Public Interest Communications Summer Institute Facilitators 2024


Updated: May 10, 2024

Yewande Addie

Narrative change researcher at RTI’s Transformative Research Unit for Equity

Yewande Addie is a narrative change researcher within RTI’s Transformative Research Unit for Equity.  She received her Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications (CJC) in 2022 and her master’s in public health from UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions in 2019. She also has a master’s degree in liberal studies history from Clayton State University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University.

As a health communications scholar, her research interests revolve around identity and culture in health equity messaging, narrative storytelling interventions, and mediated representations of Africa and the Black diaspora. Dr. Addie brings her diverse background in communications and journalism, public health, and history to projects focused on improving health equity. Recent projects include tailoring diabetes self-care webpages for Black women for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Durham Community Safety Documentary HEART: Serving Our Neighbors In Crisis, a narrative convening on AI, storytelling and equity, and the Black Student Storytelling Project.

Before joining RTI in 2023, Dr. Addie was an ORISE health communication fellow with the CDC. She has also served as a research associate and fellow for the University of Florida’s Center for Public Interest Communications, a principal co-investigator and project manager at the University of Florida’s Center for African Studies, an Obama Presidential Appointed Press Assistant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and an English Teaching Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Panama. She is a two-time U.S. Fulbright grantee to Nigeria and has previously taught  multimedia writing, introductory mass media courses, and a quest course on health and identity through UF’s Center for Arts and Medicine.


Edith Asibey

Founder, Asibey Consulting and lecturer at Columbia University

Edith Asibey, founder of Asibey Consulting and lecturer at Columbia University, teaching communications and marketing for nonprofits. She is an advocacy and communication strategist, behavior designer, and Tiny Habits® Coach who has honed her skills leading global organizations dedicated to solving the most pressing challenges of our time. She teaches communications and marketing for nonprofits.


Gina Baleria, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor of Journalism, Media Writing, Radio & Podcasting, & Digital Media, Sonoma State University

Gina Baleria is assistant professor of Journalism, Media Writing, Radio & Podcasting, & Digital Media at Sonoma State University and the host and producer of the News in Context podcast. Dr. Baleria is also author of The Journalism Behind Journalism: Going Beyond the Basics to Train Effective Journalists in a Shifting Landscape (Routledge 2021), and she co-authored Writing & Reporting News for the 21st Century (Cognella, 2018), winner of the 2020 Textbook Award from the Broadcast Education Association (BEA). Her research and creative interests revolve around news and digital media literacy, podcasting and digital engagement and communication across socially salient differences. Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Baleria was an award-winning broadcast and digital journalist at stations including KCBS Radio, KGO TV, & KGO Radio in San Francisco; KXTV & KFBK in Sacramento; and KCAL in Los Angeles. She also helped create and manage a digital newsroom at the nonpartisan nonprofit governance organization, California Forward.

Hamilton Bean, Ph.D., MBA, APR

Professor, University of Colorado Denver

Hamilton Bean is Professor in the Department of Communication and serves as Director of the University of Colorado Denver’s International Studies Program. He has taught courses at the International College Beijing (ICB) and has served as a guest researcher (2018, 2024) and visiting professor (2021) at Kyoto University’s Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI). In 2022, he began serving as a non-resident fellow for the U.S. Joint Special Operations University (JSOU). He specializes in the study of communication and security with an emphasis on mobile public alert and warning systems and messages. He was part of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded research team that investigated the optimization of Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) messages for imminent threats. He has consulted for international, federal, and state agencies, as well as contributed to U.S. Federal Communications Commission rulemakings concerning the WEA system.

Darrian Carroll, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Communications Studies Department, College of Liberal Arts, Cal Poly

Darrian Carroll, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Communications Studies Department within the College of Liberal Arts at Cal Poly. His research centers on race, rhetoric, and world-making. Particularly, he is interested in the ways that Black people use their words to develop different ways of living in the world. Dr. Carroll’s work has been published in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and the Journal of Information, Communication, Ethics, and Society.

