel and James O’Byrne and posthumously honor Michael Danna and Malva Haynes Huson Brown at its 41st annual Hall of Fame gala on Thursday, Oct. 22.
The ceremony will begin with cocktails at 6:00 p.m, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. at Juban’s restaurant, located at 3739 Perkins Road in Baton Rouge. Tickets are $50 and tables of 10 are available for $500. To purchase tickets, visit www.lsufoundation.org/manshiphalloffame or call 225-578-1899 for more information.
This year’s honorees are as follows:
Gary G. Hymel, former chief aide and press secretary to the late Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr., graduated from LSU with a master’s degree in journalism in 1959, after earning his journalism degree from Loyola University. Growing up in New Orleans, Hymel started his career as a messenger boy for the Times-Picayune. He moved on to work as copy boy, sports reporter and eventually political columnist at the New Orleans States-Item. In addition, he was Louisiana correspondent for Time magazine and public information officer with the Louisiana National Guard.
In 1965, Hymel joined U.S. Rep. Hale Boggs as chief of staff in the office of majority whip, and served Boggs and U.S. Rep. O’Neill Jr. in the offices of whip, majority leader and Speaker of the House. With Speaker O’Neill he wrote the book “All Politics is Local.” In 1981, Hymel joined Hill and Knowlton Public Affairs Worldwide as senior vice-president and chief lobbyist. In retirement, he served four years on the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
James O’Byrne, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his work at The Times-Picayune, graduated from LSU in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. O’Byrne has worked at The Times-Picayune and NOLA.com in a number of capacities for the past 34 years. His positions have included investigative reporter, features editor, Sunday editor and website editor. His current position is vice president of innovation. Of the three Pulitzer Prizes he shares, two of them are for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In that capacity, he was both an editor of storm coverage, as well as co-wrote one of the 10 stories that were included in the Breaking News entry that won, and one of the 20 stories in the Public Service entry that won. Today, he is at the heart of the digital transformation The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com is undergoing as a company, reinventing and innovating around a new business model.
Michael Danna, who had a 30-year career as public relations director for the Louisiana Farm Bureau and host of the organization’s long-running agricultural television program “This Week in Louisiana Agriculture,” graduated from LSU in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Under Danna’s leadership, “This Week in Louisiana Agriculture” reporters have produced and aired 1,760 weekly programs from 15 countries, four continents and 27 states. He and his staff have received six Telly Awards for excellence in television reporting.
Danna’s awards and accolades include being named Marketer of the Year by the Baton Rouge chapter of Sales and Marketing Executives International in 2008, Communicator of the Year by the Public Relations Association of Louisiana in 2011, Baton Rouge Advertising Federation the Communications Manager of the Year in 2001. Recently, he was awarded an Honorary State Future Farmers of American Degree by the Louisiana FFA Association and will receive the annual Plaque of Appreciation Award for 2015 from the Louisiana Ag Industries Association.
In 2012, he spearheaded the merger of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Radio Network with the Louisiana Agri-News Network in uniting a non-profit with a commercial entity. In 2013, he became a spokesman for the Baton Rouge General Cancer Center after undergoing surgery for esophageal cancer. He passed away on March 6, 2015, at the age of 54.
Malva Haynes Huson Brown, journalist, editor and newspaper publisher/owner, graduated from LSU in 1936 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. As a student at LSU in the mid-1930s, she was one of the first female editors of The Daily Reveille, and it was in that role that she met her husband, Roland T. Huson Jr. After graduation, she worked as a society editor for the State-Times and in public relations for the Division of Tourism of the Louisiana Department of Commerce and Industry.
After World War II, the Husons traveled the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America writing educational travel letters to young subscribers. In 1949, they entered the publishing business and purchased the Jonesville Booster and Catahoula News. Those newspapers were the first of four award-winning Louisiana weeklies the couple would operate as a team, with Malva as editor and Roland as publisher – the others being the Zachary Plainsman and Citizen-Watchman in Clinton.
After Roland’s death in 1969, Malva established a scholarship fund for Manship students in his name. That scholarship has now been renamed for both Roland and Malva. She also earned a master’s degree in library science from LSU in 1972 and a medical librarian certification from Emory University. In the mid-1970s, she married Baton Rouge High schoolmate Earl B. Brown and moved to his home in Baker, where she lived until his death in 1987. Throughout her life, she always placed an importance on mentoring young writers. Malva died Feb. 16, 2012, in Charleston, W.Va. She was 96.
About the Manship School Hall of Fame
Created in 1975, the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication Hall of Fame honors alumni, faculty and friends whose distinguished careers have contributed to or reflect credit on the various academic programs in the School.