Bob Axenfeld

Title: Executive Chef
Company: Bonaventure Resort & Spa

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Victor Bao

Title: Business Consultant
Company: Valorem Group

Victor Bao is a consultant and keynote speaker on digital and mobile marketing in the hospitality industry, market growth, as well as building a revolutionary marketing culture within organizations. For over a decade he has served as a Professor at Florida International University and University of Miami where he lectures on Marketing Strategy and Entrepreneurship Marketing. Bao has spoken about digital media at several conferences including SITE, ITME, IMEX USA and IMEX Germany.

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Bao is a Consultant at Valorem Group, a company dedicated to providing digital marketing and sales services to hotels, resorts and DMCs founded in 2001. Over the last 25 years Bao has consulted for global hospitality brands such as InterContinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Las Brisas Hotels, Silken Hotels, Barcelo Hotels, recently completing a project for Louis Vuitton who entered the digital cruise space in 2013. Prior to Valorem Group, Bao served as an executive at multiple companies in Europe, The United States, and Latin America including Maritz, Club Med and Yamaha where he created powerful strategies and tactics for growth.

The Honorable Lynda Bell appointed Victor to the prestigious Cultural Affairs Council of Miami Dade County where he actively presides chairing committees directly impacting the viability of Miami Dade County’s arts and theater programs. Prior to becoming a councilman, Mayor David Dermer appointed Bao to the Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board, where he was elected Vice Chairman in two consecutive terms. There he advised Mayor Dermer on all business matters related to the operation, management and maintenance of the Miami Beach Convention Center. He also advised on business related to the operation of the Jackie Gleason Theatre, and was on a subcommittee to enhance the Walk of Stars for Miami Beach dedicated to appreciation for artists and their contribution to the Miami Dade community.

Miami Dade County Public Schools appointed Bao to the Civil Rights and Diversity Committee where he was involved in redistricting and monetary policy. Bao is also an active board member of Independent Voices of Teachers, a public policy group fighting for improving education in Florida.
Since obtaining his master’s degree at the University of Miami, Bao has taught as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. As professor of Marketing Strategy he has taught hundreds of young adults from South Florida to grow into valuable assets for the community for over a decade. At FIU, Bao created the first Entrepreneurial Marketing course under the School of Marketing, which he still teaches today. He also worked as a Professor at the University of Miami where he taught Marketing Strategy and Market Research.

A business executive with over 25 years of experience, Bao has focused on strategic planning, digital business, business development, and business consulting. He has served as an executive at multiple companies in Europe, The United States, and Latin America, and has created powerful strategies and tactics at the executive level for each.

Bao was born in Boston, Massachusetts and was raised in Miami. He received a scholarship in Journalism from Miami-Dade Community College where he received his Associate in Arts Degree, a Bachelor’s of Arts from Florida International University, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Miami. While residing in Europe, Bao also completed Graduate Certificates in Marketing from Vermond University or Madrid, Spain.

Bao has been featured in publications across the United States for his involvement in top rated television programs and entrepreneurship. Bao was recently featured in Business Miami Magazine, a University of Miami publication, as one of the top entrepreneurs in South Florida. Articles about him can be found in numerous publications nationally and internationally ranging from Hispanic Business Magazine to Guam’s Pacific Daily News.
In 2005, Bao received a patent pending for his work on Planner Site, a virtual community for travelers, and in 2013, Bao had a patent published for a loyalty and rewards mobile application he created to facilitate rewards programs for hotels and resorts.

thumbnail-1Stacey Paul Barabe

Title: President, Creative Director
Company: Exhilarate Events
Phone: 407-446-2092

Stacey Paul Barabe been described by industry peers. Using her 20 years of experience, Stacey shares with a style that is real, relevant and interactive. Working with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies has given Stacey the insight into the fundamental principles that govern special events.
Stacey’s career has been defined by her passion for “next generation” meeting ideas. Never one to rehash the average, her industry focus is to create the next great event. Large scale corporate events, product launches, branded environments and teambuilding experiences have all benefited from her unbridled creativity.

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As an award winning event producer and Certified Special Event Professional Stacey is an authority on experiential environments. Engaging the audience with interaction during public speaking and presentations is very important to Stacey, she feels the days of the “talking head with slideshow” are numbered.
As an industry leader she’s been a president of International Special Event Society Orlando, an advisory board member for Special Events Magazine, industry awards judge and guest lecturer at UCF- Rosen School of Hospitality. She has served as a board member for the SEARCH Foundation and the American Advertising Federation. Additionally, you can find her writing articles, contributing to blogs and quoted in trade publications.
After years working for a major hotel brand and a large national DMC, Stacey was thrilled to open her own event design and production firm early in 2008, Exhilarate, and is looking forward to audaciously expressing herself as an entrepreneur, adding focused ROI value to her clients.

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Dina Belon

Title: Director, Hospitality Strategic Alliances & Development
Company: MindClick Global
Phone: 407-256-7742

Dina Belon serves to build industry engagement in the MindClick Global Index creating an industry-wide solution for greening the global hospitality supply chain. As a member of the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) Florida / Caribbean Chapter Board of Directors, President of Green Destination Orlando (GDO) and Vice-President of Sustainable Hospitality for NEWH, she works to promote sustainable development and operations throughout the hospitality industry.
Dina is a LEED Accredited Professional with an ID&C specialty, and a licensed Interior Designer with experience in project management, brand quality and resort rehabilitation.