Julia Daisy Fraustino, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Strategic Communication, West Virginia University

Julia Daisy Fraustino is an assistant professor of strategic communication at the WVU Reed College of Media and founding director of the Public Interest Communication Research Lab in the WVU Media Innovation Center. Specializing in risk, emergency, crisis, and disaster communication science with emphasis on community resilience and ethics, Fraustino often focuses her research on public interest areas related to natural disasters, public health, and science communication. She has authored more than 75 journal articles, book chapters, peer-reviewed conference proceedings and presentations, and government reports. She has worked on grants and contracts with funding from entities such as the AAP, CDC, DARPA, DHS, and NSF. She currently leads several funded public health and public interest research projects focusing on data-driven strategic communication to enhance positive social and behavioral change. Related to a few of those projects, she has served on the state’s Joint Interagency Task Force on COVID-19 since 2020, contributing to evidence-based messaging for pandemic response.

Charles GattoneCharles Gattone

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Law, University of Florida

Charles Gattone is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Law at the University of Florida. He has published in the areas of epistemology, social thought, culture, and media. His most recent book, A Balanced Epistemological Orientation for the Social Sciences (Lexington Books, 2020) critically examines positivism, relativism, interpretivism, and intersubjectivism to identify their strengths and weaknesses and provide the foundation for a theoretically informed and balanced epistemological orientation for social research. He also focuses on the public role of social scientists and the connections between their work and the directions of society broadly. Gattone also has written several articles on the intersections between social science, culture, and media. He received his Ph.D. from The New School for Social Research in 2000 and taught as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at Oberlin College. He joined the faculty at the University of Florida in the Fall of 2001.

Dr. Teresa GonzalesTeresa Gonzales, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Teresa Gonzales is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Loyola University Chicago, where she covers an array of topics focused on cities, public space, and collective joy within Black and Brown communities. She is a feminist and a woman of color urbanist rooted in community-engaged pedagogy. She published her first book, Building a Better Chicago: Race and Community Resistance to Urban Redevelopment, in 2021, which demonstrates how philanthropists, nonprofits, and government agencies struggle for power and control often against the interest of the residents, leading to the further marginalization of communities of color.

Sarah GoodrumSarah Goodrum, Ph.D.

Research Professor, Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, University of Colorado Boulder

Sarah Goodrum is a Research Professor in the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Goodrum’s research focuses on violence prevention, homicide victimization, domestic violence, and the criminal justice system, and for the last 20 years, she has taught sociology, criminology, and criminal justice courses at the University of Northern Colorado, CU Boulder, and Centre College.  Her co-authored Report on the Arapahoe High School Shooting examined the lessons learned on violence prevention in schools. She is leading a public awareness campaign on the warning signs for violence and strategies for upstander reporting at CU Boulder.  She is currently a PI and co-PI on several violence prevention projects funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Goodrum’s publications have appeared in the Sociology of Education, Journal of Threat Assessment and Management, Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Law & Social Inquiry, Symbolic Interaction, Sociological Spectrum, Sociological Focus, Criminal Justice Review, and International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory & Practice. Her book After Homicide: Victims’ Families in the Criminal Justice Systemchronicles the experiences of families of murder victims from death notification to the trial, is available through Lynne Rienner Publishers (2019). She obtained her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and her Bachelor’s in Sociology from Texas A&M University.


Erin Hart

Chief Innovation Officer, Spitfire Strategies

Erin believes that communication is a powerful driver for social change. She’s worked with foundations, nonprofits, government agencies and more to help them engage their audiences and develop programs that make a difference for people’s health, the environment and social justice. Erin has launched efforts to address gun violence prevention, managed a campaign to grow and diversify California’s healthcare workforce, shined a light on the value of science, trained scientists and policymakers committed to addressing climate change, created campaigns such as truth that reduced the number of youth who smoke, and collaborated with foundations seeking to move their assets into communities faster and more effectively. She’s committed to building the public interest communication field and sharing what works to support other changemakers committed to racial, social and environmental justice. Erin happily collaborates with the University of Florida Center for Public Interest Communications to continue efforts such as frank that ensures we’re welcoming many and diverse perspectives into the work. She teaches courses in campaign development, strategic communication and social impact communication in policy and journalism programs at the University of New Hampshire, University of Oregon and University of Florida. Erin has a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Florida, which recognized her as a 2016 Alumna of Distinction. Go Gators!


