The Advocacy Conference – Agenda

02 Oct, 2020

Below is the 2022 agenda. Check back this Fall for the 2023 agenda.

Four tracks to guide your learning experience


Strategies for building relationships between your key advocates and decision-makers.


Develop compelling narratives and policy messages that influence your audience.


Build, manage and implement successful lobbying campaigns from the ground up.

Professional Development

Skills to help you grow in your public affairs career.

Re-usable Water Bottles    @SkaddenArps

Lanyards   @bloomberggov

Gadget Charging Station   @BeekeeperGroup

Pre-Conference Sessions: April 24 - Sunday

All times are in CT, the local time in Austin, TX.

2:45 p.m. - Check-In for Pre-Conference Sessions

If you will be joining us for the pre-conference sessions, please plan to arrive a little early to verify your vaccination status before entering the session.

3:00 p.m. - Early Workshop: Advanced Data Strategies and Tactics for Your Advocacy Campaigns

A well-rounded digital campaign can springboard your advocacy efforts. Are you moving the needle and adopting the latest digital techniques? This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Learning new approaches to using data to find fresh supporters
  • Understanding how to optimize your email campaigns
  • An updated sense of new tools for digital advocacy campaigns

Wade Balkonis
Director, Grassroots Advocacy
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)


Amy D. Meli
Senior Director
Public Affairs Council

3:45 p.m. - LinkedIn Bootcamp: Become a Thought Leader Via Your Online Professional Network

LinkedIn now boasts a network over 180 million users in the United States. When leveraged effectively, LinkedIn creates opportunities to connect with D.C. influencers, and position you or your organization as a thought leader on key policy and industry issues. Learning objectives include:

  •  Strategies to successfully position you or your organization’s leaders on LinkedIn
  • How to take advantage of LinkedIn’s native publishing features like LinkedIn Live
  • When to properly use LinkedIn’s powerful advertising platform for sponsored posts or InMail campaigns

Nkongho Beteck
Senior Manager, Social Media and Digital Content
National Retail Federation


Nick DeSarno
Director of Digital and Policy Communications
Public Affairs Council

4:15 p.m. - Vaccine Check-In / Registration Open

Bring your CLEAR QR code to complete your vaccination verification and pick up your badge before the welcome reception!

4:30 - 6:30 p.m. - Welcome Networking Reception

4:30 p.m. - Mentoring Meetup

Mentoring Meet Up Time! Look for the table with your group number that can be found on your name badge.

Day 1: April 25 - Monday

8:30 a.m. - Registration and Vaccine Check

All participants must have a valid Covid-19 vaccination which will be verified via CLEAR. Details about how to download and use the app will be sent to attendees in the final event reminder and in the days leading up to onsite check-in.

9:00 a.m. - Networking Breakfast

9:30 a.m. - Grassroots Keynote: Addressing Polarization in the Workplace

Polarization is creeping into every facet of life, including the workplace. Advocacy professionals must be able to communicate effectively on policy issues, civic issues, PAC support and other increasingly controversial topics. Join us to hear how polarization is taking a hold in America and how you might be able to combat this rising issue.


Stephen Hawkins 
Global Director of Research
More in Common

10:45 a.m. - Networking Break

11:00 a.m. - Breakouts

Training Your Advocates

Fundamental to any grassroots program is advocate training. Without well-trained advocates your campaign will fail to deliver the proper message to policymakers, which could hurt your reputation and impact on the policy making process. During this session, our presenters will:

  • Show you how to build and launch an advocate training program from the ground up
  • Demonstrate how you can craft advanced advocate trainings for your grasstop advocates
  • Provide examples of specialized advocacy trainings on topics like storytelling
Keivel Headshot

Laura Keivel
Grassroots and Political Affairs Specialist
American Physical Therapy Association


 Michael Sokoloski
Director, Grassroots Advocacy
BAYADA Home Health Care

Telling a Story Through Data

If you want to make an impact today, numbers are great, but stories can persuade. Advocacy professionals must be able to tie great data, analytics and key figures all into a compelling story. Join us for a session where our presenters will teach:

