Fred Cook

Fred Cook, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the chairman of Golin and the Director of Public Relations at the University of Southern California. Golin is an integrated, public relations, digital and content agency with 50 offices globally.

The title of Cook’s lecture is “Improvise and Succeed: Advice from an Unlikely CEO.” He will challenge the audience to redefine what success means by telling his unique story to the top. His bold leadership and inspirational perspective challenges conventional thinking and propels agency staff to continue creating change for clients through brave work worthy of awe and action. Cook’s story can help inspire and motivate students of all majors during a pivotal time in their lives.

Merrie Spaeth

Merrie color headshotwebSCHRANZ LECTURER 2013

Merrie is the founder of Spaeth Communications, Inc., a leading consulting and training firm in the communications industry. A pioneer in communication theory and executive training, Spaeth is considered one of the most influential communication counselors in the world. Before Spaeth founded Spaeth Communications in 1987, she accumulated one of the most unique backgrounds in media, government, politics, business and entertainment.

Spaeth Communications, based in Dallas, Texas, provides strategic communication counseling and training to individuals, companies and institutions. Clients include Fortune 500 executives as well as local, national and international corporations in diverse fields such as government, manufacturing, service and financing. Since its inception in 1987, Spaeth Communications has grown into an international operation, with offices in the United States and Singapore.

Before founding Spaeth Communications, Ms. Spaeth spent nearly a decade in government communication positions. She was a White House Fellow for former FBI Director William Webster and served as the director of public affairs for the Federal Trade Commission for two years, which lead to her appointment as the director of media relations for the White House. She held this position from 1983-1987, during which time she introduced satellite interviews and created the electronic White House News Service.

Spaeth has varied her career with positions in entertainment, business and media. She also had a career in acting, including a starring role in “The World of Henry Orient” and later served as a speech writer for William S. Paley, founder and chairman of CBS, Inc. Spaeth also serves as a Business Leadership Center Instructor for the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University where she teaches “Humor as a Leadership Tool,” and other relevant courses.

Spaeth writes regularly on timely PR topics (available at and authors numerous communications columns; “Spaeth’s Bimbo Memo,” a column covering contemporary communication blunders. Her columns have been collected into two books, Marketplace Communication and Words Matter. Ms. Spaeth is a cum laude graduate of Smith College and an alumna the Columbia School of Business.

John D. Graham


John D. Graham is chairman of Fleishman-Hillard Inc., one of the world’s leading strategic
communications firms.

Mr. Graham joined Fleishman-Hillard in 1966.  He was elected vice president, director, and senior partner in 1970; was elected president and chief executive officer in 1974; and was named chairman in 1988.  In 2006, he announced a restructuring of the firm’s senior management team.  At that time, he relinquished the title of chief executive officer, but retained the role of chairman.  The company’s revenues, less than $1 million when Mr. Graham became CEO, are now the largest in the industry.  During this period, the firm grew from a single office in St. Louis to more than 80 around the world.  During his more than 30 years at the agency’s helm, Fleishman-Hillard has built a strong reputation by using strategic communications to deliver what its clients value most: meaningful, positive, and measurable impact on the performance of their organizations.

Under his leadership, Fleishman-Hillard was recognized by the Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research Survey of Corporate Communications Executives as No. 1 in quality service to clients for 12 consecutive years among major full-service firms.  In 2006, the firm was named “International Agency of the Year” by The Holmes Report, which also has rated Fleishman-Hillard the “Best Big Agency to Work For” five out of the past six years.  Over the past quarter-century, the firm has won 103 prestigious PRSA Silver Anvil Awards – a record of excellence no other agency can match.

During his career, Mr. Graham has personally worked in nearly all aspects of public relations, including public affairs, financial strategy, corporate strategy, investor relations, crisis situations, employee relations, strategic media placement, opinion research, issues management, and general counseling.  Although responsible for the overall operations of Fleishman‑Hillard, he remains active in planning and implementing communications programs for a number of the group’s largest clients.  He has personally counseled CEOs of many Fortune Top 100 companies.

He was elected to the College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America and was named a Public Relations All-Star for agency management by Inside PR magazine in 1990.  In 1994, he was selected as PR Professional of the Year by the readers of PR News.  In 2000, Mr. Graham became only the third agency PR executive to be inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame.  He received the Thomas Mosser Award from St. Bonaventure University for contributions to the public relations profession in 2000.  In 2001, he was named PR Professional of the Year by PRWeek, andin 2002, the University of Missouri-Columbia awarded him the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.  In 2003, John received PRSA’s Gold Anvil award for his many contributions to the public relations industry.  In 2005, the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) named John to its International Hall of Fame.  In 2008, John received The Holmes Report’sSABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Public Relations, and the same year received the President’s Award from the International Public Relations Association.  In 2009 John received PRSA’s first annual Paladin Award.

