Monday, April 17

The Challenges of Journalism

Jim Kirk, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Chicago Sun-Times

jim_kirkJim Kirk is the Publisher and Editor In Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Kirk was previously Chief of Editorial Operations at Crain’s Chicago Business. Prior to joining Crain’s, Kirk was the Managing Editor at the Chicago News Cooperative. Prior to that, he worked in Washington D.C. at Bloomberg News overseeing White House, Congress, and other federal agencies coverage.

Kirk started his journalism career in Chicago at Grocery Marketing Magazine and Adweek magazine before joining the Chicago Sun-Times in 1995. He joined the Chicago Tribune in 1997, and grew to be one of Chicago’s premier business journalists.

Kirk grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and received a BS in Mass Communications from Illinois State University.

Holly Petrovich, Editor in Chief of Chicago Athlete Magazine

holly_petrovichHolly Petrovich is the Editor in Chief of Chicago Athlete Magazine, an endurance-niched magazine located in Skokie that covers running, triathlon, fitness and health in the Chicagoland area and the Midwest. Holly accepted this position immediately after her graduation from Illinois State University, where she worked on the staff of the student-run newspaper The Vidette for three and a half years, and served as Editor in Chief in her senior year. Holly grew up in Bartlett and attended Bartlett High School, and when she’s not working, she can be found running or practicing her photography skills, a hobby she picked up from her father.

Shauna Jackson, Photojournalist at FOX News Dallas

shauna_jacksonI’m from Matteson, Illinois. Graduated from Illinois state in December 2007, where I spent my last semester studying abroad in South Korea. My first tv job was in Rockford, Illinois at WTVO (ABC/FOX), I was there for 2 and a half years (2008-2010). I then moved to Oklahoma city in 2010 and worked at NBC affiliate KFOR for 4 and a half years (2010-2014). There I learned to storm chase and won the 2014 Yoder award to attend NPPA in Norman, OK  where I learned from the best photographers in the business. In 2014 I moved to Dallas Texas to work at the number one station FOX 4 where I am currently employed. I’ve encountered many protest and shoot outs including the July 7th police ambush. My calm manner in breaking news helped me work thru that tragic night and bring the best news coverage of that event. I spent my time volunteering at the Okc rescue mission and in Dallas I am apart of big Brothers big Sisters. I’m also apart of black girls run and plan on running my first marathon in Chicago this upcoming October.

I have one younger sister who I enjoy traveling with, and I love spending time with my parents. I get my hard work ethic from my parents and am very grateful to have them to guide me.

Erin Fleming, Operations Director for MediaTracks Communications

erin_flemingErin manages all social media content and oversees program delivery and affiliate relations for two public affairs radio programs which air weekly on 800 stations nationwide. She has coordinated over 100 campaigns promoting great organizations like the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the National Down Syndrome Society. In the past five years, she has re-designed and expanded MTC’s internship program to provide Journalism and Communication majors with high-touch, individualized experiences that ground them in the best traditions and principles of legacy media. Outside of work she acts, directs, teaches, writes reviews for, and enjoys cutthroat Scrabble.

Julia Perez
is a Bloomington-Normal native. She attended Heartland Community College and Illinois State University, graduating with a degree in editorial journalism with a minor in creative writing in 2014.

julia_perezAt ISU, she was a writer and features editor at The Vidette. After graduating, she accepted a part-time job at The Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington as a news clerk, editing obituaries and local announcements.

A full-time reporter position opened up after a year and she filled the slot. Julia now covers K-12 education for schools in McLean, Tazewell, Livingston DeWitt and Logan counties. She also covers general assignments and breaking news in the Twin Cities on Saturdays.


A Diverse World: Practicing Intercultural Communication

*Robert Self, Project & Communications Manager at Messe Düsseldorf North America

robert_selfRobert Self graduated from Augustana College (2011) with bachelor degrees in German and Communication Studies, and later graduated from Illinois State University (2013) with a Master’s degree in Communication. Today he lives in Chicago, IL and works as the Project & Communications Manager at Messe Düsseldorf North America (MDNA) where he travels the globe organizing trade shows. MDNA is the U.S. subsidiary of the German-headquartered trade show & events organizer, Messe Düsseldorf, GmbH. He credits his personal successes to a crippling anxiety about retirement and his advice to others is to “fake it ‘til ya make it”.

