Monday, September 18

9 a.m.-noon

Optional networking/volunteering project

Join the 2023 NIC Planning Committee and other attendees at the Martinelli apple orchard in Healdsburg to glean apples for the nonprofit group Farm to Pantry. Learn about the Sonoma County farming community, rescue food that would otherwise be wasted, and provide fresh fruit to the community. No cost to participate and all tools will be provided. Email Brenda at to sign up.

2-5 p.m

Registration desk open, exhibitor set-up

6:30-9 p.m.

Welcome reception and People’s Choice Award photo entries at the Charles M. Schulz Museum

(shuttle service will be provided)


Hosted by Gold Sponsor Meridian Cooperative


Wine provided by Supporting Sponsor Balletto Vineyards; champagne provided by Supporting Sponsor Korbel California Champagne


All are invited to connect with colleagues, tour the museum, and vote on the Excellence in Communications photography entries that will be on display. Shuttle service from the Hyatt to the museum will be provided.

Day 1: Tuesday, September 19

6:30-7:30 a.m.

Fitness walk or yoga (Optional)

Early birds are invited to gather in the lobby near the front doors to come along on a morning walk around downtown Santa Rosa with Sabrena Combs, or join Karrie Carnes for an hour of morning yoga.

7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Breakfast buffet

8:30-9:40 a.m.

Welcome and opening keynote

The Science of Communication – Wine Country Style


Speaker: Geni Whitehouse, Speaker; Winery Consultant, Brotemarkle, Davis & Co; and President,


Hosted by Platinum Sponsor Pioneer Utility Resources


Have you ever wondered why your former boss only answered one of three questions you asked in an email? Or why some people prefer face-to-face meetings to emails? And why some people just take too long to get to the point? In this session you will learn how to apply the science of communication to achieve greater success in your daily interactions with others. You’ll understand the needs of different audiences and you will leave with tools for reaching them.

9:50-10:35 a.m.

Breakout sessions (choose one)

1. Leveraging AI to Work for You: Tips and Tricks for Communicators


Speaker: Meadow Bailey, Director of External Affairs and Public Relations, Golden Valley Electric Association


Artificial intelligence is transforming communication as we know it, but when used strategically it can be an incredibly powerful tool. Learn ways communicators can leverage AI, including specific examples and ethical considerations to keep in mind.



2. Raising the Glass: Communicating Broadband for Electric Utilities

Speakers: Will O’Donnell, Broadband Communications Director, Jefferson County PUD; Kelsey Bozeman, Communications Specialist, Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative; and Monica Santi, VP of Marketing, Pivot Communication

Join the Raising the Glass participants to learn about how two electric utilities (a PUD in Washington and a co-op in Oregon) have worked to promote and sell the launch of brand-new service (broadband internet) to existing customers. They'll also be joined by a national expert who'll share lessons learned and best practices from work with hundreds of utilities across North America. And they'll discuss what it's like for monopoly providers to wade into marketing services in a competitive environment, as well as the importance of internal communication when taking on new endeavors.

10:50 a.m.-noon

World on Fire: Communicating in Chaos

Speakers: Emily Compton, Member and Energy Services Manager, Plumas-Sierra REC;  Allison Mattioli, Administrative Assistant II, City of Rohnert Park; and Chris Dargan, IMAT Senior Public Information Officer, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services


Moderator: Theresa Phillips, Public Relations Manager, Lassen Municipal Utility District


Hear from a group of experienced crisis communicators as they share their harrowing stories of California’s wildfires, floods, power outages, and more. We’ll get a real understanding of what this part of the world deals with and how they go about finding and communicating solutions. Apply some of the insights from these real-life examples to your own crisis communication at home.

Noon-1 p.m.

Lunch with tabletop topics

1-2:15 p.m.

