Meeting/Event Information

Live Webinar: Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators: The C-Suite Perspective


When: Thu., Apr. 8, 2021; 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Where: Virtual Webinar


Registration for Chicago chapter members is FREE.
Registration for non-members is $10 (proceeds will support the Young Professionals Network).

Not able to attend the live virtual webinar? Register for the event, and we’ll send a link to the recording after the live event.


Hear three chief communications officers share their experiences and tips on building business acumen and serving as trusted advisors and counselors to the C-suite during this informative panel discussion led by local DePaul University professors Ron Culp and Matt Ragas, authors of the just-published book, Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators: A Primer.

The new book is available from Amazon and other major book sellers as well as at the Barnes & Noble at 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago.



Kelly McGrail
Vice President of Leadership Communications | Mars

Kelly McGrail, Vice President of Leadership Communications, Mars, is known for her business perspective and crafting communications strategies that remove roadblocks, unlock opportunities and show impact. Accordingly, she has developed communications strategies and capabilities at multiple organizations – from Oil-Dri Corporation and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company to Mars. For the last 10 years, she has helped Mars build its Corporate Communications practice and stewarded organizational firsts for the private company including: shaping a corporate brand strategy; public sustainability reporting; change communication programming in support of a strategic change agenda and major acquisitions; and securing high-profile media engagements for C-suite and Mars family members.

Linda Rutherford
Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer | Southwest Airlines

Linda Rutherford, a 30+ year veteran of journalism and communication, currently serves as Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. During her career, she has spent time working with teams on evolving the airline’s communications and social business functions as well as nurturing its iconic corporate culture through periods of great change. She serves on the National Advisory Board for Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication, where she received her undergraduate degree, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Page Society.

Rodrigo A. Sierra
Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President | American Medical Association (AMA)

Rodrigo A. Sierra is Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of the American Medical Association (AMA). He is responsible for public relations, internal communications, executive leadership positioning and social responsibility. He also serves as executive sponsor of the AMA’s Latinx employee resource group, on the steering committee of the AMA Center for Health Equity, and as liaison to the AMA Foundation. Prior to AMA, he led change for Johnson Publishing Company, Integrys Energy Group, Peoples Energy, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, WGN Radio and ABC News. He earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Northwestern University.


Ron Culp, Fellow PRSA
Director, Public Relations and Advertising Graduate Program | DePaul University
Culpwrit blog

Ron Culp is a veteran corporate and agency leader who now teaches public relations at DePaul University. A recent recipient of the Distinguished Leader award from Chicago PRSA, Culp received the chapter’s Professional of the Year Award in 2012. His three-decade-long Chicago career began at Sara Lee Corporation before being named a corporate officer and CCO of Sears, followed by stints heading the Sard Verbinnen & Co. Chicago office and Ketchum Midwest. In addition to serving as professional director of the graduate program in public relations and advertising at DePaul, Culp consults with C-suite executives and helps corporations and organizations during their agency selection process. He received PRSA’s Gold Anvil in 2015 and he was named to the Arthur W. Page Society’s Hall of Fame in 2017.

Matthew W. Ragas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor | DePaul University College of Communications

Matthew W. Ragas, Ph.D. is a tenured associate professor in the College of Communication at DePaul University. During his time as academic director of the PR and Advertising graduate program, it was named PRWeek PR Education Program of the Year. He is the co-author with colleague Ron Culp of Business Acumen for Strategic Communicators: A Primer (Emerald Publishing, 2021) and Business Essentials for Strategic Communicators: Creating Shared Value for the Organization and its Stakeholders (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), and the co-editor with Ron of Mastering Business for Strategic Communicators: Insights and Advice from the C-suite of Leading Brands (Emerald Publishing, 2018).

Questions? Please contact the Programming committee at [email protected].

Program Details


$0.00 Chicago Chapter Member: FREE

$10.00 Non-member: $10 (Proceeds will support the Young Professionals Network)

All ticket sales are final. Substitutions may be made at any time.

April 08, 2021
5:30 PM CDT - 6:30 PM CDT

Live Webinar