Confab Higher Ed 2014 speakers

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Aaron Rester

Assistant Vice President, Web Development, Roosevelt University

Aaron Rester built his first website in 1996 and has been working in the higher ed web since graduating from Oberlin College in 1999. He held several jack-of-all-trades, code-to-content web positions at the University of Chicago, where he also earned an MA from the Divinity School while studying the effects of emerging media on the transmission of traditional narratives. In 2014 he became Assistant Vice President, Web Development at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He has presented at numerous national and regional conferences and has been published in A List Apart and Link Magazine. Aaron spends his spare time boring friends and strangers to tears with enthusiastic discussions of both alternative-country songwriting and Bollywood film.

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Alyssa Levenberg

Student, SUNY - Oswego

Alyssa Levenberg, a junior communication major at SUNY Oswego, has already spent several years honing her style and craft of video blogging. Her "Alyssa Explains It All" advice series on transitioning to college consistently ranked among top-viewed content for Oswego's YouTube channel. She has spoken at the SUNYCUAD conference and appeared as a guest expert for the Higher Ed Live web video program. Her blog series has been cited as a best practice at several conference presentations and webinars.

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Amanda Costello

Lead Content Strategist, University of Minnesota

Amanda Costello is the lead content strategist in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), where she works with college administrators, directors, and department-level content strategists to direct comprehensive strategy. She is also the director of MinneWebCon, a grassroots knowledge-sharing web conference in Minnesota. A former English teacher in Japan, she values clear communication and having a plan (plus a couple of back-ups). Amanda is an award-winning speaker on working with content specialists and the web, content strategy, building web teams, and sharing ideas to do good work. She enjoys filling out forms because it feels like taking a test where she knows all the answers.

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Andrew Smyk

Program Coordinator, Sheridan College

Andrew Smyk is a dad, educator & UX designer with a focus on Mobile Design, a speaker, a coffee aficionado, avid cyclist, all-round pirate and HTML5 Evangelist. He coordinates a post graduate program in Interactive Multimedia at Sheridan College and writes about how kids adapt and use technology.

He has worked on a college-wide academic strategy initiative for increasing interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning experiences for students. In the past four years, Andrew has been researching and implementing ways to increase student engagement through technology and social media, with a focus on mobile learning (mlearning) and communication. Education no longer happens solely in the classroom and adult learners’ demand for lifelong learning is pushing more and more content into online environments. He is interested in how technology augments learning outside of the traditional classroom and how the web presentation of course material is processed and retained by learners.

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Ashley Budd

Assistant Director, Social Media Strategy, Cornell University

Ashley Budd is working toward the advancement of higher education. Through speaking, writing and research she offers insights into contemporary issues in college enrollment, development and communication. Ashley is assistant director of social media strategy, serving alumni affairs and development at Cornell University. Prior to joining the social media team at Cornell, Ashley spent over five years at her alma mater, Rochester Institute of Technology, where she lead social media strategy for undergraduate admissions. Ashley serves as producer and host on the Higher Ed Live network where she explores contemporary issues and innovations in higher education.

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Austin Kleon

Author, Steal Like An Artist

Austin Kleon is a writer, artist, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. His work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, TIME, The Atlantic, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. Now he’s brought his depth and range of experience as a creator to his new book, Steal Like An Artist, an illustrated manifesto for creativity in the digital age.

Steal Like An Artist is a lesson in applied creativity. It’s based on a list Austin drew up one day of key insights he wishes he’d known when he started out. He boiled them down into pithy phrases: “Steal like an artist”, “Use your hands”, “Creativity is subtraction”, and many more. He turned that list into a talk, the text and slides from the talk “rocked the creative world” (GalleyCat) and went viral—and since it’s been online, the original blog post has reached millions of readers.

Austin is also the author of Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. His art has been called “brilliant” by New York Magazine, and The New Yorker said his poems “resurrect the newspaper when everyone else is declaring it dead.” Austin speaks on creativity, visual thinking, and being an artist online.