*Donya Flohr, Public Affairs Director at State Farm

donya_flohrDonya joined State Farm in 2000 as a medical claim processor and served in a number of roles throughout the organization. Donya assumed her current role in 2014. In this position she leads approximately 100 communicators who are focused on communicating with an internal audience of more than 150,000 State Farm employees, agents, and associates. Donya earned a bachelor’s degree in Community Health from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in Community Health Education from Illinois State University, and a number of professional insurance and leadership designations. She lives in Bloomington with her husband, Garrick, and their dogs Furley and Cooper.

*Chris Arvin, Manager of Global Organizational Development at Caterpillar, Inc.

chris_arvinChris’ career with Caterpillar started 25 years ago with 10 years in the accounting field and 3 years prior to Caterpillar as a Sr. Auditor with Arthur Andersen in Chicago. In 2010, Chris accepted the challenge to lead Caterpillar’s technical areas of learning and development which included implementing global learning for Caterpillar’s Production System and SAP. In 2012, Chris was asked to lead Caterpillar’s career development and learning management system (LMS) teams on a global level. During this role, his team implemented a new global career planning process and system along with updating Caterpillar’s LMS. In 2014, Chris was asked to lead Caterpillar’s organizational development efforts and serve as an internal consulting group to help leaders build great teams and achieve business results. Chris has a passion for helping others reach their full potential in life through understanding their strengths and life balance. His engaging and enthusiastic style consistently places him among highest rated conference speakers.

*Shannon O’Donnell, Math, Statistics, & Engineer Marketing Manager for the US (McGraw-Hill Education)

shannon_odonnellShannon O’Donnell is a performance-driven professional with over 10 years of expertise working with intercultural communication, sales, and program development. She is passionate about helping students make the leap from academia into their professional worlds.

O’Donnell received her Bachelor’s degree in communication and political science from Illinois State University in 1999, and went on to receive her Master’s in international/intercultural communication in 2002.

In her professional career, she has worked in Japan, the United Kingdom and in the Caribbean. She developed partnerships in approximately 100 countries. O’Donnell has served as an International Account and Sales Executive at Chestnut Global Partners, as well as a Senior Publisher’s Sales Representative and Regional Trainer at Pearson Education. In 2013, she began her career at McGraw-Hill Education, where she progressed from regional trainer, to market development manager, and to her current position as the Engineering Marketing Manager for the United States.

Executing Event Planning 101

Christy Germanis, Marketing and Public Relations Director, YWCA McLean County 

christy_germanisChristy Germanis is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at YWCA McLean County. She is a native of McLean County and has a professional background ranging from digital printing, action photography, and editing a sports magazine, to health care and non-profit marketing and air show public relations. Christy’s skill set ranges from graphic design to social media and event planning to videography. She loves being a “jack of all trades,” meeting new people, and learning about new industries. Christy is a member of the Association for Women in Communication (AWC) in Bloomington-Normal and has been on the Executive Board the past two years as well as sat on several committees. Recently, Christy has decided to take on a new adventure, as a radio talk show host once a month on 1230AM WJBC.

Miranda Davis, Design Consultant, Simple Elegance Events

miranda_davisMiranda Davis is one of two highly experienced consultants for Simple Elegance Design, located in Bloomington, Illinois. She partnered with Julie Schumann in 2007 to begin their business venture. Her passion for event planning and design led her to take on the challenging task of planning and designing her own wedding in 2003. From 2003-2006, Miranda worked as a consultant for the bridal salon, “Enchantment” in Downtown Bloomington, where she helped brides find the perfect dress and plan their special day.

Miranda’s event planning expertise was further cultivated while working for the Chamber in Commerce in Lincoln, IL. There, she assisted coordinating events including golf outings, business luncheons, and the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival. Miranda’s creative instincts, combined with a true passion for meeting customer’s needs, makes her one of the top design consultants in Central, Illinois.

Mike Pohlmann, Owner, Palace Events

mike_pohlmannMike Pohlmann is the Owner and Operator of Palace Events in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Pohlmann earned his Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Eureka College. After college Pohlmann planned and coordinated events at Cook Rental. He then became a sale representative at Statewide Publishing where he sold ad space. Pohlmann developed Palace Events in January 2010 and has since created memorable weddings and events for clients across Central, Illinois.