Cody Hays

CEO and Founder, Marketing Mission

Cody Hays is a nonprofit marketing expert with a nine-year track record of helping nonprofits build online relationships with donors. Driven by equity, Hays’ work with Marketing Mission has helped nonprofits raise more than $10 million to advance social change. Hays has spent his career in the digital communications industry, working with more than 50 nonprofits, such as the Legal Foundation of Washington, Children of Armenia Fund, Alabama Department of Education, Northern Arizona University, Future Business Leaders of America, and Reading Partners. His work has been recognized by RivalIQ and Givebutter for exceptional digital campaigns, including ranking #1 for social media engagement and a nomination by Givebutter for Campaign of the Year. Hays has led workshops and participated in panel discussions related to marketing and communications for nonprofits at the DECA Western Regional Leadership Conference, for the Alabama Department of Education, and for the Future Business Leaders of America.  Hays is an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida, where he’s helping develop the next generation of change-making communicators with his Social Media Advertising for Conversions and Copywriting for Digital Messaging course. Hays holds a master’s degree in Mass Communication and Digital Strategy from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in education from Northern Arizona University. Hays is currently pursuing his Ph.D. from Arizona State University with a focus on Climate Communications.

Danielle Hodge, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Boulder

Danielle Hodge, Ph.D., is assistant professor of communication in the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. Hodge employs a critical race theoretical approach to identity, culture, and language. In particular, she is concerned with how systems of oppression and marginalization inform the identities, discursive practices, and experiences of African Americans. To advance theoretically robust and culturally grounded knowledge about African American life and language worlds, her research agenda is guided by the following questions: How can communication concepts and theories (i.e., discourse analysis) further illuminate African American culture, experiences, and struggle; and, how can African American Studies theories inform the ways we interpret and examine communication? Importantly, she explores how Communication and African American Studies can be bridged to examine how systems of oppression impact marginalized groups and are discursively reproduced, maintained and resisted.

Ranata M. Hughes

Internship Coordinator and Adjunct Professor at Florida A&M University

Ranata M. Hughes, a Florida native, works as an Internship Director and Educator at Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, and she teaches part-time for the West Virginia University Reed College of Media Online Program. Prior to going into higher education full-time in 2017, Hughes worked as a public relations practitioner for over 10 years, specializing in the areas of marketing and travel tourism PR, media relations, event planning, strategic communications and nonprofit.

Hughes has such passion for the work she does as a PR practitioner, but enjoys working in higher education just as much, as she loves helping students reach their academic and professional goals. Today, Hughes has former students working at companies such as Bloomberg, Edelman, Microsoft, Gray Television and Disney just to name a few.

When Hughes is not busy teaching classes or helping a student with professional development, she is planning a career event, collaborating with employers, advising a student chapter, speaking at a conference or working with a creative project or research, through which she has been recognized on an international level and quoted in more than 250 publications across the globe, including Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch and the Associated Press.

Hughes’ professional organizations include membership in the Public Relations Society of America, North Florida Public Relations Society of America and the National Association of Professional Women. As for honor societies, Hughes was inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha (the journalism honor society) and Golden Key International Honour Society.

Hughes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from Florida A&M University and a Master of Science degree in integrated marketing communication from Florida State University.

Sara Isaac

Chief Strategist, Marketing for Change

An applied behavioral scientist and veteran behavior change marketer, Sara is an expert in leveraging insights from behavioral science to create breakthrough campaigns that work in the real world. As chief strategist at Marketing for Change, Sara has led hundreds of broadscale campaigns for local, state and national clients to combat election misinformation, support baby brain development, encourage help seeking for mental health, reduce fertilizer pollution in waterways, and address the health impacts of climate change. Sara is an international keynote speaker and an adjunct professor of social marketing at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She holds a master’s in Behavioral Science from the London School of Economics

antwan jefferson

Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Associate Clinical Professor, School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver

antwan jefferson is the Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and an Associate Clinical Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver. As a faculty member, antwan teaches in the Human Development and Family Relations program and the Leadership for Educational Equity EdD program.  His scholarship is interested in the role of local communities in educational justice work, along with the ways that family and community members experience schools and organizations in their communities, including the implications of space, voice, and power in decision-making and nonprofit organizations and schools. As an Associate Dean, antwan works with faculty and staff to create a more just and inclusive professional culture, supporting pedagogy, scholarship, and partnerships. In 2018, antwan developed the Denver Journal of Education and Community (DJEC), which has grown into a nonprofit organization, Education and Community ( a community-sourcing organization focused on achieving educational equity in the Denver metro region.

