The most valuable industry learning happens when like-minded communications and advocacy professionals gather to share their experiences, collaborate to overcome common obstacles, and strive to elevate the practice of modern public affairs.

For this reason, we launched the inaugural Buzz Communications & Advocacy Summit in August 2016. Now celebrating our 5th year, and due to popular demand, the Summit will return to Annapolis, MD in 2020 from July 29th -31st.

Unlike a typical conference, our approach is for the best in the industry to teach the best in the industry. This is why all invitees are asked to participate as a presenter, roundtable facilitator, or networking session moderator.

As participants rather than mere attendees, we become invested in each other’s learning, helping to boost the quality of the summit experience for all involved.

Watch our Summit experience video to see why you should participate in the Buzz Communications & Advocacy Summit!

A different kind of industry event…

Creating a unique learning experience requires doing things a little differently. This is why the Buzz Communications & Advocacy Summit:

  • limits attendance to just 80 invite-only guests
  • requires invitees to participate, not just attend 
  • features outside-the-industry luncheon guest speakers
  • hosts the event in a historic property at a getaway location that minimizes travel time and expense (1 hour drive from DC and close to BWI airport)
  • includes 2 nights hotel accommodation and all meals and receptions within the Summit fee to encourage a retreat-style experience and maximize knowledge sharing and networking
  • limits the number of sponsors
  • bans booths and sales pitches
  • provides moderators for all sessions to keep panelists focused and encourage audience participation
  • offers proactive networking and professional development sessions
  • starts the first session of the first day at 9:50am so local area participants can leave home at a normal time (registration and welcome refreshments will commence at 9am)
  • ends the Summit on the last day at 12:30pm with plenty of time to beat peak traffic congestion or extend your trip in Annapolis

The Summit Experience 

Hear what other participants had to say about the Summit:

“Inviting a small group to the discussion of storytelling, from a variety of perspectives and approaches, was a brilliant idea that was executed seamlessly.” – Jessica Cooper, National Federation of Independent Businesses

“The Buzz Advocacy Summit has the most engaging and interactive format beyond the typical and tired conference structure. The featured speakers, deep dive breakouts, and demonstration sessions all compelled us to challenge and question what we thought we know and how to improve and stand out in a world where everybody wants their stories heard.” – Katherine Merullo, American Dental Association

“It was a very productive conference and we have already begun to implement some of the takeaways I brought back to DC. Glad to have attended, participated, and shared.”Michael Lewan, The Recording Academy

“If you want a conference that isn’t traditional, where everybody is participating, and you’re always learning from someone else, and not just from the people on stage, then this is the conference to go to.” – Ory Rinat, The Heritage Foundation

Organizations that have participated in the Buzz Advocacy Summit:

  • AAA National
  • AARP
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • Amazon
  • American Academy of Neurology
  • American Academy of PAs
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • American Cleaning Institute
  • American Dental Association
  • American Diabetes Association
  • American Farm Bureau Federation
  • American Forest & Paper Association
  • American Gastroenterological Association
  • American Health Care Association
  • American Heart Association
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • American International Group
  • American Kidney Fund
  • American Library Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Nurses Association
  • American Optometric Association
  • American Petroleum Institute
  • American Retirement Association
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • American Trucking Associations
  • American Urological Association
  • American Wind Energy Association
  • Americans for the Arts
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • Association of American Railroads
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric Company
  • BAYADA Home Health Care
  • Beekeeper Group
  • BP America Inc.
  • Care2
  • Center for Audit Quality
  • Center for Civilians in Conflict
  • CF Industries
  • Children’s Hospital Association
  • Cobham PLC
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Congressional Management Foundation
  • Council for Opportunity in Education
  • Council for Responsible Nutrition
  • CQ Roll Call
  • Credit Union National Association
  • Crowdskout
  • CVS Health
  • Davies Public Affairs
  • DaVita Kidney Care
  • DC Public Library
  • DC Strings Workshop
  • Distilled Spirits Council
  • eBay
  • Engine
  • Entertainment Software Association
  • Feeding America
  • FiscalNote
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Friendship Public Charter School
  • General Motors
  • Grain Foods Foundation
  • Grant Thornton
  • Grifols
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • HaystaqDNA
  • Healthcare Leadership Council
  • Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
  • Hemophilia Federation of America
  • Higher Learning Advocates
  • Horizon Pharma
  • Human Resources Professionals Association
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • Infogroup
  • International Franchise Association
  • International Paper
  • Johnson & Johnson Industries Inc
  • L2 Political
  • LeadingAge
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Microsoft
  • Molina Healthcare
  • MV Digital Group
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Association of Chain Drug Stores
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • National Association of Realtors
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Federation of Independent Business
  • National Grid
  • National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
  • National Kidney Foundation
  • National Marine Manufacturers Association
  • National PTA
  • National Restaurant Association
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
  • NextWave Advocacy
  • Novo Nordisk
  • Nurse-Family Partnership
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
  • Pandora
  • Partnership for Public Service
  • PhRMA
  • Prudential Financial
  • Public Affairs Council
  • RAP Index
  • Safe Kids
  • Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP
  • SBA Office of Advocacy
  • Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
  • Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • State and Federal Communications
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • The Association for Advanced Life Underwriting
  • The Fertilizer Institute
  • The Home Depot
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
  • Thejll-Moller Communications
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • United States House of Representatives
  • University of San Francisco
  • USA TODAY Sports
  • VoterVoice, a FiscalNote Company
  • Washington Improv Theater
  • Western Governors University
  • Women in Government Relations
  • Youth First Initiative