Tuesday, April 18

Lean In: Women at Work

Kasey Larson, Founder/Owner of DBY Events & Invitations

kasey_larsonKasey Larson (President & Co-Founder) has been running DBY events & invitations for almost 15 years, now.  After working in fundraising event management and advertising – she joined forces in 2003 with her Co-founder and began the retail design studio that would grow into DBY events & invitations.

Her early professional years were spent managing financials for a Fortune 500 company; after which she transitioned into the marketing & events world in both non-profit events management as well as larger marketing firms. After the soup to nuts learning opportunities presented themselves, and she’d learned the best (and worst) ways to work for others she jumped in with both feet and founded DBY. After 8 years offering events ‘branding,’ the coordination, logistics and planning services were added.

Over the last 20 years, she has planned huge city-wide walks, small intimate dinner parties, weddings and business events for a wide range of clientele everywhere from Chicago’s Museum Campus to some of the city’s most elegant ballrooms to private estate beaches.  Her philosophy has always been a ‘perfect event every time’ for each and every client.

Leanna Bordner, Deputy Director of Athletics/SWA

leanna_bordnerDuring her 24 years at Illinois State, Leanna Bordner has helped the program develop stronger bonds with the community with service to more than a dozen local education-related and non-profit boards. On campus, the deputy director of athletics and senior woman administrator works tirelessly with faculty, staff and administrators to keep the connections between Redbird student-athletes and people on campus “strong and stable.”

In nearly 40 years as a coach and administrator, she has been a big-picture leader. But the small details and the one-on-one opportunities to help people solve problems are the most rewarding.  What sets Leanna Bordner apart is her work ethic–she is one of the first people to enter the athletics complex every day, and one of the last to leave. In between, as her job requires, she helps solve problems and make decisions that drive one of the most respected athletics programs in the United States. Her love for sports manifests itself in her love for the people who play, coach, watch and support Redbird Athletics.

Leilani Scheets,
Administrative Services Manager, State Farm

leilani_schetsLeilani attended Southeast Missouri State University and earned a BA in Political Science.  Just after college, Leilani obtained a real estate license and managed a commercial & residential hi-rise in the city of St. Louis.  Leilani then attended the University of Missouri for her graduate work and proudly served in the public sector as an AP Government high school teacher in St Louis County.  Leilani joined State Farm in 2005 as a Procurement Specialist.  Since transitioning to management in 2012, Leilani’s responsibilities have included leading a variety of specialized teams:  fulfillment center operations, telematics support, workplace protection and most recently, the start-up of a planning, reporting & analytics division.

Nikita Richards, Public Relations & Crisis Communication Manager, CEO of NDR Communications

nikita_richardsNikita is an ISU School of Communication alum with a Master of Arts degree in Public Relations. She is also an Illinois State University Alum two times over with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Politics & Government along with an ABA accredited Paralegal Studies Certification. As a PR professional with eight years of experience in the corporate, agency and nonprofit sectors, Nikita currently owns and operates NDR Communications. Much of her expertise involves community relations, relationship building, civic/political engagement, social media & network management, mediation, political & organizational communication, corporate reputation management, key message design, image restoration and brand building. After performing in this capacity for corporate organizations, Nikita was inspired by PR mogul Tom Burrell of the Burrell Communications Group to branch out on her own and launch NDR Communications where they help entities or individuals gain exposure and adhere to the needs of their target audiences.

Marlene Dietz, President of Dynamic Leadership Development & First Lady of Illinois State University

marlene_dietzMarlene. Dietz is the Owner and President of Dynamic Leadership Development. Marlene’s strong training and development background coupled with her industry knowledge has afforded her the opportunity to develop and implement highly effective sales and communication based training programs both locally and nationally.  Ms. Dietz specializes in training and facilitation and has worked with a wide variety of government agencies and private sector companies. Specializing in adult learning techniques, her work is focused in the area of communication skills and their application to increased performance for the individual and the organization.

Marlene became the First Lady of Illinois State University in March of 2014. Marlene’s first love still remains giving back to the wonderful communities that have surrounded her. Previously she along with her husband co-founded the Inspiring Women Program to honor women of Southern Illinois which successfully raised money for seven years to provide scholarship dollars for students to attend SIUC.  She also has the privilege of serving on community boards such as Children’s TLC and Friends of the Fountains in Kansas City, MO, Southern Illinois Regional Social Services (SIRSS) in Carbondale, IL.  Marlene was honored with the Rosemary Berkel Crisp Award in 2008.

