Our theme will be announced soon and tickets will go on sale around the same time.
Father | Brother | Uncle | Son | Entrepreneur | Certified Drone Pilot | Author | Educator
Life's my canvas, and I paint it with vibrant experiences. As a dedicated family man, entrepreneur, and creative spirit, I embrace each role with passion, resilience, and a love for helping others. I'm a graduate of the "School of Hard Knocks." My journey has been a winding road of learning, where I've honed my skills as a barber, certified drone pilot, and author. Each step has been an opportunity for reinvention and growth. My greatest achievements come by way of touching lives thru sharing my personal stories and experiences to inspire others. Beyond my God given talents, I find solace in basketball, music, fishing and working out. This fuels my creativity and keeps my spirit thriving. My life's motto is simple: "Every setback is a setup for a comeback." I believe challenges are opportunities in disguise, and I'm here to seize them.
Fueled by local coffee and big dreams, this dynamic mom of three is on a mission to help you get unstuck! After working in higher education, she launched Lead With Intention® and has researched, coached, and trained teams around the world on the science of Emotional Endurance to enhance their fulfillment. Leslie has served on the leadership team for TEDxSacramento and volunteered in Jordan teaching leadership in local schools. After becoming a parent, she created The Makers Place™, Sacramento’s first coworking space with onsite childcare offering flexible solutions for local families. Leslie graduated from UCLA with her Bachelor’s in Mass Communications and a Master's of Education and is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. She is a novice pickleball player and an expert bargain shopper! Leslie lives in Northern California with her family, and travels internationally for coaching, organizational trainings, and retreat facilitation.
Matthew Bounds, also known as Your Barefoot Neighbor, is a cookbook author and social media creator who creates space for everyone in his kitchen. Matthew taught himself to cook during the 2020 pandemic and now takes an inclusive and accessible approach to getting dinner on the table, working to remove the stigma from taking shortcuts and using pre-made ingredients when necessary. He believes there are no dumb questions when it comes to kitchen skills, and together with his audience, tries to make feeding ourselves a little less intimidating. Matthew rallies his online community to raise money for special causes, buy out Amazon wishlists for kids in the foster system, and flock to support small businesses. He says there is enough room for all of us in the social media realm and uses his platform to cheer on fellow content creators, rather than viewing them as competition. Known for his colorful language, Matthew also draws a hard line on bad behavior and enforces it. Matthew lives in Gulfport, MS with his husband of 16 years, CJ. He is already planning a second book, which will highlight the rich culture of the gulf coast area he calls home.
Tom Cobin has been speaking publicly for more than half a century! In 7th grade, he started winning speech contests across the NYC area. In high school debate, he reached State Finals. He majored in journalism at NYU, where he was a radio reporter, anchor, talk show host, and DJ. Even before graduation, he was hired as a writer at WCBS-TV, ultimately advancing to Weekend Producer. He later became an Investigative Reporter, Weathercaster, and Anchor. He has won an Emmy Award, two Edward R. Murrow Awards -- among the most prestigious in journalism -- and was named “Reporter of the Year” by the Virginia Associated Press. After a 20-year TV news career, Tom became a top-performing pharmaceutical sales representative, and was promoted to National Trainer: a role in which he gave Presentation Skills Workshops for field reps. Tom now brings his extensive experience to a career as a speaker and coach, helping others to realize their own goals and dreams by communicating more effectively.
Marci Elliott has a natural curiosity and genuine interest in hearing what people have to say. It was beneficial when she worked as a TV news co-anchor, reporter, writer, and producer for New York and Ohio ABC and NBC network affiliates. It still is in her current capacity as a psychotherapist and life coach based out of Orlando, Florida. When not talking with clients, she's talking into a microphone - as a versatile voiceover actress. Back in New York, her lifelong dedication to animals was put to good use creating and hosting a weekly responsible pet ownership educational TV segment. Also working with twelve animal shelters in the three-state viewing area, hundreds of dogs and cats were given a second chance at life versus being killed - simply for lack of a home. As a result of her work, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society honored her with the 1990 Gold Medallion Award. A graduate of Kent State University and Troy University, Marci lives with several rescued fur kids and spends a lot of time wiping pawprints off her glass tables and windows.
Dan got his start at summer camp working with at-risk youth in places like Camden, Newark and Atlantic City before going on to run programming and lead overnight and day camps for children with intellectual and physical disabilities. Since then his career has included fundraising for Federally Qualified Health Centers and doing community organizing and anti-poverty work. In December 2019, Dan began serving as the first Executive Director of the Governor of Pennsylvania’s new Office of Advocacy and Reform where he wrote the state’s Trauma-Informed PA Plan, led Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and worked to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents from the impacts of COVID-19. He left that role in February 2022 to become the President & CEO of Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, FL, a free camp for children with serious illnesses founded by Paul Newman and General Norman Schwarzkopf in 1996.
