Schering-Plough Executive Lectures - 2013


The Stories We Tell: The Role of Narrative Communication in Modern Organizations


Offered by the MA in Corporate and Organizational Communication

Fairleigh Dickinson University

February 2 - March 9, 2013

All lectures held on Saturdays from 9:00am - 1:00pm (unless otherwise noted) in Hartman Lounge, The Mansion (Hennessy Hall)


All questions about the 2013 Schering-Plough Executive Lecture Series should be directed to the Master of Arts in Corporate & Organizational Communication Program Office at or 973-443-8473.

The Schering-Plough Executive Lecture Series offers a forum in which corporate communication professionals, communication scholars, journalists, and other guest lecturers, talk about a wide range of topics connected with corporate and organizational communication.

The series is sponsored by an endowment given to Fairleigh Dickinson University from the Schering-Plough Corporation. Students are given a unique opportunity to listen to and interact with some of the leading figures in their respective fields.

Storytelling has been a critical element in corporations and not-for-profit organizations for decades. Advertisers tell brand stories, Internal communicators use narratives and stories to help employees understand the organization's mission, vision, and culture, or to explain change. Those who do external communication and Public Relations seek to tell stories that will help external audiences understand their organizations, in times of prosperity and in times of crisis. And often these stories have as their main characters individuals or small groups who are meant to serve as representatives of the larger organization. This begs the question: what is it about human nature that makes us crave stories the way we do?

This year's series will explore how narrative communication plays out in the modern organization and will seek to explore such questions as: Is storytelling still a critical skill for the corporate communicator? What elements are necessary for an engaging and effective narrative? How do communicators ensure that the stories they're electing to tell will be well-received? And how is storytelling playing out in the world of social media, is it struggling or thriving?

These questions and others will be explored as we more closely examine "the stories we tell."


February 2

9:00 a.m. – Alison Davis
CEO and Founder, Davis & Company
“Using Stories to Reach, Engage and Motivate Employees”

10:30 a.m. – Kevin Bryla
Vice President, Corporate Communications, ADP
“Applying the Seven Basic Plots of Literature in Corporate Storytelling”


February 9

Canceled due to inclement weather


February 16

10:30 a.m. – Mike Cherenson
Executive Vice-President, Public Relations, Success Communications Group
“The Foundations of Storytelling....Trust/Credibility/Reputation"


Bonus Session: Thursday, February 21

6:00-7:30 p.m. – Peter Thonis
Chief Communications Officer, Verizon
"The Instruments Are Changing, But the Song Remains the Same" 


February 23

9:00 a.m. – Ray Kerins 
Senior Advisor
"In Search of a Rational Reputation in an Irrational World"

10:30 a.m. – Kathy Fitzgerald
Vice-President of Corporate Communications, PSE&G
"How to Manage PR When the Lights Go Out...and You're the Electric Company"


March 2

9:00 a.m. – Matt Purdue
Director of Storytelling, Peppercomm
"The Keys to Strategic Storytelling: How to Listen, Engage and Repeat"

10:30 a.m. – Brian Lewis
Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, FOX Television and FOX News
"Working with the Media...An Unholy Alliance"

12:15 p.m. – Andrea Phillips
Author and Consultant
Author of : A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling: How to Captivate and Engage Audiences Across Multiple Platforms

"Touching the Story: New Media, New Opportunities"


Bonus Session: Thursday, March 7

6:00-7:30 p.m. – Donna Zimet
Branch Manager, The BOSS Group
"Your Story: Your Brand"


March 9

9:00 a.m. – Jim Sluzewski
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & External Affairs, Macy’s, Inc.
"Keeping It Real"

10:30 a.m. – Colin McConnell
Vice President, Head of Advertising, Prudential Financial, Inc.
"Questions that Keep a Brand Manager Up at Night"

12:15 p.m. – Lynn Kenney
Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Eisai Inc.
"From the C-Suite to the Re-Tweet: Moving Your Message Through Four Generations of Employees"


Presenter Bios (in alphabetical order)


Kevin Bryla
Vice President, Corporate Communications, ADP

Kevin Bryla leads external and internal communications and he is responsible for executive communications, media relations, analyst relations, and reputation management initiatives for the corporation.