Marlene holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree from Southwest Missouri State University and a Masters of Business Administration degree from Baker University.  Marlene is based out of Normal, Illinois.


Getting educated about entrepreneurship

Briahna Gatlin, CEO and founder, Swank Public Relations

briahana_gatlinBriahna Gatlin is an established urban journalist on the cutting edge of Hip Hop, Rap, R&B and all other forms of music. She has over 6 years of experience in writing for Source Magazine, Mass Appeal Magazine, XXL Magazine, Red Eye Tribune and other publications. Briahna served as the Editorial Director for True Star Magazine and Scream Star Magazine. Along with this role, she was instrumental in creating the concept, content and personality of the publication and leveraging relationships with companies like Warner Bros., Atlantic Records, Interscope, Island Def Jam Music Group, and the Tribune Foundation. Briahna recently started Swank PR, based in Chicago, and has worked with clients including Eighty81 with Jay-Z and Lebron James, Hennessy Black, Lupe Fiasco Foundation, Raekwon, King Louie, Sway Calloway from MTV, Complex Magazine, Mos Def, and Grey Goose. In May, 2013 she received Music Publicist of the Year from Chicago notable, Mary Datcher, and the Global Mixx.

Sherri Fishman, President and Co-Founder, Fishman PR

sherri_fishmanSherri is a seasoned public relations executive and PR agency owner who has devoted her life’s work to providing customized franchise PR services. She launched her PR career at a franchise-focused PR agency. There, over the course of nearly eight years, she quickly made a name for herself in the franchise space by successfully representing franchise industry influencers like Fred DeLuca of Subway. Starting Fishman PR with her husband in 1991, Sherri has since led a talented staff to grow Fishman PR into one the nation’s leading franchise lead generation PR agency.  She served member as a former Board member of the Franchise Supplier Forum as well as the Convention Task Force. Sherri currently serves as a Board of Director for the International Franchise Association and a Task Force member for both the FranTech Task Force and Technology Summit.

Michael Rigsby, CEO and Founder, Dirt on

michael_rigsbyMichael based the concept for not only on his time in the news business, but his lifelong passion for Dirt Late Model racing. Before starting, Michael was weekend sports anchor/reporter for the NBC affiliate in Madison, Wis. He has unparalled enthusiasm not only for telling stories, but also for thinking of new ways and ideas to bring never-before-seen content to racing fans. He combines media experience with being a life-long race fan. Wearing those two hats allow him to perform his duties as’s TV personality with buoyant enthusiasm. He assembled the team that helped make what it is today.


The Age of Blogging

Rachel Barter, Life and Style Blogger

rachel_barterRachel is a twenty-something graduate student, COM 110 instructor, and style blogger. When Rachel is not grading or reading research papers, you’ll find her writing on her life and style blog, The Sass Room. Rachel’s platform is dedicated to inspiring women to feel put together, so they can focus on the other areas of their life. She is a firm believer that when you look good, you feel good!

Ellie O’Brien,
Food Blogger

ellie_obrienEllie is the founder of Hungry by Nature – a health and wellness website dedicated to inspiring others to live a healthy and balanced life, starting in the kitchen! When not working as a full-time engineer, Ellie is in her kitchen. She loves food – making it, baking it, eating it, sharing it, and talking about it. Ellie grew up in a household of great cooks with a mom who made a home cooked meal every night. But it wasn’t until after college when she began cooking for herself and truly noticed the positive impact that eating whole, natural foods can have on a person’s life. Her approach to food is simple – eat healthy, whole, natural foods and always leave room for dessert!

Gina LaRose, Lifestyle Blogger

gina_laroseGina LaRose is a Physical Therapist, mom to three boys, occasional fitness instructor, sometimes CrossFitter, and marathoner who should be skinnier than she is, and has recently began dabbling in political activism. As a kid, Gina LaRose (nee Gina Lamonica) would hide in trees with books and sometimes staple paper together to create her own great works of literature such as ‘The Majic Hair Clipe.’ With the advent of spell-check, she was able to eventually became the editor of University High School’s newspaper, the Clarionette. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in Psychology, and in 2005, attended Washington University in St Louis’ Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and now has seven jobs. A pregnant LaRose was reluctantly sentenced to hospital bedrest for the second time in 2013 and it was then that she retreated to her early love of writing and reading. Just days before the birth of her second son, she birthed Ready or Not Mom (nee The Incompetent Mother), a blog which is designed to help her cope with her insane life and has at least three regular readers: her parents and her husband.

