The Advocacy Conference – Agenda — Duplicate

21 Oct, 2021

Below is the 2021 agenda, for reference. Stay tuned, the 2022 agenda is coming soon!

Four days of content. Each day focused around one of our core themes.


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.

Sort the Agenda

All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

* Attendees will have access to the session recordings up to 21 days after the event

Day 1 - February 2: Grassroots Focus

Participate in the Opening Session to win! During today’s Opening Keynote, we will have a Grand Prize Drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card.
Winners will be randomly selected and you must participate in the opening keynote session to be entered to win.

Grand Prize Drawing Sponsored By:

1:00 p.m. Keynote: Harnessing Grassroots and Social Media: Lessons from the 2020 Campaigns

The 2020 election was one of the most consequential races in modern history. More importantly for advocacy professionals, the tactics and strategies used during the election were some of the most advanced and innovative. Join us for a bi-partisan panel of senior campaign strategists who will explore what worked and what didn’t work during the pandemic election of 2020.


Mike Madrid
Grassroots Lab


Chuck Rocha
Solidarity Strategies

1:55 p.m. Break

2:10 p.m. Breakouts

Leveraging Limited Budgets and Demonstrating the ROI of Grassroots

Advocacy professionals must be able to both defend their budget and demonstrate impact. Whether you are working with a small budget or just trying to be thrifty, expense management is essential. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Convincing leadership that grassroots advocacy is a worthy investment
  • Strategies for measuring and demonstrating success
  • Tactics and tips for getting more done, with less resources
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Taylor D. Levine
Associate Vice President, Government Relations
LPL Financial


Hannah Wesolowski
Director, Field Advocacy
National Alliance on Mental Illness
@HannahWes   @NAMIAdvocacy

Identifying, Deploying, and Activating Grasstop Supporters

Your key advocates, ambassadors and influential supporters can be your most valuable assets. Grasstop advocates can make the difference and help foster essential connections with a new congress. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • How to determine which key advocates can propel your policy issues forward
  • Developing a next-level training program for your well-connected advocates
  • Dispatching the right messenger to the right policymaker

Erica Froyd
Senior Director, Advocacy and Engagement
Association of American Medical Colleges


Maria D. Matthews, CAE
Senior Manager, Grassroots Programs & State Relations
American Society of Civil Engineers

2:55 p.m. Break

3:10 p.m. Breakouts

Case Studies: Digital Grassroots Campaigns that Moved the Needle During Covid-19

A well-rounded digital campaign can springboard your lobbying efforts. Are you using digital effectively? This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Targeting the right lawmakers with messages that make an impact
  • Diversifying your tactics to reach and influence legislative staff
  • Increasing support and enthusiasm for your issues during difficult times

Jeff Michaud
Director, Digital Advocacy & Policy Programs
eBay, Inc.

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Elizabeth Vargas
Director, Digital Strategy
NCTA – The Internet & Television Association

Virtual Lobby Days and Site Visits

With the pandemic expected to continue for at least several more months, many organizations are 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. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Engaging lawmakers and legislative staff using video chat platforms
  • Crafting virtual advocacy training programs
  • Developing digital strategies for keeping your advocates engaged online

Meghan Cruz
Director, Grassroots
National Retail Federation


Ashley Lerner
Grassroots Manager
General Motors Company

4:00 p.m. Adjourn

Day 2 - February 3: Communications Focus

12:00 p.m. Lunch Networking and Brainstorming

Share pressing issues and challenges posed by the current environment during our virtual group discussion. Participants will be placed at topic tables where group leaders will help guide the discussion and ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Topics will include:

  • Patient and Healthcare Advocacy
  • Lobbying a 50/50 Senate
  • Speaking out on Social Issues
  • Using Social Media for Grassroots
  • Engaging Emerging Leaders in Advocacy
  • Advocacy Tactics When You Don’t have a PAC
  • Connecting with Lawmakers During a Pandemic
  • Increasing Engagement at Your Association
  • Advocacy Education and Training Programs
  • Leveraging Advocacy Data
  • Managing Virtual Legislative Meetings
  • Building Stronger Coalitions

1:00 p.m. Keynote: Communicating Authentically on Social Issues

Companies and major institutions have struggled from a lack of trust, a concerning trend that has only increased during the racial reckoning the U.S. experienced in 2020. Many organizations struggle with how to address systemic racism, inequity and a range of other social issues that continually take centerstage.


