Updates and Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

CommuniCon 2020 Presenters

 

Emcees

Photograph of Brian Canever with CommuniCon images in background

Brian Canever

Photograph of Maddie Stephens with CommuniCon images in background

Maddie Stephens

“We’ll do it online! It’s gonna be fine.”



 

 

 

Presenters

Photograph of Tisha Benton with CommuniCon images in backgroundTisha Benton, vice chancellor for communications, oversees campus marketing and public relations efforts and WUOT. As director of external and internal communications, she leads creative services and brand and identity standards for the university. Her previous experience includes service as deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Bureau of Environment and as senior executive producer at WATE-TV in Knoxville.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Welcome to CommuniCon, 8/4, 9:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Felicia Blow with CommuniCon images in backgroundFelicia Blow serves as national co-chair for the Public Relations Society of America’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and is associate vice president for development and campaign director at Hampton University in Virginia. Blow has a bachelor’s degree in mass media arts from Hampton University and a Master of Business Administration from Strayer University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in higher education administration at Old Dominion University.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Communicating for Equity, 8/7, 11:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Steven Bridges with CommuniCon images in background

Steven Bridges worked as a successful freelance photographer for 17 years before joining the Office of Communications and Marketing in 2018. His photography career started in high school while working on the school’s yearbook staff and freelancing for the town newspaper. It continued as he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in photography from Arkansas State in 1999. He was recently named Photographer of the Year by the University Photographers’ Association of America.


Sessions:
Basic Principles for Better Photography, 8/6, 3:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Lamar Bryant with CommuniCon images in backgroundLamar Bryant is an associate dean of students in the Office of the Dean of Students, working primarily with the Center for Student Engagement, the Pride Center, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Student Media. He is a two-time graduate of Northwestern State University with a BS in business administration with a minor in marketing, and a MS in college student personnel services. He is currently writing his dissertation to earn a PhD in higher education with a cognate in sociology from the University of North Texas. Bryant has over 10 years of experience working in higher education at various institutions in the Southeast, and he has held professional positions in the areas of fraternity and sorority life, leadership and service, and student activities.


Sessions:
Virtual Student Engagement and Communication: What We’ve Learned from COVID-19, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Brian Canever with CommuniCon images in backgroundBrian Canever is a public relations specialist for the Office of Communications and Marketing. Primarily a writer, he has told the stories of hundreds of local, national, and international leaders in the sports, nonprofit, and higher education sectors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latino studies from William Paterson University and a master’s degree in communication and information from UT.


Sessions:
Story Mining 101: How to Identify and Share Meaningful Stories, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Tim Cross with CommuniCon images in backgroundTim L. Cross, senior vice president and senior vice chancellor, provides leadership for the Institute of Agriculture, including administration of academic programs, research, and outreach and engagement. He represents the institute with key stakeholder groups, provides long-term budget planning, assists in determining strategic directions, and collaborates as a member of the UT System to promote cooperative programs with other campuses and institutes.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Understanding UT’s Land-Grant Mission, 8/5, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Owen Driskill with CommuniCon images in backgroundOwen Driskill is assistant director of news and information and has been at the University of Tennessee since September 2019. He was public relations director and later a campus director at Roane State Community College and worked in journalism for 10 years. He and his wife, Jenny, live in Oak Ridge and have two children, Addie and Tommy.


Sessions:
Crisis Communication in Normal and Not-So-Normal Times, 8/7, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



CommuniCon speaker Brandon Gibson with CommuniCon backgroundBrandon J. Gibson has served as the managing director for Marble City Opera for nearly four years. He attended the University of Tennessee, where he studied vocal performance and theatre, and he has completed certificate programs in nonprofit management, grant writing, and social media and marketing. He has over 20 years of experience in the performing arts and continues to perform regularly across the region.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Communicating for Equity, 8/7, 11:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of David Goddard with CommuniCon images in backgroundDavid Goddard is the media relations coordinator for the Tickle College of Engineering, where he communicates with both internal and external audiences ranging from students, faculty, staff, and alumni to various news organizations. A 1998 UT alumnus, he worked more than 15 years at newspapers in East Tennessee before coming to the college from the Knoxville News Sentinel.


Sessions:
Story Mining 101: How to Identify and Share Meaningful Stories, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Tyra Haag with CommuniCon images in backgroundTyra Haag is the director of news and information in the Office of Communications and Marketing. She leads a team that shares news about the university with regional, national, and international media to make sure people know about UT’s discoveries and industry-leading experts.


