Breakout Session Speakers

Breakout session: Analytics for the Non-Analytical     Ashleigh Miller - Finn Partners, Associate Vice President   Ashleigh Miller launched her first brand Facebook page in 2007. In the twelve years that have followed, social media strategy has become her passion point.  As an Associate Vice President at Finn Partners, Ashleigh develops social media strategies, manages analytics reporting, enacts brand reputational management, and oversees the community management team for the largest healthcare provider in the state of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM).  Ashleigh’s previous clients include Buick, GMC, Allstate Insurance, United Airlines, the U.S. Army, SkinnyGirl Cocktails, Pucker Vodka and Beam Global.  Ashleigh earned her bachelor’s degree in Integrated Public Relations and Marketing from Central Michigan University, graduated with honors from Columbia College Chicago, where she earned her master’s degree in Media Management.

Breakout session: Analytics for the Non-Analytical


Ashleigh Miller - Finn Partners, Associate Vice President

Ashleigh Miller launched her first brand Facebook page in 2007. In the twelve years that have followed, social media strategy has become her passion point.

As an Associate Vice President at Finn Partners, Ashleigh develops social media strategies, manages analytics reporting, enacts brand reputational management, and oversees the community management team for the largest healthcare provider in the state of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM).

Ashleigh’s previous clients include Buick, GMC, Allstate Insurance, United Airlines, the U.S. Army, SkinnyGirl Cocktails, Pucker Vodka and Beam Global.

Ashleigh earned her bachelor’s degree in Integrated Public Relations and Marketing from Central Michigan University, graduated with honors from Columbia College Chicago, where she earned her master’s degree in Media Management.

Breakout session: Getting the Best ROI from Social Media Platforms     Jeff DeHaven - Digital Mitten, President & CEO    Jeff DeHaven's passion for digital marketing began right after he graduated high school in 2003. At that time, Jeff launched the first social media agency in the Flint/Saginaw region. He specialized with training and consulting for MySpace.  Over the years, DeHaven has served as president of Social Media Club, Vice President of Social Media Association of Michigan, producer of Michigan’s largest social media conference, and was the founder of Geek Breakfast.  Today, Jeff works tirelessly to remain one of Michigan’s most known and referred to social media resources. His company (Digital Mitten) has had the opportunity to help clients utilize digital platforms, to raise awareness and revenue, from all over the state and beyond. Some of these companies include: TLC Television Network, Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Purdue University, Pioneer Sugar, and many more.  In his spare time, DeHaven is honored to serve as the social media contributor to his local CBS, NBC, and Fox News Radio affiliates. He also produces a podcast series, maintains an online educational community, stars in an award winning YouTube Series (“Digital Mitten”), and is currently working on finishing his first book.

Breakout session: Getting the Best ROI from Social Media Platforms


Jeff DeHaven - Digital Mitten, President & CEO

Jeff DeHaven's passion for digital marketing began right after he graduated high school in 2003. At that time, Jeff launched the first social media agency in the Flint/Saginaw region. He specialized with training and consulting for MySpace.

Over the years, DeHaven has served as president of Social Media Club, Vice President of Social Media Association of Michigan, producer of Michigan’s largest social media conference, and was the founder of Geek Breakfast.

Today, Jeff works tirelessly to remain one of Michigan’s most known and referred to social media resources. His company (Digital Mitten) has had the opportunity to help clients utilize digital platforms, to raise awareness and revenue, from all over the state and beyond. Some of these companies include: TLC Television Network, Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Purdue University, Pioneer Sugar, and many more.

In his spare time, DeHaven is honored to serve as the social media contributor to his local CBS, NBC, and Fox News Radio affiliates. He also produces a podcast series, maintains an online educational community, stars in an award winning YouTube Series (“Digital Mitten”), and is currently working on finishing his first book.



Breakout session: Building a Digital Brand    Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood - CraftSanity, CEO   While working as a journalist at a daily newspaper in West Michigan, Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood started the CraftSanity Podcast, blog and YouTube channel in 2006. Soon CraftSanity became a registered trademark and the logo became a DIY symbol for making sense of an insane world. After stepping away from a career in daily journalism, Jennifer introduced the CraftSanity collection of handmade weaving looms in 2009 and followed that up with the launch of CraftSanity Magazine 2010.  In her session, Jennifer will talk about personal branding, using the internet and social media to build a following, telling the story behind your product and developing multiple revenue streams that can lead to brand building, product sales and professional independence.

Breakout session: Building a Digital Brand

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood - CraftSanity, CEO

While working as a journalist at a daily newspaper in West Michigan, Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood started the CraftSanity Podcast, blog and YouTube channel in 2006. Soon CraftSanity became a registered trademark and the logo became a DIY symbol for making sense of an insane world. After stepping away from a career in daily journalism, Jennifer introduced the CraftSanity collection of handmade weaving looms in 2009 and followed that up with the launch of CraftSanity Magazine 2010.