NIC Talks

1. Psychology of Communication – Why Certain Strategies Work


Speaker: Sheila Corson, Public Information Officer, Mason PUD 3


Why do we fall for those funny, frequent, or frightening advertisements? What makes us love a certain brand? Learn some of the strategies of persuasion that can improve your communications and help you avoid the pitfalls of others.



2. Recruitication


Speaker: Weston Putman, Manager of Public Relations, Umatilla Electric Cooperative


As public power ambassadors, it can be easy to direct our messaging only to our consumers, those using electricity. But what about potential employees? Those who help keep the lights on? Learn some of the creative ways utilities across the Northwest are utilizing their communications specifically for recruiting. Learn how you can use your creativity and skill to help find talent for your organization.



3. Mindful Communications and the Power of the Present Moment


Speaker: Karrie Carnes, Digital Content Strategist, Bonneville Power Administration


Communicating mindfully goes beyond active listening. Learn how to cultivate greater self-awareness to help enable non-judgmental, empathetic, and effective interactions through present-moment experience.



4. Why Energy Matters


Speaker:Kurt Miller, Executive Director, Northwest RiverPartners


Twelve minutes to save the world – a guide to a clean and fair energy future.

Tuesday Afternoon Choose Your Own Varietal

Choose between a writing workshop plus breakout session at the Hyatt, or an energy services tour

Varietal One

OR Varietal Two

2:30-4:30 p.m.

Crisis Communications Workshop: Crisis Hits! Do You Have a Plan?

Speaker: Lydia Walters, PHR, CCC, SHRM-CP, Vice President of Communication, Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi


Crisis communication planning often falls lower on the things to do list because we all have so many other tasks and projects. Communicator Lydia Walters, CCC will walk you through the nuts and bolts of assessing vulnerabilities and writing a crisis plan. Attend this two-hour workshop and leave with a template for a crisis plan and creative ways to collaborate to get this project off the to do list.

4:40-5:25 p.m.

Breakout sessions (choose one)

1. Punch Up Your Writing!


Panelists: Will O’Donnell, Broadband Communications Director, Jefferson County PUD; Rebekah Anderson, Senior Manager of Communications and Marketing, Tacoma Public Utilities; and Julee Cunningham, Director of Communications, Marketing, and Business Readiness, Snohomish PUD (ret.)


Moderator: Andrew Barter, Manager of Marketing and Corporate Communication, PNGC Power


Make your writing pop! We’ll talk with a panel of published creative writers who also work in public power. Get tips, insights, and ideas for how to tackle your writing projects and get inspired to bring some creativity to your public power communications.



2. The Legislative Grapevine: Uncorking Public Power Policy


Panelists: Jessica Nelson, General Manager, Golden State Power Cooperative; and Michael Rovito, CCC, Deputy Director, Alaska Power Association


Moderator: TBD


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 terroir.

2:30-5:30 p.m.

Tour of Healdsburg’s Floating Photovoltaic Solar Array

Shuttle hosted by Bronze Sponsor Efficiency Services Group



Join Healdsburg Utility Director Terry Crowley for a tour of the largest floating solar array in the United States. Healdsburg’s 4.78-megawatt photovoltaic solar array floats on the recycled-water ponds at its wastewater treatment facility! The project not only provides 8% of the city’s electric needs, but it also reduces harmful algae blooms and improves the quality of the water to recycled-water users, which include local vineyards and farms. Shuttle service will be provided for the 25-minute drive to the facility. Space is limited, so please sign up for the tour at the registration desk.

Evening networking activities:

Dine Around Santa Rosa

Early evening


Sign-up sheets will be available at the registration desk


Authors’ Alley

Later evening after the Dine Around


Join friends old and new fireside at the Hyatt’s Sonoma Valley Courtyard. Come share your poem, novel, blog, and other “side” writing, and cheer on others at the open mic.

Day 2: Wednesday, September 20

6:30-7:30 a.m

Fitness walk or yoga (Optional)

Early birds are invited to gather in the lobby near the front doors to come along on a morning walk around downtown Santa Rosa, or join Karrie Carnes for an hour of morning yoga.

