Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Brent Colburn, a former senior communications and public affairs official at several cabinet-level federal agencies and currently the vice president for communications at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, has been named Princeton University’s vice president for communications and public affairs, effective Feb. 1, 2018.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a multi-billion-dollar philanthropic organization committed to unlocking human potential and promoting equal opportunity. It was founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician and educator Dr. Priscilla Chan. Colburn.
As Princeton’s vice president for communications and public affairs, he will oversee communication for the university to all of its publics and serve as a spokesperson for Princeton. He will have responsibility for the offices of communications, public affairs, government affairs located in Washington, D.C., and community and regional affairs.
Colburn’s previous positions have included assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Defense; chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; national communications director of the 2012 Obama for America campaign; assistant secretary for public affairs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and director of external affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Colburn earned a bachelor’s degree in government and a master’s degree in public policy from the College of William & Mary, and served as a fellow in residence at the Harvard University Institute of Politics. He is a recipient of William & Mary’s Baxter-Ward Fellowship for Distinguished Government Department Alumni, as well as the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
Senior Director of Public Relations and Social Media Leader, PwC
Megan DiSciullo is a senior communications professional with experience working with global companies to develop and improve their strategy and reputation. Currently, Megan oversees the public relations strategy around PwC’s 80+ local US offices, 10+ national industry sectors as well as corporate responsibility, diversity and human capital.
Megan led the launch of the firm’s signature CR program, Earn Your Future, and brokered the development of the groundbreaking new section on Huffington Post, What’s Working: Purpose + Profit.
Prior to PwC, Megan was a vice president at Edelman in its corporate communications practice. She provided counsel to a variety of corporate, NGO and foundation clients. She also participated in Edelman’s global exchange program.
Megan is active in youth education. She serves on the development committee for the Academy for Global Citizenship in Chicago. She graduated cum laude from Georgetown University.
Principal, W2O GROUP
Gary Grates leads Corporate and Strategy practices at W2O Group. He has over 25 years of corporate, marketing/brand, labor, and strategic communications experience. He is considered a thought leader in organizational change, and management/employee internal communications, frequently holding lectures that coincide with more than 200 of his published articles and white papers on these topics.
Grates has counseled more than 100 organizations and CEOs, including PepsiCo, Caterpillar, Shell, Kraft, Nissan, GE, Carrier/United Technologies, Novartis, Mellon Bank, Exxon/Mobil, Shell, Global Foundries, AMD, Visa, Yum! Brands, eBay, Wyeth, British Airways, United Airlines, BASF, Pfizer, Coca-Cola, Denny’s/TW Services, ABInBev, Kimberly Clark, The McGraw-Hill Companies, ITT, Vale, and Dell.
From 2006 to 2011, Grates established the Global Change and Employee Engagement Practice at Edelman. Previously, he served as Vice President-Corporate Communications of North America at General Motors Corporation, where he was responsible for brand, product, media, internal, financial, and public policy communications for the company’s largest region of operations.
He is an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications; a Teaching Professor at ABERJE, the Brazilian Public Relations Association; and a Trustee of Utica College of Syracuse University. Grates is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, PRSA, IABC, National Corporate Directors Association (NACD), and the Institute for PR Research (IPR). He was named one of Newhouse School’s “Top 40” graduates.
Director, NATIONAL SUMMIT ON STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, and Director, Master’s Degree Program in Global Strategic Communication, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Robert W. Grupp is a corporate communications executive and public relations consultant with 30+ years’ experience in companies, associations and universities in the USA, Europe and Asia.
Bob is President of Grupp Global Partners LLC, a management consultancy with a strategic focus on corporate communications and international public relations. Also, he is the Director and an Adjunct Instructor for the University of Florida’s online Master’s Degree Program in Global Strategic Communication in the College of Journalism and Communications.
Bob chairs annual Summits on Strategic Communications in Washington DC and London. The popular conferences are focused on sharing best practices in corporate, military and government communications and public affairs. He also chaired Digital Pharma China in Shanghai for Chinese e-marketing and digital brand teams in the Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences sectors.
Previously, Bob was President and CEO of The Institute for Public Relations where he also served as a Trustee for 8 years. Bob was Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Cephalon, Inc. an international bio-pharmaceutical company. Earlier in his career, Bob held senior positions leading corporate communications at Eli Lilly and Company, at Dow Corning Corporation and Consumers Energy.
