IABC Virtual Leadership Institute 2022


2022 IABC Virtual Leadership Institute

Thank you for attending the 2022 Virtual Leadership Institute! We hope to see you at the in-person LI taking place on 25 June from 1-4 p.m. EDT in New York City! Registration is now open at the rate of US$75--but since you attended our virtual event you can use the discount code LIVirtual22 for a US$25 discount. The discount code only applies to those who attended the virtual LI.

Session materials and recordings from the LI sessions can be found with the session information below.


Session Descriptions


Opening Keynote: Leadership Lessons We Can Learn From Ted Lasso

Whether or not you’ve watched the internationally acclaimed TV show Ted Lasso, a comedy that masterfully weaves in biting humour, the Ted Lasso character, played by Jason Sudeikis, delivers a masterclass in leadership. Show after show, he demonstrates how clarity, consistency and caring leadership changes the game and what it is to be an inspiring, empathetic and vulnerable leader people admire, care about and follow.

In this session, leadership coach Catherine Ducharme, draws out eight timeless leadership lessons from Ted Lasso, that we all need to learn to successfully lead in today’s turbulent and uncertain world.  She will draw upon her experience as an IABC volunteer leader to land the lessons and make them actionable.   

Jackiedra Wilson

Catherine Ducharme, ACC CLC is a career communicator, entrepreneur and speaker who brings 25+ years of communications and leadership experience in a range of industries. Currently, she is Co-Founder of Fluency Leadership, a company that specializes in providing leadership and team development and coaching to Communications, Marketing and Creative teams. Over her career, Catherine has held senior leadership roles in Corporate, Internal and Marketing Communications. Her experience leading teams, providing executive counsel, and having a seat at the senior leadership table is real, lived and relatable. Catherine is an ICF Associate Certified Coach and Certified Leadership Coach. She’s also a past president of the International Association of Business Communicators regional board and local BC chapter and was recognized as IABC's Regional Leader of the Year in 2021.

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/sll3t6-FbSE


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 Town Hall

IABC Chair, Danielle Bond, SCMP, and Executive Director, Peter Finn, share updates on what's happening at IABC.

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/HWM5BhQMFdQ

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 Breakout Sessions

The ‘A’ in IDEA: Expanding your reach with accessible communications

There has been a push for communicators to be more inclusive, equitable, and diverse in the content they create; however, accessibility remains an afterthought. According to the United Nations, people with disabilities make up the world's largest minority group. With 15% of the world's population having a disability, and more specifically, 10% having a print disability, we must ensure that anyone can use the digital content we create.

In addition to the digital world, we also need to consider the accessibility needs of people attending our events. For example, how often have you held an event and thought, "Is there enough space for a wheelchair?" or "Do we have a guide dog relief area close by?"

From creating accessible social media content to hosting in-person and virtual events and, of course, creating accessible documents, all of these play a part in creating an accessible presence for your brand.

As we progress into a post-COVID world, it's time to embrace what accessibility means. Through polling, clips, and some hands-on practice, attendees will leave knowing how to use accessibility best practices to better their communications and engage with their publics.

It's time to put the "A" in IDEA.

Session Recording: https://youtu.be/GFEO-7aNJqg  

Session Materials: DEI Committee Update

Speaker: Matisse Hamel-Nelis

Matisse Hamel-Nelis is a Vice President of Communications for AbleDocs and a program co-ordinator of Durham College’s PR & Strategic Communications program. She’s also the Director of Communications for the IABC/Toronto IDEA Committee. An international award-winner, she is best described as a strategic, forward-thinking communicator focused on goal-oriented social PR with accessibility at the fore. She holds a post-graduate certificate in Accessible Media Production from Mohawk College, and an advanced diploma in PR from Durham College, in addition to the International Association of Accessibility Professionals’ Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) and Accessible Documents Specialist (ADS) designations.


