Speakers 2023-03-24T17:17:46-04:00

NEC Speakers

Learn from speakers who are experts in their respective fields, including education/programming, facilities and services, logistics, financial and contract management, technology, leadership, ethics, protocol, and travel. Learn more about SGMP’s National Education Conference: keynote speakers, educational sessions, and why to attend.

Confirmed 2023 Educational Session Speakers

Samantha Clayton

Samantha Clayton specializes in document accessibility and creating accessible content for both in person and virtual platforms. She is a globally Certified Professional in Accessible Core Competencies (CPACC) and as an Accessible Document Specialist (ADS) through the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). She has an extensive experience living and working with people who have disabilities but has focused on almost exclusively on document accessibility, accessible presentations, and meetings since 2017.

Kevin CoffeyKevin Coffey

A leading resource in travel and meeting risk, Kevin Coffey has a unique background. A 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and founding member of LAPD’s Airport Crimes Investigation Detail, where he investigated crimes committed against travelers and meeting attendees at LAX airport, hotels, and car rental agencies. Kevin now consults with organizations and assists with addressing meeting risk policies, procedures, and training. A frequent presenter at FICP, SITE, MPI, and GBTA events around the globe, he’s been featured on Oprah, CNN, Fox News, ABC’s 20/20, and other media programs.

Midori Connolly

Midori Connolly, GSEC brings practical, approachable tactics to complex topics such as cybersecurity. With two decades of experience working in event, election, and cyber technologies, Midori knows the specific points of vulnerability in meeting and conference operations. She has served on the board of directors for Women in Cybersecurity and initiated an online safety program for women and children. Midori holds the internationally recognized Security Essentials (GSEC) and Foundational Cybersecurity Technologies (GFACT) certifications and was selected to serve as an advisor to the Advisory Board of the certifying agency for her high test scores.

Tim ConnorTim Connor

Tim is the President of Connor Resource Group. He has been a full-time professional speaker, trainer, coach, consultant and bestselling author for over 35 years. During his career he has given over 4,000 presentations in 29 countries around the world to a wide variety of audiences including over 2,000 state and national associations and non-profits. Each year over 85% of his presentations are return engagements for the same clients on such topics as peak performance management, effective leadership, customer-focused sales strategies, personal motivation, value-driven customer service and building positive business and personal relationships. He earned the unique speaking designation CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) from the National Speakers Assn. in 1990 (currently held by fewer than 500 global speakers). He is the best-selling author of over 80 books including several international best sellers, Soft Sell (The number one best-selling sales book in the world now in 23 languages and with sales of over one million copies), Life Is Short, Success is a Decision, 81 Management Challenges, and Success and Happiness Are an Inside Job.

Sharon DelviscoSharon Delvisco

Sharon Delvisco has more than 30 years of experience. She has supported people with disabilities, their families, and the agencies that provide services to live in the community.  “Separate is not equal” is the guiding principle for all her work and advocacy efforts in the human services field.  Sharon is an advisor for the Louisiana People First Northshore Chapter self-advocacy group.  She has experience organizing, facilitating, and developing training for people with disabilities, their families and the agencies that provide community-based services.  She has planned conferences and events, facilitated board retreats, developed and provided a variety of trainings.  She has a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of New Orleans, Master’s degree in social work from Southern University at New Orleans, and her doctorate in Social Work Innovation from USC School of Social Work.  Sharon is employed as a Training and Education Coordinator with Team Dynamics, LLC.

Amber EllithorpeAmber Ellithorpe

Amber Ellithorpe, CMP, CGMP, has more than 20 years of administrative and event planning experience in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She has managed small meetings, to training events, to incentive trips, to full scale domestic and international conferences. In conjunction with the contracted risk management agency, Amber helped to put together the Event Risk Management Plan for the Task Force for Global Health and is currently working to establish emergency plans in her new position as Operations Manager for Evolution Event Solutions. Amber passed the certification exam for the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (CGMP) in February 2020, and in January 2021 passed the certification exam for the Events Council Industry Meetings Professional (CMP). She currently serves on the Gilmer Institute of Learning for the Society of Government Meeting Professionals as one of the Education and Programming Trustees. Amber loves to think outside of the box, when able to, to bring an experience that people won’t forget, as well as mentor those who are starting out in the meetings industry

Kindall FarwellKindall Farwell

Kindall Farwell is the Director for the U.S. Government Hotel Program, FedRooms®, which is managed by CW Government Travel. This business was awarded to CW Government Travel in 2004 and was subsequently re-awarded to CW Government Travel in 2009, 2015 and 2019. Ms. Farwell is responsible for overall FedRooms program management. She is also responsible for hotel, travel agency, GDS and self-booking tool relationships, negotiations and website development.