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In her twenty years in the hospitality industry she has had leadership roles within hotel brands such as: Wyndham Worldwide as the Vice-President of Product Enhancement; Marriott International as a Project Manager; and The Peabody Orlando, a 2.5 million sq. ft. convention hotel, as Sustainability Specialist. Dina was also an owner and principal of RUSH Hospitality, a sustainable Design and Construction Company focused on hotel renovations.
Dina’s personal mission is bold and long-term – to help radically re-orient the hospitality industry to embrace the triple bottom line: people, planet and prosperity.
• Green Lodging News regular contributor
• The Healthy Facilities Institute
• The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) – Eco Currents
• The Hospitality Industry Network International magazine
• American Resort Development Association (ARDA) – Developments Magazine
Speaking Engagements
• Sustainable Hotel & Resort Conference, 2013
• Lodging Green & Hospitality Conference, 2013
• International Business Conference, St. Leo University, 2013
• Go for the Green Conference, 2012
• Florida Green, Energy & Climate Conference, 2012
• HOTEC Conference, 2010
• American Resort Development Assoc. Conference 2010
• Green Lodging Conference, 2009 & 2011
• NEWH sustainable conference, 2008

John Buschman

Company: South Beach Wine & Food Festival

John teaches at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management while working on a PhD in Social Welfare. His primary research topic is food insecurity in the community and he is currently looking at ways that the hospitality industry can help to alleviate the problem.

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Matthew Carson

Title: Director, Global Accounts
Company: Production Resource Group
Phone: 407-996-4160

Matthew Carson has been working in the entertainment industry since he was a teenager. He studied theater at the University of Wisconsin as well as The Florida State University where he received an MFA in Technical Production. After receiving his degree, he spent two years teaching theater at The University of Central Florida, in Orlando. In 1997, Matthew left teaching and accepted a position as an Account Executive with the FX group, an Emmy award winning scenic design and fabrication company, specializing in the Corporate Meeting and Broadcast industries.

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In 2000, Matthew left FX to work as a freelance Technical Director and Producer for the Corporate Meeting market. After two years of working freelance, Matthew, along with a partner, started Odyssey Creative, a production company focused on meetings and digital media. Late in 2004, Matthew returned to the FX group as the director of operations, and eventually served as the President until June of 2009. In 2009 Matthew joined Production Resource Group where he currently serves as a Director of Global sales.

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Joanne Corby

Title: CEO/CLO
Company: U Expansion
Phone: 321-259-4210

Known for her humorously simple outlook, Joanne Corby has been called “a breath of fresh air” and “someone you want on your team when problems arise” Joanne is an award winning speaker, author, trainer, and executive coach. She has presented keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars throughout North America. Prior to becoming a professional speaker, Joanne was a successful corporate educator in the healthcare industry. She developed multiple training centers working with employees, executives and community leaders to create educational programs blending business objectives with consumer wants.

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Joanne earned her master’s degree in human resources development and public administration in 1997. A mixture of natural disasters and the terrorist attack of 911 steered her away from the rat race, and in April 2002, she founded U Expansion INC, a full service corporate education company. Since then, Joanne has spoken to countless Fortune 100 and 500 companies as well as international associations. Meeting Professionals International honored her as the Rising Star for 2002-2003, and later selected her from their membership as one of 12 professionals to roll out MPI’s ROA platinum Speaker imitative.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 3.13.50 PMJeannette Davidson

Title: Director of sales
Company: GEO Events
Phone: 206-617-7473

Jeannette Davidson is the Director of Sales at Geoteaming and has been part of the meetings & events industry for over 20 years. She is the Immediate Past President of the Washington State Chapter of MPI and also serves on the Chapter Membership Advisory Council with MPI-Global . She is very involved in our industry through her leadership and volunteerism and is committed to continued development and opportunity for those in this field.
Jeannette’s experience is in the arena of sales, team-building, leadership development and gamification. While working with Geoteaming, she has consulted with clients from all over the nation delivering innovative and unique experiences for conference attendees and employees that are focused on increasing engagement, learning and professional development.

todd demorest

Todd Demorest

Title: Lead Facilitator
Company: Odyssey Teams, INC
Phone: 530-521-3670

Mr. Demorest began his career in training and development in 1987 working on an extensive project with AT&T after divestiture.
He was instrumental in a multi-year engagement with Capital One and has consulted with many of the top organizational and experiential training companies in the country.
He recently was an integral part of a multi-layered integrated cultural change initiative for 2,500 managers at a Fortune 100 Company.
His work as a consultant, coach and facilitator has attracted clients such as the 1996 Olympic Volleyball Team as they prepared for the games in Atlanta.
Mr. Demorest has delivered to tens of thousands of participants around the world. His commitment, energy, and openness is his trademark and paramount to the successful design, training, and delivery process for which he is known.
He’s has sailed a Tall Ship from California to Hawaii, became a private pilot and after 8 years in Hawaii, now resides in Chico, CA with his wife and two daughters.

