CN Winter Symposium, January 19 to 21, 2023. Hotel Eleo, Gainesville banner

2023 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. The 2023 CN Winter Symposium will be held in Gainesville and will include a welcome reception on Thursday; top-level PR speakers; fun and informative tours; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Friday; and breakfast on Saturday.

As you’ve come to expect from this event, the speakers will share their expertise and lead interactive discussions. We’ll discuss navigating societal issues, hear from Gen Z themselves, explore social listening and delve into artificial intelligence. The speakers on these topics have the experience and qualifications to ensure confidence in their advice and generate high-level discussions. Register now to join your CN colleagues for this unique Winter Symposium experience.

Hotel Eleo at the University of Florida

This new contemporary hotel combines minimal design and inviting accommodations right on the UF campus. Check in time is 4 p.m., and check out time is 11 a.m. Contactless check in and check out are available.

CN Winter Symposium room rate: $159/night excluding taxes and fees

Parking: Valet parking is complimentary with the FPRA group rate

Deadline to Book to the Symposium Rate: December 30, 2022

2023 CN Winter Symposium Schedule, Topics & Speakers

Thursday, January 19, 2023

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Welcome Reception at Hotel Eleo

Weather permitting, join your CN colleagues and LeadershipFPRA Class VII attendees for a Welcome Reception outdoors on Hotel Eleo’s beautiful lakeside patio.

Friday, January 20, 2023

7:30-8:30 a.m.
Breakfast at Hotel Eleo

8:30-9 a.m.
Shuttle to Straughn Center

Thank you to our Platinum Sponsor

UF College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida logo

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is home to one of the premier graduate communication programs at a Top 5 public university. The program includes in-residence and online master’s degrees, graduate certificates and a Ph.D. program. Learn more at

9-11:30 a.m.
Navigating Issues as a Communication Leader

Oscar Suris, president of Edelman New York, will lead a discussion about one of the most common challenges facing today’s communications leader: providing counsel when societal issues converge with business issues. Oscar, a former in-house CCO and present leader of Edelman’s largest global office, will cover the skills and principles required to navigate these challenges in today’s pandemic-era environment.

Oscar Suris, President of Edelman New York

Prior to joining Edelman New York, the largest market operation at the global integrated communications company, Oscar was executive managing director, crisis and C-suite strategies at Zeno Group. His corporate communications experience includes 20 years of providing strategic counsel to Fortune 100 companies, including serving as executive vice president and head of corporate communications at Wells Fargo & Company, and senior leadership roles at Ford Motor Company and AutoNation, Inc.

Oscar is also a newspaper industry veteran, having served five years as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and reporting business news in staff roles for The Miami News and The Orlando Sentinel. He also served as the executive assistant to the publisher of The Miami Herald Publishing Co.

A Cuban native, Oscar is a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He has been named six times to PRWeek’s “Power List” of the top 50 professionals in public relations.

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Lunch at Straughn Center with sponsor comments from J. Robyn Goodman, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

CN Only

1-2 p.m.

1-2 p.m.
Tour of James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center

We’ll tour the 142,000 square-foot crown jewel of UF athletics facilities, which serves as a cover model for recruiting efforts and a home away from home for the UF student-athletes. The facility features state-of-the-art weight and training areas and includes a dining hall, lounge area, barber shop, gaming and virtual reality room, basketball court and a resort-style pool area.

2-2:15 p.m.
Shuttle to UF College of Journalism and Communications – Weimer Hall

2:30-3:30 p.m.
The Agency at UF – Who’s Gen Z, Really?

Gen Z makes up 30% of the world’s population, and by 2024, this diverse, ambitious and vocal demographic will be aged from 12 to 27. It is easy to think of them as the Greta Thunberg generation, and that everyone in Gen Z will be following a similar path of activism, but the generation is much more polarized than that. The brands that are investing time and resources in understanding and engaging with these influential consumers are the ones that are winning big.

The Agency at UF is a strategic communications firm within the University of Florida specializing in research-based advertising, public relations and communications to create inspired and informed multi-faceted campaigns. As the first of its kind, The Agency is something between an agency partner, a dedicated freelance team, and a managed, scalable internship program with full-time professional oversight. Led by professionals, staffed by students and inspired by faculty™, The Agency provides work for UF, Fortune 50 & 100 brands, national and international agencies and small businesses.

3:30-4 p.m.
Tour of UFCJC Immersion Programs

4-5 p.m.
Teaching Social Listening

Social listening has become a vital tool in identifying public relations opportunities and measuring impact. The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications developed the state-of-the-art Social Listening Lab to teach students this valuable skill and prepare them to be leaders in the field. Dr. Myiah Hutchens will give a tour of the lab and walk through the critical elements needed to teach social listening to public relations students.

