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PRSA 2017 International Conference

The Spirit of Revolution: Communications in the 21st Century

Oct. 8–10 | Boston

Note: You are browsing information about a previous PRSA International Conference. Visit the program page for this year’ event.

Are You Battle Ready? Crisis Communication From Public Affairs PRos

Saturday Full-Day Pre-Conference Course

Hosted by the Public Affairs and Government Section.

Note: Prior registration required.

Focused on mid- and senior-level crisis communicators, this refresher course on crisis communication will introduce crisis communication experts from the military, government and private sectors, who have crafted and executed communications for some of the most high-profile incidents and events in recent memory. Examine recent case studies, and participate in a new robust roundtable exercise with fellow attendees.

You’ll also:

Participants will earn two FEMA certificates:

These certificates enable you to effectively manage domestic incidents, coordinating government, private sector and NGO entities. This training provides a consistent template for effectively managing Public Information issues, regardless of the size or complexity of the situation at hand.


Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, chief, visual information strategy and plans, Defense Media Activity

Photo of Barbara Burfeind, APR+M, Fellow PRSA


Rick Callender, deputy officer, office of government relations, Santa Clara Valley Water District

Photo of Rick Callender

Rick Callender, the deputy officer, office of government relations for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, also serves as the second vice president of the California/Hawaii state conferences of the NAACP, which boasts 74 branches and youth units mobilized across the states to help ensure racial justice and equality. For over a decade, Callender has also served on the NAACP’s powerful Resolutions Committee, which has expanded the state conferences’ role in the creation of public policy at the state and national levels. He chairs the PRSA Public Affairs and Government Section.


Bethany Cecere, emergency preparedness specialist, NSIR/Division of Preparedness and Response, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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Capt. Brook DeWalt, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, chief of public affairs, U.S. Strategic Command

Photo of Capt. Brook DeWalt, APR+M, Fellow PRSA

DeWalt currently serves as PAO for Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Recently, he was personal adviser to the commanding general of all U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan, communication director at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan and director of public affairs for Joint Task Force Guantanamo in Cuba.

Rachael Gibson, director, local government affairs, Santa Clara Valley Water District

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Gibson interfaces daily with local and regional elected officials, representing two million people in Silicon Valley, community activists, industry officials and opinion leaders to advance water supply and flood protection efforts for the region. She successfully advocated for a groundbreaking $500 million tax measure for the Water District, which won by the largest margin in the county's history.

Martha Lockwood, APR, chief, information products, Air Force Production, Defense Media Activity

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Bonnie Piper, partner, Merrill Environmental

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Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR, senior public affairs/public relations executive, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

Photo of Lauri-Ellen Smith, APR

From the Super Bowl to hurricanes, to a hospitalized patient accusing an employee of rape, Smith, a 33-year public relations professional, has spent her career framing and communicating issues, managing communications during crises and lobbying for policy changes at the state and national level. She advocates for all PR professionals to know the National Incident Management System, and recognize its relevance in most any event, planned or unplanned. She is a frequent public relations trainer and speaker.


Rosemary Taylor, APR, senior communications manager, City of Johns Creek

Photo of Rosemary Taylor, APR

Her 20 years as TV journalist covering some of the biggest news events over the last two decades (Oklahoma City bombing, O.J. Simpson, World Trade Center) gives Taylor a strong foundation in now managing crisis communications.  Her first task in becoming a PR practitioner?  Learning NIMS. 

Joseph V. Trahan III, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, president/CEO, Trahan & Associates

Photo of Joseph V. Trahan III, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA

Trahan has conducted hundreds of media relations training classes across the United States, and in many other countries. With more than 20 years experience in PR, he has worked with governmental agencies, educational institutions, law enforcement and nonprofits. He has managed four joint information bureaus, and has taught PR and advertising at the college level.