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Public Affairs & Government Virtual Summit

This summit is being underwritten by Bell

The PRSA Public Affairs and Government (PAG) Virtual Summit will help you focus on the multidisciplinary interests of public affairs professionals, and share valuable resources for communicators who hold public affairs roles in the private and NGO sectors, as well as in local, state and/or national government bodies and the military.

The PRSA PAG Summit will feature two separate days of amazing speakers who will provide real-world tactics you can use in your practice. Our virtual conference platform connects you to other attendees and speakers where you can network through discussion boards, live sessions and virtual meetups. If you joined us at the Summit last year, you will experience the same level of content and networking from the comfort of your home/office without the travel and need for social distancing.

Non-PAG Section PRSA members get a free one-year PAG Section membership included in their registration. Hardship pricing is available for PAG Section members who have been furloughed or experienced job loss.

Day One
Friday, June 19, 1-4 p.m. EDT

Introduction
1-1:15 p.m.

Jennifer Day, APR, Regional Coordinator, Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Team USDOC/NOAA, PAG Conference Co-Chair 
Lori Croy, Director of Communications, Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance, PAG Conference Co-Chair

Jennifer Day HeadshotJennifer Day, APR, joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2009. As a federal agency, NOAA works to enrich lives of Americans through science, service and stewardship. Its reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor, keeping the public informed of the changing environment around them every single day.

Day has more than 30 years of experience in public relations and communications in the non-profit, agency, and state, federal and international government sectors. At NOAA, she is responsible for leading the cross-NOAA Great Lakes Regional Team to create better cross-agency communication and collaboration among its many divisions and programs working to protect and restore the Great Lakes. She also serves as NOAA’s representative on many inter-governmental collaborative initiatives with other government agencies and the public and leading NOAA’s participation in programs that have both regional and national impact.

Prior to her service to NOAA, Day served as the director of communications for the International Joint Commission, under the U.S. Department of State, and provided communications council to Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and Prime Minister of Canada. She began her government service career as a media relations coordinator for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. She takes great pride in using her communication skills to serve the American public and works regularly with young public relations students and professionals to pursue government service.

Day received her Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Otterbein University and was an active member and chapter officer in PRSSA. She worked on her master’s degree in public relations management and public administration at The Ohio State University before noting the shift to more collaborative government work and transferring to the University of Michigan to complete her Master of Science and reach doctoral candidacy in inter-government collaboration and environment conflict resolution.

Day is a native of the Great Lakes region and currently lives in the Huron River/Lake Erie watershed.  


Lori Croy headshot

Lori Croy, Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance. Lori is the director of communications for the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Her focus is on helping Missouri citizens understand “who we are, what we do and how we can help them.” In addition, she is responsible for communicating with industry partners in the areas of insurance, banking, credit unions, public utilities and professional licensing to ensure the protection of consumers while also maintaining a safe, level and competitive playing field.

She also has 24 years of experience in higher education and private consulting. Lori is interested in a truly integrated communications strategy - taking down the traditional departmental silos and putting the needs of the audience first. Her communications passion is internal communications and using diplomacy and humor to win over difficult people.

 

Keynote: Leading Strategic Communications in the 21st Century
1:15-1:55 p.m.

Recent months have challenged government communications. Did we pass the test? Are we ready for what comes next? Strategic communications is critical to the success and health of our organizations as we move forward, but so is leadership. Mr. Hastings will discuss the principles of leadership in strategic communications.

Robert T. Hastings Jr., APR+M, Fellow PRSA, Executive Vice President, Bell 

Bob Hastings headshot

Robert T. Hastings Jr., APR+M, Fellow PRSA, was named Executive Vice President, Communications and Government Affairs and Chief of Staff for Bell in May 2010. In this role, he leads the company’s internal and external communications, marketing communications, branding, corporate giving, and community and public affairs.

Robert joined Bell from Northrop Grumman where he served as vice president of communications for the Information Systems Sector, a $10B global information systems and technology business serving both military and commercial customers.

Previously, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. As the senior public affairs official and spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), he was the principal staff advisor to the Secretary of Defense and senior Administration officials for all strategic communications, leading a worldwide public affairs community of some 4,000 military and civilian personnel.

Before joining the Defense Department, he served as chief of staff and vice president of communications for BAE Systems, Inc. where he directed strategic communications and public affairs programs for the $15B US-led segment of the global defense company.

Robert is a retired U.S. Army officer with more than 30 years combined federal and state military experience. His U.S. Army assignments include command tours in Aviation and Cavalry and operational assignments in Germany, Eastern Europe, Central America, Iraq, and Bosnia.