Board Talk: Putting Succession on the Table

Leadership transitions can be daunting at any point in time, but especially now, a gap on your volunteer board can be detrimental. Join us for an interactive deep dive into succession planning for IABC regions and chapters and its ties to volunteer engagement. We’ll look at why it’s important to develop and execute a succession pipeline plan, why you should communicate it from Day One, and ways to boost engagement while supporting your people and your board through transitions.

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/kjvBxXJ-uVs

Session slides: Putting succession on the table

Resource: Strategic succession checklist

Speaker: Karen Reid, MA, CVA

As CEO and founder of Kaber Communications, Karen Reid partners with clients across sectors, developing strategic communication plans, customized engagement programs and comprehensive training and education sessions that empower organizations to purposefully recruit top-notch volunteer talent and cultivate vibrant, mission-driven teams. Her tailored experiences promote effective communication and increased participation for associations, nonprofits, corporations, alumni and community organizations, educational institutions, executive boards and foundations. Karen currently sits on the Leadership Team of the National Alliance for Volunteer Engagement, where she chairs the Communication Working Group. IABC roles have included Chair of the IABC Foundation Fundraising Committee; Member of the IABC Foundation Committee and leadership roles with IABC Dallas and IABC New Jersey. In 2016, Karen received the IABC Dallas Pegasus Award for volunteer service. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is certified in volunteer administration (CVA).


Recruit and engage new leaders for success

This session is aimed at IABC Chapter leaders who are tasked with recruiting new members to fill key roles.

If you could use some tips on how to recruit, lead and motivate your leadership team then this session is for you! This practical session uses a conversational style to share a first-hand experience of stepping into a portfolio with responsibility for several groups and having to recruit new leaders and then keep them engaged.

Attendees will learn how to:

  • Recruit and retain volunteer leaders
  • Motivate leaders and delegate effectively
  • Build a thriving student group that attracts members
  • Create a plan for Student Communicator groups

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/bTaib30jW0s

Session slides: Recruit and engage new leaders for success

Speakers: Arlene Amitrigala, Jacob Robinson

Arlene Amitirigala is a global communications strategist with expertise in internal communications, behaviour change, employee engagement and building a culture of inclusive leadership.

She has worked for over two decades in marketing and communications. Her career journey spans several senior roles in the private and public sector working across various sectors including finance, manufacturing, tourism, export promotion, and information, communication & technology.

Her experience includes directing corporate communications for Diageo’s West Latin America and Caribbean operations, and leading employee engagement and internal communications across Europe and Great Britain from Diageo's U.K. headquarters.

Born in St. Andrew, Jamaica, Arlene studied journalism at the undergraduate level. Her academic qualifications include a Master’s in Communication for Social and Behaviour Change from the University of The West Indies, a postgraduate certificate in Global Marketing Communication and Advertising from Emerson College, and an MBA with distinction from the Solvay Management School in Belgium.

Arlene has lived and worked in several different countries and speaks Spanish and French. She now resides in Toronto, Canada, from where she provides communication consulting services to a range of clients.

Jacob Robinson is a life-long learner with extensive experience in content creation, event planning, community management, administration, customer service and public speaking. He strategically integrates project management with public relations, leading to top results for organizations. Jacob currently leads IABC/Toronto’s student circle committee and is completing his internship with A Leader Like Me, a subscription service that helps underrepresented people who don’t often see people like them in leadership roles. He is also the podcast producer and host of PRogress with Jacob R, where he interviews PR practitioners and professional communicators resulting in a memorable learning experience for audiences everywhere.

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Tell me what you really want... the power of a strategic member survey

In the summer of 2021, IABC/Toronto Board members were trying to determine the way forward in a time of on-going uncertainty. Like the rest of the world, our chapter members' lives had changed dramatically in the last year. Had their needs and expectations of IABC also changed? As Board members developed their plans for the coming year, they wanted to know what kinds of opportunities and events members were craving.

So we asked...

We conducted a successful member survey and have used the responses to shape our strategy this year.

In this session I'll talk about some of the lessons we learned and the value of being able to back up your decisions with data.

