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40th Annual Conference Presenters
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The following is a list of presenters at the ACCED-I 40th Annual Conference. New bios will be added as we receive them.


Jade Simmons, Powerhouse Speaker, World-Class Concert Artist & Creator of Transformational MainStage Experiences

What do the most superlative brands, the world’s most renowned stages, and the most prestigious conferences have in common? They’re bringing in the one and only Jade Simmons! 

Jade spent the first few years of her career performing as a classical concert pianist. Following an artistic epiphany, she pivoted from playing the piano to impress audiences, to using the piano as the vehicle by which to provide the inspiration, information and entertainment that profoundly moves them instead. The results have been, well… darn impressive!

No stranger to pushing boundaries to see bold results, this concert pianist turned world changer is brought in by the likes of corporations like Mass Mutual, Royal Bank of Canada, DOW, Raytheon, the Hershey Company, Genentech, Valic, Pfizer and Nationwide to redefine purpose, inspire seismic shifts in mindset and activate audiences to go out and instantly start living more consequential lives of impact. 

The one-of-a-kind artist has built a one-of-a-kind career garnering diverse recognition from unlikely places. She’s played renowned halls, including the hallowed ones of the White House and the US Supreme Court and her genre-bending concert adventures that span Rachmaninoff to Rap attract diverse audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  For her work on and away from the stage, Essence magazine featured Jade alongside former First Lady Michelle Obama as a part of their Style & Substance List. As one of the rare classical artists invited to perform at the taste-making South by Southwest Festival, her show was ultimately branded one of the "Best of SXSW 2014". She’s starred in a Broadway style musical called Lillete’s Rhythm Club and she can be heard portraying Nina Simone’s classical years in the Oscar-nominated documentary What Happened Miss Simone? 

In her inimitable career as a concert pianist and as a media host, Jade has remained committed to expanding the boundaries of Classical music and is the new host of shows for both American Public Media and NYC’s top-rated station WQXR, airing in 2019.


Corinne Hancock, Chaos Coach and Keynote Speaker

Corinne Hancock is a globally recognized expert in building world-class leaders, effective teams, and cultural proficiency in chaotic environments. With over a decade of international aid and development
experience working around the world developing bold leaders, building highly effective teams, delivering medical trainings and delivering medical care.

Corinne translates her expertise from working in chaotic environments into REAL RESULTS through EFFECTIVE and INTERACTIVE keynote presentations, corporate trainings and executive coaching, helping organizations and individuals THRIVE IN CHAOS.

Corinne Hancock is the former Director of Clinics and Training Programs for Project C.U.R.E., a global leader in bringing medical aid to low-income countries. She brought together multi-generational, multi-cultural teams to train leaders, open clinics and deliver medical care in some of the most remote locations on the planet. Corinne is a certified leadership coach and has worked on numerous contracts with the Department of State and Department of Defense, helping develop the next generation of African Leaders and improve health care systems in some of the most underserved, war torn parts of our world. She is now considered a leader in disrupting the model of aid in Africa. She regularly travels to countries across the African continent working with everyone from heads of state to tribal elders; from US Ambassadors to remote village community members. She challenges them all to create a better way to bring sustainable success to the areas that need it the most. She has worked in conjunction with several for-profit and non-governmental organizations to help them Thrive in Chaos. Corinne is the Founder of The Curiosity Project, a nonprofit organization that provides health and entrepreneurial opportunities in countries where people have limited access to resources.



Michael J. Lyons, Speaker and Author

Michael J. Lyons is a Professional Speaker, Author, Actor and Hospitality Industry Consultant

Before going out on his own in 2014, he served as Exhibition Director for British company Reed Exhibitions - the world’s largest trade show organizer – with responsibility for the management of IBTM America, a major meetings industry exhibition.

Mike is a highly respected, well-known veteran of the meetings/travel industry. His diverse background, spanning more than four decades, includes senior level posts with some of the industry’s best known names. Besides Reed, he has held executive positions with Carlson Wagonlit Travel, EGR International, and Apple Vacations, among others. He also co-founded and was CEO of Global Events Partners, Philadelphia.

Over the years Lyons has been an active participant in the following hospitality industry organizations: MPI, PCMA, GBTA, ILEA, HSMAI, SITE, ASAE and ADMEI. He served two terms on the Philadelphia MPI chapter board as VP Finance, was named their Supplier of the Year, and received the chapter’s Partner Award twice. He served on the Board of Directors of Discover PHL for eight years, and also sat on their Marketing and International committees. During that same period he was a member of the Advisory Board of Visit Philadelphia.

Mike is the author of numerous articles in industry trade journals and consumer magazines and is frequently sought out by the media as an expert in the meetings/travel business. He co-wrote the chapter on Marketing Strategies in the book “Best Practices in Destination Management” and the chapter titled “Making ROI-Based Decisions in Today’s Business Environment” in the business book “Improving the Profitability of Your Company”.

On the academic front, he has been an adjunct professor at Temple University, teaching in their Event Leadership Executive Certificate Program.

In 2017, he released his book "Set Yourself Free: Daydream it... Believe it... Achieve it!" to widespread acclaim. The tome is a call to action to people who are not fulfilling their potential, feel stuck and aren't sure what to do about it. Drawing from his own life experiences and stories of well-known people who have struggled on their road to success, SYF outlines tangible and achievable steps that position the reader to pursue goals they might feel are outside their grasp. Seven time Emmy Award winner/ABC-TV correspondent John Quiñones wrote the Foreword.

As a professional actor, Mike has numerous credits in major feature films, TV shows, commercials and more than 350 live appearances on home shopping network QVC as a product host. His credits include speaking parts in “The Sixth Sense”, “All My Children, “Veep” (HBO), “What Would You Do”,  “Arrest & Trial”,  “House of Cards” (playing the Speaker of the House), and “Outsiders” among others.

A motivational speaker since 2009, Mike has given talks to more than 100 groups across the U.S. and abroad on how to achieve goals, pursue your passion and craft a strong Personal Brand.



Paul H. Dean, Chief of Police/Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Risk Management, University of New Hampshire Police Department


Paul H. Deanis the Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and Risk Management for the University of New Hampshire. Chief Dean is a 34 year veteran of law enforcement and holds a Master’s of Science in Leadership and, Bachelors of Science with honors in Criminal Justice Management from Granite State College. Chief Dean is a graduate of the 186th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA and The Babson College Command Officer Training program in Wellesley MA.


