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Aaron Wolowiec

Chief Executive Officer

Aaron Wolowiec is a learning strategist and meetings coach for leading trade associations and individual membership societies across the United States. Committed to the latest research and trends on learning, intentional networking environments and meaningful transfer exercises, he launched Event Garde, a professional development consultancy, in 2011.

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Jennifer Amin

Director, Marketing & Membership

Location

Washington, D.C.

Bio

Jennifer Amin is a membership and client relations professional who works with associations and membership organizations to build and streamline their membership processes to ensure successful engagement, retention and member acquisition.

Jennifer began her career as an agent and publicist in the music industry where she managed media relations, as well as tour and album release publicity for several world-renowned musicians. She also negotiated crossover roles for musicians in television, Broadway and film.

Jennifer decided to leave the entertainment industry and transitioned her relationship management skills into
leading successful development, engagement and retention campaigns within membership organizations. She most notably led business development efforts for the ultra-high net worth, global membership organization, Institute for Private Investors. She is consistently recognized for her ability to identify current
and future needs within customer relations and member services, including growth strategies, member benefits and programs, and retention techniques.

Jennifer has studied at New York University and the Wharton School of Business.

Born and raised in the foothills of Colorado, she spent eight years living and working in New York City. In 2016, Jennifer relocated to the D.C. area with her husband and three pets, and is now enjoying the slower pace of suburban life. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys painting, traveling, hiking and camping, and is also an avid scuba diver.

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Lindsay Gross

Director, Facilitation Services

Location

East Lansing, MI

Credentials

  • Masters in Clinical Social Work from Michigan State University
  • Licensed Macro and Clinical Social Worker by the State of Michigan

  • Certified ToP Facilitator

Bio

Lindsay is an experienced meeting facilitator with over a decade of experience working with multidisciplinary groups, assisting them with goal setting/action planning, and creating an engaging environment that allows for consensus building. She has worked with professionals from both the public and private sector to help them work towards gaining common vision and achieve their goals. Lindsay is known for working with challenging groups to conduct needs assessments, system’s analysis and work together to co-create actionable recommendations for improvement. Lindsay is also an experienced public speaker and trainer, presenting at national conferences on a variety of topics related to overall system change and how to engage with communities.

Lindsay is a graduate of Michigan State University with both her bachelors and masters in Social Work. She is licensed by the State of Michigan in both clinical and macro level social work. Lindsay was recently elected Treasurer of the Technology of Participation Network Board.

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Tracy Koenig-Poches

Director, Instructional Design

Location

Portage, WI

Credentials

  • Certificate of Instructional Design, University of Wisconsin - Stout
  • M.A., English, University of South Dakota

Bio

Tracy is a graduate of the University of South Dakota and holds a master’s degree in English. She has spent the majority of her career in the high school classroom where she taught English and French courses. She has also designed and taught English courses for Madison College and the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater. Tracy is a self-proclaimed techie and has trained teachers K-12 on how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. She is also a Level 1 certified CrossFit trainer and enjoys coaching others on lifting and mobility techniques.

Kate Pojeta

Kate Pojeta, CMP

Director, Meetings & Technology

Location & Hometown

St. Clair Shores, MI

Bio

Early in her career, Kate served as association coordinator for the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, where she managed two associations and focused on developing leadership students and advisers. Coordinating about 40 conferences, meetings and camps annually gave her extensive experiences in event and information management. On top of the conferences, boards, marketing, membership and other duties that came with the job, Kate was also responsible for the association’s in-house technology projects and websites. Then she had kids! “To make a long story short, I exited the world of long hours, overnights and weekends at an association and traded it for world of longer hours, nights and weekends working for myself - but with kids underfoot.” During early motherhood, Kate focused on consulting for clients from both business and association worlds on technology tools, as well as computer tech support, website development, and database management. Now she works with Event Garde clients on their conventions, exhibitions, technology projects and more!

