Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, NAACP
As Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Aba Blankson oversees the NAACP’s internal and external communications plans for brand management, public relations, marketing, and products and services.
Ms. Blankson has nearly twenty years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining the NAACP, Ms. Blankson served as Senior Director for Marketing and Communications at The Common Application, where she spearheaded the development of strategic marketing and public engagement plans to advance the association’s brand identity as a thought-leader in higher education. Previously, Ms. Blankson served as a communications and outreach officer within the U.S. Department of State. She has also held roles in marketing, communications, and information technology at Hood College, Towson University, and Cornell University.
Ms. Blankson grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Hood College. She went on to earn an MS in Computer Science from Towson University and an MBA from the Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business. She enjoys travel, hiking, photography and writing.
Lieutenant General Stephen G. Fogarty
Commanding General, U.S. ARMY CYBER COMMAND
Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty assumed command of U.S. Army Cyber Command in 2018. A native of Savannah, Georgia, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Military Intelligence (MI) in 1983 after earning his bachelor’s degree in History at North Georgia College.
Fogarty’s command tours include the Long Range Surveillance Detachment, 125th MI Battalion, 25th Infantry Division (Light); the 732nd MI Battalion; the 116th MI Brigade and National Security Agency-Georgia; the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command; and the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon.
His joint and combined assignments include Chief, Integrated Survey Program, United States Special Operations Command; Director, Joint Intelligence Operations Center—Afghanistan; Director of Intelligence, J-2, United States Central Command; Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, CJ-2, NATO International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan; and Chief of Staff, U.S. Cyber Command, the position he held prior to commanding ARCYBER. During his joint and combined assignments, he deployed to Afghanistan three times in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. This is in addition to numerous other Army assignments.
Fogarty also holds master’s degrees in Administration from Central Michigan University and in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. His military education includes Airborne School, the Military Intelligence Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Ranger School, Jumpmaster Course, Combined Arms & Services Staff School, Long Range Surveillance Leaders Course, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.
President and COO, NATIONAL PRESS FOUNDATION
Efron began her career at The Associated Press in Boston, followed by 20 years at the Los Angeles Times. She was a political campaign reporter, foreign correspondent in Moscow, Tokyo bureau chief, State Department correspondent in Washington, assistant op-ed editor, and editorial writer on national security.
She was also a speechwriter and senior policy advisor at the State Department, where she launched the “Free the Press Campaign,” and writer in residence at the RAND Corporation, where she wrote about the declining role of facts and evidence in public discourse.
Paxton K. Baker
Chair, Washington Nationals
Paxton K. Baker is an American businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, who has served in the entertainment, music, sports, and production industries for over 30 years.
Baker is a minority owner of the Washington Nationals Baseball club and currently serves as chairman of the Washington Nationals Founding Partners Group. He is also a partner in the ownership group of the Washington Kastles World Team Tennis League and a governing board member of the Global Sports Summit.
In 2018, Baker launched the Washington, D.C., office of Liquid Soul, the agency behind the marketing and promotion of such blockbuster films as Black Panther and Fast & Furious 6. As managing partner, Baker is leading the expansion of the 17-year-old company into the political, sports and entertainment arenas.
For 16 years, Baker served as the executive vice president and general manager of CENTRIC (formerly BETJ), BET’s complementary network targeting the African American and multicultural adult. In 2006 he was appointed chairman of the Viacom Marketing Council, and for more than six years lead over 35 senior marketing and sales executives across all Viacom properties: focusing on training, best practices and strengthening brand partnerships. In 2008 he co-founded the Viacom Programming Council, comprised of senior programmers from MTV and BET Networks, as well as Paramount Pictures.
Vice President of Communications, BAE SYSTEMS
Roela Santos is the Vice President of Communications at BAE Systems, a global leader in defense technology and systems integration for the U.S. government and one of the world’s largest aerospace and defense companies. She is responsible for the Intelligence and Security sector’s strategy and execution of marketing communications, advertising, employee engagement, executive communications, digital and social media, community relations and tradeshows/events initiatives.