Lily Zheng
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant and Executive Coach
Lily Zheng Consulting

1:55 p.m. Break

2:10 p.m. Breakouts

Digital Policy Communications 201: Data Visualization, Explainer Videos and Online Policy Hubs

Reaching audiences in 2020 has been harder than ever; it’s time to use new tactics to influence key stakeholders, engage supporters and inspire advocates. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Developing compelling and interactive visuals using public policy data
  • Crafting short videos on complicated policy issues
  • Designing online portals that showcase your organization’s public policy priorities

Chris Morton
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
American Land Title Association


Sarah Spreitzer
Director, Government Relations
American Council on Education

Storytelling for Policy and Advocacy Campaigns

If you want to make an impact today, numbers are great, but stories persuade. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • When and how to include stories in your advocacy strategy and how to maximize their impact
  • Methods of story collection and using them in a digital-first world
  • Training advocates to become storytellers

Robin Gray
Director, External Communications
Southern Company Gas


Mike Whatley
Vice President, State Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy
National Restaurant Association

2:55 p.m. Break

3:10 p.m. Breakouts

Optimizing Your Advocacy Email Program

Email is still king for most campaigns, but email fatigue, un-open rates and unsubscribers can severely hurt your advocacy goals. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Learning the latest strategies for using data to target your subscribers with messages that stick
  • Creating a robust email strategy that maximizes engagement
  • Optimizing your emails for viewing across platforms
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Ashley Smith
Associate Director, Grassroots Advocacy
The ALS Association

Engaging Your Audience at Home: Podcasts and Live Streaming

Since the pandemic hit, delivering content to key audiences has changed dramatically and organizations shifted to virtually engaging stakeholders via video and podcasting. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Reasons to develop a podcast and understanding which technology is needed to launch
  • Establishing your podcast and developing a content plan for your show
  • Perfecting your live streaming via LinkedIn Live, YouTube and other key platforms

Brian Landau
Co-founder & CEO
Vennly LLC

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Conrad Tolosa
Senior Manager, Web and Online Services
Public Affairs Council

4:00 p.m. Adjourn

Day 3 - February 4: Lobbying Focus

1:00 p.m. Keynote: Increase Your Influence: Lessons from the Hill’s Top Lobbyists

Lobbying at the federal-level has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Digital, grassroots and communications are now integrated into any serious lobbying campaign. While relationships still matter, the ability to influence public policy is always changing.  Join us for a discussion on how the new administration and congress will work with the business community, associations, and advocacy groups.


Jay Timmons
President and CEO
National Association of Manufacturers


Brian L. Wolff
EVP, Public Policy & External Affairs
Edison Electric Institute

1:55 p.m. Break

2:10 p.m. Breakouts

Assessing and Managing Coalitions

Getting major legislation or regulatory reforms done often takes more than just one group. Coalitions are becoming a smart way to pool resources and build lasting campaigns.  This session’s learning objectives include:

  • How to determine when and why coalition development is helpful
  • Different structures and types of alliances, and which one(s) to use and when
  • Creating a mission statement and objectives that everyone can agree upon, and measuring success in achieving those objectives

Bethany Nadeau Dame
Assistant Vice President, Political Engagement & Grassroots
American Property Casualty Insurance Association


