The second annual Pro Communicators Conference will be held at the University of Missouri. Join fellow communication, marketing and public relations practitioners for this 1.5 day educational event where you’re sure to leave inspired with new ideas to implement in your work!
$249 members | $299 non-members
Discounted student rates available!
The conference will be located in Memorial Union, 518 Hitt Street, Columbia, MO 65201, on the campus of University of Missouri. We will be on the 2nd floor of the north tower of Memorial Union.
A portion of Hitt Street is closed to vehicular traffic M-F from 8:15 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. During these pedestrian campus hours, Hitt Street is blocked in front of Memorial Union.
Conference venue parking is available for $9/day in Hitt Street Parking Structure at 309 Hitt Street.
Permits are electronic using your license plate number; no physical permit is required.
Click to purchase a permit for April 12.
Click to purchase a permit for April 13.
April 12 | 5-6:30 p.m.
Join us for complimentary drinks and appetizers at Broadway Brewery’s event space on 9th Street.
Reception attendance is included in the price of registration.
Erik Bergrud’s life was transformed by his experience as a Park University graduate public affairs student. During that time, he embraced the concept of serving others and applied it to his career as well as to local, national and international volunteer pursuits.
As Chief Strategic Communications Officer at Park University, he stewards the public face of the institution, oversees constituent-based communications, and advises the President and other members of the University community on communications strategy and opportunities. Throughout the year, he emcees major Park events and produces audio and digital communications.
Erik has garnered the respect and trust of his colleagues across the country having been elected a fellow of the Congressionally-chartered National Academy of Public Administration and president of the American Society for Public Administration. During his tenure as president, ASPA undertook a major revision of its Code of Ethics and launched, in collaboration with NAPA, a Memos to National Leaders project in advance of the 2012 U.S. general election.
Previously, he participated in the United Nations Public Administration Network and was founding editor of UNPAN Newsletter.
Erik has given significant time to several Kansas City civic organizations. He is chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Missouri State Affairs Committee, a past chair of the Parkville, Mo., Economic Development Council and a past president of Kansas City’s International Relations Council.
On the national level, he is participating in a National Academy of Public Administration panel study of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Erik is the proud recipient of the Park Student Government Association’s 2017-18 Tipton Award for alumni service to Park University and the 2019 Park University Department of Athletics Donald J. Breckon Lifetime Achievement Award.
Erik and his wife, Kimberlee, are actively involved in Kansas City philanthropic causes. They have co-chaired events for the Kansas City Ballet, reStart and the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. He also serves as a public address/broadcast announcer for Park University soccer, Parkville community events, the Kansas City Comets Major Arena Soccer League Team and the KC Courage, an independent club in United Women’s Soccer.
In 2008, he co-edited the book, Civic Engagement in a Network Society.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas and a Master of Public Affairs degree with an emphasis in Government-Business Relations from Park University. He also completed the Council of Independent Colleges’ Senior Leadership Academy and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions Leadership Program.
Luke Capizzo, Ph.D., APR is an assistant professor of strategic communication and public relations at the Missouri School of Journalism. A PR researcher, educator, and practitioner, his published work focuses on (1) social issues management; (2) theory building in activism, DEI, dialogue, and organizational listening; and (3) the public relations profession, scholarship, and pedagogy. Broadly, his research examines the potential societal contributions of organizations through the public relations function. He is a longtime Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) member, earning his Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) in 2014. Prior to graduate studies, he practiced public relations for eight years in a variety of industries, serving in both agency and in-house roles. Specializing in media relations, his clients ranged Fortune 50 consumer brands such as Verizon to startups, nonprofits, and a variety of B2B companies. He has also co-authored two PR textbooks with Dr. Regina Luttrell (Syracuse University), The PR Agency Handbook and Public Relations Campaigns: An Integrated Approach (Sage Publications). Before joining the Missouri School of Journalism, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland and spent three years as an assistant professor in the School of Communication Studies at James Madison University.
Heather Carl has worked in the marketing and communications field for more than 20 years. She is the Marketing Operations & Brand Manager of Missouri Employers Mutual, the state’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance. She oversees a creative team and leads the development of marketing campaigns and cross-functional projects. She is responsible for corporate brand strategy and positioning. Heather also hosts MEM’s WorkSAFE podcast, with more than 100 episodes released.
She began her career at MEM in 2007, and her professional experience includes media relations, crisis communications, technical editing, and project management. Heather holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri with an emphasis in broadcast. She is accredited in leadership through the University of Missouri and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Heather also holds a certification in crisis communication from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
She resides in Columbia with her family. Outside of work, Heather is active in her local NAMI chapter, serves in women’s ministries at Woodcrest Chapel, and works as a freelance writer. She is also passionate about music and running.