Mr. Bryla has 25 years of large enterprise, international communications and public affairs experience and deep experience in crisis and issues communications. Most recently, he served as global head of communications for General Electric's $30 billion Power & Water business where he led the largest industrial product launches in GE's history earning multiple PR Week, PRSA and International PR awards. Prior to this assignment, Mr. Bryla worked as vice president of communications, public affairs and branding for Ingersoll Rand, where he directed employee and external communications and government affairs. Earlier in his career, he led the communications and government affairs teams for several industrial and consumer companies including Trane, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Henkel and Elf Aquitaine. He has lived and worked in France and Switzerland. He has also served as a local newspaper reporter.


Mike Cherenson, APR
Executive Vice-President, Public Relations, Success Communications Group

A 22-year industry veteran and the author of three studies on the impact of reputation, Mike is Accredited in Public Relations (APR) by the Universal Accreditation Board. His expertise extends to all disciplines of public relations, including corporate, marketing, internal and crisis communication, government relations, event management, and interactive public relations. At Success Communications Group, he serves as the senior public relations counselor and strategist, and is involved with all public relations activities for the firms' diverse clientele.

In 2009, Mike served as Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the world's largest organization for public relations professionals, with more than 32,000 members, 109 Chapters nationwide, and 19 Professional Interest Sections. Prior to his election, he served as PRSA Secretary and was a three-year member of the organization's Board of Directors. During his tenure on the PRSA Board of Directors, Mike served as chair of the PRSA Advocacy Advisory Board, liaison to the Board of Professional Ethics and Standards and the Public Relations Student Society of America, and co-authored a PRSA study on MBA Programs and their communication curricula. In 2005, Mike represented PRSA and the U.S. State Department and its Bureau of International Information Programs on a mission to Croatia, where he served as a keynote speaker at the 6th Annual Croatian Public Relations Association Conference.

An advisory board member to the University of Florida's Department of Public Relations and Fairleigh Dickinson University's Corporate and Organizational Communication Department, Mike is past president of the NJ Chapter of the PRSA, which honored him with its Service Award in 2002. He is a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY and holds an Advanced Certification in Political Management from the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM) at George Washington University, Washington, DC.


Alison Davis
CEO and Founder, Davis & Company

Alison Davis is CEO of Davis & Company, the award-winning employee communication firm that helps leading companies—such as L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Prudential and Rogers—reach, engage and motivate their employees. She is co-author of two books, The Definitive Guide to HR Communication (FT Press, 2011), and Your Attention, Please (Adams Business, 2006). Davis is a former online columnist for The New York Times, and frequently writes for leading business publications, including The Conference Board Review, Communication World and PR Strategist. A sought-after speaker on communication issues, Davis facilitates 10 to 15 speaking sessions per year for national organizations and associations.


Lynn Kenney
Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Eisai Inc.

Lynn Kenney currently leads the U.S. Corporate Communications function at Eisai Inc, located in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.  In this position, Ms. Kenney is responsible for overseeing and coordinating all of Eisai’s internal and external corporate communications strategies including executive communications, employee communications, corporate reputation, issues management, media relations, advertising, social media and  community relations in the United States.  She is instrumental in strengthening Eisai’s visibility and presence in the U.S. as a leading pharmaceutical company.  

Ms. Kenney began her communications career working for public relations agencies, including Edelman, Cohn & Wolfe and Noonan Russo in New York City, where she supported global communications programs for blockbuster products for nearly 10 years.  Following her agency career, she moved to the corporate side of the business, serving as Director of Global Product Communications for Merck, where she oversaw all global communications supporting the company’s diabetes, respiratory (asthma) and infectious diseases (HIV) initiatives around the world.    She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in public relations from Seton Hall University and spent several years pursuing a Masters in Food Studies at New York University.


Ray F. Kerins, Jr.
Senior Advisor

Ray Kerins is a senior advisor to companies, government and NGOs regarding reputational issues and organizational challenges.                                                                                            

Until recently, Ray was VP of external affairs & worldwide communications for Pfizer overseeing internal & external communications globally, including executive communications, crisis/issues management, financial and products communications. He also oversaw Pfizer’s digital properties including with company award winning website, intranet and social media engagements. Ray was the chief global spokesperson for Pfizer.

Prior to Pfizer, he was Executive Director of public affairs for Merck & Co. and served as the company’s chief global spokesperson.

Before Merck, Ray was EVP/managing director at GCI Group overseeing both the corporate communications & media relations practices.

Ray is the recipient of many company and industry awards, including being named “2010 Public Relations Professional of the Year” by PRWeek Magazine; “2010 Media Relations Professional” by Bulldog Reporter; and was also named “Top 40 under 40” executives by PRWeek in 2009. He recently received a “Meritorious Award for Service” from the CDC/CDC Foundation.

