2020 Health Academy Conference Program




10 a.m.-6 p.m.

1-5 p.m.
Pre-Conference Workshop*

“How to Design, Implement and Use Market Research for PR Crisis and Communication Management”*

This high-level, interactive educational session will explore how public relations and communications professionals can use proven best practices in data analysis, market research and social media monitoring to manage their brand, a communications crisis or the overall perception of their organization in the market as well as respond to any communication challenges.

Participants will learn from two case studies. Hands-on group projects will focus on how to select the correct research approach for a particular communications challenge, crafting a series of survey questions and then formulating a communications strategy based on the research results          


Joseph Ridgway, president and partner, Bruno and Ridgway Research Associates Inc.
Mike Slusarz, president, MBK Marketing Solutions 

*Additional Fee Required for Pre-Conference Workshop

6-8 p.m.

Meet the Health Academy Reception


7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

7:30-8:45 a.m.

8:45-9 a.m.
Welcome Remarks by Marina Renneke, APR, Chair & Dennis Wilson, Jr., Chair-Elect

9-10 a.m.
Keynote Breakfast Plenary: “Elevate Your Presence to Create More Dynamic, Persuasive Relationship With the C-Suite and Beyond”

Presenter: Nadia Bilchik, president of Greater Impact Communication            

Nadia Bilchik, president of Greater Impact Communication, has hosted, produced and reported on programs for CNN International, CNN Airport Network and M-Net Television (South Africa). Over the years, she has interviewed a long list of high profile figures like Nelson Mandela, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and many others. Nadia’s interactive and life-changing presentation will empower you to become more persuasive and more successful. You will develop a greater understanding of the verbal and nonverbal methods that can enhance your personal presence, while also learning what could sabotage you. And you’ll discover how to easily build a rapport with anyone you meet and the best ways to ensure that your ideas are really heard.        

10:15-11:15 a.m.

Breakout Session: Set I

1. Accelerating Brand Journalism in a Public Health Crisis

Hahnemann University Hospital’s closure posed a crisis in Philadelphia. Jefferson Health seized the moment to combine its earned and social media efforts with a new brand journalism strategy, highlighting human narratives while press focused on economics.


Brandon Lausch, senior director, news and media relations, Jefferson Health

John Brand, vice president, Chief Communications Officer, Jefferson Health        

2. Achieving an Audacious Public Health Goal Through #hitmewithyourflushot

The inside story of how ChristianaCare, one of the nation's largest health systems, twice motivated two-thirds of its 12,000-person workforce in 100 locations in four states to voluntarily get vaccinated against the flu, all in the span of 18 hours.


Hiran Ratnayake, senior manager, media, ChristianaCare

Karen Halesky, project coordinator, ChristianaCare

Shane Hoffman, director of communications, ChristianaCare

3. CEOs taking a Stand: Building a National Thought Leadership Position     

Learn how Renown Health brought national awareness to its brand by positioning their President and CEO, Dr. Tony Slonim, as a health care thought leader.


Emily Bacheller, social media business partner, Renown Health

Stacey Sunday, APR, senior public relations business partner, Renown Health

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Awards Presentation                                  

12:15-1:15 p.m.
Luncheon Plenary

“Communications and the Opioid Crisis”      

Presenter: David Sheff, Bestselling Author and Advocate for Addiction Treatment   

David Sheff is the author of “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy,” the follow-up to his "New York Times" No. 1 bestseller, “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction.” “Beautiful Boy” was made into a 2018 movie by the same name, starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.

“Clean” is the result of the many years Sheff spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he believes is the greatest public health challenge of our time.

1:45-2:45 p.m.

Breakout Session: Set II

1. Telling Stories of Tomorrow Today

Most of us PR folks working in health care are able to tell stories about grateful patients, novel treatments options, and fascinating new technologies that give hope to our patients and communities. However, some of us work at academic institutions that don't just provide patient care but also conduct basic and translational research. This means, we are talking about discoveries that may be 15, 20 years removed from any kind of patient impact.  Tell stories about research and products not yet on the market.      

Presenter: Patrick Bartosch, senior director, communications, Sanford Burnham Presbyterian Discovery Institute    

2. The Devil Is in the Details

Maximizing your investment in a sports partnership to align and champion your message.

Engaging in a sports sponsorship can be much more than illuminating your logo in an arena or a stadium. Through an examination of RWJBarnabas Health’s and the New Jersey Devils partnership, learn how to leverage your sponsorships to extend your brand and messaging beyond any single game or event and maximize your investment.


