Strategic Communications Academy

Your ideas matter. Are you communicating them in ways that maximize results?

Word art logo for Strategic Communications academy

Sign up for the Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders and Scholars and take your communication skills and impact to the next level!  Our next program will be in person, October 2024 – March 2025.

Apply now!

Join Us and Develop Your Skills

Join hundreds of your fellow university leaders and scholars who have developed next-level communication skills to build communities, communicate persuasively, and drive positive change. The 2024-25 academy will be offered in person in the Career Connection Center in the Reitz Union. Throughout the academy, you’ll learn the importance of storytelling, the science of strategic communications, systems thinking, message development, creating presentations that resonate, working with influentials and communicating inclusively.

These live sessions include interactive exercises and activities so you can apply the skills while you learn them.  You’ll also build close connections across campus as you work and learn with your cohort.

What you’ll learn:

  • Build and manage relationships with the individuals and organizations crucial to helping you achieve your goals
  • Hone storytelling skills to inspire support for a department’s mission and vision
  • Create a strategic communications framework
  • Develop thought leadership in your field of study
  • Use design thinking and systems thinking to create meaningful calls to action
  • Communicate inclusively to build connections with diverse audiences
  • Create memorable and compelling presentations
  • Develop slide decks  that enhance your presentations
  • Facilitate high-stakes meetings with “influentials” such as high-level administrators, policymakers, and funders
  • Think strategically in challenging communication scenarios

Applications open now!

Earn your digital credential

After completing the academy, you will earn a digital credential from UF’s Center for Public Interest Communications. Credentials provide employers and peers concrete evidence of what you had to do to earn your credential and the skills you’ve acquired. Note: This credential cannot be used as credit toward a UF undergraduate or graduate degree.

Program Schedule

Program participants will meet once a month (October 2024 – March 2025) for in-person workshops that include engaging learning activities, coaching sessions with UF communications experts and professional networking opportunities. Participants will complete a final project that helps them solve specific challenges and apply what they have learned in the program. The course uses the Canvas learning management system, and monthly enrichment activities reinforce learning.

*The Six Imperatives for Changemakers October 24, 2024 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
*Building the World We Wish Existed: Systems Thinking & Design Thinking November 21, 2024 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
*Using the Science of Strategic Communications to Develop a Strategic
Communications Framework
December 12, 2024– 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
*The Science of Story Building *Finding Our Stories January 16, 2025 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Building Unforgettable Presentations  and Presenting with Purpose February 20, 2025 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Coaching Office Hours Sign up for a 1:1 coaching sessions
*Building Support for Your Ideas/Anatomy of a Successful Meeting
*Communicating Inclusively
March 13 2025 – 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Final Project Presentations  March 26, 27, 2025
Graduation and social (In person) March 27, 2025


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

Program Faculty

The SCA is led by faculty and staff in the Center of Public Interest Communications in the College of Journalism and Communications. The SCA team have deep expertise in research, strategy, pedagogy and media, and sessions will be driven by recent insights from psychology, sociology, and communications scholarship. The team also has substantial experience in live online teaching and incorporate important active learning methods to enhance the program.

Ann Christiano, MPAP
Director, Center for Public Interest Communications

Clinical Professor in the Public Relations department at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication

Ellen Nodine, MAE
Director of Programs and Training, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications

Matt Sheehan, MBA
Managing Director, Center for Public Interest Communications and Journalism Faculty at the College of Journalism and Communications

Aaron Zeiler, MAMC
Director of Programs and Training, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications


  • Applicants must be employed by UF or UF Health
  • Applicants must have support from their supervisors

Program Cost

The fee to participate is $1750 (or $4500 for three participants in the same department/college). All materials and facilitation fees are included.


  • What is the program for? We believe everyone is a communicator no matter where they sit in an organization. This course is designed for people who want to advance their communication expertise. You’ll learn foundational theories behind great communications and practical skills that you can apply to craft more effective emails, grants, social media posts or your communication campaigns. All UF and UF Health employees are eligible.
  • What is the time commitment? Once a month, you will attend class with your cohort. Class is from 9 am – 3 pm, with an hour break for lunch and morning and afternoon breaks. We spend the time together with a little bit of lecture, a lot of active learning and always with time for discussions. After class, you have a month to complete a short assignment that allows you to apply the skills you’ve learned to your own challenges. The course is hosted in Canvas and you will upload your work there, where you’ll be assigned a peer’s work to review.
  • What if I miss a class? We know that your schedule can change at any given moment, but we encourage you to prioritize this course. Sometimes however, you just can’t make it and that’s OK. If you miss the class, there will be a recording posted on the Canvas site and you can still complete the after-class assignment. If you miss more than two classes or if you situation changes, please talk to us about your options.
  • I heard there’s a final project!
    The frameworks and skills you learn in the academy will build toward your final presentation, which will be delivered in front of your cohort. Each month’s assignment will help you develop the final presentation.


