snd tracks grouped pic

Unwilling to borrow typical conference blueprints, the SND Charlotte team started planning Unite + Rebel with a mission to find as many opportunities as possible to deviate from the expected. Among other things, this meant programming sessions that championed active participation, giving the conference a sense of place in terms of venues and speakers, and finding speakers outside the echo chamber of our own organizations.

Unite + Rebel isn’t just our theme, it’s our thesis. During the Revolutionary War, the British thought of Charlotte as a “hornet’s nest of rebellion,” and that sentiment became our rally cry. Some of the world’s most important innovations and movements have come from united communities willing to commit brave, thoughtful acts of rebellion. We believe media could stand to do the same. Collaboration, innovation and risk-taking are more important than ever, so we’ve developed a program that we hope will inspire our attendees, and indeed, our industry, to work together to push the boundaries of what is possible in design, storytelling and technology.

Here we aim to share our framework and programming rationale. This includes many, but not all, of our announced speakers and sessions. There are still more coming. Continue to visit our speakers grid for the full, updated list.

Register now


With more than half a dozen student chapters throughout the United States, inspiring the next generation of visual journalists has always been at the heart of our organizational mission. This day-long student workshop will give our students an opportunity to learn from established thought leaders, and a chance for one-on-one portfolio reviews. The program will start mid-morning at ACBJ headquarters, just a few blocks from the Sheraton hotel. (Sponsored by American City Business Journals)

Speakers include:

  • • Garry Howard, American City Business Journals
  • Yuri Victor, Vox Media
  • Jamey Fry, Washington Business Journal


Think Before You Make” is a pre-conference workshop that will teach a hands-on approach to problem solving through design. You will learn how to research a problem and understand its nuances before choosing a solution, how to put together a creative brief to get buy-in, and how to approach problems starting small and building up organically. After a day of design-strategy goodness, we’re giving you free access to the zip-lines and other activities at the U.S. National Whitewater Center before the opening reception.. (Sponsored by Upstatement and CQ Roll Call)

Organizers include:

  • • Mike Swartz, Partner, Upstatement
  • • Holly Copeland, Designer, Upstatement
  • • Matt Mansfield, Senior Vice President, CQ Roll Call


Our keynotes are industry luminaries who best represent the spirit of Unite + Rebel. These champions of collaboration, innovation and risk-taking will inspire you with thoughtful lessons on bringing legacy media into the digital age, building teams and products that win, and starting new ventures from the ground up. Our keynote speakers will be preceded by 5-minute ignite talks corresponding to each keynote. We have some special Lifetime Achievement honors to bestow around these sessions, too.

Keynote speakers include:


This track harkens back to the “Friends” episode-titling strategy, “The one about … ” We’ve looked at different ways influencers in AR/VR, voice, and messaging are designing for new platforms and new audiences. We’re especially excited to highlight Charlotte creative talent, and hear from designers outside of media to highlight common challenges and learn from their solutions.

Speakers include:


We can’t ignore the core disciplines and skills that brought us here, and that’s what this track is all about. Learn from industry experts and SND award-winning designers, who have changed how we think about art direction, typography, and page design.

Speakers include:


There’s a lot you can learn from speaker slides and case studies, but sometimes the best way to learn something new is to get your hands dirty and try it for yourself. We believe in the power of active participation, and so we’ve created a track that will allow you to come away from the conference with tangible skills you can continue to practice after you leave Charlotte. Please note that many of these sessions will have limited seating and require pre-registration due to classroom size and supplies needed for the sessions. Registration will be handled via our event app, with more details coming soon.

Speakers include:

  • • Amazon Alexa, build an Echo skill
  • • Rodrigo Ramirez, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile School of Design; icon design
  • Tonia Cowan,The Boston Globe;  live sketching
  • • Mike Rohde, Rhodesign; sketchnoting
  • Lucie Lacava, iPhone photography for social media
  • • Julie Elman, Ohio University; illustration
  • Belinda Ivey, KarBel Multimedia, and Terence Oliver, University of North Carolina; motion graphics
  • Fernando Baptista, National Geographic; clay sculpting
  • Suzie Ford, NoDa Brewing Company; brand design

Stay tuned as we continue to fill out the roster for SND Charlotte.

Register now

About SND Charlotte

• Don’t miss your chance to UNITE & REBEL, register today: Register
• Book your hotel room (before they run out!): Use the SND discount link
• Check out the lineup of speakers we’ve announced for the workshop. What a team!
• Don’t miss the Think Before You Make pre-conference day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center