University Relations Leadership Development (URLD) Program

The University Relations Leadership Development (URLD) Program is designed to build the next generation of communications, marketing and outreach leaders at UW-Madison. Launched in 2017 by the Office of University Relations, the goals of the 10-month program are to strengthen cross-campus collaboration and connections while expanding institutional and professional knowledge for participants. The program is open to all marketing and communications staff who are currently in a leadership role, as well as those who are aspiring to one.

The Office of University Relations typically begins accepting applications for the incoming class in January. Additional details should be available in December.

About the Program

  • Six to 10 individuals will be selected to receive enhanced training and professional development opportunities from late February/early March through December.
  • The program features two or three monthly meetings (typically lasting about an hour to an hour and a half), including sessions with University Relations units and visits to campus partners to learn about their communications and marketing operations.
  • Participation includes a 100-percent paid trip to the Big Ten Plus News and Marketing conference or similar off-campus professional development opportunities.
  • Participants will assist University Relations units in the development and implementation of several key marketing and communications projects.

Goals for Participants

  • Strengthen relationships with University Relations units and campus partners.
  • Expand cross-campus knowledge and connections.
  • Learn and apply new ideas and skills.

"Along with increasing my institutional knowledge, the networking that this program encouraged was like nothing else I’ve participated in during my time at UW."

URLD Program Participant

URLD Sessions

  • Marketing: web, brand and creative services
  • Federal Relations
  • State Relations
  • Community Relations/South Madison Partnership
  • Current project updates/URLD member presentations

Note: URLD sessions and topics may change from year to year.

  • Admissions and campus tour
  • Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA)
  • UW Health
  • UW Police Department
  • Athletics
  • Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF)
  • Wisconsin Union
  • Visual Communications: photo and video
  • Internal Communications
  • Media relations
  • Research Communications
  • Issues and crisis management
  • Social media

Past Participants

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2019 URLD Program Class

  • Betsy Lundgren, Associate Director of Communications, Wisconsin School of Business
  • Brian Lucas, Director of Athletic Communications, Athletics
  • Chelsea Schlecht, Senior Writer/Editor, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association
  • Diane Stojanovich, Director of Strategic Communications, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
  • Eric Hamilton, Science Writer, University Communications
  • Greer Davis, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, Office of Admissions and Recruitment
  • Greg Bump, Senior University Relations Specialist, University Communications
  • Jennifer Garrett, Senior University Relations Specialist, School of Nursing
  • Marlena Holden, Interim Director, Marketing & Prevention Services, University Health Services
  • Mary Evansen, Assistant Director of Communications, Division of Information Technology

2018 URLD Program Class

  • Karla Weber, Communications Manager, Office of Student Financial Aid
  • Marc Lovicott, Director of Communications, UW-Madison Police Department
  • Matthew Wisniewski, Director of Marketing and Communications, Wisconsin Energy Institute/Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
  • Natasha Kassulke, Manager of Strategic Communications, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education
  • Preston Schmitt, Editor, University Marketing
  • Carrie Springer, Senior University Relations Specialist, University Communications

2017 URLD Program Class

  • Linda Zwicker, Senior Assistant Dean, Advancement & Communications, School of Human Ecology
  • Darcy Wittberger, Director of Communications, Division of Student Life
  • Mary Ellen Gabriel, Director of Communications, College of Letters & Science
  • Linda Brunette, Director of Media Relations, UW Health
  • Brendon Dybdahl, Director of Marketing & Communications, Division of UW Housing
  • Mary Carr Lee, Director of Communications, Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement

How to Apply

Interested individuals should submit a letter of interest through Rodee Schneider ( by Friday, February 1, 2019. The letter should include:

  1. An explanation of why you are interested in the program.
  2. How your school, college or unit will benefit from participation.

Responses can be kept to 400 words or less. All expressions of interest should be approved by the dean/director.

Please note: Due to the small size of the program, an important requirement is that members make every effort to attend sessions. The URLD coordinator will work closely with cohort members to identify and schedule all meeting times. If you have a conflict that may prevent participation in the Big Ten Plus News and Marketing Conference, please include a note in your application. It will not prevent consideration for the program.


Applications are due Friday, February 1. Applicants will be notified of their status in mid-February.


Rodee Schneider, University Communications,, 608-262-5812.