Britteny Winsett, Chief Blogger at Celery and the City + Owner of Indigo Photography

britteny_winsettBritteny Winsett attended Rockford College and Regents College in London, where she studied English. It was her love of creative writing and general loathing of every other subject led to that decision. After traveling the world for six months, she opened a boutique shop in her hometown, which made no sense to anyone. It only took a few years in retail to realize she hated it, but she walked away with invaluable lessons about business. She then launched her writing career working as Senior Editor for local arts magazine Perception, as well as doing regular articles for, The Change Blog, College Crush, and other websites. Her mom got warm fuzzies when some of her stories were published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. In full pursuit of creative freedom, Britteny only writes for herself now – splitting her time between two passions – her health blog and wedding photography business. The former keeps her sane while the latter drives her to the brink of insanity.

Behind the Scenes of Entertainment PR

William Prenevost Managing Director, Illinois Shakespeare Company

william_prenevostBefore his management position with the Illinois Shakespeare Company, William was a senior consultant with Arts Consulting Group, a national agency. As a consultant he has worked with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Adelphi University Performing Arts Center (Long Island, NY), and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival among others. Previously, Prenevost served as the managing director of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, an in residence professional theatre at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC). With over 25 years of experience in arts management, external affairs, and fundraising, his career includes positions as director of marketing and communications for Northlight Theatre in Chicago, Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, the Cleveland Play House, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Prenevost graduated from Illinois State University with his undergraduate and graduate degree in theatre.

Marketing Coordinator, Peoria Civic Center

clare_zellClare received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication/Media Studies and TV/Radio at Southern Illinois University as Edwardsville. As a marketing coordinator, Clare coordinates press runs, promotes shows and events, creates and budgets marketing kits, and manages all social media for the Civic Center. Clare is currently the owner of her own freelance photography and video editing studio, Clarke Street Studios.


Adam Fox, Theater and Civic Arts Manager for the Town of Normal.

adam_foxAdam Fox is the Theater and Civic Arts Manager for the Town of Normal.  One of the primary aspects of his position is the programming and operation of the historic Normal Theater; additionally, he is involved in the planning and implementation of numerous outdoor festivals in Uptown Normal, including the rapidly expanding Make Music Normal day of participation in music.  Prior to working with Normal, Adam taught at Illinois State University in the School of Theater and Dance, and worked as Production Stage Manager and Production Manager of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.Adam spent the better part of a decade working as a stage manager and production manager in Chicago with such organizations as Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Piven Theatre Workshop, Emerald City, and Redmoon.

Jason Williams, Marketing Coordinator and Talent Buyer, The Castle Theatre

 jason_williamsJason Williams is the Talent Buyer and Marketing Coordinator for the Castle Theatre in Bloomington, IL. With over a decade of experience in the music and night life industry, Jason has become a well respected contributor to the entertainment community, on both a local and regional level. During his time in the industry, Jason has booked for several venues, as well as managed up and coming bands. His current focus is on filling the Castle calendar, plus managing nationally signed hard rock act Burden of the Sky, country-rockers Zach Linley & The Rebel Daredevils, blues-rockers Robert Brown Band, and singer-songwriter duo Nicotine Poetic. Outside of work, Jason is a die hard Chicago sports fan and continues a life long passion for the game of baseball.

Wednesday, April 19

Clear and Concise: Tips and Tricks Towards Effective Speech Writing

Jay Groves, Chief of Staff , Illinois State University

jay_grovesOne week after this presentation, Jay will be retiring from ISU after a 34-year university career that included serving as Director of TV-10, Director of Media Relations, Assistant to the President, and finally, Chief of Staff since 2012.





Rachel Moore, Content Marketing Manager, GROWMARK, Inc.

rachel_mooreRachel Moore is the Content Marketing Manager at GROWMARK, Inc., an agricultural cooperative focused on improving the long-term profitability of their farmer owners operating in 40 states and Ontario, Canada. In her current role she manages campaign development, content marketing, strategic communications, executive speechwriting and social media. Rachel’s career at GROWMARK started with an internship which has now led to 6 years in various roles within the Marketing Communications division. Rachel holds a Masters of Science in Communication from Illinois State University and a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Bradley University. She is an avid advocate for agriculture and enjoys living on a farm with her husband and yellow lab, Tess where they pasture-raise Belted Galloway cattle.