He is past president of the International Public Relations Association. Along with former Chinese Ambassador to the USA Li Daoyu, Bob co-chaired the IPRA Public Relations World Congress in Beijing, which attracted 500 senior practitioners from 40 countries.
He is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and he is a member of the Arthur W. Page Society.
Robert T. Hastings Jr.
Executive Vice President, Strategic Communications, and Chief of Staff, BELL HELICOPTER
Robert Hastings leads Bell Helicopter’s internal and external communications, marketing communications, branding, corporate giving, and community and public affairs.
Robert joined Bell Helicopter from Northrop Grumman where he served as vice president of communications for the Information Systems Sector. Previously, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. As the senior public affairs official and spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), he was the principal staff advisor to the Secretary of Defense and senior Administration officials for all strategic communications. Before joining the Defense Department, he served as chief of staff and vice president of communications for BAE Systems, Inc.
Robert is a retired U.S. Army officer with more than 30 years combined federal and state military experience. His U.S. Army assignments include command tours in Aviation and Cavalry and operational assignments in Germany, Eastern Europe, Central America, Iraq, and Bosnia.
In 2009 he was awarded the DoD Distinguished Public Service Medal and was honored by the University of Maryland as its 2010 Distinguished Alumni. He received the Public Relations Society of America Lloyd B. Dennis Distinguished Leadership Award and Silver Anvil Award of Excellence. Additionally, he was honored by the International Association of Business Communicators with the Gold Quill Award for Excellence in Communications Management.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in government studies from the University of Maryland and has completed executive studies at the Wharton School of Business and the University of Michigan.
Communications and Media Officer, CITY OF WEST SACRAMENTO
Paul Hosley is the Communications and Media Officer for the City of West Sacramento. His responsibilities include public outreach, media relations, social media, website content, video production, events and emergency communications.
Hosley also operates his own social media marketing company, helping businesses and organizations engage with and reach their target audiences.
In addition, Hosley spent 25 years as a news director and editor for KCBS all-news radio and KGO news talk radio stations in San Francisco. At KCBS he was the editor in charge, coordinating the station’s Peabody award winning live news coverage of the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake in the Bay Area.
Paul has a Mass Communications degree from the University of California, Davis.
Vice President, Global Head of External Communications, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY LIMITED
At Takeda, Nobuko Kato leads external communication, including digital transformation, corporate branding, media relations, thought leadership strategies, and crisis/issues management.
Previously, Nobuko served as Director of Communications, Johnson & Johnson K.K. Medical Company, Japan, as well as a member of Management Operation Committee at JJKK Medical Company. Also, she served as Senior Partnership Specialist at the World Bank (WB) in Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) in WB’s Human Development Network and in Concessional Financing and Global Partnership at WB Headquarters, Washington DC.
At the World Bank, she directed global communication strategies for global health, climate change, science and technology. For three years she served as Chief Advisor to WB Vice President on global health and liaised with top officials in the Government of Japan (GOJ), providing in-depth briefings on “health diplomacy” and “science diplomacy,” and was responsible for global partnership coordination.
Previously, she served as Executive Public Relations Specialist at WB, where she worked to achieve historic adoption of key global health issues at 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) and at Toyako G8 Summit in 2008.
Earlier she had begun her broadcast career in Japan as a TV newscaster serving anchor person for morning/evening news at Chubu Broadcasting and NHK. She holds a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She also holds a B.A. in French literature from Sophia University.
Senior Vice President, Communications, Government Relations & Policy, BAYER CORPORATION
Ray Kerins leads all communications, government relations and policy for Bayer Corporation. He oversees the Bayer U.S. Foundation and is a member of the Bayer U.S. Country Council. Ray also serves as Vice-Chair of Bayer’s political action committee.
Previously, Ray was Vice President of external affairs & worldwide communications, and he was the chief global spokesperson for Pfizer. Ray was part of a team that managed the $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth and $2.3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Prior to Pfizer, he was Executive Director of public affairs for Merck & Co. Before Merck, Ray spent nine years at GCI Group where he was executive vice president/managing director overseeing both the corporate communications & media relations practices. Prior to GCI, he spent five years at Porter Novelli.
