The fifth annual Corporate Communication Summit (formerly Corporate Communication Commons) features some of the most influential voices in corporate communication.
The emphasis this year: ways in which businesses can keep employees informed, engaged, and motivated, as part of an overall effort to meet individual needs and achieve business goals as responsible members of society.
Here’s the lineup of speakers:
Nick Ashooh, senior director of corporate and executive communication at APCO Worldwide, focuses on providing corporate communication services to C-suite clients. He is also a member of APCO’s International Advisory Council.
Mr. Ashooh has more than 37 years of experience in corporate communications, serving as senior communications officer at five Fortune 500 companies across several sectors, including energy and utilities, financial services, insurance, metals and mining, and entertainment.
Most recently, Mr. Ashooh served as vice president of corporate affairs for Alcoa, a global metals and mining giant. There, he was responsible for media relations, community relations, internal communications, marketing communications and corporate reputation, and oversaw communications challenges related to both entering and exiting sensitive markets. He also oversaw the Alcoa Foundation, one of the largest corporate foundations in the United States, and was a member of Alcoa’s executive council, which set strategy for the company.
Prior to his role at Alcoa, Mr. Ashooh was senior vice president of communications at American International Group (AIG), where he led all internal and external communications, including crisis communication strategies during the global financial crisis.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Ashooh spent 28 years in the utility and energy industries and served as the senior communications executive at American Electric Power, Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation and Public Service of New Hampshire. At PSNH, he held a lead communications role during the contentious licensing and construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant.
Mr. Ashooh also served as vice president of corporate communications for Paramount Communications Inc., where he managed financial communications, media relations and internal communications, and provided oversight of the communications activities of Paramount’s principal subsidiaries including Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster and Madison Square Garden.
Mr. Ashooh is a past chairman of The Seminar and The Wisemen, two of the oldest organizations for senior communications professionals. He is also a former trustee of the Arthur W. Page Society, and a member of the Civilian Public Affairs Advisory Committee of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received the Milestones in Mentoring Award from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations in 2012 and was named Communicator of the Year by Marquette University in 2001. He was inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame in 2013.
Mr. Ashooh earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with honors from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Charles (Chuck) M. Swoboda has devoted his career to making the energy-wasting light bulb obsolete. He is currently chairman and chief executive officer of Cree, Inc., where he and Cree are leading the LED lighting revolution to obsolete the incandescent light bulb through the use of energy-efficient, environmentally friendly LED lighting. Cree is an innovator of LED lighting and semiconductor solutions for wireless and power applications.
Chuck joined Cree in 1993, and during this time the company has grown from just over $6 million in annual revenue to nearly $1.7 billion. He has held numerous executive positions, influencing and leading Cree from a near start-up to today’s market leader. Chuck has served as a member of the Cree Board of Directors since 2000, as chief executive officer since 2001, and chairman of the board since 2005.
Cree has created thousands of jobs globally over the last 10 years and has almost 6,500 employees worldwide. In 2010 Chuck was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas, and in 2013 he was named The Edison Report’s Lighting Industry Person of the Year. Cree was recognized as MIT Technology Review’s 50 Smartest Companies for 2014, and as one of Fast Companies World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2015.
Chuck earned his engineering degree from Marquette University in 1989. He recently completed a term as chairman of the Marquette University Board of Trustees, and now serves in a general trustee capacity. Chuck is a co-inventor on 14 U.S Patents in the field of LEDs and LED lighting.
Fred Cook has worked at Golin for 30 years. He started as an account supervisor in the Los Angeles office and moved to Chicago 13 years ago to become Golin’s third CEO.
Fred credits the company culture for his long tenure with the firm. He spends a lot of time visiting Golin offices around the globe and is constantly impressed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the team.
Sixty years ago, Al Golin founded the company based on a few simple Midwestern values — humility, hard work and trust. Fred works to preserve those values because they are critical to the people, the clients and the future of the firm.
Proud of the firm’s accomplishments, Fred is even more excited about the future. The world is experiencing profound changes in demographics, globalization, multiculturalism and technology which are impacting the way people communicate with each other. To stay ahead of their changes, four years ago, Golin completely redesigned the agency by adopting a proprietary business model called g4, to deliver deeper insights, bigger ideas and broader engagement to their clients. They replaced the traditional hierarchal agency structure with four communities of specialists, including explorers, creators, connectors and catalysts, who are embedded in every account. Since that time, Golin has been named ‘Agency of the Year’ more than a dozen times.
In 2014, Cook published “Improvise – Unorthodox Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO,” which shares the wisdom he gained as a cabin boy on a Norwegian tanker, doorman at a 5-star hotel and chauffeur for drunks. Speaking on college campuses around the world led him to recently accept a position with the University of Southern California as the Director of the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. He is also a professor of professional studies.
Based on his experiences as a cabin boy, tour guide and doorman, Fred Cook will discuss the importance of improvisation as a survival skill in a world where economics, politics and media change faster than Facebook profiles. He will also share ways that his agency is using improvisation.