Spiro Kiousis

Spiro Kiousis, Ph.D., APR

Executive Associate Dean and Professor, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida

Dr. Spiro Kiousis is executive associate dean for the College of Journalism and Communications and is a professor of public relations. Throughout his academic career, he has produced over 180 refereed journal articles, book chapters, books, and conference papers/presentations. He holds a B.A. in mass media from the University of San Francisco, an M.A. in media studies from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. His current research interests include political public relations, political communication, and digital communication. Specifically, this interdisciplinary research explores the interplay among political public relations efforts, news media content, and public opinion in traditional and interactive mass mediated contexts.

Dr. Kiousis has had articles published in several leading journals, including Communication Research, Journal of Communication, the Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, Mass Communication & Society, Public Relations Review, Communication Yearbook, Communication Education, the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, the International Communication Gazette, Public Relations Journal, Journal of Public Relations Research, Journalism Studies, Journal of Media and Religion, Journal of Political Marketing, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the Southwestern Mass Communication Journal, Journal of Communication Management, and New Media & Society.

Dr. Kiousis’ teaching areas include public relations campaigns, public relations strategy, public relations writing, persuasion theory and research, public relations management, and mass communication theory. He has professional experience in public relations, marketing, online journalism, and media production.


Janiece Mackey

Founder, Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA)

Dr. Janiece Mackey is a wife and mother of four children. At 25 years old, she created an organization entitled Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism (YAASPA) to provide a conduit for BIPoC youth to reclaim academic, career, and civic spaces. She earned the Mayor’s Diversity Award, Nonprofit Women to Watch Award, 40 under 40 Denver Business Journal award, and beyond. Due to her converging interests in education and policy, she is a race scholar activist who has been a postdoctoral scholar, research scientist, and published many chapters and articles about race in education and public administration including the editing of the book entitled Black Girl Civics.


Yana ManyukYana Manyuk

Behavioral Strategist and Trainer

Yana Manyuk is a professional with 13+ years of experience in social marketing and social and behavioral change communication (SBCC). Yana has specialized in applying behavioral science principles to strengthen the design, delivery, and communication components of public health and nutrition programs. She has worked in over 15 countries, including in protracted crises and sudden-on-set emergencies across Africa and Asia, supporting organizations such as the UN World Food Programme, World Health Organization, UNICEF, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Sight and Life Think Tank, and others.

Yana holds a Master’s degree with distinction in Health and Social Marketing from Middlesex University, UK, and a BA in Cultural and Media Studies from Maastricht University, NL. Her work also involves teaching, editing, and co-authoring publications and guides on applying behavioral science to tackle malnutrition-related issues. Yana’s commitment to making a difference in global humanitarian efforts is reflected in her career.

Gisele McAuliffe

Founder, Bigger Impact

Gisele McAuliffe is a longtime public interest communicator and founder of Bigger Impact, a public interest communications firm. She has provided her communications expertise globally for organizations including the American Red Cross, the Gates Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.


Mike McDevitt

Professor, University of Colorado Boulder

Professor Michael McDevitt teaches courses in political communication, research methods, journalism studies, and opinion writing. He joined the CU faculty in 2001 after teaching at the University of New Mexico. Prior to his teaching career, he worked as a reporter and editorial writer for newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author of Where Ideas Go to Die: The Fate of Intellect in American Journalism (Oxford). Prof. McDevitt is published in journals in communication, political science and education. He is a recipient of the International Communication Association’s Outstanding Public Policy Research Award. He holds a BA in political science from the University of California, Berkeley and a PhD in communication from Stanford.


Angelica McGeeAngelica McGee

MA Candidate, University of Florida

Angelica (Angel) McGee is a MA student at the University of Florida in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Her work primarily focuses on Black Joy, identity making and meaning, gender, art, culture, community activism, and oral history. Angel graduated with a combined BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Communication Studies in 2021 from The University of Nevada Las Vegas. She also created our Black Joy archive, aimed at giving an opportunity for the African diaspora to share and find joy in their day-to-day lives (and beyond), as well as their ability overall to find ways to be joyous amid social injustice and racial discrimination.

