10:05 – 10:35 a.m.
Panel Session: The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion in Communications
Diversity and inclusion is not just a trend, it’s a requirement for success. But how does D&I directly impact communications goals and why is it so important? Our panelists will explore this topic and offer insight into the how they’ve successfully integrated D&I into internal and external communications initiatives.
Jeff Wilson, APR, Vice President, Agency Marketing + Promotion, Padilla
With more than 25 years of communications experience, Jeff Wilson, APR, serves as Vice President of Agency Marketing + Promotions at Padilla, a leading public relations, marketing, branding, digital and advertising agency. He also serves as chair of Padilla's Diversity + Inclusion Council, which focuses on recruitment, retention, training and agency content.
He previously worked as a public information professional in the Office of Marketing and Media Relations at the University of South Carolina. His career in communications began as a staff writer for The Greenville News in Greenville, South Carolina. He also has served as an adjunct communications professor at the University of South Carolina, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Union University.
Jeff has received some of the highest honors in the public relations profession, including a Silver and Bronze Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), a PRWeek Award for Technology Campaign of the Year and a Gold Quill from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). He was named to PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 list, when he was still under 40.
Jeff earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Georgia, where he was a teaching and research assistant.
An accredited member of PRSA, he has served the organization in a variety of capacities, including serving as president of the Richmond Chapter and president of the Richmond Public Relations Foundation, the charitable arm of PRSA Richmond. He’s currently serving on PRSA’s national board of directors, representing the Mid-Atlantic District, which covers nine Chapters in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, eastern and central Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Carol Frazer Haynesworth, Director, Head of Equity and Inclusion at Carmichael Lynch
Carol Frazer Haynesworth, is a proud Afro-Latina. She is a wife, mother, Diversity, Equity Inclusion leader, marketing executive, philanthropist, and published author of Coauthor of Your Great Destiny. She serves as Director, Head of Equity and Inclusion at Carmichael Lynch (CL). At CL she is responsible for the strategy and implementation of equity efforts in the workplace, and across a remarkable portfolio of clients. She has a strong background both in marketing and targeting multicultural audiences. Throughout her professional life she has led marketing initiatives for Time Warner (U.S., Latin America and United Kingdom), Mattel, Meredith Corporation, and The Economist.
Kathleen Brenk, Senior Director Human Resources at Marvin
Kathleen Brenk is the Senior Director of National Field Operations at Marvin. That mouthful means her team of 50+ HR professionals are the “boots on the ground” at Marvin’s 14 manufacturing facilities. She previously served as Director of HR Strategy & Implementation with CareerWise Colorado, building Colorado’s groundbreaking system of business led and student focused youth apprenticeships. Past leadership roles include CHRO at Recondo Technology and VP of People & Culture at Trust Company of America. An HR leader that believes in creative, strategic solutions and shaking up past practices to get things done smarter and faster, she is a Six Sigma greenbelt, with SPHR credentials. Kathleen brings a unique operational skill set to engaging people practices.
10:40 – 11:10 a.m.
Panel Session: Guide to Career Paths in Public Relations
Public relations and communications are awesome majors to have in college, but it can be confusing when you graduate and see so many different job titles out there. What’s the difference between a social media specialist and a digital specialist? What does an account manager do at an agency? Which job title is right for me? This panel discussion will explore different career paths you can take in PR, help you interpret what you’re seeing on applications and help you decide what’s right for you.
Jill Spiekerman Bonham, APR, MA
Jill Spiekerman Bonham, APR, MA, is the national sales solutions manager for the Purina dairy feed division of Land O’Lakes. She has managed communications programs from both the agency and client side for more than 35 years. She’s worked for three advertising and public relations agencies, leading public relations and strategic planning for a mix of agricultural and consumer clients. Jill was the director of public relations for the Maytag, Hoover, Jenn-Air, Amana and Jade appliance brands, which are now owned by Whirlpool Corporation. She was the director of communications for the world’s largest pork producer and director of marketing for an animal vaccine manufacturer. She edited an agricultural publication and began her career as a freelance writer and newspaper editor.
Paul G. Omodt, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, MBC, SCMP, Omodt & Associates Critical Communications LLC
A 30-year veteran of the Minnesota public relations and communication landscape, Paul is known for handling some of the Midwest’s biggest crisis and critical communication situations. From the 1998 Northwest pilots’ strike to the 35W bridge collapse and from product recalls to corporate restructuring, Paul’s communication skills and strategies have left a lasting impact.
A nationally recognized communications professional, Paul’s expertise is sought by a broad mix of clients from leading corporations to small businesses and non-profits who appreciate his ability to analyze an issue and provide a communication solution.
