Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders & Scholars

Now accepting applications for the 2018 program

UF’s College of Journalism and Communications and UF Training & Organizational Development are pleased to offer a unique professional development program for faculty and staff ready to take their communication and leadership skills to the next level.  Designed for UF employees in leadership positions or for thought leaders in their fields of study, this program will help participants:
  • Build and manage relationships with the individuals and organizations crucial to helping them achieve their goals
  • Hone storytelling skills to inspire support for a department’s mission and vision
  • Develop a strategic communications framework
  • Write with confidence, clarity, and charisma
  • Create memorable and compelling presentations worthy of the TED stage
  • Facilitate high-stakes meetings with “influentials” such as high-level administrators, policy makers, and funders
  • Interact with the news media to build credibility and call people to action
  • Think quickly in challenging communication scenarios
  • Leverage social media to develop a meaningful digital network
  • Use design thinking and systems thinking to create meaningful calls to action

Program participants will meet once a month (March to November 2018) for engaging learning activities, coaching sessions with UF communications experts and professional networking. Participants will complete a final project that helps them solve specific challenges and applies what they have learned in the program.

Program Schedule

This program will meet 8 times from March to November 2018 and include half-day, full-day, and 1.5-day sessions. An individual coaching session with a communications expert is also included.  Participants are expected to attend each session as scheduled. All sessions will take place at the UF Human Resource Services Building (903 W. University Ave.) in Training Room 120 (unless otherwise specified below).

Session Topics Date/Time
The Six Imperatives for Changemakers
Introduction to Storytelling for Changemakers
March 14 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.*
Using the Science of Strategic Communications to Develop a Strategic Communications Framework April 12 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
Systems Thinking & Design Thinking Intensive May 10 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Coaching Office Hours (Strategic Communications Framework) Sign up for a half-hour, one-on-one coaching session
Message Development
Science of Storytelling for Changemakers (Advanced)
June 14 – 9:00 a.m.
to 4:00 p.m.
Followed by after-hours social
How to Give a Presentation Worthy of the TED Stage
Working with the Media and “Influentials”
July 12 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Social Media August 9 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Final Project Presentation and Graduation Sept 13 – 1:00
to 5:00 p.m.**
Followed by after-hours social

*Weimer Hall, Room 3032
*Location TBD

Ann Christiano

Program Faculty

  • Ann Christiano, MPAP
    Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications
  • Claire Baralt, M.S.
    Director of Strategy and Communications, UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute
  • Annie Neimand, Ph.D Candidate
    Communications Manager, College of Journalism and Communications
  • Ellen Nodine, MAE
    Special Project Coordinator, College of Journalism and Communications
  • Matt Sheehan, MBA
    Director of Stories and Emerging Platforms, College of Journalism and Communications
  • Scott Blades, M.Ed.
    Assistant Director, UF Training & Organizational Development

Check out the program faculty bios to learn more about this team of instructors.


  • Applicants must be UF faculty members or TEAMS staff members with at least two years in a management/leadership or decision-making role at the University of Florida or have a record of thought leadership in a given field*
  • Applicants must have support from their supervisors

* The “two years of experience” criterion is waived for employees at the assistant director level and above as well as interested faculty members.

What are people saying about the SCA?   

“Participating in SCA this past year has been one of the highlights of my time here at UF.  Communicating and translating our scientific findings for the greater good is one of the most important jobs of public universities.  However, faculty, staff, and administrators are often not well prepared to communicate effectively.  The strategic communication academy team provides this training.  The SCA team worked with me and helped hone my communication skills, focus and refine my ideas and message, and provide me with with a toolset that I can apply to my research, my teaching, and my service committements here at UF.  In addition, by participating in this training, I have been able to network with people all over the UF campus and learn more about our campus community.  At the end of this year long training, I published an article that summarized 10 years of my research findings in The Conversation.  My article has now been republished 38 times in outlets including The Washington Post, The Smithsonian, Scientific American, Quartz, Slate, and World Economic Forum. It was translated to French and republished 7 times in French speaking news outlets.  To date, my article has been read over 330,000 times.  I would have never been able to accomplish this without the training and guidance from the SCA team.” ~ Dr. Lisa S. Scott, Associate Professor of Psychology

“The SCA has given me new ideas on how to communicate my program of research  to colleagues within and outside UF.” ~ Toni Glover, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

“This class has helped increased my understanding of communication. It’s very informative, thought provoking and creates a deeper sense of knowing how to communicate effectively. This class provides you the knowledge needed to make your communication skills STICK! If you are looking to enhance both personal and professional communication skills, this is the course for you.” ~ Tanya Hughes, Associate Director, Facilities Services

“This has been an incredible experience and one of the most valuable workshops I have attended. The instructors are excellent and have helped each of us identify and collect the ‘stories’ that are important for us to accomplish our goals and mission. I am excited to bring back to my library everything I have learned.” ~ Valrie Minson, Chair, Marston Science Library

Program Cost

The fee to participate is $1590.  All materials, facilitation fees, and meals are included with no travel needed for those who live and work in Gainesville.

Program Application

  • Participants are selected via a competitive application process
  • Extended deadline for 2018 program:  February 21, 2018
  • Applications will be considered by the Strategic Communications Academy Selection Committee, with selection being announced in February 2018




Annie Neimand


If you have questions about the Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders & Scholars, please contact:

Scott Blades, M.Ed.
Assistant Director, UF Training & Organizational Development
352-273-1765 |

Ellen Nodine, M.A.E.
Special Projects Coordinator
College of Journalism and Communications
352-273-1098 |

SCA participants celebrate graduation