In this interactive session you'll take away:

  • An easy efficient process for conducting a member survey
  • Insights from IABC/Toronto's most recent member survey
  • Tools for analyzing and collating survey results

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/ODpAYkOnf3w

Session slides: Tell me what you really want

Speaker: Jacqueline Janelle

I am the Director or Strategic and Internal Communications at York University. I also have the pleasure of serving on the IABC/Toronto Board as Vice President of Analytics and Brand Management. I drive business results by aligning communications strategy with big picture organizational goals. I’m a collaborator and team builder, who believes we get better results by bringing people together. An award-winning storyteller, I create compelling multi-platform content for brands and organizations.



Starting from scratch: Rebuilding the IABC New York Chapter

This session will review the journey of the New York Chapter as it rebuilds itself from the ground up during the pandemic. We will discuss the state of the chapter when I was recruited to be Board President in December 2020, Board recruitment, strategic planning, and accomplishments and challenges experienced throughout 2021. We will also share lessons learned during our first year and how these learnings are helping us shape our strategic plan for 2022. Learning objectives include:

  1. How to recruit and build a non-profit Board of Directors
  2. What you need to know to sort out the administrative and financial elements of a chapter
  3. How to achieve your goals on a small budget
  4. How to build a strategic plan

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/wxtFFNAVEX8

Session slides: Rebuilding the IABC New York Chapter

Speaker: Audra Hession

Audra Hession is a career-long business communications veteran with extensive in-house corporate communications and agency leadership experience. As a Principle and Managing Director for G&S Business Communications for nearly 23 years, Audra helped countless Fortune 500 firms, not-for-profits, and other organizations across a multitude of business sectors navigate M&As, IPOs and spin-offs, as well as a broad range of business transformational and reputational risk scenarios. With deep experience in corporate and executive communications, crisis management, ESG, DEI communications, and brand building she serves as a trusted advisor to the C-Suite.

Earlier in her career, Audra held corporate communications positions at Revlon Corporation and Exxon International, where she managed internal communications, corporate events, and crisis management programs. She earned a B.S. in Advertising & Marketing from the University of Bridgeport and an M.S. in Corporate Public Relations from Boston University College of Communication. 

Audra is currently serving a two-year term as Board President of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) New York Chapter. When not helping business leaders change the world, Audra can be found on top of a horse training in show jumping and dressage. She lives by her motto – Run Fast Jump Big -- adopted during her early days as a competitive equestrian eventer.  

A new global ERA for communication professionals

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated more than ever, communication professionals around the world need to be recognized for their strategic value. But the global communication landscape is dynamic, with needs, skillsets and expectations changing rapidly. And communication professionals must continue to sharpen and develop their practice to stay relevant.

As a chapter and region leader you play an important role in helping IABC members maintain their relevance in a global marketplace and uphold the highest professional and ethical communication standards.

In this panel session three members of the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) from different parts of the world, including the US (vice chair Mark Evans SCMP), Canada (Nekolina Lau SCMP) and Australia (chair Sia Papageorgiou FRSA, SCMP), will introduce the GCCC’s new value proposition and share the details about some of the exciting initiatives underway to help IABC chapter and region leaders elevate the value and visibility of their members and ensure that GCCC certification stays on the professional development agenda.

You’ll hear about:

  • A new global ERA for communication professionals
  • The implementation of remote exam proctoring
  • How the GCCC is listening to the needs and preferences of certificants and prospective candidates
  • How the GCCC is supporting more equitable access to certification

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/xm8bB0iHhS4

Session slides: A new global ERA for communication professionals

Speakers: Sia Papageorgiou, FRSA, SCMP, Mark Evans, SCMP, Nekolina Lau

Sia Papageorgiou is a multi-award-winning strategic communication leader on a mission to elevate the value and visibility of communication professionals and help them become trusted, strategic, and in-demand advisors. She’s bloody good at what she does and that includes communication strategy, thinking, writing, creating, producing, training and mentoring anyone who believes communication professionals have the best job in the world. Sia is a certified strategic communication management professional, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and past president of the Victorian chapter of the IABC. She’s also a past board director at IABC Asia-Pacific and is chair of the Global Communication Certification Council. In 2020 she was named IABC’s Chapter Leader of the Year, and in 2021, IABC Asia-Pacific named her Communicator of the Year.

