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Are You Battle Ready? Crisis Communication From Public Affairs PRos

Saturday Full-Day Pre-Conference Course

Saturday, Oct. 11, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Room: Washington 4

Hosted by the Public Affairs and Government Section.

Note: Prior registration required.

Focused on mid- and senior-level crisis communicators, this refresher course on crisis communication will introduce crisis communication experts from the military, government and private sectors, who have crafted and executed communications for some of the most high-profile incidents and events in recent memory. Examine recent case studies, and participate in a new robust roundtable exercise with fellow attendees.

You’ll also:

Participants will earn two FEMA certificates:

These certificates enable you to effectively manage domestic incidents, coordinating government, private sector and NGO entities. This training provides a consistent template for effectively managing Public Information issues, regardless of the size or complexity of the situation at hand.


Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, chief, visual information strategy and plans, Defense Media Activity

Photo of Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, Fellow PRSA   

Rick L. Callender, director, government affairs, Santa Clara Valley Water District

(Photo Unavailable.) Callender is responsible for providing strategic advice and counsel to the CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, as well as leading and managing all public affairs issues. He has led multiple successful countywide ballot measures, which have raised more than one billion dollars, and one that ultimately passed by the largest percentage of a countywide special tax in the history of Santa Clara County.

Bethany Cecere, emergency preparedness specialist, NSIR/Division of Preparedness and Response, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, public affairs officer, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Photo of Cmdr. Brook DeWalt, APR+M, Fellow PRSA DeWalt currently serves as PAO for Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Recently, he was personal adviser to the commanding general of all U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan, communication director at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan and director of public affairs for Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba.

Rachael Gibson, director, local government affairs, Santa Clara Valley Water District

(Photo Unavailable.) Gibson interfaces daily with local and regional elected officials, representing two million people in Silicon Valley, community activists, industry officials and opinion leaders to advance water supply and flood protection efforts for the region. She successfully advocated for a groundbreaking $500 million tax measure for the Water District, which won by the largest margin in the county's history.

Martha Lockwood, APR, chief, information products, Air Force Production, Defense Media Activity

Bonnie Piper, partner, Merrill Environmental

Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, special assistant to the sheriff, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

Photo of Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR From the Super Bowl to hurricanes, to a hospitalized patient accusing an employee of rape, Smith, a 33-year public relations professional, has spent her career framing and communicating issues, managing communications during crises and lobbying for policy changes at the state and national level. She advocates for all PR professionals to know the National Incident Management System, and recognize its relevance in most any event, planned or unplanned. She is a frequent public relations trainer and speaker.

Rosemary Taylor, APR, senior communications manager, City of Johns Creek

Photo of Rosemary Taylor, APR Her 20 years as TV journalist covering some of the biggest news events over the last two decades (Oklahoma City bombing, O.J. Simpson, World Trade Center) gives Taylor a strong foundation in now managing crisis communications.  Her first task in becoming a PR practitioner?  Learning NIMS. 

Joseph V. Trahan III, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, lt. col., U.S. Army – Ret.

Photo of Joseph V. Trahan III, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA Trahan has conducted hundreds of media relations training classes across the United States, and in many other countries. With more than 20 years experience in PR, he has worked with governmental agencies, educational institutions, law enforcement and nonprofits. He has managed four joint information bureaus, and has taught PR and advertising at the college level.