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2008 Annual Conference: The Big Picture

Thursday, May 15, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
RiverCentre, St. Paul, Minnesota

Sorry, registration for this event is closed.

Conference Schedule

8-8:30 a.m.
8:30-8:45 a.m.
Welcome and Announcements
Communicators Forum Board
8:45-9:45 a.m.
Keynote Speaker
Steve Hegele, Hegele Academy (

We all deal with communication, relationships, energy, and commitment; and overcoming them fuels most of our successful endeavors. Then again, not overcoming them leads to frustration and lack of desired results and outcomes. Developing skill and confidence in these areas is key for any individual, team, and organization (but you already know that). These competencies are not fully developed in the classroom or some offsite retreat or academic program! These are applied and established in real life.

We coach individuals and teams to higher levels of performance in real life situations. Our success is attributed to earning the trust of clients quickly. Getting all parties on the same page as it relates to “where are we today” is an essential first step!
9:45-10 a.m.
10-11 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions 1-2 (choose one)

Session 1: Green Communication or “The Green Mile”
Maria Surma Manka, Tunheim Partners

Maria Surma Manka brings an extensive background of energy policy issue work, environmental expertise and social media experience to Tunheim Partners. She joined the firm in 2007 and has showcased her writing, coalition building, and special event organizing work for Fortune 50 corporations, nonprofits, and small businesses clients. She appears as a riveted audience member in the film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Maria’s client list includes Target, Dakota County Public Health, and Northern Technologies International. Whether she’s explaining the benefits of biodegradable materials or executing a multimillion-dollar workplace giving campaign, her hunger for knowledge and sense of fun keeps her motivated. Prior to joining Tunheim Partners, Maria worked for Fresh Energy, a nonprofit energy policy organization. She coordinated media relations for a coalition of 40 nongovernmental organizations across the Upper Midwest and wrote commentary and opinion pieces published across the region.

She is also a prolific blogger. Since 2006, she has covered energy policy and cleantech innovations for her blog Maria Energia. She is also a former contributor to the Green Options network and her writings have appeared elsewhere throughout the green blogosphere.

Session 2: Multicultural Communication or “Lost in Translation”
Richard Aguilar, President/CEO of Aguilar Productions

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Aguilar Productions is acknowledged as the leader is promoting the U. S. Multicultural Markets, Hispanic, Asian-Americans, African-American, Emerging African and the GLBT markets. Founded in 1996, Aguilar Productions produces conferences, seminars, workshops and special events that focus on the Multicultural Markets that in 2008 represent a buying power of 1.8 trillion dollars!
11-11:30 a.m.
Vendor/Exhibitor Open House
Lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions 3-5 (choose one)

Session 3: Communicating with Legislators or “Wag the Dog”
Sue Banovetz, CLA External Relations

Getting your message across to elected officials is easy. All you need
is an overall strategy and game plan, clear and succinct messages, and
people to help advocate. You also need flexibility, the ease to shift
your tactics on a dime, and the ability to juggle ten balls in the air
at one time. Learn the ins and outs of communicating with legislators
and how to make the most effective use of their time and yours.

Session 4: Event Planning 101 or “The Wedding Planner”
Sarah Curtis, Minnesota Medical Foundation

This session provides a high-level overview of the event planning process and discusses key factors that can contribute to a successful event. Attendees will receive planning tools and tips, participate in an interactive exercise, and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Sarah Curtis is currently the director of event planning at the Minnesota Medical Foundation (MMF). She oversees the event department at MMF and is responsible for aligning event strategies with the organization’s mission and goals. Together with her team of event planners, Sarah is responsible for developing and executing major stewardship, cultivation, and fund-raising events; establishing event policy and processes; managing event communications; soliciting and stewarding sponsors;, and providing consultation to event volunteers and development officers.

In the past, Sarah served as marketing manager, events and promotions programs at Greater Twin Cities United Way. There she created a marketing-focused events and promotions program for the organization; developed promotional partnerships with sports teams, corporations, and other non-profits; created communications and audience-engagement strategies; and generated new PR and visibility opportunities for United Way. Sarah was later United Way’s senior market segment manager for major gifts. In this position she oversaw marketing, communications, and engagement strategies for the major gifts market segments.