Mark MorgensteinMark Morgenstein

Director of Media Relations, The Public Interest Network

Mark leads The Public Interest Network’s national communications and media relations campaigns. Before joining The Public Interest Network, Mark worked at CNN for nearly 20 years, and taught writing classes for six years through the Turner Professional Development Center. Mark was the recipient of an Emmy Award, two Peabody Awards and a DuPont Award. Mark currently lives near Denver, Colo., with his wife and three children. He’s also a music fanatic who’s been lucky enough to interview many of his favorite artists.


Aubrey NagleAubrey Nagle

Director of Practice Change at Resolve

Aubrey is obsessed with helping people understand the news and helping the news understand people. In her work with Resolve as the Director of Practice Change, she connects newsrooms with their constituents in ways that inspire more equitable and accurate representation and creates tools and resources that help them use more inclusive, human-centered language in their reporting. Before joining Resolve, Aubrey was the Newsletter Editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and also wrote educational videos and newsletters about media literacy, including three series for John and Hank Green’s Crash Course brand.


Joe NewmanJoe Newman

Adjunct Professor, University of Florida

Joe Newman is a Washington, D.C.-based media strategist, visual storyteller, writer and cultural producer. Since 2007, he has worked as a public interest communicator in Washington, D.C. focusing on democracy and government accountability issues. Joe teaches courses on public interest communications at the University of Florida where he has worked for the last two years as an adjunct public relations professor. He also is the associate director of programming for the iWitness Institute for Visual Journalism at Florida International University. The institute launched in March 2024 with a mission to tell the stories of democracy, climate change and immigration – among other topics – in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to and during the contentious 2020 presidential election, he worked at ReThink Media, where he helped nonprofit organizations develop data-driven communication strategies focused on protecting, strengthening and expanding voting rights. Before joining ReThink, he was the communications director at the Project On Government Oversight, and before that, deputy director of communications at Public Citizen. Prior to moving to D.C., he was an award-winning journalist at Florida newspapers, where he reported on the environment, demographics and urban development.

In 2022, he started f8photographic, which organizes immersive learning experiences and workshops for photographers and works with organizations, individuals and brands to tell impactful visual stories. He is the founder of the Focus on the Story International Photo Festival, has organized more than a dozen photography workshops to Cuba and Vietnam, has published three photo books financed through successful Kickstarter campaigns, curated numerous photography exhibitions, and spent the last decade shooting photography assignments for various nonprofit organizations.

Necole Norris, Moderator

Vice President, Spitfire Strategies

Necole Norris is vice president at Spitfire, where she puts her strategic communications background to work for a diverse portfolio of clients ranging from large national foundations and civil rights nonprofits to colleges and universities. Necole  tackles issues such as increasing the usage of people-first language in the criminal justice system and media, voter suppression and rights restoration in the South, racial justice and equity in housing and much more. She helps clients determine the best mix of messaging and messengers, and a strategy to reach the right people at the right time. Her clients include ACLU Southern Collective,’ People First, Spelman College, Communities United for Police Reform and Habitat for Humanity.

Before Spitfire, Necole spent eight years at Fannie Mae, launching and leading strategic communications for their Sustainable Communities Initiative and their external racial equity thought leadership plan. She played an integral role in launching the company’s first racial equity event and content series, Bridging the Gap. Necole is passionate about her work focused on racial equity and justice in underserved communities, and has spent her career developing strategic, humanized communications that shine a light on some of the toughest challenges facing our country today.

Necole earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Howard University, Washington, DC. A self-taught gardener, lover of dance, music, and travel, Necole lives in Lorton, VA with her two boys and puppy.

Chris Omni

Black Joy scholar, artist, and activist

Dr. Chris Omni is a two-time TEDx speaker, award-winning entrepreneur, and Black Joy scholar, artist, and activist. She is affectionately known as the Health Hippie in some circles and the Green Goddess of Black Joy in other circles. No matter the term, Dr. Omni is the go-to-source for creative and compassionate conversations that lead to community change.

Dr. Omni’s research explores nature’s influence on the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being of Black people. Her dissertation was even recognized as the Outstanding Dissertation of the Year by the International Association of Autoethnography and Narrative Inquiry. By blending her 25-year background in public health with her foreground in art education, Dr. Omni’s presentations provide a counter narrative to the typical deficit lens generally applied to the Black experience.

