Robyn Benincasa

Robyn Benincasa is a San Diego firefighter and accomplished adventure racer. She talks about ways individuals and groups work to deal with adversity and work in ways that increase the odds of winning. Her book, How Winning Works was a genuine best seller last fall (As opposed to the manufactured kind).

Two-time World Champion Eco-Challenge Adventure Racer and San Diego Firefighter Robyn Benincasa knows a thing or two about creating Human Synergy, or as Robyn puts it, "that magic that allows groups of ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things together". For the past 15 years, she and her teammates have studied Extreme Teamwork in the most unique and compelling classroom on earth: The jungles of Borneo, the Himalayan peaks of Tibet, the rivers of Fiji, the rainforests of Ecuador and the epic brush fires of Southern California. It is through these harrowing, life affirming and often hilarious experiences in the world's most grueling challenges that she has emerged with her refreshing and truly unique perspective on what it takes to build the kind of world class teams that succeed against all odds, that triumph in the face of adversity and that go the distance in any endeavor.

Robyn accepts full blame for inspiring people to do insane things like climb Mount Kilimanjaro, run their first triathlon or start their own businesses. This is, after all, who she is and what she does: Robyn Benincasa inspires people to grab life with one hand, grab their teammates with the other, and to create that special magic that allows each of us to become better and stronger than we ever would have been alone. This led to her recognition as a CNN Hero.

Sharon C. Allen

Screen_Shot_2017-11-08_at_12_13_26_PM.pngUntil recently, Sharon C. Allen was the Senior Executive Director for the Institute for Diversity in Health Management at the American Hospital Association. Her key responsibilities included P&L management, operations, client relationships, and strategic planning with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion and health equity. For the past twenty years, Sharon has been a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia College of Missouri, where she teaches a variety of junior and senior level marketing and management courses. Sharon just marked her publishing debut with the release of "Pleasure Poetry: Capturing the Heart, Mind and Soul." It is a poetry book that contains fun Celebrity Sonnets, thought provoking Haikus and captivating narratives and short stories. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Sharon has more than 20 years of marketing experience, nine as an employee of Baxter International. Coupled with her experience at the AHA, Sharon’s health care knowledge has heightened her awareness of health equity issues and increased her passion and desire to accelerate quality and equitable health care for everyone. Sharon is very passionate about her community. She serves as the chairman of the Public Relations and Connections committees for the Lambda Nu Omega Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She is also a member of the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE), Association Forum, the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), and the Chicago Chapter of the United Nations Association. Sharon is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Jackson State University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. She holds a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from Roosevelt University; as well as a Certificate of Diversity Management (CDM) and a Train the Trainer Certificate in Race and Reconciliation. Her awards include Student of the Year, Who’s Who in Management, Who’s Who in Black Chicago, Streetwise Outstanding Volunteer, and Top 100 Leaders under 50 by Diversity MBA Magazine. With her competitive edge, Sharon has placed first in several charity 5K races throughout the Chicagoland area over the last few years. Sharon’s published work includes a poetry book entitled Pleasure Poetry (2017), blogs on leadership at the Association for Healthcare Volunteer Professionals (AHVRP) (2014), co-author of an article in Forum Magazine (Oct. 2010), “Make the Business Case for Meetings.” She is also published in a 2007 research study by The League of Black Women, “Fostering the Leadership Potential of Black Women in America.” Sharon is the divorced mother of 22-year-old daughter, Imani, a college student, who she considers her pride and joy. Her hobbies include studying and debating politics, creative writing and exercising. Sharon worships at Greater Faith Church.

Wes Bleed

wes_bleed.jpgMarketing & Communications Director
Water Quality Association

Wes Bleed is the Marketing & Communications Director at the Water Quality Association, the leading voice of the water treatment industry. Previously, Wes served as News Director and broadcast journalist for WGN Radio in Chicago, Communications Director for a statewide campaign for governor and Vice President of a Chicago area public relations/public affairs firm, Wes has a solid understanding of media relations, crisis communications, media training, content marketing, video production, web site and social media development. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Speech Communication from Wheaton College.

