• Leading the Way through the Pandemic

Virtual Conference: April 28-29, 2021

  • Registration

    WSPRA members: $50
    Nonmembers: $85

    Register online today.

    The first 150 attendees to register will receive one of our interactive conference boxes! Boxes include premium WSPRA swag, Hoppy Hour sensory kits, sponsor goodies and yummy snacks! To guarantee boxes arrive on time, registrations must be placed by April 12! We will do our best to send boxes after this date, but we cannot guarantee arrival in time for the conference. 

    Conference Agenda

    Wednesday, April 28

    6:30 -7:30 p.m. - Virtual Hoppy Hour

    Join us for an interactive and educational Hoppy Hour! Tiffany and Tessa from Yakima Chief Hops will use their industry expertise to guide us through a hop and beer sensory experience. Prior to the event, you are encouraged to download the Sample Ox app on your phone and create an account. This app will make the session more interactive as we assess hops and beer together. Sample Ox is available for download for free at the Apple App Store and Google Play. See flyer in your interactive conference box for more details. 

    Thursday, April 29

    8:00-8:30 a.m. – Alpine Horn Welcome

    • WSPRA Welcome
    • Leavenworth Trivia
    • Message from our Keynote Sponsor

    8:30-9:30 a.m. – Keynote: A Complaint-Free World

    Will Bowen, Humorous Motivational Speaker

    9:30-10:00 a.m. – Break and Sponsor Break-out Rooms

    10:00 -11:30 a.m. – The COVID Pandemic: How Communicators are Leading the Way

    Rick Kaufman, APR, Bloomington Public Schools

    11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Lunch on Your Own

    12:30-12:45 p.m. – Leavenworth Trivia and Raffle

    2:45-1:45 p.m. – Choice Sessions

    • Keys to Amplifying Your System's Story
    • Go Live: Tips & Tricks for Facebook Live and Reaching a Larger Audience
    • What Everyone Gets Wrong About Creating Advocates

    1:45-2:15 p.m. – Break and Sponsor Break-out Rooms

    2:15-3:15 p.m. – Choice Sessions

    • Pandemic Funding Panel: Explaining the Roller Coaster
    • 35 Tips & Tricks for Low-Budget Video Production
    • Increase Stakeholder Engagement & Student Enrollment

    3:15-3:30 p.m. – Closing and Enzian Inn Raffle 

  • Keynote Session: 8:30-9:30 a.m.

    will Bowen A Complaint-Free World

    Will Bowen, Humorous Motivational Speaker

    Complaining is an epidemic that is destroying our happiness, relationships, health, and success. The problem is that most people aren’t even aware when they complain. As Will Bowen says, “Complaining is like bad breath – you notice it when it comes out of someone else’s mouth, but not when it comes out of your own."

    In 2006, Will Bowen challenged a handful of people to try and break the habit of chronic complaining by going 21 days without uttering a single complaint.

    That simple idea exploded into a worldwide movement of more than 13 million followers and has been featured on Oprah, NBC’s Today ShowCBS Sunday Morningthe ABC Evening NewsDr. OzThe Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People magazine, O magazine, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. 

    Morning Session: 10:00-11:30 a.m.

    Rick The COVID Pandemic: How Communicators are Leading the Way

    Rick Kaufman, APR, Bloomington Public Schools

    As the global pandemic continues to have a profound impact on schools across the country, few silver linings can be found in this dark cloud with one exception... the work of school communicators. Relying on effective communication strategies and innovative approaches to meet stakeholder needs were key to developing understanding and building support. But was that enough? We’ll take a deeper dive into crisis communications in the pandemic, and how it will shape the future of school public relations.

    Rick J. Kaufman, APR, the Executive Director of Community Relations and Emergency Management for Bloomington (MN) Public Schools, is a nationally respected crisis management consultant, trainer, researcher and author. As the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator and Response Team Lead, he used emotional analysis data from parents and staff to drive a robust communications and engagement plan throughout the pandemic. Rick has trained thousands of educators, law enforcement personnel and emergency management coordinators on the critical steps to effective crisis management, response and communication. He is the author of the Complete Crisis Communication Management Manual for Schools (4th Edition, 2016).

    Choice Sessions: 12:45-1:45 p.m.

