Insight By Government Marketing University

Episode 4: Best practices for promoting a more robust dialogue with public affairs officers

In this episode of Market Chat!, we will hear from three federal public affairs officers and one general counsel’s office representative on how they decide re...

This content is provided by Government Marketing University.

Left to right: Steve Watkins, Chris O'Neil, Nadine Santiago, Erin Buechel Wieczorek, Cindy Your, Elizabeth Shea, Lou Anne Brossman
Left to right:
Steve Watkins, Chris O’Neil, Nadine Santiago, Erin Buechel Wieczorek, Cindy Your, Elizabeth Shea and Lou Anne Brossman

Welcome to Market Chat! – “Bringing Clarity to the Clutter in Government Marketing” with hot topics, best practices, exciting guests and innovative ideas.

Market Chat! is an ongoing series that provides an open and collaborative interaction between government and industry to ensure that listeners will walk away empowered with greater knowledge on how to better market to their targeted federal and state and local audiences.

In this episode of Market Chat!, we will hear from three federal public affairs officers and one general counsel’s office representative on how they decide requests they receive from government marketers for official statements, testimonials, government speakers, case studies, use of agency logos, and more.

Today’s program will cover:


Market Chat! Guest Panelists

ErinWphotoErin Buechel Wieczorek, Chief of Congressional Affairs and Strategic Communications Division, Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS), U.S. Army

Erin Buechel Wieczorek is the Communications Division Chief for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems (PEO EIS) leading public affairs, Congressional outreach, conference management, audit liaison for the organization. PEO EIS is the Army’s leader for IT acquisition supporting diverse operational and enterprise business functions, including logistics, acquisition, finance, personnel, and medical through 32 program offices and $2.51 million in IT investment. Ms. Buechel Wieczorek specializes in comprehensive strategic planning that includes a strong focus on legislative affairs, media operations, stakeholder engagement and message development for long-term, positive impact. Prior to joining PEO EIS, Ms. Buechel Wieczorek served in the Congressional Affairs office for the Department of Defense’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) and as a member of the Government Relations practice at Golin, formerly GolinHarris. Ms. Buechel Wieczorek began her career as a legislative staffer in the U.S. Senate. Erin Buechel Wieczorek is DAWIA level III certified in Program Management and is a graduate of the Defense Information School. Ms. Buechel Wieczorek earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Penn State University and holds both an MBA and an MA in Government from The Johns Hopkins University.


2201607202-001CindyYourofficialCindy Your, Chief of Strategic Communications Office, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA)

Cindy Your is the Chief of the Strategic Communications Office for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) at Fort Meade, Md.  She is responsible for the agency’s internal and external communication programs including customer communication, industry engagement, workforce communication, media relations, community relations, visual information products and services and major event planning.  Her responsibilities include the DISA’s international relations program and the agency’s knowledge management program. She is also the senior communication advisor for Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Networks (JFHQ-DODIN). Ms. Your joined DISA in 2012 as the Public Affairs Officer.

Ms. Your was commissioned into the Army as an Air Defense Artillery officer and served in a variety of air defense and public affairs assignments. Highlights include commanding a Patriot missile battery; serving as the deputy director of the Joint Information Bureau for Operation Uphold Democracy; working as the chief of Personnel, Plans and Actions, G-1, 32d Army Air Defense Command during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield; and serving as the command information officer for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Upon retirement from the Army, Ms. Your continued her career as a civilian public affairs practitioner. She was the public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Transportation Center, Fort Eustis and Fort Story for nine years, followed by assignments as the region public affairs officer for U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s Northeast Region and Atlantic Region.

Ms. Your was born in Ithaca, N.Y. and graduated from Dryden Central High School. She received a four-year Army ROTC scholarship which she used to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., earning the recognition of Distinguished Military Graduate.  She holds a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a graduate of the Defense Information School Public Affairs Officers Course and Joint Senior Public Affairs Officers Course, the Army Management Staff College Sustaining Base Leadership and Management Course and the Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute Congressional Operations Course.


150728-N-PO203-376 ARLINGTON, Virginia (July 28, 2015) Nadine Villanueva. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Nadine Villanueva Santiago, Trademark and Licensing Program Manager, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Navy

Nadine Villanueva assumed the duties of Program Manager for the Navy’s Trademark and Licensing Program Office in November 2013 following a military and civilian career with the U.S. Coast Guard. Villanueva has nine years of public affairs experience in government and military public affairs offices and currently works for the Office of General Counsel.

In her current role, is the Navy’s subject matter expert on trademark licensing policy. The licensing program directly affects the Navy’s visibility globally by promoting a positive image of the Navy to the public. Villanueva has been instrumental in implementing program changing strategies to that have increased royalty revenue by 156%.

