2021 Keynote Speakers
Lori Nelson-Kraft, APR
Lori Nelson-Kraft serves as senior vice president of communications for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) overseeing corporate communications, corporate social responsibility and community relations. Prior to joining the LVCVA, she served for 14 years as vice president of corporate communications for Station Casinos, one of the leading providers of gaming and entertainment. In her role, she oversaw media and community relations as well as served as the Company spokesperson. Throughout her 25-year career, Nelson-Kraft also served as Associate Director of Public Relations for R&R Partners and owned a small public relations agency, both in Las Vegas. She is a proud member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), having served as the president of the Las Vegas Valley Chapter and achieved its Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). Nelson-Kraft grew up in Detroit, Michigan and is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University.
Chairman, GOLIN and Director, USC Center for Public Relations. Fred Cook has worked at Golin for over 30 years. He started as an account supervisor in the Los Angeles office and moved to Chicago 15 years ago to become Golin’s third CEO. Fred credits the company culture for his long tenure with the firm. During his time with Golin, Cook has had the privilege to work with a variety of high-profile CEOs, including Herb Kelleher, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. He has also managed a wide scope of crises for his clients, including airline crashes, product recalls, and sexual harassment. Fred is proud of the firm’s accomplishments, but he is even more excited about the future. The world is experiencing profound changes in demographics, globalization, multiculturalism and technology which are impacting the way people communicate with each other. To stay ahead of their changes, five years ago, Golin completely redesigned the agency by adopting a proprietary business model called g4, to deliver deeper insights, bigger ideas and broader engagement to their clients. Since that time, Golin has been named ‘Agency of the Year’ more than a dozen times. In 2014, Cook published “Improvise – Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO,” which shares the wisdom he gained as a cabin boy on a Norwegian tanker, doorman at a 5-star hotel and chauffeur for drunks. In 2015, after speaking on college campuses around the world, Fred accepted an additional position with the University of Southern California as the Director of the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School whose mission is to shape the future of public relations and those who will lead it - through research, education and thought leadership.
As a Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times contributing op-ed writer, highly sought-after political commentator, TED speaker, and award-winning playwright, Wajahat Ali is undoubtedly a jack-of-all-trades. But across his many roles, one thing remains constant: Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. His upcoming memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American (Fall 2021) will share stories, both hilarious and poignant, of Ali’s experience growing up a Muslim Pakistani-American in an effort to inspire a new vision of America’s multicultural identity. When his two-year old daughter’s battle with liver cancer took him on an unexpected and devastating journey through the U.S. medical system, Ali wrote about it with his signature candor and openness for the New York Times: “A crisis like cancer helps us answer the question: What truly matters when we are stripped overnight of our comfort, wealth, and plans?” As the coronavirus pandemic and recession poses a similar question to millions of people across the country, Ali offers his experience as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of an impossible situation. Above all else, Ali is living proof that we can use our authentic stories—whatever they may be—to build the America we wish to live in. Ali is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim Americans post-9/11— as well as the Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America. There, Ali told stories of communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media. Previously, as Creative Director of Affinis Labs, Ali worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Ali initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Ali has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.
Eric Tosi joined the marketing team of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights in December of 2016 as the club’s Vice President of Communications and Content. As the expansion franchise’s first Communications executive hire, he helped build and create the organization’s initial internal/external communications strategies, public relations efforts, broadcasting initiatives and social media presence. He was elevated to his current role of Chief Marketing Officer in August 2021, where he now oversees all marketing efforts for the Foley Entertainment Group’s portfolio of hospitality and entertainment assets. The portfolio is currently highlighted by the Vegas Golden Knights (NHL), Henderson Silver Knights (American Hockey League), the team’s community arenas in Summerlin and Henderson, and hotel properties and restaurants in California, among others. He was selected to serve the Chief Operating Officer role for the Henderson Silver Knights AHL franchise in April 2020. As COO, he oversaw all business operations of the Silver Knights, helping navigate the business team through the challenges of the pandemic. Tosi joined the Golden Knights after spending the previous 10 seasons with the NHL’s Boston Bruins and was with the Bruins organization during the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup championship winning season. Before his time with the Bruins, he held communications positions with Red Bull New York of Major League Soccer and the New York Jets. The Massachusetts native graduated from the College of the Holy Cross.