Tim Berghuis

Tim Berghuis

Manager, Finance

Location

Grand Rapids, MI

Credentials

B.A., Calvin College

M.B.A., Grand Valley State University

Bio

I’ve worked in accounting for more than 30 years, starting at Calvin College, my Alma Mater, in 1983. After spending 18 years there, I changed jobs to work at Stepping Stones Montessori School and began my master’s studies at Grand Valley State University. Shortly after earning my degree in 2007 I started working for Grand Rapids Public Schools in their human resources office. I started my own accounting company – Tim Berghuis, Accountant – as a part-time venture while I changed jobs to work at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC). In 2014 I finally realized my dream to become completely self-employed. My wife, Jill, and I also run an AirBNB operation from our home in the lively Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Cheretta Clerkley

Manager, Communications and Marketing

Location

Washington, DC

Credentials

MBA, CASE, CME

Bio

Cheretta Clerkley is a senior communications professional with 15+ years of progressive experience. Known for her strategic communication and innovative marketing expertise, creative ideas, and modernizations to develop and implement vital programs and marketing and communication strategies. Some of her most notable accomplishments include transforming the Insured Retirement Institute’s brand recognition and public education programs and revitalized their corporate funding program. In her previous role as the Director, Hormone Health Network with the Endocrine Society she spearheaded a redesign of their flagship Menopause Map™, launched new digital campaigns, and implemented a strategic marketing plan which resulted in the Network receiving top honors from the prestigious Web Health Awards. Her proven track record makes her a trusted advisor to senior leadership and her ability and eagerness to work across all levels won her respect and accolades from her peers and colleagues throughout the organization.

Prior to joining the Endocrine Society, she was the Director of Marketing and Corporate Relations with the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition where she implemented a corporate sales program, rejuvenated the exhibit program, and handled marketing and public relations. Currently, Cheretta is helping nonprofits refine and define their marketing and communication strategies to reach expanded markets. In 2013, she was recognized as the Expo Group’s, Show Manager of the Year. In 2015, she was the recipient of Association Forum’s Forty Under 40. Additionally, in 2016 she was selected by ASAE as an upcoming nonprofit leader and was named a participant in their NextGen Summit Leadership Program. Cheretta was also selected as one of ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) Scholars (2015-2017) cohort.

Cheretta serves on the board of Temple University’s Young Alumni Donor Association and volunteers as a mentor for the Bill and Melinda Gates College Success Foundation. She received her Bachelor’s in Journalism from Temple University, and her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College.

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Alina Cooper

Manager, Client Projects

Location

​Jacksonville, FL

Credentials

  • Certified Association Executive (CAE)
  • Credentialing Specialist

Bio

Alina is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) with extensive experience in the credentialing industry. Most recently, she served as business development director for a test vendor where she assisted certification and licensure programs in their missions to positively impact, serve and measure applicant competency through verified assessment practices, innovative delivery solutions and support services. Prior to entering the testing arena, Alina served the not-for-profit sector, enriching customer service, educational programs and professional development programs with her knowledge and enthusiasm.

As director of certification for the American Culinary Federation (ACF), Alina was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the certification department for more than 12,000 certificants. She oversaw certification products, delivery operations, candidate compliance, exam development, accreditation activities, vendor contracts/relationships and reporting.

Alina also managed the Business Law and Workers Compensation Sections of The Florida Bar. She was responsible for meeting planning, budgets, continuing legal education programs, certification and various membership development functions. During her tenure at The Florida Bar, she gained valuable knowledge in program planning, development, marketing and communication, and developed a deep appreciation for volunteer boards.

Alina is a proud graduate of Florida State University with a B.S. in Communication.

Jenny Hill

Jenny Hill

Manager, Social Communications

Location

Lansing, MI

Credentials

B.S., CTA

Bio

Jenny manages Event Garde’s social media presence by regularly posting to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Additionally, she maintains thousands of contacts in the firm’s database. Jenny earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University (CMU) and is a Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) for Greater Lansing. When not supporting Event Garde clients, Jenny spoils her dogs, Mylee and Lillie.