Prior to assuming this position, Villanueva was the Coast Guard’s Trademark Program Manager, special events coordinator and provided assistance to government and non-government authors in the research and production of works focused on the past and present missions and personnel of the United States Coast Guard. During her tenure, she was responsible for developing and implementing trademark policy procedures and processes related to trademark registrations including work required for the preparation of trademark applications, oppositions and cancellations.

Villanueva enlisted in the Coast Guard in May 2003 upon acceptance to the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Program (CSPI), a minority recruitment program. Upon graduating from the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School in 2004, Villanueva was commissioned as an Ensign and assigned to Sector San Juan as the Ports Waterways and Coastal Security (PWCS) team leader; responsible for maintaining maritime domain awareness and protecting transportations system from internal and external threats.  In 2007, Ms. Santiago rotated to the Office of Public Affairs, where she raised public awareness about the Coast Guard through the development and implementation of strategic communications plans. Villanueva left active duty service to become a Coast Guard civilian in the Community Relations Office in March 2010 where she served until November 2013.

Villanueva currently serves as a Board Member to the Office of General Counsel Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council.

She has been happily married 15 years to her college sweetheart and is usually busy in the afternoons carpooling their three school aged children to football, cheerleading or ballet.


Chris ONeilChristopher T. O’Neil, Chief, Media Relations Division, Office of Safety Recommendations and Communications, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and President-Elect, National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC)

Chris O’Neil assumed the duties of Chief, Media Relations Division, in the Office of Safety Recommendations and Communications, at the National Transportation Safety Board, in January 2016 following his tenure as the Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Office of Public Affairs, at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  O’Neil brings with him more than 28 years of public affairs experience gained through full-time and collateral-duty public affairs positions in both government and military public affairs offices.

O’Neil began his work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Public Affairs in April 2014 after retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard at the rank of Commander, with more than 29 years of active-duty military service.  At CBP he led, directed and coordinated the activities of 94 personnel to develop, implement and manage external and internal communication strategies that met the operational objectives and organizational priorities of the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency.  O’Neil was instrumental in the development of strategy and policy for the release of information in use of force incidents and served as a non-voting member on the agency’s National Use of Force Review Board.  He also served on the CBP Employee Engagement Steering Committee, International Trade Committee and the Automated Commercial Environment Steering Committee.  While at CBP O’Neil was selected by the Department of Homeland Security to draft the public affairs annex to the Land Migration Contingency Plan.  He also drafted a comprehensive public affairs doctrine and policy document – the CBP Public Affairs Policy Handbook.

O’Neil’s public affairs career began during his six-year enlistment in the United States Air Force, when in 1985 he became his unit’s public affairs representative and a stringer for the base newspaper. In 1989 he earned the 21st Air Force Unit Public Affairs Representative of the Year award.  He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant in 1986 and left the Air Force in 1989.

In 1991 O’Neil enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and served as a small boat crewmember and Coast Guard Station New York’s collateral-duty public affairs officer until selected to attend the Basic Journalism Course at Defense Information School in 1992. O’Neil was then assigned to the Atlantic Area Public Affairs Office, where he earned the 1994 Commander Jim Simpson Award for Excellence in Media Relations.  O’Neil advanced to petty officer 1st class before being accepted to Officer Candidate School in 1995.

Upon completion of OCS O’Neil was assigned to Marine Safety Office Morgan City, Louisiana.  Three years later he transferred to MSO St. Louis for a five-year tour of duty. Throughout these assignments, O’Neil continued to serve as a unit collateral-duty public affairs officer, rejuvenating unit programs and gaining national media coverage of marine safety activities, and earning a runner up and first place in the Cmdr. Jim Simpson Media Relations program awards.  In 2003 O’Neil was selected for the Coast Guard’s graduate school program, attending Boston University to earn a Master’s in Public Relations, with a concentration in Governmental Public Relations.  In 2005 he completed the Public Affairs Officer Qualification Course at Defense Information School.

O’Neil then served as the Public Affairs Officer for the 7th Coast Guard District, Miami, from 2005-2008.  He coordinated media relations, internal information and community relations efforts for the Coast Guard’s busiest district and managed a staff of eight active-duty and five reserve petty officers, plus one Coast Guard civilian employee.  The 7th District public affairs staff earned the 2006 Cmdr. Jim Simpson Award for Excellence in Public Affairs and did so again for 2007.

O’Neil transferred to Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC, in 2008 to assume the duties of the Chief of Media Relations for the U.S. Coast Guard in the Directorate of Governmental and Public Affairs. He was responsible for developing and implementing policy and doctrine for all Coast Guard media relations activities and served as a national spokesperson.  He supported two area and nine district public affairs officers and their staffs, and directly supervised a staff of four. O’Neil deployed to provide public affairs support for the responses to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake.  He served as the Chief of Strategic Communication on the Deepwater Horizon BP Oil Spill Response National Incident Command Staff, from May to July 2010, and served as the Gulf Coast Incident Command/Unified Area Command Public Information Officer in New Orleans, from October to November 2010.  He deployed to Juneau, Alaska, to serve as the external affairs officer for Operation Arctic Shield 2012 and upon his return assumed the duties of Chief of Strategic Communication at Coast Guard Headquarters.

