Save the Dates: CN Winter Symposium, Virtual Event: January 19th, 21st, 26th, and 28th, 3:30 to 5 PM EST banner

2021 Virtual CN Winter Symposium

The Counselors’ Network Winter Symposium is an annual event that provides high-level professional development designed to encourage productive idea sharing and dialogue among FPRA’s most experienced professionals. Held as a virtual event, the 2021 CN Winter Symposium will consist of four online sessions held from 3:30 – 5 p.m. EST on January 19, 21, 26 and 28.

As always, the speakers are top-level PR professionals who will share their expertise and lead interactive discussions. While those who have attended past CN Winter Symposiums are sure to miss the in-person events, the virtual format will allow safe participation for all with no travel costs! Register now to join your CN colleagues for this unique Winter Symposium experience.

3:30 – 5 p.m. EST

Succeeding in the Ongoing AI Revolution

Rodney M. Grabowski brings considerable experience in the field of artificial intelligence to the Counselors’ Network Winter Symposium. A founding member of the AI in Advancement Advisory Council (AAAC), Grabowski is pushing the boundaries of transformational data in his daily work as the Vice President for Advancement at the University at Buffalo (UB).

His discussion for CN will focus on the far-reaching workforce changes to come as artificial intelligence fuels the next global industrial revolution. Savvy public relations and marketing practitioners need to prepare now for a sea change in how we model, target and communicate with audiences. Put simply, change within the world of communications is accelerating, and understanding what is to come will be the difference between thriving and simply surviving in the 2020s.

A pioneer in ethical data operationalization, Grabowski will lead a discussion based on several real-world examples of forward-thinking companies and organizations, while also sharing ways UB has successfully used AI in fundraising and communications.


Rodney M. Grabowski is the Vice President for University Advancement at the University at Buffalo, a position he assumed in December 2017. He oversees the University’s historic Boldly Buffalo campaign, the largest comprehensive campaign in SUNY history, and leads engagement efforts for the university’s 260,000 alumni worldwide.

A native of Phoenix, NY, Grabowski has more than 30 years of experience in higher education advancement and fundraising. He came to UB from the University of Cincinnati, where he was president of the University of Cincinnati Foundation, as well as vice president of advancement and president and CEO of the UC Health Foundation. At Cincinnati, Grabowski successfully concluded the Proudly Cincinnati $1 billion campaign, surpassing the goal by 10 percent in 2013. He has also held fundraising leadership positions at the University of South Florida, the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Alfred University.

A sought-after speaker and higher education thinker, Grabowski presents frequently at industry conferences and is a member of the AI in Advancement Advisory Council (AAAC). He is a Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CRFE) who earned an MBA from the University of North Florida and a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations from Syracuse University. An Eagle Scout, he is active in the Boy Scouts of America.

3:30 – 5 p.m. EST
LeadershipFPRA Class V Invited

Coping with Mental Health Impacts of 2020 and Preparing for Challenges on the Horizon

It is no secret that the year 2020 has presented a unique set of challenges resulting in heightened stress and emotion in people from all walks of life, worldwide. While the events of this year may have affected all of us differently, there is one common unifier: we have all been affected.

Amid COVID-19, UCF RESTORES® – the National Center of Excellence for First Responder Behavioral Health – recognized that being adaptable and dynamic is crucial to remaining relevant and resourceful. With this driving principle in mind, the nonprofit organization has pivoted to focus on helping individuals cope with the unique stressors presented during this time and prepare to battle mental health challenges in the wake of a global pandemic. With the events of this year at the forefront, the UCF RESTORES team has been dedicated to educating individuals on the physical anatomy behind chronic stress and mental impacts of said stress, as well as how they can support others in their lives, including friends, family and colleagues.

In this session, join UCF RESTORES Executive Director Deborah Beidel, Ph.D., ABPP, to explore the various mental, emotional and physical impacts of prolonged traumatic events, understand how trauma can affect certain communities and individuals differently, and learn how we can come together resiliently to achieve posttraumatic growth as a result of these shared experiences.

Deborah C. Beidel, Ph.D., ABPP, is the executive director of UCF RESTORES® – a trauma-focused clinical research center and treatment clinic recognized as the National Center of Excellence for First Responder Behavioral Health – at the University of Central Florida and serves as a Trustee Chair and Pegasus professor of psychology and medical education. Her recent work focuses on utilizing technology to translate and disseminate efficacious treatments for anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder into standard clinical practice.