Sessions:
Crisis Communication in Normal and Not-So-Normal Times, 8/7, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar


 


Photograph of Sandra Harbison with CommuniCon images in backgroundSandra Harbsion works in media relations for the College of Veterinary Medicine. She has been with UT since 1999 and previously worked as a reporter for WCYB-TV.


Sessions:
Story Mining 101: How to Identify and Share Meaningful Stories, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Whitney Heins with CommuniCon images in backgroundWhitney Heins is a freelance writer, public relations professional, and former TV news journalist. She obtained her BA in government from Georgetown University and her master’s in public relations from UT Knoxville.


Sessions:

Writer’s Corner: The Art of Making Science and Technical Writing Compelling, 8/6, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Alyssa Janssen with CommuniCon images in backgroundAlyssa Janssen serves as an information specialist for the Office of Student Life Communications, specifically focused on helping those departments create content that shares the work they do and how they serve students. Prior to taking this role, she was the communications specialist for the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing. She has a BA in public relations from Monmouth College and recently earned an MA in strategic communications from UT Martin.


Sessions:

Moderator for Virtual Student Engagement and Communication: What We’ve Learned from COVID-19, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of John Kennedy with CommuniCon images in backgroundJohn Kennedy is the technology coordinator for the Office of Student Media, where he has worked since 2016. He mentors and trains students on video equipment, software, and content management systems, and advises the Lumos creative video production group. Through work with analytics, he helps students manage and implement changes in coverage and build digital audiences by developing and adapting social media strategy. Before coming to UT, Kennedy was the director of operations at Jupiter Entertainment. He graduated from UT in 2007 with his bachelor’s degree in communication.


Sessions:
Videographers’ Corner: Before and after the Edit, 8/6, 11:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Patrick Lamb with CommuniCon images in backgroundPatrick Lamb is an information specialist for the Office of Student Life Communications. In this role, Patrick helps divisional partners by providing creative solutions to maximize initiatives that serve our students and the greater UT community. Prior to his current role, he served as the media specialist for the Office of Student Media at UT for 13 years.


Sessions:
Social Media Design for Nondesigners, 8/6, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Sarah Lowe with CommuniCon images in backgroundSarah Lowe is a professor of graphic design and director of the recently formed School of Design in the College of Architecture and Design. Her design research has led to strategies for cultural heritage storytelling, programs for innovation in health care, and public-facing access to scientific data. Her service work leading the Academic Outreach and Engagement Council has advocated for a wider understanding of engaged scholarship—a form of research that places a reciprocal relationship between academia and communities at the heart of new knowledge.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Understanding UT’s Land-Grant Mission, 8/5, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Landin Lynd with CommuniCon images in backgroundLandin Lynd earned a BA in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where she began her career in university marketing before moving to UT as a communications coordinator. During her nine-year career, Lynd has built a diverse print and digital design portfolio marketing to students, alumni, and donors. She currently holds a versatile role as an information specialist in the Office of Student Life Communications.


Sessions:
Social Media Design for Nondesigners, 8/6, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of April Massengill with CommuniCon images in backgroundApril Massengill is an editor in the Institute of Agriculture Office of Marketing and Communications, where she maintains the UTIA Editorial Guide, provides guidance in best practices when writing for print and web, and reviews institute collaterals ranging from magazines to UT Extension publications. Before joining the university, she worked in marketing for a local multisite health care organization. Massengill is an alumna of UT Knoxville with a BS in communications and will begin work on an MBA in the Haslam College of Business this fall.


Sessions:

A UT Editorial Guideline Refresher, 8/4, 3:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Sarah Payton with CommuniCon images in backgroundSarah Payton serves as the graphic design and brand coordinator for Enrollment Management Communications, working primarily on social media, print, and digital communications. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, with double concentration in public relations and advertising. Prior to joining the university, Payton worked in Nashville as a publicist for Choice Media & Communications.


Sessions:
Virtual Student Engagement and Communication: What We’ve Learned from COVID-19, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Joe Pecor with CommuniCon images in backgroundJoe Pecor is the digital and field marketing specialist for the School of Information Sciences. In his role, he handles the branding and recruitment efforts for the school through integrated media campaigns, which include search engine optimization, search engine marketing, front-end web development, UX analysis, paid and organic social media, traditional advertising, event marketing, graphic design, and web analytics. He has nearly a decade of experience within the web and digital advertising landscape.


