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2024 Public Higher Education Legislative Advocacy Professionals (PHELAP) Conference

logo for the Public Higher Education Legislative Advocacy Professionals Conference

The University of Illinois System is honored to be hosting the 2024 Public Higher Education Legislative Advocacy Professionals (PHELAP) Conference July 23-25, 2024. This dynamic gathering fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing, and strategic discussions among key stakeholders in the realm of public higher education advocacy and engagement.


Please use this link to register for the conference.

What to Expect

The conference will feature diverse sessions, interactive discussions, and keynote addresses. Renowned speakers and thought leaders will lead engaging sessions, panels, and breakout discussions, addressing pivotal topics such as alumni involvement, student engagement, and the evolving landscape of advocacy in higher education.

These discussions will delve into practical approaches, best practices, and innovative strategies that attendees can implement to advance their advocacy programs. Moreover, the conference offers valuable networking opportunities, facilitating connections among government relations professionals, alumni association staff, educators, policymakers, and advocates.

Conference Highlights

Expert speakers: Hear from a variety of experts in the field of higher education advocacy, including renowned speakers from the U of I System and other institutions.

Interactive sessions: Participate in engaging sessions and panels that address pivotal topics in higher education advocacy.

Networking opportunities: Connect with other professionals in the field, share success stories, and build collaborative relationships.

Campus tour: Experience the University of Illinois Chicago, the city’s largest university and its only public Carnegie Research 1 institution.

Tentative Conference Agenda

Location: 200 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606

Tuesday, July 23

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.:                   Registration opens

3:00 – 3:15 p.m.:                   Conference opening

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.:                   Icebreaker and introductions

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.:                   Cultivating Stakeholder Engagement: Strategies for Developing Grasstops

4:30 – 4:45 p.m.:                   Conference welcome  Adrienne Nazon, vice president of External Relations and Communications, U of I System

5:00  6:00 p.m.:                   Strategic Partnerships: Bridging Government Relations and Alumni Associations

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.:                   Rooftop reception

Wednesday, July 24

8:00 – 8:45 a.m.:                   Breakfast and networking

9:00 – 10:00 a.m.:                Community Engagement, State Tours and Other Advocacy Beyond Session and Campus Borders

10:30 – 11:45 a.m.:             Breakout sessions (concurrent sessions)

  1. Combatting Misinformation: Effective Advocacy Strategies/Engaging Alumni Voices: Calls to Action
  2. Optimizing Virtual Advocacy and Social Media: Best Practices and Insights

Noon – 1:30 p.m.:                 Lunch and keynote speaker – The importance of partnership between the state and public universities 

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.:                   Coming Together in a Time of Crisis: How Illinois Public Universities Partnered during the Budget Crisis and Beyond

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.:                   Lobby Days: Best Practices and Strategies for Success

3:45 – 4:45 p.m.:                   Empowering Future Advocates: Student Advocacy

5:00 – 6:30 p.m.:                   Dine and Discuss: Keep Conversation Going

6:30 p.m.:                                  Depart 200 South Wacker for a boat tour

7:00 p.m.:                                  Board boat and depart

7:30 – 9:00 p.m.:                   Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise, 111 East Wacker Drive

9:30 p.m.:                                  Board bus to go to hotels

Thursday, July 25

8:30 a.m.:                                  Meet bus at 200 South Wacker

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.:                   Bus to University of Illinois Chicago

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.:                   Welcome – Marie Lynn Miranda, chancellor, UIC

9:20 – 10:20 a.m.:                UIC Alumni Association Panel: Mobilizing Alumni as Advocates

10:30 – 11:20 a.m.:             UIC campus tour

11:30 a.m. – noon:               Bus to 200 South Wacker

Noon – 1:30 p.m.:                 Lunch and keynote speaker – A National Lens: Navigating the Political Landscape in Higher Education

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.:                   Strategic Advocacy: Capitol Engagement Beyond Lobby Days

2:45 – 3:00 p.m.:                   Conference closing remarks

Travel, Venue, and Accommodation

The conference will be in Chicago, Illinois, a city renowned for its architecture, iconic skyline, and international hub for finance, culture, commerce, industry, innovation, education, technology, telecommunications, and transportation.


The University of Illinois System is arranging a block of rooms at hotels in downtown Chicago, all within walking distance of the conference venue.

W Chicago – City Center
172 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL 60603
Cutoff Date For Group Reservations: Tuesday, June 25
Reserve Here

Hyatt Place Chicago
28 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60606
Reserve Here
Code: G-UofI

Hilton Garden Inn
245 South Franklin, Chicago, IL 60606
Cutoff Date For Group Reservations: Tuesday, July 2
Reserve Here


Chicago Midway International Airport - 5700 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL 60638
Transportation information to and from Midway International Airport

O'Hare International Airport - 10000 W O'Hare Ave, Chicago, IL 60666
Transportation information to and from O'Hare International Airport


Disclaimer: participation in the PHELAP Conference is voluntary. The University of Illinois System is not responsible or liable for any acts, omissions, or conduct of any participants or volunteers associated with the PHELAP Conference. While we strive to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees, The University of Illinois System cannot be held liable for any injury, loss, or damage arising from participation in the event(s).

All participants acknowledge the inherent risks associated with the event and agree to assume full responsibility for any personal injury, property damage, or other losses they may sustain or cause by participating. University of Illinois System does not provide any form of insurance coverage for event participants or volunteers.

By attending the PHELAP event, participants agree to release, waive, discharge, and covenant not to sue University of Illinois System, its officers, employees, and agents from any and all liabilities, claims, demands, or injuries, including death, that may be sustained during or as a result of participation in the event.