    Keys to Amplifying Your System's Story

    Lesley Lesley Bruinton, APR, Tuscaloosa City Schools

    In an age of increased scrutiny of public schools, educational professionals must do more to build its case. Each school and school system has a story, but who’s telling yours? Through the use of creative storytelling, this session offers five keys to amplifying your system’s story. It’s work that builds relationships, gets results and earns recognition.

    Lesley Bruinton is an Accredited in Public Relations practitioner with more than 15 years of professional experience. The recovering television journalist now serves as the public relations director for the Tuscaloosa City (Ala.) Schools, an urban district with more than 10,000 students. It’s a job where she can continue her craft of writing with her rapid-fire typing skills. She is a two-time past president of ALSPRA, the Alabama School Public Relations Association, current NSPRA president and a three-time NSPRA Gold Medallion winner. Bruinton holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication and film from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in strategic communication from Troy University. 

    Go Live: Tips & Tricks for Facebook Live and Reaching a Larger Audience

    Keith Reid and Elizabeth Zelidon, San Juan Unified School District

    All school PR pros see the button on their Facebook app “Go Live.” How much of us use it? And use it to its fullest potential to cover events and provide a new layer of student, teacher and stakeholder voice to your message? This session will help any type o PR team (or one-stop-shop) find the right equipment and provide tips, best practices, a demonstration, and then have the audience Go Live for themselves.

    Keith Reid is a recovering print journalist who joined San Juan Unified’s communication team in August 2014. Winner of the 2018 California Gold Award (CalSPRA), Reid spends most of his time promoting San Juan Unified’s billion-dollar bond program, but also enjoys storytelling and video work – especially if it promotes student voice. He is a proud San Francisco Giants fan, a suffering Sacramento Kings season ticket holder, and enjoys kayaking or hiking with his wife and three kids. Follow his bad sports takes at @Kreidme on Twitter.

    Elizabeth Zelidon joined San Juan Unified’s communication team in December 2019. She is the winner of the 2021 CalSPRA Award of Merit for the social media campaign “Distance Learning Shout Out” and the 2018 Happy Valley Strawberry Festival’s celebrity pie eating contest. Some of her duties at San Juan Unified include conducting interviews with staff and students to create videos to distribute on the district website and social media channels. As well as, conducting Facebook Live interviews to inform families about events and new construction happening throughout the district. 

    What Everyone Gets Wrong About Creating Advocates

    Clare Dietz, Marketing Consultant, Apptegy

    It’s easy to become preoccupied with all the “detractors” - those community members that have negative things to say about you and your schools. However, research shows that the best way to build broad community support is to focus on creating advocates. Yet unlike a marketing campaign that can reach hundreds or thousands, advocates have to be built one by one. In this session, we cover the counterintuitive blueprint to create advocates in your community. 

    Clare Dietz is a marketing consultant for Apptegy. She has spent decades working with some of the biggest marketing firms like Ogilvy and Gartner and advised clients like L'Oréal, Unilever, IBM and Microsoft. Now she consults with school districts on marketing and communication best practices.

    Choice Sessions: 2:15-3:15 p.m.

    Paul  35 Tips & Tricks for Low Budget Video Production

    Paul Weller, Director of Media Services, Central Indiana Educational Service Center

    Want to record better video on your phone? What about audio? Worried your district won’t have the budget? This interactive session will show you how to produce, capture, edit and deliver video to your community. Walk away with free and low-cost options to improve video productions that make a difference. Discussion topics will include pre-production, lighting, camera stabilization, voice-over, animated graphics, captioning, working with professionals, and publishing for social media. 

    Paul Weller is the Director of Media Services at Central Indiana Educational Service Center (CIESC) which produces marketing content for public school districts and educational clients. Since joining CIESC in 2013, Paul has produced over 400 educational videos. Before focusing on educational content, Paul worked with the Indianapolis Colts, ESPN, the Travel Channel, and local PBS stations.

    Increase Stakeholder Engagement & Student Enrollment

    Anthony Millican, Chula Vista Elementary School District & Brian Epperson, Target River

    Anthony Learn proven tactics to increase community engagement, improve student retention, increase student enrollment, and also help your district stand out to future job candidates. These tactics have been implemented by dozens of public school districts and even recognized with an Award of Excellence by CALSRA.

