Webinars to Elevate Your Work: Leaders Learn, PR Power Hour

Discover how to elevate your work as a school public relations professional through NSPRA's new Leaders Learn webinar series and newly free-to-members PR Power Hour webinar series during the 2021-22 school year. With each program offered five times a year, every other month, these 10 webinars will be available live via Zoom on the scheduled dates below and on-demand as a recording after the broadcast

Registration is FREE for association members! (Members must be logged in to avail of free registration.)

Registration is $89 for non-members, but non-members can join NSPRA for the cost of $295 or less per year depending on membership level. Along with full access to all member benefits, you'll get access to the 10 professional development webinars below as part of your annual membership! If you attend four webinars as a non-member, the registration cost will be higher than your membership fee.

Have your APR? For each webinar, attendees who have earned accreditation in public relations may receive 0.5 continuing education units toward accreditation renewal.

Leaders Learn logo

Leaders Learn

Leaders Learn webinars are virtual panel discussions that focus on strategic communication best practices. They feature leading communication professionals and/or outside industry experts. Discussions are moderated by NSPRA Executive Director Barbara M. Hunter, APR.

ThoughtExchange logoDuring each webinar, attendees are invited to share their thoughts on the topic through a ThoughtExchange, which the moderator and panelists will use to inform their discussions. In-kind sponsor ThoughtExchange provides the platform and technical support.

Leaders Learn discussion topics will be added below as more details are available. Save these dates now!


  • Friday, Sept. 24, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, find under "Crisis Communication") 
    • School Communication Best Practices and Challenges in a Pandemic
      The COVID-19 communication challenge continues this fall for public schools. Amid shifting guidance, laws and rhetoric about the safest ways to educate students, many communities remain divided. What communication strategies can help maintain or rebuild the trust of families and employees? How can school public relations professionals do their best work and tell education stories while navigating these challenges? Tune in to hear a panel of longtime, award-winning communicators discuss the best practices helping their organizations get through the pandemic. 
    • Panelists (pictured from left):
      • Lesley Bruinton, APR, Public Relations Director, Tuscaloosa City Schools, Tuscaloosa, Ala.2020-21 NSPRA President 
      • Joe Ferdani, APR, Chief Communications Officer, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Thornton, Colo.; NSPRA Southwest Region Vice President 
      • Nicole Kirby, APR, Director of Communications, Park Hill School District, Kansas City, Mo.; 2021-22 NSPRA President
      • Angela Marshall, Public Information Officer, Nassau BOCES, Garden City, N.Y.; NSPRA Northeast Region Vice President 

2020-21 President Lesley Bruinton, APR  Southwest Region Vice President Joe Ferdani, APR  2021-22 President Nicole Kirby, APR  Northeast Region Vice President Angela Marshall  


  • Friday, Nov. 5, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, find under "Superintendent and System Leadership Communications")

    Curbing Public Forum Free-for-Alls and Returning to Civil Discourse
    • With increasingly tense public forums and passionate online debates around returning to in-person learning during the pandemic, superintendents and school boards have faced new leadership challenges. In a joint statement, the National School Boards Association and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, have called for respectful and civil discourse and an end to threats, abuse and harassment of school leaders. Join NSPRA in a lively webinar that will explore the public pushback in some parts of the country, the boundaries of free speech and what school communicators can do to promote civil discourse in public forums.  
    • Panelists:
      • Daniel Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, the School Superintendents Association
      • Jay Worona, Esq., Deputy Executive Director/General Counsel, New York State School Boards Association

Daniel Domenech     Jay Worona, Esq.


  • Friday, Jan.  7, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, find under "Superintendent and System Leadership Communications")

    Helping School Principals Become Extraordinary Communicators
    • Principals are facing incredibly complex societal issues while they compete for students, engage families, and inspire staff and community members to give their best efforts and support. The demand for effective communication and marketing at the campus level has never been more urgent and yet most administrators come into the role with little public relations expertise or background.  How can school PR professionals provide this much needed support to their principals? 

      Learn from two experts, Trinette Marquis, APR, and Natalie Nash,  who have written a new book, The Communicating Principal: Practical Strategies for School Leaders, in which they outline how school leaders can create a vision for positive transformation. They will share real-world stories, strategies and inspiration to re-energize your work with your school principals to improve communications for all.