Alpha M. Brady

wes_bleed.jpgSenior Associate Executive Director and Chief Governance Officer
American Bar Association

Alpha M. Brady is the Senior Associate Executive Director and Chief Governance Officer of the American Bar Association. She has executive management responsibilities for the Division of Policy and Planning Administration, the Division for Legal Services, the Center for Professional Responsibility, the Division for Bar Services, the Division for Public Education, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Office of the President and the Center for Innovation. These entities provide management, national leadership, legal policy development, and strategic planning for ABA entities and affiliates. Prior to assuming the position of Senior Associate Executive Director and Chief Governance Officer, Ms. Brady was Associate Executive Director. She has been with the Association since 1988, beginning with the Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity, where she served as Associate Director.

Ms. Brady received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and her B.S. Degree in Business Administration and History from Elmhurst College.

Michael Dominguez

Michael-dominguez.jpg Michael Dominguez is Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer for MGM Resorts International. In this role, he provides executive oversight for the global sales strategies of the company’s 42,000 hotel rooms and its three million square feet of meeting space (more meeting space found than in all of New York City). Mr. Dominguez also leads the company’s industry relations and MGM Resorts Event Productions’ efforts. Prior to joining MGM Resorts in 2012, Mr. Dominguez was Vice President of Global Sales for Loews Hotels & Resorts, where he oversaw sales efforts for 18 luxury hotels in the U.S. and Canada starting in 2008. He began his hospitality career working with Hyatt in 1984. Mr. Dominguez also actively serves in various leadership roles in the Meetings and Events Industry and currently serves as the Immediate Past Chairman on the International Board of Directors for Meeting Professionals International. His most recent appointment is to the Board of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation Board. Among his other achievements, Mr. Dominguez was named one of Meetings Focus’ 2014 Meetings Trendsetters, among the “50 Influentials” in the 2013 HispanicBusiness.com’s annual list, one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in Business in North America by Hispanic Business Magazine, and one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry” by Successful Meetings Magazine.

Barbara F. Dunn

Barnes & Thornburg LLP

Barbara F. Dunn is a partner in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and is a member of the firm’s Corporate Department and Associations and Foundations Practice Group. For the past twenty-five years, Barbara has focused her practice on representing non-profits and related organizations on a wide variety of legal issues as well as organizations in the travel, tourism, hospitality, incentive and meetings industries. She is a frequent speaker for industry organizations and has written numerous articles on a variety of legal issues. Barbara is the President of the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys (AHIA). She was the 2005-2006 Chair of the ASAE Legal Section Council – the first woman to serve in such a leadership role.

Ralph Gaillard, M.Ed.

Barbara_Dunn_ONeal.jpgChief Learning Director
Illinois CPA Society

Ralph Gaillard is the Chief Learning Director of the Illinois CPA Society, where he oversees the strategic development of 25 conferences, 90 workshops, a 100+ On Demand catalog, live virtual events and The Midwest Accounting & Finance Showcase, an annual trade show that attracts more than 2,000 public accounting and corporate finance leaders. Previously, he served as the Director of Virtual Training and Education for the National Safety Council, where he managed the Council’s online learning initiatives, developing hundreds of life-saving Webinars, virtual conferences and online self-study programs. Prior to that, Ralph served as the Group Publisher and Vice President of Training and Strategic Partnerships at Lawrence Ragan Communications, where he led the development and delivery of professional education for business communicators across North America and Europe. Ralph received a Master of Education degree, with honors, from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in U.S. History from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Ralph is also a graduate of The Second City Training Center Improvisation Program in Chicago.

Dede Gish-Panjada

deidre_gish_panjada.jpgVice President, Consulting

Dede Gish-Panjada is Bostrom’s Vice President of Consulting, focusing on its 6 service pillars. She assists with client relationship management, working with account executives and clients. Dede has 30+ years of experience leading complex non-profit organizations. She has worked with associations in a variety of industries including professional services, higher education and health care. Dede is a corporate culture change agent and is proficient in taking key staff and volunteer leaders through the organizational assessment and change process. Dede leads training sessions with emerging association executives and volunteers on leadership development, nonprofit business best practices, association trends and business modeling. Dede is Past Chair of the AMC Institute Board of Directors, the trade association for association management companies (AMC). She achieved her master’s in business administration from the University of Kansas and earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Avila College. Her interests include working out, reading, and beaches.