Dr. Omni’s international and national honors include the 2024 Rising Professional presented by Kansas State University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, 2022 semi-finalist, 3-Minute Thesis winner presented by the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, the 2021 First place, 3-Minute Thesis winner presented by Florida State University, the 2019 International Community Ambassador presented by iChange Nations, the 2018 American Small Business Champion presented by SCORE, the 2018 Black People who Rock presented by New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church,  the 2015 Minority-owned business of the Year presented by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and the 2015 Woman of Achievement and Outstanding Entrepreneur presented by Topeka Chamber of Commerce.

Outside of teaching, mentoring, and winning awards, Dr. Omni can be found tending to her 80+ potted plants, walking her two dogs, or passing out hugs to people who need and/or want an emotional release.  A single encounter with Dr. Omni will leave you feeling heard, seen, and valued.


Jennifer ReichJennifer Reich

Professor of Sociology and Director of University Honors, University of Colorado Denver

Jennifer Reich is a Professor of Sociology and Director of University Honors at the University of Colorado Denver. Her research examines how individuals and families weigh information and strategize their interactions with the state and service providers in the context of public policy, particularly as they relate to healthcare and welfare. She is author of two award-winning books, Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines and Fixing Families: Parents, Power, and the Child Welfare System, as well as dozens of articles and book chapters that explore vaccinations, reproductive health, welfare, multiracial families, and recovery after disaster. Her work has been featured in countless media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Vox, Newsweek, and on the Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World.


Ann SearightAnn Searight

Director, Clinical Professor, University of Florida

Ann Searight is the founder and director of the Center for Public Interest Communications and a clinical professor in the Department of Public Relations at the University of Florida College of Journalism. She received her Bachelor’s in Public Relations from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in Public Affairs and Policy from Rutgers University. Searight developed the first ever curriculum in public interest communications, connecting practitioners and scholars who are already working in the field, and nurturing and sharing research that can advance this newly emerging academic discipline. In May 2020, she completed a 10-year term as the inaugural Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications. Prior to the University of Florida, Searight was a senior communications officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, overseeing programs that addressed housing, education, mental health and other issues. Her writing has been published in Barron’s, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, and The Conversation. 


Palma Joy Strand

Co-Founder and Research Director, Civity

Civity is a national nonprofit that works with people in communities to build civity: a culture of deliberately engaging in relationships of respect and empathy with others who are different.  I am a white woman married to a Black man with three biracial, now adult, children, and crossing the boundary of race with conversation and relationship has been an integral part of my life for more than 40 years. I’m a lawyer by training, which is very “head”-oriented. Being involved in my local community as a public school parent, however, brought home the realization that the key to being able to address deep challenges is people being in relationship with each other – especially with people who are not like-minded and not similarly situated. The word and the practice of civity grew out of this.

I am currently Visiting Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where my focus is conflict engagement.  I am Professor Emerita from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where I taught in both the Law School and the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) Graduate Program. I also design and facilitate Conversations About Race and Belonging, working especially with teachers and parents in public education.  In addition to a BS (Civil Engineering) from Stanford University, I hold a JD from Stanford Law School and an LLM in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Legal Problem-Solving from the Georgetown University Law Center.


Dr. Natalie TindallNatalie Tindall, Ph.D.

Director and Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Tindall is the Isabella Cunningham Chair of Advertising, the Director of the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Texas, and is the managing editor for Case Studies in Strategic Communication. She has previously served as an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication and Media at Lamar University, and as a graduate director and associate professor in the Department of Communication at Georgia State University. Her research focuses on diversity in organizations, specifically of the public relations function, and the situational theory of publics and intersectionality. She has authored multiple book chapters, online publications, and peer-reviewed journal articles published in the journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Public Relations Journal, Howard Journal of Communications, PRism, and the International Journal of Strategic Communication.

Aaron ZeilerAaron Zeiler

Director of Partner Strategies, Center for Public Interest Communications, University of Florida

Aaron’s background has centered on building the communication capacity of organizations and foundations working on issues ranging from public interest technology, prison abolition and public health. He has helped build social media and media relations strategy, facilitated trainings and coachings on storytelling and strategic