I COVID QUIT: Real people; Real Stories; New Campaign

75 Minutes

Andy Burness, MBA

President, Burness

Andy Burness is founder and president of Burness, a mission-driven global communications firm supporting nonprofits and the people they serve. The company has partnered with more than 500 nonprofit and governmental organizations over its more than 30 years. Andy and his colleagues showcase solutions to the problems that cause poverty, hunger, disease and environmental degradation, often taking little-known ideas that can benefit humanity and developing strategies and tactics for taking these ideas to scale.

His company has been named five times by Washington-area media as one of the best places to work in the region.

Andy has also been an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, teaching courses on strategic communications for policy change. He is also an associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He regularly publishes articles and blogs related to the field of public interest communications, and is co-editor of the book “Roses for the Soul: Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook.”

In 2014, Andy was selected as a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Resident Fellow, joining 15 other policymakers, nonprofit leaders, artists and public advocates from around the world.

Andy’s international work has taken him to more than 20 countries on four continents, where he provides training and counsel on agricultural research, vaccine development, and public health interventions to control diseases of the developing world. He speaks Spanish fluently, having lectured and conducted media outreach in Latin American countries.

Andy directs the Karel Fellowship that introduces first generation and minority college students to the field of public interest communications. He is an active civic leader in Montgomery County, Maryland where he lives. He co-founded Business Leaders Fighting Hunger, and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Universities at Shady Grove and Montgomery Moving Forward. He and his wife Hope were named the county’s Philanthropists of the Year in 2019.

Before starting his firm, he was liaison with the public and primary spokesperson for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health philanthropy in the United States. Prior to that, he served as public information officer for the President’s Commission on Medical Ethics. He was also a legislative assistant for health and education policy in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Andy has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University, and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland. He is the father of two 20-something children (Alex and Molly), as well as a caretaker of Zion, the dog.

Les Pappas, MPA

President and Creative Director, Better World Advertising

Les has been creating social marketing campaigns for over 30 years, and he has honed his experience in branding, graphic design, copywriting, layouts and message development. Les is recognized as one of the leading authorities in the field, and frequently speaks at international conferences as well as at state and local health departments and other government agencies on strategies of effective social marketing.

Under his leadership, BWA has produced more than 150 social marketing and branding campaigns, many in the area of tobacco cessation and prevention, and won various awards for excellence. Les’ creative vision and strong message development result in campaigns that are powerful, cost-efficient and effective. As the President and Creative Director of BWA, Les ensures that the creative approach, concept creation and design grow seamlessly from the campaign strategy and planning.

Prior to founding BWA, Les served as the Director of Prevention Campaigns for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for ten years. His campaigns were featured in numerous national and international media outlets including CNN and Time Magazine. Les earned his B.A. from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. Les is President of the Board of Family Builders, a nonprofit dedicated to foster care and adoption issues, and also served on the Board of Be Strong Families, a nonprofit that works with foster care agencies and other organizations that promote child welfare.

Nicole Gyan, MA

Project Manager/Social Marketing Specialist, Better World Advertising

At the core of Nicole's career is her passion for communications, with 15+ years of experience in broadcast media and 10 years in social media marketing/management. She aims to add value to people's lives with content that informs and inspires.

Catherine Saucedo

Deputy Director, Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, UCSF

Catherine Saucedo is the deputy director for the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center (SCLC) at the University of California, San Francisco. The SCLC aims to increase smoking cessation rates and increase the number of health professionals who help smokers quit. As deputy director, Saucedo works to assure the strategic goals and plans of the center are met. She is responsible for the center’s short‐ and long‐ term strategic planning; ensuring that SCLC is at the forefront of tobacco control and prevention messaging and strategies. As the deputy director, she creates optimal systems which cover a wide spectrum of areas, including public relations and marketing for the center; grantee management and partner collaborations. A specialist in results‐based accountability, a data‐driven decision‐making process designed to help communities and organizations move from talk to action, Saucedo has helped create a multitude of national, state and county cross‐sector partnerships focused on driving tobacco use prevalence down. Saucedo’s extensive background in tobacco control and prevention includes 20 years of professional nonprofit and for‐profit experience in marketing, social marketing and development, as well as service as co‐chair of a consortium of organizations that coordinated efforts to build public awareness of the 50th anniversary Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health and participation on the North American Quitline Consortium Advisory Council. A graduate of L'Institut d'Aix‐ en‐Provence, France, and California State University, Northridge, Ms. Saucedo earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in French language and culture with a minor in art history.

Webinar Objectives

Based on data from the North American Quitline Consortium, the pandemic was devastating for smoking cessation gains spelling dire consequences for vulnerable groups, like the behavioral health population. Individuals suffering from anxiety, depression and other addictions were particularly hard hit by the fear and isolation brought on by COVID. However, not everyone gave up on giving up cigarettes. Those who counted COVID as part of their motivation to quit, shared their stories, helping Better World Advertising create an honest and impactful series of still ads and videos for social media. Together, with the PR firm Burness and the National Partnership on Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use we are drawing the attention of healthcare providers and policy-makers to those caught in the intersection of COVID, smoking and behavioral health through helping us promote these new ads.

Webinar Objectives:

  • Examine tobacco's deadly toll on the behavioral health population, for behavioral health providers and other stakeholders
  • Demonstrate the SCLC’s new “I COVID QUIT” social media campaign, as a new resource to help motivate smokers to quit
  • Analyze the impact COVID has had on smokers in vulnerable populations
  • Demonstrate the process of creating a social media public health awareness campaign
  • Analyze two strategies for promoting the “I COVID QUIT” campaign
Instructions for CME/CE Credit

CME/CEU credit is no longer available for this recorded activity. The accreditation has expired for this course.


Certificates of Attendance


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Additional Resources Cited in the Webinar
  • Click here to see answers from the speakers, to questions, which were not addressed during the webinar
  • Download the videos, digital ads and toolkit to use on your organization’s social media channels at icovidquit.org! You’ll also be able to find FAQs about COVID-19 and smoking, resources - for both smokers and healthcare providers - to quit or to help people quit, as well as a way to share your own story about quitting or helping someone else #dothecovidquit!
  • Click here to read the NAQC report released at the press conference on March 12 as Andy Burness mentioned, and to read the subsequent media coverage, see the SCLC homepage in the News or Latest Headlines sections.