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The serial crises of 2020 demolished the silos separating exec comms and internal comms.

Now, exec comms pros and internal comms pros urgently need to build the shared philosophy and the set of best practices required to move from tactical cooperation to strategic collaboration.

They’re getting together so they can get it together to help their C-suite execs and other top lieutenants communicate to their people strategically, credibly, regularly, meaningfully and sustainably.

They’re hearing from the very best thinkers on internal comms and executive comms—and they’re learning from some of the most innovative practitioners, at Walmart, Intel, Target, Edelman and more. And they’re exchanging their ideas with one another, in an intimately interactive virtual environment.

Join them to learn:

  • How to integrate exec comms and internal comms strategies—and where to keep them separate.
  • How to develop internal thought leadership: on pandemic response, economic recovery, social justice, and workplace of the future.
  • How to help execs do more than appear to listen—but actually hear, and respond.
  • And how to show executives the impact they’re having with employees, so they’re motivated to continue investing their time and their effort and their best selves.

Attend solo, or include some colleagues. From these two short days of well-spent sessions, you’ll come away with a shared philosophy for exec comms and internal comms, dozens of well-tested best practices, and new colleagues you can count on.


(All Times Eastern)

Day One: Philosophy and Strategy

11:30-12:00 • Let’s Level Set: What’s the State of Internal Exec Comms—and Where Do You Stand?

Executive Communication Council executive director David Murray welcomes you to the conference, and then hands it over to ECC researcher Ryan Williams, who will share exclusive insights from the results of a survey conducted specifically to inform this conference.

12:00-12:45 • Exec Comms and Internal Comms: Two Disciplines Merge, for Power

This panel will get you all the way up to speed: ECC chief David Murray has followed exec comms and internal comms for 30 years, and will give us a quick, provocative perspective on how each has evolved to this point. Maureen Kasper has run exec comms operations for 25 years, and she’ll tell you why right now is easily the most vital time to be doing this work. For more than two decades, Priya Bates has innovated in internal communication; she’ll tell you where exec comms fits in these days. And John Onoda was removing barriers between communications functions 30 years ago at Levi-Strauss and applied these innovations in C-level comms jobs at GM, Visa, and Charles Schwab. 

12:45-1:00 • Break

1:00-1:45 • From Program to Purpose: How to Convert Your Exec Comms into an “Imperative Story”

Leadership guru Justina Chen calls it a “Vision Narrative,” and you know you need it, to express your leader’s Worthy Purpose: vision, mission, and thought leadership. To advance why we can trust the leader as well as the organization we are building, where we are heading, and how we will impact the world. Armed with a well-crafted Vision Narrative, leaders create clarity. They impart confidence in even the toughest missions, campaigns, and projects. And they unite a team around a Worthy Purpose. In this session, Justina will share her methodology for conceiving and crafting a Vision Narrative—the imperative story for all leaders to share today.

1:45-2:30 p.m. • Breakout Roundtables

In warm, candid virtual roundtable meetings, engage with speakers and colleagues in a discussion of all the issues we’ve covered today—and whatever’s on your mind.

2:30-2:45 • Wrap-Up and Preview of Tomorrow, with David Murray and Conference Co-chair Sharon McIntosh

Day 2: Best Practices

11-11:45 a.m. • Situation Report: In an ‘Information Bankruptcy,’ Employees Turn Their Lonely Eyes to Your CEO

According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in leadership is an all-time low, as people battle information bankruptcy, questioning even the source of their news and information. Business has emerged as the last institution standing, with more than two-thirds of respondents saying that CEOs should step in when government does not fix societal problems. That leaves the communicators who support those CEOs with a dilemma: When to speak up and when to remain silent. Edelman Executive Vice President Tamara Rodman will offer insights to help CEOs and their communicators navigate this disorienting moment.

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. • Walmart: Where Internal Exec Comms Is External, Too

How does Walmart communicate with more than 2 million associates worldwide? When a triumph or challenge impacts the company, a note to the team—rather than a speech to the public—might be the right way to mount a response or mark the occasion. Walmart exec comms director Jerry Wohletz will look at ways his company leaders use internal messaging as a tool to shape an external narrative, and show why speechwriters should view all internal comms as external.

