Wednesday, January 24
*All sessions indicated in Eastern Time
|Generative AI: The DOs, the DON’Ts, the failures, and the oxford comma. So many failures. (Danny Weston, Area Power)
|An overview of the tips and tools to create images from text. With so many AI services claiming to be the next best thing, finding the right one can be difficult. In this session, learn the pros and cons of some of the most widely used AI resources, dive into a few services from the perspective of a cooperative communicator, understand how they differ, and decide which options rise to the top.
|Burnout Interventions for Tired Communicators (Tarah Keech, Tarah Keech Coaching)
|Leading and working in burnt out teams is a new but normal part of doing business. How is a compassionate, caring leader supposed to recognize, approach, and manage (up, down, and laterally) when your teams are struggling? Tarah will provide tips and tools to identify this in your team and how to help re-engage your teams work.
|Employee Engagement Panel (Penny Bryan, Melissa Hollingsworth, Baldwin EMC; and Central Alabama Electric)
Thursday, January 25
*All sessions indicated in Eastern Time
|Shield Your Story: How to Set Social Tools for Crisis-Ready Communication (Megan McKoy-Noe, Pioneer Utility Resources)
|You can’t always predict stormy days, but you can plan to protect your brand from potential crises. We’ll share proactive measures and tools, emphasizing the pivotal role of social platforms in safeguarding brand integrity. Learn how to bolster your co-op’s online narrative to ensure readiness, resilience and effective communication when faced with unexpected challenges.
|Seven Steps to Building a Communications Strategy (Chellie Phillips)
|Details coming soon.
|How Coops Can Create Recruitment and Engagement Programs (Houston Blackwood, ACCS Innovation Center)
|The ACCS Innovation Center, a distinguished division of the Alabama Community College System, unites state community colleges, business and industry, and community partners to provide innovative, industry-recognized non-credit training within Alabama’s most sought-after career domains. Employing creative teaching methods, the center empowers students with hands-on, engaging approaches that foster practical skills and industry accreditation, catering to the ever-evolving demands of the job market.
|Session: Burnout Interventions for Tired Communicators
Speaker: Tarah Keech
Tarah Keech is a leadership life coach specializing in equipping leaders with the coaching skills they need to lead well, coach well and be well themselves. As a veteran management consultant in Fortune 50 and 100 organizations with her master’s degree in clinical psychology, Tarah is here to help you – and help you help your team.
|Session: Employee Engagement Panel
Speaker: Penny Bryan
Penny Bryan is the Human Resources Manager at West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC) in Graceville, Florida. She began her career with WFEC in 1994 and has worked in and managed every function of member services, dispatch, and outage management. In 2020, she began working in human resources and became manager of that department the following year. Bryan has an MBA from Troy University and lives in Chipley, Florida, with her husband Kenneth. Together they have five children; Hunter, Savanna, Abbey, Sydney, and Kaylen, and four grandchildren; Kenzie, Asa, Lila, and Wyatt.
|Session: Employee Engagement Panel
Speaker: Melissa Hollingsworth
Melissa Hollingsworth is the Training and Development Manager for Baldwin EMC in Summerdale, AL. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education and a master’s degree in business administration. She has worked at Baldwin for 17 years in various roles along the way but has always been passionate about employee development. She lives in Bay Minette AL with her husband, Bart, and son, Jackson.
|Session: Generative AI: The DOs, the DON’Ts, the failures, and the oxford comma. So many failures.
Speaker: Danny Weston
Danny Weston is a wannabe polymath, which probably makes him a philomath, but he’s the only one who cares. He is a proud disrupter and loves reading rulebooks. In the last 20 years he has successfully: stayed married, kept 4 kids alive and healthy, attended 108 weddings, developed an alter ego, survived a few high-speed police chases, and asked the man in the mirror to change his ways. As a creative professional, Danny has touched regional and national advertising campaigns and he’s pretty sure they touched him too. Danny’s three guidelines for life:
|Session: Shield Your Story: How to Set Social Tools for Crisis-Ready Communication
Speaker: Megan McCoy-Noe
As a storyteller for Pioneer, Megan shares stories and best practices through weekly blog posts, eBooks and social content, and is a co-host of the nationally award-winning “The StoryConnect Podcast.” With a strong background in social media and leadership communications, Megan helps community-owned utilities find ways to engage members and staff effectively. For five years, she steered the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Straight Talk team, providing social support, monthly articles and handy graphics for electric co-ops across the nation. She got the co-op bug while working for GreyStone Power, a member distribution co-op in Georgia. She’s a two-time winner of the Cooperative Communicator Association Writer of the Year award and received CCA’s Michael Graznak Award for cooperative leadership.
|Session: Media Relations in the Modern World
Speaker: Sabrina Burkiewicz
Sabrina Burkiewicz is the external communications manager for GROWMARK, Inc., where she manages media relations, crisis communications, and oversees external publications for the GROWMARK System. Burkiewicz spent ten years in media relations with a nonprofit organization and then ten years with the Illinois Farm Bureau in the news and communication division. A graduate from Illinois State University, with a bachelor’s in public relations and political science, and a master’s in communication science, Burkiewicz is originally from Central Illinois where her family farmed grain and livestock.
|Session:Seven Steps to Building a Communications Strategy
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.”
|Session: How Coops Can Create Recruitment and Engagement Programs
Speaker: Houston Blackwood
Houston serves as the Alabama Community College System’s Innovation Center Workforce Director. A lifelong resident of Hartselle, AL, Houston understands the challenges and opportunities that exist in a small city. He has 17 years of experience with school culture, curriculum and training initiatives as a teacher and administrator both from the K-12 sector and higher education, and he developed and delivered non-credit training programs at Calhoun Community College for four years. Houston leverages life experiences into solutions for communities around the State of Alabama. Houston and his wife Kyla reside on their family farm with their only son, Rowan.