Paul is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer where his mix of practical experience, storytelling and engaging speaking style make him a conference favorite.
Paul was born and raised in Minneapolis and has long been active in the community both as a volunteer and an elected public official. A 1984 graduate of Minneapolis Southwest High School, Paul received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of St. Thomas. Paul has continued his career at St. Thomas where he has been an adjunct professor in the both the undergraduate Communications and Journalism department as well as in the Masters of Business Administration department.
Korrie Merley, Account Manager at Hail Mary PR
An Iowa native, Korrie attended Drake University in Des Moines, IA, before moving to Minnesota to begin her communications career at Olson Engage (now ICF Next), representing brands like BEHR Paint and BISSELL Homecare. She then explored a media relations specialist role at the acclaimed Carmichael Lynch Relate, working with the likes of Caribou Coffee and the iconic Celestial Seasonings, before transitioning back to the account management side at Hail Mary PR, an agency founded by a former Olson colleague, Mary Clare Jensen. There, she enjoys wearing all kinds of hats for the agency's clients – from media relations strategy and client management, to community engagement and project coordination – as part of a small team of smart and nimble PR practitioners.
Hannah Byl, Social Media and Influencer Engagement Manager at W20 Group
Hannah Byl is a Social Media and Influencer Engagement Manager at the W2O Group in Minneapolis, coordinating campaigns for a variety of healthcare-related brands. She is an Events Co-Chair for Ad2 Minnesota. She graduated from Augsburg University with a BA in Marketing in 2019.
11:15 – 11:45 a.m.
Panel Session: What to Expect in the First Year of Your Communications
Your first year in PR and communications is a rollercoaster of learning, collaborating and trying new things. This panel of recent grads and young professionals will share their experience in their first few years in the industry and give you tips on how to make the most of it.
Cory Weaver, Communication Consultant, ROC Group
Cory Weaver is a communication consultant with ROC Group, a full-service communication agency specializing in human resources and enterprise change. For the past 8 years, Cory Weaver has worked with some of the world’s largest organizations to solve unique business challenges through creative and strategic communication. With clients that span nearly every major industry, Cory discovers an audience’s motivations, then taps into behavior design and story science to develop messaging that drives action. Key subject matter areas include onboarding, retirement, health and wellbeing, employee engagement, employment value, branding, M&A, compensation and change management.
Cory grew up in Maple Grove, Minnesota before earning a double major in journalism and Spanish at Iowa State University. After graduating in 2013, Cory spent three years in Chicago with Aon Hewitt before moving back to Minnesota in 2016 to join ROC Group’s Twin Cities office. Outside of ROC, Cory serves on the Board of Directors for IABC Minnesota and supports career counseling at his former high school. He lives in Richfield with his wife and two daughters.
Ava Lipari, Social Media Coordinator at Flint Group
In her role as social media coordinator, Ava Lipari helps clients share their brand stories on social media. Ava graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. After doing social (zocial) media for Zorbaz, she came to Flint Group in 2020. Outside of work, Ava’s hobbies include watching Netflix, TikTok and other pandemic-related indoor activities. Currently, her personal goals include becoming a dog owner and getting back to traveling post-pandemic.
Ethan Mickelson, Communications Coordinator at The Arts Partnership
Ethan Mickelson works as communications coordinator for an umbrella arts nonprofit called The Arts Partnership. Ethan earned a degree in strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations from North Dakota State University in 2018. With ten years of writing experience, he is a weekly contributor to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead‘s Life section. On a day-to-day, he develops PR and communications strategy for The Arts Partnership’s blog, newsletter and social media. A farm kid for life with an upbringing on books, gardening and outdoor adventures, Ethan’s first writing experiences started at his hometown newspaper, The Turtle Mountain Star in Rolla, N.D. Other formative roles in high school included working as an on-air radio DJ at KEYA FM, as a production assistant for BEK Sports and freelancing for North Dakota Living Magazine. Ethan has been published locally by Fargo Underground, Fargo Monthly, Fargo Inc, Bison Illustrated, Midwest Nest and regionally by the West Fargo Pioneer, Dickinson Press, Jamestown Sun, Grand Forks Herald and The Growler Magazine.
Katy O’Neill, Account Coordinator at Beehive Strategic Communication
Katy O’Neill is an Account Coordinator at Beehive Strategic Communication. Katy first joined Beehive in July 2019 as an intern, following previous internship positions at organizations including Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, Miami University and Fahlgren Mortine. Katy works with clients in the healthcare, med tech, financial services and high education industries. She supports Beehive and clients on qualitative and quantitative research, social media, media relations and internal communication. She graduated from Miami University with a double-major in strategic communications and American studies.