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Past Events

March 1, 2024 - Noon to 1 p.m.

"Empowering School Leaders with AI: Balancing Strategy and Authenticity"
Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay, but how can school leaders harness AI to enhance their communications without losing their unique voice and identity? This session is designed for school pros who want to explore the possibilities of AI but aren't sure where to start. We'll cover practical steps to introduce AI into your strategies, discover how to confidently navigate the AI landscape, and keep your district’s authentic voice front and center.

Presented by Connor Gleason, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Finalsite

Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he is passionate about digital media, storytelling, too much coffee, and creating content that connects. He currently lives outside of Philadelphia, usually wishing he was on the Outer Banks with his family.


Dec. 1, 2023: "Countywide Recruitment Campaign," presented by:

  • Christa M. Fazio, Director of Communications & Community Relations, Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, PA

  • Jennifer Shealy, Director of Communications for Downingtown Area School District, PA
  • Melissa Smith, Assistant Director, Communications and Learning Solutions, Downingtown, PA

A 2023 Golden Achievement Award Winner: In recent years, Chester County school districts and the Chester County Intermediate Unit have experienced increasing challenges in filling open vacancies, especially among support staff positions. Each individual school district has initiated more visible campaigns to attract new talent, but the question was raised: What more could be done collectively at a county level? Learn about this award-winning marketing communications campaign, in which school district communication and HR directors across the county came together with the CCIU communications team to establish a multichannel countywide approach to marketing and recruitment.


Christa Fazio is a dedicated public relations practitioner with 18 years of professional experience - 11 of which are in public education. From the newsroom, to a top PR agency in Philadelphia, to her current position as the Director of Communications and Community Relations for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, Christa has developed a strong skill set rooted in successful strategic planning, effective crisis management, and creative storytelling. She has elevated her district’s profile through innovative and transparent communication strategies and sophisticated branding campaigns that support the district’s mission and goals. Christa is currently the immediate past president of PenSPRA, the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association. She graduated from La Salle University with degrees in journalism and public relations.

Jennifer Shealy has worked in the public-school communications field since 2010. Currently serving as the Director of Communications for Downingtown Area School District (DASD), Jennifer directs and develops all district and administrative communications and marketing campaigns across 16 schools. Her leadership through strategic communication initiatives supports DASD by increasing transparency, building stakeholder trust, enhancing
community engagement and managing district reputation. Ms. Shealy earned a Master of Science in communication from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh.She is currently president-elect of PenSPRA, the Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association. A DASD graduate and resident, Ms. Shealy enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

Mrs. Melissa Smith is an impactful, creative marketing professional with over 18 years of local, national and global experience spanning industries such as manufacturing, financial services, pharmaceutical and education. She thrives on developing brand positioning and messaging and delivering upon the goals and objectives of those she works with. The perspectives and experience gained from her more than 12 years in the advertising agency environment has transitioned well into driving branding and strategic marketing in the educational space. Mrs. Smith has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from LaSalle University and a master of business administration (MBA) from West Chester University.


Oct. 20, 2023: "Safety and Security DIG-IT."

Presented by Kristine Harrington, Director of Communications & Marketing Scottsdale Unified School District

This presentation was a 2023 Golden Achievement Award winner! In May 2022, the nation was rocked by another school shooting. The more people learned about the tragedy, the more questions the Scottsdale Unified School District community had about how the district would respond to a similar event and whether it was doing enough to prevent one. Learn how the district's communications department synthesized its safety and security plan into a clear, concise message that resonated with K-12 students, families, school staff and the larger community in a way that helped allay fears.

About the Presenter

Kristine is a broadly accomplished communications and marketing professional, passionate about storytelling.

She currently serves as the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Scottsdale Unified School District. Kristine has worked in public education for five years. Prior to that she was an award-winning television news reporter and special projects producer.


Fri, Sept. 29, 2023: "8 Quick Takeaways for Strategic Planning."

Presented by Jill Browning, APR, Chief Communications Officer, District 99

NSPRA 2023 Golden Achievement Award Winner: Learn about this award-winning campaign, in which the district used a collaborative process to collect input from all groups as it worked to develop a new strategic plan following the pandemic and the completion of a multiyear, $136.6 million facility renovation.

Jill S. Browning leads communications at Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove, Illinois. Her mission is to strengthen the organization’s reputation and to increase support of public schools by keeping the community informed and aware. She's developed a comprehensive and strategic communications program from which to tell the district's stories. She creates content for multiple platforms, including newsletters, speeches, websites, social media posts and videos. Jill also helped to lead a strategic planning process in 2022 as well as an engagement campaign in 2017 that resulted in the district passing a $136.6 million referendum to dramatically improve facilities and set a future direction for learning.

With degrees in English and business and an Accreditation in Public Relations, she has over 20 years of experience creating successful marketing, communications and public relations programs in both the public and private sectors. She also worked as a freelance journalist, writing for national publications.