Matt Smederovac, Communication Strategist, State Farm

matt_smederovacMatt’s communication skill set has led to remarkable achievements in senior executive speech writing, creating and driving effective communication strategies to support complex industry and business initiatives. Matt has gained unique experience with two extremely different Fortune 100 companies – The Walt Disney Company and The State Farm Mutual Insurance Company, as well as teaching speech writing and public speaking at the collegiate level. Matt believes the goal of speech writing and delivery, as with any art form, is to create something meaningful and engaging, and to connect with an audience. If anyone wishes to communicate with Matt, please feel free to reach out to him via, or search for him on social media.


Scott Preston, Normal Town Councilman, President of Tomorrow Enterprise, LLC

scott_prestonOn May 6, 2013, Scott Preston was sworn in as the youngest Councilman in Town of Normal history. He is currently seeking re-election for his second term.  Full-time, Scott is Founder and President of Tomorrow Enterprises, LLC, a real estate development and investment company he started in 2011.  The business owns a diverse and growing portfolio of properties in Illinois and Texas.  Fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit, Scott also has ownership interest in four start-up companies spanning three states, and previously served four years as Assistant to the State Treasurer of Illinois.

Born and raised in the Bloomington-Normal community, Scott Preston is a proud Illinois State University graduate (2010), where he studied Political Science and Business Administration, and also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alumni Association.  Scott developed an early passion for bringing people together and challenging the status quo.  From co-founding a charity initiative in high school, to just recently leading the Capital Campaign for his area United Way, he has devoted his life to public service with an innovative approach.

In his spare time, Scott enjoys being outdoors and active.  He also has a passion for cars, and of course for cheering on his favorite Redbird teams!

Jamie L. Fox , Senior Public Affairs Manager, Caterpillar Inc.

jamie_foxJamie L. Fox is a Senior Public Affairs Manager at Caterpillar. In that role she is responsible for Media Relations, Corporate Labor communications strategy and Corporate Reputation Management.  She’s been with Caterpillar for 12 years in various roles in Public Affairs including 7 years as the Executive Speechwriter and Communicator.  Jamie is a proud graduate of Illinois State University. While at ISU, she had a double major in Public Relations and Business Administration, and also earned her MBA.


Personal to Professional: Changing the Tone of Social Media

Julie Maio, Communications Specialist, Illinois State University Office of Admissions

julie_maioJulie Maio attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York where she double majored in public relations and communication studies and double minored in music and global studies. After finishing her Master’s degree in Communication from Illinois State University, Julie Maio is now the Communications Specialist for the ISU Office of Admissions, where she continues to help thousands of prospective students make their college decision. Beyond the call center and social media, Julie is the public speaking coach for admissions counselors, and conducts essential research for the ISU Office of Admissions by creating surveys, coding data, and presenting the results to her colleagues. Julie Maio is young, but her job is critical to the perception of key publics. What she has is talent, the courage to lead, and the unwavering commitment to making our university a better place. She makes a difference in the identity of Illinois State University which results in a powerful image that enhances a strong and stable reputation.

Tim Bill,
Digital Marketing Strategist at Heartland Bank

tim_billTimothy Bill is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Heartland Bank and Trust Company.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in 2000 and a Master’s degree, from the same institution, in 2002. Tim has been practicing marketing and communication, primarily in the Insurance and Financial industries, for over 15 years. Today, he brings digital marketing expertise and strategic thought to Heartland Bank’s digital presence.



Paige Prehoda, Marketing/Assistant Finance Manager at Brad Barker Honda

paige_prehodaPaige Prehoda graduated from ISU in 2013 with a degree in Mass Media from the School of Communication. She was involved with the Individual Events Forensics Team, WZND, and SoC PD. Since graduating, she has worked for local media as digital sales specialist, ISU Office of Admission as their Social Media Specialist, and now as a Marketing and Finance Manager at Brad Barker Honda. In her spare time, she teaches horseback riding lessons, coaches clients at horse shows and announces horse shows.

Outside the Box

Brittney McCoy, Owner/Founder, Cupcakes and Cocktails

brittney_mccoyBrittney is a 2010 graduate of Illinois State University, where she majored in Communication Studies & minored in Family & Consumer Science.

