Communication
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley, Republican Strategist Mark McKinnon to Headline Mason Political Communication Forum Tuesday, Oct. 25

Distinguished team of alumni and industry leaders build forum for students to contribute to issues discussion, identify job opportunities

by Katherine Rowan

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#MASONCommFourm16 flyer

FAIRFAX, Va. -- Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will keynote a major event at George Mason University this month on Tuesday, October 25. 

“I am pleased to keynote the annual George Mason University Department of Communication Symposium. I feel that providing students with a fuller appreciation of the many opportunities available in the field of communication can only enrich the university experience for each student,” O’Malley said. 

O’Malley will provide the opening keynote at Mason’s annual Communication forum, which this year explores political and policy communication just before America picks its next president. The event, titled, “Impact, Ethics and the Art of Persuasion,” takes place from 9:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in Dewberry Hall, Johnson Center, at Mason’s Fairfax campus. 

The closing keynote speaker is one of former President George W. Bush’s chief political strategists, Mark McKinnon. McKinnon is known for the Showtime program, “The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth.” 

In addition to O’Malley and McKinnon, panelists include Torie Clarke, vice president of global affairs for SAP; Linda Qui, staff writer at PolitiFact; Arzu Tuncata Tarimcilar, board director of GGAMA Holding; and Mason Professor Emily Vraga, a specialist in political communication. The forum will be moderated by New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear. University President Angel Cabrera and Provost David Wu will also attend. 

Following the panel discussion, a group of prominent communication professionals - including several Mason alumni - will participate in a “speed mentoring” session with students. During the session, students will be seated while industry leaders rotate to 10 different tables for networking and small-group discussion. Angie Groff, NBC4 anchor and reporter, and Mason alumnus, will moderate. 

The Department of Communication’s Insight Committee, a group of communication industry leaders who advise on instruction and professional opportunities for students, developed this event. Event chair Chad Tragakis, a Mason alumnus and Insight Committee member, says the event is designed to explore “the responsibilities and opportunities for the next generation of public affairs, media and advocacy professionals.” Tragakis, a strategic communication consultant, is also a senior advisor at the Partnership for Public Service. 

“As the people who will be writing the speeches, producing the campaign ads and reporting on the candidates, Mason communication students will be called on to shape and lead our nation’s political discourse,” Tragakis said, “Beyond communication, all Mason students have something at stake here, as well as roles to play as citizens and voters.” 

Mason’s Impact, Ethics and Art of Persuasion and Political Communication Forum begins with O’Malley’s keynote address from 9:30-10:30 a.m., a panel discussion from 10:35-11:15 a.m., McKinnon’s closing keynote from 11:20-11:40 a.m. and a speed mentoring session for students from 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. 

“It was thrilling to meet all these accomplished professionals and learn how to be successful in the communication industry,” said Carlos Cruz, a senior at Mason recalled of his positive experience at last year’s speed networking event. “Growing my network has been a goal since my freshman year at Mason and the forum allowed me to expand my contact list.” 

The Insight Committee has provided Mason students with valuable opportunities in the communication industry. Typically, an event is held each fall to bring together students and working professionals for discussion of issues and networking. Previous top professionals have included: Host of “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd; Chairman and CEO of Gallup, Jim Clifton; District of Columbia Mayor Tony Williams; Kathryn McCarthy, CEO of ThinkGeek & GeekNet; and Aaron Sherinian with the United Nations Foundation. 

For more information about this event, contact the Communication Department at 703-993-1090 or email Megan Edmondson at medmond3@gmu.edu. Attendees can engage on social media using the hashtag #MasonCommForum16. Everyone is encouraged to register for this free event.

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