Virtual May Program: There’s a Worldwide Pandemic—Let’s Talk About Feelings

05/27/2020 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM ET


Virtual Event via Zoom
[No City], VA
United States of America


Registration for this event has closed.

Registrants will receive information via e-mail on how to access the Zoom webinar. E-mail Jenny Pedraza, APR, PRSA Richmond web admin, at with questions.

About the Program

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Northern Virginia District’s Twitter account—@vadotnova—is known for its humanizing, helpful, and funny tone. So it’s no surprise that as life started changing with the COVID-19 pandemic, so did @vadotnova. Traffic safety info was replaced with mental health awareness, validation, motivation, and a sense of community. Engagement soared to an all-time high and Washingtonian Magazine, naming @vadotnova an “unexpected civic treasure,” and published “What If a VDOT Twitter Account Is the Thing That Gets Us Through This Crisis?”  

Grab your lunch and join us virtually during our normal luncheon date as we welcome Ellen Kamilakis, a senior public affairs officer with VDOT Northern Virginia - and voice of the @vadotnova Twitter account. She will talk about understanding crisis communications and the effects of stress on messaging. She'll detail how to develop a more human tone to an agency social media account, including using it to build community. She will also highlight the value of using animated GIFs/video while avoiding the pitfalls of being too trendy.

About the Speaker

Ellen Kamilakis is a Senior Public Affairs Officer with VDOT Northern Virginia where she publishes the @vadotnova Twitter account as well as covering media relations, emergency communications, operations, and maintenance. She is a member of the National Capital Region Incident Management Team and previously worked for Fairfax County Government for twelve years within the police, emergency management, and transportation departments. Her work in social media garnered her a 2019 national AASHTO Award as well as PRSA awards in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She has also received awards for media relations, crisis communications, integrated communications, event planning, web design, and graphic design, most recently being awarded a 2020 Commonwealth Award for Crisis Communications. 


This program is included with chapter membership, and members should register online as they normally would for monthly luncheons. Guests and students may register for a reduced rate of $15. Registration will close at 5 p.m. on the Monday before the program. After registration closes, attendees will receive an email with Zoom information to join in the virtual program.

Event Contact

Sara Hunt, chapter administrator
(804) 994-1120

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