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Ben Jones

Vice President for Communications, Oberlin College

Ben Jones is a nationally recognized expert on social media and online community-building; his pioneering work at MIT in unfiltered primary source-driven content was featured on the front page of the New York Times in 2009. He was appointed VP for Communications at Oberlin College in 2008 and immediately began implementing a new campus-wide communications strategy focused on authenticity and transparency across all media. Under his leadership, Oberlin's Office of Communications has added dedicated positions in social media, video production, internal communications, and graphic design to its web, publications, editorial, and media relations divisions. Jones also created two fellowship positions for recent Oberlin graduates and expanded the number of current students employed by the office to almost fifty, in order to be as inclusive as possible in telling the Oberlin story.

Prior to his appointment at Oberlin, Jones served for four years as Director of Communications in the MIT Office of Admissions. At MIT, he developed a communications plan and admissions web community (mitadmissions.org) that has been cited nationally as the gold standard in admissions communications. During his tenure, MIT's applications increased 28 percent. Jones is proud to serve on the Community Advisory Board of Ideastream, the Communications & Marketing committee of Kendal at Oberlin, and the Core Planning committee of the Oberlin Project.

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Dave Olsen

Professional Technologist, University Relations - Web, West Virginia University

Dave Olsen has been a developer and project manager with the University Relations - Web unit at West Virginia University (WVU) for the last eleven years. Over that time he has worked on and led projects that range from developing a university-wide CMS to creating award-winning marketing websites. Dave’s primary role is to help find the balance between tech, content, and design for many of the university’s biggest projects. For the last four years he has also been responsible for implementing mobile solutions for the university. These include SMS-based services, WVU's central mobile web portal, as well as a number of responsive design-based websites.

In addition to his work at WVU, Dave actively participates in open source projects and writes as well. This past year his project, Pattern Lab, was nominated for the Net Awards Open Source Project of the Year. In 2013, Dave contributed a chapter on web performance to Smashing Magazine’s “The Mobile Book.” He shares what he's learned about mobile, as well as his reactions to mobile trends, on his personal blog (http://dmolsen.com).

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Doug Gapinski

Strategist, mStoner

Doug Gapinski is a user-centered digital strategist. In his pursuit to create delightful, effortless, and highly functional things, he has evolved from a designer to a creative director to a strategist over the last 13 years. At mStoner, Doug has led initiatives for mobile and responsive design, web performance, and integrated marketing. He has worked for Ivy League universities, community colleges, and pretty much every other kind of education institution you can think of.

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Elizabeth Atwater

Managing Editor & Brand Journalist, Babson College

Elizabeth Atwater is the managing editor at Entrepreneurship of All Kinds™. As Babson College’s brand journalist, she writes about all things entrepreneurship and innovation, telling the stories of startup founders, social innovators, family businesses, and corporate intrapreneurs who are redefining entrepreneurship. Her writing has appeared in print and online in a wide range of outlets including Forbes, The Atlantic, Reuters, Chief Learning Officer, BostInno, and Seventeen magazine. Elizabeth has firsthand experience with entrepreneurs of all kinds; she started her career at a venture capital-backed technology startup, and prior to Babson she worked for a small, family-run public relations firm. She earned a BA from Northwestern University.

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Gene Begin

Senior Director of Integrated Marketing, Babson College

Gene Begin is the Senior Director of Integrated Marketing at Babson College, responsible for creating, managing, and promoting Babson’s digital footprint as an integrated, audience-centric experience. Gene is charged with creating and curating consistent and persuasive content that reflects the Babson strategy, increasing brand awareness and building brand equity, promoting thought leadership, and engaging external and internal stakeholders in a holistic Babson experience. During his 13 years at Babson, he has served in marketing positions within the Alumni & Development, Graduate School, Executive Education, Undergraduate School, and College Marketing departments. He earned a BS from the University of Rhode Island an MBA from Babson College.