Nan GescheNan Gesche

Nan Gesche, M.A., is an energetic speaker who uses experience, insight, and some sturdy research, all sprinkled with a little humor, to get people to see themselves and the world differently. Her passion is “helping people play well together!” Nan provides audiences a chance to ponder and practice different ways of thinking
and acting around change, conflict, decision-making, communication, and leadership all in hopes of providing more positive outcomes. Nan has been engaging large and small audiences nationally. She is a catalyst who makes change doable! Her 20 plus years of independent and corporate experience allow her to stretch people’s
thinking to help them focus on the realities of life and business. She works with organizations who want their teams to Crack the Collaboration Code.

Marla Harr

Marla Harr is owner of Business Etiquette International, a company whose goal is to help others master the soft skills and techniques of business etiquette and protocols. Certified and trained by the Protocol School of Washington® and backed by more than three decades of corporate management, meeting planning and professional training and development. She brings to her training a mixture of both entrepreneurial spirit and corporate professionalism. She is also a proud member of SHRM, ATD and NSA-AZ. Her book, From Campus to Corporate -Soft Skills and Etiquette Tips to Transition with Confidence, is on Amazon.

holly hoffman keynote for 2023 NECHolly Hoffman

Holly Hoffman was the last remaining member of the Espada Team and the last woman standing on Season 21 of CBS’ hit reality show “Survivor Nicaragua.” Through that experience and others throughout her life, Holly was inspired to share her message of survival. A professional motivational speaker and the author of Your Winner Within and Write Yourself a Note, Holly acknowledges that life is made up of challenges, and we are oftentimes faced with situations that seem insurmountable. But within each of us is an ability to focus our thoughts, emotions, and energy to succeed—if only we have the knowledge, tools, and discipline to do so. A native of South Dakota, Holly’s writing and speaking not only offer encouragement and optimism but a roadmap for self-discovery and spiritual enlightenment. Readers and audience members alike walk away inspired to light the fire of successful living within themselves. Today, Holly is a recipient of the Certified Speaking Professional designation, and travels across the country and internationally, speaking to a wide variety of corporations, associations, universities, schools and women’s organizations.  Holly inspires her audiences to take opportunities and focus on faith, attitude, determination, confidence, desire and perseverance.

Larry JohnsonLarry Johnson

Larry Johnson is the co-author of two top-selling books: Absolute Honesty: Building A Corporate Culture That Values Straight Talk And Rewards Integrity and Generations Inc. – From Boomers To Linksters – Managing The Friction Between Generations At Work. He’s been interviewed on CNN and quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review. An in-demand speaker, Larry has delivered more than 2000 presentations for association conferences, corporations and government organizations including: SGMP Arizona, Meeting Planners International, Public Risk Management Association, SHRM, Harley-Davidson and Southwest Airlines.

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner helps organizations implement and improve their leadership development programs. He achieves this work through consulting, training, and keynote engagements. Mr. Lichtenwalner is the Founder of Radiant Forest, LLC where they conduct unique research on people leadership trends and opportunities. Combining 20 years of corporate IT management and leadership experience with this research, Ben delivers innovative and energetic keynotes, seminars, and workshops. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Paradigm Flip: Leading People, Teams, and Organizations Beyond the Social Media Revolution, as well as Words to Lead By, and the top 30 leadership blog ModernServantLeader.com.

Dr Kelvin McCreeDr. Kelvin McCree

Dr. Kelvin McCree is a globally-recognized thought leader, six-time author, and international speaker on change management, mental agility and cultivating an agile workforce. His work is focused on helping teams to thrive in the midst of disruption. His ground-breaking new book The Pivot: Leading The Future of Work provides organizations and businesses the trends, trajectories, challenges, and opportunities in the changing workforce.
Dr. McCree is a well-sought-after speaker and has shared the speaking stage with Shark Tanks, Daymond John and Hall of Fame Speakers, Les Brown and Simon T. Bailey. Dr. McCree holds a Master of Executive Leadership and a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership, Certifications in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Inclusive Leadership, as well as multiple Advanced Executive Coaching Certifications recognized by the International Coaching Federation.

Jeff McKissackJeff McKissack

There are three rooms we all wish to avoid: (1) the Emergency Room, (2) the News Room, and (3) the Court Room. For more than three decades, Jeff McKissack has been helping individuals, companies, and institutions do that with a very unique approach to risk and reputation management. This has made Jeff a sought-after speaker and trainer for conferences and conventions as well as onsite employee training events alike as he understands liabilities related to negligence and reputational risks as well as the due diligence documentation trail advised to mitigate both. Jeff best sums up his message and mission by saying, “My goal is to help you spot trouble ‘before’ trouble spots you,” and in today’s world, that is a much-needed message indeed.