12:15-12:45 p.m. • Another CEO Statement Was the Last Thing Employees Needed—So This Organization Gave Them the Opposite

In response to the murder of George Floyd, MetroHealth didn’t deliver an executive speech—instead, leadership listened to its employees with empathy. The raw experiences of racism that followed drew tears and opened hearts more than any speech ever could. Veteran storyteller Diane Suchetka will spend this session showcasing the powerful mini memoirs her organization created and help you learn from her experience and adapt this idea for your own teams.

12:45-1 p.m. • Break

1-1:30 p.m. • Communicating Care Without a Word: How Companywide Listening Sessions Bring Target Leaders Closer to Employees in Crisis

Minneapolis-based Target was hosting company-wide employee listening sessions before COVID. But when George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police, these sessions became even more critical, offering a platform for employees’ pain as they carried the weight of what was happening in the world. Throughout the difficult spring of 2020, Target had emphasized care and compassion in team and public communications. But the simple act of showing up to hear employees’ voices and their stories—to listen instead of present—provided powerful two-way communication in itself. You’ll hear from exec comms leader Tony Telschow about the company’s effort and its response to rising employee voices—sometimes passionate, sometimes critical—and all the lessons learned along the way.

1:30-2 p.m. • Intel: Positioning Your New CEO for Success … 100 Days at a Time

CEO transitions are on the rise, increasing as much as 30% post-pandemic, according to SpencerStuart. Introducing a new CEO to an organization is no easy task for the executive communication team. But when Pat Gelsinger became the eighth CEO in Intel’s 53-year history, exec comms director Kari Aakre and her team took it step by step. She’ll share how her 100-day communication plan focused on employees, along with lessons learned and how you can apply these to your leadership transitions, when they inevitably come.

2:00-2:30 p.m. • Breakout Roundtables

In warm, candid virtual roundtable meetings, engage speakers and colleagues in a discussion of all the issues we’ve covered today—and whatever’s on your mind.

2:30 – 2:45 p.m. • Wrap up, with David Murray and Sharon McIntosh


Kari Aakre

Kari Aakre

Kari Aakre is senior director in the Global Communications Group at Intel. She leads the team responsible for developing and maintaining the company’s corporate narrative, and CEO and C-suite executive communications, thought leadership programs, and production to advance the narrative across all audiences. She has more than 20 years of experience spanning corporate, technology, employee, and consumer communications and events. Most recently, she led the Global Events organization. She also was the executive communications senior director for Intel’s Chief Engineering Officer. Prior to that, Kari served as senior director of technology communications. In that role, she led the team responsible for Intel’s product and technology communications strategy and execution for the company’s full product portfolio.

Priya Bates

Priya Bates

Priya Bates, ABC, MC, SCMP, and IABC Fellow, is an award-winning professional communicator with a passion for driving strong performance from the inside out. As President and owner of Inner Strength Communication, Priya builds strategic internal communication, engagement, branding, and transformational change plans that enable, engage, and empower employees to deliver business results. Her clients include organizations and leaders across technology, retail, financial, healthcare, mining, and manufacturing sectors looking to build strategic internal communication expertise.

Justina Chen

Justina Chen

Storytelling runs in Justina Chen’s blood. After all, her middle name means illuminate, which is what story does: it throws light on a message. Justina is a story strategist to leaders, an award-winning novelist, and the co-founder of Chen & Cragen, a boutique communications agency for leaders. She finds great joy in helping extraordinary leaders resonate through their Vision Narrative, the most compelling and articulate expression of their Worthy Purpose. Her YA novels have won several accolades, including the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature. Justina calls Seattle home, yet feels at ease wherever she goes so long as she has her coconut black tea, journal, and pen.

Maureen Kasper

Maureen Kasper

As a Principal at SolomonEdwards leading communication services and delivery, Maureen Kasper draws on three decades of experience in executive and internal communications, much of it spent leading one of the most innovative and strategic executive comms functions in the world, at Cisco Systems.