Ray was named “2017 Outstanding In-House Professional Award” by PRWeek Magazine; “2010 Public Relations Professional of the Year” by PRWeek Magazine; “2010 Media Relations Professional” by Bulldog Reporter. Ray holds a Master of Science degree and Bachelor of Arts degree from Iona College.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, USN (ret)
Military and Diplomatic Analyst, CNN
John Kirby is a CNN military and diplomatic analyst and most recently served as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Kirby appears across all of CNN’s programming providing analysis on issues related to the U.S. military, defense, foreign affairs and diplomacy.
Prior to joining CNN, Kirby had a 29-year career with the United States Navy, joining after college and eventually retiring as Rear Admiral in 2015. In 2011, Admiral Kirby was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations. Two years later, after serving as the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information, Kirby was chosen as Pentagon Press Secretary and became the first uniformed officer to hold the position. Following his military career, Kirby returned to government to serve as the Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. Soon after, he was appointed by then-President Obama to take on the role of Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Public Affairs, a title he held until the end of the Obama administration.
Kirby is from St. Petersburg, Florida, and holds a B.A. in History from the University of South Florida, as well as an M.S. in International Relations from Troy State University and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, THE LEUKEMIA & LYMPHONA SOCIETY
Marcie Klein is responsible for overseeing the strategy and execution of the organization’s narrative, including public relations, internal communications and crisis and issues management.
Her team provides support for LLS’s mission pillars of research, patient services and advocacy, as well as its fundraising campaigns and development initiatives. They generate owned content and earned media coverage to create awareness and engagement for LLS across a wide range of external and internal audiences and stakeholders. Klein’s leadership and guidance of the communications function has led to significant growth in earned media awareness in her five-year tenure at LLS.
Prior to joining LLS, she was senior vice president at Pollock Communications and senior vice president at Ogilvy Public Relations, with a focus on healthcare and consumer products and food sciences; prior, she was vice president of public relations and corporate communications at Combe Incorporated, a consumer products company.
Klein has a bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from Tulane University.
Co-Founder, GREENBRIER; Formerly, Senior Advisor to President William J. Clinton
Leveraging a 16-year career in political campaign and public relations, with demonstrated success operating at the highest level as Communications Director for President William J. Clinton and his Office for over seven years, Matt McKenna provides a calm and credible presence in the management of organizational and individual reputations.
He leads wholesale perception changes at a global level. Always considering strategy first, solutions second, he thinks beyond the all-consuming ‘now’ to develop a course of action several steps ahead to address future issues before they are even in development.
As Co-Founder of Greenbrier, McKenna builds public affairs strategies for global organizations, startups and individuals. Connecting the dots between disparate factors to create compelling messages and narratives, he is focused on meeting objectives, propelling business growth by navigating challenging public environments.
Vice President, Communications, PRATT & WHITNEY
Susanne Micheel-Sprenger is vice president of communications at Pratt & Whitney, responsible for the company’s worldwide internal and external communications activities focused on its commercial and military engines businesses including services and aftermarket.
Prior to joining Pratt & Whitney in September 2016, Susanne was vice president of communications and Marketing at Thales USA, based in the company’s Arlington, Virginia, headquarters. There, she led communications and marketing across the United States serving the company’s defense, aerospace, transportation, and space and security product and business lines.
Susanne has more than 20 years of experience leading marketing and communications for multinational companies in the areas of aerospace, industrial automation, security, transportation and space. Prior to joining Thales, she was vice president of corporate communications at Airbus in Toulouse, France.
Worldwide Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, LENOVO
Torod Neptune is Worldwide Vice President and Chief Communications Officer of Lenovo, the world’s largest PC and tablet manufacturer and, with its ownership of Motorola, one of the world’s most iconic smartphone brands. At Lenovo he oversees the worldwide marketing analytics and social intelligence and insights teams, global product training, corporate and product PR, CSR, global social media, events & sponsorships, financial, internal & executive communications, and the company’s charitable foundation.