Chief Dean serves as an adjunct instructor for the Great Bay Community College-Criminal Justice and Homeland Security Program and, the University of New Hampshire Homeland Security Program. Chief Dean served as an adjunct instructor for Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) in collaboration with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Homeland Security Program, as an instructor in terrorism and emergency management related issues.


Chief Dean services on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and as co-chair of the IACLEA Homeland Security & Domestic Preparedness Committee.


Chief Dean is the President of the New Hampshire Campus Law Enforcement Administrators Association, Executive Board member of the NH Chiefs of Police-Strafford County Representative, Advisory Board member of the FBI National Academy in Quantico VA and, The United States Department of Homeland Security State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council (SLTGCC) and as an Executive Board member of the NH Joint Terrorism Task Force.


Chief Dean serves on numerous committees at the University of New Hampshire, to include the Student/Faculty/Staff Behavioral Intervention Teams, Campus Climate Task Force, Transportation Safety and, Chairs the University Emergency Group.  

John Whelan, Vice President for Human Resources, Indiana University 

John Whelan is the Vice President for Human Resources at Indiana University and has been IU’s chief human resources officer since June 2014.  His top priorities have been to build a stronger and more collaborative HR function, to improve HR’s customer service and process efficiency, and to increase the engagement of IU’s 23,000 employees across the school’s seven campuses.

Prior to IU, John was the Vice President for Human Resources at Baylor University.  He has also held HR leadership positions at the University of Notre Dame, Bristol-Myers Squibb, The Gillette Company, and Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

John earned a BA and JD from the University of Notre Dame.  He is a member of the national board of directors for CUPA-HR (College and University Professional Association for Human Resources) and recently served as the board’s chair. 



Johni Amos, Associate Director, Conferences & Guest Services, American University

Johni Amos has been at American University for four years. She is the Associate Director of Conference Administration and Fiscal Affairs for University Conference & Guest Services. In addition to conferences, Johni has worked in various areas of Student Affairs including Residence Life, Housing, and Leadership. She received her B.A. in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Ohio Northern University, her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel from Kent State University, and her PhD in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. 

Kimberly Araya, Director, American University

Kim Araya is the Director of University Conference & Guest Services at American University in Washington, DC.  Prior to her coming to American University in January of 2014, her previous position for 10.5 yrs was the Director of Conference & Event Services at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota.  She was instrumental in getting the One-Stop Shop concept set-up on the UofMN campus.  She currently opened AU’s new conference center in the Summer of 2017. Kim is currently serving as a board member for ACCED-I, has served two years as the Region 5 Director and has served on various committees of ACCED-I since 2005.  She works closely with colleagues in various Convention and Visitors Bureaus, area hotels, as well as other Universities in the DC/MD area to help market the surrounding cities as well as her University.

Kavinda Arthenayake, Director of College Events & Conference Services, Rhode Island College 

Kavinda Arthenayake is the Director of College Events & Conference Services, Commencement at Rhode Island College since May, 2018. Prior to that, he worked as the Director of Conference Services,Commencement, Transportation Services, Printing & Mailing at Oregon State University for 15 years and directed Commencement for 13 years. In addition, he worked in Conferences and Events at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Evergreen State College and also as the Director of Alumni Relations at his Alma Mater Southern Oregon University where he received his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees.


Elijah Ajayi, Associate Director of Conference Services, Emory University  

Elijah Ajayi is the Associate Director of Conference Services at Emory University. He started working in the Conferences Office in 2016 after working nine years in Athletics at Emory University. He currently oversees the Summer Intern Housing Program, Guest Housing, and many more duties as assigned. The Summer Intern Housing Program (SIHP, pronounced “sih-hip”) has seen steady growth over the years with over 25 groups each summer that equates to over 600 interns each summer.


Hilary Brenneman, MBA, Conference Manger, University of Colorado Boulder

Hilary joined the University of Colorado Boulder Conference Services Team in 2018, after working in collegiate conferencing for 10 years at Fort Lewis College. In her current role as Conference Manager, Hilary gets to split her time working with our guests and with our student staff. Hilary earned her bachelor’s degree in Art and Art History from Augustana College in 2008 and her master’s degree in Business Administration and Hospitality from Johnson & Wales University in 2018. In her spare time, Hilary loves to craft, read, run and dream about her next big travel adventure.

Trish Carlson, Senior Director of Campus Services, Loyola Marymount University  

Trish Carlson is the Senior Director of Campus Services at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she has worked for 20 years.  As Sr. Director, she is responsible for the oversight of the Conference & Event Services Department as well as the LMU Child Care Center.  She is also currently responsible for all Commencement logistics. Her professional background includes hotel sales and auto show coordination for Nissan and Infiniti.  Trish is also a proud Past President of ACCED-I.    



Heather Cockrum, Executive Assistant to the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Heather Cockrum is a native East Tennessean who has coordinated special events at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for fourteen years. In her current role as the executive assistant to the Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, she oversees events for faculty, academic administrators, and VIP guests. In 2012, she recognized a need to connect event/meeting planners across campus. What began as an initial luncheon to offer space for conversation between 15 individuals has grown to twice-a-month lunch and learns and other networking opportunities for more than 200 planners across two campuses. Challenged by two takeaways from the 2017 ACCED-I annual conference to “be the indispensable resource on campus” related to events and to “take on more than your job description,” Heather designed and instructed two courses related to event planning through the university’s Office of Employee and Organizational Development. She also created and coordinates an annual conference for UT meeting and event planners, sponsored by UT’s Office of Human Resources.  


Joanne Dennison, MSEd, CMP 

Joanne started her career as a college administrator, where she learned how to plan and implement small events (residence halls) and large events (Commencement, Homecoming, Orientation), and how colleges and universities “work” (how many signatures does it take to get a check cut?).

Since then she has owned her own business, originally focused on the planning of meetings and events. Returning to her roots as an educator, she now spends more of her time in the front of the meeting room. Her speaking takes her into two different worlds.

Through one division of her company, The MeetGuide, she is best known for being an expert educator in the event and meeting planning field, having presented throughout the US in addition to Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, China, Thailand and even a cruise to The Bahamas. Joanne has presented for 20 years for MPI Global and chapter events, in addition to other industry organizations and events.

At her clients' request, Joanne expanded to include personal and professional development topics. She has been affectionately tagged “The Guidance Counselor for Grown Ups" where she works with individuals and organizations to answer “What’s Next?”.

A proud Member of MPI, she has served in many chapter leadership positions.  She earned her membership in the National Speakers Association (NSA) in 2001 and remains a member.

