Northwest Innovations in Communications Conference

September 19-22, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska

The NIC is headed to Alaska this fall and we want you to join us in Embracing the New Frontier in the Last Frontier, Sept. 19-22, at the Marriott Anchorage Downtown!

If you submitted 2022 Excellence in Communications entries, login here to view and download your scoresheets.

Optional post-conference workshop

Thursday, September 22

This half-day workshop focuses on three crucial areas for brand building: refreshing your brand, promoting your brand, and generating content about your brand.

2022 Excellence in Communications Awards

The Excellence in Communications contest is an awards competition open to NWPPA utility and association members. Public power professionals are invited to submit the best content created by or on behalf of their utility or organization. All photo entries will automatically be entered into the People’s Choice Awards contest. Awards for both contests are presented each year at NWPPA’s Northwest Innovations in Communications Conference.

Submissions must be original materials that were published, produced, or distributed for the first time during 2021. Advertising materials entered into the competition must have been created specifically for the NWPPA member. Each communication piece can only be submitted into one category—communication pieces that are entered into more than one category will be disqualified.

All entries must be submitted by Thursday, June 30, 2022. Late submissions will not be considered.

Entries are limited to one entry for the Annual Report category, and two entries for all other categories.

The entry fee is $25 per entry.  NWPPA will invoice utilities for their entries in early July. Invoices must be paid in full by Sept. 1 for entries to be eligible to receive an award.


2-6 p.m. Registration desk open and sponsor set-up

6:30-9 p.m. Welcome reception and People’s Choice Award photo contest at the Anchorage Museum
(Hosted by Gold Sponsor Meridian Cooperative)

All attendees are invited to attend the Welcome Reception, vote on the People’s Choice Awards, and reconnect with colleagues ahead of the conference. While there, be sure to visit the Smithsonian gallery, which features more than 600 objects from the Smithsonian’s collections that were selected and interpreted with help from Alaska Native advisers.


6:30-7:30 a.m. Fitness walk or Yoga with Karrie

7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast buffet

8:30-9:40 a.m. General session #1: Welcome and keynote presentation

Welcome: Nicole Hartman, 2022 Conference Chair, Communications & Government Relations Manager, Clallam County PUD; Scott Corwin, Executive Director, NWPPA; Crystal Enkvist, Executive Director, Alaska Power Association

Checkpoint by Checkpoint: Blazing Trails with Your Team (Sponsored by Platinum Sponsor Pioneer Utility Resources)
Speaker: Quince Mountain, Sled Dog Musher, Co-Author of “Dogs on the Trail”

What can wilderness adventures teach us about getting through the challenges of everyday professional life? Iditarod and Kobuk 440 musher Quince Mountain will recount lessons from years on the trail, crossing Alaska and the Yukon by dog team, as well as from his pioneering appearance on the Discovery show, Naked and Afraid. How do we plan for the unplannable and move forward when the route seems impassable? You’ll leave this talk feeling energized and inspired to blaze your own path in this world–whether your strategic partners are canine or human.

9:50-10:35 a.m. Breakout sessions #1 (choose one)

  1. A Diverse and Inclusive Communications Experience
    Speaker: Nikki Graham Aga’askaa, Director of Operations, Alaska Native Heritage Center

Move beyond just checking the box on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This session will cover approaches that focus on the value of different backgrounds and viewpoints, and the benefits of diversity and inclusion. We will also dive into cross-cultural communication concepts for respectfully engaging with a diverse staff and consumers.

  1. What Your Customers Should Expect When Buying an EV
    Speaker: Tim Leach, Transportation Lead, Launch Alaska

10:50 a.m.-noon General session #2: Communicating Alaska’s Challenges

Speakers: Meadow Bailey, APR, Director of External Affairs & Public Relations, Golden Valley Electric Association; Sabrena Combs, Community & Employee Engagement Coordinator, Matanuska Electric Association, Inc.; and Shannon McCarthy, Communication Director, Office of the Commissioner, Alaska Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities

Moderator: Michael Rovito, CCC, Deputy Director, Alaska Power Association

As the largest state in the nation, Alaska faces some unique challenges, especially in the face of crisis. Hear about some of the more recent emergencies and how Alaska’s communicators rose to the challenge.