Juliette Deal

Company: World Centric

matthew-doneganryanMatthew Donegan-Ryan

Title: Director of Mobile Strategy
Company: Cvent
Phone: 571-830-2335

Matthew Donegan-Ryan is Director of Mobile Strategy for Crowd Compass, the division of Cvent that develops mobile apps for corporate and business events.  In Matthew’s current role, he serves as a key driver for securing new mobile app business, building and maintaining relationships with strategic partners and planning the mobile product road map. Due to Matthew’s extensive event technology experience, he is often sought out as a subject matter expert in the mobile apps and social media industries.  Matthew is an eight year event technology veteran and has helped lead two startups to successful acquisitions in the event management space.


Lyn Farmer

Title: Wine & Food Editor & Arts Ambassador
Company: Ambassador
Phone: 305-968-7976

Lyn Farmer is a James Beard Award-winning wine and food writer, broadcaster and arts educator. He is director of VeritageMiami (previously known as the Miami Wine & Food Festival), one of Florida’s most successful charity wine events, as well as wine and food editor of South Florida’s Tropic magazine, and a regular contributor to Indulge Magazine.
Lyn is also the arts ambassador of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, developing signature experiences that combine visual and performing arts with food and wine, as well as leading a series of seminars on the hidden synergies of wine and the arts and how to engage all five senses to better experience art in every form.
Formerly director of entertainment for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and wine and spirits ambassador for Silversea Cruises, Lyn has consulted for the hospitality industry, museums, and performing arts organizations. In the process, he has led dozens of tours and given hundreds of presentations, not only on food and wine but also on the visual and performing arts, international communication and cultural exchange.

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For a decade Lyn Farmer was restaurant critic of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper and is the author of the Louis Vuitton City Guide Miami. He has been a judge at numerous international wine competitions, including the Argentine Wine Awards and Catad’Or Chile, and gives seminars for the Italian Trade Commission, VinItaly and the French trade organization Sopexa.
An avid traveler and published photographer, Lyn began his professional career in the United States Foreign Service with the U.S. Information Agency specializing in cultural affairs, finally serving as director of cultural programming for Voice of America. He has worked with National Public Radio (where he won a Peabody Award), and created many audio guides and tours for prominent American museums including the National Gallery of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution. He has taught courses in music and art history at the University of Miami and Florida International University and was the program annotator of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony of the Americas. For a dozen years Lyn was program director and morning host of South Florida classical music radio station WTMI-FM.
Lyn is certified by the Society of Wine Educators (CSW) and the Sake Education Council in Tokyo (CSP), as well as the governing bodies of the Champagne Region (CIVC) and the Portuguese wine industry (IVDP). In recognition of his contributions to the French wine industry, Farmer was elected a Chevalier and Officer of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne, an association of the great houses of Champagne.

Nicholas Hall HeadshotNicholas Hall

Title: Director, Wellness Center
Company: Saddlebrook Resort
Phone: 813-230-5112

Nick Hall has a Ph.D. in Neuroendocrinology and an honorary MD. He is a scientist and professional speaker, who has conducted groundbreaking studies linking the mind and body. This research has been featured by the national and international media, including CBS’ 60 Minutes, the BBC Nova series, and the Emmy Award-winning program Healing and the Mind, aired by PBS. Three of his programs are produced by Nightingale-Conant including the best selling title, I Know What To Do, So Why Don’t I Do It?

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He is also a member of the Nightingale-Conant Speakers Bureau. He facilitates programs for corporate clients at his Saddle brook Resort headquarters, conducts all day CE programs for health-care professionals around the country, and teaches Nutrition and Anatomy & Physiology at the University of South Florida. While he has a strong background in the mind and body, Nick is no stranger to the more pragmatic aspects of dealing with change and with making difficult choices. After earning his way through college wrestling alligators and milking rattlesnakes, he worked as an intelligence-operative for the U.S. Government. He also led a National Geographic-sponsored expedition to the West Indies, where he studied mass-stranding behavior in whales. While working in the islands, he endured the Marxist revolution in Grenada and the La Soufriere volcano eruption in St. Vincent. His practical insights for coping with change and adversity are woven into his scientifically grounded presentations.

Rick Hawkins

Company: Localecopia


Gary Hernbroth

Title: Chief Motivating Officer
Company: Training for Winners
Phone: 925-736-9392

Gary Hernbroth is chief motivating officer and founder of Training for Winners, a firm he began in 1995 after 18 years in the hospitality business. He parlayed his luxury hotel experiences in sales, marketing, and operations management, along with his passion for training and coaching, into a nationally-known speaking and training career.

Gary’s training has been featured in “Selling Power” Magazine, and he is both an on-line and print author for several hospitality and meetings-related publications such as Meetings Media, Club Managers Association, Hotel On-line, Inn Touch, and Successful Meetings. His clients include hotels, resorts, CVB’s/DMO’s, convention centers/facilities, golf clubs, meeting planner organizations, national associations, and companies across the USA and Canada. He is a repeat speaker for ASAE, MPI, HSMAI, IAVM, and PCMA.

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Gary’s active participation in industry organizations includes serving on the ASAE Associate Member Advisory Committee, ASAE Foundation/Annual Meeting Committees, PCMA Education Committee, Convention Industry Council, in addition to serving 2 terms as president of the Northern CA PCMA chapter. He was a contributing author for ASAE’s book “Selling to Associations.”