Santos brings many years of experience in integrated communications and marketing strategies for the technology, aerospace, defense and IT industries. Previously, Santos was the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for SAIC. She has also held communications and marketing leadership roles at Engility Corporation and Raytheon.
stone & compass
A teacher, businessman, and environmentalist, Rob has either lived or created business opportunities in London, Puerto Rico, Cambodia, Eastern Europe, and throughout the United States. His interests are human history, cultural preservation, natural resource governance, social harmony, and business development.
Some of his most unique work includes opening a school in Cambodia, creating a restaurant chain in California, national environmental mitigation, archaeological preservation, and landscape design on large estates.
Holding multiple degrees in various fields including Archaeology, geography, and history, Rob strives to bring together cultures from around the world to dialogue and collaborate on a host of issues.
Executive Vice President, Global Communication & Public Affairs,
MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION
Emily Lenzner is Executive Vice President of Global Communications and Public Affairs at the Motion Picture Association. Prior to her leadership position with the MPAA, Emily headed communications for Atlantic Media, was a managing director for public affairs at SKDKnickerbocker, and was the executive director of communications for ABC News in Washington.
She formerly managed PR for “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” and “Nightline.”
Earlier in her career, Emily worked in film production and development for Diane Keaton’s production company and was a local news producer in Seattle after serving in the Clinton White House as an assistant to then senior advisor George Stephanopoulos.
BRIGADIER GENERAL PATRICK S. RYDER
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. AIR FORCE
Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder is the Director of Public Affairs, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, based at the Pentagon. In addition to advising the Secretary, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and Chief of Space Operations on Public Affairs matters, he is responsible for developing and executing global communication processes to build understanding and support for the Air Force and Space Force. He provides guidance and support for nearly 4,500 active duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen and civilians in their mission to broadcast internal Air Force and Space Force information, conduct community and media relations, plan and synchronize Department of the Air Force communication efforts, and execute security review programs.
Brig. Gen. Ryder was commissioned in 1992 through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Florida in Gainesville. His staff assignments include serving as the Special Assistant for Public Affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of Public Affairs for U.S. Central Command, Director of Media Operations for the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs, and Director of Public Affairs for the Office of Defense Representative-Pakistan.
During his career, Brig. Gen. Ryder has led public affairs operations in numerous overseas contingency operations. He served as the PAO in Hungary during the 1995 peace-keeping mission Operation Joint Endeavor and led 48th Fighter Wing public affairs operations in support of NATO during the 1999 Kosovo Air Campaign. In support for Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served as a strategic communications planner and led the DoD Public Affairs response to highlight U.S. military humanitarian support to Pakistan during floods in 2010. While at U.S. Central Command, Brig. Gen. Ryder oversaw the command-wide public affairs operations in support of the counter-ISIS campaign Operation Inherent Resolve from 2014-2016 and conducted bi-weekly press briefings with the Pentagon press corps from Headquarters U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.
President and Executive Director, THE ASSOCIATION OF FOREIGN PRESS CORRESPONDENTS IN THE USA (AFPC-USA)
Thanos Dimadis was born in Veroia, Greece, grew up in Brussels, Belgium, and lives permanently in New York. He has worked as a journalist for several media outlets in Athens, Greece, Washington, D.C., New York, and Brussels. In Athens.
As the President and Director of the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents USA, he works with the private sector to provide educational resources to foreign correspondents through scholarships and programs. He is a lecturer for the University of Florida, School of Telecommunications, and a visiting lecturer at the George Washington University, Political Management School.
He was graduated from George Washington University Political Management School with a master’s degree in communications and political management. He was graduated from the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship Program at Columbia University in 2018. He also holds a master’s degree in Media (City University of London), Political Science (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.), and European Law and Policy (Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens).
He completed the Executive Education program at Harvard Kennedy School, and undergraduate studies at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences of Athens at the Department of Journalism and Mass Media. He was honored with a scholarship from the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation.
He currently serves on the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association of New York and on the U.S. Alumni Board of the Business School of the City University of London.
FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE FOR THE UNITED STATES
From 2010 until 2017, Jim Clapper served as the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the nation’s top intelligence official, and the principal intelligence advisor to the US President.
He held one of the broadest portfolios in government, overseeing 200,000 intelligence employees internationally, a $52 billion budget, and high-profile organizations like the CIA, NSA, and FBI. Notable public achievements include improving communication amongst domestic agencies, building partnerships with foreign governments, procurement reform, and sweeping IT upgrades.
Jim Clapper is the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President George H.W. Bush, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency under President George W. Bush, and the first Director of Defense Intelligence within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
He is a retired Air Force Lieutenant General who served two tours in Southeast Asia. During the the Vietnam War, Clapper flew 73 combat support missions over Laos and Cambodia. He is a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, and the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal. He was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service twice—and was honored with the Intelligence and National Security Alliance William Oliver Baker Award. In 2017, he was awarded the FBI Director’s Medallion and the title of honorary Special Agent.
VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONs,
Steve Warren is Vice President of Communications and Chief Communications Officer at Aerojet Rocketdyne. He is a communicator and spokesman at the seat-of-government level as well as a crisis management expert, and decorated combat veteran.
In his current role, Warren leads the company’s strategic internal and external stakeholder outreach initiatives and is the primary spokesperson for Aerojet Rocketdyne. Previously, he was a senior military analyst at CNN.
Prior to joining CNN, Warren served 28 years in the United States Army before retiring as a colonel in 2017. During his Army career, Warren served in senior leadership roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of communications and public affairs. From 2011 to 2017 he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense where his roles included coalition spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, director of defense press operations at the Pentagon, and senior military advisor to the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.
Elizabeth ‘EK’ Brienza
VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONs,
Elizabeth “EK” Brienza is Vice President of Communications for L3Harris Technologies where she leads world-class communication & marketing experts to develop and execute L3Harris’ integrated messaging efforts across the $18B enterprise.
EK also galvanizes employee impact via the L3Harris Cares emergency assistance fund and guides L3Harris public outreach, community partnership and volunteer efforts through the L3Harris Foundation.
Prior to joining L3Harris in 2021, EK served as the Chief of Strategy and Change Management for the office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force, integrating and implementing strategic decisions for Department of the Air Force senior leaders.
EK has more than 20 years of leadership experience developing and delivering strategic information and decision campaigns targeting key defense, innovation, and technology audiences across the globe.
Earlier in her career, she was Chief of Public Affairs for the USAF Thunderbirds, Defense Fellow for a House Armed Services Committee member, Senate Legislative Liaison for senior members of Congress, and 113th Wing Security Forces Squadron Commander. She also held positions as the lead spokesperson for a national non-profit serving military survivors and was the intelligence and technology editor for an international news organization.
EK holds a Master of Operational Art and Science from the Air Command & Staff College, and a Bachelor of Science in English from the United States Naval Academy.
She operates from the L3Harris Headquarters in Melbourne, FL, and resides locally with her husband and their two daughters.
DOUGLAS E. JORDAN
JOINT SPECIAL OPERATIONS UNIVERSITY
Doug Jordan is Course Director for the Special Operations Forces- Security Cooperation Course at the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
JSOU provides education to Special Operations Forces and to people who enable the SOF mission in courses taught at MacDill AFB and for SOF units worldwide by means of remote on-site and virtual instruction. Doug has taught courses in Cross-Cultural Competence, National Strategy, Influence, and International Media for US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and the Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOC).
Also, Doug was assigned to the US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine in 2019-20 as the Ministry of Defense Advisor for Strategic Communication.
A 1989 graduate of Western Illinois University in Mass Communication, he earned an M.S. degree in International Relations from Troy State University, an M.A. in Management from Webster University, and is currently a doctoral candidate in Communication at the University of South Florida. He retired from the US Army in 2009 as a Lieutenant Colonel in Psychological Operations and as is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, the US Air Force Air Command and Staff College and the Joint Forces Staff College.