In 2009, he was awarded the DoD Distinguished Public Service Medal and was honored by the University of Maryland as its 2010 Distinguished Alumni. He received the Public Relations Society of America Lloyd B. Dennis Distinguished Leadership Award and Silver Anvil Award of Excellence. Additionally, he was honored by the International Association of Business Communicators with the Gold Quill Award for Excellence in Communications Management.bert continues to serve as a Brigadier General in the Texas State Guard where he commands disaster response forces.

Robert is a former Chairman of the North Texas Commission, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Society of America, the World Affairs Council of Dallas, the Metropolitan DC USO, and the Advisory Council for the University of Florida Master’s Program in Global Strategic Communication, and is a member of the American Cancer Society’s CEOs Against Cancer. He is a licensed commercial pilot with broad experience in both military and civilian aircraft. Robert earned a Bachelor of Science degree in government studies from the University of Maryland and has completed executive studies at the Wharton School of Business and the University of Michigan.

Stretch Break
1:55-2 p.m. 

 

The Fear(less) Communicator:
Your Vital Role in Driving Organizational Culture

2-2:45 p.m.

This presentation will challenge the audience to consider the important linkages between communication and cultural factors including psychological safety and employee engagement. Attendees will gain tools, lessons learned, and practical tips for implementing a research-backed model within their organization.

Sandy Zehr, Ph.D., Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane)
Angie Lewis, Ph.D., Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane)

Sandy Zehr head shot

Dr. Sandore (Sandy) Zehr serves as the Division Manager for the Corporate Communications Division and is the Director of Congressional & Public Affairs for Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division. Sandy and his staff serve as the principal advisors to NSWC Crane regarding policy decisions, courses of action, and ramifications related to internal and external communication.   

Prior to joining NSWC Crane, Sandy spent over 27 years in private sector corporate leadership. During this time, he served as Vice-President and was a Managing Shareholder for Artistic Media Partners, which was Indiana’s largest radio broadcasting corporation. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Indianapolis, MBA from Ball State University, and a Public Management Certificate from Indiana University. Dr. Zehr received his PhD in Management from Sullivan University, where his research focused on employee engagement and psychological safety in the federal government.

He has been married 35 years and has three children and five grandchildren. In his spare time, Sandy is an avid fan of baseball (New York Yankees) and college soccer (Indiana Hoosiers).    

Twitter: @SandyZehr
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/dr-sandore-zehr

head shot of Angie LewisDr. Angie Lewis began her career at Crane in 1990 where she has held numerous operational, leadership, and management roles. She was an HR practitioner, spent time in the corporate business office, and served as a branch and division manager in multiple organizations. In 2009, Dr. Lewis was named the Deputy Department Director for the Global Deterrence and Defense Department. In this capacity, she provided operational oversight for strategic missions workload, developed and maintained strong customer relationships, and facilitated strategic and business planning efforts with the Department Director and Division leadership team.

The department is responsible for development, acquisition, and sustainment of electronic systems and components in support of defense strategic missions and customers. In 2012, Dr. Lewis was selected as the command’s first female Chief of Staff. In this position she was recognized as a member of Crane’s Executive Leadership Team, and she served as an advisor to the Commanding Officer and Technical Director, and their staff. Throughout her career, she has maintained an active role in working on behalf of the Crane workforce. She has been instrumental to the establishment of Crane Division University, and to the facilitation of the organization’s hallmark leadership development courses.

Dr. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, both from Ball State University and a Ph.D. in Management from Sullivan University. She also received a Public Management Certification from Indiana University. She was selected by the Indiana Commission for Women as a Torchbearer in 2015 for significant achievements as a woman in government and for her contributions to her employer, local community, and state.

She is a member of the Southern Indiana Section of the American Society of Naval Engineers, a member of the Crane Chapter Federal Manager’s Association, and a lifetime member and past president of the Hoosier Hills Chapter of Federally Employed Women. She currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence County.

Stretch Break
2:45-2:50 p.m. 

 

Washing Your Old Brand and Coming Up With a Shiny New One
2:50-3:45 p.m.

Do you need to rebrand your organization? Learn why and how Valley Water transformed themselves from being known as Santa Clara Valley Water District. What decisions were made? How was research conducted? Ultimately, how did they get the internal buy-in required to accomplish this major shift in public identity?

Rick L. Callendar, Chief of External Affairs, Valley Water 
Jimin Lee, Designer (Public Information Representative), Office of Communications, Valley Water

Rick Callendar headshotRick L. Callender was appointed Chief of External Affairs for the Santa Clara Valley Water District on May 8, 2017. Rick has worked for the water district since 1996, serving most recently as Deputy Administrative Officer for the Offices of Government Relations and Communications.