Marta Newhart is Vice President – Global Communications for the Building Efficiency business of Johnson Controls, a global leader with 140,000 employees in more than 150 countries.
Building Efficiency earns $14 billion in revenue annually – within the company’s $37 billion total – and Marta is responsible for shaping and sharing the vision, values and priorities of the business, via the power of communications.
Communications drives business – and Marta has made this her life’s work. Early in her career, she advanced through the ranks of The Boeing Company, where she won a PRSA Prism Award for cultural change and employee relations, to eventually run both defense and commercial communications, handling multi-billion-dollar contracts and ensuring that the reputation of Boeing was unblemished at all times.
Today, she’s back working for a powerful and respected multinational leader in Johnson Controls, helping people around the world live, work and travel in building environments that are safe, comfortable and sustainable. She holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in international business and international communications from the University of Washington.
Marta is passionate about helping those with special needs, and she sits on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics – Wisconsin. She and her husband have two talented children and a lovable golden retriever.
Dr. Patrice M. Buzzanell (Ph.D., Purdue University) is a Distinguished Professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and holds a courtesy appointment in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University.
In 2015, she assumed the Susan Bulkeley Butler Chair for Leadership Excellence and holds the position of Director of the Butler Center.
Buzzanell’s research focuses on the intersections of career, leadership, gender, and resilience. Specifically, she investigates the everyday negotiations, policies, and structures that produce–and are produced by–the intersections.
She is the editor of three books–Distinctive qualities in communication research (2010 with Donal Carbaugh), Gender In Applied Communication Contexts (2004 with Helen Sterk and Lynn Turner), andRethinking organizational and managerial communication from feminist perspectives (2000)–and author of more than 160 articles and chapters in communication and interdisciplinary outlets. Her published work is in journals such as Human Relations, Communication Monographs, and Human Communication Research as well as in handbooks on organizational, professional, family, conflict, ethics, and gender communication. She also published in encyclopedias and in the proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Frontiers in Education, among other outlets.
Buzzanell served as the president of the International Communication Association (ICA), Council of Communication Associations (CCA), and the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG). She was named ICA Fellow in 2011. In 2010, she was honored to deliver the NCA Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture, Seduction and Sustainability: The Politics of Feminist Communication and Career Scholarship, documenting the need for change in institutions of higher education and posing possibilities for greater inclusion.
As a seasoned corporate executive, Matthew Gonring has a proven record of accomplishments derived from more than 35 years of experience building and leading marketing and corporate communications teams in manufacturing, consumer goods, professional/financial services, healthcare and airlines.
Matt is widely known for his strong leadership and innovation in developing and executing strategies that assist organizations build compelling messages that combine their vision, mission and values, and effectively communicate the messages to a broad range of corporate stakeholders. His comprehensive experience spans branding and digital communications, public and community relations, crisis management, employee relations, labor issues, arbitration, bankruptcy, mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, litigation, and product recalls.
Matt is currently advising corporations on the structure and setup for corporate communications and marketing and coaching “C” Suite executives to be more effective leaders. Most recently he served as VP Corporate Communications with Jackson National Life, a $25 billion leader in financial services and the largest underwriter of variable annuities in the U.S. In that role, he was responsible for planning and implementing communications and marketing support including oversight of social and digital media, internal and external communications, thought leadership and community relations. Prior to that he served as Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Pactiv Corporation, a $3.4 billion leader in the consumer and foodservice packaging markets. Late in 2010, the company was acquired by Reynolds Group Holdings Limited, and Matt joined Jackson.
Early in his career, Matt was responsible for media relations, special events, community relations and related duties as Director, Public Relations at Northwest Airlines, and later, as Manager, External Communications with United Airlines, Inc. and UAL Corporation. Matt was then recruited to USG Corporation, where as Vice President Corporate Communications, he became responsible for both internal and external communications, as well as for product promotions, marketing, special events, Board presentations, speech writing, publications production, and philanthropic involvement.
In 1997, Matt joined the global professional services company, Arthur Andersen as Managing Partner, Worldwide Communications and Integrated Marketing. In this role, he provided leadership through a matrix alignment for a worldwide team of 500 professionals in 79 countries charged with developing and implementing global marketing and communications strategies and programs. Matt since has led global communications teams as Vice President Global Corporate Communications at Baxter International, a $7 billion healthcare industry leader, and as Vice President Global Marketing and Communications at the $6 billion factory automation systems and services manufacturer, Rockwell Automation. He also served as a consultant with Gagen MacDonald, a boutique management consultancy specializing in strategy execution, change leadership, and employee engagement.
Matt holds a Masters degree in Public Relations from the School of Business, American University in Washington, DC, and Bachelor of Science degree in Communications and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point.
He is the recipient of a variety of communication awards, and is a frequent speaker on marketing and communications topics, and has been a member of the Graduate Faculty, Integrated Marketing Communications Program, at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and currently serves on the graduate faculty at George Washington University. He served on The Board of Directors of the Arthur W. Page Society, and is Chairman Emeritus of the Institute for Public Relations. Present and past affiliates include: International Association of Business Communications, National Investor Relations Institute, Business Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of American, Publicity Club of Chicago, and Conference Board Communications Council.