Rich Chrismer is a communications professional with over 25 years of experience in public relations, communications, media training and the management of a full spectrum of multi-media platforms for CEOs, trade associations, policymakers, candidates and businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups.
Chrismer is the founder of Seen Read Heard, a St. Louis-based communications and public relations firm with national clients. Founded in 2009, the firm specializes in communications services for highly-regulated industries.
A leader in his industry, Chrismer is frequently sought out by public officials and business leaders for his communications counsel, and by the media for his insights into public affairs and public policy.
He previously handled several of the highest communications leadership and management positions in government and politics including service Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications in the Missouri Governor’s office and as a communications director in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House.
Chrismer frequently volunteers his experience in public relations to help advance communications initiatives for charitable and fraternal organizations in his community.
Chrismer graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Political Science. He and his wife, Colleen, live in St. Louis with their daughter, Leighton
Alan Combs is a Marketing Content Strategist for Missouri Employers Mutual (MEM), a leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Missouri. He is responsible for developing and executing marketing strategies that help MEM reach its target audience and achieve its business objectives.
Alan has spent the past 11 years working for MEM, where he has developed his skills as part of the marketing team.
At MEM, Alan leads the development of content strategies that educate and engage the company’s target audience, which includes employers and their employees, internal stakeholders, and other insurance professionals. He is the producer of the WorkSAFE Podcast and oversees the creation of blog posts, produces videos, and other marketing content that aligns with the company’s brand messaging and helps drive business growth.
Alan is passionate about helping businesses succeed and strives to look at challenges in a new way. He is committed to innovation, personal growth, and improving his skill sets.
Alan holds a Bachelor of Science in Music from Mid-America Nazarene University and serves as a City Council Member for the City of Fulton, MO. Outside of his role at MEM, he is a husband of 17 years and a father of five. He is an avid runner, coach, and photography business owner.
Shawn Davis is in his third year as the Director of Social Media at Mizzou. A 2007 graduate of the University of Missouri, Davis oversees the daily social media presence for @Mizzou and manages the school’s official Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok. From Mizzou’s Joint Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications (JOSCM), he also serves as a partner and resource for all social media communicators from Mizzou’s schools, academic units and other campus stakeholders. Davis offers quarterly trainings to all campus social media communicators, detailing best practices on social media while also working to ensure consistent social media messaging across campus.
Prior to his current stint with Mizzou’s JOSCM, Davis spent 12 years full-time at Mizzou Athletics, managing the department’s social and digital presence for his final three years. Davis helped manage Mizzou Football’s public and media relations efforts for seven years, and also led the public/media relations and social media efforts for the following programs during his time with Mizzou Athletics: baseball, men’s basketball, volleyball, track & field and wrestling. He also served as the department’s lead web developer for his final three years.
Oyin is a business and innovation leader who for over 20 years has grown billion dollar brands and launched over 100 new products, most of them in the pet food space with Hill’s Pet Nutrition. She is currently the Marketing Director for Science Diet pet food and is responsible for developing brand communications that reflect her deep understanding of the needs and desires of today’s pets and pet parents.
She lives in Lawrence, KS with her husband, two children and 2 demanding cats. She also serves on the Board of the Lawrence Humane Society and is the Chair of the Hill’s Parents Network Employee Group She is a committed supporter of local businesses and all things science fiction.
Tony Galbreath is a Creative Director from the outdoor industry “transitioning from fitting in to standing out.” This inscription, which permanently resides on Tony’s shoulder, serves as a persistent daily reminder that cultivating a unique, creative perspective is a never-ending pursuit – just as the rock and hill were to Sisyphus. Over the past decade, Tony has helped 20+ award-winning outdoor consumer brands transition from “fitting in to standing out” through innovative designs, packaging, merchandising, and advertising. At American Outdoor Brands, Tony leads a talented team of creatives, using an unorthodox leadership style – LOVE – as the fuel to push performance and help them unlock their own creative potential. Just like his infectious laughter, Tony’s LOVE and impact spread far beyond his office walls.