Ben Kotenberg

Ben Kotenberg

Manager, Instructional Design

Location & Hometown

Oshkosh, WI

Credentials

MS

Bio

Ben is a graduate of Illinois State University and holds a master’s degree in communication. During his graduate work, Ben completed Illinois State’s instructor training program and conducted original research on athletes in crisis, family businesses and small group communication. In addition to his work with Event Garde, Ben is an instructor for the University of Wisconsin where he teaches courses to traditional and adult degree learners in communication, management and information technology. Ben is also a staff member for the Health Information, Management and Technology joint venture program between the University of Wisconsin System and Bellin College of nursing where he helps prepare the next generation of healthcare leaders. Ben enjoys producing educational and small business promotional videos and can often be found looking through the viewfinder of a video camera or cutting together the latest shots in the editing bay. Ben and his wife, Annie, are avid travelers. After visiting all seven continents, they are on to their next goal of kayaking in all of the world’s oceans.

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Sara Krueger

Manager, Team Resources

Location

Chicago, IL

Credentials

B.A. in Film/Video Production

Bio​

Sara Krueger is a storyteller and activist with a knack for inspiring people of all backgrounds to join forces and create positive change in the world. In just 15 years, her bold leadership, strategic communications, and penchant for relationship-building have generated nearly $30M for innovative nonprofit programming in the mental health, art, and environmental sectors. Sara’s past organizations include: The Nature Conservancy, the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, and the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

Now as a consultant, Sara continues to help clients refine program metrics, streamline their operations, improve internal and external communications, and grow new business. She is passionate about incorporating health and wellness into the office environment as well, recognizing the powerful impact it can have on increasing employee productivity and retention. To this end, Sara completed her 200-hour Yoga & Meditation Training and will soon receive an additional certification in body-positivity and trauma-informed yoga. She plans to partner with companies on adopting more holistic approaches to the workplace that offer employees opportunities to make meaningful connections with their colleagues and learn about stress management and mindfulness practices.

Sara is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University to deepen her involvement in social justice work and expand access to care for those who need it most. This journey has already led to more than 100 hours of crisis intervention and advocacy training and nearly 150 hours of providing direct support to at-risk and homeless youth as well as survivors of sexual assault and adults with severe mental illness.

Sara spent her early years in Michigan farm country sneaking tractor rides and cozying up with books by a potbelly stove. She owes much of her artistic sensibilities to her late uncle, who introduced her impressionable six-year-old mind to David Lynch, Dr. Demento, German Expressionism, and 70’s science fiction. When Sara isn’t writing, working, or volunteering, she enjoys walking the shores of Lake Michigan, making elaborate meals and music mixes for friends, and hunting for her next piece of taxidermy jewelry. She lives in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood with her husband Garrett and her two shelter rescues: a 17-year-old cat named Lando and a dachshund/beagle dog named Luna.

Kristen Parker

Kristen Parker

Manager, Digital Content

Location

Lansing, MI

Credentials

  • Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with a specialization in Political Science, Michigan State University
  • New Media Driver’s License – Michigan State University

Bio

Kristen joined Event Garde in June 2013 as digital content manager and is responsible for Event Garde’s various communication platforms, including the blog and newsletter. She also works for Michigan State University’s public relations office. Kristen is experienced in several key communication disciplines, including publications, print media, media relations, and issues communications. She is the former editor of an international trade publication and the former communications director for a nonprofit health care association. Kristen is a 2000 graduate of MSU’s journalism program.

Adrienne Segundo

Adrienne Segundo

Manager, Credentialing

Location

Littleton, CO

Credentials

IOM

Bio

Adrienne is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM) program based in Athens, GA. She’s also a recipient of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) credentialing specialist certificate. In addition to her work with Event Garde, Adrienne and her husband, Keith, own a boutique association management company (AMC) specializing in the development and maintenance of certification programs. Based in Littleton, CO, Adrienne serves as its chief operating officer and chairman. Previously, she served as the director of credentialing and operations for the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting (NBSTSA), as well as chief staff executive to multiple national association certification programs via Partners in Association Management. Adrienne has extensive experience in exam development, ANSI ISO 17024 accreditation, NCCA accreditation, education audits and credential marketing.