Gary is a graduate of The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University, where he was named one of The School’s Distinguished 75th Anniversary alumni. He currently serves on its Alumni Board of Directors. He resides in Northern California.

thumbnailTyra Hilliard, CMP, PhD, JD

Title: Speaker, Writer and Consultant
Company: Hilliard Associates
Phone: 912-506-8708

Tyra W. Hilliard, PhD, JD, CMP is a speaker, writer, and multipreneur. She has spoken for corporate and non-profit groups throughout North America, Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia. She also teaches courses in law and hospitality at the College of Coastal Georgia. Tyra is very active in meetings industry associations. She has chaired the PCMA Faculty Task Force and the Convention Industry Council’s APEX Contracts Panel. She was recognized as the Educator honoree at the PCMA Foundation Professional Achievement Awards Dinner in 2009 and as the Educator of the Year by PCMA in 2013. The committee she served on was also honored with the 2010 MPI Chairwoman’s Award for her work on the Meeting & Business Events Competencies & Standards (MBECS). During her career, Tyra has worked in the meetings industry as an attorney, a meeting planner, a catering manager, and an association executive. Her industry experience gives her a unique perspective on the legal and business aspects of meeting and event management.

Jeff-02Jeff Hurt

Title: Executive Vice President
Company: Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

Jeff Hurt joined Velvet Chainsaw Consulting in January 2010 and currently serves as Executive Vice President, Education and Engagement. In 2012, he was recognized as the PCMA Educator of the Year. Jeff has worked in leadership roles with five associations, five government organizations and several companies in the education, events and meetings departments, including Meetings Professionals International and Promotional Products Association International, one of the top 50 shows in the industry.

He is considered one of the leading authorities in the meetings industry on adult education, conference design and social media for events and associations. He speaks and blogs frequently about meeting and technology trends, the future of conference education, adult learning and all things meetings at

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Jim Knight

Title: Founder, CEO
Company: Knight Speaks
Phone: 407-341-3801

A Training & Development veteran for 30+ years, Jim Knight facilitates on a variety of interactive topics, including sessions around organizational culture, world-class service, employee branding, performance management, philanthropy, facilitation training and leadership skills.

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Jim cut his teeth in the training field through the Hospitality industry, starting out as a restaurant staff-level employee for Olive Garden and Hard Rock Cafe. He eventually became the head of the School of Hard Rocks, running point on all training & development functions for Hard Rock International.

Although part of a small training group that supported all cafe, hotel and casino properties, Jim Knight’s role at Hard Rock involved many facets of organizational training, including creating/managing all staff and management training materials & programs, facilitating its corporate university, overseeing management training locations, producing training DVD’s, directing company e-Learning initiatives, facilitating leadership transitions and traveling to property locations to deliver on-site classes & measure standards.

Jim has put his experience and creativity to work, which has consistently developed cutting-edge training concepts. During his time with the Hard Rock brand, his team won coveted Telly Awards in 2000 for their “guest service” video, took top honors in 2007 for their “menu rollout” video, garnered Training Directors Forum’s 1998 prize for “Reengineering Training” and won Brandon Hall’s Gold Best in Class Award for their “Service Recovery” e-Learning course. Jim Knight was also recognized by Training Magazine as representing one of the Top 125 training companies in the world out of all industries & businesses. Jim Knight has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Inc. Magazine and Fox Small Business News.

Jim has a music degree in Vocal Performance & Education and taught in the Florida public school system for 6 years, before catching the “hospitality bug”. He is a long-time member of CHART (The Council of Hotel & Restaurant Trainers), previously sat on the Certification Governing Board of the National Restaurant Association and started a local networking group with over 100 active members in Central Florida, to share best practices and discuss common issues with other industry professionals. Networking is a big part of his success.

Jim is the Founder & Owner of Knight Speaker, which positions him to facilitate at any association or company event as a keynote or breakout speaker. He is also a Managing Partner in People Forward, a business solutions consortium providing organizational expertise to the restaurant & hotel industry.
A portion of Jim Knight’s speaking proceeds goes to the No Kid Hungry campaign to eliminate childhood hunger in the U.S.

thumbnailJennifer Lee

Title: Business Strategist
Company: Coach Jenn Lee
Phone: 321-689-0521

A small business strategist and motivational speaker, Coach Jenn Lee is all about the success of her clients and getting America back on track and moving forward! Known for her energetic presentation style and drawing on her hilarious life experiences, Jenn speaks to entrepreneurs, sales teams and corporations across the nation, she is currently a partner on Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle Tour, a regular on Orlando’s FOX News as well as a contributor to FOX Business and regional news stations across the country. You can also find her insightful knowledge in Success Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, Entrepreneur, Redbook, and Working Mother Media. Follow at @coachjennlee

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Jessica Levin

Title: President
Company: Seven Degrees Communication
Phone: 908-912-4418

With a background in marketing and event planning, Jessica has a passion for connecting people and creating experiences based on strategic goals. She has a reputation as the “Go To” person regarding marketing, event design and anything involving trends in technology. Jessica uses social networking tools to build and strengthen both personal and business relationships and teaches others how to embrace social media as a way to create both corporate and personal brands.

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Tara Liaschenko

Title: Creative Executive Officer
Company: The Links Events Professionals

“With over 20 years of planning experience, Tara Liaschenko is an award-winning professional who has earned an impeccable reputation for creativity and excellence in the event and meeting planning industry.

Ms. Liaschenko is the Founder and Creative Executive Officer of The Link Event Professionals, Inc., a global company based in St. Petersburg, Florida dedicated to delivering all planning services relative to meetings and events.