Currently, she is the principal investigator of a contract from the Joint Warfighters Advanced Development Group to conduct a randomized controlled trial of three interventions for the treatment of military PTSD in active duty military personnel, including intensive outpatient programs designed to treat PTSD in two or three weeks. She also recently received another contract from the Department of Defense to develop a new virtual reality tool to allow clinicians to more easily design virtual reality scenarios for the treatment of veterans, active duty personnel, first responders and survivors of mass shootings with PTSD.

Beidel received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical research at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. She holds Diplomates in Clinical Psychology and Behavioral Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Beidel is the author of over 300 scientific publications including journal articles, book chapters and books on the treatment of anxiety disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder and has been the recipient of over $31 million in research funding throughout her career.

Learn more about UCF RESTORES:

3:30 – 5 p.m. EST
LeadershipFPRA Class V Invited

Entering the Age of Social Justice: Re-evaluating Your Corporate Social Responsibility Program

As PR practitioners, we are often the ones responsible for taking a leadership role in developing effective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. As a profession, we have relied on these programs to build brands and satisfy customers/constituencies.

Now we are seeing a shift. Consumers and employers are looking for more than Corporate Social Responsibility. They want Corporate Social Justice. This movement is reframing our CSR efforts. As PR practitioners we need to be at the forefront of this movement. Consumers and stakeholders want companies that see social good as a necessity, not just a marketing strategy. And employees want and need equity. Join us in this conversation as we explore how to revamp our CSR programs to better meet the needs of our stakeholders.


Nneka Logan, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at Virginia Tech and the Public Relations & Advertising Division Coordinator.

Dr. Logan’s research and teaching focuses on public relations, organizational communication, corporate social responsibility, race and diversity. Her work has been published in the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Public Relations Inquiry, the Journal of Business Ethics and in other scholarly outlets. Prior to earning her doctorate, Dr. Logan worked in a variety of communication roles for a multibillion-dollar corporate organization and its subsidiaries where she managed internal, external and executive communication strategies, tactics, projects and programs. She presents her research at national and international conferences and has won several awards for her academic and industry work.

Erica Ciszek, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas.

Dr. Ciszek’s research explores the intersections of public relations, activism and social change. Her work encompasses a triadic focus: (1) activism as public relations (conceptualizing social movement organizations as strategic communicators); (2) public relations as activism (conceptualizing public relations practitioners as organizational change agents); and (3) activism and strategic communication (considering how key stakeholders engage with communication materials aimed at them).

As a public relations scholar, she approaches social movements as communicative phenomena that are implicated in processes of strategic communication. As such, she is interested in the strategic formation of collectives and the planning and implementation of discourses in shaping public understanding of the issues undertaken by activist groups. Her research has appeared in Journal of Communication, International Journal of Communication, Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Public Relations Inquiry, Journal of Communication Management, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Journal of Public Interest Communications, Case Studies in Strategic Communication, and the Journal of Homosexuality.

Dan UdoutchDan Udoutch is a Silicon Valley CEO who has brought multiple successful technology innovations to market, including digital maps (NavTeq) and internet platforms (Netscape and Commerce One). He is currently the co-founder and CEO of RSquared, an artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer in the workforce intelligence market. RSquared is applying AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to critical behavioral issues including DEI, toxicity, employee sentiment, collaboration and engagement in order to help enterprises build and measure positive and inclusive cultures.

Dan was previously CEO of Alpine Data Labs, an AI machine learning platform firm that helps the world’s largest banks detect fraud, insider trading and systematic money laundering. He has led organizations ranging from startups to enterprises with annual revenues of more than $250 million.

Dan also serves on the boards of both The Executive Institute on Inclusion, which works to eliminate structural racism and institutional bias, and Ignite Worldwide, which is inspiring girls to enter STEM careers. He has a bachelor’s degree from San José State University in Math and Computer Science and completed the IBM/Harvard Executive Business Program.

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6 to 7 p.m.

All CN members will be sent a link for this virtual event. Watch your email the week of the 18th!

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3:30 – 5 p.m. EST

Crisis Communications on A Global Scale: Leading Pentagon PR In A Pandemic

Captain Brook DeWalt, APR+M, brings 25 years of public affairs experience with the United States Navy to the fourth and final discussion for the 2021 FPRA Counselors’ Network Winter Symposium. Capt. DeWalt is currently the Director of Public Affairs Operations for the Department of Defense in Washington D.C. From this position, Capt. DeWalt brings rare perspective on the impacts of a global health crisis that changed every aspect of professional communications in just a few short weeks.

All aspects of communications for the Department of Defense changed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, and with Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen stationed around the world, the changes varied from one nation, one state, one municipality to another. Capt. DeWalt will take participants on a journey from the initial few weeks of outbreak right up to present day, sharing successes and lessons learned along the way.

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