Most fun fact? She once appeared as the event planner on a Food Network television show.


Bobby Dutton, Director, GBM6

Bobby Dutton created GrooveBoston in 2004, built on the statement "Music is No Longer a Spectator Sport." His team (now called GBM6) has since produced 10 US concert tours, and now delivers some of the biggest major traditions on college campuses, with some of the biggest artists in the world.

Bobby's pioneering work on "The New Concert Model" has won him awards internationally, and he was voted one of the "Top 25 Young Event Pros to Watch" by Special Events Magazine.

His team is all about making people happy, through legendary events.

Daniel L. Dykstra, Director, Conference Services, University of Colorado Boulder

Dan Dykstra brings 30 years of collegiate conference and event planning expertise to Conference Services at the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to his arrival, Dan spent 18 years as Director at Georgia Tech building a highly successful and nationally recognized conference services operation. He also held conference and events positions at his Alma Mater, Colorado State University.

Dan continues to be an advocate for the collegiate conference and events industry, and enjoys both the opportunities and challenges of this profession.  He has been active in Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I). Dan is an ACCED-I Past President and a current member of the Nominations Committee.  A highlight of his career is when he was named recipient of the 2016 Jack Thornton Distinguished Service Award. He is a frequent presenter for webcasts, educational forums, regional meetings and annual conferences for ACCED-I and a variety of affiliated associations. Dan has also contributed to several articles focusing on collegiate and hospitality issues, trends and hot topics.

Alicia Q. Ferguson, Event Coordinator, Temple University 

Alicia Q. Ferguson was born Philadelphia, PA. She graduated Overbrook High School and received her Bachelors of Arts in History from Hampton University in Hampton, VA. Returning home to Philadelphia she began working a temporary job at Temple University as a reservations coordinator. Since that time she has transitions into an Event Coordinator for the Howard Gittis Student Center where she is still currently employed. She decided to begin taking classes towards her Master’s Degree at Temple University.

While at Temple she has helped to shape the department by creating reservations policies that help to ensure Student Orgs, University Departments, and External Clients have a great planning experience. Additionally, she has increased external revenue for the department exceeding $170,000 per year. She finds time to partner with other department in student affairs including serving as a hearing officer for the office of conduct, diamond accreditation board for Fraternity and Sorority Life, National Coming out week committee, office recognition committee, and the office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership.    

In addition to working a full time position she also works with Touch of Elegance catering and coordination business, as an Event Planner. In her spare time, she loves doing Loc (hair) maintenance for a select number of clients monthly. While holding three jobs she still finds time to work for her church on various auxiliaries including the Trustee Board. She is the youngest member to be inducted on the board of Trustees and the church’s official board. Additionally, she is an avid billiards (pool) shooter holding a world record of 3rd place in 2018.

Matt Florian, Founder, CEO, Eris Enterprise, LLC.  

Matt Florian, MBA, has made his career helping organizations around the world unleash their data to achieve greater insights and customer awareness of their products and services. For many organizations, capturing data is perceived as important, but the reasons are not always clearly specified. Consequently, data collection and utilization are unnecessarily delayed, and the benefits of these actions are unrealized. Mr. Florian has worked with clients, large and small, to move their data management into a cohesive and executable strategy. These transformations have helped clients build prospect analytics for growth, pricing models for revenue maximization, and operational analysis to improve their bottom line. He works closely with his clients to create a pragmatic strategy that fits the culture of the organization.

Most recently, he founded Eris Enterprise, LLC, a data analytics company working with organizations to improve their data management and optimization. Over the past 2 years, Eris Enterprise has engaged with associations and conference planners to develop innovative strategies and products that improve operations, data gathering, and analytics.


Rob Foreman, Director of Conference & Event Services, Saint Anselm College 

Rob Foreman is the Director of Conference & Event Services at Saint Anselm College in Manchester New Hampshire.  His 25+ years of higher education experience in Student Activities, Housing & Residence Life, First Year Programs, and Conference & Event Services has landed him at variety of colleges and universities in North Carolina, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.  Rob has presented award winning programs at state, regional and national conferences, developed and presented a Webinar titled “Generating Revenue- Finding Campus Opportunities”, has been featured in a New York Times article titled “Corporate Events on Campus, and has authored articles for national publications dealing with generating revenue and customer service.  In addition to his regular work responsibilities, he has also worked for the NFL and the Super Bowl XXXVIII Host Committee, attended Disney University, and serves his community volunteering with local groups and coaching youth.


Alan Frizzell, Conference Services Manager, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Alan Frizzell has served as a Conference Services Manager at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 2014.  Prior to joining Conference Services, he served as a Residence Director at UNL for seven years.  He focuses on working with youth athletic and religious events and manages the technology and system operations for Conference Services.  Alan received his bachelor’s degree in History at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and his master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.     



Nikki Garces, Director of University Relations, Varsity Spirit

Nikki Garces is the Director of University Relations at Varsity Spirit. She has worked directly with Conference and Event, Housing, Dining and Athletic Directors for over 20 years within Varsity’s University Relations Department. In addition to University Relations, she trains our customer service teams, is an integral part of our system development team and strives to improve the customer experience through processes, development, and training.  She is a native Memphian and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Memphis. Nikki also served 12 years as a medic in the Tennessee Army National Guard finishing her duties as a Staff Sergeant with one combat deployment. She loves watching her children succeed at what they are passionate about which includes competitive baseball and gymnastics, so far!

Eric George, Client Success Manager, Kinetic Software

Raised in Western North Carolina, Eric grew up on-site of a conference center. At the age of 13, Eric began working at the conference center, working his way through every department: grounds, kitchen, guest services, maintenance, recreation staff, reservations and management.

With over 20 years of working experience at multiple conference and retreat centers, Eric has now taken his passion to help others recognize their potential and maximize opportunities within both the academic and non-academic industries. His dedication hasn’t changed, only his target.


Leslie Gerretse, Senior Manager, University of California, Riverside

As the senior manager of hospitality services at the University of California, Riverside, Leslie Gerretse is dedicated to driving positive change at every opportunity. She believes you can improve customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and revenue by inspiring your staff and actively collaborating across teams. Leslie's approach has been tested and honed since she began working in hospitality in 2002—first at boutique hotels, then in professional sports, philanthropy, and higher education. Outside work, Leslie enjoys cooking, traveling with her husband, and walking her dog, Freddie Mercury.