2021 Session Speakers
Stacy Bernal is a change instigator, TEDx speaker, author, and coach at See Stacy Speak LLC. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Weber State University with a BA in Communication as the 2013 Outstanding Graduate for PR & Advertising. She proudly serves on the WSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and Ogden City Diversity Commission. She is the founder of Awesome Autistic Ogden, an autism appreciation event turned community resource, as well as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Bernal Badassery Foundation. Stacy is passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to live their biggest and most badass lives. She’s an outspoken advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion and representation and she’s known to challenge the status quo on occasion.
Karim brings close to 20 years of experience in international business and community-based organizations, where he developed policies and programs to address economic, workforce, community and education needs. He grew up in a multinational family-owned enterprise and eventually worked in five countries — seeing firsthand the daily intersections and unique differences in local economies, culture, communications, and leadership styles. Prior to launching the local nonprofit organization Business For Good San Diego, Karim started his small business, Blues Scale Group, to support the growth and sustainability of cause-driven organizations. He understands intimately how social change comes by building voice with marginalized groups; by figuring out pathways to effectively communicate their message at mainstream tables; and by utilizing a multimodal approach to build consensus.
Jeremy is a San Diego-based graphic designer who thrives on the challenge of translating meaningful and complex stories into compelling visual work—from branding UC Davis’ largest annual event during his undergrad to designing for local nonprofits at Mixte. In Summer 2017, Jeremy studied narrative environments in the UK and Netherlands. Prior to Mixte, he also worked at a signage agency learning about wayfinding improvements for community colleges in Southern California. Although his interests lie in visual communications, he is fascinated by how spaces often combine many different facets of design to create holistic visitor experiences. He holds onto that approach of multidimensional storytelling in his graphic design work to help organizations solidify their voices
Matthew Darling is the Head of Sales at Muck Rack, overseeing new customer acquisition across all business segments. Matt has worked in sales and client relations in the PR technology industry for the past eight years and was previously Vice President, Client Relations at Critical Mention. A certified USAG Meet Director, he has also worked as Director of PR and Social Media for YMCA Gymnastics. He has an MBA from Ohio University and degrees from the University of Akron.
Owner, Delani Denton Social & Digital Marketing. My professional experience in digital marketing has been mainly in the Las Vegas hospitality industry, international marketing, and at the agency level. My primary focus as a digital marketer is paid media spend, content creation, and SEO. I am passionate about the field and continue to seek out new ways to help businesses. An avid music lover, I play piano and write music in my free time. You can often find me exploring downtown Las Vegas, grabbing coffee with a friend, or planning my next adventure.
Heathere Evans, APR
Heathere Evans, APR, is an accredited public relations professional, ICF-certified executive coach and multiple Silver Anvil award winner. Fusing together a 20-year career in communications with a background in psychology and neurobiology, Evans provides a unique blend of workforce development, executive coaching programs and workshops for teams and individuals seeking mastery in both their professional and personal lives. Evans is a regular speaker at conferences and leading academic institutions. She has been published on success, leadership, workplace wellbeing and personal/professional growth. Evans has a bachelor’s degree in communications, a master’s in psychology, earned her accreditation in public relations in 2003, and holds credentials in coaching, psycho-synthesis, neuro-linguistic programming, and consciousness & health. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her two daughters.