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She has successfully executed thousands of events during her career ranging from those modest in size to large comprehensive gatherings. Regardless of the function type, her organization excels at engaging audiences, increasing participation, building your brand, and accelerating desired outcomes.

With strong community commitment, long-standing relationships with ethical and reliable vendors, and adept knowledge of production, Ms. Liaschenko is at the forefront of her industry consistently delivering her clients successful meetings and events.

An accomplished speaker, Ms. Liaschenko also facilitates board, staff, and client retreats, and in recent years, her company has expanded to facilitating strategic planning and leading business development planning for corporate and nonprofit clients.

An active member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), she is a Past President of the Tampa Bay Area Chapter Board of Directors. Expanding her commitment to MPI, she has served on the International Community Membership Advisory Council, International Chapter Advisory Council, RISE Awards Judging Panel, Chair of the International Chapter Advisory Council and Chair of the Chapter & Membership Advisory Council. Jeannette Davidson is the Director of Sales at Geoteaming and has been part of the meetings & events industry for over 20 years. She is the Immediate Past President of the Washington State Chapter of MPI and also serves on the Chapter Membership Advisory Council with MPI-Global . She is very involved in our industry through her leadership and volunteerism and is committed to continued development and opportunity for those in this field.
Jeannette’s experience is in the arena of sales, team-building, leadership development and gamification. While working with Geoteaming, she has consulted with clients from all over the nation delivering innovative and unique experiences for conference attendees and employees that are focused on increasing engagement, learning and professional development.”

Delatorro McNealDelatorro McNeal

Title: Peak Performance Expert, Best-Selling Author
Company: Platinum Performance Group
Phone: 813-963-5356

Delatorro McNeal’s personal passion is Peak Performance. With over 15 years of experience in the field of Peak Performance, Delatorro McNeal II personifies the traits of Platinum Performing Professionals and teaches, trains, coaches, empowers and inspires business professionals all around the world to do the same. He has delivered over 3000 paid presentations to major corporations, professional associations, sports teams, small businesses, top ranked universities and government agencies all over the world. He has been featured on FOX, NBC, ABC, BET, and TBN.

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He has authored 5 books and numerous coaching and training systems. He holds a Master’s Degree in Human Performance Enhancement and holds the coveted designation of Certified Speaking Professional, which is the highest international recognition of speaking excellence awarded by The National Speakers Association. Less than 7% of speakers worldwide hold this title. His mission is to help organizations and individuals GROW to the next level. Delatorro helps business professionals create lasting results that impact the bottom line.

meltzer_brad headshot

Brad Meltzer

Title: Best-Selling Author

Phone: 617-614-1600

Brad Meltzer is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate and seven other bestselling thrillers. His nonfiction books, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter, were also New York Times best sellers. He is the host of the acclaims History Channel series Brad Meltzer’s Decoded and the Eisner Award winning writer of the comic book series Justice League of America. His newest book is History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time. His new children’s books, including I am Amelia Earhart and I am Abraham Lincoln, come out in January 2014.


Fred Moore

Title: Speaker – Entertainer
Company: 4am Entertainment
Phone: 407-438-5389

Fred Moore originally came from…his mother! Seriously he was born and raised in a little town call Madison, Ohio just outside of Cleveland. You know Cleveland where the tower is terminal and the lake is Erie (Google it if you don’t get it). In the early spring of 1989 Fred made the big move to Orlando, Florida where he still resides (mostly because it doesn’t snow there!) Fred has always been a student of the fine arts, taking dance lessons, guitar lessons, drama lessons and magic lessons too.

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At the ripe old age of 16 is when he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up…a magician! His father told him to pick one; grow up or become a magician you can’t do both! Magician it was and he hasn’t look back yet (well only when he drops something.) Having traveled the world in over 30 countries he has performed his greatest trick to date…to be able to make a living as a magician! Making a living as an entertainer is not an easy thing to do and because of that Fred has learned a few things about; goal setting, keeping yourself motivated, personal development and creating a positive mind-set. Because of this Fred has been presenting his Keynote speech: Beyond “Good Enough” for corporations and associations all across the world. Mixing his humor and magic with the hard-learned life lessons combined with his improvisational skills he creates a custom one-of-a -kind experience that not only entertains but inspires!

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Nina Obier

Title: Transformational Trainer
Company: Success in Leadership
Phone: 954-540-6990

Nina Obier is an inspired professional, transformational trainer and a current member of ASTD- American Society for Training & Development. Best known for her positive energy, great listening skills, and her ability to simplify things for others, her passion for serving others shines through when she’s training, as does her desire for her participants to have fun.

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Along with her degree in hospitality management, Nina’s specific speaker qualifications include 19 years of training and development experience in Leadership, Time Management, Customer Service, and Communication. She is certified in DDI leadership and customer service programs and 7-Habits of Highly Effective People. Nina has served as Master of Ceremony for two Regional Direct Sellers conventions with 900 attendees, breakout Speaker at National Direct Sellers conference with 4000 attendees, and appeared in Empowering Women Magazine.