In her session, Jennifer will talk about personal branding, using the internet and social media to build a following, telling the story behind your product and developing multiple revenue streams that can lead to brand building, product sales and professional independence.



Breakout session: Improving audience engagement in a paid-driven social landscape    Angela Hernandez - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Social Media Team Leader   Angela Hernandez is a passionate, driven and detail-oriented professional with 10+ years of experience in communications and social media. She has worked with brands of all sizes, from locally-owned businesses to national and international corporations including Buddy's Pizza, Comerica Bank, Wayne State University and The Salvation Army. She is currently a social media team leader at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan where she's responsible for creating strategies that drive business results and audience behaviors.  Her experience includes content development, brand storytelling, social media strategy, copywriting and editing, media relations and pitching, digital analytics and reporting, community relations and public affairs communications, crisis communications, multimedia content development, branding, event planning and integrated marketing.  She is an active member of Detroit's PR and social media community including PRSA Detroit and IABC Detroit. Also a freelance writer, Angela is currently a master's degree candidate at Harvard Extension School's journalism program. Her work has been published on HelloGiggles, Visit Detroit and Deadline Detroit.

Breakout session: Improving audience engagement in a paid-driven social landscape

Angela Hernandez - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Social Media Team Leader

Angela Hernandez is a passionate, driven and detail-oriented professional with 10+ years of experience in communications and social media. She has worked with brands of all sizes, from locally-owned businesses to national and international corporations including Buddy's Pizza, Comerica Bank, Wayne State University and The Salvation Army. She is currently a social media team leader at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan where she's responsible for creating strategies that drive business results and audience behaviors.

Her experience includes content development, brand storytelling, social media strategy, copywriting and editing, media relations and pitching, digital analytics and reporting, community relations and public affairs communications, crisis communications, multimedia content development, branding, event planning and integrated marketing.

She is an active member of Detroit's PR and social media community including PRSA Detroit and IABC Detroit. Also a freelance writer, Angela is currently a master's degree candidate at Harvard Extension School's journalism program. Her work has been published on HelloGiggles, Visit Detroit and Deadline Detroit.



Keynote Speakers

Keynote: The Importance of Practicing PR While Newsrooms Shrink    Matt Friedman - Tanner Friedman, cofounder   Tanner Friedman Co-Founder Matt Friedman leads teams and works directly with clients to develop and implement traditional and emerging communications strategies that support business objectives. His clients have included an international airline, multiple global pharmaceutical companies and research universities, print and broadcast media companies, top nonprofit organizations, innovative entrepreneurial companies and leading professional service firms. Friedman is a recognized crisis communications strategist, helping to guide organizations of all sizes through periods of “bad news” and times of change.  His specialized experience includes working with virtually all facets of health care communications, handling litigation communications for high-profile legal matters, leading media relations operations for large business and policy events and strategic communications projects for multiple Division I college athletic departments and a “Power Five” athletic conference.  Friedman is also an experienced media trainer, combining his news and PR experience to create customized training sessions for clients nationwide to learn how to tell their stories and deliver their messages through interviews with journalists.  He began his PR career at a large Metro Detroit firm in the 1990s, after a track record of success in broadcast journalism. Most recently, he was the lead news producer for Detroit station WDIV-TV (NBC)’s 6 p.m. news broadcast, at the time Michigan’s most watched evening news program. He also served as a news producer at WKMG-TV (CBS) in Orlando, Florida and WSB-TV (ABC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was the top news writer on the nation’s highest-rated 11 p.m. newscast. Friedman began his professional broadcasting career on-the-air and behind-the-scenes covering news and sports at WWJ-AM radio (CBS) in Detroit. He first started at age 11 as a DJ and sports announcer at Metro Detroit community radio station WBFH-FM, where he eventually became the station’s operations manager. He now frequently serves as a broadcasting, news and PR analyst for newspapers, magazines, websites, TV and radio stations. Friedman also serves the host of a statewide internet radio program focused on trends, “Communicating Business” on the Michigan Business Network.  Friedman is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, where he served as News Director at WJPZ-FM, at the time the nation’s highest-rated collegiate broadcast outlet. He was inducted into the WJPZ Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.  A leader in the Michigan community, Friedman serves as Chair of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation Board of Trustees and on the Boards of the Legacy Detroit Medical Center, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation. He also chairs the Detroit Regional Chamber’s  PR/Marketing Advisory Council and serves on the Board of Advisors for the ChadTough Foundation.  Earlier in his career Friedman received recognition for his leadership as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” and DBusiness magazine’s “30 In Their 30s,” for his business and community accomplishments before the age of 40.

Keynote: The Importance of Practicing PR While Newsrooms Shrink

Matt Friedman - Tanner Friedman, cofounder

Tanner Friedman Co-Founder Matt Friedman leads teams and works directly with clients to develop and implement traditional and emerging communications strategies that support business objectives. His clients have included an international airline, multiple global pharmaceutical companies and research universities, print and broadcast media companies, top nonprofit organizations, innovative entrepreneurial companies and leading professional service firms. Friedman is a recognized crisis communications strategist, helping to guide organizations of all sizes through periods of “bad news” and times of change.