    • Panelists:

      • Trinette Marquis, APR, Executive Director, California School Public Relations Association

      • Natalie Nash, Director of Communications, Crete-Monee School District, Crete, Ill.

Trinette Marquis, APR     Natalie Nash


  • Friday, March 18, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) -  WATCH RECORDING (members only, find under "Engagement")

    Bridging Community Divides through Authentic Engagement

    • Authentic engagement can provide an opportunity to heal divisions, identify common ground for public education and give your community a path through the pandemic crisis. Kathy Leslie, author of The Politics of Authentic Engagement, will share proven strategies to ensure your engagement efforts are successful and provide some practical advice on how to avoid common pitfalls with the engagement process. 

Panelist Kathy Leslie, APR, is a past president of NSPRA and recipient of the NSPRA Presidents Award for her lifetime contributions to the field of educational public relations. She spent more than 20 years on the frontlines of educational public relations before transitioning to consulting work that builds trust and strong alliances between school districts and their communities. In 2015, she co-authored The Politics of Authentic Engagement: Perspectives, Strategies, and Tools for Student Success, a book and companion workbook that provides practical approaches to create a culture of engagement in school communities.


  • Friday, May 6, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) 

    Success Strategies for New School PR Professionals - WATCH RECORDING (members only, find under "Career Advancement and Best Practices")

    • Are you new to the school PR profession? Get tips to hit the ground running in your new role during the next Leaders Learn webinar! A panel of school communication veterans will share their insights, experiences and strategies to help you prepare now to be a future school PR leader. You'll hear ways to avoid common pitfalls, how to navigate school system politics and advice on building solid relationships with key stakeholders that will earn you trust and respect. 

    • Panelists:



PR Power Hour logo

PR Power Hour

PR Power Hour webinars are virtual presentations that focus on communication tactics. They feature a communication professional(s) presenting on tactics related to a school PR topic. Discussions are moderated by members of the NSPRA Executive Board. Presentation topics will be added below as more details are available. Save these dates now!


  • Friday, Oct. 8, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, find under "Ethics in Public Relations")

An Ethics Framework for Communicators

Professional communicators are often called upon to help make decisions on what to say (or not) regarding complex, controversial issues. How do we process those decisions? Are there times when full disclosure is not in the best interest of the organization? This PR Power Hour will present some real-life scenarios and explore how we can make better decisions and advise those who look to us for trusted counsel.

Michael MeathPresenter Michael Meath (pictured) is the founder and president of Fallingbrook Associates, LLC. He has spent 40 years helping hundreds of leading organizations throughout North America navigate sensitive and confidential situations. CEOs, boards of directors and legal counsel from the energy, education, healthcare, financial services, high-tech and defense industries have looked to Michael for his strategic insight related to crisis communications, ethics and reputation risk management.

He also served as the interim chair and professor of public relations at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University as well as an adjunct professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has taught courses in business ethics, public relations management, crisis communications and communications law.

Learn more about Michael and follow him on Twitter.


  • Friday, Dec. 3, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, under "Communication Planning")

    Building a Highly Effective Communication Program: Lessons From 200+ Audits

    For more than three decades, NSPRA has conducted comprehensive communication audits for public school systems of all sizes across the United States and Canada. While each system is unique, there are some common challenges across most school communication programs. Discover what those challenges are and learn about best practices for solving them during a conversation with accredited, experienced auditors.

    Mellissa Braham, APRCo-presenter Mellissa Braham, APR, is the NSPRA associate director, and in that role, she manages the NSPRA Communication Audit service. She has overseen and conducted dozens of communication audits during her time with NSPRA and in her prior 12 years as a public information specialist for school systems in New York.

    Learn more about Mellissa and follow her on Twitter

    Carol Fenstermacher, APRCo-presenter Carol Fenstermacher, APR, has served as an auditor on multiple NSPRA Communication Audits and as the 2018-19 NSPRA president.  Recently she retired after eight years as the chief communications officer for Centennial School District in Portland, Oregon,  and 14 years as the community relations director for Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Washington.

    Learn more about Carol and follow her on Twitter.

