The Harris Leadership Symposium

Fri., April 27, 2018 | 1:00 PM — 5:30 PM

Harris Public Polilcy
1155 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Sponsored By: the Harris Dean’s Office, Harris Mentor Program, and the Leadership Credential
Harris Leadership Symposium


Effective communications make an impact. They advance social change and are a critical tool of policy leaders. The inaugural Harris Leadership Symposium will feature experienced policy-makers, consultants, educators and experts who will present strategies for making policy solutions “stick” in a “noisy” world. The Symposium will include a panel discussion and educational sessions focused on effective communications, audience connection, authenticity, persuasion, presentation skills, and more. The Symposium will run from 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, with a networking reception to follow. All participants will receive a copy of Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

Please RSVP by April 25th, 2018.


12:30 – 1:00 P.M. - Check-In and Networking

1:00 – 1:45 P.M. - Welcome and Panel Discussion

2:00 – 3:00 P.M - Educational Session Block One

3:15 – 4:15 P.M. - Educational Session Block Two

4:30 – 5:30 P.M. - Closing and Keynote Address

5:30 – 7:00 P.M. - Networking Reception

Panel Discussion:

What sticks?  What makes your ideas memorable and your communications effective?  From CEOs to grad students, we’ve all got ideas that we need to communicate. The Symposium will open with a panel discussion focusing on what makes an idea unforgettable. From simplicity, to credibility, to unexpectedness; hear from a panel of policy-makers on how they have used the components of an idea to help transform the way people think and act. Panelist include:

Nneka Jones Tapia, Former Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Corrections and Spring 2018 IOP Fellow

Linda Diamond Shapiro,  AB '73, AM '78, MBA '88, Senior Vice President of Conlon & Dunn Public Strategies and Harris mentor

Kimberly Wolske, research associate and assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy and a fellow with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC)

Educational Session Block One

Making Communications Stick: First Impressions, Authenticity and Connection

Description: Leadership requires persuasion and persuasion requires connection. Therefore, leaders must “connect to convince.” This workshop explores how behavioral psychology shapes relationships: why it’s more important to demonstrate warmth than competence; the importance of good first impressions; and how authenticity drives persuasion. Participants will gain insights and tools necessary to become a more effective communicator.

Presenter:Terri Brady, Director of Leadership Programs, Harris School of Public Policy. Prior to this position Terri was part of the Leadership Development team at Booth, where she established and managed the Kapnick Leadership Development Initiative at the University of Chicago Law School and developed and managed programming for the Booth students. For over 20 years she led her own consulting company which focused on strategy, communications, leadership and political campaign work. She also practiced law as a corporate and securities litigator on Wall Street.

Advocacy Through Opinion Writing

Description:In this workshop participants will discuss ways to conceptualize and write opinion essays, or Op-Eds. The most effective commentaries have a distinct point of view and make a clear argument. They provide quantitative research, but also humanize the numbers by adding flesh and bones, or people who help tell the story. One goal is to offer a fresh perspective on an issue or topic about which readers may believe they already knew. Perhaps the ultimate goal is to inspire them to action.

Presenter: Dawn Turner, Author and Former Columnist for The Chicago Tribune and Spring 2018 IOP Resident Fellow. Dawn is an award-winning journalist and novelist. A former columnist and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, she spent a decade and a half writing about race and class in America, as well as telling the individual stories of people who fly below the radar. She has written commentary for the Washington Post, CBS, and NPR, and appeared on CNN, the “PBS NewsHour,” and NBC’s “Nightly News.” Dawn was a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard and is now a Fellow and journalist in residence at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

“What I Meant Was…”: Strategies for Smooth Intercultural Communication

Description:One has to consider many factors when participating in intercultural communication. This is especially crucial for highly international and culturally diverse environments like UChicago. For example, in one culture, you may indicate a question with a rising intonation (e.g., “Hungry?”), but in another culture, this may be accomplished with a falling intonation (e.g., “Hungry”). How does one deal with breakdown when it occurs linguistically and/or culturally? In this breakout session you will learn and practice specific communicative strategies that can be initiated by the speaker or listener.