Before starting her own company, Brittney worked as a bakery manager and catering manager. She combined her previous work history and entrepreneurial spirit, which helped her start her own business.

Brittney currently sits on the School Of Communication Advisory Board, and when she’s not baking cupcakes she’s jet setting across the country.

Ed Marcin, Vice President of Public Affairs & Special Projects, Clear Channel Outdoor (CCO) Chicago

ed_marcinEd Marcin attended Illinois State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication.  Ed started his career at WLS AM/FM Radio in Chicago, where he started as a Promotions Assistance and eventually became the Promotion Director during the years of 1976 to 1991.  Currently, Ed is the Vice President of Public Affairs and Specials Projects at CCO, which is one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies, with more than 650,000 displays in over 35 countries across five continents, including 43 of the 50 largest markets in the United States.  Ed’s responsibilities at CCO include the development of the market’s digital and transit portfolio, political sales, as well as assisting various communities, police departments, communities and 501 c 3 organizations with public service programs.  Ed has over 24 years’ experience in the outdoor industry first serving as a Real Estate Representative and Manager at Whiteco Outdoor (now known as Lamar Advertising), selling outdoor advertising (billboard) signs for All Steel Structures to various outdoor companies throughout the U.S., and performing his current duties at CCO for the last 8 ½ years.

Nancy Rainwater, Vice President of Communications,  Alzheimers Association

nancy_rainwaterNancy Rainwater is the Vice President of Communications for the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Illinois State University and has an MBA with an emphasis in Marketing. Nancy has worked in internal communications, marketing, advertising and public relations since 1989 in the corporate, media, and non-profit worlds.

Let’s talk TV production

Colleen Casey, Assistant Director, WGN Morning News Chicago

colleen_caseyColleen graduated from ISU in 2013 with a degree in Mass Communication – Television Production and a minor in Civic Engagement and Responsibility.  While at ISU, Colleen was involved with TV-10, WZND, and UPB’s Entertainment Committee. She currently works at WGN TV Chicago where she is an Assistant Director and Floor Director for the morning news show.  She is also a freelance photographer and graphic artist.  Colleen’s behind the scenes resume includes The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Cubs Rally, Blackhawks Rally, NBC’s Chicago PD, Alternative Press Music Awards, The Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Tour, and the Vans Warped Tour.

Dillon Smith, Tech Support and Customer Service,

dillon_smith2013 graduate of Illinois State University. As a Mass Media – TV major I was able to work for TV10-News as a photographer, reporter and production intern. For the past two and a half years I’ve worked for, a live streaming start-up. My main role at The Cube is tech support/customer service, but have played many roles including live stream producer/camera operator, video editor, on-cam personality and blogger.

Stephen Bourque, News Photojournalist, WLS-TV ABC 7 Chicago

stephen_bourqueI graduated from Illinois State University in May 2005. During my time at Illinois State, I was involved with TV-10 News for two years. I performed all production duties including chief photographer for a year. After graduating, I did an off campus internship at WLS-TV ABC 7 in Chicago, IL. for three months. During my internship, I was able to get hired and worked at WICS-TV in Springfield, IL. At WICS-TV, I was a news photographer/editor for nine years.  I got to cover Obama’s election speeches, covered all of Rod Blagojevich trials in Chicago, IL., and the 2006 March Tornado that hit the Springfield, IL area. In April 2014, I then got hired at WLS-TV ABC 7 in Chicago as a freelance photographer/editor. I have covered a lot of breaking news, the Cubs World Series and Parade, and President Obama Air Force One landings. Without my valuable experience at TV-10 News, I do not know where I would be today.


Thursday, April 20

The Name of the Game: Mastering the Language of Sports

Tony Andracki, Digital Producer at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago

tony_andrackiTony Andracki is a digital producer for with reporting duties focusing mainly on the Cubs but also covers the Bears and Fantasy Football. He is coming up on his seven-year anniversary at the company after starting in June 2010, shortly after graduation from Illinois State University. Andracki covered the Cubs’ thrilling World Series run plus the subsequent celebration in Chicago and recently documented the team during spring training in Arizona. He studied Journalism at ISU with a minor in Psychology and spent two years working as sports editor at the Daily Vidette. He has also worked side gigs that include a Bears blog at USA TODAY, baseball blogs at Rant Sports and also worked the NBC Olympics desk in Stamford, Conn., during the Rio games in late summer of 2016.