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Georgy Cohen

Associate Creative Director, Content Strategy | Co-founder Meet Content, OHO Interactive

Georgy Cohen has spent the past nine years wrangling content for universities. She is co-founder of Meet Content, a blog and resource empowering higher education to create and sustain web content that works. Georgy is the director of online content at Suffolk University, overseeing university-wide web and social media content efforts, and principal of Crosstown Digital Communications LLC, a firm committed to helping educational institutions more effectively tell their stories online.

Cohen's background is in journalism, including a three-year stint working in the fast-paced online newsroom of The Boston Globe. Prior to launching Crosstown and starting at Suffolk, she worked as manager of web content and strategy at Tufts University.

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Jeff Stevens

Assistant Web Manager, University of Florida Health Web Services

James. T. Kirk once said "Let Me Help" are perhaps the most important words ever said by a human. Jeff Stevens agrees. In his thirteen year career at the University of Florida, he's worked to bridge the gaps between students, alumni, faculty, and the public, as webmaster for financial affairs, liberal arts and sciences, and now as assistant web manager for the academic health center, where he is responsible for content strategy and usability for over 450 websites. He is passionate about cooperative development, iterative improvements, social media, and the Silver Surfer (not necessarily in that order). You can find him on the web under his alias @kuratowa.

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John Eckman

CEO, 10up

As CEO of 10up, John Eckman is focused on making content management easy - and maybe even fun. Prior to 10up, John held a number of leadership roles in strategy, technology, and user experience for agencies like ISITE Design, Molecular, PixelMEDIA, and Optaros. A veteran of the content management industry, he’s an avid web technologist and is often found organizing, speaking at, or attending conferences for web geeks throughout New England. He earned a Ph.D. in American Literature and a Master’s degree in Information Systems, which means he speaks fluent Academia as well as several dialects of Engineering.

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Kate Kiefer

Writer; Editor, MailChimp

Kate Kiefer Lee is a writer and editor at MailChimp and a former magazine editor. She has written for publications like Forbes and A List Apart, and she has spoken about web content around the world. She loves teaching people how to write like they talk.

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Kenn Elmore

Dean of Students, Boston University

As Dean of Students, Kenneth Elmore coordinates University efforts to provide a safe environment, where students can find their way within a vibrant academic community.

This includes advising student organizations, planning ways to acclimate students to the University, setting and regulating standards, offeringacademic support, helping students navigate career goals, making certain the University experience isaccessible, and creating a vibrant and welcomingliving-learning environment. The offices reporting to Kenn—the Community Service Center, Disability Services, Howard Thurman Center, Judicial Affairs, Orientation, Residence Life, Student Activities—respond to student concerns, help students solve their problems, and help students build communities.

Appointed in 2003, Kenn has more than 20 years of administrative experience in higher education. Prior to his appointment, he managed orientation programs, campus activities, and residence operations at Boston University. He has also practiced law within the Boston area. Kenn earned his AB in Psychology from Brown University; a Master of Education in Policy, Planning & Administration from Boston University; and, a JD from New England Law.

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Kerry-Anne Gilowey

Content Strategy Consultant, Independent

Kerry-Anne lives in Cape Town, South Africa, where she spends her days consulting to companies about content strategy, and her nights learning French, playing drums, listening to Pearl Jam, and — let’s be honest — watching animal videos on the internet.

She’s spoken at several UX and content strategy conferences in the US and UK, and in 2012, she hosted the international Content Strategy Forum in her hometown.

Kerry-Anne has been working as a content strategist since 2009. Although she still loves a good content audit or style guide, she’s becoming increasingly fascinated with the intangible parts of the work — the politics, the constraints, the workflow, the people.

