2016 Conference


This 2016 conference was held at the award-winning Hotel Monaco Chicago. This stylish boutique hotel is located in the heart of the city, and was named one of the Top 40 Hotels in America.

Thanks to Our 2016 Sponsors!






The 2016 UCI Conference Thanks Our Sponsors
Exelon, Scopecchio Advertising, Chartwell and Direct Options!!

Tuesday, June 21

6:00 – 7:30 p.m.UCI Social at The Hotel Monaco
Join us for delicious drinks, appetizers and socializing – maybe even make dinner plans with old or new friends.



Wednesday, June 22

7:30 a.m. — Registration and Buffet Breakfast
• Thanks to our evening sponsor, Scoppechio Advertising

8:30 a.m. — WelcomeBrian Phillips, UCI President


8:45 a.m. — Welcome to Chicago How Being A Good Corporate Citizen Improves A Brand
Steve Solomon, President, Exelon Foundation


9:15 a.m. — Changing an Employee Culture through Communications
Barbara Porter, VP and Director, Senn Delany


10:00 a.m. — Break


10:15 a.m.Social Media Messaging Muscle: Case Study from American Petroleum Institute
Andy Hallmark, President, Potomac Communications Group


11:00 a.m. — The Clean Power Plan: An Environmental Overview
Kurt Anderson, Environmental Manager, Minnesota Power


12 Noon — Lunch
           • Thanks to Chartwell, our lunch sponsor
Andy Hopson, Executive Director, The Agency at UF, Engaging Millennials through Research
1:30 p.m. – SoCal Gas: Disaster Communications Case Study
Sue Kristjansson


2:15 p.m.Leave for field trip


3:30 p.m. – Architectural Boat Tour of Chicago
           • Sponsored by Direct Options
Experience the “top tour in Chicago and one of the top ten tours in the U.S.” according to TripAdvisor. The Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise is a must for out-of-towners and Chicagoans alike. CAF-certified volunteer tour guides—called docents—interpret more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River. You’ll find out how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world’s largest cities in less than 100 years. Get the real story on Chicago architecture and its history.


5:30 p.m.  – Dine Around The Miracle Mile
Join friends new and old for dinner on the Miracle Mile. We will have restaurant recommendations.



Thursday, June 23

7:00 a.m. – Registration and Buffet Breakfast


8:00 a.m. – Solar, the Grid, Your Customers
Thatcher Young, VP, Radiance Solar


8:45 a.m. – How to Add Spice To Your Annual Meeting and Annual Report!
Jeff Wilson, Southern Company


9:30 a.m. – How are you Using Event Marketing in your Communication and Marketing Efforts? A ComEd Case Study
Robert Howell, EVP Ignition and TBD, ComEd


10:15 a.m. – Networking Break


10:30 a.m. – Hydro Communication A Dam Challenge: Connecting with your Audience on the Fly
Brandy Powers, NorthWestern  and Kiersten Maertens, Flynn Wright


11:30 a.m. – Lunch
Chartwell presentation


1:30 p.m. – Safety TBD


2:30 p.m. – MicroTargeting to Improve Campaign Results and Awareness
Kate Gray, Michael Fimiani


3:15 p.m. – Let’s Talk!! Share What’s Going On in Your World!!


6:30 – 8:30 p.m. – Better Communications Competition (BCC) Gala
           • Sponsored by Exelon



Friday, June 24

9:00 a.m. – Board Meeting





Conference Speaker Bios



Brian Phillips, LG&E and KU

Brian is the Director, Brand, Advertising, Customer and Digital Communications for LG&E and KU. Phillips was promoted to his current role in January 2013. He has more than 13 years experience in the electric and natural gas industry.

Starting with LG&E and KU in 2002, Phillips has served as a key company spokesperson and media strategist, as well as leading the company’s branding, advertising and digital communications efforts.

He has extensive experience in environmental, regulatory, outage and social media communications, as well as in developing executive presentations and speeches.

His latest role integrates the company’s advertising, digital and customer communications efforts, which further educates LG&E and KU’s key stakeholders about the utility business.

Phillips holds a bachelors degree in Communications from the University of Louisville. He is currently board president of Utility Communicators International and volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana.



Steve Solomon, Exelon

Steve Solomon is Vice President of Corporate Relations of Exelon, the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, and President of the Exelon Foundation. He oversees Exelon, ComEd and Constellation’s corporate relations activities, including corporate giving, sponsorships, employee volunteer programs, and the Exelon Foundation. In his 31 years with the company, he has managed advertising, corporate communications, and audio-visual services, led change management initiatives, and created The Power House, a 30,000 square-foot hands-on energy museum in Zion, Ill.

Since joining the Corporate Relations group in 2002, Solomon has overseen over $175 million in grant making and helped create major initiatives and signature programs for the company. In 2005, he collaborated with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago to create the Exelon-ComEd-United Way Stay in School initiative. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the program brings together nonprofit partners, public schools and employee mentors with the primary goal of helping students stay in school and graduate high school. Exelon and its electric utility subsidiary ComEd also hire a number of the students for summer internships. Over 23,000 students have participated in the program, and the vast majority of them have graduated high school. In 2007, the program received the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, the only award from the White House that honors organizations for outstanding achievements in employee and community relations.

