Issues and Crisis

Management Certification 

ACE is offering a three-part certification in 2024.

It includes:

      • March 19 - 2 p.m. CT - Issues Management and Risk Assessment with Frankie Gould and Faith Peppers - 45 minutes; virtual.
      • May 22 - 2 p.m. CT - What is Crisis Communication with Erica Irlbeck - 45 minutes; virtual.
      • June 26 - Post Conference workshop at ACE in Salt Lake City 8:30 am - 12:00 pm MT- Developing the Plan and Experiential Learning Practice Exercises.

Certification qualifications include the following: 

Attendees must participate in all three sessions and pass the final assessment to receive a certification. 

There is an option to join a virtual session or the post-conference workshop without earning a certification; all will be priced individually.


1. Attendance:

a. Participants must attend all sessions (virtual and in-person) to be eligible for certification.

2. Engagement:

a. Active participation in discussions and activities during virtual and in-person sessions.

3. Post-Program Assessment:

a. Exam:

i. A post-program exam will be administered online after each session.

ii. Topics covered in all sessions will be included.

iii. 10 questions

b. Passing Grade:

i. Participants must achieve at a 70% minimum to pass and will have two attempts at the exam.

Participants will receive a digital certificate after the post-conference workshop that can be printed.


Certification Cost: $185
Virtual Session Only (March 19th or May 22nd ): $45
Post-Conference Workshop Only: $95


  • Increased knowledge about issues management and crisis communication.
  • The framework for a crisis communication plan.
  • Response strategies.

What is Crisis Communications with Erica Irlbeck:

Creating a crisis communications plan can be overwhelming and easy to procrastinate. Instead of putting this critical plan off another week, join your fellow ACE members in working on this task together. Led by Dr. Erica Irlbeck, author of The Crisis Communications Guide in Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources, participants will assess their organization's risk areas, create a crisis communications plan, and develop media statements that can be applied to numerous crisis situations.


  • Risk assessment
  • Creating your plan (stakeholder contact, crisis management team, spokespeople, media identification, press kit, hidden websites, and more)
  • Response strategies

Meet Your Instructors

  • Frances “Frankie” Gould is the Associate Vice President for Strategic Communications and Outreach Relations and Professor at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter). In this role, Gould serves as the chief public information officer for the LSU AgCenter and senior advisor to the Vice President of Agriculture and the executive leadership team. She served as the communication director for 18 years, providing leadership to 20 faculty and staff developing print, web, social media, video and audio information, media relations, marketing, publications and graphic design for the LSU AgCenter. She is a nationally and regionally recognized leader in land-grant agricultural communications. She is currently serves on the CMC (Communications and Marketing Committee) of the BAA (Board on Ag Assembly) at APLU (Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities). The CMC is the advisory board for the National Impact Database (NIDB). She also serves as the Co-Chair of the NIDB Impact Writing Team responsible for developing the stories and summaries posted on Land-Grant website. She serves as the chair of the Southern Research Communications Consortium (SRCC) that provides success stories about the agricultural research conducted at the southern Land-grant Universities. She has been a member of Association of Communication Excellence (ACE) since 1985. She has an M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska and a B.F.A. from Kansas State University.

  • Faith Peppers is Communications Director for the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. She joined USDA-NIFA in June 2020 after a 27-year career in agricultural communications, issues management, crisis communication and strategic communications at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Prior to joining UGA, she worked for more than a decade as an Atlanta newspaper reporter, public information officer and healthcare marketing specialist. She has degrees in journalism and communication from Middle Georgia College and Georgia State University. In 2016, she was recognized by the Association for Communication Excellence with their highest honor, the ACE Professional Award, which recognizes excellence and professionalism in agricultural communications over an extended career.

  • Erica Irlbeck is a professor of agricultural communications at Texas Tech University. Irlbeck's research areas are in agriculture in television media, communications during food safety crises, and agricultural communications curriculum. Irlbeck teaches various courses at Texas Tech, mostly in video production and strategic communications. Her teaching has been awarded at the local and national levels. Irlbeck serves the industry at local, state, regional, and national levels. She is involved in Texas Tech committees, is the superintendent of the Texas FFA Agricultural Communications Career Development Event, is an officer for the Western Region American Association for Agricultural Education, and is a committee member for the National FFA Agricultural Communications Career Development Event. Irlbeck received her Doctor of Education in Agricultural Education from Texas Tech in August 2009. Previously, she worked in agricultural television news for AgDay Television and KLBK-TV, farm radio for Clear Channel Networks, public relations and advertising. She received her bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Oklahoma State University in 1998 and her master's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech in 2007. Erica is married to Scott, who farms wheat and grain sorghum in the Texas Panhandle. They have one son, Jett.

Issues and Crisis Management Certification Committee

    • Kelsey Armstrong, Elon University, Chair
    • ChaNae Bradley, Fort Valley State University
    • Latasha Ford, Fort Valley State University
    • Frankie Gould, LSU AgCenter
    • Jerry Grasso, Kansas State University
    • Erica Irlbeck, Texas Tech University
    • Maggie Lawrence, USDA NIFA
    • John Martins, USDA NIFA
    • Jeff Miller, University of Arkansas
    • Faith Peppers, USDA NIFA
    • Stacey Stearns, University of Connecticut
    • Lyndall Stout, Oklahoma State University

This certification is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

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