Matt and his wife, Maggie, have three adult children and reside in Libertyville, IL.
Tim Blair is the Director of Corporate Communications at Navigant, a publicly-traded consulting firm based in Chicago. Tim leads the company’s communications programs including competitive positioning, executive visibility, and employee engagement. In this role he also manages the company’s global corporate citizenship programs – including its foundation – as well as corporate client events.
Previously Tim was the vice president of marketing and communications at Huron Consulting Group, one of the nation’s largest healthcare consulting firms. In addition, Tim served as the head of communications for Grant Thornton LLP, where he built the accounting firm’s first-ever communications function and public policy platform. Tim spent the majority of his career at IBM where he served in an executive capacity in every major business unit for the IT giant.
Tim is a long-time volunteer for Marquette University, including a near decade-long run as the president of the Marquette Club in New York. Tim also represented the Northeast region on the Marquette National Alumni Board. Tim is a frequent guest lecturer for the Marquette University Diederich College of Communications, as well as the DePaul University College of Communication.
Dr. Matt Ragas (Ph.D., University of Florida) is an associate professor and academic director of the public relations and advertising graduate program in the College of Communication at DePaul University.
The program has been a three-time finalist for PRWeek’s PR Education Program of the Year. An award-winning researcher and teacher, Matt has authored three books and more than 60 articles, book chapters, papers and reports. He is co-author with Ron Culp of “Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators” (Palgrave Macmillan), which is being used in courses at more than a dozen universities.
A recipient of the Nafziger-White-Salwen dissertation award from AEJMC, he has been a fellow of The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University, and a Coleman Foundation faculty entrepreneurship fellow.
Part of the founding class of Page Up, Matt has been the faculty adviser on five award-winning cases in the Arthur W. Page Society / Institute for Public Relations student case study competition in corporate communication.
Prior to academia, he worked in financial journalism, investment research and strategic communication consulting. He also holds an M.S. in management and B.S. in business administration, both from the University of Central Florida.
Since 1989, Dr. Scott Dickmeyer (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) has dedicated himself as a teacher, trainer and consultant focused on developing effective communicators. Scott is recognized nationally for his work on effective leadership, improving managerial communication, training public speakers, and integrating diverse individuals into effective work teams. In his organizational communication and public relations work he has helped thousands of people become other-oriented communicators and effective spokespeople for their organizations. Dr. Dickmeyer is an award-winning researcher and teacher. His research on companies that consistently rank on the Fortune magazine list of the 100 best companies to work for in America identified communication, hiring and orientation practices that increase employee satisfaction, productivity and loyalty. Scott is currently involved in a large-scale study of “best company” communication strategies that increase employee satisfaction and create a favorable public perception of these companies.
Sara Bres is a strategic communications coordinator in the corporate communications department at Northwestern Mutual.
After graduating in May 2015, Sara joined Northwestern Mutual to support the introduction of the company’s new strategy to all employees. She worked to effectively shape and share the company vision and strategy through narrative, while assisting in the development of materials to inspire and engage employees during a time of change.
This February, Sara transitioned to support HR communications, and currently plans and develops content for employee recognition, health and wellness, and employee benefit programs.
Taylor has been supporting the Finn Partners Professional Services practice since October 2014. Her work includes coordinating executive visibility programs with an emphasis on media relations, event management and analyst relations programs. Her work experience spans office relocations and expansions, fundraising rounds, earnings, executive appointments and product and business launches. Taylor has secured media placements with the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg and dozens of other top-tier and top DMA media outlets. She began her career in Edelman’s Chicago office in their Corporate Affairs practice.
Taylor is the Marquette University Alumni Club Co-President in Chicago, a Board Member with PRSA Chicago and actively guest lectures and mentors students at Marquette, Loyola Chicago and DePaul.
Eric D. Waters is a Ph.D. candidate finalizing doctoral studies in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently completing his dissertation research on communication behaviors in the technology startup ecosystem. He also holds an appointment as an MBA+ Leadership Program Communication Coach in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.
This fall, he will join the faculty of the Diederich College of Communication here at Marquette University as an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Strategic Communication.
Waters’ research investigates the interdependent relationship between information and communication technology (ICT) innovation and organizational rules and norms. Specifically, he explores how rules and norms influence the use of ICTs in organizations and how advancements in ICTs alter those rules and norms.
Waters has recently co-authored chapters in Consulting That Matters: A Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners (2015 with Keri Stephens), Meeting the Challenge of Human Resource Management: A Communication Perspective (2014 with Keri Stephens and Caroline Sinclair) and edited a chapter of Professional Communication Skills (2014). He has presented his research on organizational communication and technology at a variety of outlets including the National Communication Association (NCA) conference and has several projects in preparation for publication.
Prior to academia, Waters spent over a decade contributing in operational and managerial capacities in the automotive industry. He holds an M.B.A in Management from the University of Texas at Arlington and a B.B.A. in Marketing from Western Michigan University.