Mr. Graham has authored many articles on public relations and is a frequent speaker to industry groups.  He is a founder and a past Chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, and is a member of various public relations organizations, including the Public Relations Seminar, Arthur W. Page Society, the Public Relations Society of America, and the International Public Relations Association.

He attended the University of Missouri on both an athletic and a curator’s scholarship and graduated from the School of Journalism.

Melvin Sharpe

Sharpe_Melvin_webSCHRANZ LECTURER 2011

Dr. Melvin L. Sharpe began his career at Ball State University in 1981 where he molded the public relations sequence into the highly regarded program it is known as today and educated hundreds of students for over 25 years.

During his long and illustrious career in public relations, Dr. Sharpe has been granted 30 awards including the PRSA Outstanding Educator Award, the Outstanding Professional Service Award and in 2000 was named one of the ten most outstanding public relations educators by PR Week. The Ball State community also recognized his talents: he was given the Outstanding Faculty Service Award in 2000 as well as being inducted into Ball State’s Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Sharpe is regarded as one of the top international public relations consultants. He founded the Indiana Public Relations Conference, the International Public Relations Research Conference and turned the Vernon C. Schranz Distinguished Lectureship series into the premier lecture series it is known as today. He is also highly regarded for the book he published in 1984 with Sam Black, Practical Public Relations: Common-Sense Guidelines for Business and Professional People.
Prior to his 26-year tenure at Ball State, Sharpe served as president and chair of the Hoosier PRSA chapter as well as teaching public relations at the University of Texas at Austin.

Since retiring from Ball State in 2007, Dr. Sharpe has kept himself immersed in the public relations field through consulting and writing.

Lisa Baird


Lisa Baird was named Chief Marketing Officer of the United States Olympic Committee on Jan. 20, 2009. As the USOC’s Chief Marketing Officer, Baird directs the USOC’s Sales and Marketing Division and oversees the development of innovative corporate sponsorship and licensing programs that deliver maximum return-on-investment to the USOC’s family of Corporate Partners, while leveraging the unique attributes of the U.S. Olympic Team brand.

Baird joined the USOC from Brand Value Advisors, a consultancy advising private equity, merger and acquisition, and venture capital clients. From 2005-2007, Baird served as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Consumer Products for the National Football League (NFL), where she directed the league’s consumer products, direct marketing, e-commerce, entertainment marketing and advertising programs. She oversaw a portfolio of more than 150 licensees that delivered $3 billion in retail sales. Baird developed the league’s first consumer generated ads for the 2006 Super Bowl, launched the league’s first youth and Hispanic websites and helped develop into one of the premier e-commerce sites in sports. She also launched the first virtual sports world for kids,

From 1999-2005, Baird worked at IBM, first as Vice President, Advertising and then as Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing Communications. She led IBM’s global marketing initiatives, including the development and execution of advertising, sports marketing, direct marketing, digital marketing and media campaigns in 70 countries. Additionally, she was responsible for the IBM e-business campaign which won the 2006 Grand Effie award as well as numerous advertising, direct marketing and web awards.

From 1996-1999, Baird held a series of marketing positions at General Motors, including serving as Chief Creative Officer of e-gm. Prior to that, she worked in positions with leading consumer products companies including Bristol Meyers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble.

Baird is a graduate of Penn State University with both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Business Administration degree. She was named one of the top Business-to-Business Marketers in 2004 and serves on the Penn State Center for Sports Business and Research Advisory Board. She and her husband, Bob Baird, live in Connecticut with their three children.

– Biography Provided by the United States Olympic Committee

Robert Grupp


Robert W. Grupp is President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. This independent nonprofit foundation bridges the academic and professional communities by focusing solely on supporting public relations research and mainstreaming this knowledge into practice through education. The Institute is located at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

Most recently, Grupp was President of Grupp Global Partners LLC, a management consultancy with a strategic focus on corporate communications and international public relations. Previously, he was Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Cephalon, Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company. At Cephalon, he integrated corporate communications and branding, investor relations, media relations, employee communications and product public relations. Grupp also held leadership positions managing corporate communications at Eli Lilly and Company, directing communications programs to launch innovative medical products and devices. At Dow Corning Corporation, he managed global public relations during the silicone breast implant crisis. At Consumers Energy in Michigan, he directed public affairs initiatives including crisis management and public outreach for the nuclear power industry.