In 2006, Solomon started Exelon’s Energy for the Community program to promote employee volunteerism and encourage employees to volunteer in the community. Since the program started, employees have logged 750,000 hours of community service. In 2008, Exelon added its Dollars for Doers program to recognize employees for their volunteer work by providing grants based on the number of hours employees volunteer. In 2009, Solomon expanded the program by introducing the Energy for the Community Volunteer Awards, which provides $145,000 annually in grants of $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 to nonprofits where individual employees volunteer over 50 hours annually. These two programs combined have awarded over $2.4 million in nonprofit grants to recognize employee volunteers. Energy for the Community received the VolunteerMatch Corporate Volunteer Program of the Year award in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Solomon currently serves on a number of nonprofit boards including: the Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago High School for the Arts, and Pope John Paul II Catholic School. He also serves on advisory boards or committees for the following organizations: Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Schools Be Creative Campaign, Get IN Chicago, John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School, Morton Arboretum, Museum of Science and Industry, Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, and Rowe Elementary School. He also is a member of the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Campaign Cabinet.

Solomon is a graduate of Illinois State University, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in mass communications. He lives in Naperville with his wife, Robin. They have two children: Becky, who is a first-year teacher at Bogan High School on Chicago’s southwest side, and Ryan, a senior at the University of Illinois.



Barbara Porter, Senn Delaney

Barbara is a Sr. Vice President, principal at Senn-Delaney, responsible for leading the growth of our utility practice.

Barbara has combined her experience as an entrepreneur and corporate executive in the energy industry to drive innovation, growth, and enhanced earnings for utilities. As Executive Director, Advisory Services for Ernst & Young, she advised clients on enterprise customer experience strategy, growth strategy, M&A and contact center operational improvements which delivered improved employee and customer engagement, earnings contributions and increases in J.D. Power Industry CSAT rankings. She led a matrixed team of analysts and senior managers delivering concurrent projects across multiple industries.

In 1991,Barbara founded IBT (Integrity Builds Trust) Services, a leading call center in the utility/energy industry, where she led a team that built one of the premier sales organizations in the deregulated energy industry.

In 2005, IBT was acquired by Nicor (GAS), where Barbara held numerous leadership positions from General Manager to Vice President, Customer Service and Business Development at Nicor National.

During this time, Barbara developed and implemented a formal process for measuring the impact of culture by capturing, analyzing, and acting on employee, customer, and partner feedback, combined with operational data to deliver improved business results. Under her leadership, the Nicor National team earned the JD Power Call Center Certification for six consecutive years and achieved over 300% EBIT growth.

In 2011, Nicor was acquired by AGL Resources and Barbara became Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Business Development for the home services business. During the merger integration, her business unit maintained an 8.8 employee engagement score while increasing profit 20% and revenue per customer 25%. These achievements are contributed to the intentional culture and employee focus demonstrated throughout her career.

Barbara is a Board Member and Faculty Advisor for Enterprise Engagement Alliance. A frequent speaker on leadership and culture at industry forums across the country, Barbara has proven the positive impact that employee engagement has on the bottom line. She has published several articles for industry publications, including “Employee Engagement: Its Impact on Profitability and the Customer Experience” and “Creating an intentional culture that engages employees and delivers results.”

Barbara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.



Andy Hopson, Executive Director, The Agency at UF

A cross-functional marketing professional and advertising and public relations leader, Andy serves as Executive Director of The Agency at the University of Florida, a strategic communication firm that specializes in marketing to millennials.

Under his leadership The Agency has grown to a Team of 85 students led by seasoned professionals, serving a roster of blue chip clients that includes Anheuser Busch InBev, Proctor & Gamble, the Florida Departments of Citrus and Transportation and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The Agency recently launched MAVY, a virtual community of millennials, created and managed by millennials, to provide companies and marketers insights about products, concepts, issues and ideas by engaging in discussion forums, quizzes, videos and games.

Andy began his career on Capitol Hill as Press Secretary for a Utah congressman, subsequently serving in senior positions at PR and advertising agencies including stints as President/COO of Publicis Dialog, President/CEO of Burson-Marsteller’s Northeast Region, President of Noble Communications and Managing Director of Ruder Finn/Chicago.

Andy’s civic and community involvement includes a decade of leading bond and levy campaigns in the Seattle-area school district where his three children were educated. He served as an early Make-a-Wish Foundation of America board member and led the development of its first national advertising campaign. He was a founding board member of the PR Council. And since it was established in 1998, the Hopson Family Communications Scholarship has helped 32 Brigham Young University students complete their educations.