KarelWagner

Karel Wagner

Manager, Instructional Design

Location

Fort Worth, TX

Credentials

B.A., Dallas Baptist University

Bio

Karel is an instructional designer/trainer with more than 20 years of experience working in industries such as healthcare and credit union insurance. Her passion is developing instructional material, both eLearning and instructor-led. She has earned several ATD certificates, including Master Instructional Designer, Learning Transfer, Advanced eLearning Instructional Design and Designing Virtual Training, as well as advance training in Storyline and Captivate.

When she isn’t building curriculum, Karel facilitates family wellness programs, primarily pre-marriage seminars for Anthem Strong Families, a nonprofit organization.

Karel and her husband Dan have been together for more than 30 years. They have four children and eight grandchildren.

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Erik Wakefield

Consultant

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Credentials

  • Six Sigma Black Belt
  • BA, Speech Communication, California State University, Fresno

Bio​

Erik is a performance leader that combines his experience in human resources, learning and development, operations management, process engineering, six sigma, change management and leading teams in each of these areas to maximize organizational results. He leverages this varied experience to tackle enterprise-wide challenges holistically through strategies that address people, process and technology.

Erik’s experience spans healthcare, medical device, transportation, logistics, and retail industries. Highlights for Erik include leading teams in the design, development and implementation of operational best practices for a multi-billion-dollar international expansion; leading integration efforts for mergers and acquisitions; guiding organizations on enterprise wide changes and building engaged teams through learning.

Beyond driving great results for organizations, Erik’s passion is helping people maximize their potential by teaching, facilitating and mentoring. Erik continues this focus outside of work through volunteering in his local community.

While Erik grew up and went to school in California, he moved to the Twin Cities over ten years ago and is finally getting used to winter and shoveling snow. In the summers, he loves spending time at the family cabin in northern Wisconsin. When not traveling, he’s usually hanging out with the neighbors or working on projects around the house.

Jennifer Grau

Jennifer Grau

Karla Gutierrez

Karla Gutierrez

Tom Morrison

Tom Morrison

CEO of Metal Treating Institute Management

Holly Duckworth

Holly Duckworth

Aplebaum

Lowell Aplebaum

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Jessica Pettitt

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Jenny Stanfield

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John Rampton

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Jamie Notter

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Samantha Whitehorne

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Heidi Brumbach

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Sarah Lugo

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Samantha Moore

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Kevin Whorton

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Kelly Van Dyke

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Courtenay Allen

Philip Forte

Philip Forte

President, Blue Sky eLearn

24 Seven

24 Seven

Talent and recruitment agency

Kelly Clark

Kelly Clark

Manager of Online Marketing, Naylor Association Solutions

Angie Ahrens

Angie Ahrens

Senior Director of Meetings and Events, Connect Meetings

Jeff Cobb and Calista Steele

Jeff Cobb and Calista Steele

Cindy Parker

Cindy Parker

Content Specialist, Shift Learning

Stephen Meyer

Stephen Meyer

CEO, Rapid Learning Institute

Ellen Burns-Johnson

Ellen Burns-Johnson

Tracy King

Tracy King

Chief learning strategist and founder at InspireEd

Buck Dodd

Bucky Dodd

Heather Carnes

Heather Carnes

Sarah Sain

Sarah Sain

Sarah Sain, senior content strategy and development manager, Naylor Association Solutions

WBT Systems

WBT Systems

Marianne Stenger

Marianne Stenger

Dave Lutz

Dave Lutz

Founder of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting

Sherry Marts

Sherry Marts

Kristen Johnson Brogan

Kristen Johnson Brogan

Preston Guyton

Preston Guyton

Broker in charge/managing partner, CRG Companies Inc.

