Monday, April 17

Panel name: The Crossroads of Journalism

Mission Statement: Bringing together journalists’ perspectives and how they have overcome the trials and tribulations of journalism’s evolution.

Time: 10 – 10:50 a.m.

Location: Fell 162


  • *Jim Kirk, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at The Chicago Sun-Times
  • *Shauna Jackson, Photojournalist at KDFW FOX-TV Dallas Fort Worth
  • *Holly Petrovich, Editor-in-Chief at Chicago Athlete Magazine
  • Erin Fleming, Operations Director at MediaTracks Communications
  • *Julia Evelsizer, Secondary Education Reporter at The Pantagraph


Panel Name: Research Talk on Marital Conflict & Quantitative Methods

Mission Statement: A discussion on the importance of being a sophisticated social scientific designer and the benefits to using the PROCESS macro for testing mediation analyses.  Additionally, Samantha is happy to answer any questions regarding methodology, graduate/doctorate programs, and/or tips for writing a thesis.

Time: 10-10:50 a.m.

Location: Fell 064


  • *Samantha Shebib, Doctoral Student at Michigan State University


Awards and Scholarships Luncheon

11:30 – 2 p.m.

Old Main Room, Bone Student Center


Panel Name: A Diverse World: Practicing Intercultural Communication

Time: 2 – 2:50

Location: Fell 152

Mission Statement: Discussing the value, importance, opportunities and challenges of being intercultural communicators in a variety of workplaces.


  • *Chris Arvin – Manager of Global Organizational Development at Caterpillar, Inc.
  • *Donya Flohr – Public Affairs Director at State Farm
  • *Shannon O’Donnell – Math, Statistics, & Engineer Marketing Manager for McGraw-Hill Education (US)
  • *Robert Self – Project & Communications Manager at Messe Düsseldorf North America


Dedication of bench in honor of Ben Allison

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Location: New Plaza West of Fell Hall


Panel Name: Event Planning 101

Time: 3 – 3:50

Location: Fell 162

Mission Statement: The fun (and sometimes not-so-fun) side of planning and developing enjoyable and unique experiences for audiences that meet the needs of clients.


  • Miranda Davis design consultant at simple elegance events
  • Mike Pohlman owner of palace events
  • *Christy Germanis event coordinator YWCA McLean County


Keynote Speaker: Jesse White

Time: 4 – 5:15

Location: Felmley 133

Speaker Bio:

One of the most popular elected officials in the State of Illinois’ 200-year history, Jesse White began adult life as baseball player in the Chicago Cubs’ organization, transitioning into a career teaching and coaching career in Chicago’s Public Schools before accepting the call to civic engagement and becoming Illinois’ longest-serving Secretary of State.

His name may be on every Illinois driver’s license, but the things most people associate with Jesse White are the Jesse White Tumblers, his “Life Goes On” program promoting organ donation and his winning battle against impaired driving.

White started his acrobatic group to help put at-risk Chicago youngsters on a path to success. Nearly 60 years and 17,000 members later, the tumblers are one of the most in-demand “traveling acts” around the state–including more than 20 appearances in halftime shows at Redbird Arena.

After the tragic death of Illinois State student Michael Collins in 2014, Secretary White and his team actively supported the Collins Family by joining the “#MC Strong” campaign, ramping up the “pay-it-forward” value of organ donation while continuing the battle against impaired driving. While Jesse White contemplates retirement from Secretary of State, his legacy of civic engagement and community service will touch eternity.

Tuesday, April 18

Panel Name: Lean In: Women at Work

Time: 9:35 – 10:50

Location: FEL 176

Mission Statement: Women leaders will “Lean In” to focus on the strides that have been made for women in the workforce, mentoring, and relationships. This will be an open discussion offering advice, insight and encouragement from women leaders, to women leaders.


