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2018 Speakers

Daniel Pennington
Daniel Pennington

Daniel Pennington Engaging the Disengaged

Daniel Pennington is a speaking coach and conference speaker who has worked with Fortune 500 companies around the US and Australia, teaching business leaders how to connect with their teams and drive engagement. Daniel spent 35 years as an executive in television stations building Emmy- nominated shows and training talent. In 2008 he was recruited to work with Quint Studer at the Studer Group, the Baldrige Award-winning healthcare consulting company in Pensacola before starting his own speaking company. Daniel is the author of "7-Step Guide to Speaking Success, an Essential Handbook for Healthcare Leaders," and "Nailed It! Giving Your Best Presentation Ever.” Daniel is a top-rated national speaker training and entertaining groups from diverse backgrounds on the principles of effective communication and public speaking skills.

Tom Ward
Tom Ward

Tom Ward The Social Determinants of Health

Thomas J. Ward Jr. is professor and chair of history department at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, where he teaches a variety of courses in American history. A native of Annapolis, Maryland, Dr. Ward received his B.A. at Hampden-Sydney College, his M.A. at Clemson University, and his doctorate the University of Southern Mississippi. Before coming to Spring Hill College in 2007, Dr. Ward taught at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dr. Ward has written numerous articles on African-American history and the history of medicine in the American South. In 2003, the University of Arkansas Press published his first book, Black Physicians in the Jim Crow South. His most recent work, Out in the Rural: A Mississippi Health Center and its War on Poverty was relaeased by Oxford University Press in 2017.

Dr. Ward is currently working on a book project on African-American prisoners of war. He lives in Spanish Fort, Alabama, with his wife and three sons.

Debjani Biswas
Debjani Biswas

Debjani Biswas But you don’t look like an engineer!

Internationally bestselling author, coach and keynote speaker Debjani Biswas has a unique background: engineering, EQ certification and Fortune 50 executive experience. She won the 2017 GDAACC Award in Journalism for ‘Diversity Beyond Boundaries’ and is a 2013 NAPW ‘Woman of the Year’ An ‘Exclusion Exterminator’, she believes deeply in the TEDx theme of going Deeper. She has spoken at, coached, or consulted all over the world: Texas Instruments, National Summit for Educational Equity, Ericsson, Union Pacific, ICF Global London, UNH, IIMB etc. Her original frameworks on reducing bias and increasing inclusion are used in over 20 countries. Ms. Biswas is often featured sharing diversity and bias reduction insights on the media:. ESPN, CBS, DMN, iHeart Radio etc.

Taylor Empson
Taylor Empson

Taylor Empson Reaching True Happiness

Taylor Empson is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended and graduated from Catholic High School. He is currently majoring in psychology at Spring Hill College with the intention of becoming a therapist. His extracurricular activities include being a member of the Psychology Club, the Ultimate Frisbee Club, and Sodality at Spring Hill and achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. Taylor desires to give a TEDx talk to spread an idea of happiness he feels examines a problematic worldview and belief people have today in order to help people make a positive change in their lives.

Dethra Giles
Dethra Giles

Dethra Giles Deeper Conversations About Taboo Topics: Race, Religion, and Politics

Dethra U. Giles is an international speaker, executive coach and award-winning/best-selling author that delivers highly engaging and interactive presentations and workshops that take you on a journey of what leadership, personal development mastery and authentic conversations can and will do for you and your business. Having worked with clients from Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Kaiser Permanente, and the Salvation Army, to name a few, Dethra shares insightful stories of successes and failures in the trenches, then invites you to apply these examples to your current situation. Every presentation and workshop provides a practical roadmap for you to develop actionable plans for growth that you can implement immediately. Dethra’s presentations are based on her award winning books, "Unstuck: Discovering Career Limiting Actions" and “Employeepreneur: 10 Career Catapulting Strategies Learned from Entrepreneurs” as we;; as her corporate and entrepreneur experience which are all credited as the foundation of her lengthy business success. As a successful businesswoman and author, Dethra also speaks to women's groups across different industries and organizations. After overcoming adversity in both her professional and personal life, Dethra brings enormous insight and energy to her inspiring talks. Dethra is a TEDx Talk speaker as well as a top rated speaker for SHRM (Society of Human Resources Managers). She is an expert at delivering presentations that help build leaders, accountable teams and increased productivity. She does not shy away from the tough conversation or the lightning rod topics. It is Dethra’s belief that true success and real engagement happens when we go where everyone else dares not to go.

Vanessa Reyner
Vanessa Reyner

Vanessa Reyner Destined to be a Difference Maker

Vanessa Reyner is the co-founder and writer for FULL & WELL, a weekly newsletter that sends thousands of subscribers resources on living a life of faith in culture, business, art, hospitality, relationships, and rest. In addition, Vanessa runs an award-winning marketing-consultant business, VMR Agency, which works with national, regional, and local clients in a variety of industries from higher-education to tourism. In 2013, Vanessa was selected as part of al.com’s inaugural 20/20 Vision project, which recognizes 20 of the best and brightest 20-somethings in Coastal Alabama. The honorees where chosen by the public for their contributions to the improvement of Coastal Alabama. In 2014, she was also selected to be on the cover of Mobile Bay magazine to represent the 40 under Forty class. Vanessa lives in Mobile with her husband, Wayne, their daughter, Virginia, and son, Mac.

Krista Harrell
Krista Harrell

Krista Harrell A Healed Heart Shares Much Love

Dr. Krista Harrell has progressively led professional areas of responsibility in Student Affairs for nearly 15 years. She currently has departmental, divisional, and University-wide responsibilities. She has served as the Associate Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator at USA since July 2012. She a native of Huntington, NY and was a long-time resident of Virginia, where much of her family live. She is a three-time graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Human Services Counseling, a Master of Science in Education in Counseling and Higher Education, and earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration. She serves as an officer on the Junior League of Mobile Board of Directors, is an Association of College Unions International Board of Trustees Member-at-large, is the Immediate Past Chair on the Board of Directors for NASPA-Alabama, is active with the Zeta Tau Alpha Gulf Coast Alumnae group, and is a member of the Focus Women's Conference Planning committee.

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