Phil Gin, CMP, CMM, Director of Account Management & Risk Mitigation, Stanford University

Phil’s experience spans over 25 years in university conference operations at three different higher education institutions, including 14 years as the Executive Director of Stanford Conferences.  His professional distinctions include earning both the Certified Meetings Professional (CMP) designation through the Conventions Industry Council (CIC) and the Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM)  through Meeting Professionals International (MPI) in 2010.  He also has a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.  Phil is a past-president of ACCED-I, and he served on the Board of Directors for the association for nine years. 

With a life-long career path devoted to education, and he considers himself an educator with significant experience and knowledge in the business constructs of higher education.  In the field of university conference operations specifically, Phil’s work to date is recognized for his expertise and accomplishments in service models and processes, business growth and service expansion, staff development and leadership development, and entrepreneurialism and innovation.  Phil’s current responsibilities are largely devoted to protecting his university from exposure to risks and liability, particularly where minors may be involved.

Sarah Heenan, Conference and Outreach Manager, NC State University 

Sarah Heenan is Conference and Outreach Manager at NC State University. With over 10 years of experience in the field of higher education, both in private and public universities, Sarah has a diverse professional background from bookstore management to student affairs. Since arriving at NC State in April 2018, Sarah has welcomed and supported guests and clients through the planning and implementation stages of their camps and conferences, coordinating on-site logistics and campus services. Outside of work, you can find Sarah with her partner and their two dogs, Sage and Oliver, playing with their nieces and nephews, building furniture, and spontaneously traveling. 

Jim Hodges, Director of Conference & Event Services, Duke University

Jim is the Director of Conference & Event Services within the Student Union at Duke University.  His team coordinates space reservations, meetings,  large-scale events and University Ceremonies, runs registration services, hosts summer programs and overseeing facility operations for the student union.  Additionally his team handles event reservations and operations for the alumni and visitors center.  He’s a long time ACCED-I member and has served in various leadership positions.



Steven W. Hoffman, The Tax Translator, MT, CFP, EA

Steve is a tax professional with many years of experience and education and is dedicated to providing education and consulting on taxes to colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations.

He has served as Tax Manager of George Washington University, the largest nonprofit educational organization in Washington, DC.  He is a former Finance in the Business and Finance Division at West Virginia University.  He also served for six years as the first ever Director of Taxation at The Ohio State University, the largest land grant university in the US.  He is editor and publisher of the Tax Update Newsletter for Higher Education that is distributed to colleges and universities around the United States.  His background includes 15 years with the IRS and he is an Enrolled Agent Before the IRS.  He has been employed in multiple areas of taxation such as local government, federal government, nonprofit organizations, and corporate taxation.

He was appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury to serve on the Advisory Committee for Taxation for the Tax Exempt/Governmental Entities Division of the IRS where he received the Commissioners Award and also on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel of the IRS.  Steve is also a Certified Financial Planner and graduated with a Master of Science in Taxation Degree from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.  He has been a member of the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers and served on the Doctoral and Research Institutions committee.  He has presented at the SACUBO, CACUBO and EACUBO Annual Meetings, SACUBO Drive In Workshops, ACUA, ACCED-I and participated in NACUBO presentations.  In addition, he has provided seminars and workshops for various other organizations.  With his extensive experience with the IRS and as Tax Manager for 3 universities, Steve is well versed in ‘tax controversy’ – meaning that he successfully represents colleges and universities before the IRS in audit situations.

Steve is an accomplished speaker who has earned his membership in the National Speakers Association and whose focus is on the audience learning.  Known as the “The Tax Translator”, he makes tax law easily understood and has been called ‘Tax with Personality’.  He has been quoted in the USATODAY, and The Christian Science Monitor national newspapers, and the Baltimore Sun and the Dominion Post newspapers.  He has also appeared on WBOY- TV for a series of tax tips.  His book, “Taxation for Universities and Colleges: Six Steps to a Successful Tax Compliance Program” was recently published by Wiley Publishing.   His second book, ‘Resources from The Tax Translator” is over 400 pages of samples of policies related to tax, questionnaires, flowcharts, decision trees and other helpful articles to implement the six steps of a successful tax compliance program at your school.


Katrina Kenton, Manager of Campus Events and Conference Services, Mount St. Joseph University 

 Katrina Kenton is the Manager of Campus Events and Conference Services at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, OH, and is also the Communications Chair for ACCED-I Region 3. She currently manages a staff of 22 employees at “The Mount”, including clerical support, a set-up team, theatre technicians and student ushers. Over the past seven years, Katrina has opened new doors and opportunities to showcase her campus to thousands of people in an effort to overcome the label of “the best kept secret in Cincinnati.”

Katrina brings over 25 years’ experience in sales and customer service spanning the retail and hotel industries, as well as secondary and higher education. She has managed a sales force of 250 representatives of a direct-sale global company, helped to create the Concierge program for a 4-Star hotel in Cincinnati, was the Activities Director for an A+ rated high school in Florida of 3000 students, and was recently recognized as a “Phenomenal Woman of Mount St. Joseph University” for her leadership and accomplishments.

Two personal philosophies drive Katrina and her team’s success: “No is never the right answer,” and “Failure is not an option.” Honesty, Respect and Trust are at the core of every interaction she has with co-workers and clients, and her team is committed to those same values.  This team, and these values, have helped to generate over $1 million in gross revenue for The Mount in the past five years.  Thousands of guests come to her campus each year to experience Theatre productions, dance recitals, community programs, athletic games, academic competitions, summer conferences and more!

Most of Katrina’s annual revenue is from ‘repeat business’, which means The Mount has earned the client’s trust and exceeded the client’s expectations year after year. She is excited to share her experiences and hopes to inspire you to achieve your professional and financial goals.


Michael Kranitz, CEO, 

Michael Kranitz is a seasoned entrepreneur, who practiced corporate reorganization law for 12 years before venturing into software development and Internet services in the late 90's.

Kranitz is an adviser, dynamic speaker, software developer, software design expert and business creation authority. He brings a wide array of skills and experience to bear on business, including business development, marketing, creative deal structuring, IT strategy and new product deployment.

Kranitz has made guest appearances on Fox News, CNBC, Bloomberg, MSN and dozens of local television and radio programs nationwide. Kranitz serves as an entrepreneurship mentor for the University of Colorado and has presented to graduate and undergraduate business classes at Vanderbilt University, University of Iowa and University of Florida. He also serves on the Vanderbilt University Law School pre-admission screening team. Kranitz was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in the Rocky Mountain Region in 2008 for his creation of Kaango Classifieds, a syndicated ad platform for newspapers.

