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 program typically begins accepting applications for the following year in June.

*The URLD Program may be renamed this year to reflect the creation of the new Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communication role.

About the Program

  • Ten to 16 individuals will be selected to receive enhanced training and professional development opportunities from September through June.
  • The program features roughly two monthly meetings (each lasts an hour to an hour and a half each), 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 another higher education marketing and communications conference.
  • Participants will assist University Relations units to identify solutions for various marketing and communications initiatives.

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.”

Former URLD Program Participant

URLD Sessions

  • Marketing: web, brand and creative services
  • Federal Relations
  • State Relations
  • Community Relations/South Madison Partnership
  • UW System Overview
  • 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)
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Wisconsin Public Media
  • Visual Communications: photo and video
  • Internal Communications
  • Executive Communications/ Speechwriting
  • Media relations
  • Research Communications
  • Issues and crisis management
  • Social media
  • UW Extension

Program Participants

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

2023 URLD Program Class

  • Abigail Becker, UniverCity Alliance, Senior Associate for Communications and Outreach
  • Andrea Stegman, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, Social Media Specialist
  • Angela Barian, University Marketing, Creative Manager
  • Caroline Schneider, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Communications Specialist
  • Jen Young, Office of Finance and Administration, Communications Specialist
  • Jessica Arendas, Division of Continuing Studies, Associate Director of Digital Strategy
  • Joel Ninmann, Division of University Housing, Creative Manager
  • Kaine Korzekwa, School of Medicine and Public Health, Executive and Internal Communications Manager
  • Kate Lochner, Division of the Arts, Marketing & Communications Manager
  • Kristina LeVan, University Communications, Content Strategist
  • Liz Stanislawski, Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement, Executive Director of Communications
  • Sarah Glapa, University Health Services, Associate Director of Marketing & Health Communication
  • Sarah Perdue, Department of Physics (L&S), Communications Manager
  • Sarina Lotlikar, Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement, Marketing Director
  • Scott Carter, College of Letters & Science, Advancement Manager
  • Sheena Hirschfield, Student Affairs, Communications Manager

2022 URLD Program Class

  • Alex Peirce, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Director of Communications
  • Angela Rockwell, Division of Continuing Studies, Marketing Director
  • Danielle Cranmer, University Marketing, Web Director
  • Jason Gohlke, University Communications, Marketing and Communications Strategist
  • Kathy Contezac, Office of Strategic Consulting, Communications Officer & Strategic Communications Consultant
  • Lori Wilson, Division of Facilities Planning & Management, Strategic Communications & Marketing Director
  • Marianne Spoon, School of Education, Associate Dean for Communications & Advancement
  • Meghan Lepisto, School of Veterinary Medicine, Publications and Media Relations Manager
  • Shannon Timm, School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences, Director of Advancement
  • Shauna Breneman, Wisconsin Union, Communications Director
  • Steven Barcus, International Division, Director of Communications
  • Tod Pritchard, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, Director, Media and Public Relations

2021 URLD Program Class

  • Alyson Kim, School of Pharmacy, Associate Dean, Marketing & Communications
  • Amy Gunderson, University Marketing, Marketing Manager
  • Denise Hickey, College of Letters & Science, Assistant Dean of Strategic Communications & Advancement
  • Jeffrey Potter, Wisconsin Public Radio, Director of Marketing
  • Jenny Bernhardt, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Communications Director
  • Jessica Arp, Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, Managing Director of Communications
  • Kevin Check, School of Nursing, Assistant Dean for Institutional Affairs
  • Lori Getter, University Communications, Public Safety Communications Specialist
  • Matthew Call, Division of Extension, Director of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
  • Natasha Veeser, UW–Madison Libraries, Head of Communications
  • Nick Heynen, Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement, Social Media and Website Specialist
  • Robyn Perrin, School of Medicine and Public Health, Director of Strategic Communications

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, Interim 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 an online application. You’ll be asked to include:

  1. A brief explanation of why you are interested in the program, and how your school, college or unit will benefit from participation.

Responses can be kept to 300 words or less. All expressions of interest should be approved by your dean/director/supervisor. Please contact Rodee Schneider ( with any questions.

Please note: Due to the small size of the program, an important requirement is that members make an effort to attend the majority of sessions in-person. The URLD program coordinator will work closely with cohort members to identify and schedule meeting times.


Applications for 2023–2024 are now closed. Applications for 2024-2025 will open in June.


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