  • When and how to include stories in your public affairs campaigns
  • Understanding how to leverage research and complex data
  • How to creatively use data visualizations
  • How to maximize the impact of your policy research

Audra Kruse
Director, Public Affairs & Digital Engagement

TMNA Headshots Washington, D.C., December 6, 2021 (Rodney Choice/Choice Photography)

Rebecca L. Steele
Director, Emerging Technologies Policy
Toyota Motor North America
@beccalsteele   @ToyotaPolicy

Managing Consultants and Contract Lobbyists

Are you and your consultant partners talking past each other? Are your objectives clear and well-understood? During this session attendees will learn about:

  • Actively assessing, communicating and measuring the effectiveness of your contract or consultant lobbyists
  • Establishing contract guidelines, providing constructive feedback, and building a long-lasting relationship with outside partners
  • Identifying new systems for managing consultants and contract lobbyists

Tracy King

Vice President, Public Affairs



Scott Orr, CFA
Vice President, Government Relations and
Head of Southern Regional Public Affairs
Fidelity Investments

12:00 p.m. - Networking Lunch

12:00 p.m. - Membership Orientation Lunch

Join the membership team for lunch to learn more about the Council! Look for the table with the Membership Orientation sign!

1:00 p.m. - Resource Marketplace Opens

Check out the top consultants, vendors and software providers for the advocacy industry. Learn what’s new and how your organization can leverage outside vendors.

1:15 p.m. - Skill Building Sessions

Improving Your Advocacy Writing

As public affairs professionals we often wear many hats: promoter, defender, explainer and more. However, without consistent practice and an ever-expanding toolkit, writers may find themselves falling short in their quest to advance their goals. This session will teach you how to improve your prose and burnish your written communications credentials.


Stephanie Vance
Advocacy Associates, L.L.C.

Virtual and Online Presentation Skills

Are you tired of presenters who do not connect with their audience? Are you done with the same old PowerPoints? Learn how to set up your home studio, engage with an online audience and keep your attendees coming back for more. Join us to learn how to step up your virtual presentation game.


Laura Brigandi
Senior Manager, Advocacy & Campaigns
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

The ROI of Government Relations: Presenting Success to Your Leadership

Measuring, communicating and presenting the value of your government relations efforts can be a tremendous challenge. Learn how to speak the language of leadership, choose the right tactic for measuring your ROI and ultimately tell a powerful story of how your function protects and delivers value for the organization. This session is designed to give you the tools it takes to communicate your successes to your leadership.


Brian D. Banks
Chief Government Affairs & Public Policy Officer
American Counseling Association


Darlene Rosenkoetter
Vice President, Global Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy
S&P Global Inc.

2:05 p.m. - Networking Break

2:20 p.m. - Peer-to-Peer Problem Solving

Get ready for some quick problem-solving! You’ll connect with other professionals on two topics, identifying common challenges and brainstorming solutions. Each roundtable will be led by an advisory committee member who will assist your team in overcoming obstacles and ensuring you return to the office with great takeaways. (Council staff will share notes from each roundtable post-conference.) Topics will include:

  • Managing Team Members in Remote Locations
  • Future-Proofing Your Advocacy Efforts
  • Coalition Building and Management
  • Leveraging Databases and Email Platforms
  • Engaging Global Employees or Advocates
  • Effective Healthcare Advocacy
  • Breaking Down Barriers Between Lobbying and Communications
  • Remaking the Fly-In
  • Managing Boards and Volunteer Leaders
  • Ensuring Diversity in Your Advocacy Efforts

3:00 p.m. - Networking Break

3:15 p.m. - Breakouts

Crafting Effective Corporate Grassroots Programs

Whether you are looking to launch a new employee grassroots program or just take your existing program to the next level, this session will help you build a best-in-class operation. Our corporate grassroots professionals will share:

  • Strategies for organizing and structuring your grassroots program
  • Effective tactics for winning senior management approval and answering tough questions
  • Successful innovations and case studies

Meaghan Joyce
Director, Political & Advocacy Strategy
International Paper Company


Evelyn Fornes
Manager, Communications and Advocacy
The Home Depot

The Crisis Communications Playbook for Public Affairs Professionals

Government and public affairs professionals have continued to face increased scrutiny and unexpected issues from employees, shareholders and the media. Hear from a crisis communications expert on how to build a playbook in case your PAC, government affairs efforts or policy positions create a crisis or controversy. This session will look at how organizations can become better prepared and proactive when defending their advocacy work.