Having built and sold more than half a dozen businesses to the likes of Microsoft, Ford, Hearst Corporation, MediaNews Group, Wells Fargo and Internet Brands, Kranitz brings a broad and unique set of skills to the organizations with which he works.

In his past life, Kranitz performed stand-up comedy in clubs and dives throughout Florida and had the privilege of opening for Bob Hope in the SWAMP at the University of Florida's annual Gator Growl event. Kranitz enjoys chess, racquetball as well as building and flying large scale jet-powered radio controlled helicopters.


Stacie Kroll, Director of Compliance and Risk Management, Five Colleges, Inc.

Stacie Kroll is the Director of Compliance and Risk Management for Five Colleges, Incorporated. Stacie has been with Five Colleges since 2012 when she was hired as an Insurance and Claims Specialist, and she assumed a Risk Manager role in 2015. Stacie was promoted to Director in 2017. The Compliance and Risk Management office directly supports the four private members of the consortium; Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith College.

In this role, she has responsibility for all institutional compliance program implementation, enterprise risk management, and risk management and insurance operations. She also serves as Vice President for the colleges’ captive insurance company, Collegiate Catalyst Fund. Additionally. she serves in various leadership roles for her professional association, University and Risk Management Insurance Association (URMIA).

Prior to assuming her role at Five Colleges, Stacie was an Employment Practices Liability and Directors and Officers Liability Claims adjuster with Chubb Insurance Company. She holds a business management degree from Westfield State University and is a veteran of the United States Navy.

Marjorie Lemmon, DRM, ARM, CPCU, Risk Manager, Yale University 

Marjorie Lemmon has been the Risk Manager at Yale University since June, 2003. Prior to that, she was the risk manager for Ann Taylor Stores Corporation for almost 11 years. Her responsibilities at Yale University include oversight of the University’s risk financing and the operational risk management activities and initiatives throughout the campus. She also assists with the ERM activities. She is a member of the University’s Committee on Programs for Children and Youth, Joint Health and Safety Committee, Background Check Committee, Shop Safety Committee, International Operations and Compliance Committee and Traffic Safety Committee, among others. She is also the ranking member of the governor-appointed State of Connecticut Insurance and Risk Management Board, having served since 2000.  Before moving into risk management Ms. Lemmon began her career as an underwriter for two different insurance companies, including underwriting national construction accounts and universities. She is also very active in the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA), having served as URMIA's President from 2014-2015, as a member of the Board of Directors from 2008-2014 and, most recently co-Chairing the 2019 Annual Conference Committee and chairing the Honors Committee.  Ms. Lemmon earned her undergraduate degree from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Hartford. She has obtained the Associate in Risk Management (ARM), Associate in Underwriting (AU), Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), and Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designations.

Karen Lew Feirman, DHSc, LAT, ATC, Vice President of Varsity University and Varsity Camp Administration, Director of Safety for Varsity Spirit 

Karen is the Vice President of Varsity University and Varsity Camp Administration and also serves as the Director of Safety for Varsity Spirit.  In 1996, Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree and Certification for K-12 Health and Physical Education at the University of New Orleans. Karen earned her Masters of Education degree in Human Performance with an emphasis in Exercise Science in 1997 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Karen graduated from Nova Southeastern University in August, 2016 with a Doctor of Health Science degree.  

Karen was a longtime athletic trainer and camp manger for Varsity Spirit prior to moving into her full-time role. Karen’s interests include social emotion learning, ensuring the safety and well-being in your activites, Learning and Teaching Styles in Athletic Training and Drug and Alcohol use and abuse among college students and student athletes. Karen has numerous publications including, Athletic Training Exam Review: “A Student Guide to Success”, Sixth Edition, and has been published by the NATA and Cramer Athletics for her work in preventing and reducing injuries in cheerleading. She has participated as an athletic trainer and medical support staff for Varsity Spirit, including the National Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the London New Year’s Day Parade.

Tim Long, Director of Event Services, Azusa Pacific University  

Tim Long is a current CCEP candidate with two decades of knowledge and experience in nearly all facets of the Event Industry from operations and logistics, to catering, hotel operations and conferences. Tim completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton in Public Relations with an emphasis in Public Relations, specifically to focus on event management. Previous to his current position as the Director of Event Services at Azusa Pacific University, where he oversees all University event processes and activities, Summer Conferences, Campus Vending and Ticketing Services for the University, Tim gained a dynamic range of experience in the public event venue sector, municipality run convention center sector and ran his own company for a couple of years producing, consulting, creating and directing events.

Tim has educated himself on local, state and federal regulations and emergency management through FEMA, OSHA and NFPA 101 classes. Having overseen or managed more than 35,000 events in his career, managed 300+ employees at the Nation’s largest and highest customer-rated county fair to leveraging over 25 million in revenue career-to-date, Tim uses his experience to guide a team of 60+ staff and students at Azusa Pacific University daily.


Nathan Lubich, Assistant Director for Operations, Yale Conference & Events, Yale University 

Nathan received a Bachelor of Art degree from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point in History, Spanish and International Studies and a Master of Science degree from Arkansas Tech University in College Student Personnel.

Coming from a residence life background, Nathan worked closely with housing operations before transitioning to oversee summer operations.

Nathan joined the Yale Conference & Event team in 2017 where he continues to focus on the operational side of summer programming.


Amber Mann, Coordinator of Conference Service & Marketing, Emory University  

Amber Mann is the Coordinator of Conference Service & Marketing at Emory University. Amber received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Hospitality Management from Georgia Southern University. Amber has previously worked with Conference Services & Housing at Georgia Southern University for several years before joining the Conference Services team at Emory University. Amber is active in Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I) where she is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Student Development Action Team.


Nancy Martin, Director of Conferences & Events, Bowie State University

After graduating from the University of Virginia in 2006, Nancy started her career in conference services as a summer student worker. After working as a summer Conference Assistant, she was hired as a full-time professional as a Lead Program Coordinator. Four years later, Nancy left UVA and moved to Washington, DC where she worked at American University as a Conference & Events Coordinator and received her MS in Justice, Law & Public Policy. In 2015, she left AU to go to the University of the District of Columbia as the Meeting & Event Manager to Associate Director of the Student Center for three additional years. As of May 2019, she now works at Bowie State University as the Director for Conference & Events. Nancy serves ACCED-I as the Chair for the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee and as a part of Region 4 leadership.


