General (Ret.) Stanley A. McChrystal
Founder and CEO, MCCHRYSTAL GROUP
A retired four-star general, Stan is the former commander of US and International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) Afghanistan and the former commander of the nation’s premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He is best known for developing and implementing a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, and for creating a cohesive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized the interagency operating culture.
Throughout his military career, Stan commanded a number of elite organizations, including the 75th Ranger Regiment. After 9/11 until his retirement in 2010, he spent more than 6 years deployed to combat in a variety of leadership positions. In June 2009, the President of the United States and the Secretary General of NATO appointed him to be the Commander of US Forces Afghanistan and NATO ISAF. His command included more than 150,000 troops from 45 allied countries. On August 1, 2010 he retired from the US Army.
Stan is a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, where he teaches a course on Leadership. He also sits on the boards of Navistar International Corporation, Siemens GovernmentTechnology, and JetBlue Airways. He is a sought-after speaker, giving speeches on leadership to organizations around the country. In 2013, Stan published his memoir, My Share of the Task, which was a New York Times bestseller; and is an author of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, which was a New York Times bestseller in 2015. Stan also co-authored Leaders: Myth and Reality, a Wall Street Journal Bestseller based on the epochal Parallel Lives by Plutarch.
A passionate advocate for national service and veterans’ issues, Stan is the Chair of the Board of Service Year Alliance. In this capacity, he advocates for a future in which a year of full-time service—a service year—is a common expectation and opportunity for all young Americans.
Stan is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Naval War College. He also completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications, AMENTUM
Roela is a global communications and marketing executive with a 28-year record of advancing business strategy and building brands. She has experience in marketing, digital and social media, public relations and advocacy, M&A communications, crisis management, and corporate social responsibility.
Throughout her career, Roela has been recognized for elevating corporate reputations and creating a unified brand presence from acquired companies, advancing commercial success and employee engagement. In 2020, she was awarded WashingtonExec’s 2020 Chief Marketing/Communications Officer of the Year and named a Top 25 MarCom Leaders to Watch. In 2021, she was recognized for her leadership and contribution in expanding the global cybersecurity talent pipeline by the (ISC)2 Center for Cyber Safety and Education.
Roela is the Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing and Communications officer at Amentum, a global leader in managing and modernizing critical infrastructure, logistics, business process and engineering solutions for defense, intelligence and civilian agency customers. She is responsible for strategy and execution of Amentum’s marketing communications, advertising, employee engagement, executive communications, digital and social media, and tradeshows/events initiatives.
Prior to her current role, Roela served as Vice President of Communications at BAE Systems Intelligence & Security, a global leader in defense technology and systems integration for the U.S. government and one of the largest aerospace and defense companies in the world. Before her role at BAE Systems, she served as Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at SAIC, Chief Communications Officer of Engility Corporation, and Global Communications Director at Raytheon.
Roela holds a Master in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Georgetown University, an MBA from the University of California Irvine, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University. Roela is one of the co-founders of VOICES, the national organization of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in communications roles. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the (ISC)2 Center for Cyber Safety and Education
Brigadier General Patrick S. Ryder
Press Secretary,The Pentagon, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder is the Department of Defense Press Secretary, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. In this role, he serves as the Department’s chief spokesperson, providing timely and accurate information to the public, Congress, and news media. He also advises Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks on public communications.
Brig. Gen. Ryder was commissioned in 1992 through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Most recently, he served as the Director of Public Affairs for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. 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, 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 for the Air Force’s initial cadre at Taszar Air Base, 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 for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from March–July 2004 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.
vice president OF communications, BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD ASSOCIATION
Katie McBreen is vice president of communications for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), a national federation of 34 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies. Today, one in three Americans is covered by the Blue System.
With 20 years of association, political and agency experience, McBreen is well-respected in her field and known for her work in storytelling, campaign development and thought leadership. She leads BCBSA’s integrated communications function, which encompasses public affairs, strategic communications, storytelling and creative services, digital analytics, and issues management.