7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Registration desk open

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Breakfast buffet

8:30-9:40 a.m.

Building Your Personal Board of Directors

Speaker: Matt Townsend, UX Programs and Operations Lead, Google


Some people naturally surround themselves with mentors, sponsors, and advocates in support of their career development, but many of us don’t know where to start. Having a personal board of directors to help you navigate your career can unlock opportunities, provide critical feedback, and support us when we are unsure about our next steps. Learn to evaluate the strength of your existing personal board of directors (personal and professional network), identify potential gaps, and how to build mutually beneficial relationships to create a more robust board.

9:50-10:35 a.m.

Breakout sessions (choose one)

1. Connecting Communities: The Power of Engagement


Speakers: Melissa Greenwood, Communications Manager, Ravalli Electric Cooperative; and Weston Putman, Manager of Public Relations, Umatilla Electric Cooperative


In an increasingly interconnected world, our roles as electric utilities supporting communities are changing. This session will delve into the power of engagement with surrounding community members, not just your consumers. Join us as we share examples of how utilities are reaching out beyond providing electricity to engage with their communities in fun and innovative ways. This session will be very interactive so please come ready to share what your utility is doing in your community.



2. Uncorking the Future: Clean Generation Tech Today


Panelists: Brent Bischoff, General Manager and CEO, Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative; Meaghan Vibbert, Public Information Officer, Douglas County PUD; and Jason Herbert, Senior Director of External Outreach—New Nuclear Development, Energy Northwest


Moderator: Sheila Corson, Public Information Officer, Mason PUD 3


Get excited about new clean energy generation in the Northwest, ranging from conceptualization to completion. Explore the fascinating realm of offshore floating wind development, a project advancing within the service territory of Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative; Douglas PUD’s renewable hydrogen production; and Energy Northwest’s Washington Advanced SMR Project.

10:50 a.m.-noon

Public Power Thunderdome: The Generations Game

Host: Andy Johns, VP of Marketing, Pioneer Utility Resources


Aside from Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, there are few things that Americans of different age groups seem to agree on. In this insightful gameshow-style session, pairs of panelists from different generations will have to work together to share insights and opinions on topics like satisfaction of their 9 to 5, technology usage, EVs, renewables and customer satisfaction. Will there be Bad Blood? Antiheroes? Or a Clear Blue Morning?

Noon-1 p.m.


1-2 p.m.

Powering up the Airwaves: Electrify Your Message with Utility Podcasts

Panelists: Brandon McMillan, Communications Specialist and Host of TID Water & Power Podcast, Turlock Irrigation District; Michael Rovito, CCC, Deputy Director and Host of Alaska Powerline Podcast, Alaska Power Association; and Kellie Stickney, PR & Media Liaison, Snohomish County PUD and Power Talks


Host: Paul Ciampoli, News Director and Host of Public Power Now, American Public Power Association


Step into the world of podcasting! Join us for a live podcast conversation that will empower you to harness the potential of podcasting for your public power organization. Our expert panelists will electrify the room with their insights on how to start, sustain, and succeed in the realm of utility podcasting. Discover the essentials of starting a podcast; explore the necessary recording equipment and software; uncover strategies for developing engaging podcast episodes; and engage with our panelists in a live Q&A session. Whether you're a utility spokesperson looking to increase outreach or a communication professional aiming to electrify your engagement strategies, you will walk away with the insights and inspiration you need to create a buzz around your public utility through the power of podcasting.

2:15-3:30 p.m.

