Crisis Communications: Preparing Your Organization to Handle Any Situation

Hosted by the Corporate Communications Section.

This interactive discussion is not currently available. Email the Sections Department to inquire about future availability of this program.

Category: Crisis & Reputation

In today's world, the need for crisis communications can arise and quickly get attention due to a number of scenarios. Is your organization's crisis plan and overall preparedness ready to handle even the toughest or days-long crisis? Join this Corporate Connect call to hear tips and best practices from our panel of practitioners who've prepared for and successfully navigated numerous situations, including the sudden loss of an executive, disgruntled employees, information leaks, product quality issues, natural disasters, manufacturing and workplace incidents and injuries, active shooter scenarios, consumer activism and more.

By the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Pack a crisis "go bag" that's ready for any event
  • Know some best practices/tips for being prepared for/handling a variety of crisis situations
  • Apply real-life examples of crisis communications scenarios to their role/team in order to strengthen their own organization's preparedness


Doreen Overstreet, APR, public information officer, Orange County Government

Doreen Overstreet, APR, serves as Lead Public Information Officer at Orange County Government in Orlando, Florida. The County serves 1.3 million residents and Doreen acts as the primary communications contact for more than 30 divisions. She has more than 15 years of experience as a public relations and marketing professional with a broad spectrum of skills. Doreen is currently specializing in external and internal communications, media relations and issues/crisis management.

For more than a decade, she worked for Costa Communications Group as Vice President of Public Relations and served a variety of clients across many industries, including education, professional services, construction/real estate, non-profits and tourism.

Doreen’s crisis communications work has included everything from Hurricanes Matthew and Irma to personnel matters and various government-related issues related to the heroin epidemic, affordable housing, fires, environmental concerns and more.

Ann Marie Varga, APR, MHR, principal, Ann Marie Varga PR

Ann Marie Varga, APR, MHR, is a strategist with experience in all aspects of public relations, marketing and branding. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, she serves as a consultant working with a variety of non-profit clients and as the Florida Affiliate for Academy Communications.


Before launching Ann Marie Varga PR, she directed overall communications and served as part of the emergency management organization for Duke Energy Florida, the nations largest electric utility. Prior to that, Ann Marie led a 30-person team Orange County (Florida) Government, which spans 13 towns and cities with 1.3 million residents and is also a top destination for over 66 million travelers from around the world. In that role, she was responsible for the overall planning, coordination and direction of the County’s communication strategies and public information activities, and also led the emergency communication function.


Ann Marie has handled a range of crisis situations during her career in higher education, government and corporate communications, but the most intense period was during 2016, when she led the County team through the Pulse Nightclub tragedy in June, followed by Hurricane Matthew in October.

Carla Wooley, APR, senior manager, communications and community relations, TimkenSteel Corporation

Carla Wooley, APR, is a senior-level generalist with experience in every aspect of corporate communications.


For the past two-and-a-half years, she led the communications and community relations team at TImkenSteel Corporation, where she also served as spokesperson and primary crisis communications responder. Prior to joining TImkenSteel, Carla was a communications manager at BWX Technologies, Inc., where she was spokesperson for the company’s Nuclear Operations Group, as well as primary PIO responder and a member of the emergency management organization for one of only two private U.S. facilities licensed to possess and process highly enriched uranium.


Carla’s initial experience with crisis communications came early in her career when the CEO of the company where she served as the only communications professional died in a tragic accident. It was there she learned the importance of preparedness for any situation. Since then, Carla has gone on to plan for and handle numerous crisis situations, from facility fires and environmental matters to natural disasters, workplace accidents and more.