Walton Martin, CCEP, Functional Lead, Event Management, CollegeNET, Inc.

As the father of four boys and twin girls, Walt understands the value of rolling up his sleeves and jumping into the fray to get results. In his more than twenty years in the conference & special event field, he has demonstrated the same intensity in getting the job done both in the customer service arena and behind the scenes. 

Walt's professional career includes the management of three university conference o!ces, as well as other roles in the financial and non-profit worlds. He Transitioned to consulting just over five years ago, to work with customers and make recommendations to improve their Series25 implementations. In his newest role at CollegeNET, Walt works on the Functional Design team, as the subject matter expert for event management. In this role, he helps to direct development priorities based on his “real world” experience and knowledge of industry best practices.

Kelly Mason, CCEP, CMP, Assistant Director of University Events, University of Colorado Denver

Kelly Mason is a second generation Colorado native and currently serves as the Assistant Director of University Events at the University of Colorado Denver.  Kelly earned a variety of degrees from Colorado State University including a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and her Master of Tourism Management degree.  Her passion for student development and engagement is a result of her experiences as a student employee for Colorado State University’s Conference & Event Services.  Her learning experiences and support from her mentor helped her grow into a professional position at CSU and she hopes to support students in their futures as she once was.  She transitioned to a Conference Coordinator position at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she led the development of a student staff training program with a strengths-based approach.  Now, in her role at CU Denver, she endeavors to further incorporate wellbeing into training and assessment of both student and professional staff in her area.

Kelly and her wife, Sasha, enjoy the outdoor lifestyle of Colorado and also share a love of musical theatre (Fiddler on the Roof brought them together).  Kelly is motivated by her drive to continually improve, innovate, and grow in the collegiate conference and events profession.  This desire to improve and compete is also on display in her regular Orangetheory sessions and summer volleyball teams.  Kelly believes the identification of one’s natural talents helps to color the lens through which we see the world and can help to promote a thriving, holistic life, no matter the varied paths one might take. 

Mariellynn Maurer, CCEP, Director of Conference & Event Services, William & Mary

Mariellynn Maurer is the Director of Conference & Event Services at William & Mary.  As a member of ACCED-I, she has presented conference sessions at the regional and national levels of ACCED-I, served as Regional Director and on the Board of Directors.  Currently, she serves as a mentor and grader for the CCEP program candidates.  Mariellynn is an active member in the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance and an alumna of the LEAD Historic Triangle Program.  She is the President Elect of the Professional and Professional Staff Assembly of W&M and sits on the university’s Strategic Planning Committee. Together with the lead trainer at W&M, Mariellynn co-teaches customer services courses and has served as cohort captain for the university’s Supervisor Institute and Building Stronger Leader programs.  Mariellynn’s experience in the hospitality industry is not limited to the world of higher education, she also spent more than 11 years working in hotel sales and marketing.  But, no matter what organization she’s been a part of, she’s always been part of a team and recognizes the importance of relationships, communication, and people working together to accomplish great things.

Jason McClellan, CMP, Senior Director, Auxiliary Services, Tufts University

Jason McClellan is Senior Director, Auxiliary Services at Tufts University.  His role focuses on improving the guest/client experience for business units of the University to drive revenue growth and improve space and service utilization across the University’s 4 campuses.  Jason earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for Master of Business Administration at Boston College.  Additionally, he is a Certified Meeting Professional.  Jason’s experience includes multiple industries and market sectors in various metropolitan areas, including hotels, corporate law, the Federal government, and higher education where he has focused on streamlining the guest experience by improving customer service and empowering teams while driving bottom-line results.  


Laurie McKain, Director Of Auxiliary Services, Marietta College

Laurie McKain is Director Auxiliary Services at Marietta College.  As Director, she oversees all conference services operations, dining services, bookstore, mailroom, vending, insurance/risk management and oil and gas leases.  A marketing professional with over 30 years experience in event planning, marketing and public relations, Laurie began the Auxiliary Services department with the development of conference services 13 years ago.


Brittani Menina, CMP, Events Manager, Johns Hopkins University 

Brittani Menina is the epitome of logistics, event creation, planning and execution with more than a decade of experience.

She is the Events Manager at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where she leads the efforts for all large-scale and high-profile customized events. She also oversees the full planning for the annual commencement ceremony and reception that hosts 2,500 guests. Before her transition into higher education, Brittani spent seven years as a corporate meeting strategist managing flagship events both domestic and international.

Brittani has earned numerous industry accolades including the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential designated by the Events Industry Council and the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) Certified Wedding Planner. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports/Entertainment/Event Management with a concentration of Event Management from Johnson and Wales University Charlotte Campus.

Brittani is very active in the industry and holds membership with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Potomac Chapter as a volunteer on the Career Development Committee. Through MPI, she co-facilitates the chapter’s CMP Prep Course and Boot Camp classes. She is also an active member of ACCED-I.

Brittani is dedicated to a myriad of social causes and philanthropic pursuits. Currently, she volunteers with various nonprofit organizations that educate women and girls of color about HIV.

Dylan Morris, Assistant Director, Conference & Guest Services, North Carolina State University 

Having spent the early part of his career in the field of large-scale event production, Dylan made the jump to higher education and joined the Conference and Guest Services team with NC State University Housing in 2013. In his current role, he oversees the summer conference operation, a robust year-round guest housing operation, and serves as marketing liaison for NC State University Housing. When not working with conference clients and guests, Dylan enjoys spending time being creative in the kitchen and trying to train his untrainable dog.


Christina Patarino, CCEP, Conference Coordinator, University of Colorado Boulder

Christina Patarino has worked in the hospitality industry for over 40 years.  For the last 20 years, she has been with Conference Services at the University of Colorado Boulder, serving as the Scheduling Conference Coordinator and the last 13 years as a Conference Coordinator.  She has planned conferences locally and nationally for up to 13,000 participants, along with organizing youth trips to both Rome & Germany.  Christina has been an active member of ACCED-I for 12 years by volunteering and presenting, along with being a Regional Director and the Hospitality Co-Chair for the Annual ACCED-I 2012 Conference in Denver.  In 2016, she received her CCEP and is currently the Vice Chair for the CCEP Action Team.   In her “spare time,” Christina is a singing Diva and most of all loves spending time with her family and friends.

