SPEAKERS

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Dr. Omékongo Dibinga

Award-Winning Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist 

Leveraging and Embracing Diversity in the Workplace

Dr. Omékongo Dibinga is the UPstander. His life's mission is to inspire all across the globe to take a stand when they witness an injustice, no matter how small or large. He is a motivational speaker, trilingual poet, TV talk show host, rapper, and professor of cross-cultural communication at American University. His Urban Music Award winning work has best been described by Nikki Giovanni as "outstanding, exciting, and new while being very old." His book, From the Limbs of My Poetree was described by Essence Magazine as "a remarkable and insightful collection of exquisite poetry that touches sacred places within your spirit." He was one of 5 international recipients out of 750,000 to win the first ever "CNN iReport Spirit Award." He has received over 1,000,000 views on CNN.com.

Omékongo's writings and performances have appeared in O Magazine, as well as on TV and radio from CNN, BET, and the BBC to NPR, Music Choice, and Voice of America in millions of homes in over 150 countries. He has also written songs for major motion pictures as well as organizations such as NASA and the Enough! Project. He has spoken before the United Nations, partners with the State Department to conduct youth leadership trainings overseas, and speaks to leadership and youth student conferences across the country. Omékongo's music and writings have appeared alongside artists such as Sheryl Crow, Angelina Jolie, Norah Jones, Damien Rice, Angelique Kidjo, Don Cheadle, and Mos Def. He has shared the stage with Wyclef Jean, OutKast, Sonia Sanchez, Dennis Brutus, Emmanuelle Chriqui, The Last Poets, and NFL great Aaron Rodgers.

Internationally, he has shared his work in over 20 countries on 3 continents.

Omékongo has studied at Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Georgetown, Morehouse, and The Fletcher School, where he earned his M.A. in Law & Diplomacy. He earned his Ph.D. in International Education Policy at The University of Maryland (UMD) where his dissertation centered on the global hip-hop phenomenon and Jay-Z. At UMD, he also worked with the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Teaching Diverse Students Initiative." He worked for four years as the lead Teaching Assistant to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson at Georgetown University. He provides leadership, educational and diversity empowerment as a consultant and motivational speaker for organizations, associations and institutions. He has featured/lectured nationwide in venues from TEDx and Harvard to Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit and the Nuyorican Poets Café. His rap mixtape series "Bootleg" promotes positive hip-hop with remixes of songs by Tupac, Notorious BIG, Jay Z, Nas, 50 Cent, and others. His 1,000,000 Youth Campaign has directly impacted over 100,000 youth across the globe to date. He has also partnered with Intel on its campaign to make their computer processors free of minerals that come from the war in the Congo.

Omékongo has published and produced 7 books, 7-fusion music and motivational CDs, and one independent DVD. His motivational book G.R.O.W. Towards Your Greatness! 10 Steps to Living Your Best Life has received praise from great motivational speakers such as Willie Jolley. His most recent book "The UPstander's Guide to an Outstanding Life" is a life balance book for students.

Represented by: Washington Speakers Bureau 

Princess Sarah Culberson

Princess of Sierra Leone. Author of A Princess Found

Fear to Fabulous: Overcoming your Fears & Taking on Dreams

Raised in West Virginia by her adopted parents, Sarah Culberson had little knowledge of her ancestry. She grew up in a loving, white household, but she had questions about her identity and biracial roots that led her to hire a private investigator in 2004. When she began her unforgettable journey to find her family, she never imagined what she would discover or how it would change her life: she was related to African royalty. Her biological grandfather is the Paramount Chief of a village in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Sarah is considered a Mahaloi, with the status of a princess. After meeting her family and the Mende people, she learned of the difficulties and privations of Sierra Leone’s people following a brutal 11-year civil war that ended in 2002.

Sarah’s role within the ruling Mende family has taught her to model the responsibilities of a princess, including the preservation of community and culture.Since coming into her title, Sarah has co-founded the non-profit Sierra Leone Rising to support rebuilding education, public health, and female empowerment in Sierra Leone. She has also written a book entitled A Princess Found: A Journey Through Adoption, War, and Forgiveness and she has become the director of service-learning at Oakwood School in Los Angeles.

