ISPRA 2022 Fall Conference and Awards Ceremony

Registration is open for the ISPRA 2022 Fall Conference and Communicator of the Year Banquet, October 20-21 at Smouse Opportunity Center in Des Moines, IA. Below is the agenda, with more information coming soon!

Nominations for Communicator of the Year are now open. Click here for more information and to nominate yourself or a colleague.


CONFERENCE VENUE: Smouse Opportunity Center, Room 370 2820 Center Street, Des Moines, IA 50312

Day 1, Noon–4:30 p.m. 

Registration & Conference Kick-off

Keynote Speaker: Alex Rohn, Director of Therapeutic Programs, Please Pass the Love: When Self-Care Isn’t Enough 

When was the last time you had a professional development opportunity that focused solely on you? This is it! You cannot take care of others without taking care of yourself first. Over 40% of educators report feeling high stress daily during the school year. High levels of stress can have negative consequences on a body. Self-care cannot just be about lighting a candle and taking a bath rather about self-preservation. This time together will help those working in schools to self-assess their own wellness, discuss the brain science behind why self-care is so critical, ask participants to engage in self-reflection, and explore different domains & self-preservation strategies. Participants will focus on building capacity to do more than just “get through” but learn how to thrive instead. 

Legal Review on School Communication Issues with Siobhan Schneider, Associate Executive Director, Board Leadership & Legal Services, IASB 

Public record requests, student privacy, personnel issues, public comment at board meetings, weapons on school grounds—what do all these topics have in common? They are just a few of the many issues school communicators must be aware of and knowledgeable enough to be able to quickly respond to the media, community members, and others on any given day. You’ll hear a run-down on legal requirements on these topics and more, with plenty of time for questions.

Relationships Matter—Building Connections & Elevating the School PR Profession, Mary Ellen Rowe, FinalSite Education Consultant & Former District Communicator 

We can’t do the work we do in school PR without allies, collaborators, truth partners, advocates, and friends. On the best of days and on the heaviest of days, relationships matter. Learn how to grow your professional network, get a seat at the leadership table, and build an army of supporters. In this session, let’s make the most of our time together and be ready to interact with one another!

5:30–8 p.m. Dinner & Communicator of the Year Award—Biaggi’s, 5990 University Ave., West Des Moines, IA 50266; Sponsored by FinalSite

  • Social Hour: 5:30-6:30 
  • Dinner: 6:30-7:30 
  • Communicator of the Year Award: 7:30-8 
  • Coffee & Desserts

Day 2, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. 

Breakfast & Networking

Yoga for PR Professionals, Jen Woodley, ISPRA Award Chair 

Keynote Speaker: Crisis Communications in a Digital Age, Jerry Gallagher, Donovan Group 

Effective crisis communications and management are always important for school districts, but getting communications right is even more critical in a digital age when misinformation flows quickly. Learn principles of crisis management that will promote clarity while preventing or minimizing the damage a crisis can inflict on the organization, its stakeholders, and its reputation. Included in the presentation will be best practices for engaging with the media when a crisis happens

Outlook on the Political Climate for Public Schools at the Statehouse, Melissa Peterson, Lobbyist, ISEA

Now that the school year has begun, we can turn our focus to the legislative session and what’s ahead for public education. Vouchers, parental choice, weapons on school grounds, curriculum review, book banning—those were just a few hot topics from last year. Most will be back, with some new legislative issues on the horizon. Hear insider info from a lobbyist pro, and get a sneak peek at what’s ahead for public schools, legislatively speaking.

Lunch & Networking, Sponsored by ParentSquare

Engaging the Hardest to Reach Families: Tips for Leaders,  Ann Pattison, Regional Director, ParentSquare & Mike Cyze, Chief Communication Officer, School and Community Relations, Dubuque Schools

How can you ensure that you connect and engage with each and every family, even those that are hard to reach through regular channels? This session will walk you through identifying who isn’t being reached, examining barriers to connection, leveraging technology and key stakeholders, as well as deploying empathy in communications.

Fee & Lodging Information

Conference Fee for Members—$95
Banquet Fee for Members—$25
Conference Fee for Non-Members—$125
Banquet Fee for Non-Members—$35

Hotel Blocks
Sheraton West Des Moines:  Book using this link.