Executive Panel: A Conversation with Four Public Power Sommeliers

Panelists: Michelle Reimers, General Manager, Turlock Irrigation District; Kristin Masteller, General Manager, Mason PUD 1; Brent Bischoff, General Manager and CEO, Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative; and Terry Crowley, Utilities Director, City of Healdsburg


Moderator: Sharon Scheidt, NIC Chair, Director of Communications, Copper Valley Electric Association


Join NIC Chair Sharon Scheidt as she moderates an insightful panel discussion based around communications (both internal and external) at the utility. Two of our executive panelists started their public power careers in communications, two did not—therefore, it will be interesting to see how each views communications now as they lead their utilities through the challenges of an ever-changing industry in the 21st century. There will be time for questions.

3:45-5 p.m.

Roundtables by topic

6:30-9:30 p.m.

Reception, banquet, presentation of awards, and entertainment

Day 3: Thursday, September 21

7-8 a.m.

Fitness walk or yoga (Optional)

Early birds are invited to gather in the lobby near the front doors to come along on a morning walk around downtown Santa Rosa with Sabrena Combs, or join Karrie Carnes for an hour of morning yoga.

8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Registration desk open

8-8:45 a.m.

Breakfast buffet

8:45-10 a.m.

Get a Seat at the Table: How to Elevate Your Role to High Priority

Speakers: Lindsay Tyson, Chief Marketing Officer, Meridian Cooperative; and Allyson Goodnight, Content Marketer, Meridian Cooperative


Ask any executive and they’ll tell you that communications are a high priority. Ask any communicator and they’ll tell you that they are not a high enough priority. Where’s the disconnect, and how can you overcome it? This session will identify specific actions you can take to bring marketing and communications into sharp focus at your utility, while also showing you how to lead the initiative effectively. We’ll explore options for interacting with different departments and different types of people. We’ll look at ways to increase your own engagement to draw attention to your value. And we’ll identify some best practices for explaining what you do to the people who need to understand your role in order to prioritize your role.

10:10-10:50 a.m.

Creating Connection and Engagement Through a DEI Strategy

Speaker: Dr. Jon Wedding, Program Manager, SMUD; Visiting Assistant Professor, University of the Pacific


With a dedicated DEIB (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging) program, SMUD’s Dr. Jon Wedding will share the utility’s journey to developing a robust DEI strategy and how SMUD’s communications team uses this strategy to create connection and engagement.

10:50-11 a.m.


10:45-11:45 a.m.

Cultivate Your Champions

Panelists: Constance Anderson, Communications Division Manager, Turlock Irrigation District; Josh Klikna, Electrical Lineworker, Turlock Irrigation District; and TBD


Moderator: Julee Cunningham, Director of Communications, Marketing, and Business Readiness, Snohomish PUD (ret.)


Who better to help you communicate than those with (literal!) boots on the ground? Hear directly from journeyman lineworkers on ways you can work together to communicate to your consumers. We may have different roles, but the purpose and mission are the same.

11:45 a.m.

Wrap-up, evaluations, door prizes

Evaluations and grand-prize drawing (must be present to win)

12:30-4:30 p.m.

Post-Conference Workshop: Write It So They Read It

Lunch and registration at noon, workshop begins at 12:30. Separate registration required.


Any document, media piece, or email bearing your utility’s name must be absolutely error free. Even a careless mistake in an email can make an entire work group look bad. Regardless if you are a new employee or a seasoned proofreader, you will walk away with tips to help you be a better communicator no matter what your title may be. In four fast-paced hours, Mandi Stanley will lead you through these mini-workshops:

  • Proof It! How To Be a Better Proofreader

  • Grammar for Grownups

  • Write It So They Read It: Email Edition

  • Technical Writing Tips

Join us for the afternoon if:

  • You’ve ever sent out mass correspondence with a big typo and didn’t realize it until it was too late.

  • You make simple mistakes Spellcheck doesn’t catch such as typing “form” instead of “from” or “you” instead of “your.”

  • You’re so short on time you’ve begun to overlook errors of omission and other hard-to-catch mistakes.

  • You’ve had to resend that same email two minutes later with an “Oops, here it is” message.

  • You have a whopper of a proofreading blooper story of your own to tell.