Prior to joining the Association in September 2021, McBreen served as vice president of communications and strategy for the Consumer Brands Association, where she spearheaded the organization’s rebrand and helped transform it into an advocacy powerhouse for the trillion-dollar consumer packaged goods industry.
Her previous experience includes communications and public affairs leadership at the National Retail Federation, as well as strategic communication campaign development at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She also worked in the White House for Vice President Cheney, coordinating key national and international events.
McBreen leads the D.C. Communicators Group, a networking forum for senior communications professionals. She is an active member of the Public Affairs Council and has served on the board’s executive committee.
An Idaho native, McBreen graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., with a bachelor’s degree in politics and a minor in Spanish. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.
Tucker Eskew has helped lead opinion during some of the nation’s most intense public debates. He played leadership roles in both Bush-Cheney campaigns and in 2008 was counselor to the GOP vice-presidential nominee.
He served as Deputy Assistant to the President from 2001-2003, heading Media Affairs and then Global Communications.
After 9/11, Tucker served in London as the President’s wartime communications representative to No. 10 Downing Street.
Tucker began working in technology marketing and web communications in the mid-90s, when he co-founded an electronic commerce business and then started a South Carolina-based public relations and business-consulting firm.
He served eight years as Press Secretary to South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell. Tucker began his career on President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign.
Tucker serves on the boards of the News Literacy Project and Goodwin House Inc., he volunteers at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Alexandria, Virginia, and he mentors students as a communication advisory council member at the College of Charleston. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science (departmental honors) from the University of the South (Sewanee).
Chief Communications Officer, The Americas, EY
Suzanne is the EY Americas Chief Communications Officer. She is responsible for developing and executing a world-class communication strategy that grows and protects the EY brand.
She leads the EY Americas Communications team across the US, Latam, Canada and Israel. Her team’s work includes media relations, digital and social media, crisis and reputation management, and brand communications efforts.
Suzanne also oversees employee engagement and communications for EY’s workforce across the Americas, as well as the firm’s corporate reputation in the market, with clients, and with recruits. Her team partners with award-winning agencies to inform, inspire, educate, and drive change across the organization and beyond.
She reports to EY’s US Chair and Managing Partner and Americas Managing Partner, who leads more than 81,000 people in 31 countries, with annual revenue of approximately $25 billion.
During her 25 years of leadership experience in marketing and communications, Suzanne has also served as EY’s Brand, Marketing, and Communications (BMC) leader for several US regions, the US BMC Leader and Americas Internal Communications and People Engagement Leader. She previously served as the National Director of Marketing and Communications for the Reznick Group.
Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Art in Communications and Public Relations from the University of Delaware.
Founder and President, MAVEN
Brett Kunkle is the founder and president of MAVEN, a movement to equip the next generation to know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty. He has more than 25 years of experience working with junior high, high school, college students and parents.
A dynamic communicator who engages both heart and mind, Brett speaks to thousands of students and adults at churches, seminars, conferences, and college campuses across the country. He has developed a groundbreaking training experience that immerses participants in real-life engagement in worldview. MAVEN.
In addition, Brett is a Teaching Fellow at the Impact 360 Institute. He was an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, authored The Ambassadors Guide to Mormonism and co-authored A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World. Brett received his bachelor’s degree in Christian education from Biola University and he earned his master’s degree in philosophy of religion and ethics at Talbot School of Theology.
Brett lives with his wife and five kids in Southern California.
Captain, Public Information Officer, LEE COUNTY (FL) SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Captain Anita Iriarte joined the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in 2006. She began her career as a civilian assigned to Planning and Research and became a certified deputy in 2007.
From 2008-2015, Captain Iriarte worked as a deputy and detective in West District/West District Criminal Investigations Division. In 2015, Captain Iriarte was promoted to Sergeant and was assigned to East District patrol as a night shift supervisor.
In 2016, she transferred to the Public Information Office. She began as a Sergeant and worked her way to her current role as Captain of the unit.