Ray holds a Master of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees from Iona College


Brian Lewis
Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications, FOX Television and FOX News

Brian Lewis oversees all corporate communications and public relations functions for the television and online divisions of the FOX Television Stations, MYNet TV, Twentieth Television syndication, as well as the television, radio and online sectors of FOX News and FOX Business News. Additionally, Lewis serves as a Senior Advisor to Roger Ailes, Chairman of FOX Television Stations and Chief Executive Officer of FOX News. Lewis joined FOX News in April 1996 as Vice President, Media Relations and was promoted to Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications in December 2000. At FOX News, Lewis was responsible for raising the awareness and strategic positioning of the news division; creating and implementing crisis management plans; and interacting with parent company, News Corp., to ensure a cohesive corporate message. His accomplishments included launching the FOX News Channel (FNC) to critical acclaim and overwhelming consumer awareness; creating and implementing successful campaigns favorably positioning FNC against competing networks & corporations; handling all crisis situations that threatened the network; and positioning FNC to be the most talked about network in television. Lewis was also responsible for creating and implementing the media campaign for the FOX Business Network (FBN), which launched to unprecedented media awareness on October 15, 2007. Selected by PR Week as one of the twenty five “Most Powerful Public Relations Professionals”, Lewis oversees a staff of professionals in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. He is responsible for managing a multi-million dollar budget and reports directly to Roger Ailes. In addition to being responsible for all external communication, Lewis is also involved in the marketing and advertising for the stations and FOX News.

Prior to joining FOX, Lewis spent five years at CNBC as Vice President, Media Relations and Corporate Communications. At CNBC, he created and implemented a public relations campaign that helped triple ratings and firmly established the network as the leading provider of business news. In addition to his duties at CNBC, he handled the public relations for the launch of America’s Talking (now MSNBC). He was previously Director of Media Relations & Corporate Communications for the Financial News Network (FNN), and was one of only 38 FNN employees retained by CNBC following the merger of the two networks. Lewis formerly held public relations and marketing positions at Wishner Communications and Howard J. Rubenstein Associates. He graduated from St. John’s University and earned his Master of Arts Degree in organizational communications from Fairleigh Dickinson University. A frequent lecturer on various public relations topics, Lewis has taught at the Fordham Graduate School of Business and is currently an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate School at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition, Lewis serves on the advisory boards for the Corporate Communication International Forum at Baruch College/CUNY and the Corporate and Organizational Communication Board of Corporate Advisors at Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityUniversity.


Colin McConnell
Vice President, Head of Advertising, Prudential Financial, Inc.

Colin McConnell is Vice President, Head of Advertising for Prudential Financial. He oversees all domestic advertising for the Prudential brand and business units, runs the company’s fully-integrated in-house advertising agency, and manages external agency relationships. Colin serves on Prudential’s U.S. Marketing Council, which is charged with guiding brand strategy and integrated marketing initiatives for the enterprise. He is also a board member of the Ad Council and a member of the Financial Communications Society Marketing Leadership Roundtable.

Colin began his career at Prudential in 1991, where he worked as an executive speechwriter, copywriter, and creative director prior to becoming head of Advertising in 2009. In his 21 years with Prudential, he has played an integral role in shaping Prudential’s brand communications through critical events, including the company’s initial public offering in 2001 and the recent financial crisis.

Colin holds a BA in Political Science from Bucknell University.


Andrea Phillips
Author and Consultant
Author of: A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling: How to Captivate and Engage Audiences Across Multiple Platforms

Andrea Phillips is an award-winning transmedia writer, game designer and author of "A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling. Her work includes a variety of educational and commercial projects, including The Maester's Path for HBO's Game of Thrones with Campfire Media, America 2049 with human rights nonprofit Breakthrough, and the independent commercial ARG Perplex City. Her work has won the Prix Jeunesse Interactivity Prize, a few BIMAs, an Origins Vanguard Innovation Award, and others. She cheats at Words With Friends.