Bo MitchellBo Mitchell

Bo Mitchell was Police Commissioner of Wilton, CT for 16 years. He retired to found 911 Consulting which creates emergency, disaster recovery, business continuity, crisis communications and pandemic plans, plus training and exercises for organizations like GE HQ, Hyatt HQ, H&R Block HQ, MasterCard HQ, four colleges and universities plus 26 secondary schools. He serves clients headquartered from Boston to LA working in their facilities from London to San Francisco. Bo has earned 22 certifications in homeland security, emergency management, disaster recovery, business continuity, safety and security. He also serves as an expert in landmark court cases nationally.

Joe Nayquonabe JrJoe Nayquonabe, Jr.

Joe Nayquonabe, Jr., is an indigenous business professional who has spent his career reimagining and reinventing how American Indian tribal economies grow and prosper.  He spent over a decade as a marketing executive growing the Grand Casino brand before ascending to CEO of the Mille Lacs Band’s Corporate Commission where he created several companies including Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, which manages the entire business portfolio of the Mille Lacs Band; FoxTrot Marketing Group; Maadaadizi Holdings; Wewinabi Inc., Makwa Global, and SlotCo. Nayquonabe has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Cloud State University, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and a master of tribal administration and governance degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He and his wife, Chris, live in Onamia with their daughters, Bella, Phoenix-Rose, and Xiana. In this spare time, Joe enjoys running marathons, studying the Ojibwe language, and reading.

Laurie NicksonLaurie Nickson

Laurie A. Nickson, CMP, serves on the Michigan Chapter SGMP board as the immediate past president. She was vice-president from 2012-2015 and president from 2015-2020. Laurie has written and presented, as Judge Laurie, seven mock court cases for the Michigan chapter. In 2020, Laurie retired from her full-time job at Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, where she served as the Professional Development Coordinator for 27 years; and from her 1/3-time job at the Office of Great Start, Michigan Department of Education, where she served as the Great Start for Readiness Programs meeting and conference coordinator for 25 years.

Nicole Roames

Nicole Roames, CMP, CGMP, DES

Nicole Roames, CMP, CGMP, DES, is a Senior Meeting Planner with Strategic Analysis, Inc. Nicole has over 10 years’ experience in the hospitality industry. Prior to becoming a government contract planner, she planned events for non-profit associations. Nicole is the President of the SGMP National Capital Chapter and currently serves as a member of the national membership committee. She has previously chaired the award-winning NATCAP programming and communications committees. She earned her CGMP in 2017, CMP in 2019 and DES in 2020 and holds a BA in Communications from Florida International University. Nicole has been honored multiple times by volunteer organizations for outstanding volunteer work and was named the 2019 Employee of the Year for Federal Conference, where she worked for 5 years before joining SA.

Kathleen Ryan

Kathleen RyanKathleen Ryan is a customer engagement team lead at Boeing. She is a retired Air Force Officer and former chief of protocol for the Department of the Air Force and was the Aide-de-Camp to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As a business owner, she was an associate of the Protocol School of Washington®, where she collaborated on the development of their Protocol Officer Training Course. While working with Harlan Lee & Associates, she conducted protocol training for the Missile Defense and Defense Intelligence Agencies. Kathleen is a Certified Government Meeting Professional and was selected for the 2020 Sam Gilmer “Planner of the Year” at the 2020 National Education Conference (NEC).


Lee SilberLee Silber

Lee Silber is a 31-year meeting and event veteran and has been in the trenches of the business as a planner, host, emcee, keynote and breakout speaker, musician, sponsor, and attendee. In 2019, Lee founded Remote Worker Resource and became a proponent of hybrid meetings—hosting many of his own. Silber lives in San Diego, California.

Jim SpellosJim Spellos

James Spellos is the President of Meeting U. whose mission is to help people become more productive and comfortable with technology. In 2022, Meeting Professionals International included Jim on their 50 most influential person list in the hospitality industry in honor of their 50th anniversary celebration. In 2021, Glisser named Jim one of the most influential people in virtual events. A few years prior, Jim was named one of the Meeting Industry’s trendsetters by Meetings Today magazine. He was a faculty member at New York University for 25 years receiving both their Award for Teaching Excellence and their Outstanding Service Award.

Chris YoungChris Young

Chris Young is a globally recognized subject-matter expert in leadership and organizational dynamics, international protocol, cross-cultural literacy, and negotiations. As a consultant, his past clients include Fortune 500 companies; major universities; national, state, and municipal
governments; chambers of commerce and economic development agencies; professional associations; and global sporting events. For seven years, he led Protocol & Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA), the worldwide professional organization for those in those related fields, as its elected president. Today he serves as chair of the committees on governance and ethics. For almost two decades prior, Chris worked in a variety of leadership roles in state, federal, and multinational governments: Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Executive Director of CIFAL Atlanta, a local government training arm of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research; Executive Director of The Protocol School of Washington; and Chief of Protocol and Director of International Affairs for the State of Georgia.

Header photo courtesy of Christie’s Photographic Solutions.