Sharon McIntosh

Sharon McIntosh

Sharon McIntosh is president and founder of And Then Communications. She has more than two decades of communications experience, sharing her passion for creating and executing new ideas to drive employee engagement and change management communications at Fortune 500 companies. Clients have included Otis Elevator, Toyota, United Technologies, AbbVie, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and others across various industries. Most recently she served as PepsiCo’s vice president of Global Internal Communications, overseeing the company’s efforts to connect with its more than 274,000 employees worldwide.

David Murray

David Murray

David Murray is founder and executive director of the Executive Communication Council and the Professional Speechwriters Association. He’s also editor and publisher of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, and author of the new book, An Effort to Understand: Hearing One Another (and Ourselves) in a Nation Cracked in Half.

John Onoda

John Onoda

John Onoda, who has held chief communications positions for The Charles Schwab Corp., Visa USA, General Motors, and Levi Strauss & Co., has been a strong advocate, practitioner and advisor of strategic communications for most of his long career. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Arthur W. Page Society, and is a member of PRWeek’s Hall of Fame.

Tamara Rodman

Tamara Rodman

Tamara Rodman leads Edelman’s Chicago Employee Experience team. With nearly 20 years of experience in organizational communications, culture, leadership development, and employee engagement, Tamara helps clients accelerate transformation by designing experiences that shift employee mindsets and behaviors. She has a passion for helping leaders be the best versions of themselves and is a certified executive coach. Tamara works with companies to adopt purpose-driven ways of working, enable executives to lead during times of transformation, and align employees’ heads, hearts, and hands to deliver strategic success.

Diane Suchetka

Diane Suchetka

Since 2014, Diane Suchetka has been writing and producing videos for the CEO of The MetroHealth System, the health system that cares for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay, in Cleveland, the poorest big city in America. Before that, she spent nearly three decades telling stories for the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina and The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. She was the inaugural MOLLY National Journalism Prize winner in 2008 and a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing. When she’s not working, she dabbles in documentary filmmaking.

Tony Telschow

Tony Telschow

Tony Telschow is senior director of executive and board communication at Target, where he has worked in exec comms roles for 11 years. Before he joined Target, he ran Independent Editorial, with specialties in publishing, executive communications, and independent journalism. He was a columnist and contributing editor at Northwestern Financial Review and authored a book at that time called The Hungry Banker.

Jerry Wohletz

Jerry Wohletz

Jerry Wohletz is a speechwriter, executive communications pro, and public speaking coach. He joined Walmart to write for Doug McMillon, the company’s CEO, and today writes for Judith McKenna, the CEO of Walmart International. He got started in the communications field while working on his family’s Kansas farm, where his strategic communications approach helped grow six tomato plants into a thriving local agritourism business. He is a former college-level public speaking instructor, and spent several years working in the education and healthcare sectors in Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

FAQ—How Does a Virtual Conference Work, Exactly?

What is a virtual conference?

The Executive Communication Council seeks to make this remote-learning conference as interactive and convivial as its beloved in-person events, which seek to convey professional knowledge participants need, and a feeling of belonging, too.

How do the networking sessions work, exactly?

Pretty much the way networking goes at the in-person conference. You walk into a virtual “room,” you see who’s sitting at virtual “tables,” you ascertain what the people at the tables are talking about, and you decide where to “sit.”

What if I miss a part of the conference?

Links to all sessions are available a day or two after the session, and viewable anytime between the conference and the end of the calendar year, 2021.


Cancellations Policy
No refunds on cancellations less than 30 days before the event. Within 30 days, your payment will be credited toward a future Executive Communication Council or Professional Speechwriters Association event.

$995 to register for the ECC's Employee Communication Summit, on June 22-23, 2021.

$1495 duo rate (you and one other team member - please enter team member name & email in the Order Notes so that they also receive credentials)

$1995 team rate (you and up to four team members - please enter team member names & emails in the Order Notes so that they also receive credentials)

Phone registrations please call 312-585-6383.

Credentials to access the event will be sent the week of June 14.



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