Sarah speaks nationally and internationally, sharing her story and the inspirational quest that led her across the world to learn of the chiefdom she could one day call her own. Sarah’s passionate and genuine storytelling instantly connects with and captivates crowds of all ages as she tells her personal story of discovery, self identity, and transformation.

Represented by: Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau Inc.

Kristi Allan

VP/Senior Manager of Events at AllianceBernstein

The Meaning of Virtual in 2021

Kristi started her career with AllianceBernstein back 2010 and currently plans and manages events across the US ranging from high-level executive meetings to multi-day conferences and top sales incentive trips.  She takes great pride in bringing a vision to life, building relationships with clients and industry professionals and creating unique experiences for attendees.  Kristi loves incorporating local elements to create authentic experiences through customized menus, local entertainment, and exceptional venues. Prior to working in events, Kristi has a background in paralegal studies and business administration.  She is natural leader who is passionate about events, music, travel, making connections and giving back.  Location:  Nashville, TN

Jenna Jorge

President at Goodman Speakers

The Meaning of Virtual in 2021

Jenna is the President and Owner of Goodman Speakers. She has worked for the company for 8 years in sales and business development roles. She is an HPAC member for FICP and an active member of IASB. She is proud to keep Goodman Speakers woman owned after 40 years of business. Goodman Speakers is a leader in the speaking industry and Jenna is widely respected for working with only the best speakers on the circuit, with an emphasis on diversity. She is married and lives in MA, the proud mother of 2, an autism awareness advocate, and loves hot yoga and travel.

 

Florence Nalepka

Vice President, Business Development at One Smooth Stone

The Meaning of Virtual in 2021

As our Vice president of Business Development, Florence joined One Smooth Stone in 2020. A seasoned veteran of the event industry, she comes to us from Northstar Meeting Group, where she was the Global Director of Sales for their sports division.

Florence is always on the go. A mother to 5 kids, when she’s not driving them around to one event or another, she likes to run and do Pilates.

Being in sales is the perfect career for Florence. She’s a born competitor, having been a collegiate swimmer at Arizona State University. Get to know Florence better on LinkedIn.

Susannah Frances, CMP

Senior Events Experience Consultant at Sun Life

Hybrid Meetings: Creating a Shared Understanding and Experience

With over 20 years of working in the industry, Susannah Frances is a seasoned Global Event Professional with an extensive background in the Financial Services Industry.  She has a wealth of knowledge from the Hospitality Industry managing numerous high profile in-person and virtual events. Her areas of expertise include crisis management, project management and vendor relationship management.

She has been a FICP member for over 10 years.  During her time with FICP she has volunteered for the Canadian Symposium Committee and also for the Educational Committee. She was also awarded FICP Volunteer of the Month.  Her other industry awards include “BizBash Top 250 Canadian Event Professional” for 2019 and 2020. 

Susannah is passionate about giving back to the community and sits on the George Brown College Special Events Planning Program Advisory Committee and also mentors students, who are part of the program.

Jeff Silva

Senior Sales Executive at JW Marriott Tampa Water Street

Hybrid Meetings: Creating a Shared Understanding and Experience

A 35+ year veteran in the hospitality industry Jeff has worked in most facets of hotel and restaurant operations. Having been in group sales for the past 25 years Jeff has helped customers strategically plan successful events of all sizes. Being in Sales Jeff also attends several events per year enabling him to see events as both a planner and attendee.  

 

 

Ashley Parrish

Meetings & Events Planner at Farmers Mutual Hail

Hybrid Meetings: Creating a Shared Understanding and Experience

Ashley Parrish has been with Farmers Mutual Hail since 2011, where she started in the sales department, assisting with event planning along with the assisting the external sales team. In January of 2019, a Corporate Events team was created and she moved full time to a Meeting & Events Planner. She holds a Bachelors degree from Iowa State University in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has been a member of FICP since 2019.

 

 

Stephen Wheeler

Strategic Account Director at Meeting Tomorrow

Hybrid Meetings: Creating a Shared Understanding and Experience

As a Strategic Account Director at Meeting Tomorrow, Stephen helps clients imagine and create impactful virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. He enjoys building complex events from the ground up, loves being the creative extension of his clients’ planning teams, and helping bring their visions to life for a successful event. Over the past year he’s worked with his clients to translate their mostly in-person productions to equally impactful virtual and hybrid productions and is excited to see the industry continue to evolve.  
 