Sessions:

Beginner Search Engine Optimization for Web Developers, Writers, and Editors, 8/5, 11:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar

Virtual Student Engagement and Communication: What We’ve Learned from COVID-19, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Donde Plowman with CommuniCon images in backgroundDonde Plowman became the ninth chancellor of the University of Tennessee in 2019 and, has steered the state’s flagship public institution  toward a renewed focus on its land-grant mission. Plowman was previously on the management faculty at UT and served for two years as head of the Department of Management. Between these positions at UT, she was executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Welcome to CommuniCon, 8/4, 9:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Jacob Rudolph with CommuniCon images in backgroundJacob Rudolph is the associate vice chancellor for communications and marketing. Prior to taking on the role in 2018, he served as project manager and marketing director in the Office of Communications and Marketing. Jacob helps lead the division’s staff and strategic initiatives, working closely with communication colleagues and leaders across campus to advance UT’s reputation. A proud Tennessee alum, he graduated from the College of Communication and Information in 2000, received a film degree from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and earned his master’s degree from Appalachian State University.


Sessions:
What Does it Mean to Be a Volunteer, Anyway?, 8/4, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Hannah Slaughter with CommuniCon images in backgroundHannah Slaughter dreamed of a career in lifestyle brands and now works with the best in the industry. An obsession with brand voice and a love for digital led her to the Creative & Digital Studios team at Discovery Inc. where she’s creative director.


Sessions:
Designers’ Corner: Leading with the Creative to Build Consistency, 8/5, 3:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Donna Spencer with CommuniCon images in backgroundDonna Spencer  is a senior editor in the Office of Communications and Marketing. She worked as a writer and editor at Ohio University and Mountain State University before coming to UT in 2012. A first-generation graduate, she has a BA in English and linguistics from Morehead State University and an MA in writing from the University of Minnesota.


Sessions:
A UT Editorial Guideline Refresher, 8/4, 3:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Cassandra Sproles with CommuniCon images in backgroundCassandra Sproles is a senior editor in the Office of Communications and Marketing and executive editor of Torchbearer magazine. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and is an award-winning writer who previously worked as a newspaper journalist. She has been in higher education for 14 years.


Sessions:
A UT Editorial Guideline Refresher, 8/4, 3:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Lisa Stearns with CommuniCon images in backgroundLisa Stearns leads the UT Institute of Agriculture’s marketing and communications team as vice chancellor. Prior to joining the institute, Stearns was a health care executive with more than 20 years of experience overseeing the marketing and communications efforts for a large multihospital system in East Tennessee. She began her career in broadcast television in Knoxville serving as a reporter, news anchor, and producer at what is now WVLT-TV.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Welcome to CommuniCon, 8/4, 9:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar

Signature Session: Understanding UT’s Land-Grant Mission (moderator), 8/5, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Maddie Stephens with CommuniCon images in backgroundMaddie Stephens is a public relations specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing, working primarily on student communications on the News and Information team. She is a UT graduate (’19) with a BA in English and a minor in leadership studies. As an undergraduate Stephens served as an executive officer for the Student Government Association, working with departments across the Division of Student Life, and was a 2019 Torchbearer recipient.


Sessions:
Virtual Student Engagement and Communication: What We’ve Learned from COVID-19, 8/5, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Kellie Ward with CommuniCon images in backgroundKellie Ward is an art director in the Office of Communications and Marketing, working primarily on print and website design for the university. She is a UT graduate with a BFA in graphic design and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism and electronic media. Before coming to UT, Ward worked at Morris Creative Group as a graphic designer and project manager.


Sessions:
Social Media Design for Nondesigners, 8/6, 2:00 p.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Amanda Womac with CommuniCon images in backgroundAmanda Womac is a Southern Appalachian native with a strong connection to the land, respect for the environment, and a scientific curiosity that helps her in her work. She is the director of communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, a freelance science writer, and former editor and publisher of Hellbender Press, East Tennessee’s environmental newspaper. Womac is the president of the UT Science Forum, a member of the Three Rivers Market board of directors, and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.


Sessions:
Story Mining 101: How to Identify and Share Meaningful Stories, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar



Photograph of Honwei Xin with CommuniCon images in backgroundHongwei Xin, dean of AgResearch, is responsible for the research programs of around 130 faculty members in eight academic departments and oversees the management of the Institute of Agriculture’s 10 research facilities across the state. He previously served as assistant dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University.


Sessions:
Signature Session: Understanding UT’s Land-Grant Mission, 8/5, 10:00 a.m. | sign up and add to my calendar

 


CommuniCon logo