PUBLIC RELATIONS & THOUGHT LEADERSHIP DIRECTOR, THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT
Sherry Sanderford is a strategic communications leader with extensive experience in corporate, health care, health technology and not-for-profit communications. She joined Wounded Warrior Project in March 2020 and leads public relations and thought leadership for the organization.
Previously, Sherry founded S2 Communications & Consulting where she provided communications strategy and consulting, public relations, executive communications, and writing and editing to businesses, academic medicine, and non-profit organizations. Sherry spent 20 years at Aetna/CVS Health leading executive communications, internal communications, and public relations to drive brand reputation, employee engagement, media coverage and thought leadership for numerous business segments.
Sherry received her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Florida State University.
Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications, NORTHWELL HEALTH
Ramon Soto is a skilled marketing executive with deep healthcare and financial services experience. He is responsible for the development and execution of Northwell’s brand strategy, as well as for all aspects of marketing and communications, including public relations, digital engagement, strategic marketing, clinical marketing and customer acquisition.
Mr. Soto is a member of Northwell Health’s executive leadership, responsible for shaping the growth strategy and execution for the enterprise. Northwell Health is New York’s largest healthcare provider with a network of 22 hospitals, nearly 800 community and research facilities and 77,000 employees.
Mr. Soto was formerly the chief marketing officer for Magellan Health, a healthcare services company focused on the unmet needs of individuals in the fast growing, highly complex and high-cost areas of healthcare. Prior to Magellan, Mr. Soto was a senior vice president with Aetna. Also, he spent seven years at GE Capital.
Mr. Soto attended the Yale School of Management’s MBA program for executives. He is also a graduate of GE Capital’s Leadership Interchange, a high potential manager training program. He is Six Sigma certified, was awarded a US government patent for co-development of GE Capital’s product development process and was an instructor at GE’s Small Business College.
Mr. Soto received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
CAPTAIN BROOK DEWALT
COMMANDER, AMERICAN FORCES NETWORK HEADQUARTERS & DIRECTOR, MEDIA PRODUCTION/OPERATIONS, DEFENSE MEDIA ACTIVITY
Captain Brook DeWalt is a Navy public affairs officer with 35+ years’ experience (military & civilian) in public communication, with emphasis on international relations, public diplomacy, crisis communication, and communication synchronization.
DeWalt currently serves as commander of the American Forces Network (AFN) and director of media production at the Defense Media Activity located at Ft. Meade, Maryland, leading 1,200 personnel at 26 radio & television stations, 3 headquarters facilities & the global AFN broadcast center. Previously, he served as director of public affairs operations for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Prior to this role, DeWalt served as deputy chief of information for the U.S. Navy.
DeWalt’s earlier roles in public affairs included the U.S. Strategic Command and Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, at Pearl Harbor. He also completed three consecutive hazardous duty assignments overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, deploying as Special Assistant to the Commander. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan; strategic communication director for the U.S. military at the U.S. Embassy, Pakistan; and public affairs director for Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba. Additional assignments include PAO aboard the USS Kitty Hawk; the first director of new media for the Office of the Secretary of Defense; deputy chief of publishing for the Navy; and Arizona division officer for Naval Reserve Recruiting; and PAO for Naval Reserve Center, Phoenix. Prior to his military service, DeWalt served 11 years in a variety of operational public relations, staff & management positions with AMC and Harkins movie theater chains, and in statewide appointed political positions.
DeWalt holds a BA in journalism from Arizona State University, an MA in mass communication from San Diego State University, and an MA in national security strategy from the Naval War College. He has also earned the professional designation of “Accredited in Public Relations and Military Communication,” or APR+M, and in 2013 was inducted into PRSA’s honorary College of Fellows as a thought leader in the field of public relations.
Libi Sprow Rice
Vice President and Chief Communications Officer,
The Executive Leadership Council
Libi Sprow Rice is head of The Executive Leadership Council’s (ELC) communication, marketing, branding and external affairs initiatives. She is a member of The ELC’s leadership team and responsible for leading the strategy, management, and implementation of all communication-related efforts.