Mellisa McHaffie, a visionary entrepreneur and the owner of Crafted Scent Bar since 2021, is on a mission to unlock the hidden potential of our sense of smell and its profound impact on our daily lives. She left her 27 year career in banking because of a call to connect with others again along with a deep-rooted fascination with scents dating back to her beginnings in candle-making in 1998. Mellisa combines her passion for scents and our olfactory system with her commitment to community, family and faith. Her TEDx talk will inspire you to rediscover the overlooked power of scent, grounding us in the present moment and forging connections. Mellisa's relentless dedication to Crafted Scent Bar has earned her recognition in both media and an engaged online community, solidifying her position as a leader in the world of sensory experiences.
Lance Otto is not just an Elementary Education Teacher; he positively impacts the world through his influential and inspirational teaching. For over 25 years, Lance has poured his heart into what he believes matters most: Kids, Parents, and his Fellow Educators. He doesn't merely shape minds; he molds the future. Through his media brand, Best Kids Solutions, Lance combines timeless wisdom with today's needs, uplifting everyone with his vital T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. child success principles. His many awards range from the Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year to the Walmart Teacher of the Year. These are not just honors but a testament to his relentless pursuit of educational excellence. As a Title 1 educator, his profound work helping students with disabilities along with at-risk youth showcases his deep commitment to child success. Lance believes that by fully supporting our Children, Parents, and Teachers, we do more than just educate; we open a world of limitless human potential.
Kyra Peralte is the visionary Creator of The Traveling Diary, an innovative global storytelling platform that unites women from over 30 countries. Through this community, participants share intimate slices of life, penning their experiences in physical diaries that journey from one individual to another via mail. Outside of this literary venture, Kyra showcases her diverse talents as an Indie mobile game developer with her creation, Mermaid Quest, available for both iOS and Android users. Her commitment to fostering connection, whether through shared stories or interactive games, underscores her unique approach among creators
Dotti Groover–Skipper believes in dynamic living through servant leadership! Since graduating from the University of South Florida, she has facilitated expert programming to impact positive policy change in addiction, sex trade and helped develop numerous sustainable community coalitions. She is founder of HeartDance Foundation which serves men, women and children exploited in the sex industry and strategizes legislation on anti-human trafficking initiatives. Groover-Skipper is an ordained missionary and has operated at the national level to mobilize and train faith communities to engage in issues of addiction, human rights and social justice. She has received numerous awards for her tireless anti-trafficking efforts and most recently, recipient of The Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for her 40 years of dedicated service. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Roger. Together they have seven grown children and are grandparents of three.
Timothy M. Stafford, Ph.D., serves as the Director of Graduate Online Academic Affairs, the Director of Instructional Design and Online Instruction, the Director of the Office of Graduate Education and Research, and the Program Director for the MS in Instructional Design and Technology program at St. Thomas University. With a Ph.D. and MS in Instructional Design for Online Learning, Dr. Stafford is a recognized expert in instructional design, educational technology, virtual instruction, virtual education, digital literacy, digital course design, and educational futuring. He has over 30 years of experience in educational leadership, instruction, and curriculum and course development in higher education, K–12, and multiple for-profit and not-for-profit industries. He has contributed to the creation of thousands of online courses across more than a dozen different industries.
Amy Sweezey is a meteorologist, author, and public speaker. She spent nearly 30 years in full-time broadcast news before leaving in 2020 to pursue her “What’s Next.” She now focuses on speaking and freelancing for various companies worldwide. Her work includes the multi-media platforms of Growing Bolder, weather consulting for Carnival Cruise Lines, and broadcast meteorology for Spectrum News 13 in Orlando. Amy has authored two children’s books about weather, one fiction, and one nonfiction, and created two weather workbooks based on Florida state standards for science and weather. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and three teenagers.
Matrick Thorpe (think Patrick with an "M") is a 16 year old contemporary/classical cellist from Sarasota, Florida. His irrepressible love for music performance, education and working with others has won him several scholarships. awards and grants that have led him to performing in 22 countries. While still a student himself, he works with several nonprofits, schools and libraries, hoping to inspire others to pursue the arts or at the very least... listen to more music. And though he performs with several orchestras, he goes out of his way to perform in the streets because he believes music should be shared with everyone.
Lauren Wittenberg Weiner became an accidental entrepreneur when she quit her White House job to follow her husband on military orders to Italy. Once there, she discovered that military spouses were prohibited from holding professional-level jobs. She started WWC Global, and she and her team grew to $100m in annual revenue before selling it to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in 2022. In 2018, WWC Global won the largest-ever contract to a woman-owned business in US Special Operations Command headquarters history— the headquarters for the Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets—making WWC Global one of the most successful women-owned small businesses in the government contracting space. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a Ph.D. in psychology from Dartmouth College. She lives in Tampa Bay with her family, where she sits on the Board of multiple non-profits, acts as primary caregiver for her aging parents, and is a loud and proud hockey mom.
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