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Webinar | Employer Rights and Expectations in Light of Current Events
Tuesday, February 09, 2021, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM CST
Category: Chicago

01:00 PM - 02:30 PM (Pacific)
02:00 PM - 03:30 PM (Mountain)
03:00 PM - 04:30 PM (Central)
04:00 PM - 05:30 PM (Eastern)

Zoom invitation will be shared the day before the event.


Reputation management is essential to a business’s survival.  If your reputation goes down the tubes, so does your business. In fact, a study published by Reputation X in 2021 shows that 87% of customers will reverse a purchase decision after viewing negative content about a brand or product online.

The unprecedented events of the past 6-9 months – the Covid-19 pandemic, the racial justice movement, and the insurrection -- have led to the cultures and values of organizations being scrutinized, stretched, and challenged.  How their boards and leaders have responded to these events has also created a need to control, repair, grow, and/or sustain the reputations of many organizations in the eyes of their employees, shareholders, customers, and communities in which they operate.

The Chicago Chapter of the Private Directors Association has assembled two panels of two to three thought leaders who will share practical and pragmatic ideas on reputation management that attendees can take back to their organizations and put to use.  This virtual program will comprise a series of the following two 90-minute programs facilitated by a moderator, panelists, and PDA members:

  • Session 1, February 9, 2021:  Employer Rights in Light of Current Events
    • May an employer require employee vaccinations?
    • Free speech in the workplace:  may an employer terminate an employee’s employment for political speech in the workplace or for posting on social media?
    • What should employers do if employees publicly protest employer policies or practices?
    • What should employers do when employee activism comes into their workplaces?
  • Session 2, February 16, 2021:  Defamation or Free Speech?  How to Address Bad Reviews of a Business, Especially on Social Media
    • How can companies protect and rescue their business reputations from the legal and public relations perspectives?
    • How can companies address backlash arising from employees’ controversial political statements and activities?
    • How can businesses avoid and come back from public relations nightmares?

Thank you to our National and Gold Chapter Sponsors!



Niel Golightly
Founder and Principal
Niel Golightly LLC

Niel Golightly is founder and principal of Niel Golightly LLC, a corporate advisory and leadership coaching firm.  He is also a Peer Advisor for executive clients of Lee Hecht Harrison’s International Center for Executive Options (ICEO).

Niel has served as Chief Communications Officer at both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the Boeing Company, leading the communications for major international mergers, managing high-visibility crises and advising the boards of both companies.  He has also held senior executive roles for Ford Motor Company and Royal Dutch Shell.  In all, he has over 25 years of experience leading global brand, reputation and sustainability strategies for highly-regulated and disrupted companies from offices in the U.S., U.K., Italy and Germany. 

In addition to his corporate roles, he has served as a carrier-based pilot in the U.S. Navy, a special assistant to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell at the Pentagon, and on secondment to the Mayor of Houston in support of the Hurricane Harvey recovery effort.

He has served on the board of the Houston Technology Center and other non-profits.  He graduated from Cornell University, completed graduate level coursework at the University of Konstanz in Germany, and completed certificate programs in scenario planning from Oxford and executive coaching from Rice.  He has guest lectured at numerous universities in the U.S. and Europe, including Oxford, Yale, Duke and Rice.


Michon Ellis

Michon Ellis is a growth-oriented entrepreneur, chief marketing and communications officer with nearly 25 years of global and domestic business development, marketing and communications experience. He’s an influential leader who forges strong senior stakeholder relationships, expands market share and generates business opportunities. He’s recognized as a high-impact decision-maker, persuasive presenter, C-level communicator and cultivator of high-performing cross-functional teams.

In 2019, Michon founded Clout LLC, a public relations and corporate communications agency in Chicago that provides strategic communications counsel and turn-key public relations tools and tactics that empower companies and brands to grow their bottom line, influence the markets they serve and protect their corporate reputations.  Prior to Clout, he was the CEO of Lime Green Moroch and Director, Global Communications at McDonald’s Corporation.  He also held communications-related positions at Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Bozell, and Edelman Public Relations.

Michon earned a BA in Communications at Miami University (Ohio) and currently serves as the Chairman of the Media and Advertising Committee of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois.


Jon Vegosen
Founding Partner
Funkhouser Vegosen Liebman and Dunn Ltd.

Jon Vegosen is a founding member of Chicago corporate and litigation law firm, Funkhouser Vegosen Liebman and Dunn Ltd., where he was co-managing partner for eight years.  Although Jon provides legal counsel on a wide variety of matters, he has extensive experience working with companies, other organizations, and boards of directors on labor and employment issues.  Jon speaks widely and conducts workshops for clients, professional and business groups, and at law schools on a variety of topics including Covid-19, the prevention and investigation of sexual and other harassment, the importance of documentation, and effective interviewing.  He has written articles and book chapters about, and has been interviewed by publications and television stations for his experience in, employment law matters.

For several years, Jon has received the highest of peer review ratings (AV), has been a Leading Lawyer in Employment Law by Leading Lawyers Network, and has been designated a Super Lawyer in Illinois in employment law.  Jon has been a member of Vistage for 19 years and a Vistage speaker for 17 years.  He has served on several boards of directors, including serving as Chairman of the Board, President, & CEO of the United States Tennis Association and Chairman of the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2012.  Since December of 2015, he has been the Chairman of the Board of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, which is the governing body of U.S. varsity collegiate tennis.  Jon graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University and received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, graduating Cum Laude.



Lee Eisenstaedt
Leading with Courage Academy

Lee Eisenstaedt is the author of four books on leadership and regularly publishes articles on leadership on Forbes.com.

Six years ago, he founded The Leading With Courage Academy in Chicago.  Through it, he is an advisor to owners and leaders of employee- and family-owned businesses who want to build healthier, thriving, sustainable organizations.  He does this by facilitating leadership assessments and workshops, including Everything DiSC, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, and emotional intelligence, and a succession planning process.  He’s a member of both The ESOP Association and NCEO, as well as the Forbes Coaches Council, and chairs the Program Committee for the Chicago chapter of the Private Directors Association.

Lee has nearly four decades of experience as a senior finance and operations executive with SC Johnson, in both the U.S. and Europe, and as a two-time COO of both a Top 5 (RSM McGladrey) and Top 50 CPA firm (Blackman Kallick, now Plante Moran).  He earned his MBA at Northwestern University and has also attended executive programs on Corporate Governance and Marketing at Northwestern and Harvard Universities.