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Kristina Halvorson

CEO, Brain Traffic and Author, Content Strategy for the Web, Brain Traffic

​Kristina Halvorson (founder, Brain Traffic and author, Content Strategy for the Web) is recognized as one of the industry’s leading advocates for content strategy. She was instrumental in establishing content strategy as an essential practice in user experience design, communications strategy, and organizational design. Her seminal article, “The Discipline of Content Strategy”, was published in 2008 by A List Apart, the popular online magazine for web professionals. In 2009, Kristina initiated the Content Strategy Consortium, the first official gathering dedicated to the topic of content strategy, and in 2010, she delivered the keynote address at the world’s first Content Strategy Summit in Paris, France.

In 2002, Kristina founded Brain Traffic, a content strategy consultancy whose clients include AT&T, Autodesk, Thedacare, Carnegie Mellon University, BMC Software, Merck, Best Buy, Target, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She is also the founder of Confab Events.

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Laura Herring

Web Content Coordinator, American University's Kogod School of Business

Laura Herring is the Web Content Coordinator for the Kogod School of Business at American University, where she manages the school's editorial content and social media channels. She also regularly contributes to Kogod Now, the school's magazine, which aims to promote faculty research and expertise. It is published twice annually and has won numerous awards, including a silver CASE award for Excellence in Design (2012) and the Innovation Award from American University (2012). Prior to joining Kogod, Laura was a community journalist in De Soto, Kansas. She holds a Bachelor's in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri.

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Lis Pardi

Interaction Designer, Digitas Health LifeBrands

Lis is an information architect, usability researcher, and interaction designer at Digitas Health. She has an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and has worked on interfaces for health care, games, retailers, and research databases. She lives in Philadelphia, where she is treasurer of PhillyCHI. You can find her on twitter @LisPardi.

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Lori Packer

Web Editor, University of Rochester

Lori Packer is the web editor at the University of Rochester, where she and her team are responsible for the design, maintenance, and content development for several central University websites, including the University’s homepage and news site. Lori is also part of the design and editorial team for Futurity.org, a news site hosted at Rochester and focusing on the latest innovations coming out of the world’s leading research universities.

Before coming to higher ed, Lori was the lead U.S. editor for MSN Search — Microsoft’s pre-Bing search engine. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Lock Haven University and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Washington. She recently completed her MSLIS from the iSchool at Syracuse University, because libraries are amazing. Lori is a Phillies fan, a beer snob, and an insomniac. She is a huge geek who loves Supernatural, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones. She could go on.

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Ma'ayan Plaut

Manager, Social Strategy and Projects, Oberlin College

Ma'ayan Plaut is the Manager of Social Strategy and Projects at her alma mater, Oberlin College, where she manages Oberlin's social spaces and projects. She serves as a cheerleader, consultant, and strategist for anyone interested in exploring social media on campus. Ma’ayan has presented at HighEdWeb, the Web Conference at Penn State, the CASE Social Media and Community conference, Confab Higher Ed, Academic Impressions, and is a frequent guest on the Higher Ed Live network. In her free time, Ma’ayan writes a lot, tweets a lot, and thinks about food a lot.

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Matt Richardson

User Experience Designer, Accessibility, Dartmouth College

Matthew Richardson started working with accessibility by making e-learning courses 508 compliant. He then joined Dartmouth to push through their Web Accessibility Initiative. Now he makes sure new software, technologies, and web content is accessible for Dartmouth.

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Meg Bernier

Associate Director, St. Lawrence University

Meg Bernier is the Assistant Director of Editorial Services and Social Media at St. Lawrence University, her alma mater. She spends her days and nights finding the most creative ways to tell St. Lawrence’s story and serves as a content strategist for various admissions and alumni publications, the website and the university’s social media presence. On campus, she is a consultant for anyone interested in integrating social media into their work.

While Meg loves social media, she loves creating social content more. She takes advantage of every opportunity to talk with people about how social media can be part of a strategy, but not the only strategy. She enjoys working with students (and learns more from them than they probably do from her) and has hosted several workshops at St. Lawrence focused on helping students develop and maintain positive digital identities and personal brands.