Libi has more than 15 years of in-house and agency marketing and communications experience. Prior to joining ELC, she was Director of Global Communications – Employment Branding for CEB. Prior to joining CEB, Libi served for more than five years in Discovery Communication, Inc.’s Corporate Communications and Global Events department. Libi has also held public relations, marketing and business development positions at Fandango Special Events, The Caraway Group (a public relations and public affairs firm), RHB Ventures (a sports and entertainment marketing agency) and KPMG.
Libi holds an MBA degree with a Marketing concentration from The Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University, a BA in Communication and Foreign Language from American University and a Postgraduate Certificate in Event Management from The George Washington University. She is a Charter Member of the Ambassador Donor Program for the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture and past board member of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). Libi is a member of The Links, Inc. and involved with several other charitable organizations in the Washington, DC area.
SENIOR ADVISOR FOR STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
PROFESSOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
Shawn Turner is an expert in communication leadership, strategy, and crisis management.
As an experienced practitioner, Turner’s teaching focuses on the intersection of communication theory, and the execution of effective communication practices. Turner’s research interests include examining the role of disinformation in decision making related to civic engagement, and the use of persuasive communication strategies in extremist ideology.
Turner previously served as communications director of at the Center for a New American Security and former chair of Information Operations at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security. As a senior executive in the federal government, his positions include White House deputy press secretary for National Security, communications director for National Intelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and deputy press secretary for Foreign Affairs for the National Security Council.
A published author, Turner served 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
FOUNDER AND CHAIR,
THE NEXT PRACTICEs GROUP
Bob Pearson is Founder and Chair of The Next Practices Group, a US-based founder-driven agency collective of seven companies that form common teams to create competitive advantage for clients. Its offering incorporates analytics and data science; digital media; technology services; software; stories; and social purpose.
Bob Pearson also has played a key role in building two media firms that are ranked in the top 50 worldwide. He was employee #1 for GCI Health, where he and the GCI CEO launched a new health division, and he was involved in building an 800-person firm, W2O Group, where he served as Chief Technology Officer, President and Vice-Chairman.
Previously, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function—an industry-leading approach to the use of social media. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. Also, he was Vice President of Media and Public Affairs for Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi).
He is an author, frequent speaker, and blogger on digital marketing, as well as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas McCombs School. He is a Visiting Scholar at The University of Southern California, and a guest lecturer at the U.S. State Department’s Marketing College with a focus on digital media and how to counter disinformation and extremism. He works in a digital media capacity as a contractor for OTI/USAID and the U.S. Agency for Global Media and serves as an advisor for the Global Engagement Center for the State Department.
He has written four books—PreCommerce, Storytizing, Countering Hate, and Crafting Persuasion, and Bob currently is working on his first novel (a technology thriller).
DIRECTOR of communications,
Tampa International Airport
Emily Nipps is the spokesperson and senior manager overseeing media and public relations at Tampa International Airport, which is consistently ranked one of the top U.S. airports by publications such as Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler and J.D. Power. During her seven years at TPA, she has helped shape messaging and branding efforts around a $2 billion construction program while also handling various crises that come with booming passenger growth, rapidly changing technology and a lot more planes in the air.
Prior to her PR career, Emily was a reporter covering the Tampa Bay region for 12 years, 10 of those at the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tampa Bay Times where she covered breaking news, including the story of some NFL players lost at sea with only one survivor to tell the tale. She was also featured on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report after her relentless coverage of a monkey that terrorized the streets of St. Petersburg. While with the paper, Emily also did a three-month ICFJ Knight Fellowship in Austria, working at the German-language Kleine Zeitung in Klagenfurt.
SENIOR DIRECTOR, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS,
Brian Wagner is Senior Director of Strategic Communications at Peraton, overseeing external and business sector communications for the world’s leading mission capability integrator and transformative enterprise IT provider.
Peraton delivers trusted and highly differentiated national security solutions and technologies that keep people safe and secure, serving as a valued partner to essential government agencies across the intelligence, space, cyber, defense, citizen security, health, and state and local markets.
