Monthly Archives: November 2017

“Marvelous” Reviews in Portland

Lighting expert Steve Paolini presents a light source spectrum demo in this colorful photo from this month’s U.S. Department of Energy Solid-State Lighting Technology R&D Workshop in Portland.

Enthralling! Energizing! Marvelous! These aren’t words most people associate with technical meetings. So imagine how gratifying it was to get reviews like this for the U.S. Department of Energy Solid-State Lighting program’s 12th annual Technology R&D Workshop in Portland, Oregon. During the second week of November, an intrepid team of Akoyans trekked to the Pacific Northwest to support the event, the culmination of six months of agenda crafting, tour planning, speaker coordination, and promotion. Akoya’s efforts were key to a smooth rollout for 25 speakers and 100+ attendees, setting the stage for a lively and engaging meeting of the minds on the latest lighting technology advances and trends.

Without missing a beat, we continue planning our client’s next event, the flagship SSL R&D Workshop, coming January 29–31, 2018. Stay tuned for more exciting SSL developments!

Once a Marine, Always a Marine

Wearing his Dress Blue-Whites, Neal Fisher awaits giving a speech at a Memorial Day celebration in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands during his final year in the Marine Corps.

Our Akoya Military Health System team wouldn’t be complete without veterans, whose unique perspectives on military life and operations are a crucial component of our success in working with the Department of Defense’s Defense Health Agency (DHA). This month, in recognition of Veterans Day, we will profile Akoyans who have served our country.

Neal Fisher joined our team in 2015 and writes and implements communications plans for DHA’s communications shop.

Neal’s military story started in 1992, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He spent five years as a member of Company A, 863rd Engineer Battalion in Kankakee, Illinois, and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant before requesting an inter-service transfer to the active duty Marine Corps and Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. He was commissioned in April 1998 and was selected to serve as a Field Artillery Officer following his completion of The Basic School in October 1998.

In 2001, the Marine Corps offered Neal a tour of duty in Public Affairs. “I thought Public Affairs/Communications would be a relaxing tour of duty after three hard years in artillery,” he says. Then 9/11 happened.

“After receiving orders to the Pentagon, and then experiencing the terrorist attack on September 11 from just 25 miles away at the Defense Information School, my misguided impression of Public Affairs as an easy job changed very quickly,” Neal says. 

Neal returned to artillery after his time as a public affairs officer at the Pentagon and says that he was fortunate to experience “the challenge and honor” of commanding a field artillery battery, leading 155 Marines for 14 months.

But Neal’s interest in public affairs never waned. “Though I considered commanding Marines the highlight of my military career, the daily challenge of public affairs and communicating with the public on behalf of the Marine Corps was unmatched,” he says. “In 2007, I committed to Public Affairs full time, relinquishing Field Artillery as my primary specialty.”

In 2015, Neal left the Marines with the goal of becoming a civilian public affairs professional. Someone directed him to Akoya two weeks after he and his family moved to northern Virginia, where his wife Yvonne had accepted a new job.

Neal appreciates the challenge and reward of working in dynamic and highly visible communications environments. “I have always loved the adrenaline rush of responding to a crisis situation, or the challenge of developing a communication plan that immediately produces ‘something,’” he says.

Working for DHA has been an enriching opportunity for Neal. While his military experience informs how he communicates with the military community and TRICARE beneficiaries, he had never previously worked in military medicine. Joining the Washington, DC, chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives helped him gain a different perspective on healthcare management and administration, and he credits Yvonne, a healthcare administrator, with helping him understand the language and mindset of healthcare outside of the military. “This has been very valuable in working the accounts I’ve been assigned here in the DHA Communications Division,” he says.

Outside of the office, Neal is an avid motorcyclist. He and Yvonne both have their own Harley-Davidsons and they are members of the Harley Owners Group (HOG). They also rode with Ma’Gachong, a  motorcycle club for married couples, when they lived in Guam. Neal recommends riding along the southern stretch of Route 1 in Guam, between the villages of Agat and Talofofo, for its amazing views of mountains and the ocean.

Neal is the proud father of two teenage sons, three adult stepchildren, and two adopted daughters, ages 11 and 7, whom he and Yvonne fostered while stationed in Guam. And of course, Neal is “once a Marine, always a Marine.”

Neal and his wife Yvonne at Talofofo Falls Park in Guam

Akoya Wins MarCom Awards

We are pleased to announce that our work has earned recognition in the 2017 MarCom Awards, an annual creative competition for marketing and communications professionals.

Three of our projects were selected as MarCom Gold Winners: a fundraising report for The Midwife Center of Pittsburgh, a benefits awareness campaign for Puget Sound Military Health System, and the feature article “D-Day Through the Eyes of Combat Medic, 73 Years Later” for the Military Health System.

Additionally, our 2017 National Nurses Week campaign for the Military Health System earned an honorable mention.

MarCom is sponsored and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. A full list of winners can be found on their website.

Preparing Military Surgeons, Caring for Military Families

To keep their skills in top form, military surgeons need a sizeable and clinically complex caseload. That’s why “recapturing care”—encouraging TRICARE-eligible military personnel, families, and retirees within driving distance of a military treatment facility to seek care there first rather than at civilian medical facilities—is a strategic priority for the Defense Health Agency .

Akoya recently wrapped up our engagement supporting a successful recapture pilot program at the Puget Sound Military Health System (MHS). Our integrated marketing campaign emphasized the superb care the system provides to patients and its unique strengths in serving the military community. One of our challenges was creating a unifying brand for the consolidated Puget Sound MHS, which includes Army, Navy, and Air Force facilities that were traditionally operated independently. Another was supporting internal communications to convey the new business plan and processes that are driving high quality, effectiveness, and efficiency across the system.

The new brand, along with a suite of patient-centric marketing tools, has raised the profile of the system as a preferred provider for TRICARE beneficiaries. Many thanks to our project lead, Carrie Petershagen, who has accepted a permanent position at the Puget Sound MHS starting next month to continue the good work!