Austin Heyworth
Senior Manager, Public Affairs
Uber Technologies

Defense vs. Offense: How to Get a Bill Introduced or Defeated on the Hill

A skilled lobbyist can ascertain political headwinds, judge leadership’s positions, and ultimately decide how to create a strategic lobbying plan for any situation. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Building political analysis skills to help identify key allies and detractors
  • Framing your message for different caucuses and groups
  • Using an integrated advocacy approach that leverages your organization’s strengths

Steve Haro
Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas


Kelley Williams
Senior Vice President
Forbes Tate Partners, LLC

2:55 p.m. Break

3:10 p.m. Breakouts

Supporting Lobbying with Grassroots

Lobbying is often supported by dedicated grassroots advocates and top-notch public policy communications, but often lobbying and grassroots are siloed. Learn how to break down barriers. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Identifying key moments during campaigns when grassroots support is needed
  • Tactics for leveraging grasstops advocates for more advanced asks
  • A case study on how grassroots and lobbying teams can work together

Julie Alsup
Senior Government Relations Manager
International Paper Company


Stephen J. Ciccone
Group Vice President, Government Affairs


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


Dorian Wanzer
Advocacy Manager
International Paper Company

Building Relationships with New Policymakers

Thousands of new policymakers have taken office in the last few weeks; it’s crucial that your organization builds relationships despite physical limitations. This session’s learning objectives include:

  • Developing relationships in an online environment
  • Understanding and researching new legislators and their priorities
  • Using alliances, think tanks, caucuses and outside consultants to foster stronger ties to new policymakers

Ken Spain
Founding Partner
Narrative Strategies


Ashley Wilson
VP, Government Affairs
Managing Director, Public Affairs
Executive Director, Women Taking the Lead Program
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

4:00 p.m. Adjourn

Day 4 - February 5: Professional Development Focus

1:00 p.m. Keynote: Advice from Our Innovation Award Winners

During one of the most challenging times for advocacy professionals, our three award winners created campaigns and programs that were innovative, inspiring and impactful. Join us to hear three case studies focused on grassroots, communications and lobbying.

1:55 p.m. Break

2:10 p.m. Breakouts

Managing Teams Virtually

The pandemic has caused most teams to work from home despite being busier than ever. Savvy mangers aren’t waiting for things to go back to normal, they’re adjusting their management style to the realities of right now and anticipating what might be coming next.  Learning objectives include:

  • Keeping connected to staff during a largely work from home environment
  • Online project management skills and tactics
  • Mentoring and motivating staff virtually

Stacy Cook
Perception Learning

Online and Advanced Presentation Skills for Advocacy Professionals

As advocacy professionals we must be able to convince, persuade and inspire, but both Covid-19 and decreasing attention spans pose problems.  Learning objectives include:

  • Structuring your presentation for an easily distracted audience
  • Developing compelling PowerPoints or graphics that can illustrate your arguments
  • Properly setting up your camera, your room and microphone
Jean Card

Jean Card
Jean Card Inc.

2:55 p.m. Break

Participate in the Closing Session to win! During today’s Closing Keynote, we will have a Grand Prize Drawing for a $200 Amazon gift card.
Winners will be randomly selected and you must participate in the closing keynote session to be entered to win.

Grand Prize Drawing Sponsored By:

3:00 p.m. Closing Keynote: Addressing Diversity, Inequity and Inclusion in Advocacy

True advocacy should represent the background and diversity of your employees, members, or community. Difficult conversations need to continue in order to drive real change. Join us for this open panel that will address:

  • Building and managing diverse advocacy programs and teams
  • Ensuring your language or actions are not rooted in bias
  • Acting as an agent of change and ensuring your colleagues are respected in the workplace

Belen Mendoza
Vice President, Campaigns


Howard Moon
Executive Director, US Government Affairs
Amgen Inc.


Dana Thompson
Co-Founder & Partner
Fulcrum Public Affairs

4:00 p.m. Adjourn

Thanks to Our Conference Marketing Sponsor