Stacey Schmeidel is a senior public relations professional with a successful career as an advocate for nationally selective liberal arts colleges, including Amherst, Smith and Davidson. She has experience in all aspects of communications and marketing, including publications, digital communications and integrated communications--but she especially enjoys media relations, as it provides an opportunity to shape the national conversation by connecting key college thinkers with those who shape the debate.
Across more than 25 years of communications leadership in higher education, Pete Mackey has become a specialist in institutional branding, communications strategies, media management, team-building and perceptions research that leads to meaningful return on investment.
Before establishing his consulting practice, Mackey served as the founding chief communications officer at four different institutions—Amherst College, Bucknell University, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and Science Foundation Ireland—and led communications for the University of South Carolina. Today his clients include large research universities, liberal arts colleges, research foundations and small businesses. In addition to his consulting practice, he runs the Future Sessions Strategy Bootcamp for non-profit communications staff.
Victor Balta joined the University of Washington in 2014 and now serves as the UW’s senior director for media relations and spokesperson. He is the lead media advisor to the President, Provost and UW administration, and chair of the UW’s Crisis Communications Team. Victor also manages the UW News team, which connects UW researchers, faculty and staff with regional to international media through pitches, prepared news releases, op-eds, and when called on for expertise on topics in the news.
He was previously the online news planning editor at Al Jazeera America in New York, where he assigned and edited news and feature stories from staff writers and a network of nearly 100 freelance writers around the country. He has also held editing and writing positions at Current TV in San Francisco, Comcast.net in Philadelphia, The Herald in Everett, Wash., and other newspapers in Northern California.
Ray Betzner brings more than 30 years of higher ed communications experience to his role as Associate Vice President for Executive Communications at Temple University in Philadelphia. At Temple he works with the executive leadership team to develop institutional messages, build relationships with internal and external audiences, handle crisis communications and grow the institution's reputation on a state, national and international level. Before coming to Temple, he held leadership communications positions at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
Ray is a strong believer in mentoring young professionals and has worked along those lines with several professional groups. He has also been a long-time leader for CUPRAP, the higher education communicators professional development group based in Pennsylvania.
If you want to know about his not-so-secret hobby, ask him about Sherlock Holmes. Leave at least an hour. He’ll buy the first round.
Dinah Winnick directs communications at UMBC, a leading public research university known for inclusive excellence. Her team focuses on raising the visibility of UMBC's strengths in research, teaching, and civic engagement through the award-winning UMBC News website, media relations, and strategic social media.
Winnick has organized social media conferences for higher education professionals and provides training and expertise on social media, media relations, and broader communications issues. She has also represented UMBC as spokesperson, played a central role in crisis communications, and provided writing and editorial support for the university president.