Meg Bloomgren
SVP, Communications
American Petroleum Institute


Rachel McCleery
Director, US Manufacturing Policy
Ford Motor Company

This session will be moderated by:


Doug Pinkham
Public Affairs Council

Successfully Engaging Third Party and Advocacy Groups

In order to make friends and amplify your voice, government relations professionals must be able to engage with outside advocacy groups, alliances and third party organizations. Join us for a session devoted to:

  •  Determining who, when and why you should engage with an outside group
  •  Tactics for finding the right partners and unlikely allies
  • Case studies for showing how third party engagement can lead to government affairs success
Johnson_Courtney cropped

Courtney Johnson
Senior Director, Political Mobilization
American Chemistry Council


Sarah Yi
Executive Director, External Affairs
CTIA – The Wireless Association

4:15 p.m. - Networking Break

4:30 p.m. - Communications Keynote Session: Winning the “War for Attention”

How we process information and communicate has changed rapidly over the last 20 years. Are you still using out-of-date tactics, strategies and messages? Whether you are trying to reach a policymaker, staffer, employee, supporter or fellow colleague, it’s become more difficult to grab attention. Learn how to break through the noise from a professional who has done so at the highest levels. Win the war for attention and deploy these new learnings today.


Nicholas Johnston

Day 2: April 26 - Tuesday

8:00 a.m. - Registration

8:15 a.m. - Networking Breakfast

8:15 a.m. - Membership Orientation

Join the membership team for breakfast to learn more about the Council! Look for the table with the Membership Orientation sign!

9:00 a.m. - Lobbying Keynote: Making Sense of the 2022 Political Landscape

2022 is set to be another historic election that holds both major policy and societal ramifications. Advocacy professionals must be able to decipher trends, predict uncertainties and provide effective counsel to their organization. Join us to hear from one of DC’s savviest experts on what political, social and legislative issues might take center stage in 2022.

Mehlman_Bruce cropped

Bruce Mehlman
Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas

10:00 a.m. - Networking Break

10:15 a.m. - Breakout Sessions

Civic Participation Campaigns: New GOTV and Voter Registration Efforts

In the last election cycle, numerous companies, associations and advocacy groups organized voter registration drives and Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts. Civic engagement is now expected from major companies and associations. Are you prepared for 2022? Join us to hear case studies from organizations that successfully mobilized voters and increased civic engagement with their customers, members or employees.


Aliya Bhatia
Executive Director


Steven Levine

Using Social Media to Engage Policymakers and Advocates

Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or trying new platforms like TikTok, social media is one of your most powerful advocacy tools. When leveraged effectively, social media can create opportunities to find, reach and engage advocates; recruit supporters and connect with policymakers. Our social media experts will discuss:

  • Developing a social media strategy that can push your organization over the finish line
  • Crafting public affairs content to match your audience and the platform
  • Best practices for engaging your followers with calls-to-action and interacting with elected officials on each platform

Susan Burton
Director, National Grassroots Advocacy
National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)

Jon and Cassie Tripp portraits, Wednesday, October 13, 2021, Manassas, VA. (Photo by Max Taylor)

Jon Tripp
ImpactUS Public Affairs

Lobbying for Good: Using Government Affairs for Social Issues

Employees, stakeholders and the public are asking more of organizations when it comes to civil society. This includes using government affairs resources to advance social justice, equality, fair elections, living wages, immigration reform and a host of other social causes. Join us for a session addressing how to use government affairs to advance a wide range of non-business issues.


Ulrico Izaguirre
SVP, Government Relations, Public Policy & Social Impact
Affirm, Inc.