Matt Purdue
Director of Storytelling, Peppercomm

Matt Purdue was recently promoted to Director of Storytelling for Peppercomm, one of the communications industry's most-honored mid-size agencies. At Peppercomm, Matt oversees research into clients' audiences, as well as the development of unique and engaging transmedia stories that resonate most with these audiences. His current and past clients include Ernst & Young, Whirlpool, Yahoo!, BNY Mellon, Genworth Financial, Ricoh, Lending Tree, Sungard, Unisys and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Prior to joining Peppercomm, Matt was a consumer and business journalist for nearly two decades. He helped lead the relaunch of Worth magazine and, and founded such media titles as CRM and Mobile Enterprise. His writing has appeared on a broad array of media platforms, ranging from and the Los Angeles Times to Outside magazine and Wall Street & Technology. He has written two travel books, and is the recipient of several awards from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

He is also the volunteer co-chair and co-founder of the Young Survival Coalition's Tour de Pink charity bicycling events, which raise funds and awareness to help young women battle breast cancer. He was born and raised in Southern California, and now resides in New York City.


Jim Sluzewski
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & External Affairs, Macy’s, Inc.

Jim Sluzewski is Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications and External Affairs for Macy’s, Inc., a position which he has held since February 2009. He has served as the company’s chief communications officer since December 2005 and is responsible for a broad array of the company’s external and internal communications activities, including media relations, corporate publications, issues management, community relations, corporate giving and strategic communications counsel.

He is the company’s primary media spokesperson and serves as President of the Macy's Foundation. He works from offices in New York City and Cincinnati.

Sluzewski has worked closely with Macy’s, Inc. management for more than 25 years, including 11 years as president of Public Relations Partners, Inc., a Cleveland-based public relations firm. He began his career as a journalist for news organizations including The Cincinnati Enquirer. He has also managed several public relations firms as well as served in communications positions with Armco, Inc. and Federated Department Stores, Inc., where he was director of public relations in the mid-1980s. He rejoined the company as vice president for corporate communications and external affairs in 2005.

Sluzewski is an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America as well as a a participant in The Seminar. He has served as global chair of The Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s largest partnership of independent public relations firms.

Currently, Sluzewski serves as a trustee of the Urban Leage of Greater Cincinnati and of ArtsWave, and as a director of United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

A native of Cleveland, he is a graduate of Bowling Green University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Sluzewski received a master’s degree in business administration from Xavier University.

Sluzewski lives in Cincinnati. He and his wife, Kathy, have two adult children.


Peter Thonis
Chief Communications Officer, Verizon

Peter W. Thonis is chief communications officer for Verizon, responsible for enhancing and protecting Verizon’s brand reputation throughout the world. Thonis leads communications, including external, executive and media relations strategy and execution across the corporation, both domestic and international. He also handles corporate-wide issues management, and communications with the company’s 185,000 employees. As a member of the Verizon Leadership Committee since 2006, Thonis is one of 14 senior-most executives who provide business strategic direction and execution accountability to all of Verizon.

Previously, Thonis was senior vice president of external communications for Verizon, and helped make the new company, known for its premier networks and innovative broadband solutions, one of the most recognized names in America.

Prior to the creation of Verizon from the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE in 2000, Thonis was vice president of external communications for GTE, a position he held since September 1997. He was responsible for managing media relations, spokesmanship and regulatory advocacy to the business, general and trade media as well as industry analysts.

From 1995 to 1997, Thonis worked for BBN Corp. He was vice president of communications when GTE purchased the company, and also was vice president of marketing in 1996.

Before joining BBN, Thonis spent 14 years with IBM, where he held several senior communications management positions, including director of IBM U.S. external communications, and director of IBM's worldwide public relations for PC business units.

Thonis is vice chairman and a member of the executive committee of the NYC Outward Bound Board. He also is an adjunct professor of communications at New York University.

Thonis has a bachelor's degree in communications and English literature from Syracuse University and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.


Donna Zimet
Branch Manager, The BOSS Group

Donna Zimet started as one of NJ's first niche creative recruiters over 11 years ago. She currently leads BOSS' NJ team working directly with some of the region's largest creative departments and advertising agencies. Her role is to assess and recommend the best talent based on the project at hand and the long term creative needs of her clients. Managing the recruitment of specialized interactive, creative, and editorial talent while matching that talent with the ideal environment is a challenge that Donna truly enjoys.

Partnering with leaders in this creative niche comes naturally after 12 years in a marketing capacity for a private NJ firm. Within this role she was responsible for market analysis, several product launches, and business development within the organization's software and hospitality divisions. It was in these diverse marketing functions that she learned the importance of clear communication skills. She led the product development team to the successful launch of one of the internet's first successful internet service companies.