Prior to joining Meeting Tomorrow in 2017, for nearly a decade, Stephen served as Global Sales Director for a luxury hotel collection specializing in the Northeast US where he was instrumental in growing both the revenue and reach of the collection’s portfolio.
 
Stephen holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Theatre and Communications from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, resides in Charlotte, NC, loves to travel, and serves as a Volunteer Coordinator for Charlotte Pride. 

Julie Wilson

Assistant Vice President-Meeting & Events at Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company of Iowa

Hybrid Meetings: Creating a Shared Understanding and Experience

Accumulating 30+ years of experience in marketing, communications, incentives, and event management with Farmers Mutual Hail, Julie sees her M&E Team as guardians of the attendee experience and brand integrity for the company. She is passionate about the role that effective and engaging meetings can play in a company’s reputation and overall success. She is particularly proud of leading stakeholders to a new way of conducting meetings in 2020 vs. grinding to a halt due to COVID. Strategic thinking across all meetings and events collectively is the cornerstone of her approach. When she’s not strategizing with her team, she loves to golf and listen to music with her husband, Jim, who is also an FICP member. Together they have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. Julie has been a member of FICP since 2012 and also participates in FICP’s Strategic Leaders Cohort.

Jennifer Attersall

Director, Incentive Travel at Destination Canada

On the Horizon: In-Person Meetings

Jennifer Attersall joined Destination Canada (DC) in January 2020 as the Director of Incentive Travel. Jennifer joined the Business Events Team with credibility and a proven track record of building relationships and driving revenue. Recently, Jennifer led the developed and implementation of a global incentive strategy, and assisted in integrating the incentive segment under the Successful Economic Sector Strategy.

Prior to joining DC, Jennifer held a number of high performing roles in Calgary including her work with Meetings & Conventions Calgary and as the International Business Development Manager at the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC). A career-defining moment for Jennifer was travelling to St. Petersburg, Russia, with the World Petroleum Canadian bid committee for the 2023 World Petroleum Congress in Calgary. Months and months of lobbying internationally, working daily with the bid committee, industry partners and securing Calgary’s Mayor to co-present in St. Petersburg to ensure Calgary’s bid was ready for the WPC international council came to fruition when Jennifer and the Calgary team won the bid by a narrow margin over Baku, Azerbaijan. At that moment, the win solidified the success and importance of the Calgary Champion Program that Jennifer had conceptualized and nurtured over the years.

Matthew Coyne

President/Owner at Cantrav Services Inc.

On the Horizon: In-Person Meetings

Matthew Coyne is the President/Owner of Cantrav Services Inc., an award-winning Destination Management and Event Production company that delivers unforgettable experiences in exceptional destinations across Canada, each uniquely designed to foster human connection and leave lasting memories.

Matthew is a strategic leader with over 20 years of destination marketing and management experience, including a focus on sport event execution. Immediately prior to Cantrav, Matthew served as the CEO for the Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation helping lead the organization’s expansion strategy. Previous tourism roles held was the inaugural Executive Director of Tourism Burnaby, with strategic focus on business and sports events and purpose-based travel; and also led Tourism Vancouver’s sport event hosting program.

Matthew has been an active contributor to BC and Canada’s tourism industry including serving on a variety of boards and committees including the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance and has been an active member of both the BC DMO Association, the Destination Marketing Association of Canada and Vancouver Park Board’s Marketing Committee. Currently, Matthew is a member of Business Events Canada’s Advisory Committee, Board Member of Tourism Vancouver and a member of the BC Meetings and Events Industry Working Group that has developed BC’s best practices and restart guidelines.

A passion for outdoor activity, travel and healthy living, in his spare time, Matthew enjoys a number of recreational pursuits including skiing in the winter while cycling and golfing in the summer.

Holeigh Daniel

Senior Manager, Travel, Meetings & Incentives at Aflac

On the Horizon: In-Person Meetings

Holeigh graduated from The University of Mississippi - Ole Miss in 2006 with a degree in Hospitality Management and has 15 years of event management experience. She joined Aflac in April 2017 and is currently Sr. Manager, Travel, Meetings and Incentives where she helps lead the travel and meetings team. Holeigh and her team focus on exceeding attendee expectations through meaningful and cost effective events; and are committed to developing and implementing strategies to encourage behavior that reduces the spread of COVID-19 among staff and attendees.  She lives in West Point, GA with her husband Walter and their two dogs, Max and Chief.