Prior to joining Peraton, Brian was the president of ScoutComms, a communications, marketing and research firm focused on the veteran and military family communities. He also previously worked at multiple public relations agencies, counseling Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and cultural organizations; as a health care trade association director; and as a Congressional staffer.
Brian currently serves as a U.S. Navy Reserve public affairs officer and is a veteran of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan.
Brian holds a Master of Business Administration from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS DEPUTY,
WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT
Aleks Morosky supports Wounded Warrior Project’s (WWP) advocacy efforts on veteran transition, education, employment, and disability compensation issues.
Prior to joining WWP, Aleks served in legislative affairs roles with the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was a Wounded Warrior Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army for one week shy of seven years, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant. Aleks deployed twice to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and is a Purple Heart recipient. Following his military service, Aleks earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Connecticut using the GI Bill. He is a native of Connecticut.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NEXT Solutions GROUP
Ray is CEO of Next Solutions Group, a Next Practice Company. Ray and his team are focused on advancing new strategies and approaches to engage ever increasing cyber, digital, and physical risks and threats by combining expertise in both public affairs and our advanced security team.
Previously, he was Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, Government Relations and Policy at Bayer U.S. He managed all communications, government relations and policy for Bayer Corporation in the United States. He oversaw the Bayer U.S. Foundation and was a member of the Bayer U.S. Country Council.
Prior to Bayer, Ray was Vice President of External Affairs & Worldwide Communications for Pfizer overseeing communications, internal & external, for the company globally. Prior to Pfizer, he was Executive Director of public affairs for Merck & Co.
Ray is the recipient of many company and industry awards, including being named “2017 Outstanding In-House Professional Award” by PRWeek Magazine; “2010 Public Relations Professional of the Year” by PRWeek Magazine; “2010 Media Relations Professional” by Bulldog Reporter; and was also named “Top 40 under 40” executives by PRWeek in 2009.
Ray holds a Master of Science degree and Bachelor of Arts degree from Iona College.
President, THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, and Assignment Manager, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lisa Matthews is the 114th President of The National Press Club. In her role at AP, she implements AP’s video and audio newsgathering efforts across Washington, including coverage of the White House, Congress, and Cabinet Agencies. She assigns staff coverage of live, planned, and spot news events. Lisa also oversees and directs crews in the field across the country in coordination with regional news directors to deliver spot, regional, and enterprise coverage that breaks news exclusive to the AP. She also coordinates international client requests and works in tandem with AP’s London video desk on story coverage.
In 2014, Lisa took a short step away from news gathering and joined the world of public relations to help clients tell their stories. She served as vice president at Hager Sharp where she developed media strategy for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, National Diabetes Education Program, the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, National Alliance on Mental Health, and others. She returned to the Associated Press in 2017.
During Lisa’s long career in journalism, she has received two Edward R. Murrow Awards – one in 2002 for outstanding coverage of the events on September 11, 2001, and in 2010 for Video Continuing Coverage of the Economy. Lisa also received the AP’s Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Award for service to clients in 2004.
Lisa is a graduate of James Madison University where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1990.
Founder and CEO, HEYMAN ASSOCIATES
Bill Heyman has been responsible for filling top communications roles for some of the most recognized brands in the world, including leading corporations, foundations, academic institutions, and professional associations.
Bill is the only recruiter to be named PR Power List Supporting Power Player three times by PR Week, which said, “In an industry where talent is everything, Heyman helps connect some of the most senior pros to jobs, making him an indispensable asset to all those involved in executive searches.” In 2017 Bill was inducted into the PR Week Hall of Fame.
He serves on committees for The Seminar, the Arthur W. Page Society and is a founding board member of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.
A graduate of Gettysburg College, Bill has served on the school’s Communications and Marketing Advisory Council and Board of Fellows. Most recently, Bill was appointed to Gettysburg’s President’s Advisory Council, and received the Gettysburg College Meritorious Service Award. Bill earned his MBA from Adelphi University.
VICE PRESIDENT OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, CSX
Bryan Tucker is Vice President of Corporate Communications at CSX. In this role, he oversees teams responsible for brand and digital communications, community investment, internal communications, customer communications, and media relations.
