(ON-DEMAND VIDEO) Rebuilding Public Trust in the Government – Lessons from the Private Sector



Hosted by: The George Washington University

Graduate School of Political Management

Master’s in Strategic Public Relations





What are corporate leaders doing that government communicators can leverage to restore public confidence? This roundtable will share strategic communications tips and tactics that can be useful within the government communications infrastructure. A key focus of the conversation will be the steps necessary to rebuild trust.

Discussion topics include:

  • Corporations do a better job in messaging than the government because they don’t “pander” to political interests.
  • What are the lessons that corporations can share with the government?  
  • At the heart of this is the new corporate activism – Corporations have to engage to retain employees and enhance reputation — Financial Performance and Industry leadership is no longer enough.
  • Gen Z is looking for companies that are talking the talk and walking the walk of sustainability and social activism.
  • Can political leaders become trusted again?

The event will be moderated by Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A., an award winning Public Relations professional and academic who is an Associate Professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program.



Susan Del Percio

Founder, Susan Del Percio Strategies, MSNBC Political Analyst

Susan Del Percio is a well-known political strategist and crisis communications consultant.  She is a political analyst for MSNBC and a contributor for NBC News THINK and Know Your Value.

With nearly 30 years of experience in the political, government, nonprofit and private sector arenas, she is a trusted advisor, helping leaders develop and execute focused strategic communications and winning crisis management campaigns. 

Her unique insights on government procedure, regulatory environments and public policy is highly sought after, especially now, with public affairs, policy and media so thoroughly intertwined. 

Appointed as a Special Advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014, she initiated and implemented communication strategies, and advised and developed policy initiatives. Susan also served as Deputy Commissioner in the Giuliani Administration (1995-2001) prior to founding her firm in 2001. 

Susan received both her Bachelor and Master’s degrees from Emerson College, where she has served as a Distinguished Lecturer.


Michael A. Nutter

Former Mayor, City of Philadelphia

David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs – Columbia University

Michael A. Nutter Advisors, LLC

MICHAEL A. NUTTER is a former two-term mayor of Philadelphia who previously spent nearly 15 years in the Philadelphia City Council. Since leaving public office in 2016, he has remained active in public policy, government, and civic life. He is the inaugural David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and holds fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. He is a senior advisor and national spokesperson for the What Works Cities program at Bloomberg Philanthropies and a member of the external advisory council for JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities initiative. 

Mayor Nutter is past President of the United States Conference of Mayors and founder of Cities United. He is on the board of Rubicon Technologies, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Council on Criminal Justice, Heartland Alliance, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, the Urban Institute and the Advisory Board of the African American Mayor’s Association.

Mayor Nutter maintains active involvement in critical areas of education, media, public policy, political campaigns, the corporate community and academic institutions across the country. He holds a B.S. Degree in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Dan Webber

Regional President, Edelman D.C.

Dan Webber is the President of Edelman’s Washington D.C. office where he leads 250+ professionals that help clients proactively tell their stories and navigate challenges around the world. In this role, Dan leads an integrated team of communications experts, including corporate, brand, public affairs, financial services, health, technology, energy, digital, public sector, creative and research subject matter experts in one of the largest hubs in Edelman’s global network.

Dan specializes in helping clients prepare for, navigate and overcome critical areas of risk, issues and crises. During the past 17 years at Edelman, Dan has worked with many different organizations to provide counsel and support related to reputation issues and crisis response. This includes activating rapid response incident response teams, developing training and simulations for several Fortune 500 companies, and standing up ad hoc triage teams for brand new clients that call with an incident with minimal planning or governance in place.

Prior to his role as Regional President, Dan served as Managing Director of the office and General Manager of the Corporate and Advisory team. During that time, the 50+ person C&A team provided companies and organizations strategic counsel specific to reputation matters, corporate storytelling, financial special situations, internal employee experience, organizational transformation, and navigating and planning for crisis and incident response.

