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2019 Conference Speakers


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Steve Baker

Vice President of The Great Game of Business

Steve Baker is the co-writer of the #1 bestseller The Great Game of Business 20th Anniversary Edition and one of Inc. Magazine’s top-rated speakers. He coaches fast-growing companies on open-book management, strategy & execution, and leadership and employee engagement.

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Amber Johnson

Chief Communications Officer, The Center for Values-Driven Leadership at Benedictine University

Amber is a weekly contributor at, where she (with colleague Jim Ludema) writes about driving engagement and creating strong cultures through values-driven leadership. Through her writing, public speaking, and consulting, Amber helps companies connect their purpose and values to their core strategies and brands. She is an experienced consultant and is the co-author of several e-books and practitioner resources. Amber’s global leadership experience with World Vision and the US Peace Corps has prompted her interest in creating high-performance virtual teams, which she is researching as part of her Ph.D. in values-driven leadership from Benedictine University.

Learn More About The Center for Values-Driven Leadership


James D. Ludema, Ph.D.

CVDL Co-founder and Director; Professor, Global Leadership and Core Faculty at Benedictine University

Jim Ludema, Ph.D., is Professor of Global Leadership & Director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership at Benedictine University. He is a regular contributor and the author of The Appreciative Inquiry Summit. Jim has worked and consulted in organizations around the world.

Learn More About The Center for Values-Driven Leadership


Nikki Lewallen

Head of Partnerships, Emplify

Nikki is an accomplished business development professional, speaker and philanthropist. As CEO of Rainmakers, Nikki supports the Indiana business community by providing a platform for authentic business growth. A natural connector of people, Nikki's expertise in business development enables her to find and nurture strategic relationships that result in meaningful business outcomes. As reflected in her leadership style, Nikki is an avid proponent of robust company culture. She believes that for people to succeed in business and life, it is necessary for them to love what they do. It is this passion for employee engagement that led Nikki to join Emplify in 2017, a company devoted to helping millions of people find meaning in their work. Nikki holds a variety of board positions around Indianapolis including the Indianapolis Rotary and Purposeful Living INC. She believes that the work we do on earth to produce abundance fuels the causes nearest and dearest to our hearts.

Learn More About Emplify


Kirk Miller

Director of Business Development at Second City Works

Kirk Miller is a Global Sales Executive with 20 years of C-Level selling in tech, learning & development, and entertainment. He is consistently recognized as a top sales producer who exceeds quota while focusing on the strategic initiatives of the companies he represents.

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Nick Sarillo

Founder & President of Trust and Track

Nick Sarillo is a successful business owner, author and speaker on the topics of business culture, entrepreneurship, leadership and customer loyalty. Nick’s businesses, including 2017 Forbes "Small Giants" winner Nick's Pizza & Pub, serve as a great example of how living your company’s purpose and values creates a world-class culture of achieving award-winning customer service, higher margins, and an engaged, productive workforce. In his talks, Nick shares real-life ideas, strategies and processes that can turn any small business into a successful, high-performance organization. He is also the author of A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur and NBC’s Nightly News.

Learn More About Trust and Track


Jim Kales

CEO of Aspire

Jim Kales is CEO of Aspire, a non-profit recognized throughout the Midwest as a leader in providing bold, pioneering and uncompromising services to kids and adults with developmental disabilities like autism and Down syndrome. Each year Aspire helps more than 1,000 kids and adults with disabilities and their families through its four ground-breaking enterprises. Each Aspire enterprise is guided by Aspire’s inclusive vision: creating a community where people of all abilities live, learn and grow together.

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Phil Sponsler

President of Orbitform

Phil has been at Orbitform since 2000, and was promoted to President of the company in 2008. His leadership is one of the key reasons Orbitform has become an industry leader in forming, fastening, and riveting applications. His drive towards vertical integration helps the company offer engineering, design, machining, fabrication, and assembly solutions all under one roof. Before coming to Orbitform, Phil started his career as a Design Engineer at Aeroquip (Eaton) in 1984. He reached the level of General Manager of the Fluid Connectors – US Division, before pursuing his personal business and entrepreneurial interests from 1998 to 2000. Throughout his career, Phil’s proven leadership has helped create cultures of continuous improvement, fostered the development of high performing teams, and secured the business futures of the individuals and companies under his responsibility.

