UMKC Alumna of the Year is a National ABC World News Now Co-Host

The Kansas City native was also a recent UMKC Commencement speaker
Rhiannon Ally sits smiling at the anchor desk of ABC World News Now

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. The university and the association are honoring Rhiannon Ally (B.A. ’05) with the Class of 2024 Alumna of the Year Award.

As the co-anchor of the national ABC News program, “World News Now” and “America This Morning” and a frequent correspondent on "Good Morning America" and “Nightline”, Ally’s questions have taken her far, but her path had not been clear until she came to UMKC. Ally took a journalism class taught by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Bob Unger as an elective, which changed the course of her life.

“I remember him telling us that journalists question everything around them. Even if your own mother tells you something, do some digging and get another source,” said Ally. “That class got me thinking maybe I should be a journalist.”

That’s exactly what she did. Ally’s nearly 20-year career has taken her to Miami, New Orleans, Las Angeles, London and Las Vegas. She has interviewed renowned celebrities including Madonna, Denzel Washington, Caroline Kennedy and Gloria Steinem.

Ally has had a front row seat to history, documenting events including the Boston Marathon bombing, the war in Ukraine, Hurricane Katrina and the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. But the local stories have had the greatest impact on Ally. She recalled a time she interviewed a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Both were Holocaust survivors and Ally still keeps in touch with their adult children.

“When people tell you their story, it becomes a part of you. And the community does as well. I have been fortunate to be part of some incredible communities in my career. None as special as telling stories in my hometown of Kansas City,” said Ally.

The Raytown native co-anchored the 5 p.m. and Emmy-Award-winning 10 p.m. news for Kansas City’s NBC affiliate KSHB-TV alongside her husband, Mike Marza (B.A. ‘04), whom she met at UMKC. In Kansas City, Ally anchored breaking news coverage of a massive fire that destroyed several city blocks, severe weather outbreaks and the Royals World Series Championship parade and rally.

“Most of my family and many of my close friends are still in Kansas City,” said Ally. “People don’t realize how much KC has to offer, but the thing that stands out the most is always the people. The people here are always so supportive and friendly and really have followed me through my entire career.”

While her career as a journalist is impressive, Ally said her proudest professional accomplishment has been publishing her children’s book, “Mommy, Please Don’t Go to Work!”, which was inspired by her experience as a mom, often hearing her three kids utter the phrase.

“Writing a book was a lifelong dream. The day I saw my book published was one of the best days of my career,” said Ally.

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Published: Mar 15, 2024

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