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Career Sessions

From agency life and business acumen, to understanding the role of influencers... your eventual career as a practitioner will touch on these topics in some capacity. Use your time in The Windy City to learn the ins and outs and elevate your perspective from some of the most knowledgeable industry-leading professionals.

Travel? Yes Please.

Ever wonder what it’s like to travel the world for work? Hear from Zapwater Communications’ travel marketing experts about best practices for media and influencer trips – and even how to get your client featured on Netflix.

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Zapwater Communications is an award-winning integrated communications agency with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. The brands we serve center around the lifestyle categories of travel and hospitality, design and real estate, and consumer and beauty. Our teams are specialists in their fields – they know the platforms, the media, the influencers and the delivery needed to achieve heightened awareness and connect with customers.

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Amanda ReCupido

Managing Director


Brianna Stein

Social Media & Influencer Marketing Director

Mary-Kate Marchesi

Account Supervisor

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Business Skills for PRos

Communication’s importance is being recognized in boardrooms of all sizes... but with this power comes responsibility. Join industry legends Ron Culp and Dr. Matt Ragas, both professors at DePaul University, as they unpack the cruciality of PRos possessing business acumen. Learn how your words can affect an organization’s bottom line

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Dr, Matt Ragas


Ron Culp

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Professor and Director of PROCMN Program
DePaul University College of Communication

Professional Director, PRAD Program
DePaul University College of Communication

Matthew W. Ragas (Ph.D., University of Florida) is a tenured full professor in the College of Communication at DePaul University in Chicago, USA. He serves as the founding director of the MA in professional communication program, an accelerated graduate program for rising communication leaders. Previously, he served as the academic director of the MA in public relations and advertising graduate program, which was named 2022 PRWeek Awards PR education program of the year.

Matt is co-author or co-editor with colleague Ron Culp of the books Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators: A Primer (Emerald Publishing, 2021), Mastering Business for Strategic Communicators: Insights and Advice from the C-suite of Leading Brands (Emerald Publishing, 2018) and Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators: Creating Shared Value for the Organization and its Stakeholders (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). These books have been used for teaching and professional development at more than 30 universities, colleges, companies and agencies including The University of Alabama, Boston University, Columbia University, Georgetown, Kansas, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, NYU, Temple and USC Annenberg. Matt frequently writes, teaches and speaks on business literacy development, including contributing to publications of the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) among others. Recent consulting clients have included Target Corporation, HEINEKEN, Lundbeck, TelevisaUnivision and the Edelman Growth Academy.

An award-winning teacher and researcher, Matt is the author of more than 60 publications. His work has been published in many of the top academic journals and trade publications in the field. He serves on the editorial boards of Public Relations Journal, Journal of Public Relations Education, Case Studies in Strategic Communication, and Journal of Public Interest Communication. Prior to academia, Matt worked in investment research and publishing, financial communication, and venture capital. A member of the board of trustees of the Arthur W. Page Society, a professional association for senior communication leaders, he has served as the faculty adviser on three different student case studies that have won the Jack Koten Page Principles Case Study Award. He holds a Ph.D. in mass communication with a focus on corporate communication from the University of Florida, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration from the University of Central Florida. His dissertation won the Nafziger-White-Salwen best dissertation award from AEJMC.

Ron Culp is an independent public relations consultant and the professional director of the public relations and advertising MA program at DePaul University. Prior to joining DePaul, Ron was senior VP and director of Ketchum’s North America Corporate Practice. He also served as Managing Director of the agency’s Midwest operations.


Ron’s 35-year PR career spans a broad range of communications activities in government and business-to-business, consumer products, pharmaceutical and retailing industries. Prior to joining Ketchum, he opened and served as Managing Director of the Chicago office of Sard Verbinnen and Company, a leading financial communications firm.

Previously, Ron was Senior Vice President, Public Relations and Government Affairs, for Sears, Roebuck and Co. During his Sears career, Ron managed internal and external communications, marketing public relations support, state and federal government affairs and community relations, including the Sears-Roebuck Foundation which supported programs benefiting women and the arts.

Earlier in his career, Ron held senior communications positions at Sara Lee Corporation, Pitney Bowes, and Eli Lilly. At Sara Lee, he handled corporate, event and internal communications for the consumer products company. He oversaw a number of Sara Lee’s arts sponsorships, including the historic, first-ever art exchange between the Hermitage and Pushkin museums in Russia and the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts in New York. He also served for six years on the Art Institute’s marketing committee, and was Executive Director of corporate sponsorship activities for Sara Lee’s Olympics partnership.

As Director of Public Relations at Pitney Bowes, Ron oversaw all aspects of internal, external and financial public relations. He also was responsible for opening the corporation’s new I.M. Pei-designed world headquarters. At Lilly, he was the company’s primary media spokesperson. He began his career as a reporter for The Columbus (Ind.) Republic before moving to the New York State Assembly where he served as Director of Member Services (the PR support unit) under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

In addition to his DePaul academic and administrative role, Ron often is a guest lecturer at other universities, including Northwestern, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Alabama and Kansas. He also serves on PRSA’s Educational Affairs Committee and is a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel for the Howard University School of Communications and the Advisory Council for the marketing communications program at Columbia College in Chicago. He is a member of the Accrediting Committee of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).


Ron is active in several civic organizations including the Economic Club of Chicago where he is a former board member and vice chair. He also serves on the boards of the Lincoln Park Zoo, Gilda’s Club Chicago,  and the Indiana State Foundation. For the past six years, Ron has been listed in Crain’s “Who’s Who in Chicago Business

Influencing The Future

Influencer Marketing. Celebrities, microinfluencers, trendsetters and cultural mavens. Everyone's talking about it, brands are doing it and there are new influencers on the scene every, single, day. But what IS influencer marketing? How does it work, what does it deliver, what are its limitations? Let's unpack the world of influence, explore how the industry has evolved and discuss what it means within the world of PR.

Jenny Heinrich

Executive Vice President, Head of Influence, Entertainment, Talent + Music at Ketchum

Jenny is a strategic brand storytelling counselor who finds the perfect balance across paid,

earned and owned channels to effectively and efficiently intersect and engage with brands’

target audiences.

Over the past two+ decades, she has brought dozens of brands to life through digital and social media content, including McDonald’s, Nike, Coca-Cola, P&G brands, Comcast, Kellogg’s and many others.

At Ketchum, Jenny oversees the Influencer, Entertainment, Talent and Music practice with 35+ specialists in the US and 200+ globally that develop and activate strategic brand partnerships with creators, celebrities, publishers and organizations to drive business impact.

She is also an influencer marketing professor at DePaul University and guest lecturer at The University of Chicago and Northwestern University and was recognized as a Top 30 Pioneer in Influencer Marketing.

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