Johnathan Brown

Johnathan Brown

CTO, Results at Hand Software

Lisa Link

Lisa Link

executive director of enrollment for Cornerstone University's Traditional Undergraduate Admissions Office

Dana Saal

Dana Saal

Founder, Saal Meeting Consulting

Elizabeth Engel

Elizabeth Weaver Engel

CEO and Chief Strategist, Spark Consulting LLC

Sohini Baliga

Sohini Baliga

Director of Communications, Taxpayers for Common Sense

KristinaKauffman

Kristina Kauffman

Moderator, Healthy By Association

Location

Lansing, MI

Credentials

Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA)

Bio

Kristina Kauffman, CTA is an 11‐year veteran of the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) and has held numerous key roles within the organization. Starting as receptionist, Kauffman has worked her way through several service‐focused positions to become the current events and CTA program manager. In this role, Kauffman is responsible for the planning and execution of internal and community events for the Bureau and the Team Lansing Foundation. Kauffman also facilitates the well‐received Greater Lansing Certified Tourism Ambassador Program. She is focused on promoting the program and its events and opportunities to regional members and potential members alike. One of the most successful CTA programs in the country, the Lansing CTA program now boasts more than 500 members and one of the highest renewal rates in the country. When not busy directly with the GLCVB, Kauffman is a loyal volunteer with the Old Town Commercial Association and serves as director of communications with the Michigan Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. In her free time Kristina enjoys spending time with family and being outdoors – both in the winter and in the summer. She loves cooking, photography and staying in shape by swimming and cross-country skiing.

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Angela Pelc

Moderator, Healthy By Association

Location

Allen Park, MI

Credentials

  • Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
  • MA, Theatre Management, Wayne State University

Bio​

After spending nearly 20 years in the hospitality and meetings industry, Angela Pelc has transitioned into the health and fitness world.

After having success on the Weight Watchers (WW) program, Angela now services and supports others on their journey as a Coach and Teammate for WW in the metro Detroit area and is currently leading her own meetings. Angela has lost 70 pounds on the program and is diligently working on maintaining it.

Angela has been on board with HBA since its inception and works with the moderator team to make this a useful and inspirational community to support busy professionals who have health and fitness goals.

Angela believes in daily activity and has completed several Beachbody workout programs. She also loves running and yoga.

JimThompson

Jim Thompson

Moderator, Healthy By Association

Location

Raleigh, NC

Credentials

IOM, CAE

Bio​

Jim Thompson, IOM, CAE, is vice president of association management and strategic development with CHMS, an association management company based in Raleigh, NC. In his role, Thompson serves as the executive director for the National Association of 4-H Agents and the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering, oversees the staff that manage CHMS’s 18 other clients and is responsible for business development.

Previously, Thompson was the executive director of the Association Executives of North Carolina, where he had been since September 2005. While at AENC, Thompson helped the organization grow its membership by more than 50%, saw retention increase to nearly 98% and worked to increase the recognition of the organization with the media, members and government officials. Before working at AENC, Thompson served as the director of business development for the NC Association of REALTORS® in Greensboro, a position he helped establish after his first year of employment with NCAR. He worked at NCAR for more than five years to substantially increase revenue for the association and to streamline the sponsor development program.

Thompson was born in Goldsboro, NC and moved to Raleigh in 1986. He would go on to graduate from Millbrook High School in 1990. He is a 1994 graduate of UNC-Greensboro and has a degree in English and political science, with a concentration in journalism.

Thompson is married to Hollyn, who is the art specialist at Jones Dairy Elementary. He and Hollyn have a son and daughter, and are very involved in the NC Football Club (NCFC).

Since moving back to the Triangle in 2005, Thompson has been extremely involved in the community. He has served as chair of the town of Wake Forest’s Recreation Advisory Board and was elected in 2013 as a Wake Forest Town Commissioner, serving for two years as Mayor Pro-tem. He and his family attend Wakefield United Methodist Church and are charter members.

Aleka Thrash

Aleka Thrash

enrollment counselor for Cornerstone University's Professional & Graduate Studies division

Troy Best

Troy Best

Vice President of Client Relations for The Image Shoppe

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Sarah Sladek

CEO, XYZ University

Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill

Content strategist at Seven Events Ltd.

Rachael Johnston

Rachael Johnston

Business development specialist, Naylor Association Solutions