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20NTC Session Proposal

The Highs and Lows of CMOs


What will hiring a C-suite marketing or communications leader do to advance your organization’s mission? This panel discussion will explore the best way to grow a team that adds depth, diversity, and strategy to your organization’s communications.

Moderator: Sarah Durham, CEO, Big Duck


  • Chandra Hayslett, Communications Director, The Center for Constitutional Rights, NY
  • Suzanne Shaw, Communications Director, Union of Concerned Scientists, Boston
  • Ambar Mentor-Truppa, Vice President of Communications at Sargeant Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Chicago

Learning Outcomes

  • Know what to look for in senior-level communicators
  • Analyze senior-level comms people can do for your organization’s internal and external communications
  • Reflect on what senior-level communications teams need to succeed


Case Study


Sarah Durham


Big Duck

Sarah founded Big Duck in 1994 to help nonprofits increase their visibility, raise money, and achieve their missions. Today, she uses her deep experience in nonprofit communications to guide the entire Big Duck team.

The author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2010), her expertise has been borrowed by NPR, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Guidestar, and beyond. She is a sought-after speaker on topics such as branding, fundraising, and other nonprofit communications topics. Sarah is a regular speaker at local and international AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) conferences, the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in the Netherlands, and the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC).

Sarah is a total nonprofit communications nerd. She was named a “top fundraiser under 40” by Fundraising Success magazine in 2006, and one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company magazine in 2010. An adjunct professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Sarah teaches strategic communications to other aspiring nonprofit nerds.

Sarah serves as Vice Chair of the National Brain Tumor Society’s board of directors.

Chandra Hayslett

Communications Director

Center for Constitutional Rights

Chandra M. Hayslett is a Pulitzer Prize winning communications executive with more than 20 years’ experience spanning the public relations, marketing and journalism industries. She is currently the director of communications for the Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit legal and advocacy organization that stands with social justice movements and communities under threat to dismantle systems of oppression. In this role, Chandra is responsible for leading the overall development of communications strategy and guiding the department’s coordination with the legal and advocacy departments and case-specific communications plans.

Before joining the Center for Constitutional Rights Chandra was a managing supervisor at G&S Business Communications, where she positioned CEOs and other C-level executives as industry thought leaders; led the development of core materials for M&A and new product launches; increased public awareness for clients by securing print and broadcast media placements in top-tier outlets and secured new business and developed integrated marketing communications campaigns to grow the businesses of national and global publicly-traded companies. While at G&S, Chandra designed and implemented an agency-wide diversity and inclusion program, Think Differently Together, which was awarded Best New Diversity Initiative 2015 by PR Council and PRWeek.

Before transitioning into public relations, Chandra spent 11 years as newspaper reporter covering K-12 education, first-degree murder cases and politics for The Jackson Sun in Tennessee, and in New Jersey for the Home News Tribune, the Asbury Park Press and finally the Newark Star-Ledger, where she was part of reporting team that won the Pulitzer Prize.

Chandra is a member of The Communications Network, New York Women in Communications, Inc., PR Council and the New York Association of Black Journalists. She has a Bachelor of Arts in African-American Studies from the University of Tennessee and lives in New York City

Ambar Mentor-Truppa

Vice President of Communications

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Ambar Mentor-Truppa is the Shriver Center’s first-ever Vice President of Communications, providing strategic direction and oversight to the organization’s public relations, brand management, and marketing activities. She has 15 years of private sector experience in strategic communications, previously working as a consultant for several boutique public affairs agencies. She has directed communications and community outreach projects to support policy work on behalf of major public interest organizations, including foundations and government entities. An active civic volunteer, she supports causes connected to feminism, education, race equity and public media. Ambar holds a B.S. in broadcast journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and lives in Chicago.

Suzanne Shaw

Director of Communications

Union of Concerned Scientists

Suzanne Shaw is director of communications at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, she oversees issue campaign communications and brand marketing, digital and web engagement strategies, earned and paid media, and publications and collateral development. Since 2000, she has helped scientists communicate their research to decisionmakers and the public on issues including climate science, clean energy and transportation, sustainable agriculture, and nuclear weapons. She has developed public education materials for major studies on the local impacts of climate change in the Northeast, California, and the Great Lakes region, and co-authored the book Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living. She also co-led the Union of Concerned Scientists’ effort to expose the abuse of science by the Bush administration, and helped build and launch the UCS Center for Science and Democracy that arose from this initiative.

Ms. Shaw is a communications strategist, science communications trainer, and expert on crisis communications, message research, and framing, who brings three decades of experience in nonprofit and private sector marketing and communications to her role. Prior to joining UCS, Ms. Shaw was the director of communications for Project Bread, a nonprofit committed to ending hunger in Massachusetts, and worked in public relations in the private sector.





March 14, 2019


10:30am – 11:45am



CFRE Credits

NFR - 1.25

Collaborative Notes

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Session Evaluation

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