Captain Iriarte has a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida Gulf Coast University in Criminal Justice and a Master’s of Science in Management from Hodges University.
An award-winning writer and storytelling strategist, Ben helps clients solve complex problems by asking the right questions and distilling their language with clarity and conviction.
Ben is former Chief White House Correspondent for the Associated Press. During his years covering Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Ben was honored as a “master of deadline reporting.”
Ben spent more than six years covering President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush, reporting on all facets of their domestic, foreign, and political agendas. As chief correspondent, Ben helped set the tone for the press corps and often got the first question at news conferences. Ben traveled aboard Air Force One across the United States and to more than 25 foreign countries in covering the last two presidents. He has been published worldwide.
Ben was twice honored for his excellence in reporting on the presidency. He won the Gerald R. Ford Prize in 2010, with the judges describing him as “a master of deadline reporting and an astute analyst of the meaning of President Obama’s initiatives.” The same year, Ben won the Merriman Smith Award for his gripping coverage of Obama’s tribute to soldiers returning from war in caskets.
After two decades in journalism, Ben pivoted to business, where he provides communications counsel and crafts powerful messaging for companies, causes and leaders. Ben is also a moderator, public speaker, writing coach and the author of a children’s book about how a father and his son solve life’s challenges together. His major mission in life is to make his kid laugh.
He has a rich understanding of how the news media work and how to shape a communications strategy that delivers real results.
A native of State College, Pa., Ben graduated with distinction from Penn State in 1992 with a degree in journalism. In 2018 he was chosen as a Penn State Alumni Fellow for his accomplishments across his journalism and consulting careers.
Social Impact Advisor and Co-founder, KARP RANDEL
Jane Randel is a social Impact advisor and co-founder of Karp Randel, a consultancy designed to help corporations, foundations and individuals achieve their business and personal goals while making a positive impact on society. She is also a co-founder of NO MORE, an international initiative dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault by increasing awareness, inspiring action, and fueling culture change.
Jane is currently serving as a consultant to the NFL and NASCAR to help address issues of domestic violence and sexual assault within their organizations as well as in service to the public-at-large.
Previously, Jane was Head of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Kate Spade & Company (formerly Liz Claiborne Inc.), responsible for managing the company’s corporate reputation through both external and internal communications. She led corporate, business and crisis media relations, and oversaw internal communications. Jane spearheaded Love Is Not Abuse, an award-winning, cause-marketing program aimed to generate awareness, educate the public and prevent violence against women, until the program transitioned to non-profit organization in 2012. For more than a decade, Jane served on the Board of Directors of the Fifth & Pacific Foundation (formerly the Liz Claiborne Foundation), most recently as Chair.
Jane has served as Chairman of The Seminar, the premier organization of the highest-ranking communications and public affairs executives at the world’s most influential corporations, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions and public relations agencies. She serves on the advisory board to the Chazen Fund to Address Domestic Violence, and is currently on the Board of Temple Sharey-Tefilo Israel and serves as Vice President of Communications.
Jane is a graduate of Wesleyan University and lives in New Jersey with her husband and three sons.
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).
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
Director, STRATCOMMWORLD; INSTRUCTOR, COLLEGE OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATIONS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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 12 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.
This is the best conference that I’ve attended throughout my life and career.
Awesome! This Summit gets better every year.
Very excellent diverse topics covered in a short amount of time.
Fantastic way to network and connect.
Great opportunity to hear how strategic communications is being used across industry, government and non-profit.
Fantastic information and impressive list of speakers and attendees!
A good experience. Helpful to my career.
Fantastic event full of useful information from very different perspectives and background.
Well-run, right-sized with a robust and thoughtful agenda.
A great lineup of speakers and a wonderful venue for the conference.
A fabulous conference. Truly valuable for attendees and speakers alike.
Hats off to everyone that did such a stellar job on the agenda and event!
I was very impressed by the forum, it was a great event. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer.
It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of StratCommWorld. There was a remarkable energy in the room. The information environment has changed so much. You help the community see where we are and where we need to go to better reach our target audiences.