    Frank Kwan, APRCo-presenter Frank Kwan, APR, has served as an auditor on multiple NSPRA Communication Audits and as the 2011-12 NSPRA president. Recently relocated to Washington state, he retired as director of communications for the Los Angeles County Office of Education in California after 25 years.

    Learn more about  Frank


  • Friday, Feb. 4, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT)  - WATCH RECORDING (members only, under "Communication Planning")

    Messages That Resonate: Five Easy Steps to Write the Perfect Message, Every Time

    You understand it better than anyone. Making complicated language—think acronyms,  jargon, most of the things we’ve had to write about in the past year—easy to understand is...strangely hard. As school leaders and communicators, your messaging needs to resonate with a wide range of stakeholders, from staff to families in your community. In this session, we’ll share five easy steps to simplify your messaging, how to test your message’s readability and helpful examples, too! You’ll walk away with the confidence to ensure that your messaging is serving your audience the right information, in an easy-to-understand, equitable way, every time.

    Niki JuhaszPresenter Niki Juhasz is director of the Washington, D.C., office of Forthright Advising, where she does everything from teaching capacity-building trainings to crafting smart communications strategies. Previously she served as the Children’s Law Center’s senior external relations manager, where she handled every piece of CLC messaging. Her background includes nonprofit, education, healthcare, government and policy initiatives.

    Learn more about Niki and follow her on Twitter.Bang the Table logo

    Thank you to February PR Power Hour sponsor Bang the Table for supporting this virtual professional development opportunity.


  • Friday, April 8, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, under "Media Relations")

    Media 101: How to Rock the Interview

    When it comes to a media interview, there is so much more than just stepping in front of a microphone. Hear from two former journalists, turned school public relations professionals, about their experience in news media and how that has helped them manage media in the education sector. Get valuable tips on how to best prepare for and handle interviews with local media.

    Dustin Barnes, APRCo-presenter Dustin Barnes, APR, is the communications coordinator for North Little Rock (Ark.) School District and an adjunct instructor at West Virginia University. Prior to joining NLRSD, he spent nearly five years working for the Arkansas Department of Career Education and more than six years working as a TV reporter for NBC and FOX affiliates.

    Learn more about Dustin and follow him on Twitter.

    Jessica DuffCo-presenter Jessica Duff is the executive director of communications for the Pulaski County Special School District in Little Rock, Arkansas. Prior to joining the district nearly 13 years ago, she worked in digital marketing for five years. Before that she worked as a TV editor, producer and reporter for a CBS affiliate for five years.

    Learn more about Jessica and follow her on Twitter.

    Finalsite logoThank you to April PR Power Hour sponsor Finalsite for supporting this virtual professional development opportunity.


  • Friday, June 3, at noon ET (11 a.m. CT, 10 a.m. MT, 9 a.m. PT) - WATCH RECORDING (members only, under "Social Media")

Getting the Most Out of Facebook Live

From fall carnivals to multi-camera live streams, the small communications team in Bonneville Joint School District 93 (Idaho Falls, Idaho) has found a way to connect with their community without breaking the budget. In fact, they have found a way to bring in revenue through paid Facebook Live sponsorships. Tune in to hear about their lessons learned, tools of the live-broadcasting trade, sponsorship basics and anticipated trends for the future.

Co-presenter Phillip Campbell is the director of public relations for Bonneville Joint School District 93 (D93). With a background in television, he joined D93 in 2014 and immediately began using his video expertise to connect with the district's patrons and community, resulting in D93 videos being viewed millions of times and a nearly eight-fold increase to the district's Facebook following. Phil also serves as NSPRA's Northwest Region vice president. 


Co-presenter Samantha Williams serves as the Executive Team Assistant/Community Relations and Communications for D93. She spearheaded the concept for D93 News, the district's weekly newscast, which has won numerous regional and national awards since its inception in 2015. Samantha was the recipient of the Idaho Association of School Administrators (IASA) Education Media Award in 2017. 



Co-presenter Scott Woolstenhulme, Ed.D. has served as the superintendent for D93 since 2019, previously serving as the district's assistant superintendent.  His desire to make a difference for others inspired him to become a teacher twenty-five years ago, and continues to drive his work today. 


Thank you to June PR Power Hour sponsor Smore for supporting this virtual professional development opportunity.