Embassy Suites by Hilton Des Moines Downtown
Address: 101 East Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Hotel Phone #: 515-244-1700
Room Rate: $169.00 plus tax (currently 12%). Room rate will also apply for the 3 days before and after conference.
Group Code: 925
Check in: 3:00 PM; Check-out: 12:00 PM
Hotel Cut Off Date: May 2, 2024
Located in the East Village just steps from dining venues and within a mile from Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Science Center of Iowa, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, and downtown attractions are a five-minute drive.
Reservations: Guests can book online through the CCA reservation link.
*Rates and reservations guaranteed through end of business day on Tuesday, May 2, 2024*
Des Moines International Airport (DSM) is located five miles from downtown (about a 15-minute drive). Airport shuttle is not available to the hotel.
- There will be a charge of $10.00 for overnight self-parking.
- Valet parking is not available at this hotel.
Sunday, June 2
|8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
All “In” with Adobe InDesign**
Greg Nettles, Manager of Design and Production, GROWMARK
|** Attendees must bring a laptop with a current version of Adobe InDesign in order to participate in the workshop discussion and examples.
You know how to design a layout with text and photos. Now enhance your work using Styles, Parent pages (and the proper way to set bulleted text!). Learn to use Tables, Layers and Content boxes to your advantage. Then kick your designs into high gear with Gradients, Pathfinder and Effects. If time allows, we’ll cruise the palettes and cover whatever else we can!
|CCA New Member Orientation
Monday, June 3
|Breakfast on Your Own
|Institute Kick-Off / Announcements
|General Session 1
It’s Always Personal!
Aaron Putze, Chief Officer Brand Management & Engagement, Iowa Soybean Association
|Shift to a new gear personally and professionally by harnessing the power of relationships! Yes, goals and results matter, but people matter most! Be prepared to ponder, laugh, and learn as Aaron tees up powerful stories and experiences harvested from engaging conversations with dozens of superlative leaders, including those in agriculture, business, and communications. Aaron’s fast-paced and heartfelt storytelling combined with compelling visuals and practical and actionable insights will motivate and inspire! You’ll also walk away with actionable intel to help you grow personally and professionally, attain new successes and take on any challenge with a new perspective and the power of positive momentum!
|General Session 2
Moral v. Machine Code: A.I. Impact on Society
Michael Bugeja, Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communications, Iowa State University
|Artificial intelligence is and will continue to affect our personal and professional lives as well as shape public policy in education, government and business. It ciphers patterns in data sets, forecasts future decisions, and evaluates effectiveness. Conversely, its use comes at high risk due to automation bias (stereotyping), hallucinations (fact errors), privacy invasion (surveillance) and correlation without causation (a world without “why”). As A.I. advances without regulation, its impact on society can result in startling achievements, such as diagnosing disease before symptoms develop, and dreadful setbacks, such as gender and racial marginalization. This presentation covers the fundamentals of artificial intelligence and pitfalls of machine learning that lacks human oversight and moral values.
|11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Dekotah Mathis, Cliff Dolbeare, Aaron Putze
|CCA Communications Contest & Honors Luncheon
|General Session 3
Unleash Your Persuasive Power: 12 Minutes to a Persuasive Pitch
Chellie Phillips, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations, Coweta-Fayette EMC
|Ready to master the art of getting that coveted “YES!”? Whether you’re seeking project funding, scouting your next donor, or aiming for that well-deserved raise, this session is your golden ticket. Uncover the secret weapon of a visual decoder. Learn a game-changing technique to craft a compelling pitch that hits the bullseye every time. Discover how to make your audience want it, believe they can achieve it, and ultimately say “YES!” to your pitch. By the end of this session, you’ll have crafted your very own visual decoder. Take it back to the office and transform it into a 10-slide presentation that’s more than just slides – it’s your key to having everyone rally behind your cause.
|Connector Group Meeting/Social
|Off-Site Group Activity – Lumber Axe, 338 SW 6th St, Des Moines, IA 50309 (about a 20-minute walk from the hotel)
|Gear up for an action-packed group outing at the Lumber Axe in Des Moines, Iowa! Unleash your inner lumberjack with thrilling axe-throwing sessions where camaraderie and competition collide. Think darts with muscles! An instructor is provided to help us learn the ropes before throwing axes, so no experience is needed.
Axes not your thing? If you’re up for the challenge, dive into a mind-bending escape room for an immersive collaborative experience where communication is central – or why not have it all with a combo package?
Join us for an evening of laughter, teamwork, and adrenaline at Lumber Axe, where excitement knows no bounds!