Loren Gold

loren goldExecutive Vice President
Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau

Loren Gold joined the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau team in July of 2005 as director of sales. In 2007 Gold was promoted to executive vice president, where he is responsible for leading the development of strategic sales, services and marketing programs, including brand management, market research, market communications, IT, advertising and public affairs. Boasting over twenty years of senior sales management experience, Gold previously held positions in the Washington, DC area as director of national sales in Wyndham International’s National Sales Office, as well as national sales manager for Marriott Hotels and Resorts. Gold founded City Reps Inc., the country’s first company dedicated exclusively to multiple CVB sales representation. He generated meeting and tradeshow business leads for CVB’s in Cincinnati, Houston, Long Beach, Memphis, Minneapolis, Providence and San Jose. Gold currently serves on the board of directors for Destinations International, Chair of the Triangle Regional Film Commission, a bi-annual guest lecturer at East Carolina University’s School of Hospitality Management and an advisory board member to Wake Technical Community Colleges START Hospitality Certification Program and Broughton High School’s Hospitality Academy. Gold received the 2014 Economic Development Award from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. Gold resides in Apex, NC with his wife and three kids and is a graduate of Arizona State University.

Michael Hahn

michael hahn

MICHAEL H. HAHN is an outstanding authority and international speaker on organizational culture, employee engagement and personal behavior change. He brings high energy, intense passion and humorous style to inspire audiences to reclaim their time, energy and motivation to embrace their inner hero. He speaks to audiences all over North America in Senior Leadership positions, Sales and Human Resources professionals at conferences, sales kickoffs, associations and corporate events. Hahn is an in-demand speaker for conferences and companies around the country. He was an MPI Proprietary Content Speaker from 2012-2013 and spoke at 18 locations around North America. His strategic use of culture to achieve business results and engaging employees to create a grassroots movement has created a massive impact at Allstate insurance and several Chicago based high growth organizations. Michael is Internationally certified and holds a dual M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship & Leadership and Change Management from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from NIU. He has 20+ years of corporate experience in Finance, Strategy, Business Development, HR and Corporate Relations. From his first decade with McDonalds in Finance to the last few years leading a Culture Movement at Allstate Insurance, he knows what success looks like from every seat in the house! Michael Hahn is the CEO & Culture Guru of Beyond Good Teams and author of Hero Habits: The Guide to Thriving in Corporate America and in Life.

Nicolette Haton, MBA, CAE


Nicolette Haton, MBA, CAE is an Analyst for Association Laboratory, a company which helps associations make better strategic decisions. She has been involved with associations for over 7 years and is recognized as a rising leader in association management having received Association Forum’s Forty Under 40 Award. She has been active in membership and volunteer engagement for the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Healthcare Risk Management, and American Academy of Periodontology. She is the former Chair of Association Forum’s Governance Special Interest Group (SIG). Nicolette holds a B.A. in International Studies from Loyola University Chicago, a MBA from Benedictine University and the Certified Association Executive credential.

Josie Hernandez

josie hernandez

Josie Hernandez is Manager of the Instructor and Grader Program for the Institute of Real Estate Management. In this position she is responsible for the recruitment, development and training of IREM's instructors who teach courses for IREM's credentialing programs. Josie also oversees the recruitment, training and evaluation of IREM's graders of their credentialing exam. Josie has worked in association management since 2012 and was awarded the IOM graduate recognition for completing a comprehensive course of study in nonprofit management through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute for Organization Management program. Josie has also taught Customer Service and Sales Fundamentals for the Retail Training Institute at Instituto del Progreso Latino. This course prepares students to receive the Customer Service and Sales credential offered by the National Retail Federation. Josie has a background in retail management, sales and customer service. Josie was General Manager for Casual Corner stores throughout the Chicago land area, including its flagship location on Michigan Avenue. She is passionate about lifelong learning and sharing her knowledge with others. Throughout her professional career she has received her insurance producer's license, real estate license, customer service and sales credential and IOM. She is also an advocate for promoting diversity in the workplace and throughout her association. As an association professional, Josie enjoys collaborating with members to achieve the organization's strategic initiatives. Josie is a native Chicagoan and grew up in the South Chicago neighborhood and was a parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. She attended St. Francis de Sales high school and graduated with a degree in Human Resources and Family Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is a member of Alpha Psi Lambda, Latina/o co-ed fraternity and has volunteered for fundraising campaigns with Mujeres Latinas en Accion.