Presenters: Shane Dunkle, ESL Pedagogy Specialist, Ashley Merriweather, ESL Pedagogy Assistant, at the English Language Institute. Shane Dunkle has been teaching English as an Additional Language for over 16 years both in the United States and Japan. He has been with the UChicago English Language Institute for 3 years where he teaches the Spoken Communication courses and also hosts the weekly ELI Board Game Group. Ashley Merriweather has been with the UChicago English Language Institute for three years where she teaches Spoken Communication for Partners and Spouses and hosts the weekly Conversation Hour. She brings her passion for diversity, pedagogy, and linguistics to her work.

Educational Session Block Two

How Do the Best Leaders Communicate?

Description: Leaders describe, they declare, they demand. They cite examples. They tell stories. They ask questions, a litany of them, one question after another, often on a single theme. They craft memorable aphorisms, little ditties, or clever quotations. They cajole. They persuade. They needle. More importantly, they engage in dialogue—lots and lots of dialogue—and they repeat themselves over and over and over again.

Presenter: Tom Lee, AM' 90, Harris Lecturer and Leadership Consultant. Tom is a Harris alumnus who teaches leadership in major corporations. Tom has spoken in more than a dozen countries on five continents. His clients include the biggest and best companies in a wide variety of industries.

Communications in the Age of Inclusion

Description: We are living in the Age of Inclusion, and communications is more important than ever. What does this mean? Tom Alexander will explore the vital role that communications can, should, and will play in fostering a more diverse, inclusive and welcoming society. Sharing experiences from his time in the Mayor’s Office, at 1871, and as the helm of a new company in this space, Tom will explore the critical communications techniques and strategies that can be used to promote change and improvement in business and society.

Presenter: Tom Alexander, Head of his own tech company, Tom Alexander is a leader in inclusion and diversity. He is the former chief operating officer for 1871, where his role included business development efforts focused on integrating 1871 into the Chicago technology economy, and external relations efforts with government and media partners. Previously, Tom served as deputy communications director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, where he oversaw day-to-day communication strategy and long-term planning, including events, written press materials and coordination among city agencies. Prior to his time in the Mayor’s office, Tom served as a senior communications director at the University of Chicago.

Data Storytelling

Description: A picture, as they say, is worth 1000 words. But when it comes to visualizing the output of data analysis, the “pictures” produced are worth far more. In the balance hang the value of your insights, the power of your story, and possibly the course of your professional reputation. Effective data visualization is crucial to influencing policy change and becoming successful data storytellers.

Presenter: Kevin Hartman, MPP '98, MBA '98, Head of Analytics - Consumer, Government & Entertainment Sector at Google. As Head of Analytics for Google's Consumer, Government & Entertainment sector, Kevin and his team partner with major advertisers, creative agencies, and media companies to develop digital solutions that build businesses and brands. His approach mixes science and art to deliver inventive, fact-based strategies that reduce uncertainty and increase effectiveness in the marketing and advertising programs they create.

Keynote Address:

The Harris Leadership Symposium keynote address will be given by Cody Keenan, former White House Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama (2013-2017).

Keenan and Obama
Keenan and Obama

Cody Keenan was a speechwriter for President Barack Obama for nearly a decade, rising from a campaign intern in Chicago to Director of Speechwriting at the White House. Through times of challenge and change, Keenan helped President Obama craft remarks on every topic for every audience – from tiny backyards in Iowa to the biggest stadiums in the country; from sermons on the National Mall to the State of the Union Address. Over eight years in the White House, their collaborations were compared to the works of Abraham Lincoln, described as the “‘I Have a Dream’ speech for the 21st Century,” and categorized even by prominent Republicans as “speeches that every child should read in school.”

Together, Keenan and Obama's efforts resulted in some of the most unforgettable addresses of our time. From commencements to Selma to Obama’s Farewell Address, they redefined the essence of the American creed and charted an inspiring, optimistic course for a new generation’s active citizenship. In 2017, Obama asked Keenan to continue their partnership, and today, Keenan serves as Obama’s collaborator on his upcoming book, and as his post-presidential speechwriter.

More Information:

The Leadership Symposium is supported by the Harris Dean’s Office, Harris Mentor Program and the Leadership Credential. Harris student participants will receive ten Professional Development Credits towards earning for the Leadership Credential.

Questions? Contact Harris Student Affairs.

Please RSVP by April 25th, 2018.