As the CEA, Rick leads the district’s efforts in strategic external communications to the media, community, and the public. The CEA also leads all government relations efforts on local, regional, state, and federal levels, and is responsible for keeping the CEO and district staff informed of public policies that directly affect the water district.

Rick also serves as the 2nd Vice President of the California/Hawaii State Conferences of the NAACP.  The California/Hawaii NAACP boasts 74 branches and youth units which are mobilized across the states to help ensure racial justice and equality and is a member of the National NAACP's Powerful Resolutions committee since 2001.

Rick was the President of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP from January 2000-August 2008 when he resigned to attend Law School.  The San Jose/Silicon Valley Branch, which was founded in 1952, is part of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Nationally the NAACP boasts over a half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world.

In September of 2000, Rick took a leave of absence to successfully lead the Yes on Measure B Campaign for Clean, Safe Creeks in Santa Clara Valley. This countywide campaign targeted over 500,000 voters and raised over $375 million dollars for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

In 2012, Rick led another campaign effort which led to another funding measure, Safe Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection, which passed by the largest margin of any special tax in the history of Santa Clara County.  The measure passed by 74% and raised over half a billion dollars.

Currently, Rick is the Immediate past chair of the Public Relations Society of America, Public Affairs and Government Section which provides training and resources relevant to communicators in all levels of government and branches of the military, as well as those at counseling firm, corporations and associations who are responsible for communicating with various audiences on public policy or public safety issues.  

Rick has also worked as a Special Assistant to past City of San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer, as a Field Campaign Organizer for the California Democratic Party, as a Congressional Fellow for the United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Energy and as a Congressional Fellow to Congressman Ronald V. Dellums.

 

headshot of Jimin LeeJimin Lee joined Valley Water in August 2018 as a Public Information Representative (designer) under the Office of Communications. Prior to joining Valley Water, Jimin was a graphic and exhibition designer at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). At NMAAHC, Jimin worked closely with the Chief of Design and various design consultants to create and build a new museum and brand from scratch and worked to see the completion of the museum when it opened its doors to the public on September 2016.

After her experience in designing exhibitions at the Smithsonian, she moved to the west coast where she most recently worked as a Senior Environmental Graphic Designer at a global architect firm called Interior Architects (IA). At IA, Jimin led the branding team which partnered with architects, interior designers, and strategists to create brand guidelines and brand-filled experiences for companies’ work environments. Her clients included tech companies such as Salesforce, Google, Amazon, and Okta.

Jimin earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting with a minor in Art History from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She also earned her Master of Arts in Exhibition Design from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. 

Wrap-Up
3:45-4 p.m. 

Rachael Gibson, Director of Government Relations, Valley Water, PAG Executive Committee Section Chair

Rachael Gibson HeadshotRachael Gibson is the Director of Government Relations for Valley Water's Office of Government Relations, where she oversees the operation of the Office and is responsible for Valley Water’s government relations, public policy strategy, and advocacy related activities at the local, state and federal levels of government. 

Rachael advances Valley Water’s interests through the federal, state, and local arenas and finds creative legislative solutions needed to overcome policy and regulatory challenges.  Rachael also serves as the Public Information Officer for Valley Water’s Emergency Operations Center during emergencies, including the Coyote Creek Flood in 2017, where she dealt first-hand with the effects of flooding on communities of concern in the heart of Silicon Valley. 

Prior to joining Valley Water, Rachael served as a senior policy advisor to a regional elected official and successfully lobbied and advocated for several landmark policy initiatives in the areas of land use, parks and recreation, and agriculture. 

She has a Bachelor of Science from San Jose State University in Environmental Studies, with a focus on Environmental Impact Assessment, and has spent her career focused on analyzing environmental impacts on communities, and crafting strategies and practices to address them so that all are afforded equal protections from environmental impacts.

Virtual Happy Hour & Networking Session
4-5 p.m.

Download the PAG Summit Mobile App
available for iPhone and Android

Day Two
Friday, June 26, 1-4 p.m. EDT

Introduction
1-1:15 p.m.

Jennifer Day, APR, Regional Coordinator, Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Team USDOC/NOAA, PAG Conference Co-Chair     
Lori Croy, Director of Communications, Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance, PAG Conference Co-Chair

Jennifer Day HeadshotJennifer Day, APR, joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2009. As a federal agency, NOAA works to enrich lives of Americans through science, service and stewardship. Its reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor, keeping the public informed of the changing environment around them every single day.