Justin Edelman, senior vice president, corporate partnerships, RWJBarnabas Health

Dennis Wilson, Jr., vice president, strategic marketing, Northern Region and Creative Services, RWJBarnabas Health

Ned Luke, director, corporate partnerships activation, New Jersey Devils   

3. How to Manage and Measure Your Company’s Reputation in the Digital Age

Learn how to manage a positive reputation in a world dominated by Google reviews and Facebook comments. You’ll also learn about Banner Health’s reputation scoring philosophy, which measures the company’s overall reputational health.

Presenter: Rebecca Armendariz, senior director, marketing and public relations, Banner Health     

3:15–4:15 p.m.

Breakout Session: Set III

1. Defending Your Brand From Defamation — Let the Lawyers Loose

With the volume of misrepresented and unfactual information because spread by media, at what point do you and your organization need to take legal action? Learn how one health system successfully defended its reputation against a large media outlet.         

Presenter: Jennifer Smith, APR, associate vice president corporate communications, Broward Health

2. Jazz Up Your Strategy by Bridging Digital, Health Care, Advocacy         

From devising social media goals and objectives, to monitoring channels, to evaluating outcomes, social media is now deeply integrated into many brands. This session will demonstrate the need for advocacy, branding and awareness on social media success.


John Palmer, APR, director media & public relations, Ohio Hospital Association

Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., APR, associate professor public relations, Ohio Northern University

Diane Lang, senior manager, social media, marketing and PR, Nationwide Children’s Hospital    

3. The Secret Science of Successful Communication

A new science-based method for designing high-conversion communication is emerging from neuroscience and psychological research. With neuropsychological engagement, the same scientific certainty found in your labs can be present in your communication.  

Presenter: Elizabeth Edwards, founder and president, 11th Octave & Volume PR    

5-7 p.m.

Health Academy Networking Reception



7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. 


7:30-8:30 a.m. 


8:30-9:30 a.m.

Breakfast Keynote Session

“Cracked, Not Broken”         

Presenter: Kevin Hines, mental health advocate and suicide prevention activist  

At 19, two years after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. The fall would break his body, but not his spirit. He is one of only 34 people to survive the fall from that bridge, and the only one to regain full physical mobility.

Today, Kevin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and best-selling author who dedicates his life to saving the lives of others by sharing his story and a message of hope. His powerful memoir is titled “Cracked Not Broken, Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt.”                

9:45-10:45 a.m.

Breakout Session: Set IV

1. Becoming Indispensable: Fostering Teams That Thrive on Strategy

Today’s PR pros must contribute to the bottom line. Learn how to transform your team from reactively taking orders for communications tactics to strategically meeting business objectives. Get a toolkit of practical resources to become an invaluable leader      

Presenter: Eschelle Rutschman, APR, Fellow PRSA, senior director of communications, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

2. Living Above the Fold: A Brand Journalism Approach for Earned Media

All too often, press releases land only on your organization's website and obscure business wires. A brand journalism approach can take your company from obscurity to page 1, and at half the cost.           

Presenter: Jamie Martin, senior marketing & communications, Louisiana Healthcare Connections      

3. Beyond the Language Barrier: Overcoming Stigma in the Latino Community

Barriers to health and wellness in the Latino Community extend well beyond language. Focusing on families and partnerships lays the foundation for a successful campaign that increases access to care and addresses mental health and trauma.

Presenter: Ashley Conger, chief communications and marketing officer, Cardinal Innovations Healthcare  

11 a.m.-Noon

Breakout Session: Set V

1. Cultivating a Culture of Responsible Transparency in Your Hospital            

The health care landscape is changing rapidly, and the American healthcare consumer demands more transparency than ever. Learn how to establish responsible boundaries that protect your organization, and when to push past them to build trust with patients.          

Presenter: Mandi Kane, APR, senior managing advisor, Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock

2. Get Heard: Media & Social as Partners to Break Through the Noise       

How to promote your institution’s programs & messages in an oversaturated digital and news environment that has fallen victim to the dwindling health & science beat. Learn how media & social teams partner to successfully reach your target audiences.      

Jennifer Gundersen, manager of media relations, Weill Cornell Medicine
Azad Yakatally, community manager, Consumer Reports 

3. All About the Base: Growing Your Health Care Advocacy Skills

Over the past decade, the public policy and health care arenas are becoming more intertwined. Engaging in the public policy process is becoming increasingly important for health sector professionals – especially communications and PR folks.       

Presenter: Bethany Snyder, MPP, nonprofit agency expert, Snyder Strategies 

12:15 -1:45 p.m.         

Lunch Keynote

1:45–2 p.m.

Closing Remarks                    

Marina Renneke, APR, Chair   
Programming may be subject to change.

HA Banner5

Save $100 when you register by March 22, 2020!

Register Now!