Peter Debreceny

Debreceny_PeterSCHRANZ LECTURER 2008

Peter Debreceny is an independent public relations consultant, based in Chicago, IL. He recently retired as Vice President of the Corporate Relations Department of Allstate Insurance Company responsible for internal and external communications for the Allstate Corporation and its subsidiaries. Peter has had more than 30 years’ experience in all aspects of public relations and integrated communications, and has practiced in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Prior to being appointed to his position at Allstate in September 1998, he held the position of Senior Vice President, Corporate and Financial Relations at Edelman Worldwide, Chicago.

Peter began his career as a current affairs journalist in radio and television, and since entering public relations has concentrated on providing strategic communications advice, primarily in the corporate and financial areas. He has been extensively involved in external reputation management, investor and financial communications, and crisis and issues management. He has broad integrated marketing communications experience, in particular through a variety of sponsorship activities in sports and the arts.

Peter has a degree in political science and public administration, and is a two-time Silver Anvil award winner of the Public Relations Society of America. He is Chair of the Institute for Public Relations, and a Vice President of the Arthur W. Page Society. Peter is past chair of the Communications Committee of the Insurance Information Institute, co-chair of the Communications Committee of the Executives’ Club of Chicago and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He is active in community affairs, serving on the Boards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago, the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago, the Chicago Opera Theater, and the Leadership Gifts Committee of the Chicago Children’s Museum. Peter and his wife, Jane, reside in Wicker Park, Chicago.

John Paluszek

Paluszek_JohnSCHRANZ LECTURER 2007

John Paluszek currently serves as senior counsel at Ketchum.  His area of expertise is counseling clients in corporate social responsibility, a subsection of public relations that he has practiced and promoted throughout his career. Paluszek began his career as a business magazine editor for McGraw-Hill Publishing Company where he edited three different publications. Five years later, he began working at a small public relations firm in New York. Eleven years later, he was director of the public relations department at a mid-sized advertising-public relations firm. In 1971, Paluszek opened his own public relations firm, Paluszek & Leslie Associations, a firm that assisted clients with corporate social responsibility. In 1982, Ketchum acquired the firm and Paluszek became the director of the New York and Washington offices. He served in that position for three years. In 1989,

Paluszek served as the Public Relations Society of America president and was subsequently named Public Relations Professional of the Year by Public Relations News. Paluszek is an advocate for public relations education. In 1999, he was co-chairman of the Commission on Public Relations Education, where the commission produced “A Port of Entry,” a curriculum for public relations education at the college and university level. Paluszek is the author of four books, including two books about corporate social responsibility and a memoir. He attended Manhattan College in New York City, and later served on the college’s board of trustees from 1989-2001.


Major General Mari Eder


Major General Mari Eder is Chief of Staff with the Reserve Forces Policy Board in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Eder has had additional joint experience, serving with the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where she was assigned as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs. As a civilian, she served as the Director of Public Affairs at the George C. Marshall European Center for SecurityStudies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

She is an experienced speaker and guest lecturer and has served as an adjunct professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, the NATO School and Sweden’s International Security Command’s Training Center. Eder’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, six Meritorious Service Medals, four Joint Service Commendation Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal and the Army Achievement Medal, among others. Eder was born in Grove City, PA. She holds a bachelor and master’s degree in English from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S Army War College. She is also a graduate of senior executive and leadership programs at the National Defense University and the Army War College.

Cheryl Procter-Rogers

Procter-Rogers_CherylSCHRANZ LECTURER 2005

With more than 23 years experience in the public relations arena, Cheryl Procter-Rogers is currently regional corporate affairs manager for Home Box Office where she is responsible for the development and implementation of public relations and integrated marketing communications strategies across 14 states in the Midwest and West. Prior to joining HBO, she worked for four years as a communications consultant in the Chicago area, supporting critical business objectives.

Prior to consulting, she served Nielsen North America, in Northbrook, IL, as director of public relations and advertising. While there, she managed a 2.2 million dollar budget and coordinated the PR and advertising activities for headquarters and all subsidiaries in the U.S. Before establishing her own public relations agency, she served as manager of public relations and advertising for Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company in Los Angeles. Her first job out of college was as a technical writer and administrator for Sperry Univac in Chicago. She received an M.B.A. from Keller Graduate School of Management, Chicago, IL; a B.S. in English and Journalism from Bradley University, Peoria, IL; an E-Business Certificate from the School of Business Administration, Loyola University Chicago.