    Anthony Millican is the Director of Communications & Community Development at Chula Vista Elementary School District. He has nearly 20 years of experience in school communications and grant writing. His leadership responsibilities include the District’s media relations, internal and external communications, emergency planning and crisis communications, marketing and public relations, community and parent engagement, grant writing and storytelling.
    Brian Brian Epperson is the CEO of Target River and is a marketing and strategy expert with over 25 years of experience in helping clients with his #WhoHowWhat methodology of properly identifying the right target audiences, selecting and building campaigns using the most efficient and effective marketing tactics, and crafting the best messaging to share with the target audiences.  

    Pandemic Funding Panel: Explaining the Roller Coaster

    monique Monique Dugaw, Kirsten Fitterer, Rita Sanders, Rick Parrish, Amelia Holmes

    Funding during the pandemic has turned into a roller coaster. Explaining the financial impacts and what the uncertainty means has created a complex dilemma for many school districts, especially those that have upcoming ballot measures. Rather than throw up their arms and brace for the freefall, these school districts are preparing to navigate the ride with solid messaging and budget transparency. Learn how you can do the same for your district.

    As Executive Director of Communications, Monique Dugaw leads ESD 112’s talented and award-winning team of communications, web, graphic design, video production and printing professionals. She works with Kirsten Fitterer school districts of varying sizes to develop regional messaging and campaigns and create focused communications strategies. 

    Kirsten Fitterer is an Internet Marketing and Communications professional with 25 years of experience in the field but joined the education industry just six years ago. Until recently, Kirsten ran a one-person communications department in a district of 16,000 so has done a bit of everything. 

    As the Director of Communications and Operations for Longview Public Schools, Rick Parrish manages all communications, safety and security, maintenance, operations, transportation and facilities for the school district.

    Amelia Amelia Holmes is a Communications Manager for ESD 112, serving Hockinson and Washougal School Districts. Amelia is also well-versed in crisis communications and media relations, and she is especially astute in the area of social media management.

    Rita Sanders, Communications Officer, Battle Ground Public Schools

Thank You to our Sponsors

  • Keynote Sponsor


    Districts choose Finalsite for our award-winning, ADA-compliant designs, robust communications software, integrated mobile app, simple website content management tools, and secure hosting. With scalable solutions to meet every district’s unique needs, 24-7 support, in-house accessibility specialists and tactical website deployments, Finalsite is equipped to help districts of all sizes launch and maintain websites that improve school-to-home communications, recruit faculty, and engage key stakeholders. Finalsite is headquartered in Glastonbury, CT, and serves more than 5,000 districts and schools in 84 countries, maintaining a 95% retention rate year over year. For more information, please visit www.finalsite.com

    Virtual Hoppy Hour Sponsor


    Blackboard is a leading EdTech company, serving higher education, K-12, business and government clients around the world. We connect a deep understanding of education with the power of technology to continuously push the boundaries of learning. Our mission is to advance learning together with the world's education community, so that all learners, educators and institutions can realize their goals today and prepare for tomorrow.

    Signature Sponsors


    Helping families save! That’s the WA529 mission. With tax benefits, flexible contribution options and nationwide choice of colleges, it’s easy to start saving with a GET or DreamAhead account. And since September is National College Savings month, it’s an ideal time to help families learn more. Visit https://wastate529.wa.gov/ for details.


    Intrado logo

    With Intrado SchoolMessenger solutions, you can combine school notification, mobile apps, and web content management all under one, easy-to-use platform. Designed to work together from the start, our school communication systems save time and provide more immediate, thorough engagement with your community.

    Impulse Souvenirs

    Impulse Souvenirs is a preferred vendor for school districts across North America and highly recommended for lanyards, decals, and non-medical masks to promote safety within the schools. Our attention to customer service, sample for approval, consistent communication and delivering on time quality products is what supports our known credibility. Our in house graphic art department is amazing and we offer mock up art at no charge. 


    Apptegy builds products that empower school leaders to run better schools. We make it easy for administrators and educators to reach parents, students, staff, and your community at large. With our tools you can communicate better and change how the public thinks and feels about your schools.



    ThoughtExchange is the only Enterprise Discussion Management platform powered by patented anti-bias technology. Modern leaders use ThoughtExchange to quickly gain critical insights and improve decision-making for their districts. Whether you’re engaging ten stakeholders or a community of 10,000+ people, ThoughtExchange allows leaders to drive strategic discussions at scale. Since 2009, ThoughtExchange has been helping school districts across North America validate and align on top district policies, address student and staff success, and build trust with their communities.


    Print Guys logo