Callista Gould is a Certified Etiquette Instructor and Founder of the Culture and Manners Institute. She has given talks on business etiquette across the U.S. and in China. Her experience includes serving as Director of Marketing for InterTech Media, a pioneer in web video based in Stamford, Connecticut; Manager of Public Relations for Amana Appliances in Amana, Iowa; and Marketing and Event Planning for Sony Music in Chicago for artists such as Celine Dion, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, Ozzy Osborne and Korn. She has an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago and Bachelors in English and Medieval Studies from the University of Iowa. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Exceptional Professional: What You Need to Know to Grow Your Career or Business. Her etiquette expertise has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News. Her Etiquette Tip of the Week blog can be found on DesMoinesRegister.com and sometimes…she Tweets.
Colonel Jill Morgenthaler is a woman of many firsts. She was one of the first women to enter an experimental class for women in the U.S. Army ROTC and train as an equal with men. Overcoming obstacles, she was the first woman Battalion Commander in the 88th Regional Support Command Division, the first Brigade Commander in the 84th Division and then rose to the rank of Colonel. She was also the first woman to run homeland security for the state of Illinois. During her military career, Colonel Jill led hundreds of men and women around the world in war and peace, and was the recipient of the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit for her lifelong leadership.
After 30 years of success in high-stakes fast moving environments, Colonel Jill is fiercely committed to guiding women and men to achieve success as they take their organizations forward. Jill shows how to lead with confidence through her content rich, high-energy keynotes and seminars. Her unique experiences, ranging from a showdown with Saddam Hussein to saving an American engineer from a Soviet kidnapping, translate into universal lessons. She doesn’t simply tell audiences what to do; she leaves them with proven action steps so they can start leading the very next day with confidence.
Colonel Jill is the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Courage to Take Command: Leadership Lessons from a Military Trailblazer. Over 41,000 people have watched her TEDx Talk, “Fake It ‘Til You Make It.” She is a member of the National Speakers Association and is President of the National Speakers Association Illinois.
She resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and has successfully launched two adult children.
Pastor of two Christian churches in East Peoria, IL, one of which is Native American, Danira is originally from the southwest where she was raised with a foot in three different cultures. Considering herself more a storyteller than a pastor, Danira pulls from all three – Native American, Hispanic and American – to help people become their best selves. Danira also has been a diversity trainer at two Illinois hospitals and has worked as an English-Spanish court and immigration services translator.
Jerry Evans, DTM
Jerry Evans, DTM
Jerry is a passionate and energetic speaker, business owner, entrepreneur, CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer), CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer), and CGO (Chief Growth Officer) of The Awards Company that he started in 2005 after a successful corporate sales management career of 20+ years. He was named Toastmaster of the Year twice (2010 & 2011), Area Governor of the year (2011) and earned his Distinguished Toastmaster in 2011. As club extension chair (3 Tours) he helped to start and build more than 80+ clubs. He aspires to inspire and impact people’s lives to empower them to live their best lives. He is most proud of the two black belt degrees he has earned; one in success and the other in failure!
Creative Edge Panelists
Joe Chianakas is a professor of communication at Illinois Central College. Before ICC, he taught high school English at Metamora. He’s been an educator for seventeen years, and in 2015 won the ICC teacher-of-the-year award. He loves to write, too, and grew up on Stephen King and R.L. Stine, among hundreds of other authors. He loves many kinds of stories, but he’s always had a deep love for scary ones that keep you up late at night.
Based on that love, he wrote RABBIT IN RED, now a complete trilogy, perfect for fans of things like Stranger Things and Halloween. It earned best horror book of 2016 by SIBA (Summer Indie Book Awards).
Shawn Fox is the Director of Sales for Journal Star Media in Peoria, IL. She has worked successfully in digital media and sales for the last 10 years in an executive role. Shawn is originally from the Detroit area but has made the transition to the Peoria market over the last 3 months. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Loyola University as a political Science major and has previously worked with AT&T, Detroit News & Detroit Free Press as Regional Digital Director and Director of Sales. Shawn is also a 2013 graduate of the Women’s Executive Program INForum.
John is a Program Manager at Caterpillar and started in 1999 as a computer programmer. In the past few years he has held a chair position for ACTivate, an Employee group, that works on introducing Health, Fitness, and Mindfulness tips to fellow employees and which provides community involvement options. Most recently, John has taken the role as the small group lead and works on making small group lunch and learns available as podcasts.
Kim James is the Marketing Manager for Mavidea, a digital marketing and proactive technology company based in Bloomington, IL. Graduating with a degree in marketing from Illinois State University in 2009, she has spent 9 years working in B2B marketing – gaining experience in content writing, digital advertising, social media marketing, and understanding the internal pains that plague small business owners. While marketing is her primary job function by day, Kim also enjoys spending time with her family, reading a good book, or attending comedy shows with her husband.