11:10 a.m. - Networking Break

11:20 a.m - 12:20 p.m. - Professional Development Keynote: Gen Z’s Expectations for DEI

After the summer of 2020, the nation manifested a heightened awareness of the societal impact of corporations and large organizations. Now, students across colleges and universities are collectively blacklisting, or “canceling”, certain companies for insufficient support of underrepresented and marginalized communities. This causes firms to lose talent and public image, and because this happens through social media and informal networks, they don’t even know. In this keynote, Greene will discuss young people’s expectations for diversity, equity, and inclusion across institutions and how organizations can live up to the DEI standards of this new decade.


Kahlil Greene
Youth and Inclusivity Expert
Gen-Z Historian
Yale’s First Black Student Body President

12:30 p.m. - Mentoring Meet Up

Mentoring Meet Up Time! Gather with your group and spend some of your free afternoon together.

5:30 - 7 p.m. - Networking Reception

Day 3: April 27 - Wednesday

8:00 a.m. - Registration

8:15 a.m. - Networking Breakfast

9:00 a.m - Keynote Session: Advice from Our Innovation Award Winners

Join us to hear from trendsetters about their cutting-edge programs that are changing how we advocate. Last year over 50 nominations were submitted, but only three innovative programs or campaigns could be recognized. This session will distill the tactics, tools and strategies from our winners so you can apply them to your programs. We’ll recognize the winners in these categories:

  • Grassroots Innovation
  • Communications Innovation
  • Lobbying Strategy Innovation

10:00 a.m. - Networking Break

10:15 a.m. - Breakout Sessions

The New Normal: Virtual Advocacy Events

It’s clear that while in-person advocacy events may have slowly restarted, a new virtual normal has emerged. Many organizations are still focused on creating engaging virtual experiences for elected officials and advocates. In fact, advocacy days and site visits may have permanently shifted to virtual events. In this session our speakers will cover how to:

  • Engage lawmakers and legislative staff using video chat platforms
  • Craft virtual site visits, townhalls and other unique events
  • Develop new digital strategies for keeping elected officials engaged in your organization’s work

Amy Becker
Director, Media Advocacy and Communications
Boys and Girls Club of America

Hardin_Margaret_linkedin cropped

Margaret Hardin
Grassroots Manager
National Association of Convenience Stores

The Future of Digital Advertising Campaigns

In 2020, new restrictions on political advertising upended the space and created new challenges for advocacy professionals. However, digital advertising remains an essential part of any public affairs campaign. Learning objectives for this session include:

  • How to work around digital advertising restrictions to engage and identify grassroots supporters, deliver targeted messages to lawmakers and change the conversation around your public policy issues
  • When to deploy new tactics and data to reach first-time supporters
  • How you can build, measure and develop more sophisticated digital advertising campaigns across multiple social platforms and websites

Misty Fuller
Senior Vice President, Health Practice Lead

Zoldak Sue1

Sue Zoldak
Founder & Chief Creative Officer
The Zoldak Agency
@suezoldak @TheZoldakAgency

Finding Common Ground: Lobbying the Shrinking Center

Working across the aisle is harder than ever, however with tight political margins in both the House and Senate, it’s often necessary. The business community can help grow and elevate moderate policymakers while seeking common ground on important legislative issues. Join us for a session focused on finding new and innovative ideas for forging compromise, win-win scenarios and negotiating the middle.

Rob Jordan

Rob Jordan
Director, Political Affairs
American Medical Association


Sam Tatevosyan
Senior Director, Government Relations
McDonald’s Corporation

11:10 a.m. - Networking Break

11:20 a.m - Closing Keynote: How Startups and Technology Companies are Changing the Advocacy Playbook

The technology and startup sector has not just changed Austin, TX– these organizations have changed the advocacy landscape. Join us for a closing session featuring technology leaders who are writing a new playbook on how to engage with policymakers, customers, supporters and regulators.

Iheme_Payton cropped

Payton Iheme
Head of Public Policy for the Americas
*Photo credit, Johnny Shryock


Casey Aden-Wansbury
Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs

This session will be moderated by:


Rachel Schindler
Co-Founder, VP of Product & Growth
Punchbowl News

12:15 p.m. - Adjourn

Thanks to Our Champion Sponsors