Speakers - Leadership Conference 2018
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Andy Zimney, Employee Strategies, Inc.

For more than two decades, Andy Zimney has collected a wealth of experience as a leader, improviser, and entrepreneur, courageously committed to developing workplaces that bring out the very best in the people who work there. He has the distinct ability to weave together data, ideas and relatable stories that provide bold perspectives to inspire new opportunities for growth. Andy believes that leadership is available to everyone in an organization – regardless of title or rank – and he creatively opens peoples’ eyes and hearts to that possibility in every one of his presentations.

Andy’s unique experience translates into proven strategies for stepping up your team building, communication and workplace culture in innovative ways that will ring true with everyone in your organization. Expect Andy to always be fresh and engaging. You can choose the interactive level that is best suited to your attendees from crisp, compelling keynote narratives to hands-on workshops that invite participants to bring their own experiences and challenges into the conversation. Every event feels relevant and provides personally actionable learning opportunities.

Jed Copham, Brainerd Int'l Raceway

Jed Copham, Brainerd International Raceway.

David Rendall, Rendall & Associates

During the last fifteen years, David Rendall has spoken to audiences on every inhabited continent. His

clients include the US Air Force, Australian Government, and Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft,

AT&T, United Health Group, Fannie Mae, and State Farm.

Prior to becoming a speaker, he was a leadership professor and stand-up comedian. He also managed nonprofit enterprises that provided employment for people with disabilities.

In between presentations, David competes in ultramarathons and Ironman triathlons.

David has a doctor of management degree in organizational leadership, as well as a graduate degree in psychology. He is the author of four books:

- The Freak Factor

- The Freak Factor for Kids

- Pink Goldfish

- The Four Factors of Effective Leadership

Education Sessions

Heidi Christianson & Zach Crain, Nilan Johnson Lewis PA

Heidi Christianson is a shareholder at the law firm of Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis. Heidi counsels nonprofits with respect to compliance with state and federal regulations, federal and local tax exemption issues, governance, corporate matters, executive compensation, joint ventures and membership issues.  

Heidi has worked with nonprofits in private practice since 2004. Before that, she regulated nonprofits as an attorney in the Charities Division of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for Attorneys General Humphrey and Hatch. Heidi earned her J.D. in 1995 from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Stephen Usery, Executive Advisory Services

Stephen Usery is an executive advisor with broad leadership experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.  He has extensive experience with strategy development and implementation in complex environments, including across cultures and divisional/company boundaries. An expert in marketing and communications, Mr. Usery also has a solid foundation in financial management (as a non-practicing CPA) and significant operational management experience.

Stephen currently serves as board member and/or advisor to a number of Twin Cities based mission-centered organizations, including MinnPost, The American Composers Forum, The Under-Told Stories Project at University of St. Thomas, and The Citizens League.  Stephen also serves as Interim Executive Director of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, leading a major restructuring and relaunch of the organization.

Stephen earned his MBA from Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, where he received the Founder’s Medal, signifying his status as the top graduate. He also holds a BA from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


Eric Curtis, Curtis Strategy
Eric is the founder and President of Curtis Strategy, an innovative consulting firm
committed to delivering results that achieve greater capacity and impact for the Leaders
and Organizations they serve.

For over a decade Eric has led Curtis Strategy in a collaborative effort, alongside
business and nonprofit leaders across the country, addressing their most complex and
challenging issues, guiding them in achieving change and sustained success. They
have advised colleges and universities, healthcare and human services agencies, and
many professional agencies. Within the last several years, Eric has grown the company,
hiring additional Team members to accommodate for the increase in client demand.
Most recently, Curtis Strategy has developed the Tier 1 Leader Program, a virtual
executive coaching program focused on unlocking the potential of individual leaders and
maximizing their performance.

Eric earned his B.S. in Accounting from Norwich University and his MBA from Suffolk
University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Health
Council and is an adjunct professor at Suffolk University’s Graduate Business School.
Eric currently resides in Andover, Massachusetts with his wife Therese and their two
sons, Sean and Marcus.


Derek Owen, GrowthZone

Derek Owen has been assisting membership organizations with software solutions for over eight years. Serving on a Chamber board for six years, Derek can relate to his customers, and is a wizard at solving problems and implementing sophisticated solutions.

Those who work with Derek appreciate his gift of humor and ability to engage everyone when emceeing company events. His degree in public relations and advertising might have something to do with that. Co-workers agree
Derek is relatable and truly understands the challenges associations and chambers face.

Derek enjoys participating in a variety of sports activities and coaching youth athletics. He is a firefighter with the Nisswa, MN Fire Department. 


Julie Vreeland, MN Association for Volunteer Administration
Julie Vreeland is MAVA’s Greater Minnesota Program Manager.  She is  responsible for working to expand and build capacity for Minnesota nonprofits and government entities through excellence in volunteerism, building partnerships, and focusing on outreach and relationship building.


She has more than 35 years of non-profit experience, with over 15 of those years in the chamber of commerce management field. She has an undergraduate degree from St. Cloud State University, is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas Executive Director Leadership program  and received her IOM (Institute for Organizational Management) designation from the University of Colorado.

Vreeland works from the MAVA Greater Minnesota office located in Brainerd.  


Tracy King, InspirEd
As Chief Learning Strategist & CEO of InspirEd, Tracy King leverages her more than 20 years in the industry consulting with organizations on education strategy and learning design. Tracy is the author of Competitive Advantage: Create Continuing Education that is Profitable, Sustainable, and Impactful, and she advises associations on how to grow a reliably profitable and sustainable CE business that transforms learners. Tracy specializes in the intersection of learning science and technology. She's a thought leader, invited speaker, master learning designer and DELP Scholar. For more information please visit her online at www.inspired-ed.com or www.tracy-king.com.


Jim MacLachlan, Bolin Marketing
Sales and Marketing executive with extensive experience helping organizations transform their brands for accelerated growth. Leveraging deep industry knowledge and strategic vision to create integrated marketing solutions that empower sales organization to sell in a more consultative manner and create personal connections with prospects that inspire engagement and motivate action.

Jesse Ross, Jr., Mr. Jesse Ross LLC

Minnesota native, Jesse Ross has committed a lifetime to inspiring diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life and business. He is a published author, speaker, and community activist. Jesse understands that patterns and behaviors are a critical part of our culture. Those patterns exist within the community, workplace, nonprofit, and other areas of business. However, if they are not thoughtfully considered then tragic outcomes can occur, productivity suffers, and a nation is at risk. Therefore, Jesse travels nationally, regionally, and locally to share the 13+ years of knowledge he attained while serving as a director, leader, board chair, and fellow to educate others on how to communicate more effectively with colleagues, constituents, and members of the community.  

Jesse previously served as Area Director for Minneapolis Young Life, a global nonprofit organization and TreeHouse, a local faith-based nonprofit. At both entities his areas of focus included policy and program development, organizational leadership, diversity and culture, youth and family development, fundraising, outreach, and a host of other initiatives. Currently, Jesse works at The Minneapolis Foundation serving multiple roles in the Community Impact Department; one role being the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. In addition, J. Ross served as the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Team for the Young Professionals Nonprofit Network.  Jesse is a current Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow Professional and past engagements include being a Roy Wilkins Public Policy Fellow Alumni and Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). Also, he continues to be chosen across the United States to lead workshops, innovative, sessions, and panel discussions.