James Jessie

james jessieSr. Vice President of Convention Sales
Travel Portland

With a career that has spanned over 22 years in Destination Management, James Jessie has recently returned to the Pacific Northwest as Sr. Vice President of Sales at Travel Portland. Jessie had previously worked for Travel Portland (POVA) in a sales capacity from 1996-1999. Previous to rejoining Travel Portland, Jessie spent 18 years with Visit Phoenix in various roles that ultimately lead to position of Sr. Vice President of Sales and Services. During Jessie’s tenure in Phoenix, he led the sales efforts to support major Phoenix capital projects such as the expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center and the addition of the 1,000 room Sheraton Phoenix Hotel, as well as the sales effort of attracting Super Bowls 2008 & 2015 to Greater Phoenix. Jessie is a graduate of University of Oregon – School of Tourism & Recreation Management and proud member of Order of the O – The Alumni Association of Oregon Football Players. He has been married to his wife Jolie for over 20 years and is father to three children.

Emma King, DES

Alexis_Kolak.jpgDigital Media Engagement Strategist

Emma is an Online Digital Media Engagement Strategist who operates as a Senior Executive/Project Manager/Business Consultant. She is a seasoned strategist, consulting with organizations to develop effective engagement practices when delivering video content. Emma possesses extensive “hands-on” digital engagement strategies which enables her to redesign, repurpose & redefine delivery of digital content. She has a proven track record of delivering cutting-edge content and innovative gamification strategies that accelerate growth, increase demand and maximize engagement. She works with Fortune 1000 clients to assist them in the selection of technologies suitable to meet digital business communication needs.

Alexis Kolak

Alexis_Kolak.jpgSenior Education Manager

Alexis organizes and leads the LMS efforts that support more than 20 client organizations on three different platforms. For one client, she developed a new educational session structure for its Summer Trade Show that helped refocus the program on its members’ business needs, resulting in the strongest financial performance for the program in the last three years. For another, she overhauled its conference program to proactively seek out new and strategic content to help reduce the number of concurrent sessions and speakers without reducing the overall value of the program. Additionally, she spearheaded efforts to recruit speakers and volunteers and develop facilitator training for 11 one-day events.

Jennifer May


Client Account Manager

Jennifer May, a three time contributor to Forum magazine (published by Association Forum of Chicagoland), believes in innovative technology solutions for non-profit partners. She shares the vision of bringing submission management, mobile communications and in-person networking to associations looking to enhance engagement with their membership. Jennifer proudly provides excellent client service, treating your events as if they were her own.

Christina McCoy, CAE

ChristinaMcCoy.jpgAccount Executive
AMPED Association Management

McCoy comes to AMPED as an association leader, most notably currently serving as chair for ASAE’s Young Professionals Committee (2017-2018 term). An ASAE NextGen Scholar, McCoy was recently featured in Meetings and Conventions Magazine as one of 15 young professionals to watch. She has been a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 2012. Christina earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation in 2017. She has worked with associations since 2008. As Managing Director with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), one of AMPED’s newest clients, McCoy amplifies the voice of an industry of nearly 60 million fantasy sports players in North America, and for the companies that provide services, news, information and competition to support this growing, $7 billion industry.

Bob Moore, CAE


Chief Operating Officer
American Dental Hygienists’ Association

Bob Moore, CAE, is a Certified Association Executive with almost 20 years of association management experience. Moore currently serves as the first chief operating officer of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, a 30,000 member association. Previously, Bob served as the first executive director for the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), an amalgamation of technology trade organizations representing more than 22,000 technology-related companies across North America where he grew membership and non-dues revenue by more than 25%. He has also served as vice president for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), an 18,000-member association. At IFT he and his team worked with the Board and 2,000 volunteers annually overseeing the development and implementation of the society’s content, community and certification strategies and programs.

Previously, Bob worked with a variety of associations, including technology user groups, as associate director of education at SmithBucklin Corp., the world’s largest association management company. Bob also worked as the director of community-based initiatives at the American Academy of Pediatrics, a 60,000-member professional society, where he secured several million dollars in grants, facilitated grantee best practice sharing, and supported policy development for children with special health care needs. Bob received a B.S. degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Illinois State University and an M.A. degree in Organizational Communications from the University of Northern Iowa. He is a Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) scholar with the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

Kimberly Mosley, CAE


American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

Kimberly Mosley, CAE is the President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), the world’s largest specialty toy association serving more than 1,700 independent specialty toy retailers, manufacturers, sales representatives and toy industry experts. ASTRA is the nation’s only association dedicated to the education and expansion of the specialty toy industry. Kim has been a leader in the association industry for more than 20 years with experience in technology. Prior to her role with ASTRA, she served as CIO for the American College of Healthcare Executives. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Association Forum where she served in many leadership roles including serving as chair of the Diversity Workforce Committee. In 2002, she was awarded the Diversity Executive Leadership Scholarship and in 2003, she earned distinction as a Certified Association Executive. She serves as adjunct faculty for Governors State University in healthcare informatics and serves on the advisory board for Prairie State Junior College. She also lectures, blogs and writes articles on association management and technology. Ms. Mosley holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Governors State University and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago, IL.