Tashya Perera, Director of Program Operations, Envision by WorldStrides

Tashya Perera is the Director of Program Operations at Envision. An Envision program Alumna, Tashya
comes from a background in Aviation. Prior to joining Envision she was involved in the non-profit sector
for nearly 5 years. She has worked closely with policymakers and industry leaders as well as Congress
Members to positively influence causes involving the need for health care coverage, heart disease and
attention to mental health care. Since joining Envision Tashya has held a variety of positions including
Senior Manager of Product Innovation.


Steven Robertson, CEO, Julian Krinsky Program Development & Management

Steve Robertson is the CEO of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs (JKCP), an organization specializing in youth-to-adult programming that turns curiosity into passion and skill. Having worked with youth from around the globe for almost 25 years, Steve is also a generational expert specializing in Gen Z, Millennials and Alpha Gen. His primary responsibility is to provide cutting edge high-caliber academic curricula for 20-plus summer programs. From pre-college academics to cooking and business to sports, the programs keep an ever-changing student engaged. Steve partners with highly esteemed institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, the NFL and many more! From being a business leader who’s worked hard establishing the company’s culture to training an international workforce of hundreds each summer and helping prepare the students in the programs each year for their future careers, Steve’s impact on this generation has truly come full circle. Working, teaching, socially observing and interacting with them as students, employees and business partners on a global scale, Steve is not only a generational expert, but has become the empirical authority on Gen Z. For more than 25 years we have had unprecedented access to this generation allowing us to gather an unmatched volume of behavioral and observational data in many different situations and environments, at their most authentic. All of this equates to a deeper understanding and profound insights Steve is able to provide.

Malika Rogers, University Reservationist, Loyola University Maryland

Malika has worked in the field of higher education in the departments of Student Programming and Event Services. She received her Bachelor of Science from Towson University and her Master of Arts from Loyola University Maryland. She currently works in the Office of Event & Conference Services at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore as the University Reservationist. She schedules and coordinates all non-academic events on campus, maintains the University’s master calendar, supervises student employees, and is a Messina Mentor for first year students. Malika is a huge sci-fi nerd and collects Funko Pop! figurines.

Nathan Ruger, Sales Manager, Conference Services, New Mexico State University

Nathan Ruger is an experienced hospitality industry professional and is currently the Conference Sales Manager for New Mexico State University’s Conference Services Department.  Nathan joined the Sodexo family in 2013, assuming management positions at Dillard University and Pan American Life Conference Center in New Orleans.  During his time In Louisiana Nathan was successful in leading the Catering and Conference Services departments in all business deliverables including marketing, event design, product and service offerings innovation, sales, logistics, contract negotiations, billing and financial analysis.  Throughout his career Nathan has enjoyed sharing with colleagues’ aspects of his diverse operational management experience within major hotel chains, convention centers, live entertainment venues and professional sports stadiums to contribute toward a more robust solutions system and overall team comradery and success. Nathan earned his BS in Hospitality & Event Management from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his MBA at Carlow University.  Nathan’s favorite activities include hiking with his wife, cooking and playing the drums with other local musicians. 

Carye Vogt, Manager of Conference Services and Hospitality, California State University, Northridge

Carye Vogt is the Manager of Conference Services and Hospitality at California State University, Northridge.  Working in the Housing Department, Carye oversees not only Summer Conferences, but Guest Housing, Marketing, Mail Services and all Special Projects for Student Housing. Throughout her 7 years at CSUN, Carye has created an environment that has quadrupled gross revenue while only increasing the student staff from 10 to 14 along with two professional staff (including herself). Carye’s strength in creating a team comes from her 20+ years in education as a high school teacher and professor of political science. Carye earned her Master’s Degree in American Studies from Pepperdine University.  Carye has been a member of ACCED-I for six years and has been a member of the Student Development Action Team for two years. Carye’s philosophy is from the wise world of Mary Poppins – “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!”


Brian Winthrop, Producer, Big Wave Events, Inc. 

Brian Winthrop has always been interested in entertainment, food and tech equipment.  One of his first jobs as a teen was at the Concord Hotel in Kiamesha Lake, NY where he was the head chef at the pool, cooked steaks for 2,500 on steak night and in the evenings was an usher in the Imperial Room; at the time, the world’s largest night club (nightclub seating for 3,500).  Each night the Imperial Room hosted a main attraction comedian and a musical artist including Don Rickles, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Alan King, Tony Bennett, Cab Calloway and Barbara Streisand to name a few.   In the late evenings on the weekends he ran the deli in the Night Owl Lounge featuring the Erskin Hawkins Band (Tuxedo Junction).

While attending Stony Brook University in the mid-seventies, Winthrop successfully managed the Student Activity Board Lecture Series and produced several concerts as well.  Productions included:  Carl Bernstein premiering All the President’s Men, Robert Klein & Jon Luc Ponty and Kool and the Gang.

His first job was with the speaker firm, Royce Carlton in NYC in 1977.  He then jumped ship and worked at New Line Cinema in their presentation division representing many of the sixties radicals including Jerry Rubin, Abbey Hoffman, Bobby Seale, William Kunstler, etc.

In 1980, Winthrop along with fellow agent, Donny Epstein, left New Line and founded their own agency, entitled Epstein Winthrop International.  Their first client was G. Gordon Liddy.  Epstein and Winthrop booked Liddy at more than 200 colleges and Liddy received the Speaker of the Year Award from the National Association of Campus Activities.  In 1981 Winthrop bought Epstein out and founded Brian Winthrop International.

BWI diversified and signed numerous topically oriented speakers including Timothy Leary, Shere Hite, Lisa Birnbach (The Official Preppy Handbook), Senator Birch Bayh as well as comedians including Franken and Davis (Senator Franken), Father Guido Sarducci, Garret Morris, David Brenner and performing artists including the Boston Chamber Music Society, The Boys Choir of Harlem, Zurcher Kammer Orchestra, to name a few.  Brian Winthrop was also associate producer of the film, Return Engagement, staring G. Gordon Liddy and Timothy Leary.  In the film, he has a cameo with Arnold Scharzenegger.

In 1983, BWI, closed a $350K yearly sponsorship contract with Kodak touring a special event entitled Earthwalk, that would eventually tour four hundred college campuses.  Earthwalk featured 3,500 slides taken by the Walker Brothers, narrated by Orson Welles featuring the music of Pink Floyd and the Allen Parsons Project.

Also in 1983 BWI started touring Wild Video Dance Party to universities, high schools and military bases.   WVDP combined current MTV music videos with a large projection system, light show and surround sound.  More than four million students attended WVDP events at their respective schools!  WVDP was so timely and successful that Winthrop sold the package to Coca-Cola, USA in 1987 for a $2.5 million sponsorship.  As the firm tripled in size, BWI moved from 1995 Broadway (Lincoln Center), NYC to Stamford, CT.