Before joining Lenovo, Torod was with Verizon Communications, Inc., a Fortune 15 company, where he served in numerous integrated marketing communications roles of increasing responsibility at several Verizon divisions, most recently as corporate vice president corporate communications. Previously, he was chief communications strategist for the U.S. Congress, responsible for establishing the first post-Sept. 11 and anthrax crisis communications function for the U.S. House of Representatives. Preceding Capitol Hill, he served as senior vice president, corporate marketing and communications with Bank of America Corp. Torod also held global leadership roles at two of the world’s largest integrated PR consultancies during his career.
Named by PRWeek to its ‘Power 50’ list, recognizing the top 50 communications officers defining the playbook for the industry, and by The Holmes Report to its ‘Influence 100,’ recognizing the most important and influential in-house communicators from around the world, he began his career as a reporter with The State, and received a BA in international affairs and journalism from the University of South Carolina.
Franz w. Paasche
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications, PAYPAL
Franz Paasche leads PayPal’s global external and internal communications functions and the company’s global government relations activities. He also guides PayPal’s efforts to drive positive social change for consumers, businesses and communities around the world. In this role, Franz brings over 25 years of experience in strategic communications and extensive expertise in corporate, government, legal and public affairs domains to PayPal’s expanding global network.
Before joining PayPal, Franz served as Head of External Relations for North America for McKinsey & Company, where he was responsible for external relations, public affairs, strategic communications and reputation risk, and oversaw issues management, thought leadership initiatives, and knowledge relationships across McKinsey’s Americas region.
Prior to McKinsey, Franz was a Senior Partner at Fleishman Hillard. Head of the firm’s leadership communications practice, he provided counsel to a wide range of global and national companies and institutions on reputation management, strategic leadership communications, brand development, public affairs and crisis communications.
In addition, Franz has been a Managing Director of the New York strategic communications firm Clark & Weinstock; General Counsel and Executive Vice President at Market Data Corporation; and a litigator with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. He’s a former staff member for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Franz graduated from Swarthmore College with High Honors in Political Science, English Literature and American Economic History. He received his law degree from the Columbia University School of Law.
Author and Chief Innovation Officer, W2O GROUP
One of the pioneers of social media marketing, Bob Pearson is globally recognized as a marketing visionary. Bob is an author, vice chair and chief of innovation officer for W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies.
He is an author, frequent speaker, and blogger on digital marketing, as well as an instructor for the Syracuse Center for Social Commerce and the US State Department’s Marketing College. He has written two books (Pre-Commerce and Storytizing) based on key learnings from the firm’s work with innovative companies and individuals.
Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee, and he served as Vice President, Media and Public Affairs, for Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi).
President and Founder, PACE PUBLIC RELATIONS
Prior to forming Pace Public Relations, Annie Pace Scranton worked for eight years as a television producer with major networks such as CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC and ABC.
Before working in television, Annie worked at a small boutique public relations firm, Lou Hammond & Associates. There, she concentrated on local news coverage and newspaper and magazine placements for her clients. Annie also worked as a local reporter for the New Jersey based newspaper, The Asbury Park Press, where she covered local politics and business openings.
Annie is a graduate of Smith College where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the weekly newspaper, The Sophian. She now serves on the Board of Directors for the New York Smith College Club and is an Executive Committee Member for the charity, the Catholic Big Sisters & Big Brothers.
Annie is a member of the New York Women in Communications, Inc., The Step Up Network and Ladies Who Launch, connecting all women entrepreneurs across the country.
Founder, Chairman and CEO, INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW; Co-Founder, IMGE
Alex Skatell is an American entrepreneur and former political advisor. He was previously the Digital Director for the Republican Governors Association and Media Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He developed the software application iShout which became a top 25 game in the iPhone App Store. He also founded the viral news website Independent Journal Review.
At 22, he took up the position of Director of New Media and Technology for the Republican Governor’s Association. In this position, he organized new media training sessions for thirty-seven gubernatorial campaigns and lead a multi-million-dollar advertising effort. After that, Skatell became the Digital Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
In 2012, Skatell launched the Independent Journal Review, a mixture of entertainment, politics, and policy. In 2013, Skatell co-founded the Media Group of America, a parent company that owns the Independent Journal Review and IMGE, a digital advocacy agency. Skatell, in his role as IMGE founder, also became digital director for Australia’s Liberal Party in the 2013 Federal Election. In that position, he served on the campaign to elect Tony Abbott to Prime Minister. Today the Media Group of America has nearly 100 employees with revenue exceeding $30 million annually.