  • Leanna Bordner, Deputy Director of Athletics/SWA, Illinois State University
  • Marlene Dietz, President of Dynamic Leadership Development & First Lady of Illinois State University
  • Kasey Larson, Founder/Owner of DBY Events & Invitations
  • *Nikita Richards, Public Relations & Crisis Communication Manager, CEO of NDR Communications, CEO of NDR Communications
  • Leilani Scheets, Administrative Services Manager, State Farm


Panel name: Careers in Media & Sales

Preparation, audience-awareness and presentation skills … the same three qualities that make great communicators make great sales people, and sales industry leaders are seeing that more than ever. Find out how their COM degrees prepared these ISU SoC alums for sales careers.

Time: 9:35 – 10:50 a.m.

Location: Fell 158


  • *Andy Rzeckowski, account executive, Neuhoff Media
  • *Deven Devore, account executive, WYZZ-TV/WMBD-TV
  • *Annie Echles, account executive, iHeart Media Chicago
  • *Tim Van Duyne, account executive, Atlanta United FC
  • Madeline Smith, business manager, The Vidette


Panel Name: Getting educated about entrepreneurship

Time: 11 – 12:15

Location: Fell 162

Mission Statement: Entrepreneurs will share their journey as well as offer advice and tips to students who are interested in developing a successful company or business that caters to the field of Public Relations or Media.


  • Briahna Gatlin CEO and founder of Swank PR
  • Sherri Fishman president of Fishman PR
  • *Michael Rigsby CEO and founder of Dirt on


Media Sales Mentoring Coffee

Time: 11 – noon

Location: Fell 446

Senior management and sales executives from the most dynamic media companies in Illinois want to meet our young alumni and focused undergraduate students. Dress your best and bring copies of your resume.

Executives in attendance will include:

  • Jerry Schnacke, Vice-President of Sales, iHeart Media Chicago
  • Steven Farber, Senior Vice-President/Operations, Weigel Broadcasting Chicago
  • Sarah Hautala, General Manager, Morgan County Broadcasting
  • Edna Uribe, Vice-President of Sales, Univision Chicago
  • Delia Jackson, Director of Sales, The Cromwell Group
  • Sara McMurray, General Sales Manager, Hubbard Radio Chicago


Panel name: The New Age of Blogging

Mission Statement: Blogging panelists integrate their personalities, interests and platforms to connect audiences with meaningful lifestyle content.

Time: 12:35- 1:50

Location: Fell 158


  • *Rachel Barter, Life & Style Blogger at
  • Gina LaRose, Lifestyle Blogger at
  • Brittney Winsett, Chief Blogger at Celery and the City + Owner of Indigo Photography
  • Ellie O’Brien, Food Blogger at


Keynote Speaker: Kasey Larson (Founder/Owner of DBY Events & Invitations)

Time: 2 – 3:15

Location: CVA 147

Speaker Bio:

Uniting a formal education in finance and marketing with practical knowledge of hospitality, events management and communication, the life experiences of Kasey Larson seem to make her perfectly suited to be the entrepreneurial leader of DBY Events and Invitations. Clients appreciate the width and depth of her knowledge as someone who has kept the books (as a CPA) and used cookbooks (at culinary school).

For two decades, she has planned city-wide walks, intimate dinner parties, society-page weddings and business events in venues from Chicago’s Museum Campus to the city’s most elegant ballrooms — all to help build client brands. Best of all, Kasey leads a company she founded by combining her creativity and personality with her amazing array of interests to the benefit of her clients. Her slogan is her standard “perfect event every time.”


Panel name: Entertainment PR: Behind the Curtain

Mission Statement: From diverse venues to creative promotions, entertainment venue leaders share their secrets.

Time: 3:35 – 4:50 p.m.

Location: Fell 123


  • Clare Zell, Marketing Coordinator at Peoria Civic Center
  • William Prenevost, Managing Director of Illinois Shakespeare company
  • Jason Williams, Marketing Coordinator at Castle Theatre
  • *Adam Fox, Music and Civic Arts Manager at Normal Theatre


Keynote Speaker: *Ryan LaCosse radio/tv talent

Time: 5 – 6:15 p.m.