Kurt Anderson, ALLETE/Minnesota Power

Kurt Anderson is the Manager of Environmental and Land Management at ALLETE/Minnesota Power. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth with a degree in biology, and worked in aquatic toxicology before coming to Minnesota Power, where he is now responsible for the overall environmental and land management programs. Kurt is a member of Governor’s Dayton’s Advisory Committee to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and also serves on the statewide Sulfate & Wild Rice Advisory committee for the MPCA. In addition to his work at Minnesota Power, Kurt is also a nationally published book and magazine author. His magazine work has appeared in publications including Outdoor Life, The Family Handyman, and Cabin Life. His non-fiction book How to Back up a Trailer…and 101 other Things Every Real Guy Should Know was published in 2008 and has sold over 100,000 copies. His debut novel,Devour, was released by Kensington on May 31, 2016.



Sue Kristjansson, Southern California Gas

Sue Kristjansson served as deputy public information officer for the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility leak from January through May 2016. In her role she managed the development of communications content, oversaw the media team and acted as the single point of contact with the utility’s legal team.

In her regular role, Sue is the Codes & Standards and Zero-Net Energy Manager for SoCalGas. She’s been with the Sempra Energy family of companies for more than 16 years and has served in a variety of departments including, emergency services, commercial and industrial markets, communications and branding, customer programs, and clean energy strategy. In her current role, Sue oversees the codes & standards and zero-net energy team, specifically scoped to explore building codes and technologies to advance to the next level of efficiency as a path to stringent California goals.



Kiersten Maertens Flynn Wright

As the account manager for NorthWestern Energy, Kiersten is extremely well-versed in utility communications. She has nearly a decade of utility energy-efficiency and brand experience. And in addition to servicing traditional advertising clients, she also has roots in public relations, event planning and media relations.


Brandy Powers, NorthWestern Energy

Brandy Powers leads the creative services team at NorthWestern Energy, which serves approximately 701,000 electric and natural gas customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. In her tenure at NorthWestern, the focus of her work has been on developing and managing the company’s brand through effective communication strategies.

A graduate of Montana Tech University, she studied professional and technical communications. Brandy currently resides in Butte, Montana, where she enjoys getting lost in the great Big Sky with her husband and two vivacious toddlers.



Andy Hallmark, Potomac Communications Group

A long-time UCI member, Andy is partner at the Potomac Communications Group based in Washington DC. Prior to Potomac, he was Director of Communications at the Maryland Environmental Service, a member of the PPL Corporate Communications team, and a reporter/anchor for several TV stations.



Thatcher Young, Radiance Solar

Thatcher is the Director of Business Development at Radiance Solar in Atlanta. A long-time solar and renewables advocate, he focuses on the practical, economical energy solutions that can deliver real financial and sustainability results for clients.

Prior to joining Radiance, Thatcher was VP of Sustainability and Strategy for Ignition where he led the practice for Fortune 500 companies.



Jeff Wilson, Southern Company

Jeff is the Communications Strategy Manager at Southern Company, where he leads the Corporate Communications team and responsible for shareholder communications and communications strategy for one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S.

Before joining Southern, Jeff served as the Nuclear Development Information Manager

For Georgia Power; providing strategic communications strategy for the first two nuclear facilities built in the US in thirty years. He is a graudate of Auburn and his teenage son just completed his first solo flight !



Kate Gray, Scoppechio Advertising

Kate is a native Louisvillian who has spent the last six years in advertising management. She has worked in a variety of client account categories, including healthcare, B2B, and the service industry. Throughout her time at Scoppechio, she has advanced quickly in her career, from an assistant account executive to her current role as account supervisor.

Kate has a passion for account service and ensures that every team member is working hard to regularly exceed client expectations. And the local AdFed chapter agrees: in 2012,
she was presented with the “Hot Ten Under 30” award.

Kate received a BA in Spanish and a BS in Journalism from Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication.

Over the course of her career, Kate has supported a number of successful brands, including: LG&E and KU, GE Appliances, Humana, Jewish Hospital (now KentuckyOne Health), Insight Business (now Time Warner), FamilyLife, and the Kentucky Community & Technical College System.


Michael Fimiani, Scoppechio Advertising

Michael is a strategic planner at Scoppechio and responsible for generating creative strategies and innovative digital solutions for Scoppechio’s portfolio of clients including: GE Appliances, LG&E and KU, Yum Brands, Thorntons, Darden and new business. Previously held positions in Digital Strategy and Account Management at Possible in Cincinnati. At Possible, Michael executed work across a variety of P&G and Miller-Coors brands.


Nathan King, University of Florida

Recently graduated, Nathan provides a valuable millennial perspective to The Agency’s professional staff. With his newly acquired public relations degree and extensive experience in account management, he assists in multiple roles at The Agency on a daily basis, though his primary focus is business development. Nathan served as The Agency’s Account Group Manager, one of the highest positions for a student Team Member and managed The Agency’s diverse account group before being hired as Business Development Coordinator. He has honed his communications skills through high-level internships, freelance work and leadership in professional communications organizations. As a senior, Nathan was a finalist in the Bateman National Case Study competition, where the work of his team of five UF public relations seniors placed second out of 60 schools across the country. He has also received other awards for his work such as FPRA’s Golden Image Award and The Agency’s Somebody Award.

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