CPallesenChristine Pallesen

Title: Vice President, Sales and Marketing
Company: Dale Carnegie Institute
Phone: 954-771-8477

As Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Christine drives sales results and strategic partnerships for Dale Carnegie South Florida. She delivers presentations and coaching to South Florida associations as well as Dale Carnegie clients. Christine connects local business leaders and organizations with techniques needed to stay competitive in the areas of Employee Engagement, Leadership Development , Succession Planning, Presentations Skills, Communication Skills and Increasing Sales.

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A University of Central Florida graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Organization and Interpersonal Communication, Christine’s studies also included Leadership Studies and Non-profit Management. Christine worked for the UCF department of Leadership Studies for three years developing and delivering leadership program to college students before joining the Dale Carnegie team in 2008.
Christine currently serves on the Steering Committee of the United Way of Broward County Women’s Leadership Council, and previously served on the University of Central Florida Alumni Association Board of Directors, as well as the Fort Lauderdale Executives Association Board of Directors.

KPKarl Pfalzgraf

Title: Vice President Sustainability Assurance
Company: iCompli
Phone: 203-447-2817

Karl Pfalzgraf is Vice President of Sustainability Assurance at iCompli, a division of BPA Worldwide, the largest media auditing organization in the world. ICompli provides independent third party assurance on government mandates, voluntary industry standards and organizational performance claims. Most recently, he served as Director, Business Development, with Accountability, a leading international corporate responsibility think tank and consultancy. Previously he was Director, Global Brand and Communications at PwC, where he was responsible for global sustainability communications. Earlier in his career, he was Vice President, Corporate Communications at JPMorgan.


Sandy Pizzarusso

Title: Director/Event Management
Company: Fiserv, Inc.
Phone: 407-504-9438

“Sandy’s professional career over the last 26 years has provided her with a solid and diversified background within the Meeting Management and Hospitality Industries. Prior to joining Fiserv, Sandy worked with Open Solutions, Inc. as their Director of Meetings & Events overseeing a team of five handling all corporate internal & external meetings as well as tradeshows.

Prior to joining Open Solutions, Sandy worked with Impact Unlimited as their Director of Meetings & Events overseeing a team of seven handling the convention and meeting management areas as well as serve as their lead client relationship liaison.

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Prior to Impact Unlimited, Sandy worked with TBA Global Events as their Director of Event Management, overseeing the meeting management and destination operations areas as well as serve as the lead meeting manager for several high end pharmaceutical corporations.

Prior to TBA, Sandy worked for KPMG LLP, a corporate professional services firm for 16 years. Working in the meeting & travel services department, her most recent role was associate director which entailed leading teams that focused on sourcing and savings for over 2000 meetings & events.

Sandy’s background includes full global meeting management, trade show operations, production, lead sourcing, contract negotiations and supervising an internal conference center.


Renee Radabaugh

Title: Managing Director and President
Company: Paragon Events, Inc.
Phone: 561-243-3073

Renee Radabaugh is President and Managing Director of Paragon Events, Inc., headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida with eight offices worldwide.
Renee has over 30 years of experience in the events industry, specializing in corporate, government and healthcare events as well as large-scale meetings, conferences and association management.
Among other awards, Renee has been recognized as an “Influencer in the Meetings Industry” and a “Meeting Planner to Watch.” Paragon Events is now celebrating 25 years in business.


Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.38.33 PMRoger Rickard

Title: Founder, Chief Advocate
Company: Voice in Advocacy
Phone: 407-256-7742

Roger is the guy organizations call when they need help with advocacy. As Founder of Voices in Advocacy®, Partner of Revent, and Author of 7 Actions of Highly Effective Advocates; Roger works with organizations by ‘Supporting Causes Today. Developing Advocates Tomorrow.’

His education, experience and enthusiasm enlighten audiences on key issues that turn passion into action. Roger majored in Political Science at Pennsylvania State University and is still a proud Nittany Lion. He has been an advocate for citizen involvement since the age of 13. He was elected to public office as a young man, later served as a legislative staffer for the Pennsylvania State Legislature, and has worked on many local, regional and state campaigns as well as numerous Presidential campaigns.

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His industry efforts include work with AH&LA, ASAE, CIC, DMAI, GBTA, HSMAI, IAEE, PCMA, and MPI. In 2011, Roger authored The DMO Advocacy Toolkit for DMAI. In 2013, Voices in Advocacy® built a grassroots meetings industry advocacy platform for the Convention Industry Council called the CIC AdvocacyHub™.

Currently, he serves as a member of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. He has served in numerous industry associations’ leadership roles, is a recipient of several international industry awards, and is a member of Meeting Professional International’s prestigious “Community of Honoree’s”.

In 2013, Smart Meetings Magazine did a cover story on Roger, entitled Passion & Purpose, Roger Rickard’s Call to Action. Also in 2013, Successful Meetings Magazine named Roger one of the Six People Worth Watching in the Meetings Industry. In 2014, Meetings Focus Magazine named him to their inaugural list of Meetings Trendsetters.

Roger is recognized as an expert on advocacy engagement and grassroots activation. He serves as the government affairs faculty for a professional certified accreditation curriculum.

Casually known as the “Big Guy”, Roger’s exuberant personality makes for engaging presentations.

Geoffrey Sagrans

Company: Localecopia

As Assistant Director of Materials Management for The Breakers Palm Beach, Geoffrey works alongside the Director of Materials Management in overseeing the resort’s procurement, warehousing, receiving and mailroom departments. Geoffrey is also President of Localecopia, Inc., and a 501c3 non-profit organization focusing on local, sustainable business.