Location: SCH 130

Speaker Bio:

After Ryan LaCosse, Illinois State University student, discovered has wasn’t born to teach basic algebra, the former math major began finding his passion (and a new major) working 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. weekend shifts at WZND radio. That solitude—plus other opportunities at TV-10 and WZND– fostered a creativity and imagination that led to the persona “ORyan” who has delighted listeners with his antics as host of “The Morning Grind” on Peoria’s 92.3 and “The No Pants Party” middays on 105.7, The X.

Beyond the studio, Ryan gets around as host of Monster Jam broadcasts and Monster Jam live events on Fox Sports One. His immense talent and Illinois State experiences became an equation for a career with wide-ranging opportunities.


Keynote Speaker: *Aaron Schoenherr (founding partner at Greentarget Public Relations)

Time: 8 – 9 p.m.

Location: SCH 138

Mission Statement: Schoenherr will share the story of Greentarget Public Relations, its evolution in an ever-changing industry, and his tips for fueling “The Chase,” or, your personal journey to personal growth and fulfillment.

Speaker Bio:

Soon after his Illinois State University SoC education was completed, Aaron Schoenherr seemed destined for a comfortable career as a strategic leader with a top-tier public relations agency. But Schoenherr wanted his own destination. He hungered for the biggest PR challenge he could find.

As co-founder of Greentarget Public Relations, he created that challenge for himself by building Greentarget into a world-class agency serving the needs of attorneys, their clients and their firms. In a crisis, attorneys protect their clients by advising them to stop communicating … while public relations advisers encourage clients in trouble to tell their story authentically. Schoenherr and his Greentarget team know how to bridge that “advice gap” with creative strategy and good common sense. Now with a larger and more diverse staff, Greentarget has branched into other client areas by providing the same intelligent approach to thought leadership and crisis management.

As one of the founding members of the School of Communication Alumni Advisory Board, Aaron is invested in the future of the public relations profession by connecting with its upcoming generations.

Wednesday, April 19

Panel name: Clear and Concise: Tips and Tricks Of Effective Speech Writing

Mission Statement: Experienced speech writers discuss the benefits of distinct, established, and dynamic oratorical writing.

Time: 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

Location: Fell 162


  • *Scott Preston, Normal Town Council Member
  • *Jay Groves, Chief of Staff at Illinois State University
  • *Rachel Moore, Content Marketing Manager at GROWMARK
  • *Matt Smederovac, Communication Strategist at State Farm
  • *Jamie L. Fox, Senior Public Affairs Manager at Caterpillar Inc.


Panel name: Personal to Professional: Changing the Tone of Social Media

Mission Statement: Social media professionals fit the voice and personality of professional messages to organizational goals. These panelists will share their expertise in managing corporate social media accounts and in effectively representing the voice of the organization.

Time: 10-10:50 a.m.

Location: SMACC (Fell 275)


  • *Julie Maio, Communications Specialist, Illinois State University Office of Admissions
  • *Tim Bill, Digital Marketing Strategist at Heartland Bank
  • *Paige Prehoda, Marketing/Assistant Finance Manager at Brad Barker Honda


Panel Name: Radio Personalities: On the Air

“You just sit in front of a microphone and talk” is how most people describe what radio personalities do. Hear radio personalities describe the essential preparation, coordination, outreach and teamwork it takes to “just sit … and talk.”

Time: 10 – 10:50 am

Location: First Floor Fell Fireplace Lounge


  •  *Patti Penn, morning show co-host/producer/program director, WJBC Radio Bloomington
  •  *Mike Spaulding, reporter/anchor, WTMJ Milwaukee
  •  *Sarah Addison, morning show co-host, WLRW Champaign


Panel Name: Outside the Box

Time: 11 – 11:50

Location: FEL 176

Mission Statement: Don’t know what you want to do after graduation? Neither did these panelists. Hear how they built careers from the unknown.