Before joining CSX, Tucker worked as director of media relations at Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. He also served as director of media relations at Rio Tinto, a global metals and minerals company, and senior manager of public affairs and media relations at Canadian National Railway.
Tucker earned a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University.
Jason J. Galui
Professor of Practice in Executive Education
Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University
Jason joined SMU Cox following more than 20 years of extensive experience and distinguished service to the United States of America during which he personally advised President Barack Obama and President Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office along with their respective National Security Advisors, Ambassador Susan Rice; Lieutenant General (ret) Michael Flynn; and Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
Jason’s military career was genuinely unique. Not only did he lead soldiers in combat and teach economics to West Point cadets, he also directly advised the most senior U.S. leaders in two very different White Houses and in the Pentagon. Jason served as a key point of national security continuity between the Obama and Trump Administrations. While the staff of the National Security Council (NSC), Jason served as Chief of Staff, South Asia Affairs; NSC Deputy Executive Secretary; and Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the National Security Advisor.
During his second White House experience, Jason served as Senior Advisor for National Security to the (Acting) Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). Earlier, Jason personally advised General Martin E. Dempsey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS).
He deployed to Kabul in 2011-2012 and served as Strategic Advisor to the Commanding General of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. Commissioned as an Armor officer, Jason led soldiers in combat during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Jason is Founder/CEO of 4 Liberty Consulting LLC, a global advisory firm. Jason serves on the Board of Trustees at the Pingree School in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, and on the Board of Directors of The Medic Now Foundation. He recently joined the Board of Advisors of Deep Knowledge Investing, a research firm examining the impact of political and economic events on financial markets.
Jason earned an M.S. in Economics from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. in Economics from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Jason and his wife, Samantha, have two children.
VICE PRESIDENT OF INTERN PROGRAM, STONE & COMPASS
Carter Murray is a sophomore from Marblehead, Massachusetts studying Accounting and Finance at the University of Alabama.
She has been involved with Stone & Compass since her freshman year of high school, participating in multiple service-learning trips and serving as vice president of the intern program. Carter also led the development of a sustainable, regenerative project in the Azores through a partnership with a local couple that own a dairy farm on the island of Sao Miguel. Following the completion of this project, she was invited to present her work in front of numerous ambassadors and delegates at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to demonstrate the ability of students to make real change. To date, her Azores project has led to the creation of multiple programs that have generated over $100,000 for the local Azorean economy.
On campus, she is involved in the Culverhouse Investment Management Group which is a student-led fund that manages a portfolio of over $1.7 million, and the Investment Banking Academy which prepares students for a career in the financial services industry. Carter also plays on the UA Women’s Club Lacrosse team and serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion sophomore representative for her sorority.
EVAN KROPP, PH.D.
Director, graduate programs
University of florida, college of journalism and communications
Dr. Evan Kropp is the Director of online graduate programs for the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UF CJC). A leading expert of online education in higher education, Kropp has led initiatives at the undergraduate and graduate level that have positively impacted thousands of communication students throughout the world. At UF CJC Online, Kropp oversees all operations including marketing, admissions, student advising, faculty and curriculum.
Prior to joining UF CJC Online, Dr. Kropp was the Associate Dean of Communication at Southern New Hampshire University where he oversaw efforts to develop a professionally focused undergraduate program that allowed students to seamlessly transition between on-campus, online, and competency-based programs. He has over a decade of professional communication experience in various industries including promotional products, workplace safety products and real estate. During his time at the prestigious Peabody Awards, he implemented a new strategic communication plan to create greater awareness of the award beyond individuals working within media industries.
The UF CJC Online program is consistently ranked as one of the top online master’s programs in the country. Recently, it was ranked #1 by Intelligent.com in their annual list of Best Online Master’s in Communications Degree Programs.
Rear Admiral Paula Dunn
Vice Chief of Information, U.S. NAVY
Rear. Adm. Paula Dunn is the U.S. Navy Vice Chief of Information, Office of the Secretary of the Navy based in the Pentagon. She leads the Navy’s global public affairs Reserve force.