Myiah Hutchens headshot

Myiah Hutchens, Ph.D., Interim Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Public Relations, University of Florida

Dr. Hutchens has been a professor for 12 years and is currently in her fifth year at UF. Her teaching specialties are quantitative research methods, statistics, and political communication strategies. As a scholar, she is a political communication specialist whose research examines how communication functions in democratic processes – that is, to help or hinder political processes. In particular, she studies what leads people to seek out diverse perspectives – particularly views they disagree with – and how individuals then process that disagreement.

5 p.m.
Shuttle to Dinner

LeadershipFPRA Only

12:45 – 1:45 p.m.
Solutions Session with LeadershipFPRA

LeadershipFPRA Class VII, bring your thinking cap and your past experience to this brainstorming session. You will apply your leadership and personal development skills to the challenges and needs of your fellow class members. Led by LeadershipFPRA Chair Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, this session will give classmates the opportunity to practice the strategic art of PR counseling – on each other.

Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC headshotKevin Christian, APR, CPRC, Director of Public Relations, Marion County Public Schools

Kevin has communicated critical information for Marion County Public Schools since 2001.  During the last 21 years, he has publicly addressed topics with parents, stakeholders, employees, students, and others ranging from school shootings, student achievement and school grades to natural disasters, bomb threats, student tragedies, and employee arrests.  Kevin has earned the district more than 100 local, state, and national honors and been named “Communicator of the Year” and “Doris Fleischman Unsung Hero” by the FPRA Ocala Chapter.

Kevin earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Lee University and a Master’s in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami.  He gained his APR in 2012 and his CPRC in 2014.

An award-winning former television news anchor and reporter, Kevin covered two Presidential visits and John Glenn’s return to space. He also served two terms as president of SUNSPRA (Sunshine State School Public Relations Association), was president of the FPRA Ocala Chapter and mentors PR professionals pursuing their APR on the local, state and national levels.

An accomplished pianist and vocalist, Kevin has performed professionally at Walt Disney World, the Hyatt Grand Cypress and Hyatt Orlando International Airport.  He has five recorded instrumental/vocal CDs and serves as worship pastor at Wings of Faith Fellowship in Ocala, a position he’s held for 26 years.

2 p.m.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Tour of James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center

We’ll tour the 142,000 square-foot crown jewel of UF athletics facilities, which serves as a cover model for recruiting efforts and a home away from home for the UF student-athletes. The facility features state-of-the-art weight and training areas and includes a dining hall, lounge area, barber shop, gaming and virtual reality room, basketball court and a resort-style pool area.

3:30 p.m.

4 p.m.
Tour of UF Innovation Hub

UF Innovate THE HubUF Innovate  is the umbrella organization uniting the four entities that drive the innovation ecosystem at UF. Based at one of the nation’s leading research institutions, UF Innovate comprises Tech Licensing, Ventures, Pathways and an Accelerate program, which includes two business incubators, The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech. Together, those organizations move research discoveries from the laboratory to the market. UF Innovate connects innovators with entrepreneurs, investors and industry, incubates startups and growth companies and fosters a resilient economy — all in an effort to make the world a better place.

5 p.m.
Shuttle to Dinner

Mark's Prime Steakhouse & Seafood logo

5:30-7:30 p.m.
Dinner at Mark’s Prime Steakhouse & Seafood

Followed by Shuttle back to Hotel Eleo

Bartender pouring a cocktail

Saturday, January 21, 2023

8:30-9:30 a.m.
Breakfast and CN Business Meeting at Hotel Eleo

9:30-11:30 a.m.
Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work

As artificial intelligence continues to be a part of our day-to-day lives, how can businesses integrate AI into their current processes? Dr. David Reed, who leads the University of Florida’s Artificial Intelligence Academic Initiative Center, will discuss how UF is creating a national model to develop an AI-ready workforce and how artificial intelligence will continue to expand its role across diverse industries and disciplines.

David L. Reed, Ph.D., Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives, University of Florida

Prior to joining the Provost’s Office, Dr. Reed was a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History. His research used genetics and genomics to study populations of mammals and their parasites. His research was funded by the National Science Foundation for two decades. In his current role, Dr. Reed has helped to oversee UF’s university-wide initiative in artificial intelligence. UF has hired more than 100 new faculty in AI, acquired one of academia’s fastest AI supercomputers and built a new way of teaching artificial intelligence across the full breadth of the university. Earlier this year, Dr. Reed was appointed to be the inaugural director of the AI2 Center, which supports and directs many of the AI initiatives on campus.

11:30 a.m.

Visit Gainesville Extend Your Stay

We encourage you to extend your stay and enjoy the many things to do in Gainesville and the surrounding area. Enjoy world-class museums, performing arts and live music. Explore eight state parks with more than 100 miles of trails for biking, birding and hiking or visit the crystal-blue freshwater springs. When you’re done with your day, kick back at a craft brewery and savor innovative cuisine and specialty cocktails at inspired local restaurants.

More information can be found at

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