Noon-1 p.m. Lunch

1-2:15 p.m. General session #3: NIC Talks 101

  1. Energy Services 101
    Speaker: Chantelle Lewis-Boutte, Member and Energy Program, Chugach Electric Association
    Energy services is about more than just new windows and insulation. Come get an overview of the stewardship that is being done by these polymaths.
  2. Video 101
    Speaker: Sheila Corson, MS, APR, Public Relations Coordinator, Okanogan County PUD
    Video is getting more and more popular, but what if you don’t have the time and resources for live video? Turn yourself into a cartoon with animated videos! Get a demonstration of Vyond, but also see a few other animated video options that are user-friendly and affordable.
  3. Writing 101
    Speaker: Brenda Dunn, Director of Communications, NWPPA
    Earn trust with your readers by catching these seven common grammar uh-ohs.
  4. Broadband 101 – Broadband Acronymapalooza
    Speaker: Will O’Donnell, Broadband and Communications Director, Jefferson County PUDMore and more utilities are getting into the broadband game. Even those staying on the sidelines have to field a lot of questions about the service. Though it involves poles and wires, the language of broadband is very different from electric. Former Comms Manager and current Broadband Director Will O’Donnell will quickly walk NIC Talk attendees through a baker’s dozen of essential broadband acronyms that will help explain the basics of how the service works and what your customers need to know about it.

2:30-3:30 p.m. Roundtable discussions by topic

3:45-4:30 p.m. Breakout sessions #2 (choose one)

  1. Touchdown! How to Score Big at Your Next Annual Meeting
    Speaker: Garrett Hylton, Communications and Marketing Analyst, Wells Rural Electric Company
    Join Garrett Hylton to see how Wells REC wrote a new playbook on their annual meetings. Discover how Hylton and his team transformed a stale, expensive, poorly attended format to create community engagement and build strong member relationships by rallying support for local students.
  2. Speak Like an Ambassador: Four Guiding Principles for Representing Your Company in Public
    Speaker: Kristin Helvey, APR, Principal, Helvey Communications LLC
    Get some tools and exercises to use for public speaking, both in formal public speaking settings and everyday public communications as your agency’s brand ambassador.

Evening networking activity: Dine Around Anchorage


6:30-7:30 a.m. Fitness walk or Yoga with Karrie

7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m. Breakfast buffet

8:30-9:40 a.m. General session #4: Spotting, Managing and Responding to Online Misinformation
Speaker: Damian Radcliffe, Professor of Practice, Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism, University of Oregon

False and misleading information is rife on the internet, causing potential harm to consumers and brands alike. In this interactive session, Damian Radcliffe from the University of Oregon will share the latest trends in this space and their implications for NWPPA members. The conversation will explore how—and why—misinformation spreads, and what can we do—as consumers, communication professionals, and content creators—to navigate this infodemic.

9:50-10:35 a.m. Breakout sessions #3 (choose one)

  1. Traversing the Legislative Frontier with Public Power Experts
    Speakers: Scott Corwin, Executive Director, NWPPA; Michael Rovito, CCC, Deputy Director, Alaska Power Association; and Mike Squires, Government Affairs Director, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems
    Join these prominent public power experts as they engage in unique legislative conversations that provide attendees with a firsthand, up-to-date outlook on the legislative frontier.
  2. Roadmaps to Navigating the Wilds of Social Media
    Speakers: Nathan MacDonald, Sr. Public Relations Specialist, Seattle City Light; Erica Erland, Director of Communications, Clark Public Utilities; and Ian Cope, Communications Director, Grays Harbor PUD
    Moderator: Karrie Carnes, Public Affairs Specialist, Bonneville Power Administration
    For some, social media might feel like uncharted territory, while for others it’s a familiar walk in the woods. Hear from utility communications experts on social media best practices, the importance of planning, lessons learned, and the advantages of putting a social media policy in writing. Whether you’re a new explorer or seasoned guide, this session has lots to offer those who dare to traverse the wilds of the ever-changing social media landscape.