The Venue

Governor Calvert House
58 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

This beautiful and historic venue is located directly across from the Maryland State House, and a 5 minute walk to the Waterfront.

The Agenda

To learn more about the Summit, please check out the 2019 agenda. We will post the 2020 agenda once it is finalized.

THEME: “Igniting Creativity: Campaigns That Catch Fire”

Advocacy and communications campaigns can sometimes follow a familiar pattern. Our issues are complicated and nuanced with identical messages often delivered to the same stakeholder audiences over and over again.

It’s time to bring creativity into the mix. Now is your chance to think differently, to try a new path, to develop unique visuals and engaging narratives that get attention and help you win.

At this year’s Buzz Advocacy Summit we’ll show you how to unlock your creative potential by sharing out-of-the-box ideas, challenging you to consider alternative approaches, and offering real-world case studies from fellow practitioners who have successfully re-imagined their own campaigns.


Chris Bender, Vice President, Public Affairs Council

Jason Dick, Deputy Editor, CQ Roll Call

Vlad Eidelman, Vice President of Research, FiscalNote

Brad Fitch, President and CEO, Congressional Management Foundation

Allen Gannett, Author, The Creative Curve

Sean Gard, Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Gwen Moore

Piper Hendricks, Professional Storyteller

Wilsar Johnson, Director of Digital Strategy, Congressional Black Caucus

Andrew Lee, Artistic Director, DC Strings Workshop

Suzanne Swink, Senior Director, Regulatory Advocacy – Communications & External Affairs, BP America Inc.

Julie Verratti, Co-owner of Denizen Brewing and Previous Candidate for Lt. Governor for MD

Ilana Wiles, Producer, Mommy Shorts Blog

For mobile users, please rotate your tablet/smartphone to view full agenda.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

8:30am – 9:50am Check-In & Pre-Summit Networking
9:50am – 11:15am

Opening Keynote: The Creative Curve

Allen Gannett, The Creative Curve

11:15am – 11:30am Networking Break
11:30am – 12:30pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1: 

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Targeting by Generation, Community, and Individual

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

A Movement or a Mob? How to Leverage Both

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Four Years In: Ideas Inspired by the Buzz Advocacy Summit

12:30pm – 2:00pm

[Outside the Industry]: Lessons from an Ad Exec turned Mommy Blogger (Lunchtime Speaker)

Ilana Wiles, Mommy Shorts Blog

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1: 

Constrained Creativity: Building Within the Brand and by the Rules

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

Modern Storytelling, Storybanking, and Story-Sharing

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Trumped: When Your Agenda is Heralded or Hijacked by the President

3:00pm – 3:15pm Networking Break
3:15pm – 4:10pm Networking Roundtable Discussions
4:10pm – 4:20pm

Transition Break

4:20pm – 5:30pm

General Session: Strings Attached: A Very Different Kind of Music Lesson

Andrew Lee, Artistic Director, DC Strings Workshop

5:30pm – 7:00pm Evening Cocktail Reception
7:30pm – 9:00pm Local Annapolis Restaurant Dining

Thursday, August 1, 2019

7:30am – 9:15am Breakfast
9:00am – 10:15am

General Session: Pitch Me: Make Me Care About Your Issue

Jason Dick, Deputy Editor, CQ Roll Call

Sean Gard, Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Gwen Moore

10:15am – 10:30am Networking Break
10:30am – 11:25am Industry Topic Roundtable Discussions
11:25am – 11:30am Transition Break
11:30am – 12:30pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1: 

Managing for Success

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

Advocacy Training Reenvisioned

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

When Lightning Strikes… and Other Catastrophes

12:30pm – 1:50pm

[Outside the Industry]: Homegrown, Hometown, Homebrewed (Lunchtime Speaker)

Julie Verratti, Co-owner of Denizen Brewing and Previous Candidate for Lt. Governor for MD

1:50pm – 2:00pm

Transition Break

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Deep Dive Breakout 1:

State by State: Advancing National Change One State at a Time

Deep Dive Breakout 2:

Creative Ways to Motivate Employees to Action

Deep Dive Breakout 3:

Planning on a Budget: Work Smarter, Not Harder

3:00pm – 6:30pm Explore Annapolis 
6:30pm – 10:30pm Crab Feast Dinner

Friday, August 2, 2019

8:00am – 9:45am Breakfast
9:00am – 10:10am

General Session: Once Upon a Time: The Structure of Great Storytelling

Piper Hendricks, Professional Storyteller

10:10am- 10:20am Networking Break
10:20am- 11:05am

Demonstration Session 1:

Immersive Video

Demonstration Session 2:

Social Media: Breaking the Algorithm

Demonstration Session 3:

Podcasting Best Practices

Demonstration Session 4:

Perfecting Your Advocacy Pitch

11:05am- 11:15am Transition Break
11:15am – 12:30pm

Closing Keynote and Panel Discussion: The Future of… What will Communicating with Congress Look Like Five Years from Now?

Chris Bender, Vice President, Public Affairs Council

Vlad Eidelman, Vice President of Research, FiscalNote

Brad Fitch, President and CEO, Congressional Management Foundation

Wilsar Johnson, Director of Digital Strategy, Congressional Black Caucus

Suzanne Swink, Senior Director, Regulatory Advocacy, BP America Inc.

You can view our agenda from 2018 here,  2017 here, and from 2016 here





Advisory Committee

Our Advisory Committee is comprised entirely of industry practitioners who have a demonstrated passion for public affairs and advocacy. The Advisory Committee will be tasked to challenge traditional thinking, to recommend topics and presenters that are at the leading edge of innovative advocacy, and to find featured speakers from outside our industry who can offer new and unique perspectives.

Eileen Denne Director, Corporate Communications American Academy of PAs
Erin O’Neill Vice President, Volunteer Engagement & Grassroots Strategies American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Katherine Merullo Manager, Public Affairs and Advocacy Communications American Dental Association 
Cody Lyon Managing Director Grassroots & Political Advocacy American Farm Bureau Federation
Amy Shope Manzi Director, Grassroots Advocacy American Heart Association
Emily Wagner Information Manager American Library Association
Dierdre Middleton Director, Strategic and Advocacy Communications American Optometric Association
Allen Segal Director, Public Policy and Advocacy American Society for Microbiology
Brian Lehman Director, Public Affairs Association of American Medical Colleges
Laura Ness Government Affairs Director BAYADA Home Health Care
Suzanne Swink Senior Director, Regulatory Advocacy – Communications & External Affairs BP
Gina Drioane Manager of Public Policy Communications Children’s Hospital Association
Trey Hawkins Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer Credit Union National Association
Thao Nguyen Managing Director of Advocacy Feeding America
Chris Golden Director
Ashley Lerner Grassroots Manager General Motors
Lauren Cantrell Government Relations and Advocacy Senior Specialist Habitat for Humanity International
Rachel Feinstein Senior Manager of Government Affairs Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association
Sarah Shinkman Advocacy & Outreach Manager Hemophilia Federation of America
Joe Franco Vice President, Grassroots LeadingAge
Jim MacGregor Director, Advocacy Communications and Mobilization National Association of REALTORS
Jessica Cooper National Grassroots Director National Federation of Independent Business
Andrew Fullerton Government Relations Manager National Kidney Foundation
Joe Joiner Manager, Political Development and Fundraising National Restaurant Association
Gabe Snow PAC Director National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Jon Simons Associate Vice President, Digital Advocacy NCTA – The Internet & Television Association
Sarah Nordstrom Associate Director Novo Nordisk
Katelyn Moga-Gesing National Advocacy Manager Nurse-Family Partnership
Elise Wingate Manager, Strategic Alliances and Advocacy PhRMA
Adam Katz Grassroots Advocacy Specialist Society for Neuroscience
Jennifer Fox Manager, Political Affairs The Association for Advanced Life Underwriting
Sarah McDonald Senior Manager, Political Programs The Home Depot
Sarah Weissmann Associate Director, Grassroots Engagement The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Our 2019 Host & Sponsors

You won’t see booths or hear sales pitches at the Buzz Advocacy Summit but you will meet with a curated selection of sponsors who understand that knowledge sharing and listening to practitioners is essential to create superior advocacy tools and services.

Beautiful Historic Annapolis, MD

Annapolis, MD is a hidden gem. Located less than 35 miles from the Washington, DC Metro Area, Annapolis, MD is far enough for a retreat-style getaway, yet close enough to travel there without much hassle.


Please purchase your tickets early to get discounted pricing.


The Summit fee includes 2 nights accommodation, commencing on July 31, 2019. To ease your morning arrival, our first session will commence at 9:50am, with registration opening at 9am. Welcome refreshments will be provided.