His specialized experience includes working with virtually all facets of health care communications, handling litigation communications for high-profile legal matters, leading media relations operations for large business and policy events and strategic communications projects for multiple Division I college athletic departments and a “Power Five” athletic conference.

Friedman is also an experienced media trainer, combining his news and PR experience to create customized training sessions for clients nationwide to learn how to tell their stories and deliver their messages through interviews with journalists.

He began his PR career at a large Metro Detroit firm in the 1990s, after a track record of success in broadcast journalism. Most recently, he was the lead news producer for Detroit station WDIV-TV (NBC)’s 6 p.m. news broadcast, at the time Michigan’s most watched evening news program. He also served as a news producer at WKMG-TV (CBS) in Orlando, Florida and WSB-TV (ABC) in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was the top news writer on the nation’s highest-rated 11 p.m. newscast. Friedman began his professional broadcasting career on-the-air and behind-the-scenes covering news and sports at WWJ-AM radio (CBS) in Detroit. He first started at age 11 as a DJ and sports announcer at Metro Detroit community radio station WBFH-FM, where he eventually became the station’s operations manager. He now frequently serves as a broadcasting, news and PR analyst for newspapers, magazines, websites, TV and radio stations. Friedman also serves the host of a statewide internet radio program focused on trends, “Communicating Business” on the Michigan Business Network.

Friedman is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, where he served as News Director at WJPZ-FM, at the time the nation’s highest-rated collegiate broadcast outlet. He was inducted into the WJPZ Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.

A leader in the Michigan community, Friedman serves as Chair of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation Board of Trustees and on the Boards of the Legacy Detroit Medical Center, the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation. He also chairs the Detroit Regional Chamber’s

PR/Marketing Advisory Council and serves on the Board of Advisors for the ChadTough Foundation.

Earlier in his career Friedman received recognition for his leadership as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” and DBusiness magazine’s “30 In Their 30s,” for his business and community accomplishments before the age of 40.



Keynote: Why Your PR Career is a Solid Investment    Sarah Rowley Opperman - Opperman Consulting, CEO   Sarah Opperman is a public affairs executive with more than 30 years of experience.  She was employed by The Dow Chemical Company for 28 years, serving in a variety of public affairs roles, retiring in 2009 as vice president of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy. While at Dow, she also was honored with the Genesis Award for people excellence.  In 2018, she served as interim president and CEO of the Midland Business Alliance, an integrated business hub that includes economic development and the Chamber of Commerce. In early 2019, she received the Chairman’s Award for her contributions in strategically realigning the organization. Sarah also is the 2019 recipient of the Athena Award for contributions to her profession, community and women.  Sarah has served as an independent director of Isabella Bank Corporation and the Bank since 2012 and chairs the Loan Committee.  She is a proud and active alumnus of Central Michigan University, having graduating with a B.S. degree in Business and Journalism in 1981. She was appointed to the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees in 2009, serving twice as board chair during her eight-year appointment. She currently serves on CMU’s Advancement Board and the National Campaign Steering Committee. She was inducted into the CMU Journalism Department Hall of Fame in 2006 and was the 2018 recipient of the Dick Enberg Alumni Commitment Award.  Sarah also is an active volunteer in the community, chairing the MidMichigan Health Foundation and the United Way of Midland County Board of Directors. A native of Frankenmuth, Sarah and her husband, Dan, reside in Midland and have two adult sons.

Keynote: Why Your PR Career is a Solid Investment

Sarah Rowley Opperman - Opperman Consulting, CEO

Sarah Opperman is a public affairs executive with more than 30 years of experience.

She was employed by The Dow Chemical Company for 28 years, serving in a variety of public affairs roles, retiring in 2009 as vice president of Global Government Affairs and Public Policy. While at Dow, she also was honored with the Genesis Award for people excellence.

In 2018, she served as interim president and CEO of the Midland Business Alliance, an integrated business hub that includes economic development and the Chamber of Commerce. In early 2019, she received the Chairman’s Award for her contributions in strategically realigning the organization. Sarah also is the 2019 recipient of the Athena Award for contributions to her profession, community and women.

Sarah has served as an independent director of Isabella Bank Corporation and the Bank since 2012 and chairs the Loan Committee.

She is a proud and active alumnus of Central Michigan University, having graduating with a B.S. degree in Business and Journalism in 1981. She was appointed to the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees in 2009, serving twice as board chair during her eight-year appointment. She currently serves on CMU’s Advancement Board and the National Campaign Steering Committee. She was inducted into the CMU Journalism Department Hall of Fame in 2006 and was the 2018 recipient of the Dick Enberg Alumni Commitment Award.

Sarah also is an active volunteer in the community, chairing the MidMichigan Health Foundation and the United Way of Midland County Board of Directors. A native of Frankenmuth, Sarah and her husband, Dan, reside in Midland and have two adult sons.