Learn More About Orbitform


Chris Considine

Founder and President, Onward Advising

The name ‘Onward Advising’ tells the story. To Chris it symbolizes a unified, team-oriented, forward-looking and positive approach to business and to life in general. He believes that in business, as in life, 10% is what happens and 90% is how you react to it. Chris established Onward Advising to help people bring clarity and focus to their business. His broad-based experience and ability to communicate enables him to add tangible value to many aspects of a business. Chris started his career at Wilson Sporting Good where he held numerous positions including General Manager of the Team Sports Division for over 10 years and President/CEO of Wilson for nine years.

Learn More About Onward Advising

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Dan Heuertz

Certified EOS Implementor

Dan is a professional EOS implementer and serial entrepreneur, launching 13 companies over the past 25 years. In 2012, Dan obtained a certificate from the Liautaud Institute at the University of Illinois Chicago in Emotional Intelligence. This learning experience greatly impacted his ability to facilitate difficult conversations and guide leadership teams to gain personal and professional insights. Dan is a 16-year member of EO, Entrepreneurs Organization, serving the organization in a Global Leadership role for over 10 years. He led the global growth of 3 of EO’s emerging programs; Accelerator, Mentorship and GSEA (Global Student Entrepreneurs Award). Additionally, Dan has facilitated 50+ strategy summits at Global Leadership Conferences with EO, YPO and the G20, amongst other high-level meetings. 

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Stephen Lease

CEO (Chief Executive Octopus)

Stephen's spirit animal is an octopus, he's soul-bonded with a basset hound, and he is 16% flamingo. Since Stephen co-founded goodr in 2015 (his sixth company), goodr has grown to more than 50 employees, won Runner’s World Magazine’s Gear of the Year award twice (2016 & 2018) and was named Inc. Magazine’s Best Places to Work. He would love if this success was all due to his brand-building knowledge and emotional intelligence, but it’s mostly a result of surrounding himself with people smartr, nicr, and funnr than him.

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Kathy Steele

Owner and CEO, Red Caffeine

Kathy Steele is passionate about people, serious about business growth, and loves to help the underdog cause in her community. She is fortunate to "do it all" in her role as CEO of Red Caffeine Marketing + Technology. She is the company visionary overseeing growth, strategic partnerships, and employee engagement.

Learn More About Red Caffeine

Julie Poulos

Vice President, Red Caffeine

Julie plays a key role in the sales and marketing foundation of Red Caffeine, including brand communications, service structure, sales strategy, marketing plan, and implementation tools. A proud client advocate and primary business development expert, her true passion is developing relationships, connecting people, and finding solutions to address business challenges. She identifies with the demands of business owners and pulls from her background to consult clients in assessing needs and recommending strategies that make an impact. Julie is also known as the Mistress of Marketing and our Culture AmBADASSador.

Learn More About Red Caffeine


Kacey Keegan

Strategist, Red Caffeine

Kacey Keegan, works a hybrid role which gives her a heavy hand in all stages of the client relationship. She leads projects in early-stage strategic research, brand story development, market positioning, marketing recommendations, and ongoing strategic communications. With the understanding of your business goals, Kacey can help tell your business story in a way that matters to your customers.

Learn More About Red Caffeine

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Cheryl Johnson

Chief Human Resources Officer, Paylocity

As Chief Human Resources Officer at Paylocity, Cheryl oversees strategy for people and human resources functions. She joined Paylocity in 2018 and brings with her over 17 years of HR experience in a variety of industries where she led strategies and initiatives related to attracting, retaining, and engaging talent and building culture. Cheryl most recently served as Chief HR Officer for Echo Global Logistics, a transportation and supply chain management organization. Prior to Echo, Cheryl guided the HR strategies of many well-known companies such as ULTA Beauty, Radio Flyer, Sears Holding Corporation, and Fossil, Inc.

Learn More About Paylocity


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