Public Relations Society or America Northeast District

2019 Keynote Speakers

Morning Keynote

Mike Ritz and Marcus Jannitto, Leadership RI

"Leveraging the Power of Strengths-Based Leadership" 

According to Gallup research, only 34% of Americans are engaged at work. The workplace is ever-changing. Leaders are constantly pushed to be more innovative and resourceful with how they foster an engaging workplace that supports a culture of excellence. Research shows that when leaders focus on their strengths, and the strengths of others around them, employee engagement increases. When companies embrace a strengths-based approach to performance development, they see the following results:

  • 10% to 19% increased sales
  • 14% to 29% increased profit
  • 3% to 7% higher customer engagement
  • 6% to 16% lower turnover (low-turnover organizations)
  • 26% to 72% lower turnover (high-turnover organizations)
  • 9% to 15% increase in engaged employees
  • 22% to 59% fewer safety incidents

During Leadership RI's keynote, through reflective activities, interactive discussions and sharing of best practices, attendees’ will learn how to discover, understand and maximize a strengths-based philosophy for use in their personal and professional lives.

Mike Ritz (LRI '07), Executive Director, Leadership Rhode Island 

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Training language instructors from multiple cultures while studying applied psycholinguistics at Compania Linguistica in Mexico City sparked Mike's lifelong interests in human behavior and communication. Over the past 25 years, Mike served as a tri-lingual interrogator in the U.S. Army, established his first company by the age of 25, motivated people to excel at his fitness Boot Camps, and served as a Regional Manager for an international healthcare company based in the United Arab Emirates. A former on-call interrogation analyst for CNN, Mike has been interviewed hundreds of times for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. He participated in nine documentaries in the past 15 years; "Songs of War" won an International Emmy. Under Mike's leadership for the past eight years, Leadership Rhode Island has received numerous accolades, including the Excellence in Public Service Award by Common Cause RI, two National Innovation Awards from the Association of Leadership Programs and two Community Outreach Awards from the RI Press Association for public forums in partnership with The Providence Journal and Rhode Island College. LRl's innovative Make RI Stronger social enterprise is recognized by Gallup as an inspiration for the global strengths movement. 

Marcus Jannitto (LRI '97), LRI Strengths Coach & Ret. Brigadier General, Rhode Island National Guard 

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Brigadier General (Ret) Marcus Jannitto was the Deputy Adjutant General of the Rhode Island National Guard before retiring in February of 2016. In this position he served as the advisor to the Adjutant General and was the lead for diversity, leadership development, and strategic planning for the Rhode Island National Guard's 3300 members, and fulfilled the role of Adjutant General during periods of extended absence. He was also appointed by the Director of the Air National Guard as the Director of the Air National Guard's Commanders Development Course, a 2-week leadership course for new Wing and Group commanders, held 3 times per year in Washington, D.C. General Jannitto continues to have a passion for leadership development. He travels to Air National Guard Wings nationwide, conducting two-day leadership development seminars. He works very closely with the RI Interscholastic League and high school/college athletes all over New England to develop their leadership capacity, and monthly works with inner-city students at Central High School in Providence. 

Lunch Keynote

Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman

The New York Times has called Peter Shankman “a rock star who knows everything about social media and then some.” He is a best selling author and entrepreneur who focuses on customer service and the new and emerging customer. With three startup launches and exits under his belt, Peter is recognized worldwide for radical new approaches to customer experience, social media, PR, marketing, advertising and the economy.

His passion for helping people find success led him to find  HARO (Help A Reporter Out) which became the standard for thousands of journalists looking for sources prior to being acquired three years after its launch. He also created The ShankMinds Breakthrough Network, an elite, online mastermind of thought leaders, business experts and change makers. His Faster than Normal is the Internet’s number one podcast on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), focusing on the superpowers and gifts of having a “faster than normal brain.” Peter has helped thousands of people all around the world realize that having a neuroatypical brain is actually a gift, not a curse

Peter’s customer service and social media clients have included American Express, Sprint, SAP, The US Department of Defense, Royal Bank of Canada, Snapple Beverage Group, Saudi Aramco, Foley Hoag LLP, NASA, Haworth, Sheraton, Walt Disney World, Abercrombie and Kent, Taj Hotels, Sheraton, United Airlines, The Ad Council, Discovery Networks, New Frontier Media, Napster, Juno, Dream Catcher Destinations Club, Harrah’s Hotels, and many, many others.