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2020 Communications School Schedule

2020 NAGC Communications School:
Schedule at a Glance

After reviewing CDC guidance for event planners, considering the order issued by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear March 18, 2020, requiring businesses that cannot comply with CDC social distancing guidelines to cease in-person operations, increasing restrictions on travel for government employees, and out of an abundance of caution in uncertain times, the board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020 Communications School. 

Management HQ - our association management team - will contact those who have already registered for the 2020 Communications School to make refund arrangements. 

We are pressing ahead with the judging of Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Award submissions and the board is working with Management HQ to create a virtual event to properly recognize award winners. The board is also working with the 2020 Communications School Task Force to identify breakout sessions and/or keynote presentations that would adapt well to a virtual environment and offer those as a series of webinars and/or webcast events.

Mark your calendars for NAGC's annual Communications School! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 

 Advanced Training Workshop
 • Accreditation in PR JumpStart-Strategic Communications by Ann Knabe

 8:00 am – 12:00 pm 

 Advanced Training Workshops
 • The Power of Storytelling in Business and by Alan Hoffler
 • Standing Up A Joint Information Center in the Era of 24-Hour News Cycles & Instagram
by Lauri-Ellen Smith
 • Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by Jacquelyn Wieland

 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

 Advanced Training Workshops
 • Who Says Writers Can't Do Math? A Crash Course in Getting What you Need from Google Analytics by Emily Patterson
 • How to Develop Trust in Your Community by Tayo Rockson
 • Channeling Your Inner Aristotle to Become a Superhero Spokesperson During a Crisis by Dr. Joe Trahan

 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm President’s Reception

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

 8:00 am – 9:30 am 

 Opening Keynote
 • How to Connect and Communicate in a Cross-Cultural World  by Tayo Rockson

 9:30 am – 10:00 am

 Networking Session

 10:15 am – 11:15 am

 Breakout Sessions
 • Juggling Glass Balls and Deciding Which One(s) Break! by Richard Breen
 • When the World Comes to Your Suburb by Ben Hayle
 • Advancing Your Communication Efforts with Actionable Insights & Analytics by Ben Kessler
 • Bold Branding Beats Bragging by Tonya McKenzie

 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

 Lunch & Keynote
 • The Capital Beltway is Closed. Let's Live Tweet About it by Ellen Kamilakis

 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm

 Breakout Sessions
 • Research: The Secret Hack to Effective Communications by Tom Fuller
 • Mission, Message & Media: How to Create and Sustain Engagement Among a Highly- Skilled and Diverse Workforce Through Internal Communications by Michael Hughes
 • Stop Reporting Page Views & Other Tips for Actually Useful Reports by Emily Patterson
 • Top 10 Things You Can Do To Improve Your Web Accessibility by Stephen Tidmore

 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

 Breakout Sessions
 • Leveraging Behavioral Science to Inspire Action by Meg Bartow
 • Lessons Learned in Launching a Podcast by Jody Hanson
 • Crafting An Approach to Spanish-Language Social Media Content by Claire Loxsom
 • More sessions to be announced!

 3:45 pm – 6:00 pm Blue Pencil & Gold Screen Awards

Thursday, May 21, 2020

 8:30 am – 10:00 am 

 Morning Keynote
 • Craig Waters

 10:15 am – 11:15 am

 Breakout Sessions
 • Show, Don't Tell When Writing for the Web 
by Tania Larson
 Building a Culture of Transparency and Increasing Credibility by Aaron Lavallee
Start with the End in Mind: Communication Planning 
by NAGC President Chris O'Neil
• Is It Time for a Speaker Training Refresher Session for Your Leadership? by Laura Van Eperen

 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

 Closing Keynote: Panel Discussion
Nore Ghibaudy, Jefferson County Board of Elections PIO
Kenny Kline, University of Louisville Sports Information Director
• Craig Waters, Director of the Public Information Office, Florida Supreme Court

 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm Extended Breakout Sessions
 • Leading a Public Affairs Team (Even if You're Not the Boss) by John Verrico
• “Button pusher”- Lessons learned from the 2018 Hawaii False Missile Alert by Jeffrey Hickman
 • More sessions to be announced!

Meet Your Keynote Speakers:

Ellen Kamilakis
Ellen Kamilakis is a Senior Public Affairs Officer with VDOT Northern Virginia where she publishes the @vadotnova Twitter account as well as covering media relations, operations, emergency communications, and maintenance.

She is a current member of the National Capital Region Incident Management Team and previously worked for Fairfax County for twelve years with the Fairfax County Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, and Department of Transportation.

Her work in social media garnered her a 2019 national AASHTO Award as well as PRSA awards in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She has also received awards for media relations, integrated communications, event planning, web design, and graphic design.

Tayo Rockson
Tayo Rockson is a writer, speaker, consultant, and media personality who runs UYD Management - a strategic leadership and consulting firm that helps organizations incorporate sustainable diversity and inclusion practices. As someone who has lived on 4 continents, he is an authority in communicating effectively across cultures.

He hosts the popular As Told By Nomads podcast and his book Use Your Difference To Make A Difference is based on how to connect and communicate in a cross-cultural world.


Craig Waters
In 1996, Craig Waters was appointed the first communications director in the Florida Supreme Court’s history after working there nine years as a staff attorney to its judges.

Over a 33-year career, he oversaw creation of the court’s first website in 1994, began placing court documents online in 1996, livestreamed video of court arguments in 1997, and managed crisis communications for events like Florida’s 2000 presidential election debacle known to history as Bush v. Gore. More recently, he began moving the court’s communications onto social media in the late 2000s and then placed livestreams of court arguments on Facebook Live starting in 2018.

He currently is overseeing the establishment of an outreach-based Learning Center as part of an overhaul of the court’s 175-year-old library.