Ellen Kamilakis

Assistant District Administrator for Communications
VDOT Northern Virginia

Ellen has worked for VDOT's Northern Virginia District since November 2015 and is responsible for media relations, operational and crisis communications, and is known as the voice of "MeeMaw" on the @vadotnova Twitter account. Previously, she worked for Fairfax County Government for 12 years with their police, emergency management, and transportation departments. Ellen is a credentialed Public Information Officer (PIO) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence's Commission on Professional Credentialing, one of the first nine PIOs worldwide. She is also a FEMA-certified Master Public Information Officer and an IIMQS-certified Type-3 Public Information Officer with the National Capital Region Incident Management Team. She has won regional, state, and national awards in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 spanning social media, crisis communications, media relations, graphic design, event planning, integrated communications, and web design.

Ellen Kamilakis’s Sessions

10:00 a.m.–10:45 a.m. Pacific — Thursday, May 18, 2023

Speaker-led Roundtable Discussions

Join one of our small-group video roundtable discussions to share new ideas with your peers. Speakers will lead these discussions.


  • Leveraging AI Tools to Make Your Job Easier with Tony Roth of the City of Coolidge, AZ
  • Building Trust on Social Media with Ellen Kamilakis of the Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Evaluating Time & Frequency of Content Posting
  • Creating Long-Term Use, Evergreen Content
  • Best Practices for Brand Awareness for Small Agencies
  • How to Develop a Business Case for a Getting Your Agency Started on a New Platform

10:45 a.m.–11:30 a.m. Pacific — Thursday, May 18, 2023

How to Leverage Social Media for Crisis Response

Government social media accounts use various strategies and tactics to engage with their communities, especially during crises. Public Information Officers (PIO) must reach those in an ever-changing and misinformation-filled social media environment in unique and impactful ways. In this session, you will learn how to communicate in a friendly, human tone and consistently generate relevant, fresh, and compelling content alongside photos, gifs, and videos tailored to your audience. 

You’ll learn:

  • Transparency, timeliness, and humanity are key
  • Best practices to increase positive perception of the agency amongst residents, news media, and elected officials
  • Always “exchange business cards” before an emergency


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