As the Chief of the Office of Strategic Communication, O’Neil supervised three public affairs officers to provide national level communication policy, strategy and planning. O’Neil’s office served as the Coast Guard’s technical authority on the design, development and execution of national level communication action plans that conveyed strategic intent to internal and external audiences by synchronizing and integrating the communication efforts of more than 60 public and governmental affairs officers at 13 regional offices across the U.S.

O’Neil concurrently served as Public Affairs Officer for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Military Campaign Office, providing the full spectrum of public affairs services including national spokesperson, communications planning, counsel, theme and key message development, interviews, interview preparation for principals and subject matter experts.

O’Neil’s professional volunteer work includes serving on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Government Communicators as President Elect, and prior membership in the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capital Chapter on the Public and Government Affairs Committee.

He is married to his wife of 25 years, April O’Neil.  His daughter, Christina, is an IT specialist with Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.


EShea_HeadshotElizabeth Shea, President and CEO, SpeakerBox Communications

Elizabeth Shea is president and CEO of SpeakerBox Communications, the firm she cofounded in 1997. Twenty years into founding her own firm, Elizabeth’s passion for technology public relations has grown stronger and more finely tuned with the arrival of new communication strategies. Her biggest sense of accomplishment comes when her clients exceed their business goals.

Elizabeth has received industry and peer accolades, including the prestigious SmartCEO Brava Award in 2009 and the 2008 Women Who Mean Business Award from The Washington Business Journal. Other awards include Women In Technology’s 2005 Entrepreneurial Leadership Award and Washington Women In Public Relations’ (WWPR) annual Women of the Year Award in 2001.


Market Chat! hosts

Lou Anne Brossman HeadshotLou Anne Brossman

Lou Anne Brossman is founder and president of Government Marketing University. She has over 30 years of public sector government marketing leadership experience gained while working for some of the leading companies in the market (Juniper Networks, immixGroup, EMC ). Her roots are in the manufacture world which enables her to better understand and relate to the corporate issues her federal marketing customers are facing. She is a sought out speaker on Government Marketing Best Practices and is well recognized and respected for her to drive Thought Leadership campaigns on relevant federal, state and local government policies and mandates. Lou Anne has served on numerous boards including immixGroup and Trezza Media and was a founding member of the Women’s Center Executive Council.   Lou Anne was honored with the Heroines in Technology award presented by Women In Technology and she was the recipient of the ACT IAC Dedication to Making a Difference award.

Lou Anne started Virtual Marketing in 2008 after realizing there was a need for experienced hands-on “virtual” government marketing experts who could provide an economical way for companies to have winning government marketing programs.  She most recently launched Government Marketing University, an innovative learning platform that applies a collaborative, community-based approach toward knowledge sharing and skills development in the field of public sector marketing. Government Marketing University will offer training, research, certifications, mentoring, and community resources all in one place. For more information about Government Marketing University, visit


Steve WatkinsSteve Watkins

Steve Watkins is Chief Content Officer at Government Marketing University, an innovative learning platform that applies a collaborative, community-based approach toward knowledge sharing and skills development in the field of public sector marketing.

He launched Watkins Communications in 2015, providing a variety of tailored communications and consulting services to clients in the federal marketplace and offering expertise in all varieties of content platforms, including live events, webcasts, white papers, video, social media, bylined articles, blogs, and issue briefs.

Prior to launching Watkins Communications, Steve served 15 years as the editor of Federal Times, a leading media brand serving the federal management community, Congress and contractors. Under Steve’s leadership, Federal Times won more than three dozen national and regional peer-reviewed awards for journalism excellence in the categories of investigative reporting, news analysis and government coverage. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at events focused on federal management and technology. As editor, Steve transformed the Federal Times editorial brand from a legacy subscription-based publication into a modern business-to-business model focused on the federal management community. Steve repositioned Federal Times to become a robust digital brand with an emphasis on federal modernization and a platform for thought leadership on federal management issues. During Steve’s tenure, Federal Times consistently ranked No. 1 or No. 2 nationally as the “Top Federal Publication Read” by Market Connections Inc., which began conducting federal market research studies in 2011.

Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories

    Episode 24: Insights from expert Federal Sales Leaders: Standing up your federal sales organization and effectively driving revenue at end of fiscal year

    Read more

    Episode 23: Winning Task Orders: It’s not just about winning the IDIQ contract – that’s when the real work begins – winning task orders!

    Read more