Sarah’s event career began with her role as events & volunteer coordinator at the Minnesota Opera, where she launched the annual Opening Night Gala. She has also participated on planning committees for the Guthrie Theater Costume Ball, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and Art-a-Whirl.

Session 5: User-created Web Content or “The Net”
Colin McFadden, CLA Video Services

Learn about ways to get started posting user-created content to the Web, via blogs, podcasts and social networking sites. This session will also include an overview of the technology necessary to get started, as well as tips for improving the quality and effectiveness of your content.

Colin McFadden works as a media specialist for CLA Video Services. He is interested in the ways in which the rise of user-generated content are reshaping the media landscape, and the ways that education can embrace these changes. He created the Media Mill project to make sharing video easy for anyone.
1:30-1:45 p.m.
1:45-2:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions 6-8 (choose one)

Session 6: Speech Writing or “Dead Poet’s Society”
Eugenia Smith, Office of Equity and Diversity
Jim Thorpe, Speech Writer in the President’s Office

“You need a 25-minute keynote on the future of U.S. higher education? And you need it when?” If you’ve ever been pulled into “other duties as assigned” to write a speech for a top administrator, you know the meaning of the word panic. Even the most accomplished writers are daunted by the prospect of disappearing behind the voice of the boss and translating her or his vision and ideas into a Riveting Performance. Part psychology, part research, part mindreading and divination, part craft, part intuition, and part sheer temerity, speechwriting is a complex process with few rules but many challenges. Eugenia Smith and Jim Thorp will talk about how they became speechwriters and how you can, too.

Jim Thorp joined the University Relations in August 2006 as a “strategic writer” and was justly mocked for his title. Prior to coming to the U, he worked for a corporate marketing firm, served as media relations manager for Ferris State University, worked as a reporter and editor for a small-town daily newspaper, and sold housewares and western boots in South Dakota. He joined the Office of the President just in time to write the 2006 State of the University address. He's also a published /kung fu/ writer.

Eugenia Smith has been at the University for 45 years—first as an undergraduate, then graduate student, then staff member. She left the U just once—in 1996, for what she now calls her “wilderness period.” She returned in 1997 to lead CLA communications—a position that plunged her headlong into magazine production and speechwriting. (After one short meeting with the dean, she wrote two 5-minute welcomes—one for Spat Camp and the other for a cross-cultural poetics conference.) She recently moved to the Office of the Vice President and Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity, where she is a senior communications and policy associate—that is to say, mostly a speechwriter.

Session 7: Creative People Management or “Stand by Me”
John Eighmey, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Session 8: What is Your Creative Process? or “A Beautiful Mind”
Jerry Allan, Criteria Architects Inc. (

As working professionals, you have developed methods that work for you. At the same time, we are drawn to events like these in hopes of learning something that will enhance our own work and give us a competitive edge. We all want to be faster, better, and more creative. This workshop is designed to assist you with these implied goals. Our discussion will introduce you to: making time work for you, the power of the orange, the ego, and ideas as additional options for your creative process.

Jerry Allan, M.Arch. is founder and president of Criteria Architects Inc. and professor of design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. As a practicing architect and educator, Jerry specializes in working with interdisciplinary design teams and developing effective strategies for creative team building and facilitation. For over 35 years, he has explored methods of enhancing and fostering creativity and developed futures, innovation, and creative training tools for businesses. Clients include General Mills, IBM, 3M, Honeywell, Mayo Clinic, Steelcase, Campbell Mithun and the University of Minnesota.
2:45-3 p.m.
3-3:30 p.m.
3:30-3:45 p.m.
Closing Remarks
3:45-4:30 p.m.
Cash bar available. If you wish to purchase any beverages during the closing reception, please bring cash to the event.

You must be present to win door prizes!

Parking will not be validated. You are responsible for arranging your own transportation and parking for the conference. Parking information is available at

Bus information is available at (Route 50 with a transfer at 6th and Cedar to Route 54 will take you there from the University)

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.