 

Meredith Donaghey

Sales Director, US Team at Destination Toronto

On the Horizon: In-Person Meetings

A proven Sales Director in Hospitality and Tourism, Meredith Donaghey represents Destination Toronto in key U.S. markets including the Financial & Insurance, Scientific and Technology sectors.

Before joining Destination Toronto, Meredith worked in the hotel industry for 20 years with Starwood Hotels, Marriott International and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Her career has taken her across the globe for business and personal travel, but Toronto is always home. “I’ve lived in this city my entire life and it makes me proud to share my story. Toronto’s an incredibly dynamic, innovative and inspiring destination, with amazing cuisine, opportunities and culture.”

Lisa Messina

Vice President of Sales at Caesars Entertainment

On the Horizon: In-Person Meetings

Lisa Messina has over 20 years of leadership sales experience at international hospitality brands and currently is the Vice President of Sales at Caesars Entertainment. In her role, she is responsible for leading the Caesars Entertainment sales strategy for meetings and events globally. This includes the oversight and coordination of all Meeting and Convention Sales, and all direct and inside sales efforts in the regions and at the properties.

Previous to this role, Messina was the Executive Director, Intermediary Group Sales with Hilton Worldwide in Las Vegas, leading a team of sales directors and managing key intermediary customers to achieve the annual revenue goals. She negotiated and activated global partnership agreements to drive market share and revenue to all 14 brands and more than 5,000 hotels. Prior to Hilton Worldwide, Messina was the Chief Marketing Officer of ConferenceDirect, one of the world’s leading event management and hospitality service firms. She was also the Associate Publisher of MeetingMentor Magazine, a leading trade publication, as well as being Director of Sales at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in Washington, D.C and Director of Sales at various Wyndham Hotels &Resorts properties in the U.S.

Messina received her Bachelor of Science at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. She has called Las Vegas home for ten years, where she enjoys all that the city has to offer, including outdoor activities she shares with her husband Joe and their two labs.

Cody Morgan

Senior Manager, Travel, Meetings & Incentives at Aflac 

On the Horizon: In-Person Meetings

Cody has been with Aflac for 17 years and is Senior Manager of Travel, Meetings and Incentives. She is responsible for strategy planning, travel policy management, and oversight of departmental operations. Her team includes meeting coordinators, travel agents and support staff that work together to manage events that support Aflac WWHQ and field force agents.

Her 22 years of industry experience began with a temporary position in hotel sales that evolved into the Director of Catering, before joining Aflac in 2004 where she has happily been ever since. Cody has a degree in marketing from Columbus State University.

Cody lives in Ellerslie, GA with her husband Clark. Together they have 3 children and   a pit bull rescue, Jack, who likes to pop in on Zoom calls. She enjoys cooking, Netflix binges and road trips to find local BBQ.

Holly Duckworth

Certified Workplace Mindfulness Facilitator at Leadership Solutions International

Making The Mindset Shift (Again)

Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP, LSP is a trailblazing keynote speaker and applied mindful leadership advisor. As a contributor to the New York Times, Producer/Host of the Everyday Mindfulness Show, and columnist to countless industry publications she works with stressed-out leaders to create, peace, presence, and profits. Holly’s career began in the world of non-profits and volunteer leadership teaching thousands of association staff and volunteers how to “reboot” for success. Today she takes the best of her strategic vision expertise, blends it with mindful leadership practices and her event background to curate experiential events that change hearts, minds and companies.
Our world has become mind less. Thru mindfulness training Holly works with you to know what mindfulness is, what it is not. Then apply your mindfulness techniques to produce more productive and profitable organizations.

Holly’s was named Meetings Today 2018 Trend Setter for her applied mindfulness work and 2016 Smart Meetings Woman of the Year. Her podcast the Everyday Mindfulness Show and book were named top resources for mindful leadership in 2018.  Holly’s current book Mindful Leadership: The Stress-Free Guide to leadership is a best seller and her award-winning book Ctrl+Alt+Believe: Reboot Your Association For Success has won two national awards. Holly believes mindfulness builds leaders and organizations that work for everyone.

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