10:50 a.m.-noon General session #5: I’ll Take “How to Communicate Across Generations” for $500, Andy!
Moderated by: Andy Johns, VP of Marketing, Pioneer Utility Resources

Utilities are facing game-changing shifts in their workforce and consumer base, which makes communicating effectively with newer generations even more crucial. Retiring staff often means recruiting younger talent while demographic changes make it more important than ever to connect with your messaging across generations. During this fun and fast-paced game-show-style session, a panel of young people buzz in to compete for the Golden Avocado Trophy. In addition to pre-planned questions in categories like “Hashtag This,” audience members will have a chance to ask panelists burning questions about communications and other industry related topics. It’s Jeopardy like you’ve never seen it before!

Noon-1 p.m. Lunch with tabletop topics

1-2:15 p.m. General session #6: NIC Talks Social

  1. Facebook: How to Aim and Amplify Facebook Content
    Speaker: Megan McKoy-Noe, CCC, Brand Storyteller, Pioneer Utility Resources

    Boosting posts is so 2020 (and nothing good happened then). Learn how utilities can amplify Facebook content and reach the right consumers using targeted advertising, social mirroring, and geotargeting. Likes, love and comments guaranteed.

  2. LinkedIn: More Than Meets the Eye
    Speaker: Karrie Carnes, Public Affairs Specialist, Bonneville Power Administration
    If you think LinkedIn is only for job seekers, think again. From employee engagement and content marketing to targeted outreach and recruitment, there’s more to LinkedIn than meets the eye. Learn how to optimize your Company page, whether a My Company page is right for you, possible uses of unlisted groups, the pros and cons of creating an executive presence, and more.
  3. Instagram
    Speaker: Cassi Campbell, Senior Account Executive, Blueprint Alaska

    Engaging stakeholders requires a series of tools, but in a quickly evolving world, social media is almost always a given. Knowing not only when to engage, but how to monitor and report engagement and effectiveness numbers to management will allow for buy-in from those that you need it from most. The focus will be on Instagram.

  4. So Many Options, Not Enough Time! How to Choose a Social Media Platform
    Speaker: Will Tutvedt, Digital Marketing and Community Outreach Specialist, Flathead Electric Cooperative
    With so many social media platforms out there, it can be hard to determine where to focus your time and energy to best reach your members. The good news is you don’t have to belong to all of them! Understand how to best utilize the tools and resources to finetune your social media strategy.

2:15-3:05 p.m. Breakout sessions #4 (choose one)

  1. Telling Your Story Through Interesting Infographics
    Speakers: Sharilyn Fairweather, Multimedia Design Specialist, Flathead Electric Cooperative; and Lindsay Tyson, Vice President, Marketing & Creative Services, Meridian Cooperative
    Did you know there are different types of infographics? Do you know the best ways to use them to get your story across to your audience? We’ll share some design best practices and explore real world examples of utility-specific infographic uses. We won’t go in-depth into how-tos, because not everyone uses the same design tools, but we will look at resources you may be able to use to elevate your infographic creations.
  1. Getting Through the Storm: How to Successfully Manage a Crisis
    Speakers: Meadow Bailey, APR, Director of External Affairs & Public Relations, Golden Valley Electric Association; and Jennifer Castro, Public Relations Manager, Matanuska Electric Association
    Life would be much easier if emergencies were preplanned. Unfortunately, that’s never the case. Although we can’t preplan emergencies, we can preplan for them. Join these utility communication experts as they guide you through some of the best practices of crisis communication planning for before, during, and after a crisis.