Scott Gleeson,
Digital Sports Editor/National Writer, USA TODAY

scott_gleesonScott Gleeson graduated from Illinois State University in 2011 with a degree in Print Journalism. Since then, Gleeson has been a digital sports editor and reporter with USA TODAY, focusing on LGBT issues in the sports world and covering college and pro basketball. His human interest stories have been internationally and nationally acclaimed, with one named a finalist for “Best Color Story in the World” by the International Sports Press and the other a finalist for “Best National Breaking News Feature” by the Associated Press. He’s had cover stories for coverage of the Rio Olympics, Final Four, and NBA Draft, while serving as radio analyst for ESPN, FOX, CBS, NBC. Gleeson’s personal passions include volunteer endeavors with Agape (Africa), Big Brothers Big Sisters, and American Cancer Society. His book on mental health stars his late father, Tom, and will be out in the 2020s.

Blaine Kummet,
Sports Photojournalist/Producer WAGA-TV Fox 5 Atlanta

blaine_kummetBlaine graduated from Illinois State University in 1990 with a degree in Mass Communication/TV Broadcasting. Since graduation, Blaine has worked at 5 television stations around the country: Rockford, IL, Sioux Falls, SD, Green Bay, WI, Charlotte, NC, and currently in Atlanta, GA. Over the past 25 plus years, he has covered a variety of major news/sports events including: Geraldo Rivera and the KKK, the death of Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt, the dogfighting trial of NFL quarterback Michael Vick, and just this February his second Super Bowl. Along the journey, Blaine has also won 3 Emmy awards . He looks forward to helping current ISU students succeed!

Kim Nelson-Brown,
Head Volleyball Coach/Sr. Women Administrator/Associate A.D. at Illinois Wesleyan University

kim_nelson-brownIn 2016, Kim Nelson-Brown will begin her 21st season as head volleyball coach at Illinois Wesleyan University. Nelson-Brown’s 20-year overall record is 402-303 (.570 winning percentage) with two College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championships (outright in 1997 and shared in 2015) and three NCAA Division III tournament appearances (1997, 1998, 2015). She was chosen as the 2015 Midwest Region “Coach of the Year” by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. In research conducted by the NCAA (July 2009), Nelson-Brown was the 12th youngest coach in Division III with more than 200 career wins and the 16th youngest with more than 200 victories across all divisions.

Nelson-Brown was a four-year letterwinner at Division I Illinois State University, from 1990-93, and was the Missouri Valley Conference “Most Valuable Player” in both 1992 and 1993. She was elected to the Illinois State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. Nelson-Brown is also an associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator for athletics at Illinois Wesleyan and was instrumental in hosting the NCAA Division III national volleyball tournaments in 2007 and 2008.


Communication in Insurance

Mason Gossard, Senior Operations Analyst, CNA Financial

mason_gossardMason Gossard graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2011 with a degree in Organizational Communication. He also attended Arizona State University for his graduate studies and earned a Masters of Business Administration. Mason has worked in the Insurance industry throughout his career with companies such as Liberty Mutual, Safeco, Zurich, and now CNA Financial. In his current role, his responsibilities include the management of CNA agency reporting and operational process improvement projects.

Adam Harris, Communications Specialist, COUNTRY Financial

adam_harrisAdam Harris is currently a project manager on the projects and executive communications team at COUNTRY Financial. Adam joined COUNTRY Financial after working at Caterpillar for 9 years in various communication roles. Adam attended Illinois State University where he earned his Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in communications. He also serves as a board member for the United Way’s SERVE committee.





Kelly Snyder, Communications Specialist, State Farm

kelly_snyderKelly Snyder graduated Magna Cum Laude from Illinois State University in December 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Kelly has been in communication roles for all of her eight-year career with State Farm. In her current role with Public Affairs, Kelly helps corporate departments communicate with State Farm agents. While at ISU, Kelly was an ISU Presidential Scholar, participated in PRSSA, and had communication internships with the Humane Society of Central Illinois, GLT radio station and State Farm. Kelly was also very involved with the School of Music as a member of the Madrigal Singers, Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Service Sorority, Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity and a variety of music ensembles. In her spare time, Kelly enjoys traveling, reading, strength training, running her knitting business and learning Norwegian. She is also the director of the youngest children’s choirs at her church.