Meredith Ford is a dynamic public relations professional with proven success in elevating ideas and amplifying impact. An advocate for health and well-being, Meredith currently leads communications strategy for Casa de la Luz, Southern Arizona’s leading provider of end-of-life care, and spent more than 10 years conducting PR campaigns on behalf of the global wellness brand Canyon Ranch. A native Tucsonan and University of Arizona alum, Meredith is a graduate of the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Greater Tucson Leadership program and recently completed the PRSA Measurement & Analytics Certificate program. In 2019 she was named one of Tucson’s 40 Under 40 by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Arturo Garcia is the manager of marketing and communications at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego’s Balboa Park. He is also a board member at the PRSA San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter, serving under the professional development committee, in addition to supporting the board’s incredible efforts toward equity, inclusion and diversity.
Jon Goldberg is the founder and chief reputation architect of Reputation Architects Inc., a strategic communications and reputation risk management advisory firm dedicated to building, protecting and restoring reputations in a world of evaporated trust and unprecedented stakeholder engagement. Trained as a journalist, Jon founded Reputation Architects in 2009 after more than 25 years as an advisor to corporate and non-profit executives and boards and a senior leader at some of the world’s most prominent communications firms. He is the chair of PRSA’s Counselors Academy, a member at-large of PRSA-NJ and co-chair of PRSA’s national Civility Task Force.
Jamie Hampton’s biggest accomplishment: understanding her privilege and educating herself to use it to fight racism. Jamie worked for ad/pr agencies early in her career before creating the award-winning communications department at an environmental organization in 2009. Since launching Mixte eight years ago, Jamie has grown into a visionary running two companies and is known for her strong commitment to community values and for creating a workspace that respects and values her team. Jamie has learned that it’s not enough to settle for doing awesome work, even if the nature of that work is inherently good. She knows it’s time for businesses to take a lead on cultural values and to develop an industry inclusive of diversity -- that takes awareness, courage and intention.
Mark Mohammadpour, APR
Mark Mohammadpour, APR is a strategic communications executive, certified personal trainer and health coach. His company, Chasing the Sun, offers health coaching tailored for the public relations industry. Since launching his company in 2019, Mark has worked with public relations students, new professionals, agency owners, solo entrepreneurs, and in-house practitioners to help them prioritize their health and wellness. Mark spent most of his public relations career at Weber Shandwick and Edelman. Throughout his career, Mark led integrated communications programs for more than a dozen global brands, including Microsoft and the U.S. Army. Mark also served as the PRSA Oregon Chapter president in 2016. In 2017, Mark became an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Certified Personal Trainer, and in 2018 became an ACE Certified Health Coach. In 2007, Mark started a journey that led him to lose more than 110 pounds over nine months and is proud to have kept that off since. He is determined to help others lose weight and live a lifestyle that will benefit themselves and those around them.
Katherine is Senior Strategist at Godat Design, where she specializes in brand and marketing strategy, data analytics and visualization, project management, and business process improvement. She is responsible for developing marketing strategy and messaging, managing integrated marketing campaigns and content marketing across digital and social platforms, optimizing CRM and metrics strategies, and building pitch and presentation materials for numerous clients. Katherine has been a member of PRSA Southern Arizona since 2019, and has previously served as IMPACT Awards Chair. She holds an MBA with concentrations in Marketing and Business Intelligence from the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management, and a BA in English and Theatre Arts from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.
Benjamin Morse is currently a visiting lecturer at the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies, part of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He teaches courses in podcasting and digital media as well as running the school's student-staffed digital media agency. Prior to that, he worked for a decade as the Editorial Director of Digital Media for Marvel Entertainment. He lives happily with his wife, daughter, and dog in Henderson, Nevada.
Michelle Olson, APR
Michelle Olson is managing director and partner at Lambert, a full-service communications firm with offices in Michigan, New York and Arizona. Olson leads the firm’s automotive and mobility practice. Olson began her tenure as national chair of PRSA in January 2021, having previously served on the national Board of Directors and as a leader at the Chapter and Section levels. As chair, Olson aims to equip PR practitioners with the tools necessary to identify and combat mis/dis/malinformation, break down barriers for diverse students and professionals to enter the industry, and help communicators foster more effective civil discourse.
