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Strategic Communications Academy for UF Leaders & Scholars

Program Schedule | Program Faculty | Eligibility | Program Cost | Program Application

Word art logo for Strategic Communications academy

Application period for the 2019 program is closed.

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 Schedule

Program participants will meet once a month (March to September 2019) 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.

The Six Imperatives for Changemakers
Introduction to Storytelling for Changemakers
March 13 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Using the Science of Strategic Communications to Develop a Strategic Communications Framework April 17 – 9:00 a.m. to noon
Systems Thinking & Design Thinking Intensive
Communicating for Diversity and Inclusion
June 13 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Coaching Office Hours
(Strategic Communications Framework)
Sign up for a half-hour, 1:1 session
Message Development
Science of Storytelling for Changemakers (Advanced)
July 11 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Followed by after-hours social
How to Give a Presentation Worthy of the TED Stage August 8 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Building Support for Your Ideas
How to Build a Network at Your Next Conference
*Includes optional social media section
September 6 – 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Final Project Presentations September dates TBA — Scheduled based on participants’ availability
Graduation and Social Sept 19 – 5:00 p.m.


Ann Christiano

Program Faculty

  • Ann Christiano, MPAP
    Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication
  • 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
  • Applicants must have support from their supervisors

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 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 single most beneficial professional development experience I have participated in during my 18 years at the University of Florida.” ~ Chandra Hardy, Director of Admissions & Student Services, Warrington College of Business

“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

“The academy was the single most helpful program in helping me develop new tools as a communicator. I believe that I am now prepared to give my department the best performance as a communicator in the 21st century.” ~ Beverly James, Director of Public Relations, UF/IFAS Communications

“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
  • Deadline for 2019 program:  January 18, 2019
  • Applications will be considered by the Strategic Communications Academy Selection Committee, with selection being announced in February 2019

Apply Now


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 | sblades1@ufl.edu

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

SCA participants celebrate graduation