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PenSPRA Annual Symposium

The PenSPRA Symposium will be held from March 31-April 1, 2022!

Join fellow communication professionals at the annual Symposium from Thursday, March 31, 2022, through Friday, April 1, 2022, at the Conference Center at Shippensburg University.

Thursday's Keynote Presenter:

Mr. Rodney Walker

Rodney Walker is an American author, entrepreneur, and inspirational speaker. He is the bestselling author of A New Day One, and is most known for his work in trauma-informed education. His award-winning keynote The Power of Resilience: From 12 Foster Homes to Harvard University, has received acclamation by school districts across the nation. A Chicago native, he has a Bachelors degree from Morehouse College and graduate degrees from Harvard and Yale University.

Walker's presentations feature tapping into the power of visualization and adopting a growth mindset to build resiliency during difficult times.

The Will to Imagine: The Power of Visualization

One of the most critical aspects of Walker’s journey from growing up in foster care to becoming an entrepreneur and scholar is learning how to constantly imagine a different future for himself. In this keynote, Walker reflects on his experience in creating vision boards, and how to effectively use them to create transformative life experiences.

  • As a result of this presentation, participants will learn:
  • About the purpose and process of visualization, and what it means to materialize the goals you set to accomplish.
  • About the various ways to create visual artifacts and memorandums, and the rules of engagement around reflection and meditation.
  • The process of setting expectations, making sacrifices, and becoming disciplined.
  • About limitations and constraints in producing a vision board.

Friday's Keynote Presenters:

Opening Session Keynote Speakers 


Mrs. Jennifer Shealy and  Mr. Justin Brown

Communications and DEI Working Together to Ensure Inclusive School Environments

As Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs receive more scrutiny from the general public, hear how communications and DEI can unite to leverage community support and garner district-wide investment in these programs. Hear from Mrs. Jennifer Shealy, Director of Communications at Downingtown Area School District, and Mr. Justin Brown, Director of DEI at Downingtown Area School District, will share what has worked (and what hasn’t) at their district, and how the two departments have worked to clearly communicate the districts goals of diversity, equity and inclusion, and combat the spread of misinformation and disinformation.  

This session is interactive and touches on real, lived experiences, so come ready with honesty, vulnerability and kindness.

Luncheon Keynote Speaker:

Dr. John Sanville

The Superintendent and Communications Director Working Together

The relationship between the superintendent and communication director is critical to ensuring the mission, vision and objectives of the district are clearly expressed to and understood by all school stakeholders.  Join Dr. John Sanville, Superintendent of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District and President Elect of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, as he highlights the importance of the superintendent and communications director working together, and how he and his communications director work together.

Breakout Sessions Conference:

Breaking Tradition for a New Generation - Retiring the Indian Mascot

Presented by:

  • Christa Fazio, Director of Communications and Community Relations, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District
  • Pat Crater, Director of Student Activities, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District

After years of debate, Unionville High School retired the American Indian mascot. Our process was rooted in listening and learning, including a pivotal conversation with the Chief of the Lenape Indian Tribe. Subsequently, our mascot selection committee embarked on a journey to select and reveal the next mascot of Unionville High School. Our story is filled with trials and tribulations, but also the joys and successes of breaking tradition to make our school a more inclusive place.

    Rethinking Engagement: Tours and Open Houses from Home!

    When schools closed in March of 2020, educational leaders needed to reimagine engagement. Once the school year ended, the long-term obstacles for Chester County Intermediate Unit became a bit clearer. One of the obstacles: how to connect new and prospective students and families transitioning to our buildings and programs. How can we show them without physically showing them? Learn how CCIU utilized a virtual tool, Thinglink, to capture the essence of a personalized tour through videos, pictures, website links and more.

    Presented by:

    • Jennifer Chicosky, Marketing and Community Engagement Manager, Chester County Intermediate Unit
    • Laura Huff, Admissions Manager, Chester County Intermediate Unit
    • Lauren Critelli, Admissions Specialist, Chester County Intermediate Unit

    Pump up the Pride: Creative Storytelling that Enhances your Brand and Celebrates Your Stakeholders

    Presented by Lisa Palmerini, Communications Director, Penn-Delco School District

    While information and good news sharing (along with crisis communication) are primary roles of the communication professional in education, the challenge to regularly support and enhance brand is the most challenging. 

    Layer in the difficulties faced by educators, administrators, students, and their families from a global pandemic, and you have a recipe for poor morale and a lost sense of community.  Explore creative ways to measure and maximize opportunities for brand enhancement and morale building with the limited tools communication professionals like you have in your tool box.  

    Lisa is a life-long marketer who has spent more than 25 years working in Philadelphia based brand marketing agencies guiding brands like Avis Rent A Car, The Wall Street Journal, and Macy’s.  From partnership marketing to employee communication, Lisa honed her marketing and communication skills in the corporate world before joining the Penn-Delco School District --just a year before a global pandemic upended normal life in education.   As districts struggle toward a new normal, Lisa is more convinced than ever that a creative approach toward brand building and enhancement must be tapped to increase district stakeholder morale and pride.