Dan also previously served as General Manager of Edelman DC’s digital team. This was an 80+ person team that spearheaded digital programs and included a full suite of offerings from creative, development/technology, digital analytics, online measurement, search engine optimization, performance marketing, paid amplification, online influencer engagement, etc.  Throughout the entirety of this role, Dan led the digital crisis team offering for Edelman and was a member of the firm’s data security and privacy group.

Dan is also currently serving his eighth year as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, teaching a graduate level class on Digital Crisis Management. He regularly speaks and lectures at several other universities, including The College of William and Mary, Northwestern University and Howard University. Before moving into public relations, Dan worked as a college administrator in student affairs. Webber attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where he earned his bachelor of business administration in marketing.


Shan Wu,  Legal Analyst

Shan Wu is a former federal prosecutor whose law practice focuses on white-collar, criminal and student defense matters.  From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office.

A consummate litigator, Shan has tried over twenty-five cases to jury verdict, argued appellate cases in the both local and federal court, led large-scale criminal investigations, litigated complex commercial cases, and counseled clients at all stages of criminal and civil investigations.  While in the government, Shan investigated and tried hundreds of criminal cases, served as a supervisor in the U. S. Attorney’s Office Misdemeanor Trials Section, led a Police Corruption Task Force, and served as senior supervisor on an Independent Counsel investigation regarding a Cabinet official.

As a federal prosecutor, he pioneered the use of expert testimony in domestic violence cases and, along with co-counsel, secured the first life-without-parole sentence for a serial rapist ever imposed in the District of Columbia. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups.

In the private sector, Shan’s tenacious defense of individuals and companies is aided by experience gained working at the exclusive boutique litigation firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans and Figel where his practice included white-collar criminal defense, SEC enforcement actions, and complex civil litigation. His notable matters there included representation of individuals during the Enron investigation, defending an individual charged with making terroristic threats, counseling companies on compliance with grand jury subpoenas, defending against a qui tam/false claims action, and litigating a complex telecommunications arbitration. Shan’s practice, in addition to criminal defense, has included qui tam/false claims litigation and business litigation. Bi-lingual in Mandarin Chinese, Shan has worked extensively in China as a consultant to China’s largest law firm and served as of counsel for them in matters before the International Trade Commission.

(Moderator) Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A.

Lawrence J. Parnell, M.B.A. is an award winning Public Relations professional and academic who is an Associate Professor and director of the George Washington University Master’s in Strategic Public Relations program. He has served in this role for 12 years and has built the GW Master’s program into one of the best known and admired programs in the US. Professor Parnell also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communications at the GW School of Business.

He also operates Parnell Communications, a strategic communications and leadership training advisory firm. In this role he advises government, corporate and non-profit organizations on executive development and strategic communications.  

Prior to coming to GW, he had a successful 32-year career in the private and public sector. He has worked in government, corporate and agency settings and in national, state and local political campaigns. He was recognized as PR Professional of the Year (2003) by PR Week and was named to the PR News Hall of Fame in 2009. The GW Master’s program was named the “Best PR Education Program” for 2015 by PR Week

He is a frequent author and speaker on communications strategy, crisis and issues management, leadership skills and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at industry conferences and universities around the world. He is quoted often on communications management and crisis communications by the national, business and trade media. 

He is the co-author of a leading public relations textbook – “Introduction to Strategic Public Relations – Communicating Effectively in a Socially Responsible World” from Sage Publishing. In its first year, (2018) the text was adopted by over 30 leading undergrad PR programs across the country. The second edition of the text, titled: “Introduction to Public Relations” was published in October 2020 by Sage Publishing.  He also contributed as a co-author of a chapter on CSR in the book “Nation Branding and Public Diplomacy” (Peter Lang Publishing) published in 2017.  He is active on Twitter at @gwprmasters and on Face Book and Linked-In under his name.