For his work with Australian election campaigns, Skatell won the American Association of Political Consultants’ Gold Pollie award for the world’s best digital campaign. He also won the same agency’s gold and silver awards for best developed political apps.
President, MEDIA SURVIVAL GROUP
Karen Terrill is a former television news anchor, producer, talk show host and an investigative and political reporter for ABC and NBC affiliates. She covered national political conventions as well as many natural disasters.
She has worked as a Public Information Officer (PIO) in the California fire service for the past 20 years. She served as the Chief PIO for CAL FIRE and the Communications Officer for the State Fire Marshal. She has experience in the team atmosphere of Joint Information Centers during California’s disasters over the past two decades including major fires, earthquakes and floods. She has worked in close collaboration with her counterparts in cities, counties, other states and a variety of federal agencies.
She has taught media relations and crisis communications workshops for many government agencies and private organizations. She teaches crisis communication for the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI), and mass media for the University of California – Davis. She is past president of the International Television Association (ITVA).
Managing Director, iN2-COMMS
Paul is the Managing Director of Innovation and Insight FZ-LLC. Paul left the UK military after a full career of over 25 years. During that time, Paul worked with conflict affected states across the Middle East with a specific focus on Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen designing and managing several local-led strategic communication projects funded by major international donors.
Previously, he developed and managed a counter violent extremist campaign in Yemen to undermine and counter the AQ-AP narrative and was the UK Ministry of Defense lead to develop and coordinate the cross-UK government department strategic communication campaign during the coalition’s military intervention in Libya.
During his military career, Paul supported humanitarian missions and training in Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Thailand, Uganda, Djibouti and Yemen as the commander of one of UK’s ultra-high readiness teams in the Joint Force Headquarters. Paul has worked closely with the UK Prime Minister’s communication team, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the National Security Council to ensure a coherent message was developed and employed across the departments.
Paul founded and was the COO of Incostrat LLC for 2.5 years until it split its operations in December 2016 when he set up a more specialized international strategic communication, research and risk
management company. His work is focused on developing and delivering innovative strategic communications programs in conflict inflicted areas across the Middle East and providing advice to international corporations and governments on the effective use of media and communications.
Senior Executive Communications Manager, VERIZON
Lauren Tilstra is senior executive communications manager at Verizon. Tilstra is the voice behind seven of the company’s most recognized C-suite leaders on social media, and she has developed executive social media strategy from the ground up. Her positioning efforts increased the chairman’s LinkedIn follower base by over 100,000 in less than a year.
Lauren was recruited to Verizon in 2013 to enhance communication between the company’s wireless leadership team and the 75,000 wireless employees worldwide. In this role, she oversaw enterprise-wide quarterly employee webcasts, Verizon’s senior leadership meeting, and the rollout out of a customer experience platform and new store design.
Previously, Lauren served on the executive and internal communications teams at Time Warner, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and McGraw-Hill. She is a Penn State graduate and a passionate advocate for getting more women into leadership in business and technology. She’s on the global board of the Women’s Association of Verizon Employees and is a member of Step Up, Tech World’s Half, and Friends for Global Change. She was named in PR Week’s “40 Under 40” list in August 2017.
Admiral Paul Zukunft
Commandant, U.S. COAST GUARD
Admiral Paul Zukunft leads the Department of Homeland Security’s largest component, comprised of 41,700 active duty, 7,800 reserve, 8,300 civilian and 31,000 volunteers.
Previously, Admiral Zukunft served as Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, where he was operational commander for all U.S. Coast Guard missions in an area encompassing more than 74 million square miles and provided mission support to the Department of Defense. Other Flag assignments include Commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District and Director, Joint Interagency Task Force West, where he served as executive agent to United States Pacific Command for combating Transnational Criminal Organizations in the Asia-Pacific Region.
In 2010, Admiral Zukunft served as the Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill where he directed more than 47,000 responders.
Admiral Zukunft was graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Government; from Webster University in 1988 with a Master of Arts degree in Management; and from the U.S. Naval War College in 1997 with a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.
His personal awards include both the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medals, Defense Superior Service Medal, three Legions of Merit and five Meritorious Service Medals among others.