Kevin Olsen

Kevin Olsen

A serial entrepreneur, Kevin founded Keyway together with Eric Rozenberg in 2016. Keyway is focused on unlocking potential for brands and products within the meetings and events industry. In June of 2016, Keyway developed a concept that became EMSSI (the Exhibition and Meetings Safety & Security Initiative). http://www.iavm.org/emssi Kevin led the Keyway team throughout the project. Kevin is a veteran of the Chicago meetings and events community. For 30 years, he has lived in the production and communication space helping to launch Corporate Productions in 1986 and then launching One Smooth Stone in 1995 where here led the agency for 20 years. He still serves on the board of directors for One Smooth Stone and is an active owner and advocate for the agency. Kevin currently serves on the International Board of Directors for MPI and is a past chair of the MPI Foundation Global Board of Trustees. He has been teaching//facilitating throughout the industry for over 20 years for industry organizations such as MPI, FICP, IMEX, GMID, and IAEE. Kevin and his wife Carol have been married for 23 years and they have 2 daughters.

Rob Paterkiewicz, CAE, MBA, IOM

Rob Paterkiewicz is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, a trade association meeting the needs of independently owned and operated funeral homes worldwide. Rob has served in this position since 2007 and oversees a staff of twelve professionals. He is ultimately responsible for directing all activities associated with this $2.5 Million, 500-member organization. Rob also serves as the Administrative Trustee of the association’s charitable subsidiary, the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Educational Trust.

Prior to this, Rob served as the Executive Director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, a 5,000-member professional society focused on certification of home inspectors and education of the home-buying consumer. He served in this position from 1995 through 2007 and led the organization through substantial growth in numerous areas including representation in federal legislative matters, brand development, media relations and consumer outreach.

Mr. Paterkiewicz has worked in several key capacities within the association management profession since his graduation from Illinois State University in 1988 with a BS in Public Relations. These include communications, certification, educational program development, membership recruitment and retention, chapter and government relations and event planning. He has also worked with several leading associations such as the American Lighting Association, the National Building Material Distributors Association and the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association.

In 1998, Rob earned the Certified Association Executive designation from the American Society of Association Executives, and in 2000, he earned the Institute for Organizational Management designation from the United States Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, he was conferred a Masters in Business Administration from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He has been an active member of the Association Forum since 1990 and currently serves as Chairman of the Forum Board of Directors.

Daniel Pietroske

Dan_Pietroski.jpgFounded Association Applications Group, LLC 2010.
Founded Web-Strategi 2003.
International Speaker and Educator 1999-2003.

Dan Pietroske serves non-profit and educational organizations, creating customized applications used to plan great events. He excels at understanding and leading people in the use of software applications for their organization. Dan is also an international speaker and educator. He has been published in the Association Forum of Chicagoland’s Forum Magazine and has spoken at numerous events. He is currently volunteering on the editorial group and past Chair of the Technology SIG. He has managed offshore development teams for the last 10 years.

James Pogue, PhD

James Pogue, PhDJames Pogue Enterprises

Leadership and training are at the core of who Dr. Pogue is and the work he does. As a military veteran, he has learned the critical importance of leadership, ‘followship’ and training for the benefit of the leader and their teams.

After 10 years as a university researcher, professor and administrator focusing on issues of recruitment and retention, Dr. Pogue has expanded his work to include companies addressing the challenge of Generational Talent Management. Using the lens of Multi-Generational Leadership, he stimulates thinking through research, critical thinking and transparency, with the goal of positioning organizations to win the 'War for Talent'.

Dr. Pogue works with a wide range of organizations, from The Women's Foodservice Forum to Brinker International, and from AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) to speaking for various Chambers in Dallas on courage and leadership. James has led discussions of experts on the needs of Millennials and Generation Z during the Tom Joyner Morning Show Family reunion and has worked with attendees of the Steve Harvey Mentoring Program.