Her prior public affairs command leadership assignments include Navy Office of Information U.S. 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan; Navy Public Affairs Support Element West in San Diego; and Navy Office of Information U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Her staff assignments include the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Navy Office of Information in the Pentagon and U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.
During her career, Rear Adm. Dunn has led public affairs during multiple deployments and contingencies including Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula in Iraq; Operation Nomad Shadow in Ankara, Turkey; Joint Investigation Group for the sinking of ROKS Cheonan in Pyeongtaek, Republic of Korea; Operation Tomodachi following a major earthquake and tsunami in Japan and two crisis contingency missions in Middle East.
Dunn is accredited in accredited in public relations and military communication (APR+M) from the Public Relations Society of America. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Michigan, a Master of Arts in Communication Arts from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas. She is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Fellows Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Navy War College and Joint Forces Staff College.
ROBERT W. GRUPP
Robert Grupp is President at Grupp Global Partners LLC, a management consultancy focused on strategic communications and international public relations.
He also is an instructor in the Master of Art in Mass Communications graduate program specializing in Global Strategic Communications in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. He currently teaches the Public Affairs Communication Course in the GSC program.
Previously, Grupp was President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, which is co-located in the College in Gainesville. He served on the Board of Trustees of this independent non-profit for eight years.
For three decades, Grupp led communications teams and managed public affairs in corporations, multi-national organizations, and non-profit institutions. Grupp served as Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Cephalon, Inc. an international biopharmaceutical company. Grupp also held leadership positions in corporate communication at Eli Lilly and Company, Dow Corning Corporation and Consumers Energy.
Grupp chairs StratCommWorld in Washington, DC. These popular professional conferences—held consecutively for the past 10 years—focus on sharing best practices in corporate, military and government communications and public affairs.
Earlier in his career, he served as editor for daily newspapers in Florida and Illinois, and he received the prestigious National Headliner Award for excellence in news-editorial journalism.
Grupp received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University. He is an accredited member and past chapter president in the Public Relations Society of America, a member of IPRA, and the Arthur Page Society, and the World Innovation and Change Management Institute.
STUDENT & INTERN,
STONE & COMPASS
Clara Donovan is a sophomore at Marblehead High School in Massachusetts. As an intern at Stone & Compass – an incubator and driving force for global partnerships and projects connecting youth and adults from across the globe
Clara is developing new ways to help youth who are left parentless in underdeveloped countries. She is pursuing resources and opportunities for orphanages and their youth through small-scale sustainable projects that will provide skills and employment for the long term.
Clara plans to continue her service work through Stone & Compass’s youth programming, building upon her experience with Massachusetts’s 8th grade youth-led service and leadership organization, Project 351.
John Boggs, Colonel, U.S. MARINE CORPS (Ret.)
Executive Leadership Development, FORTITUDE CONSULTING, LLC
John Boggs is an authority on executive leadership development and gender integration.
An Infantry Officer with over 30 years of service in the U.S. Marines, Col Boggs is one of a few veterans to command at every rank held. When not in command, he served the Corps as a trainer, educator, or as an advisor on high-level staffs.
As a trainer and educator, Col Boggs served at both Marine Corps’ Recruit Training Depots, Officer Candidates School and the Head of the Marine Corps’ Distance Learning Programs. He also was a Professor and Dean of Faculty and Academic Programs at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
As a staff member, Col Boggs served as Chief of Staff of the National Defense University in Washington D.C. the worlds’ leading institute for producing strategic leaders, and as a Fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations. He was also the senior Marine Readiness Advisor on the staff of Secretary of Defense Cohen and Rumsfeld.
As a businessman, he was a senior VP for a major non-profit in Washington D.C., and partner in an international business development firm. Col Boggs holds two masters degrees in National Security Strategy, and Management He is also a graduate of Georgetown University’s Executive Leadership Coaching program.
He is a member of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation’s Arizona Campaign. The Colonel is a member of the Department of Defense’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Services—which provides advice to the Secretary of Defense on issues facing Women in the Services, a member of the Arizona Corporate Council on Veteran Careers.
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