3:20-4:30 pm General session #7: CEO Panel: The New Frontier of Communications
Panelists: Libby Calnon, General Manager, Hood River Electric & Internet Co-op; Nate Rivera, General Manager, Hermiston Energy Services; Tony Izzo, CEO, Matanuska Electric Association; and Travis Million, CEO, Copper Valley Electric Association
Moderator: Nicole Hartman, 2022 Conference Chair, Communications & Government Relations Manager, Clallam County PUD

Join NIC Chair Nicole Hartman as she moderates an insightful panel discussion based around communications (both internal and external) at the utility, how it can best serve the membership, and why communications needs a seat at the table—and how to get that seat. There will be time for questions.

6-9:30 p.m. Reception, banquet, presentation of awards, and entertainment


7-8 a.m. Fitness walk or Yoga with Karrie

7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Registration desk open

8-8:45 a.m. Breakfast buffet

8:45-10 a.m. General session #8: NIC Talks Potpourri

10:10-10:50 a.m. General session #9: Building Resilience During Uncertain Times
Speaker: Renee Rafferty, Regional Director of Behavioral Health Services, Providence Health & Services

Rafferty will focus on how resilience and mental health strategies can help us to thrive during such difficult times. This session will provide practical tools for wellness and renewal, sharing some of the latest research for developing habits and shaping the work culture to promote mental health.

11-11:45 a.m. Leading into the Next Frontier
Speaker: Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, Adjutant General, Alaska National Guard; and Commissioner, Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs

As the adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard, Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe knows what it means to lead in a changing landscape. Hear his stories of leadership, adaptation, and service and come away inspired to be a leader no matter what the next frontier may bring.

11:45 a.m. Wrap-up, evaluations, and door prizes

12:30-4:30 p.m. Post-conference workshop: That’s My Brand and I’m Sticking to It! (separate registration required)

This half-day workshop focuses on three crucial areas for brand building: refreshing your brand, promoting your brand, and generating content about your brand.

Schedule subject to change.

Explore Alaska with Kierre Childers!

Are you hoping to make the most of the Alaskan experience? Then we have good news! Kierre Childers, formerly a communicator at Matanuska Electric Association and NIC Committee member, has made hikes and tours available for NIC attendees. Join your colleagues on an eight-hour glacier hike on Sept. 18, enjoy a four-hour hike around Anchorage on Sept. 19, or take advantage of the other tours she has available with her company, Revel Treks & Tours—it’s a great opportunity for guests and spouses during the week! Visit for NIC-only rates, times, and to reserve one of the limited spots on each tour.

Hotel information

Marriott Anchorage Downtown

Address: 820 W 7th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501
Phone: (907) 279-8000

Rate: $145 per night
Rate available: September 16-September 26


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 COVID-19 Measures

As we continue to monitor and evaluate COVID-19 levels in the Portland, Oregon, area, we understand that the health and safety of our members, staff, and the community are of highest concern. We are asking everyone to do their part. Currently for our 2021 Northwest Innovations in Communications Conference at The Benson, October 11-14, we have the following measures in place, subject to change as conditions demand:

  • NWPPA and local venues will follow applicable federal, state, and local health protocols.
  • The Benson will be asking all attendees, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to wear masks, and masks will be readily available for all.
  • There will be social-distancing space arrangements in the hotel.
  • There will be hand-sanitizing stations located throughout the hotel.
  • The Benson staff, including servers, will be wearing masks.
  • Specifics of The Benson’s Commitment to Clean can be found here.
  • We are asking all attendees to evaluate their own health and that of anyone with whom they are in close contact within 14 days of the event, and to contact us if they have any concern.
  • Anyone who has been exposed or is showing symptoms ahead of the event should not attend.
  • Anyone experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms during the event must immediately self-quarantine and notify NWPPA staff.

Assumption of Risk: COVID-19 has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. It is not possible for NWPPA or anyone else to completely prevent the presence of the disease. Therefore, if you choose to attend a conference organized by NWPPA and voluntarily enter onto premises where its conference is held, you are accepting the risk, without right of claim against NWPPA and its directors, employees, or agents, of being exposed to, contracting, and/or spreading COVID-19 and its variants.