Early Bird (Before March 31st, 2019)

Secure your ticket before March 31st to receive Early Bird pricing. Early Bird tickets are 100% refundable before March 31st and 50% refundable* before June 30th.

Standard Price (Between April 1st – June 30th, 2019)

Our Standard Price ticket is eligible for a 50% refund* anytime before June 30th, 2019.

Last Minute: $1,595 (After July 1st, 2019)

Last Minute tickets are not refundable*.

Come in One Night Early: +$250

For out of town guests, and those who want to get a jump-start on the first day of the Summit, you can purchase a room in our hotel block for July 30th, 2019 (the evening before the Summit). All early arriving guests are invited to a reception that evening at a local area bar.

* Please note that due to commitments with the venue, no tickets are refundable after July 1st, 2019, but may be transferred within your organization.

If you would like to pay for your ticket by credit card, please visit the Eventbrite registration page (fees apply). To avoid the Eventbrite fees, please contact us at and we can send you an invoice.


What’s included in the summit fee?

The Buzz Advocacy Summit fee includes:

  • two nights hotel accommodation at The Historic Inns of Annapolis
  • welcome refreshments on the first morning (assorted breakfast treats)
  • two hot breakfasts
  • two lunches
  • two dinners
  • two evening cocktail receptions
  • wifi
  • coffee and snacks

Can I just come for part of the Summit or forego the hotel accommodation?

While the Summit may be close to home for most participants, this is intended as a convenience so invitees may avoid extensive travel to a far-flung destination. We want to preserve a retreat-style feeling to promote networking, shared experience, and to allow for an ongoing and informed discussion about the future direction of our industry. This is why hotel accommodations are included within the Summit fee, to encourage us to stay on-site together throughout the Summit. This also helps defray some of the costs of the event as meeting room space is included in the hotel room block.

Of course, if you would prefer not to stay on-site overnight, we just ask that you commit to attend each day of Summit sessions. Unfortunately, no refund is available for unused hotel accommodations.

Why host the Summit in Annapolis?

When planning the inaugural Buzz Advocacy Summit we wanted a destination that would be far enough away from DC to encourage a retreat-style atmosphere, yet close enough for an easily commutable end-of-the-week event. You don’t need to hop on a plane to get to this summer destination! We also had the opportunity to secure a beautiful hotel in the center of Historic Annapolis, MD that is easy walking distance to the waterfront.

Why do I have to participate, can’t I just attend?

We believe that something important changes when you become an active participant in an event. When you aren’t just learning from others, but are also sharing your thoughts and ideas. There are numerous excellent industry conferences that offer attendees a chance to soak in knowledge without necessarily joining in. However, we want this Summit to be different. We want the best in the industry to teach the best in the industry, and your involvement is essential to that goal.

For those less comfortable with the spotlight, there are a number of opportunities to participate in a smaller group setting including as a roundtable facilitator or networking session moderator. Please let the host know your preference and we will try to accommodate your request.

What is the role of a panelist?

Panelists will present at moderator led keynote or breakout sessions. Topics will be determined in advance and some preparation may be required including providing slides or other materials. Panel moderators will coordinate with panelists ahead of the event.

What is the role of a roundtable facilitator?

Roundtable facilitators will conduct a roundtable discussion on selected topics during our roundtable breakout session. Roundtable facilitators will assist with preparing materials on their selected topic as well as a discussion guide for their session.

Roundtable facilitators will conduct a roundtable discussion on selected topics during our roundtable breakout session. Roundtable facilitators will assist with preparing materials on their selected topic as well as a discussion guide for their session.

What is the role of a networking session moderator?

Networking session moderators, will coordinate our networking speed dating session. They will host each networking group and will encourage interaction among participants.

What is the Summit dress code?

Our only emphasis is on advanced advocacy learning among peers. Plan to bring your creativity, but leave the suits at home!

Where are my hotel accommodations?

We have attendee accommodations booked in two of the Historic Inns of Annapolis- the Governor Calvert House and the newly renovated Robert Johnson House. Both are on State House Circle and very easy walking distance to each other.

You will receive your room assignment upon check-in at the main lobby in the Governor Calvert House. These assignments will be chosen at random, with options including two double beds, a queen bed, or a king bed. If you have a particular preference, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate these requests.

Running late and unable to check-in before the first session? No worries – we will have a station at the Summit to temporarily store your belongings.

What are my transportation options?

We chose Annapolis because it is within easy driving distance for most attendees. If you’d like to participate in a carpool, please let us know and we will happily help coordinate it – please just reply to this email.

For those driving themselves, there is valet parking at the hotel, but other parking options include the Noah Hillman Parking Garage (150 Gorman Street) and South Street Parking Lot (101-199 South Street).

You can also Uber from DC for approximately $45 with UberX.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

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