Fall Conference 2017 Session Descriptions

MinnSPRA Fall Conference 2017

Click here to register for the fall conference.

Join us for two days of deep thought about how we think, lead and communicate with the many stakeholders in our organization. The fall conference is Thursday, November 16 – Friday, November 17 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest, 7025 Northland Drive, Brooklyn Park, MN 55428.

Thursday, November 16

12:30-1 p.m. Registration

1-1:15 p.m. Introduction

1:15-2:45 p.m. When Generations Connect: Communication and Engagement in the age of the multigenerational workforce and marketplace

PRESENTER: Kim Lear, Inlay Insights

For the first time, we have four generations working shoulder to shoulder in the workplace. In many ways, this is an ideal situation. More seasoned employees offer wisdom and expertise while those on the younger end offer a fresh and innovative perspective. While the advantages of a multigenerational workforce are numerous, it turns out, managing multigenerational teams is easier said than done. Today’s teams are often plagued by issues regarding everything from work ethic and retention to succession and fairness. The key to understanding and leveraging these generational trends is to recognize that it’s not about “out with the old, in with the new.” Every generation brings value to the workforce.

In addition to changes happening within the workplace, our education system is being challenged by a new crop of parents and students with evolving expectations. The time is now to have strategic conversations about what the future of education will look like, and the role we all play in facilitating engagement across and within the generations.

Kim Lear is a writer and researcher who explores how emerging trends impact the future of our workforce and marketplace. As the founder of Inlay Insights, she is at the forefront of cutting-edge research to uncover cultural shifts that revolutionize how organizations engage employees and consumers. Kim will give us a closer look into who these generations are and the trends emerging as it relates to education. Her research, insights and original concepts will help us all better understand each generation and how we as school PR professionals can help facilitate authentic and meaningful engagement with all stakeholders.

Kim is a much sought-after expert, presenting to some of the world’s largest corporations, including Disney, American Express, and Linked In, and has been featured on NPR as well as in The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post and USA Today. As a keynote speaker at the 2017 NSPRA Seminar in San Antonio, Kim was able to make her message come alive in ways that engaged the audience and left them wanting more. A proud Minnesota native and resident, Kim is excited to build on her NSPRA presentation in ways that will further engage and she is excited to share her latest findings with the members of MinnSPRA.

2:45-3:15 p.m. Break

3:15-4:30 p.m. Multi-generational panel

FACILITATOR: Kim Lear, Inlay Insights

Panel Discussion: The multigenerational voices of MinnSPRA

Building on her keynote address and key takeaways, Kim will facilitate a panel of MinnSPRA colleagues in a multigenerational dialogue. Capitalizing on the expertise of our diverse membership, Kim will further explore generational theory and insights through interviews and conversations and with some of our fellow school PR professionals. Time will also be set aside for audience members to further probe and reflect on the relevance of Kim’s work to our role as educational leaders.


  • Ariana Babcock, Communications Specialist, White Bear Lake Area Schools
  • Kelly Kison, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Eden Prairie Schools
  • Carrie Hilger, Director of Communications, West St. Paul – Mendota Heights – Eagan Area Schools
  • Mike Schoemer, Communications Specialist, Elk River Area Schools
  • Tami Deland, Director of Community Engagement, St. Cloud Area Schools

4:30-4:45 p.m. Break
4:45-5:15 p.m. MinnSPRA Opportunities
5:30-6:15 p.m. Dinner

6:15-7:30 p.m. #NoFilter: How generational differences impact schools and students

Panel Discussion: Voices of Minnesota Students

We’ve learned about the different generations and how to connect and engage them, but what about the most important generation – Generation Z … our students? As school communicators, we spend a lot of time engaging various stakeholders in the work of our organizations, sharing stories of how we are improving the learning experience and environment for students. There is no shortage of opinions — staff, parents, school boards, community members, elected officials, business owners, etc. — telling us about what we should or should not be doing in schools. But too often, this important conversation is void of the most critical voice in our system, the voices of the learners we serve every day.

Join us for a spirited conversation with the true expert voices of learning. We have assembled a diverse panel of student voices, representing a vast array of learner experiences, from urban to suburban to outstate, voices from different cultures and backgrounds with a variety of abilities and interests. Hear from our primary customers about what how we should be communicating about, engaging with and preparing for the learners we have in our schools today, and those that are next in line.

Friday, November 17

7:30-8:30 a.m. Registration and breakfast

8:30-9:45 a.m.  Managing Reputation in a Changing Communications Environment

PRESENTER: Tom Horner, Horner Strategies, LLC, University of St. Thomas

Managing reputation is the most important communications task you have. A strong reputation creates a framework of trust with the residents you serve, opening the door to productive conversations on all the challenging issues that cross your desk every day and is an essential cornerstone of successful crisis management.  “Managing Reputation in a Changing Communications Environment” will explore how effective organizations define, manage and leverage positive reputations in today’s contentious and communications-overloaded world. The discussion will include practical guidelines and tips based on a 35-year-career in communications, public relations and public affairs.