Liz Harris is a Sr. Employee Engagement Manager at Veterans United Home Loans, a VA mortgage lender based in Columbia, Missouri that employs about 5,000 people nationwide. She earned a BA in Journalism from Mizzou, joined VU in 2010 as an assistant loan officer, and in 2013 moved to the culture team to focus on the employee experience and internal communications. Liz works with a talented team in People Services to cultivate an environment where employees can learn, grow, and build strong relationships while doing meaningful work. VU has been recognized on Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work list since 2016, which is a credit to the wonderful employees who create a positive and caring environment every day. Fueled by coffee and Frosted Mini Wheats, Liz is a perfectly average marathon runner and passionate fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Linda Wilson Horn is the Director of Communications for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). She has served in leadership and strategic communications roles for MoDOT in both the Central Office and St Louis District for nearly 32 years.
The majority of her career at MoDOT has been serving in positions in leadership focused on strategic communications for internal and external audiences, public involvement, crisis communications, media relations, major design build projects and safety initiatives. Some of those unique projects have included the creation of the humorous safety messages for the interstate dynamic message signs, the launch of the Buckle Up Phone Down campaign and messaging for the 2017 Solar Eclipse.
In the St Louis District, she served as the communications manager and member of the leadership team for some of MoDOT’s most visible and innovative projects such as the full closure and rebuilding of I-64 in the heart of St Louis, the construction of the Route 364 Page Ave extension and the river bridge construction of the I-64 Daniel Boone Bridge and the I-70 Blanchette Bridge. She also has been involved in creating, implementing and expanding MoDOT’s core services, such as the customer service call center and development of internal area teams.
She has been recognized with local, statewide and national awards throughout her career.
Linda has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia. She and her husband Greg together have five grown children.
Meg Judy is the Deputy Director of Public Relations and Communications for EquipmentShare, a construction technology company based in Columbia. Before joining EquipmentShare in February of 2022, Meg was the Senior News Anchor in the morning at KOMU-TV for 17 years, and a graduate adjunct faculty member for her alma mater – The Missouri School of Journalism. Last year, she traded in her 1:45 a.m. alarm and high heels for more sleep and sneakers.
Eric provides persuasive presentation coaching and training, strategic communications consulting, and executive counsel to leaders throughout the region.
Eric is an executive consultant with a focus on leadership and communications. He helps leaders clarify their message, connect with the people who matter most, and change attitudes and behaviors.
Eric began his career in client management at Brewer Advertising, the Y&R office in KC. He
also served as a national spokesperson for Hallmark Cards as manager of public information.
He was President and COO of Boasberg Valentine Radford, prior to founding Morningstar Communications in 1997.
He served on The KC Chamber Board for six years and led their rebranding. He continues
to serve as communications co-chair for KC Rising. He is a strategic advisor for the KU Journalism School IMC Master’s program and KU J-School Generations. He has served on numerous not-for-profit and civic boards, including Turn The Page KC, focused on improving
Eric has been recognized by peers locally and nationally with numerous lifetime achievement awards including the PR Professional of the Year and Fellow distinctions from PRSA, and Entrepreneur of the Year and Arthur Lowell Lifetime Achievement awards from KC/IABC. Eric received a B.S. degree in Journalism from The University of Kansas.
He frequently presents to leadership groups and moderates panel discussions.
Eric enjoys spending time with his wife Shanny and their children and grandchildren, growing flowers, and playing bass guitar in a rock-and-roll band.
Until last year, writer, editor and multimedia producer Randall Roberts covered Los Angeles music culture across fifteen years for the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly. Starting in 2010, he served various roles at The Times, including music editor, Sunday music columnist and pop music critic.
As an award-winning writer and editor both in L.A. and, before that, St. Louis, he’s floated down the Mississippi on a working towboat pushing hundreds of tons of grain, coal and rock and penned a first-person account of his time spent working with the late Heath Ledger’s Los Angeles production company.
In 2009, Roberts traveled to Myanmar and Thailand with Chicano-American band Ozomatli on a US State Dept. sponsored cultural mission. The story that followed, “On the Road to Burma,” was republished in the annual anthology Best Music Writing 2010. His front-page LA Timeslong-read on a regular karaoke night in the heart of L.A.’s destitute Skid Row neighborhood was republished in the University of Missouri anthology, Stories That Matter: Writing to Make a Difference. In 2020, Roberts helped identify the first-ever commercial recordings made in Los Angeles.
An MU grad and two-time USC-Annenberg School of Communications Arts Journalism Fellow, Roberts left The Times (and Los Angeles) last summer to join MIZZOU Magazine as its managing editor, where he’s working to expand on the magazine’s proud tradition of publishing essential, lauded stories that advance the university’s noble missions. He works with an expert team of freelancers, the majority of whom are Mizzou J-School alumni, to tell these stories.
