Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders & Scholars

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
  • Build a culture of commitment—rather than just compliance

Program participants will meet once a month (April to December 2017) for engaging learning activities, coaching sessions with UF communications experts, and professional networking.

Program Schedule

This program will meet 8 times from April to December 2017 and include half-day, full-day, and 1.5-day sessions.  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 Five Imperatives for Changemakers
Storytelling for Changemakers (Foundations)
April 6 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
The Science of Strategic Communications
Developing a Strategic Communications Framework
May 4 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
Writing Intensive: Mechanics and Message Development* June 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
June 9 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
AHA! Lab, Weimer Hall
Coaching Sessions (Strategic Communications Framework)
Storytelling for Changemakers
August 17 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Followed by after-hours social
Writing Intensive:  Mechanics and Message Development* September 7 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
September 8 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
AHA! Lab, Weimer Hall
How to Give a Presentation Worthy of the TED Stage
Working with the Media and “Influentials”
October 5 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Social Media November 2 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
Reflective Activities and Graduation December 7 – 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.**
Followed by after-hours social

* Members of the program should participate in one or both of the Writing Intensive workshops.
** Location TBD

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
  • David Wescott
    Principal, Wescott Strategic 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 Similar Events This Team Has Facilitated? 

  • “Enthusiastic speakers; points distilled to concise, do-able items”
  • “It was interactive and engaging, hands-on training”
  • “One of the best aspects was the ability to learn theoretical concepts and then apply them to our organizations. The trainers were terrific in talking us through some great practical application”
  • “The workshop presented useful topics that I could apply and at a great pace”

Program Cost

The fee to participate is $1490.  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
  • Due to continued interest, the program location has changed to accommodate an additional 10 participants, and the application window has re-opened. Applications for the 2017 program are due by March 1, 2017
  • These additional applications will be considered by the Strategic Communications Academy Selection Committee, with selection being announced in early March 2017


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 |