Mark Evans is owner of On The Point Communications, which specializes in public relations, crisis communication, social media and corporate communications. He is a 25-year veteran of the public relations/strategic communications industry and advises clients on messaging, issues management, marketing/communications program development and crisis communication. He previously taught media writing at Texas A&M University and currently teaches business communication at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas State University. He holds a master's degree in science/technology communication and bachelor's degrees in biology and journalism. Mark is current past chair of the International Association of Business Communication’s Southern Region and vice chair of the GCCC.

Nekolina Lau is a wife, mother and strategic communication professional.  For nearly 20 years, Nekolina has been honing her craft in communication across various industries, including banking, tech, retail, oil & gas, non-profit, government and academics. Over the past decade, she’s focused her career on internal, employee and executive communication. During this time, Nekolina played an integral role in developing communication and change management strategies that drive employee engagement. Currently, Nekolina brings her passion for communication to life as a director of communications for ATB Financial, leading a team of 12 communications professionals.  In 2020, Nekolina was the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Gold Quill Best of the Best recipient for internal communication. The same year Nekolina and the communications team at ATB Financial were recognized as the Gold Quill Corporate Communication team of the year. The continued advancement of the communications profession is important to Nekolina. As a mentor with IABC Calgary, a leader and coach at work and in the community, and a Gold Quill evaluator, she is committed to giving back and being a 'leg up' for other people. Nekolina is always happy to connect to share her knowledge and experience with others.

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Managing your chapter without losing your mind: Time management and communication tips and tricks for IABC leaders

Being an IABC Leader can be so rewarding, but it can also be challenging to fit into your lives. Communications professionals are often over-achievers, and when you add a volunteer gig on top of your fulltime job, a sidehustle and just trying to live your life, it's a perfect storm for burnout. But there's a better way. Learn some simple communications and time management tips from recovering perfectionist and experienced IABC volunteer Emily Caister on how to get the most out of leading your IABC chapter without letting it get the best of you.

In this practical workshop, we will discuss:

  • How to effectively manage your time to prevent stress and burnout
  • Ideas for delegating tasks
  • Communications channels and tactics to avoid inbox overload
  • Creating trust and ownership of portfolios for your Directors
  • Designing your leadership style

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/DZXKQa7abYY

Session slides: Managing your chapter without losing your mind

Speaker: Emily Caister

Emily Caister is an award-winning communications leader that believes communications is where the magic happens. From diving into understanding her audience to crafting compelling copy, she develops content to engage people, connect and solve problems.

As an IABC volunteer, she is organized, driven and dedicated to making an impact in her community, blending big-picture thinking with careful planning to ensure a successful outcome.



Academic partnerships and student engagement: An untapped resource for your chapter

Some chapters around the IABC world have looked to local colleges for opportunities to partner and expand their reach. These are win-win partnerships, where the colleges or universities can advance their agendas around promoting research, scholarship and career growth while the IABC chapter can advance its mission of professional development and networking. Other chapters have taken innovative approaches to provide value to the next generation of emerging communication professionals.

In this panel discussion, representatives from chapters in Ottawa, Kansas City and Minneapolis will describe how they work with prominent universities and with their membership to build sustaining, rich programs for students. We’ll also hear from students from Toronto, Saint Louis and Ottawa on what piqued their interest in IABC and how IABC is engaging and preparing them for successful futures.

Session participants will also receive a preview of IABC’s new Student & Early Career Shared Interest Group and learn how it can be a valuable resource to supplement existing student programming and offer a beacon of possibility to chapters looking to engage students.