If you have questions about the Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders & Scholars, please contact: Ellen Nodine, M.A.E. Director of Programs and Training, Center for Public Interest Communications, College of Journalism and Communications 352-273-1098 |

Program Application

Strategic Communications Academy Application

What are people saying about the SCA?

My favorite part of the Strategic Communications Academy was spending time with my cohort! This was my first experience with so many folks from different disciplines for an extended period of time. The networking and relationships built during the academy is a great opportunity to make connections and create a more enriched campus experience for UF employees.

~ Alex Avelino, MAMC, Student Affairs Program Coordinator, Pre-Vet Advising, UF College of Veterinary Medicine

The SCA assisted me with looking outside the box of how I traditionally communicate and explore new innovative ways of inspiring the audience. The pandemic challenged us all, in the way that we were used to communicating and telling stories. The SCA instructors were able to transition, without warning and the ability to plan ahead, to an online format and give us an amazing experience. I was able to apply the skills I learned immediately. The small group sessions allowed us to exchange creative ideas and form new relationships with campus partners. I highly recommend SCA to anyone interested in discovering a new and advanced way to communicate.

~ Lesa Phillips, Guest Services Specialist, Office of the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

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 a toolset that I can apply to my research, my teaching, and my service commitments 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.

~ Dr. Toni Glover, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

This class has helped increase 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

Best faculty development program I’ve participated in…plus it’s a lot of fun!”

~ Dr. Mustafa Ahmed, Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, Cardiovascular Medicine

The Strategic Communication Academy was a career-changing experience. This was a very practical program; each session included approaches of immediate relevance to my work. Skills learned through the academy impact how I approach creating and sharing vision and also my presentation style. I implemented the project developed through the class within a week of my final presentation.

~ Dr. Melissa Armstrong, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology

Through the art and science of storytelling, the Strategic Communication Academy showed me how to invite daring into my work and how I communicate my ideas. Expert facilitators shared indispensable communication strategies that have helped me obtain my objectives. I learned the power of crafted messages, audience analysis and how to prepare an impactful presentation. Masterfully designed learning opportunities and the cohort learner community gave me the time and supportive space to experiment with the tools and techniques. As a result, I found my voice and my professional networked branched in exciting ways; two collaborations are already in the wings! I could not be happier with the SCA process and outcomes. If you want your presentation to be the one everybody talks about at the next conference, or you’ve got an idea but aren’t sure how to gain support, do not hesitate to sign up for the next offering…

~ Ashley Weser, UFIT Education and Training Program Manager, Academic Technology

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

The program, instructors, and personal outcomes have moved my research and extension communication to new levels. I am now more purposeful, and I would like to think, more effective at conveying
messages and eliciting calls to action. I would recommend the program to anyone who needs to strategically communicate, which should be everyone! Normally I have trouble staying off of my email and away from work for 8 hours of lecture and activities, but all instructors kept me on the edge of my seat. The cooperation and camaraderie you encouraged inspired me to do similar in my classes. I made new friends, developed new collaborations, and feel more inspired to stay at UF and use my voice to make a difference.”

~ Dr. Raelene Crandall, Assistant Professor, School of Forest Resources and Conservation

One of the ways participating in the Strategic Communications Academy is helping me reach my goals at work is the tools. In SCA, we were given many worksheets to help generate ideas and organize thoughts to more effectively communicate. Since being provided these tools, I’ve been using them consistently. One of the excellent unexpected outcomes of SCA was the camaraderie with our group and housemates. I’m going to miss seeing these folks on a regular basis. When’s the reunion? UF faculty and staff should consider taking this program because success is predicated on communication. If we don’t challenge ourselves to be the best communicators we can be, our success is limited.

~ Darcie Burde, Director for Fitness & Wellness, UF Department of Recreation Sports