Nominate someone for our Communicator of the Year award

IABC Great Plains is seeking nominations for our first-ever Communicator of the Year award. If you know someone who is a demonstrated leader in the communications field, we want to know more!

We will recognize one leader from our region to present with this prestigious award at the IABC Great Plains Communicate Stronger event May 16. Submit your nomination today!

Communicate Stronger 2019

May 16, 2019 –

Save the date for the annual IABC Great Plains Communicate Stronger, which will be held at the Bismarck State College, National Energy Center of Excellence on May 16, 2019. This full-day conference will focus on building and protecting your brand. We’ll talk about the rules for communicating in the current climate, how communication plays a role in protecting your brand in a crisis, the role of communicators in business, and some secrets of social media. Keep checking back – our agenda is under development.

Click here to register



Keynote presentation: The new rules for communicating in the current climate: Essential skills for communicators

Communication skills haven’t changed much over time, but technology has forever changed the ways and the impact of how people communicate both in person and online. Social media has transformed the speed at which conversation and non-verbal communications travel. Good information travels fast, but negative information moves even quicker. How should people properly communicate nowadays when there is so much to lose?

This session discusses the best personal and digital communication skills for men and women to communicate authentically in the workplace.

  • Identify how genders communicate differently in speaking and writing;
  • How not to get in trouble online and what to do when you do;
  • The one word that sabotages women in business and beyond;
  • What men are afraid of when communicating in business;
  • Tactics to help women and men become more confident in how they’re expressing themselves;
  • Identify the nonverbal cues you’re sending when you communicate; and
  • Best practices for 21st-century communications.
Afternoon presentation: The Secrets of Social Media: The Clues for Uncovering the Needs of your Customers

Social media isn’t just a place to connect, networks like Facebook can also reveal all the secrets to figuring out the mindset of your customers. The communication landscape is radically different than it was 20 years ago for many organizations and many of those changes are happening online, specifically on Facebook. As the number of customers using the social network continues to rise, so does the need for communicators to manage their organization’s messaging in person, online, and on social media. Learn to spot the clues that uncover the secrets to your customers.


Join the C-Suite for a conversation about what effective communications looks like in their workplace, and how corporate communicators can claim their “seat at the table” to help build and maintain their company’s brand.

Shannon McQuade-Ely, President, McQuade Distributing

Shannon McQuade-Ely is a third generation owner/president of McQuade Distributing Company, a beverage distributor in Bismarck, North Dakota. She came to the company in 2000, starting on the delivery trucks and worked her way up to president in 2004. In 2008, she became the first third-generation and first female president of the North Dakota Beer Wholesalers Association.

Shannon has served on many community boards, including the Missouri Valley YMCA, Sanford Foundation, Bismarck-Mandan Chamber, and as  chair of the Greater North Dakota Chamber, however, her greatest joy comes while serving on the McQuade Softball Charity board. The Sam McQuade Sr.-Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament, started in 1976 by Shannon’s grandfather, Sam McQuade Sr., has generated about $2 million dollars for local charities over the course of 43 years.

Vern Dosch, CEO/President, NISC

Vern Dosch is the president and chief executive officer of National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC), a cutting-edge technology cooperative providing billing, accounting and engineering software solutions to 835 members in all 50 states, American Samoa, Palau, and Canada. With offices in Mandan, North Dakota; Lake Saint Louis, Missouri; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Shawano, Wisconsin, NISC and its subsidiaries employ more than 1,300 highly-skilled individuals.

Dosch, a life-long resident of Bismarck-Mandan, has more than 40 years of experience serving the rural utility and telecommunications industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters of Management degree from the University of Mary.

Sheri Grossman, CEO, Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Sheri Grossman has been with the Bismarck-Mandan CVB since July 1997 and took over the reigns as the CEO in 2015, after serving as the CVB’s Chief Operating Officer.

Sheri is a Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME). The CDME program is recognized as the highest educational achievement for destination management professionals. She is only the second person to achieve CDME in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Paul Fitterer, General Manager, Capital Electric Cooperative

Paul Fitterer has been part of Capital Electric for 14 years, previously holding the position of business manager. Prior to joining Capital Electric, he worked for National Information Solutions Cooperative with a focus in installing, supporting, and designing software in the accounting and business systems.

Paul holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota, a bachelor’s degree in finance from Moorhead State University, and is a certified public accountant. Paul has been married to his wife, Danna, for 16 years and they have three daughters: Hattie, Haven and Holland.


Special Guest Speaker: Cara Mund
Former Miss America and Bismarck, North Dakota native reflects on her experience and how communication played a major role.


7:30-8:15 a.m. Doors open/registration
7:45 a.m. Breakfast/networking
8:15 a.m. Welcome

Krista Rausch, 2018-2019 IABC Great Plains President

8:30 a.m. C-suite panel: The role of the communicator in business strategy

Vern Dosch, CEO/President, NISC

Paul Fitterer, General Manager, Capital Electric Cooperative

Sheri Grossman, CEO, Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau

Shannon McQuade-Ely, President, McQuade Distributing

10:00 a.m. Break
10:15 a.m. The new rules for communicating in the current climate: Essential skills

Keynote speaker: Molly McPherson

11:15 a.m.  Crowning courage

Featured guest speaker: Cara Mund, Miss America 2018

12:15 Networking lunch and awards presentation
1:00 p.m. The secrets of social media: The clues for uncovering the needs of your customers

Keynote speaker: Molly McPherson

2:00 p.m. Break
2:15 p.m. How to survive a media crisis when you (or your agency) becomes the story

Rob Keller 

3:15 p.m. Closing remarks
3:30 p.m. Adjourn

Advance registration is required.

  • Best rate/early bird registration (now through April 20)
    •      Member: $99
    •     Non-member: $125
  • Registration after April 20
    •      Member: $125
    •      Non-member: $150
  • At the door
    •      Member: $175
    •      Non-member: $200

Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Communicate Stronger 2019 is hosted by the Great Plains Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. 

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