In the 1990’s, WVDP entered the corporate market and was the closing night Gala entertainment event at the Pow Wow in Miami, the MPI National Convention in Chicago, two PCMA National Conventions in Scottsdale and Orlando, the Special Event Convention in Orlando and Miami, the NACE Convention in Chicago and the Event Solutions Convention in Washington, DC.  Corporate bookings for Wild Video Dance Party include five years in a row for the Microsoft World Wide Global Summit (San Diego, Montreal, Toronto, Orlando and New Orleans), three years in a row for Cisco, as well as Apple, Intel and IBM, to name a few.

Also in the mid-nineties, Brian Winthrop, was involved with the International Special Event Society and MPI.  He received his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) from the Convention Liaison Council and his Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) from ISES in addition to a two year run as President of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of ISES as well as publishing numerous articles on producing events and lighting.

In the mid-nineties he partnered with his Swiss wife, Mariella, and founded Big Wave Event Productions, LLC.  They stopped representing acts and produced events in the university, association, corporate, benefit and private party markets.  Mariella specializing in design and Brian in live production.  Big Wave has received numerous awards form Special Event and ISES.

Today, Big Wave produces major events providing clients with event management, layout, design and our own state-of-the-art audio, video, lighting and décor.

Michelle Wu, CCEP, Director of Conference Services, Illinois Wesleyan University

Michelle is the Director of Conference Services at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU), a small liberal arts institution in the heart of central Illinois.  Hired in June 2015 as their first Director after a 15 year hiatus, Michelle focused primarily on building a robust events and conferences business, including weddings, proms, and summer camps.  Her work with the latter inspired her to more closely examine best practices for protecting youth visiting campus, culminating in a campus-wide review of current formal and informal procedures and the development of a new, clearer process for summer camps, music lessons, and other youth-oriented activities on campus.

An active ACCED-I member since 2007, she has presented at several regional and annual conferences, and in 2013, received her designation as a certified Collegiate Conference and Events Professional (CCEP).  Michelle recently served as a Regional Director for Region 3, and began her term on the Board of Directors in March 2019.

Leo Young, Conference & Meeting Services Manager, Cal State Fullerton

Leo Young is originally from the great state of Texas, but is also a proud Californian; currently managing the University Conference Center at Cal State Fullerton. Leo earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Educational Administration with a concentration in Student Affairs from Texas A&M University. Leo has served, advised, and consulted with student organizations and the University Programming Board at Georgia Southern University, and has managed the summer conference program and operations at San Jose State University. With a developed skillset in student organization development, event planning and risk management, Leo loves advising students and serving student groups from a Strengths-based perspective to develop tomorrow’s leaders. In his current role at Cal State Fullerton, Leo is working to enhance how students engage with and develop from the event planning process.

Leo aspires to embody servant leadership as he influences society as a catalyst for positive change. He is a devoted and loving husband to his wonderful wife and an outdoor enthusiast (rock climbing, backpacking, camping, hiking, etc.). Ultimately, Leo dedicates his life to being a faith-centered, values-driven, strengths-based human that spreads love, development, and joy in the lives of others.


Kimberly Araya, Director, American University

Kim Araya is the Director of University Conference & Guest Services at American University in Washington, DC.  Prior to her coming to American University in January of 2014, her previous position for 10.5 yrs was the Director of Conference & Event Services at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota.  She was instrumental in getting the One-Stop Shop concept set-up on the UofMN campus.  She currently opened AU’s new conference center in the Summer of 2017. Kim is currently serving as a board member for ACCED-I, has served two years as the Region 5 Director and has served on various committees of ACCED-I since 2005.  She works closely with colleagues in various Convention and Visitors Bureaus, area hotels, as well as other Universities in the DC/MD area to help market the surrounding cities as well as her University.

Matthew R. D'Oyly, Director of Events and Conferences, Otterbein University

Matthew R. D'Oyly, is in starting his tenth year at Otterbein University and has had the privilege to create the Office of Events and Conferences and serve as the Director. In this role, Matthew is responsible for providing leadership and direction for all aspects of operations for events and conferences for the campus community (students, faculty, and staff) and external clients (e.g., summer camps, meetings, etc). This includes being the point person for the hosting of CNN and the NY Times for the Fourth Democratic Presidential Debate in October, 2019. Previously, Matthew was the Director of Constituent Communication and Philanthropic Programs where he developed and implemented an integrated constituent communication and engagement strategies for the University’s key constituencies. Matthew worked to enhance the ongoing engagement efforts of departments across advancement, and the University in general, to raise support for the University’s priorities, and programs among its students, alumni, parents and friends.

At Otterbein University, Matthew has served as the President of Staff Assembly, chair of Administrative Assembly, served on the Bylaws committee of the University Senate and was elected to serve on the Governance Commission to rewrite the Bylaws for the University. He is also the adviser for Sigma Delta Phi (Sphinx). As an alumnus of Otterbein, he served on the University's alumni board.

Matthew is the 2010 recipient of Hope College’s Vanderbush-Weller Award, which recognized him for his extraordinary contributions to the lives of students at Hope. He was also given the honor of being elected as an honorary member of the Emersonian Fraternity.

He is also a graphic designer, and designs logos, posters and t-shirts for many local organizations. He was instrumental in establishing the Mona Shores Choir Fund through the Community Foundation for Muskegon County which supports high school students hoping to pursue music as a next step.

Krystal Grace, CCEP, Assistant Director Conferences & Special Events, University of Illinois Housing

Krystal Grace is the Assistant Director of Residential Life for Conferences, Special Events, and the Student Dining and Residential Programs Building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Krystal has worked with Conferences and Special Events for over 15 years including her time as the Coordinator. Krystal’s love of events started as a student when working summers as a Conference Clerk and later a Summer Coordinator. As the Assistant Director Krystal has enjoyed working with groups throughout the year to host events in the Student Dining and Residential Programs building. Krystal works closely with campus and community partners to host regional and national events and recently expanded her responsibilities to include planning the Move-In days at Illinois.

The Conferences and Special Events operation hires 25-35 students per summer to staff area desks and work with conference sponsors. The Student Dining and Residential Programs Building hires 55-65 students each year to staff the information desk and package station.
Krystal enjoys volunteering for ACCED-I and is currently serving on the Hospitality Committee and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Krystal earned her CCEP at last year’s conference