    Developing an Ambassador Academy

    Presented by Robyn Gross, Communications Director, Bucks County Intermediate Unit

    To successfully promote an organization externally, a strong internal foundation of leaders and representatives - from all levels of the enterprise - is essential. An Ambassador Academy can help identify and develop personnel with connections, education, and supports that will equip and position them to affect positive changes in their respective work areas and across the entire organization. Ambassadors can enhance and expand goodwill and constructive approaches that not only help an organization grow and advance, but also make a significant impact on employee positivity, referrals, and retention.

    This workshop session will share the successful details of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s Ambassador Academy program, established in 2016.

    Robyn brings 25+ years of experience to education from her senior management positions in international, corporate Marketing and Communications. She has worked in industries including cryogenics, telecommunications, lighting controls, and financial services. Robyn joined the Bucks County Intermediate Unit in 2016 and manages their public relations, social media, public websites, advertising, collateral material layout, and graphic design. She is a proud graduate of The Pennsylvania State University.

    Cybersecurity and Social Engineering: Creating a Human Firewall to Protect Your District's Critical Information

    Presented by:

    • Steven Visco, Infrastructure Engineer, Chester County Intermediate Unit
    • Kyle Kampf, Technology Support Specialist, Chester County Intermediate Unit

    Join IT professionals Steven Visco and Kyle Kampf as they explain social engineering and how cyber criminals are using targeted communication strategies to get your employees to hand over your district's most sensitive information.  Learn how to provide your colleagues with the tools to recognize these communication tactics and to protect your district's critical communication infrastructures.

    Language, Culture and Traumatic Communications: Self-help Hacks to Live and Work in Stressful Times

    Presented by Bridget G. Hylak, Director of Multilingual Communications; Senior Consultant, Translation Localization; Administrator, ATA Language Technology Division

    Trauma in the workplace has long been a topic of focus among language industry professionals who are trained in how to live and work in difficult and unpredictable situations. However, as the COVID pandemic so poignantly and painfully highlighted, stress and trauma in the workplace do not discriminate.

    Professionals in almost every industry deal with sensitive communications, whether oral or written, that may be well beyond their personal comfort level or choice of exposure. 

    This session will provide a few real-life examples of communication-related trauma on the job, along with coping, decompressing and relaxing techniques that can be used by any professionals who encounter stressful situations before, during or after their work. Dress comfy – or at least be ready to kick off your shoes! It’s time to destress.

    Bridget is a lifelong, career linguist who currently serves as Director of Come Alive Communications, Inc., a boutique language services company and Chester County’s leading language services supplier. She is also a senior language industry consultant and trainer specializing in language access and lang tech issues as founder of TongueTek Language Consulting.

    A Stanford University graduate with majors in Broadcast Communications, Spanish and Portuguese, and a minor in Russian, Bridget is a proud mom of four children in top tech companies that she says keep her tech skills way more current than she wants. She is also a yoga, prayer and meditation devotee. (“But under it all, I’m just a Word Nerd.”)

    She is an ATA certified translator, AOPC certified court interpreter, approved oral exam candidate for the federal court interpreter exam, and in 2021, was nominated by a team of international colleagues to serve Administrator of the American Translators Association Language Technology Division.

    She also serves on the PA Courts Language Monitoring and Access Team (MET) and volunteers as Language Outreach Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Lyme Disease Association. “Too many vulnerable populations have no idea about this disease,” she states.

    Bridget created the Interpreter ApprenticeTM Program, a career-building outreach program for schools which introduces students, staff and parents to the interpreting industry and provides a unique bridge into topics of diversity and inclusion.

    For Questions, Contact: 

    Mary Jeanne Curley

    Director of Communications and Learning Solutions

    Chester County Intermediate Unit

    455 Boot Road

    Downingtown, PA 19335 

    Ph: 484-237-5731



    The Conference Center

    at Shippensburg University

    500 Newburg Road

    Shippensburg, PA 17257



    Thursday, March 31

    Registration: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.

    Vendor Exhibits: 11:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

    Executive Board Meeting: 9:00-11:30 a.m.

    Lunch: 12:00-1:00 p.m.

    President's Update

    Communication Awards Ceremony

    Keynote Presentation: 1:15 p.m.

    Conference Sessions: 2:30-4:30 p.m.

    Welcome Reception: 6:00-9:00 p.m.

    Friday, April 1

    Registration 7:30-10:00 a.m.

    Vendor Exhibits: 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

    Breakfast: 8:00-9:00 a.m.

    Keynote Presentation: 9:00 a.m. 

    Conference Sessions:  10:30 a.m. - 11: 30 a.m.

    Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    Conference Sessions: 12:45 - 3:00 p.m.


    Courtyard Shippensburg

    503 Newburg Road

    Shippensburg, PA 17257

    Room rate:
    $96 per night 

    Rooms are reserved for check in on Wednesday, March 30 and check out on Friday, April 1

    Guests can choose their check-in date (not all may be required to be there Wednesday)

    Guests are responsible to reserve and pay for their own rooms. To book at our group rate, please contact the hotel at 717-477-0680 and provide them with the following PenSPRA corporate code: PRAN.

    c/o Chester County Intermediate Unit

    Downingtown, PA 19335

    Phone: 484-237-5731

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    All Rights Reserved. 

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