James has competed as a martial artist for over 25 years and has won five National Titles, and has earned both Silver and Bronze at the World Championships. Dr. Pogue has two daughters, three grand-daughters and resides in Plano, Texas.

Paul Pomerantz, FASAE, CAE

American Society of Anesthesiologists

Paul Pomerantz is CEO for the American Society of Anesthesiologists®(ASA®) . In this role, Pomerantz is charged with helping the Society increase its impact on the anesthesiology specialty for members, their patients and the broader health care community.

Pomerantz has almost three decades of executive experience in the health care association sector. Prior to joining ASA in March 2013, Mr. Pomerantz served as executive director of the Drug Information Association (DIA). Previously, Pomerantz has held CEO roles at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Society of Interventional Radiology, and Clinical Laboratory Management Association, as well as serving in senior executive roles in hospitals and university health systems."

Byron Reese

1245-breese-highres.jpgAn accomplished high-tech trailblazer, author, inventor, entrepreneur, and eternal optimist, Byron Reese delivers audiences and readers an infectious sense of possibility and wonder. Byron employs his perspective as a historian, futurist, and technologist to illuminate how the technology of today can solve some of our most daunting global challenges.

“The new challenge for humanity will not be how to chip away at the old problems,” says Byron, “but what to do in a world where we can do anything.” His first book, Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War, has been called “a prophetic book,” “an essential road map,” and “an antidote to the harmful gloom and moralizing that pervades most discussions of the future.”

Referring to his time as Chief Innovation Officer at Demand Media, Bloomberg Businessweek credits Byron with having “quietly pioneered a new breed of media company.” Wired magazine described him as “a tall Texan who… created the idea-spawning algorithm that lies at the heart of Demand’s process.” The Financial Times of London reported that he “is typical of the new wave of internet entrepreneurs out to turn the economics of the media industry on its head.” And Business Insider concluded that Byron “seems like a kooky— and awesome guy… We’d love to buy him a beer.” Byron started his first business as an undergraduate at Rice University. He later founded and sold two companies: Hot Data, ultimately to Pitney Bowes; and PageWise to Demand Media.

Byron currently is the publisher and CEO of Gigaom, a technology research and analysis firm helping business leaders understand the implications of emerging technologies and their impacts on business, media, and society.

Adam Reshan

Adam_Reshan.jpgDirector, Membership Services & Academic Relations
American College of Prosthodontists

Mr. Reshan’s areas of professional focus include strategic member retention/recruitment activities and matters related to predoctoral and advanced dental education. He is a leader in providing successful initiatives to a variety of volunteer driven groups. He is a native Chicagoan, second generation association professional, and has been with the ACP since 2011.

Eric Rozenberg

ericEric Rozenberg has produced some of the most exciting events that business people have ever attended. Each event was designed to not just entertain attendees but to align them with corporate goals, generate profits and empower teams. Eric is an entrepreneur, speaker and bestselling author. His book, Meeting at CLevel – An Executive’s Guide for Driving Strategy and Helping the Rest of Us Figure Out What the Boss Wants has been endorsed by 20 of the most influential leaders from the corporate and association worlds. Because you’ve done it every year can’t be the only reason why you hold your next meeting. The power of human connection can often be underestimated...until we experience it

For two decades, Eric has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and produced conferences in more than 50 countries across diverse industries. He believes organizations must create meetings that are not only breathtakingly memorable but which bring corporate strategies to life and amplify team motivation/performance.

Laura Rudzinski

Laura_Rudzinski_.jpgExecutive Director
National Institute of Pension Administrators

Laura has served as executive director of NIPA for 20 years. During that time, she has diversified the organization’s revenues by adding webcasts to its educational offerings, has helped the board to become more efficient in its governing process, and has revised and enhanced NIPA’s branding.

Matt Sanderson

Matt_Sanderson.jpgPresident & CEO

Matt Sanderson serves as President & CEO of SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. Matt has more than 20 years of business development, strategy and leadership experience. The common thread throughout his career has been serving clients and leading change – including both growth and performance-improvement efforts. He joined SmithBucklin in 2010 and previously served as executive vice president & chief executive of SmithBucklin’s Business + Trade Industry Practice. In that role, he led all aspects of the practice, including strategy, client organization service delivery and performance, new client development, talent development and acquisition, operational excellence, financial management and thought leadership. Previously, he served as executive vice president of the Print Services & Distribution Association, a trade association focused on the reseller supply chain for print, marketing and business communications. In addition, he has worked with many client organizations across a range of industries with a focus on growth strategies and performance improvement. Prior to joining SmithBucklin, Matt served as a director with Sikich Investment Banking (formerly Levi Littell Herbst & Company) where he worked with owners of small- and mid-sized businesses across a wide variety of industries. Matt also served as business development lead for Navteq (later acquired by Nokia), where he was instrumental in the launch of a location-based traffic service for GPS devices. Matt holds a Master of Business Administration in finance from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

Mickey Schaefer, FASAE, CAE

The EXPERIENCE Institute

As a prominent industry leader, Mickey Schaefer has given back to the industry in many ways.