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Michael Freedman

Director of Editorial and Content, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Michael Freedman is an editor and writer with more than 15 years experience communicating complex issues and ideas to a diverse global audience. Currently head of content and editorial at Stanford Graduate School of Business, he leads a team to produce written and multimedia content on business and management for digital and print publications, and for syndication with media outlets in the U.S. and abroad.

At Stanford he co-teaches an MBA class on critical analytical thinking. He has also led professional development workshops on op-ed and essay writing for scholars, communications professionals, and students. Earlier, he was a senior editor at Newsweek International and the Europe bureau chief at Forbes. His work has also been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and other publications.

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Mike Petroff

Digital Content Strategist, Harvard

Mike Petroff is a digital content strategist at Harvard University. He supports the strategy, creation, and curation of content for Harvard University’s main web properties and associated sites. He also plays a primary role in managing the vision for and delivery of the University’s digital and social media presence.

Prior to joining Harvard, Mike was the Web and Enrollment Technology Manager at Emerson College, where he led web marketing and online recruitment efforts for undergraduate and graduate admission. While at Emerson, Mike chaired the Social Media Group, working with about 20 other staff members from a broad range of campus departments to establish the College’s social media presence. Emerson College’s social media presence was ranked as a top school nationally by both StudentAdvisor.com and USA Today College.

Mike has been active in connecting the higher education community through events and web communities over the past few years. Some of his past projects he created include eduTweetups, FollowEDU.com, and eduTweetup Boston.

Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Rowan University and a master’s degree in media arts from Emerson College.

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Mike Powers

Director of Electronic Communications, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Mike is Director of Electronic Communications at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He used to be an English professor and wrote about people like James Joyce and Gertrude Stein. But even before becoming a professor, he started leading a double life—writing his dissertation while building websites for Turner Learning in downtown Atlanta. After a few years of leading a life that was half about the web and half about literature, the web won out.

Mike has worked for IUP since 1999, and started managing its main website in 2007. Since that time he has overseen IUP's transition to a content management system, put IUP on social media, co-led the design of IUP's smartphone app, and many other projects. He formed IUP's first content strategy group in 2011.

Mike has presented at eduWeb, the Penn State Web Conference, and Confab Higher Ed. He has also worked with Higher Ed Experts, presenting webinars on e-mail newsletters and web writing, and creating and teaching a four-week course on web writing for higher education.

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Nicole Fenton

Editorial Strategist, Independent

Nicole Fenton is an independent writer and editor in Brooklyn. She has worked at a startup incubator, a design studio, a large social network, and Apple. She manages content projects of all sizes and teaches writing as a design practice.

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Ravi Jain

Senior Associate Director, Digital Media and Web Development, Boston College

Ravi Jain has been working with online digital content for nearly 20 years including several years in Stockholm, Sweden in the 1990s. His 2002 web friendly sitcom “Three Abreast!” anticipated current trends in original short form content. His “talk show in a car” videoblog DriveTime was designated a “pop phenomena” by the Webby Awards when nominated in 2007.

Since 2008, Ravi has overseen the multimedia and video efforts of Boston College’s Office of Marketing Communication. One of his signature products, The Boston College Minute, remains one of the university’s most consistently popular video offerings. Prior to Boston College, Ravi developed and produced multimedia content for the PBS series American Experience. Ravi received his BA from Oberlin College in 1992 and his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. He teaches Digital Media for Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies. He lives in Milton, Massachusetts with four other content creators (wife and three small children).

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Rick Allen

Principal, ePublish Media, Inc.

Rick Allen has worked in higher education for more than a decade helping to shape communications and content strategy. As principal of ePublish Media, Inc., a content strategy consultancy in Boston, Mass., Rick partners with higher education institutions and organizations to drive and sustain bold goals.

Rick writes and speaks often on higher education web publishing topics. He is the founder of Content Strategy New England and co-founder of Meet Content, a blog and online resource aiming to empower higher education to create and sustain web content that works.