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/-MvremBjQw8

Moderators: Alexandra Hichel, Rick Alcantara

Alexandra Hichel is director of recruitment & communications for the College of Liberal Arts & Education at University of Detroit Mercy. She has more than 20 years' experience in internal and external communication, website development and photography. Hichel also serves as an adjunct faculty instructor within the University's Department of Communication Studies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Organizational Communication and Public Relations from Wayne State University. Within IABC, she is presently the lead for the Student and Early Career Professional Shared Interest Group, the immediate past region chair for the Heritage Region and a Silver Quill co-chair. Previously, she has served as Silver Quill Communication Awards chair, Heritage Region chair, a past president of IABC Detroit and was recognized at the international level as a 2014 IABC Chapter Leader of the Year.

Rick Alcantara is president of Rick Alcantara Consulting and executive communications director for Princeton Strategic Communications. He advises corporate, nonprofit and government clients on public relations, crisis communications, social media and digital marketing. Rick is president-elect of IABC Philadelphia, board member of the IABC Heritage Region, past president of PRSA Philadelphia and a member of PRSA's Counselor's Academy.



Arma Malik is a PR and communications professional with a background in content creation. She is currently a content coordinator at a Canadian marketing and PR firm, Flying Camel. She's an active member of the IABC Toronto chapter as a Director of Student Memberships, as well as a content coordinator for the upcoming Ovation Awards.  She's currently completing Seneca's professional postgraduate program in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. In addition to her undergraduate degree in English from the University of Toronto, and her MA in English (Public Texts) from Trent University, she's completed the prestigious Creative Book Publishing program from Humber College.


Panelists: Paul Omodt, Ally Sebben, Sam Swanson, Matt Tidwell Ph.D., APR

An active IABC member for 25+ years, Paul Omodt is the incoming Minnesota chapter president as well as founder and principal of Omodt & Associates Critical Communications. Paul's passion for assisting the next generation of communicators includes serving as an adjunct professor at his alma mater the University of St. Thomas where he teaches in both the undergraduate Strategic Communications and graduate MBA programs.  Paul is also regular presenter at PRNorth, a joint IABC-MN/PRSA-MN career exploration event for undergraduates. His advice: ‘The world is run by those who show up – so get involved, show up, and get ready to run the world.’


Ally Sebben is an award winning communications professional with a specialization in digital communications. She has created and executed successful digital strategies, with a wide range of budgets, for high-profile organizations by creating innovative content campaigns. 
Current President of the International Association of Business Communicators’ (IABC) Ottawa chapter for the 2021-22 season. Alongside the Board of Directors, the chapter supports over members in Ottawa through dedicated programming to develop strategic communications professionals, creation connections and advance the profession.
She holds a Master’s in Professional Communication and a BA in Media Production from Ryerson University’s internationally acclaimed RTA School of Media. Ally is also a certified digital marketing professional through the Digital Marketing Institute.

A Canadian writer, researcher and entrepreneur with experience in publishing and public relations in healthcare and environmental technology spaces, Sam Swanson is IABC Manitoba’s Director of Leadership Development.
Sam is the founder and CEO of Compound Connect, a clean-tech start-up that improves environmental research tools by applying machine learning processes to ecosystem data. Sam is also the founder and Principal of 204 Communications which has worked with various clients to produce works of scientific literature, policy documents, and other professional reports.
In his spare time, Sam enjoys finding excuses to skip yoga and the gym.


Matt Tidwell is on the faculty of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas and directs KU’s master’s degree in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Matt helped lead communications agencies and served as senior communications director for companies including Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals, KCP&L/Great Plains Energy and St. Luke’s Health Systems.  



Student/Early Career Professionals: Jacob Robinson, Anu Sharma

Jacob Robinson is a life-long learner with extensive experience in content creation, event planning, community management, administration, customer service and public speaking. He strategically integrates project management with public relations, leading to top results for organizations. Jacob currently leads IABC/Toronto’s student circle committee and is completing his internship with A Leader Like Me, a subscription service that helps underrepresented people who don’t often see people like them in leadership roles. He is also the podcast producer and host of PRogress with Jacob R, where he interviews PR practitioners and professional communicators resulting in a memorable learning experience for audiences everywhere.