- In 2015, named for the fifth time among 25 Most Influential in the Meetings Industry by Successful Meetings

- In 2013, among the 2013 Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing by HSMA.

- In 2013, named by Smart Meetings magazine as one of the Top Six Industry Leaders in the industry.

- In 2006, highest honor in the industry; induction into Convention & Events Council’s prestigious Hall of Leaders for her work in standardizing the industry.

- In 2012 launched The EXPERIENCE Institute® (TEI) which conducts industry research and provides a consumer-based standards framework to align destinations to measure and deliver the best possible experiences for visitors and attendees

- CAE and ASAE Fellow, formerly VP of Meetings & Conventions, American Academy of Family Physicians

Holly Schambach

Holly_Schambach.jpgExecutive Director
Association Development Solutions

Since joining ADS in 2011, Holly Schambach’s experience has included working with medical and dental associations and foundations. Her expertise in managing volunteer leaders has created unprecedented success for clients’ fundraising efforts including campaigns, member and corporate annual appeals, and sponsorship programs. Holly lives in the western suburbs of Chicago and is a member of and volunteer for the Association Forum of Chicagoland.

Jeanne Sheehy

Jeanne_Sheehy.jpgChief Marketing Officer

Jeanne Sheehy is Bostrom’s Chief Marketing Officer and serves as Director of Communications and Operations for one of Bostrom’s clients. She creates and implements integrated marketing plans for Bostrom clients, including new branding initiatives, website redesigns, non-dues revenue generation, and social and mobile media campaign development. With more than 20 years of marketing and communications experience, Jeanne is a recognized expert in integrated marketing communications, global marketing, social media, mobile and website strategy and has presented at several national and regional conferences. She earned her MBA from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri and her bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Missouri. Jeanne is the Treasurer of the AMC Institute, the trade association for association management companies (AMCs). Her interests include ballet, yoga, theater and anything to do with a spa. Her favorite Chicago places include Second City, Steppenwolf, Topo Gigio and Lake Michigan.

Susan Tinnish, PhD

sue_tinnish.jpgStrategist and Consultant
Minding Your Business

Susan Tinnish, PhD, works with associations at Minding Your Business to solve their challenges related to strategy, membership engagement, marketing and communication and meeting/event strategies. She formerly served as the Dean at Kendall College’s School of Hospitality Mangagement and International School of Business. She is a published author and contributes to industry publications.

Dr. Tinnish earned her PhD from Benedictine University. She holds an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance and marketing from University of Chicago’s Booth School and a B.S. in communication studies from Northwestern University.

Pauli Undesser

sue_tinnish.jpgExecutive Director
Water Quality Research Foundation (WQA)

Pauli Undesser brings a vast knowledge of water treatment technologies, standards, codes and regulations, along with high-level project management skills, to her role at WQA. Prior to accepting the role of WQA Executive Director, she served as WQA's Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs and Water Quality Research Foundation Coordinator. Under Pauli's leadership, WQA successfully coordinated a coalition to re-write and simplify industry product certification laws in California, launched an unprecedented capital campaign for its foundation and developed an internal toxicology program. Pauli holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master’s degree in Biochemistry from Northern Illinois University, and is also a Certified Association Executive (CAE).

Kelsey Vatsaas

Emily_Viles.jpgManaging Consultant
Clifton Larson Allen

Kelsey is a Manager in CliftonLarsonAllen’s Public Sector Group. Kelsey has a background in public accounting and leverages these skills to assist nonprofits and state and local governments across the country in strategic and business planning, organizational assessments, operational efficiency, financial reporting, and governance evaluations.

Kelsey’s experience includes planning, project managing and executing projects including:

Helping nonprofits think about and plan for their strategic and financial futures.

Conducting assessments of organizations and identifying opportunities to redesign future strategies and/or operations.