*Cost: $45 – Axe Throwing Only, $45 – Escape Room Only, $65 – Both Axe Throwing & Escape Room
*Separate Registration Required
Tuesday, June 4
|Connector Group Breakfast Meeting
|General Session 4
Building Your Video Marketing Machine: How to Get Measurable Results With Video
Johnny Eaker, Founder and Chief Strategist, Cosmic Sauce
|Join Johnny Eaker, Founder of Cosmic Sauce, a video marketing agency that has generated millions of views and measurable results for brands nationwide. “Building Your Video Marketing Machine” will dive into Johnny’s strategies to captivate audiences, create compelling content, develop a distribution plan, and harness analytics for tangible success. Gain insights on seamlessly integrating video into your marketing strategy, boosting engagement, and driving conversions. Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your brand’s impact in the digital landscape through effective video marketing.
|General Session 5
Three Life Lessons from the Second-Chance Restaurant
Paul Wesslund, Author, Small Business, Big Heart – How One Family Redefined the Bottom Line
|We’re told you have to be tough to succeed in life and in business. But a restaurant-owning couple in Louisville, Kentucky, found it was kindness and compassion that saved not just their struggling café, but their marriage. Paul Wesslund spent three years researching and writing about the formulas Sal and Cindy Rubino developed to reorganize their priorities, and to live by the same principles at home, at church, and at work. They rearranged the hours and style of their restaurant, and intentionally hired refugees and people in addiction treatment. The result is an inspirational lesson we can apply to our own lives. Paul combines their story with his career in co-ops to show how to succeed through integrity, paying attention to others, and giving second chances.
|11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
|Lunch – Sandwich, Soup, Salads (no presentation)
|Breakout Session 1
Old rules for new platforms – Communicating in the age of X
Paul Wesslund, Author, Small Business, Big Heart – How One Family Redefined the Bottom Line
|Writing for co-ops and new media still calls for the basics of communication—keep your audience in mind, tell stories, focus on people, and get your facts straight. This session will cover techniques for attracting and holding reader attention with short or long stories and compelling headlines and subheads and reinforcing the personality of your co-op as friendly and trusted.
|Breakout Session 2
Cliff Dolbeare, Internal Communications Manager, GROWMARK, Inc.
|As communicators we’re often called upon to share information on the mundane and the complex. Usually, these topics fall outside of our comfort zone or knowledge base, if not both! How can you make yourself invaluable in these situations? By looking at your subject as a process! Process thinking will help you increase your understanding of any topic so you can better communicate it to any audience. While Cliff can’t make you a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, he is sure to provide you with tools you can implement immediately in this fun and engaging, hands-on breakout session.
|Breakout Session 3
AI Unleashed: Revolutionizing Video with Cutting-Edge Tools
Johnny Eaker, Founder and Chief Strategist, Cosmic Sauce
|Explore the fusion of artificial intelligence and video tech in this session with Johnny Eaker – founder of Cosmic Sauce, spotlighting top tools reshaping the visual landscape. Dive into AI driven video enhancement, automated editing, and the fascinating world of deepfake tech. Real-world case studies reveal how industry leaders leverage these tools for optimal results. Whether you’re a content creator or tech enthusiast, join Johnny to discover the latest innovations shaping the future of video storytelling. Stay ahead with insights into AI’s transformative impact on visual content creation in this dynamic breakout session.
|Breakout Session 4
|Your employees are your best asset – are you informing them before you inform your members? Are you equipping them to be your co-op experts? If so, do you know how effective your communication efforts are? In this session, you will hear six practical tips to improve your co-op’s internal communication and leave with new ideas that you can easily implement when you get back to the office.
|General Session 6
How to Make AI Part of Your Marketing Team
Sara Steever, Chief Technology Officer, Principal, Paulsen
|Artificial Intelligence has changed marketing forever, and embracing its newest form, Generative AI will be the future of marketing. This session will delve into practical strategies for integrating AI into your marketing team by highlighting how it can enhance creativity and productivity. We’ll showcase AI players and landscape, best-in-class tools, and provide guidelines for ensuring ethical and appropriate use of AI tools. Our session concludes with an interactive Q&A, where attendees can discuss their unique challenges and opportunities in adopting AI for marketing. This presentation is ideal for marketing professionals, business leaders, and anyone interested in marketing AI.
|General Announcements | 2025 Location Announcement | Free Giveaways!
|Speaker: Michael J. Bugeja
Michael J. Bugeja is an ethicist, technologist and author of Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine, Interpersonal Divide: The Search for Community in a Technological Age, and Living Media Ethics, all published by Oxford University Press. He is co-author of Vanishing Act: the erosion of online footnotes and implications for scholarship in the digital age. He twice won the prestigious Clifford G. Christians award for research in media ethics. He is a regular contributor to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Poynter Institute, Des Moines Register and Iowa Capital Dispatch. He directed the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University and now teaches media ethics there as a distinguished professor of liberal arts and sciences.
|Speaker: Cliff Dolbeare
Cliff Dolbeare is the Internal Communications Manager at GROWMARK, Inc. In this position, Cliff works with the executive team to share strategic messages in a variety of mediums and works with departments to create campaigns to connect with GROWMARK employees. Prior to this role, Cliff was a member of the Continuous Improvement team at GROWARK, leading enterprise projects using the Lean Six Sigma methodology to eliminate waste, reduce defects, and improve their processes. There are five important women taking up Cliff’s life outside of work: his wife Emily, his daughters, Lily and Ella, and his dogs, Reeses and Brookie.
|Speaker: Johnny Eaker
Johnny Eaker, is the founder and chief strategist of Cosmic Sauce, a leading video marketing agency based in Columbia, Missouri, where he helps clients shape compelling video campaigns that deliver tangible results. With a rich background in video marketing, Johnny’s journey includes a pivotal role as a video director for State Farm Insurance, a Fortune 50 brand with one of the largest in-house creative agencies nationwide. During his tenure, he collaborated with esteemed partners such as the NBA, played a key role in national social media campaigns, and contributed significantly to expanding the brand’s social media presence to millions of followers. Johnny is dedicated to helping agribusiness brands develop winning video marketing and social media strategies that yield measurable and impactful results.
|Speaker: Dakotah Mathis
Dekotah Mathis made a unique career shift in 2022, transitioning from five years of experience in external communication to her current role in internal communication. As the Manager of Employee Communications at Jackson EMC, a prominent electric cooperative in Northeast Georgia, she plays a vital role in keeping 450 employees informed and engaged. Her responsibilities range from delivering important HR updates to spearheading innovative employee engagement campaigns – and she loves it! Dekotah lives in northeast Georgia with her husband Dylan and their two boys, Holston (3) and Brooks (1).
|Speaker: Greg Nettles
Greg Nettles is a graphic designer and self-proclaimed “brand evangelist” who owned and operated his own design business for 19 years before joining GROWMARK in 2016 as manager of Design and Production. Greg has used Adobe InDesign since 2004 to design everything from logos to social graphics to 300-page textbooks.
|Speaker: Chellie Phillips
Chellie Phillips is a versatile entrepreneur and award-winning professional dedicated to reshaping today’s workplace cultures. With over 25 years in the utility industry, Chellie has garnered numerous national and state awards for her outstanding strategic communications and public relations skills. As the Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at Coweta-Fayette EMC, she leads by example, championing the belief that work should be a “get to” rather than a “got to.” Chellie is the founder of Successfully Ever After, where she provides transformative coaching and corporate training events and activities. She’s the international best-selling author of three impactful books, including “Culture Secrets: Secrets Leaders Use to Build a V.A.L.U.E. Culture.”
|Speaker: Aaron Putze, APR
SPEAKER | AUTHOR | COACH
From baling hay to sorting pigs as a youth growing up on a northwest Iowa farm, Aaron learned first-hand and early in life the importance of hard work, showing up, and keeping your word. Those lessons continue to serve him well as a leader, dad, and volunteer. Aaron is a 30-year veteran of the ag communications profession, serving as Chief Officer of Brand Management & Engagement for the Iowa Soybean Association. He’s the author of two books and a popular speaker, consultant, and work-life coach. Aaron holds a BA in public relations from the University of Northern Iowa and Supervisory Leadership Certificate from Drake University and is an accredited public relations professional. Aaron enjoys traveling, gardening, and spending time with family. He and his wife Crystal and children Garrett, Grant, and Jaelyn (JAY-lin) live in Waukee, Iowa.
|Speaker: Sara Steever
Sara served as president of Paulsen from 2014 through 2021 before transitioning into the role of Chief Technology Officer, further advancing the agency’s impact in that arena. She serves on the board of the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Program, and also on the board of architectural and engineering firm, TSP. Sara served in several roles for the National Agri-Marketing Association, including president from 2019-2022. A University of South Dakota alumna raised on a row-crop and livestock farm in southeastern South Dakota, Sara joined Paulsen as a graphic designer in 1991 and later became VP of Digital Services.
|Speaker: Paul Wesslund
Paul Wesslund attended college where he grew up in Minnesota, worked for newspapers in North Dakota, then as a writer and communications manager for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, DC. He worked as editor of Kentucky Living magazine and vice president for communications for the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives in Louisville, before retiring to do freelance writing and communications consulting, including writing the book Small Business, Big Heart—How One Family Redefined the Bottom Line. He and his wife, Debbie live in Louisville, and have a daughter, Emma, who works in local theater in Washington, DC.
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