Anu Sharma is a consultant with one of Canada’s leading full-service public affairs consulting firm-Prospectus Associates. With over 13 years in the public relations and communications field, her areas of expertise include media relations, digital marketing, event management and reputation management. Having worked with multinational organizations such as Canon and Weber Shandwick, Anu has a proven track record of planning and executing high-profile projects. Her latest academic achievement was obtaining a public relations diploma from Algonquin College, Ottawa. She is an executive secretary at the 2021-22 IABC Ottawa Board of Directors. 



Creating Community in a Time of Uncertainty: Volunteer Recruitment, Engagement and Succession Planning

Attracting, onboarding, and retaining volunteers can be an unnerving undertaking at the best of times. What impacts would a global pandemic have on these activities as in-person events were put on-hold and many workers left the office to work from home? How would we maintain engagement with our volunteer community as uncertainty spread throughout many aspects of their lives and stress levels were high? 

As communicators, we need to remember to see volunteers as an audience, not just a means to getting work done. Volunteer management is people/audience management in its essence. To have happy, productive, engaged volunteers you need to meet and communicate to their needs. This involves understanding them as your audience, communicating expectations, setting clear deliverables and reviewing/measuring the end result. At the same time, how do we make sure that fun and recognition are core components of our planning – after all, the people are what makes IABC such a special community.

This presentation will include many tools, templates and lessons learned during IABC/BC’s journey engaging a volunteer community during the last two year. Most importantly, there will be ample time for audience members to share their own lessons learned, successes, and challenges that their chapters/regions have had during this time so that we can learn and grow together.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Recruiting tips – job descriptions, interviews and check-ins
  • Outreach - prioritizing equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Onboarding resources and professional development 
  • Building a virtual community space
  • Recognition and celebrating successes

Session recording:  https://youtu.be/IpbMjBv0O-Y

Session slides: Creating Community in a Time of Uncertainty

Resource: IABC BC Onboarding for Board Directors

Speakers: Dana Higgins & Aditi Ghosh

Dana Higgins is currently Associate Director, Community Engagement and Partnerships at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. Over the years, Dana has worked in various roles in post-secondary with a focus on communications, community engagement, event management, alumni relations, student development, and project management. An accredited Project Manager, Dana likes to approach projects with a systems mindset to build in structures to ensure that all stakeholders are informed and objectives are met.

Volunteering has been a focus for Dana for many years, both as a way of giving back and building skills and expanding her network. She’s served on a variety of volunteer and board roles within the IABC/BC community, including her most recent term as Chapter President during the unprecedented 2020-21 chapter year. On a regional IABC level, Dana also served on the Canada West Region board in 2019-20 as well as the 2019 Canada West conference co-chair.

Aditi Ghosh is a communications professional with over 10 years of combined experience in strategic communications in the realms of research, consulting and higher education across India and Canada. She currently works as Manager, Internal Communications at the University of British Columbia, where she supports the development of bespoke internal communication strategies and content through a variety of channels.

Aditi holds a Master of Arts degree in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London. She has been an IABC member on and off over the past five years. Aditi moved to Canada from New Delhi, India, in October 2019, and enjoys hiking and exploring the outdoors in her new home, Vancouver.

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Closing Session

Impact Intrapreneurship: The Great Adventure of Driving Change from Within 

If you are a change maker or aspire to be one you will enjoy this closing keynote session.
Intrapreneurs are people who act like entrepreneurs while working within an existing organization. They build new businesses or solutions for their organization with a focus on shared value, systems change and societal impact. They are #makingchangefromwithin. This definition also fits IABC leaders. 
This session will be a facilitated conversation with a seasoned intrapreneur- League Fellow- about their journey of driving the change from within.

The questions we will explore:  

  • Purpose - Where does your fire come from, why do you do this work?
  • First steps - How did you get started? 
  • Creativity - How do you come up with new ideas? 
  • Enabling factors - What has enabled your success? 
  • Keeping the flame alive - How do you keep going even when it gets difficult? 
  • Session recording:  https://youtu.be/w5MmyJVDcA4

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