Jennifer has more than 30 years of experience in public relations and communications in the non-profit, agency, and state, federal and international government sectors. At NOAA, she is responsible for leading the cross-NOAA Great Lakes Regional Team to create better cross-agency communication and collaboration among its many divisions and programs working to protect and restore the Great Lakes. She also serves as NOAA’s representative on many inter-governmental collaborative initiatives with other government agencies and the public and leading NOAA’s participation in programs that have both regional and national impact.

Prior to her service to NOAA, Jennifer served as the director of communications for the International Joint Commission, under the U.S. Department of State, and provided communications council to Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and Prime Minister of Canada. She began her government service career as a media relations coordinator for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. She takes great pride in using her communication skills to serve the American public and works regularly with young public relations students and professionals to pursue government service.

Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts in public relations from Otterbein University and was an active member and chapter officer in PRSSA. She worked on her master’s degree in public relations management and public administration at The Ohio State University before noting the shift to more collaborative government work and transferring to the University of Michigan to complete her Master of Science and reach doctoral candidacy in inter-government collaboration and environment conflict resolution.

Jennifer is a native of the Great Lakes region and currently lives in the Huron River/Lake Erie watershed.  


Lori Croy headshot

Lori Croy, Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance. Lori is the director of communications for the Missouri Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Her focus is on helping Missouri citizens understand “who we are, what we do and how we can help them.” In addition, she is responsible for communicating with industry partners in the areas of insurance, banking, credit unions, public utilities and professional licensing to ensure the protection of consumers while also maintaining a safe, level and competitive playing field.

She also has 24 years of experience in higher education and private consulting. Lori is interested in a truly integrated communications strategy - taking down the traditional departmental silos and putting the needs of the audience first. Her communications passion is internal communications and using diplomacy and humor to win over difficult people.

 

Keynote: Incivility and Indecency: The Greatest Pandemic of All
1:15-1:55 p.m.

As America begins the process of economic recovery, this is also the time to Restore America’s Promise of Hope, Goodness and Decency. This task may be among the most difficult leadership decision making and communication challenges of this period in American history.
James E. Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, President of The Lukaszewski Group

Headshot of Jim Lukazewski with American Flag

Jim Lukaszewski, APR, Fellow PRSA, one of PRSA’s most senior Public Affairs and crisis management counselors and a recipient of the Lloyd B. Dennis award for service to PRSA in Public Affairs, will talk about the opportunity these events present to address a number of serious American communication and management issues. Among the more serious include rebuilding civility and decency in all sectors our society. This is the most important work of leaders going forward. Helping leaders lead will be an even more critical task for the PA function.

The most crucial issue according to Lukaszewski and his coauthor, Steve Harrison in their new book, The Decency Code: The Leader's Path to Building Integrity and Trust (McGraw Hill, 2020) is bringing our country together around a Decency Code meaning, accountability, civility, compassion, Empathy, Honesty, Humility and Principled Behavior.

According to Lukaszewski it also means defeating the enemies of Decency. Refusing to accept the unconscionable behaviors now so prevalent in our society. As Public Affairs communicators, our crucial work has been cut out for us.

James E. Lukaszewski (loo-ka-CHEV-skee) ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA; BEPS Emeritus is an author, speaker, crisis management consultant and president of The Lukaszewski Group. 

He is known as “one of the PR profession’s most sought-after strategists in the areas of crisis communication, litigation visibility management, reputation threats and other high-profile and high-stakes circumstances.” 

Among the many awards he has received, he is a recipient of the PRSA Lloyd B. Dennis Award for Distinguished Public Affairs Practices, the John W. Hill Award for Leadership in Public Relations Practice, the Logos Institute for Crisis Management’s Outstanding Leadership Award, the Patrick Jackson Award for Distinguished Service to the PRSA, PR News’ Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a Trust Across America 2020 Lifetime Honoree.

Lukaszewski is a member of the Rowan University Public Relations Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of more than 30 PRSA presidential citations. For more than 30 years of service, in 2015, the PRSA national board awarded Lukaszewski the title of PRSA BEPS Emeritus. His latest book, The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Building Integrity and Trust was released in April by McGraw-Hill.

Stretch Break
1:55-2 p.m.

 

Ransomware! Lessons Learned from the Front Line of a Cyberattack 
2-2:45 p.m.