Gretchen Papez, APR
Gretchen Papez is the director of PR and media for The Valley Health System, an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient services and physician practices in Las Vegas. As the chief PR/PIO for a six-hospital system during the country’s largest mass casualty incident on October 1, 2017, she worked closely with multiple administrations, community partners and local, national and international media to provide information about and access to patients, families and health care providers. She has worked in hospital public relations for the majority of her career, along with stints at a Las PR firm and as a solo entrepreneur in marketing communications. She earned her degree in public relations from Illinois State University, a master’s degree in health care administration from Ashford University, and the Accreditation in Public Relations. She received the 2018 PRSA Las Vegas Volunteer of the Year Award and is currently assisting with the Las Vegas APR Ready to Roll program for members working on their accreditation.
Brad Ritter, APR
President, Ritter Communications. From CEOs to chefs, media and presentation trainer Brad Ritter, APR, has helped thousands of spokespersons nationwide tell their stories more effectively in front of journalists, TV cameras, live audiences and on social media. A former television reporter, anchor and producer, Brad trains spokespersons for every type of media encounter, including live and virtual interviews. He has prepared clients for interviews with such media as The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Fox News and CNN, as well as scores of local and industry media outlets. His clients range from global companies, such as Honda and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, to American Electric Power and A&W Restaurants.
Ashtyn Rottinghaus is a Communications Specialist at Textron Aviation and an immediate past president of the Wichita State University Public Relations Student Society of America Chapter. She recently graduated with a degree in marketing and minors in communication, management and personal selling. A member of Gen Z herself, Ashtyn’s resume already includes internships in employee and community engagement and full-time employment in media relations with Textron Aviation, as well as the Special Olympics of Kansas, PDC Productions, and multiple roles in admissions and student success at WSU. As a student, she conducted professional marketing research and communication campaign planning for companies and nonprofits in the United States, France, and China as part of student-run marketing firm Barton International Group. Additionally, Ashtyn received multiple honors as president of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, PRSSA and for her leadership on campus as well as an active member of the Wichita community.
Matt Seltzer is the owner of S2 Research, a Las Vegas-based market research consulting firm that works with small to medium-sized advertising, marketing, digital and public relations agencies that don’t have a dedicated in-house market research or strategy team. Matt has overseen market research, marketing and public relations projects at ad agencies and individual brands across a variety of industries, including travel and tourism, gaming, hospitality, consumer goods and services, for-profit education and commercial real estate. He’s also taught a combination of marketing, communications and market research courses at the Associate’s and Bachelor’s levels. He holds degrees and certifications in marketing, organizational psychology, data analysis and data visualization. In 2019, Matt started S2 Research, a market research consultancy devoted entirely toward helping marketing teams do better marketing through market research.
Angela Sinickas, CEO of Sinickas Communications, Inc., has worked with over 25 percent of the Fortune 100 global companies to help them measure the impact of their internal and external communications. She has spoken on this topic for clients in 32 countries, and she has published over 150 articles on the topic of communication measurement. An accredited business communicator, she is a Fellow of IABC and has earned more than 22 awards from international communication associations.
Eric M. Wilson
Eric M. Wilson is an experienced public relations educator at Wichita State University in Kansas, a veteran PRSA regional and national conference presenter, and founder of media training firm V1 Communications. He is a past president of the PRSA Kansas Chapter, current chair of the PRSA Southwest District, a 2019 Silver Anvils judge and a 10-year veteran PRSSA adviser. His current research interest, and the focus of an ongoing teaching fellowship, is Generation Z -- the student group with which he has primarily worked. Wilson has more than 10 years of media training and teaching experience, having completed a public relations internship at Southwest Airlines and two national business journalism fellowships at the Donald W. Reynolds National Center at Arizona State University.
Call for Presentations
2021 PRSA Western District Conference
September 26-28, 2021
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
SHONALI BURKE, ABC
JIAN “JAY” WANG
JANE DVORAK, APR, FELLOW PRSA