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  • 2021 NYSPRA Speaker Series

We've all had to innovate this year, and NYSPRA is excited to offer the NYSPRA Speaker Series, which will be spread over the course of this winter and spring! NYSPRA will be offering four conference sessions from January through June 2021, with a free APR seminar for anyone who registers for the other four.


All four sessions + APR

Members: $75
Non-Members: $100

Individual sessions

Members: $25
Non-Members: $35



Jan. 21, 12-1:15 p.m. 

How Communicators are Leading the Way in the COVID Pandemic
Sponsored by thoughtexchange

As the global pandemic continues to have a profound impact on schools across the country, few silver linings can be found in this dark cloud with one exception... the work of school communicators. Relying on effective communication strategies and innovative approaches to meet stakeholder needs were key to developing understanding and building support. But was that enough? We’ll take a deeper dive into crisis communications in the pandemic, and how it will shape the future of school public relations.


Rick J. Kaufman, APR, the Executive Director of Community Relations and Emergency Management for Bloomington (MN) Public Schools, is a nationally respected crisis management consultant, trainer, researcher and author.

As the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator and Response Team Lead, he used emotional analysis data from parents and staff to drive a robust communications and engagement plan throughout the pandemic.

Rick has trained thousands of educators, law enforcement personnel and emergency management coordinators on the critical steps to effective crisis management, response and communication. He is the author of the Complete Crisis Communication Management Manual for Schools (4th Edition, 2016).

Feb. 9, 12-1 p.m. 

Nobody Knows My Name: Making Visible All Members of School Communities
sponsored by Finalsite

In his 1961 book Nobody Knows My Name, writer and social justice activist James Baldwin honestly and emotionally addresses race relations in the United States. He states, “Any honest examination of the national life proves how far we are from the standard of human freedom with which we began. The recovery of this standard demands of everyone who loves this country a hard look at himself, for the greatest achievements must begin somewhere, and they always begin with the person.” Using Baldwin’s words and ideas as its frame, this session will explore ways that public and community engagement professionals may illuminate and respond to the voices, perspectives, and unique needs of their students and families from historically marginalized school communities. Participants will be provided with specific ideas, strategies, and resources to become more equity-minded in their work.


Shawn Joseph and Lisa Grillo

March 16, 12-1:30 p.m.

Supporting LGBTQ Students & Families Through School Communications
sponsored by Parentsquare

Looking to improve your skills for communicating about LGBTQ+ topics? Let's lay the groundwork for better understanding the identities of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students and families. Then we'll dive into promising practices for written and verbal communications, especially regarding gender identity/expression and transgender students.


Lyndon Cudlitz

April 22, 12-1:30 p.m. 

APR Prep Workshop

Thinking about earning your Accreditation in Public Relations? In the process of getting your APR? Join NYSPRA President Adrienne Leon, APR, Jodie Orzechowski, APR, and your NYSPRA colleagues to have your questions answered about the process and jump into learning. We’ll offer a mock panel presentation, test-taking strategies and more!

June 10, 12-1 p.m.

Consumer Branding: What School Districts Can Learn from Corporate Giants
Sponsored by apptegy

Think of some of the top brands of our time... you might think Apple, Disney or Amazon - all consumer giants. They have all become entrenched in our lives and easily recognizable worldwide. While as educational organizations, we may not require that type of reach and we certainly don't have the budgets, branding itself is becoming increasingly more important for each of us to embrace. During this session we'll look at the core components used by consumer giants in establishing their brand and how those exact same components can be used to establish and communicate a differentiating brand for your school.


Melissa Smith, Assistant Director, Communications & Learning Solutions, Chester County Intermediate Unit

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