Sharifah Sims-Williams is an experienced public relations practitioner and former journalist with more than 25 years of experience in the communications and public relations field. Sharifah currently serves as the Communications Director for Affinia Healthcare, a federally qualified health center in St. Louis. Prior to joining Affinia Healthcare, she served in communications roles for 10 years in two public school districts in St. Louis County. She has also worked in the corporate sector, working in PR/Communications roles with Express Scripts and Charter (now Spectrum) Communications. She first worked in education as a Coordinator, Internal Communications with St. Louis Community College. Her experience includes work in public relations, community relations and outreach, internal and crisis communications.
Sharifah earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and her master’s degree in Leadership & Management from Webster University. She was the 2021-2022 Eastern Region Director for the Missouri School Public Relations Association. In 2017, Sharifah earned several awards in the annual MOSPRA awards competition including the Award of Excellence for Writing and first place for the Normandy Connections print newsletter. She is a member of the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development. She has also served as a member of the Normandy/24:1 Kiwanis Club, and Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.
As the Marketing Director at Anders, Lindsay is responsible for implementing the marketing strategy at the firm. She has raised the firm’s profile by establishing and growing an online presence through content creation, promotion, and advertising. In her role, Lindsay focuses on brand management, niche development, business development strategies, and online marketing. She is passionate about working with the firm’s industry groups on developing their marketing plans to grow their practice. Throughout Lindsay’s career at Anders, she has transitioned from a marketing generalist to a technology-driven marketer, embracing today’s highly integrated world of technology and marketing. By combining user analytics and creativity, she is able to implement sustainable growth strategies through traditional and digital marketing tactics. With an eye on the future, Lindsay enjoys finding fresh and interesting ways to grow the Anders brand.
Amy Susán is the Director of Public Relations and Communications for EquipmentShare, a construction technology company based in Columbia, Mo. Raised in St. Louis by parents who worked in construction and service, Amy appreciates the value of a hard day’s work. Before joining EquipmentShare, she ran communications and marketing for the state’s Manufacturing Extension Program for three years and in public relations for 11 years at various government departments and offices including the Secretary of State, the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
As a member of the Corporate Reputation practice at FleishmanHillard, Daniela Velázquez brings more than a decade of communications experience to the organization and clients. From agency work to advocacy organizations to the newsroom, she provides an integrated perspective on media relations, communications strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion communication and social impact. Daniela is also on the leadership team of the global DE&I practice, True MOSAIC, and its media practice, the Race + Culture Team, as well as a member of the global Latino practice, FH Hispania.
Prior to joining FleishmanHillard, Daniela managed accounts for a St. Louis-based boutique agency in the utilities, public health and theater spaces. In this role, she served as the communications lead for several clients, including winning and managing the business for the City of St. Louis’s Department of Public Health.
Before moving to the agency world, Daniela worked as a director of communications for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri, where she created a comprehensive strategy to tell the stories behind grassroots initiatives, policy positions and legal cases, placing editorials in newspapers across the state of Missouri and garnering earned media coverage for the affiliate in national publications such as USA Today, Slate and The Washington Post.
In prior roles, Daniela served as the civic engagement consultant for the Ferguson Commission, an independent group appointed by former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to study the progress-impeding social and economic conditions in the St. Louis region. Daniela also supported the St. Louis Mosaic Project, a regional initiative to promote prosperity through immigration and innovation.
Daniela honed her communication skills while covering news in Florida. She worked as an online news producer for Tampa Bay Online (TBO.com), as well as a reporter for The Tampa Tribune and NBC-affiliate WFLA-TV/News Channel 8 and the Tallahassee Democrat. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism in News Editorial and a Bachelor of Arts in History, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Daniela was recently elected as the 6th Ward Alderwoman in St. Louis during the April 4 elections.
Brian Walker is the President of Statwax, a full-service digital marketing agency focused on the higher education and B2B/SaaS spaces. Brian leads the operations and strategy for Statwax’s team of Paid Advertising, SEO, and Data Science experts. He comes from a background in marketing execution and using data analytics, digital strategy, and general nerdiness to drive success for clients. From the beginning, Statwax has striven to bring more efficient, data-driven performance strategies to its partners – from large universities (including the University of Missouri) to online boot camps, tech start-ups to billion-dollar unicorns SaaS platforms.
“This was one of the best, practical conferences I have attended in a very long time.”
“Really one of the best trainings/events I’ve been to!”
“This was one of the most helpful and informative conferences I’ve ever attended. I would love to attend annually assuming the topics change year to year. THANK YOU to all involved.”
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If you have questions about the conference, contact Ashley Schwab.