Veronica Seaman

Title: Director of Sales and Events
Company: LEO Events

Based in LEO’s Chattanooga office, Veronica handles Sales and Events. She got her start in event management when she was a student at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

After graduating with her degree in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Veronica served in Chattanooga’s oldest private secondary school as Director of Advancement and Alumni Affairs where she was in charge of all special events, corporate fundraising, media and more.
For LEO she oversees corporate accounts. Managing all aspects of corporate meetings, conferences, and special events, her expertise includes sponsorship activation, tradeshow design and set up, and registration management.

A native of the Chattanooga area, Veronica is thrilled to be on the LEO team and to put her seemingly endless energy to work on a national stage while staying true to her roots.

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Sam Simon

Title: EnterTRAINER
Company: Sam Simon Presents
Phone: 561-433-0933

The smallest spark of creativity can ignite a contagious passion for success within the walls of your workplace, meeting or conference. Sam Simon helps large and small teams fuel their creative fire by leading training sessions like no other. Sam magically transforms even the most mundane topics into a fun and engaging experience. Using humor, illusions and his signature style, Sam helps reinforce your message and makes it memorable. Employees will be sure to grasp the topic at hand — even though it feels like fun!

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Sam knows that the team that laughs together works well together, and uses his comedic sensibilities to help foster teamwork and solidify lasting bonds. As one client gushes, “Sam joined our content workshops and even contributed to the breakthrough thinking we achieved!” Sam Simon has circled the globe 4 ½ times speaking at corporate events. He harnesses the positive power of laughter to help some of the world’s most successful companies unleash their creative best. His variety of talents, from magic to motivation and hilarity to hypnosis, allow for flexible performances designed just for you. From the boardroom to the ballroom, Sam Simon offers a wide variety of programs targeted at the corporate, association and collegiate markets. Sam engages audiences, both large and small, with a unique brand of humor. He inspires audiences by reinforcing your message, skillfully incorporated into a show, meeting, or breakout session. Now in his fourth decade, Sam uses the experience of each event to continuously create new, custom-tailored presentations. This, combined with an unending obsession for his clients’ success, is a big reason why years of outstanding encounters…are no illusion. Sam Simon is a 15-year member of the National Speakers Association and a 20-year member of Meeting Professionals International.


Susan Southerland

Title: President
Company: Just Events Group
Phone: 407-259-2388 x 101

Entrepreneur, event planner, author, business consultant, wife and mother of four, Susan Southerland, is one of the foremost experts in the event industry today. She boasts the honor of planning thousands of events, and now she helps other event industry professionals achieve the same success. Susan is president of Just Events Group!, Inc., an event management company encompassing Just Marry!, which specializes in weddings, Just Right! Destination Management, which specializes in destination management services nationwide, and Just Celebrate!, which specializes in social events from intimate parties to lavish galas.

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Susan’s exceptional events have been featured numerous times on The Travel Channel, the Style Network and The Learning Channel.”" Her cutting-edge advice has been seen on television news and radio broadcasts around the country, as well as in Inc. Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today and periodicals around the world. Susan is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

Susan’s career began in weddings where she received many accolades. Her company Just Marry! is the official wedding-planning partner of Universal Orlando Resort and she is the National Wedding Expert for renowned wedding publication and online resource, Perfect Wedding Guide. Her wedding expertise is so widely recognized and loved that she was even given the prestigious recognition as one of only 30 wedding planners worldwide as an “”A-List Planner”" by Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Magazine.

Susan’s advice can be heard at conferences such as Wedding MBA, Tents and Events, Inc. Women’s Summit, NACE and CaterSource, as well as local seminars throughout the country. Susan also consults one on one with wedding and event professionals, and entrepreneurs who want to make their businesses flourish while maintaining a sane work and personal environment.

Look for Susan’s book, The Susan Southerland Secret: Personality Marketing to Today’s Bride, available at,,, and Follow her on Twitter (@Susan Southerland), Facebook (Susan Southerland Secret) and LinkedIn for inspiration, insight and a dose of reality on business and motherhood.


JanSpenceJan Horton Spence

Title: Chief Executive Officer
Company: Twelve Eleven, Inc.
Phone: 904-821-9309

Jan Horton Spence is an international consultant, speaker, trainer and business coach.  With contagious charisma and a zest for life which make her an excellent motivator and leader, the Georgia native has used her vast knowledge in sales, marketing, and business operations to help numerous clients including Pillsbury, Walmart, and Frito-Lay.

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A graduate of Mercer University (Macon, Georgia) with a BBA in Business Administration, Jan became Vice President of Business Development for Sandler Training in 2001, and was quickly lauded for her unique ability to help people implement attitude, technique and behavioral changes to increase their profitability.  While assisting other business owners in growing their companies, Jan and her husband, Mitch, decided to pursue their own entrepreneurial venture and launched the second FiltaFry franchise in the US in 2003.  As CEO, Jan built such a successful operation that they were awarded the “2005 Franchisee of the Year” by the International Franchise Association.  Meeting their four-year plan, they sold the business in 2007.  Since then, Jan has circled the globe as a trainer, consultant and guest speaker for franchisees, non-profit organizations and other companies.