News concerning government agencies falling victim to cybercrimes is becoming more prevalent by the day, and at this point it is not if you will be attacked, but when. Are you adequately prepared to lead crisis communications efforts for a cyberattack? If in doubt, check out this session to learn valuable tips and considerations from a communications practitioner who experienced a major cyber incident firsthand.
Brandi Wildfang Simmons, Chief Communications Officer, State of Colorado

headshot of Brandi W. SimmonsBrandi Wildfang Simmons is a creative and energetic leader with 17 years of experience producing impactful internal and external marketing communications strategies that elevate brands and eloquently inform stakeholders. She passionately practices the art and science of marketing communications and is equipped with a broad spectrum of experience from both the public and private sectors. Brandi is truly honored to serve the State of Colorado and its residents.

As Chief Communications Officer & Public Information Officer (PIO), Brandi oversees the accurate and effective delivery of OIT communication to its employees, agency customers, state leaders, the Governor’s Office, and Coloradans. An OIT brand champion, she is the first point of contact for all media inquiries, is OIT's chief storyteller, and leads all crisis communications efforts. Brandi also leads marketing and communications efforts for the innovative myColoradoTM mobile app and Colorado Digital IDTM.

Stretch Break
2:45-2:50 p.m.

 

Practical Protocols That Protect Your Brand Online:
What to Respond to and When

2:50-3:45 p.m.

Employees embarrassing the company on social media; negative reviews on Glassdoor, and the National Labor Relations Board reinstating people fired for misbehaving on social media — what is a comms strategist to do when advising the C-suite and writing policies and protocols?
Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, Owner, CAT 5 Crisis Communications Inc.

headshot of Laurie Ellen SmithLauri-Ellen Smith, APR’s "hands-on" experience running Joint Information Centers began with Super Bowl XXXIX, serving as lead spokesperson for the event's Safety and Security in a post 9-11 world, and she hasn't stopped since. Lauri-Ellen has participated in more than 25 Incident or Unified Commands, ranging from hurricanes to internationally covered, high-profile murder trials (2) during her tenure as the appointed press secretary to two elected sheriffs in Florida.

A sought-after crisis/risk communications strategist and media trainer for C-suite members and subject matter experts, Lauri-Ellen is enjoying life and work from her new home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She relocated in 2018 from Florida, where she led the PIO unit at one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, was a large health system PR/Marketing Director, and lobbied at the state level and at the federal level. She has worked on political campaigns since the age of 14.

Recently, Lauri-Ellen served as the Community Relations Director for Pascagoula, Mississippi, an industrial city with a strong employer base but still battling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. She is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for the Pascagoula Main Street association and has a keen interest in community/economic redevelopment. Her consulting business is helping clients (governments, agencies, healthcare professionals and private corporations) with their integrated marketing/communications and public affairs programming including: public policy development and legislative strategies; analyzing/supporting PIO staffs' functionality and JIC skills; training spokespersons; developing social media performance matrices and social media policies; and advising clients on their risk/reputation management.

Lauri-Ellen serves on the Board and Executive Committee of PRSA's Public Affairs and Government Section, which she has twice chaired. She is the 2015 recipient of the Lloyd B. Dennis Distinguished Service Award in Public Affairs, PRSA’s highest honor for PAO’s and PIOs. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the nationally ranked PR program at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, where she served on their Advisory Board for several years. She is a graduate of FEMA’s Advanced PIO class and is a member of their 2020 Master’s PIO cohort.

Wrap-Up
3:45-4:00 p.m.

Rachael Gibson, Director of Government Relations, Valley Water, PAG Executive Committee Section Chair

Rachael Gibson HeadshotRachael Gibson is the Director of Government Relations for Valley Water's Office of Government Relations, where she oversees the operation of the Office and is responsible for Valley Water’s government relations, public policy strategy, and advocacy related activities at the local, state and federal levels of government. 

Rachael advances Valley Water’s interests through the federal, state, and local arenas and finds creative legislative solutions needed to overcome policy and regulatory challenges.  Rachael also serves as the Public Information Officer for Valley Water’s Emergency Operations Center during emergencies, including the Coyote Creek Flood in 2017, where she dealt first-hand with the effects of flooding on communities of concern in the heart of Silicon Valley. 

Prior to joining Valley Water, Rachael served as a senior policy advisor to a regional elected official and successfully lobbied and advocated for several landmark policy initiatives in the areas of land use, parks and recreation, and agriculture. 

She has a Bachelor of Science from San Jose State University in Environmental Studies, with a focus on Environmental Impact Assessment, and has spent her career focused on analyzing environmental impacts on communities, and crafting strategies and practices to address them so that all are afforded equal protections from environmental impacts.

Virtual Happy Hour & Networking Session
4-5 p.m.