  • *Brittney McCoy (owner/founder of cupcakes and cocktails)
  • *Ed Marcin (VP of Public Affairs & Special Projects at Clear Channel Outdoor)
  • *Nancy Rainwater (VP of Communications at Alzheimer’s Association)
  • *Kyle Musgrave (Marketing Strategist at State Farm


Panel Name: How WZND Launched My Career (formerly: Behind the scenes media careers)

Three young SoC alums describe how their engagement in student media paved the way for professional roles they didn’t expect to fill.

Time: 11 – 11:50 am

Location: First Floor Fell Fireplace Lounge


  • *Lindsay Colvin, promotion coordinator, Cumulus Media Chicago
  • *Jessamyn Amezquita, public relations specialist, Kohl’s Department Stores
  • *Zach Dietmeier, director of marketing & communication, Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council


Panel Name: Let’s talk TV production

Time: 1 – 1:50

Location: Fell 176

Mission Statement: This panel highlights the logistics surrounding television production and will provide students with information about working in the industry. From behind the scenes, these alums will discuss the creativity and challenges of producing television and video content.


  • *Colleen Casey assistant director at WGN TV
  • *Dillon Smith tech support and customer service at
  • *Stephen Bourque news photojournalist for WLS-TV ABC 7 News Chicago


Keynote Speaker: *Griffin Hammond

Time: 2 – 2:50

Location: STV 101

Speaker Bio:

Just 10 years after finishing graduate school at Illinois State University, award-winning documentary film maker Griffin Hammond could star as himself in a documentary titled “A Young Film-Maker Charts His Own Career Path.”

Hammond began as a video producer and social media strategist at State Farm. He also has done work for YouTube Next Lab, the U.S. State Department (as a cultural diplomat), Panasonic and Bloomberg Television/MSNBC covering the 2016 presidential campaign. Now a New Yorker, the Central Illinois native became a household name in DIY filmmaking by producing “Siracha” and filmmaking tutorials for independent filmmakers. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees are both from the SoC at Illinois State University.


Documentary Film Festival

*GRIFFIN HAMMOND • Documentary Filmmaker

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: CVA 147

Event Info:

The Documentary Film Festival, sponsored by the ISU Documentary Project, is a venue to present student-made documentaries. The festival celebrates the hard work of the students and faculty involved in the project and allows students to present films addressing socio-political issues in society today.

This year, the ISU Documentary Project invites Griffin Hammond, world traveler and maker of different forms of documentaries, to keynote. The second part of the program is a showcase of short documentaries from COM 352, Documentary Production. The evening will end with a panel discussion with the student filmmakers moderated by Griffin about the ups and downs of making docs.

There is no single definition or form for the documentary film, but one common element is the filmmakers’ curiosity to explore something. This evening’s program features an eclectic mix of documentaries and conversations about the process that goes into selecting subjects and piecing together stories.


Thursday, April 20

Panel Name: The Name of the Game: Mastering the Language of Sports

Time: 9:35 – 10:50

Location: Fell 162

Mission Statement: Beat the competition and discover how to effectively communicate to an array of audiences across multiple platforms in this thrilling industry.


  • *Tony Andracki, Digital Producer at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago
  • *Scott Gleeson, Digital Editor/National Writer, USA Today Sports Media Group
  • *Blaine Kummet, Sports Photographer/Producer at WAGA-TV Fox 5 Atlanta
  • *Kim Nelson-Brown, Head Volleyball Coach/Sr. Women Administrator/Associate A.D. at Illinois Wesleyan University


Panel Name: Challenges and Creativity in Insurance Communication

Time: 11 – 12:15

Location: Fell 158

Mission Statement: How insurance industry communicators merge corporate message needs with audience expectations.


  • Mason Gossard Senior Operations Analyst at CNA Financial
  • *Adam Harris Communication Specialist at COUNTRY Financial
  • *Kelly Snyder, ChFC®, CLU®, ALMI®, Public Affairs Communication Specialist, State Farm Insurance Companies


Friday, April 21

@Midwest Social Media Conference// Prairie Room, Bone Student Center

Learn more about @Midwest by visiting the conference webpage at

– please note the schedule is subject to change without notice –

* indicates School of Communication alumni