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Opening Keynote: What to Expect From the Future of Drones



Bio coming soon!

Featured Session


Poynter Institute

Al Tompkins is a senior faculty member for broadcast and online at The Poynter Institute, the world’s premiere school for journalists. For nearly 30 years, he worked as a photojournalist, reporter, producer, anchor, assistant news director, special projects/investigations director, documentary producer and news director. Tompkins has trained thousands of television news producers, reporters, photojournalists and managers in his One-Day Storytelling Workshops in 49 states, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Egypt, Ecuador, Cayman and South Africa. He has taught and coached print newsrooms in the U.S. and abroad on how to investigate and report, build interactive news websites, how to use video more effectively online and how to manage ethical issues. Tompkins was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and in 2008 was awarded The Governor’s Award, the highest honor given by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. During his two and a half decades as a journalist, Tompkins has won the National Emmy, the Peabody Award (group award), the Japan Prize, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel for Court Reporting, seven National Headliner Awards, two Iris Awards and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. He holds an MA in Digital Journalism and Design from the University of South Florida. Tompkins is the author of the January 2017 Third Edition of Aim For The Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters, which was adopted by more than 150 universities as their main broadcast writing textbook. He co-authored four editions of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation’s Newsroom Ethics workbook.

Show and Share



As Senior Director of National News Technology, Agvent leads the recently created CNN Aerial Imagery & Reporting unit, CNN AIR. A clear expert, Agvent was named to the federal Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) and also sits on the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST). He is a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), ASTM and serves on the Advisory Board of ASSURE (Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence).

Saturday Morning Keynote: Privacy and Ethics



Bio coming soon!


UGA School of Law

Sonja R. West is the Otis Brumby Distinguished Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of Georgia School of Law and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her scholarship focuses on issues involving the First Amendment and the United States Supreme Court and has appeared in top legal journals such as the Harvard Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, and the Michigan Law Review. A graduate of the University of Chicago School of Law, Professor West served as a law clerk for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Her other professional experience includes several years practicing media law with the Los Angeles law firms Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Davis Wright Tremaine. Professor West is also a frequent commentator for numerous news organizations such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, the National Law Journal, MSNBC, and National Public Radio.

Lunch Feature Session


Hogan Levell

Lisa Ellman chairs the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Group for Hogan Lovells, a global law firm, where she’s a leading public policy lawyer focusing on domestic drones and other emerging technologies. Lisa is also the Co-executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent 501c6 non-profit led by key figures of the commercial drone industry. The Alliance is dedicated to supporting commercial enterprise end users and assisting them with adoption of drone technology into their businesses, reducing barriers to entry, addressing public perception issues, and merging policy with innovation to create relevant rules for operation. Lisa has held a variety of positions at top levels of the Executive branch at the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In a series of presidential appointments, Lisa led work on high-priority policy initiatives for the Obama administration on issues spanning from open and transparent government to domestic use of UAS. Most recently, she led DOJ’s effort to develop policy that would govern the use of UAS in the United States. She also represented DOJ in the federal interagency process considering UAS-related policy issues that are shared across departments and agencies. Lisa’s opinions are often featured in publications and news broadcasts such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Fortune Magazine, Crain’s New York Business, NBC News San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg News Radio, HuffPost Live, and others. In February 2015, Lisa was featured in Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women” series for her efforts to develop policy to govern drone use in the United States.

Google’s Feature Session: Sharing Data



Samaruddin “Sam” Stewart is a journalist and media technologist based in California. He currently trains journalists on how to best use Google tools for storytelling with the SPJ Training Program in partnership with the Google News Lab. Prior, he was a Knight Foundation grantee for his work in verification of user generated content for journalism and was also a Stanford

University Knight Journalism Fellow. His prior work includes managing and editing roles at AOL News, Agence France-Presse, The Arizona Republic, and the U.S. Department of State.  He began flying drones in 2013, but originally began his love for aerial photography during a 56-day global circumnavigation in a Grumman Albatross seaplane.

Closing Keynote: Drones in Natural Disasters


Bio coming soon!