9:45 -10 a.m. Break

10-11 a.m. Breakouts

Behavioral Economics and Communications: Two sides of the same coin

PRESENTER: James Heyman, Associate Professor of Marketing at University of St. Thomas
Almost all communications attempt to persuade the recipients to a particular course of action: remind kids to register for the SAT, be an informed voter, increase parental involvement, etc.  However, many communications fail to achieve this not because they are poorly crafted but because they do not account for how the recipients actually make decisions.  Enter behavioral economics. Classical microeconomics, the kind you probably learned in high school or college, models how people should make decisions. In contrast, behavioral economics attempts to improve our understanding of how people actually make decisions and, if we’re honest about it, how to nudge them onto the preferred path.  In this presentation, I will discuss how we put the behavioral into behavioral economics and how communicators can use this knowledge to improve their effectiveness.

Understanding our communities: Latino Minnesotans

PRESENTER: Henry Jiménez, executive director, Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs

As school public relations professionals, we know that in order to be effective leaders and communicators, we must understand our communities. Come learn about the challenges facing Latino Minnesotans in education and other areas, the state-level solutions identified by the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs, and how schools can more effectively engage and communicate with Latino Minnesotans in our respective communities.

Website accessibility

PRESENTER: Holsclaw, Education Sales Consultant for Finalsite and Ty D’amore, Digital Accessibility Specialist for AudioEye

ADA-related website accessibility requirements is a challenge facing all school communications professionals, whether you have already received an OCR complaint or just not yet. Participants in this session will gain a solid understanding of digital accessibility; relevant laws, regulations and standards, as well as best practices for achieving compliance. Learn how to manage or avoid violations and complaints, and see how Seattle Public Schools worked with AudioEye’s Ally Managed Service to quickly achieve compliance following a high-profile OCR complaint.

11-11:15 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Breakouts

School Finance 101: Making Sense of the Numbers

PRESENTERS: Bill Menozzi, director of business services, Mahtomedi Public Schools and John Morstad, director of business services, Orono Public Schools

While school finance and budget information can be confusing and downright overwhelming, it is one of the topic areas that all school communicators need to understand. Our grasp of the complex world of school finance is important because it our role to simplify the complexity and share it with staff, parents and community members. In this session, the presenters will provide a basic understanding of school finance, and share details like where school funds come from, how funds are spent, how the legislature allocates funding for schools and more. The session will be led by Bill Menozzi, director of business services, Mahtomedi Public Schools, and John Morstad, director of business services, Orono Public Schools. Whether you are just learning about school finance and budgets or you just need a refresher course, this session is perfect for you.

Understanding our communities: Asian Pacific Minnesotans

PRESENTER: Sia Her, executive director, Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans

As school public relations professionals, we know that in order to be effective leaders and communicators, we must understand our communities. Come learn about the challenges facing Asian Pacific Minnesotans in education and other areas, the state-level solutions identified by the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, and how schools can more effectively engage and communicate with Asian Pacific Minnesotans in our respective communities.

News media’s role in American democracy and the threats facing it

PRESENTER: Andrew Wallmeyer, Publisher and CEO of MinnPost

News media have long played a vital role in American democracy at all levels of government by informing community conversations and helping citizens hold those in power accountable. But today a unique convergence of trends is undermining media outlets’ ability to play those roles to the extent they did a generation ago. In this session, MinnPost Publisher & CEO Andrew Wallmeyer will discuss some of those trends – including political polarization, “fake news,” and the evolution of the ad business – and assess the threat they pose to civic conversations everywhere.

12:15 -1:15 p.m. Lunch

1:30-2:45 p.m. The Backstory – Eastern Carver County Schools High School Principal Case Study

PRESENTER: Brett Johnson, director of community relations, Eastern Carver County Schools

One morning, on your drive into work, you get call from your associate superintendent. He tells you police are executing a search warrant at your high school because the school’s popular principal is suspected of possessing child pornography. This is what happened on December 13, 2016 in Eastern Carver County Schools. As shocking as this news was for so many, it created an onslaught of attention for the administration, staff and board of Eastern Carver County Schools. While many of us witnessed the story unfold on the public side, the story of what was going on behind-the-scenes was not widely told. Presented by Eastern Carver County Schools Director of Community Relations Brett Johnson, this “Backstory” session will provide insider insight of what unfolded with this situation. Along with a brief description of what happened, our presenter will also share how the Eastern Carver team managed the situation and what they learned that can help others survive and manage a similar situation.

2:45-4 p.m. Social Hour