Improving clarity and accuracy of financial reporting to better inform board and managerial decisions

Reorganizing finance and operational departments for increased productivity, autonomy, and efficiency

Providing market research and proven practices to challenge the status quo and revitalize nonprofit operations

Performing financial analysis and benchmarking to highlight or support key issues and trending concernsPolicy and procedure development.


Certified Public Accountant in the State of Minnesota

Masters of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN

Bachelors of Science in Accounting from Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO

Emily Viles

Emily_Viles.jpgMeeting Technology Coordinator
AMPED Association Management

Emily is an experienced meeting technology coordinator on the AMPED Association Management Meetings Team. In this role, she manages her clients’ event technology needs, such as their registration, speaker and abstract management systems, as well as their event websites and mobile apps. Emily was selected as one of 25 participants for the 2017 NextGen Summit through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and launched the Young Professional Task Force for Wisconsin Society of Association Executives (WSAE), for which she now serves as Co-Chair. She has written on AMS selection, abstract management systems, and client transitions for her company’s blog, AMPED Up, and has been featured in WSAE’s VantagePoint. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Aaron Wolowiec

Aaron Wolowiec

Aaron Wolowiec is a learning strategist and meetings coach for leading trade associations and individual membership societies across the United States. Committed to the latest research and trends on learning, intentional networking environments and meaningful transfer exercises, he launched Event Garde, a professional development consultancy, in 2011. Aaron earned a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University (CMU). He’s also a certified association executive (CAE), a certified meeting professional (CMP) and a certified tourism ambassador (CTA), as well as an Association for Talent Development (ATD) master instructional designer. An active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Aaron is past chairman of both the Professional Development Section Council (PDSC) and the Young Association Executives Committee (YAEC), as well as a 2009-2011 Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) scholar. Currently, he serves the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) as a top-rated Academy of Association Management faculty member on professional development and as the lead CMP Prep Course instructional designer/facilitator. Aaron is also a nationally recognized presenter on professional development, meetings and events-related topics. His contributions to the meetings industry earned Aaron the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) top #CMP30 Influencer Award in 2015. Likewise, he’s served on the Michigan Meetings + Events editorial advisory board and has written a regular column for the magazine called, “The Meetings Coach.” In addition to maintaining the Event Garde blog, featured in both Alltop and Association Universe, Aaron has contributed to such national publications as Association Adviser, Associations Now, BizBash and Meetings & Conventions. When he isn’t traveling, Aaron enjoys exploring the local food and drink scene, as well as transforming his 1912 Spanish Revival house into a tranquil home. He is currently co-writing a learner engagement e-book and pursuing certification as a Technology of Participation (ToP) facilitator with the Institute of Cultural Affairs. Aaron lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Jessica Watson

Jessica_Watson.jpgSocial Media & Graphics Intern

Jessica Watson is a Social Media and Graphics Intern at AAG. She is interested in visual communication and has recently started to explore various mediums including graphic design, video production, and user experience. Jessica uses dynamic visual elements to create posts for different social media platforms. She strives to continue learning and enjoys staying up-to-date with the latest digital trends. When she is not scrolling through Instagram, Jessica is working towards her degree in Illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Jim Zaniello, FASAE

Jim ZanielloPresident and Founder
Vetted Solutions

Jim Zaniello, FASAE, is president and founder of Vetted Solutions, a specialist executive search firm. Zaniello possesses a unique understanding of the executive search process, developed through over 25 years of recruiting and association experience. Before Vetted Solutions was founded, Zaniello spent 10 years conducting searches at a leading Washington, DC-area executive search firm focusing exclusively on associations and non-profits. He leveraged his deep network of contacts to successfully fill hundreds of executive-level non- profit positions. As a senior executive with association management giant SmithBucklin, he served as executive director of the OsteoArthritis Research Society International, executive director for the start-up Community Financial Services Association, and interim executive director for the American Federation of Medical Research. Zaniello developed an intimate understanding of the complex demands of the executive office through his own experience as executive director at several associations and nonprofits. Zaniello received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from St. Bonaventure University. Zaniello is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives and was named a Fellow of the Society in 2016. He has served as Chair of the organization’s political action committee (APAC), as well as its Foundation Development Committee. He currently chairs the Welcoming Environment Committee at Association Forum. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Community Health Accreditation Partner, SeniorNet, and the St. Bonaventure University National Alumni Association Board as well as the Advisory Council of the Russell J. Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure.