This article is part of our 2021 District Conference coverage series. For more information on PRSSA District Conferences, click here.
(Answers from Emma Christley, Chapter president and Conference Committee co-chair, Point Park University)
Q1: How did you arrive at your conference theme, and what can members expect to see at this conference?
We thought about this conference around the time the Mr. Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks was released and decided to work that into the theme. Pittsburgh has been said to have a small-town feel for a big city, so the idea of neighborhoods and what it means to be a good neighborhood is ingrained into the city already. Our partnership with Duquesne University allowed us to add another layer of meaning to “Welcome to the Neighborhood” as both Point Park University and Duquesne share the Downtown Pittsburgh neighborhood and are within walking distance of each other. All of this, combined with the unpredictability 2020 showed us, revealed just how important community is, and we wanted to incorporate that into our conference.
Members can expect to see a variety of speakers and topics, but all centered around how to be a good neighbor to others, how to identify good neighbors when you’re just starting out and need help, and how we can all work together to build a better, more equitable neighborhood within our work environments.
Q2: Is your conference virtual or in-person? If it’s virtual, what are some of the platforms being used?
Our conference will be virtual, and members can join the sessions via Zoom.
Q3: Tell me about the speaker/session that excites you the most. Why should members tune in for this?
I’m most excited to hear from April Hutcheson, who is director of communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and who has worked with Dr. Rachel Levine throughout the pandemic to get information out to Pennsylvanians. Of course, Dr. Levine’s work has been challenged by both people who doubt the severity of the coronavirus and those who would doubt her ability based on the fact that she is a trans woman. I’m very excited to have someone be able to discuss what it’s been like to not only handle mass misinformation but also handle the misgendering and disrespect that has been thrown Dr. Levine’s way. The way that Hutcheson and her staff have been able to handle such a year with grace and with a focus on the truth and keeping people safe will make for an incredible discussion.
Q4: Do you have any planned networking events? How will your conference allow members to connect?
We will be having an optional Networking Happy Hour after the conference where members will be invited to stick around after the final keynote to chat with speakers and each other and be able to ask those questions they weren’t able to during the day.
Q5: How can members make the most of their conference experience?
Members can make the most of their experience by coming with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. Our speakers have so many incredible stories and great insight to share, so questions are a must.
Q6: Anything else you would like to share?
We’re so excited to welcome you to our neighborhood and we hope you enjoy your visit!
Zach Ferenchak, 2020–2021 vice president of brand engagement, is a senior at Capital University, a private university in Columbus, Ohio. He is majoring in emerging media with an emphasis in public relations and minors in journalism and marketing. In his free time, Ferenchak can be found obsessing over the latest gadget or video game, exploring a coffee shop with friends, or going on a trail run. He hopes to elevate the voices of all PRSSA members through the organization’s various brand platforms. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.