Jan is one of those unique individuals who can lead, organize and motivate to make a difference in the lives of those around her.  As a member of the National Speakers Association, Jan combines her business experience with her desire to see people live out their God-given purpose and speaks to small and large groups about goal-setting, sales, priorities, and financial freedom.  Known for her highly interactive, entertaining & inspiration style, she recently taught in Switzerland, Romania and Uganda.

Jan is active in her home church of Beach United Methodist in Jacksonville, Florida.  She and her husband of fourteen years enjoy traveling the world when not at home attending Jaguars football games and cultural events.


Audrey Thomas, CSP

Title: President
Company: Organized Audrey
Phone: 952-944-9470

Audrey Thomas, CSP, has been entertaining and teaching audiences for over 20 years. As an author, speaker and productivity consultant, she presents for corporations, non-profits, conferences and conventions.  Audrey has authored several books and her client roster includes Boeing, 3M, FICP, and ING. She was a presenter at this year’s MPI World Education Congress.

Audrey writes for The Business Journals, Better Homes & Gardens and also UnitedHealthcare. She is the recipient of the Certified Speaking Professional designation. The CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform competence. Only 10% of speakers worldwide are awarded this credential.

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Tracy and Charley Vega

Title: Co- Founders
Company: Simple Self Defense for Women
Phone: 386-679-1458

Charley & Tracy Vega are the co-founders of Simple Self Defense for Women, an award winning company that promotes the personal safety of women and their children with a focus on how to prevent, avoid and escape a potential attack, threat or abduction. Tracy Vega has 20 years experience in marketing and working for fortune 500 companies. She is the winner of the 3rd Annual Power Women Magazine & Radio Talk Show “Woman of the Year” award for 2012 and the Woman of the Month for Every Way Woman Radio Talk Show. She has recently been appointed to the board of directors of the national non profit organization Can You Identify Me.

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Tracy designed the ultra-modern TV studio and created the trademarked company logo. Tracy is an experience martial artist who is also the business manager, responsible for market development, contract acquisition and social media. She is a regular blogger for the company, Balancing Act on Lifetime television and a guest blogger for The Ricki Lake Show. Charley Vega has over 30 years of experience in the martial arts. He is a Master Instructor of Combat Hapikdo and has taught self-defense to thousands of men, women and children. Charley host his own internet television show demonstrating his martial arts expertise. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Nova SE University and has taught Business Management classes at a state college. He has held senior management positions with several fortune 500 companies including AT&T and Siemens. These companies have recognized him for outstanding achievement including the Excalibur Award, Breaking New Ground Award ( 4times), Circle Of Excellence Award (6times) and President’s Club Award (5times). He is a published author and has been featured at several Barnes & Noble book signing events. Charley has been a guest speaker for Bank of America, Sprint, Caribbean Business, and the Department of Defense. Charley is the writer and executive producer of the PBS TV show Simple Self Defense for Women. Together Charley and Tracy Vega have designed and created the unique Simple Self Defense for Women program.

Michelle-Villalobos-Seated_Blue-Chair-11Michelle Villalobos

Title: Chief Executive Officer
Company: MIVISTA
Phone: 888-531-3830

Michelle Villalobos has developed 13 programs that have collectively been delivered- either virtually or in person- to over 150,000 people worldwide. She helps professional- both corporate and entrepreneur- develop their business and communications skills to increase career opportunities, leads, promotions and job offers. The Miami Herald names Michelle one of Miami’s “Top 20 under 40″ in 2011 and in 2013, she won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge for co-founding the Personal Branding Self-study program, Make them BEG. The media regularly bring Michelle in to give advice about how anyone -especially women – can brand themselves to get ahead in business. In January 2014, Michelle was name #5 on Evan Carmichael’s “Top 100 Small Business Experts to Follow on Twitter.”

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Michelle authored Chapter 13 in Dr. Ivan Misner’s (The Father of Networking , according to CNN), bestselling business book: Building The Ultimate Network. Michelle’s chapter was titled “From Nobody to Somebody: How to Build a Personal Brand Online.” Michelle also founded Miami’s largest business conference for entrepreneurial women, the “Women’s Success Summit.” which draws over 500 attendees, speakers and sponsors over 2 days. In addition to creating and delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on the topic of Personal Branding, Michelle is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument (MBTI) by CPP, Inc., the publisher of the test and was trained by one of the foremost experts in the field, Dr. Charles R. Martin, who has authors and co-authored several of the most respected and widely used manuals in the field. She also uses a variety of other assessment tools, including Wealth Dynamics, Strength Finder, The Fascination Test, DISC and more. What makes Michelle’s programs unique is the variety of skills, talents, and knowledge bases she combines in her methodology, which all tie back to one core belief: when people are engaged and having fun, they learn better and are more likely to retain the learning. When changing beliefs and behaviors or developing skills, lecturing is simply not as effective as active learning – active learning yields those “a-ha! moments” that groups crave and remember. Michelle’s speaking style is causal and interactive, and she regularly busts out a rainbow assortment of sharpies to illustrate points using everyday attendes-appropiate examples. She has studied everything from comedy sketch writing and improve theater to Advanced Accounting and Statistical Regression Analysis (yes she’s a bit of geek). Michelle holds an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in Psychology Modified (with mathematics), and an MBA in International Business from the University of Miami. She is also a member of the National Speakers Association, the premier US organization for professional speakers committed to advancing the skills, integrity and value of the speaking profession.