2016 ERG & Council Conference:
Educate - Engage - Empower!

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Presenters & Featured Events


Apollo Robbins

An Artful Manipulator of Awareness

Conference Opening Event: Unconscious Bias: Illusions & Conclusions

Apollo Robbins is a performer, speaker, consultant and one of the world's leading experts on misdirection - things that we see every day but are blinded to. A student of human nature, he is a pioneer in the application of misdirection to operational environments. Forbes has called him “an artful manipulator of awareness”. Apollo uses entertaining and educational acts of illusion - pick pocketing and sleight of hand - to demonstrate perception management and self-deception that helps us become more aware of how we perceive, how we understand and how we draw our own conclusions.

Apollo co-founded Red Handed Media, which quickly became a go-to expert for the science community, law enforcement and government agencies studying human behavior. Drawing from his 20-plus years of experience as an entertainer and trainer, Robbins and Red Handed Media use transmedia and live event production to develop immersive training modules with a focus on experiential learning.

Apollo has been featured in The New Yorker and in numerous publications such as New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He produced and co-hosted the National Geographic program Brain Games, which was nominated for an Emmy as an Outstanding Informational Series. His popular appearance The Today Show is a YouTube favorite at more than 8 million views. The TED editors described Robbins’s TED Global 2013 Talk "The Art of Misdirection" with 11 million views as a revelation in the flaws of human perception. Most recently, he joined well renowned neuroscientist Dr. John Gabriele, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT on stage to discuss Illusion, behavior and the brain.



Ash Beckham

Sharing her Story to Embolden Others to do the Same

Second Day Opening Event: Owning Your Duality

Ash Beckham is a bold, dynamic presenter who speaks about empathy, respect, and the power of having real conversations. In Owning Your Duality, Ash discovered herself in a situation that made her ask: who am I? She felt pulled between two roles — as an aunt and as an advocate. Each of us feels this struggle sometimes, she says — and offers bold suggestions for how to stand up for your moral integrity when it isn’t convenient.

Ash is an accidental advocate. Three years ago she was living her life as an event entrepreneur before her 2013 TEDxBoulder talk went viral. With funny and poignant personal stories, and a tough yet deeply compassionate stance, Ash tells us how to take off our armor and be our authentic selves. She believes if we can live in a world of duality rather than polarity we can see that our similarities dwarf our differences

Ash has been featured in The Huffington Post and NPR. Ultimately, she advocates for FREEDOM. Freedom to give voice to your truth, freedom to love without limits, freedom to be the person you were intended to be.



Linda Stokes: Event Host & Workshop Facilitator
President & CEO at PRISM International, Inc. &
the Association of ERGs & Councils

Workshop Facilitator: Using the ERG & Council Honors Award™ Application and Application Summary Report as Tools to Drive Greater Impact

Event Host

Linda founded PRISM in 1992 with the mission of increasing organizational performance by creating more inclusive workplaces that value the contributions of all employees and that connect D&I strategies and tactics to the business of the organization. Under her leadership, PRISM has provided D&I consulting services, training and products to millions of employees in hundreds of organizations around the globe.

She is the co-author of Multicultural Customer Service: Providing Outstanding Service Across Cultures, author of numerous journal articles, media contributor on topics of organizational strategic and tactical D&I, and a curriculum developer of over 120 cross cultural and D&I consulting and training programs. She is a recognized leader in the field of D&I and coaches and mentors Executives, CDOs and diversity professionals at several American and European global firms. As a women-owned certified business headquarter in Central Florida, Linda’s leadership and success was recognized by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando when she was awarded their Women’s Achievement Award for Business.

In 2006, she recognized the special needs of Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and created the Association of ERGs & Councils. That was followed in 2008 with the launching of the annual ERG & Council Honors Award™ and in 2012 with the first annual ERG & Council Conference™.

In 2014, Linda responded to the growing healthcare needs of providing exceptional service and care by increasing cultural and language competencies by developing a special suite of healthcare skills and tools.

Most recently she has taken confronting our unconscious biases, micro-inequities, and cultural misunderstandings to the next level by creating The Elephant We Can't See™- a unique workshop that uses storytelling followed by interactive, engaging, skill building training to help begin a dialogue about any difference that makes a difference in the organization.

Prior to PRISM, Linda's professional experience included management and executive experience in education, healthcare, banking and international customer service consulting and training. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Stetson University in Deland Florida.



Fernando Serpa: Event Host & Workshop Facilitator
Executive Director at the Association of ERGs & Councils

Workshop Facilitator: Transforming Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to Business Resource Groups (BRGs): The Next Stage of Affinity Group Evolution

Event Host

Fernando draws upon his two decades of in-depth diversity and inclusion experience across the public and private sector and excels at building dynamic, cross cultural diversity and inclusion strategies to influence systemic change across organizations. He has led diversity efforts for such Fortune 100 companies as Agilent Technologies, Symantec, JCPenney and Johnson Controls. His responsibilities have included worldwide diversity recruitment and retention, employee network groups, international programs and diversity and inclusion training.

Most recently he served as the Director of Global Diversity at Johnson Controls where he developed strategies to advance diversity and inclusion globally. He also developed and maintained strategic alliances and relationships between the business, affinity groups, and industry organizations, and actively supported workforce planning and talent attraction, development and retention. As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at JCPenney, he led diversity strategy and training for over 150K associates. At Symantec, he was the Director of Global Diversity and developed a global diversity strategy that was country specific and presented diversity training around the world including Japan, Germany, Ireland, France and Singapore.

A graduate of George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C., he was appointed by the White House to the U.S. Department of Justice where he directed immigration policy and worked with Congress and Federal agencies to develop and implement legislation, policy and procedures. From 1995 to 2000, Fernando served at the United States Commission on Civil Rights where he represented the Commission on civil rights issues to state and local governments, citizen-based groups and corporations.



Bobby Gordon Workshop Facilitator
Vice President Client Relationships, PRISM International, Inc.

Workshop Facilitator: Becoming an Effective, Impactful Articulate Advocate

Event Host

Bobby is Vice President Client Relationships at PRISM where he specializes in developing and nurturing client relationships. Prior to his role at PRISM, Bobby was a cultural diversity trainer with the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) where he developed, revised and conducted training for managers and senior military leaders in communications, organizational effectiveness and conflict resolution.

His DEOMI experience took him to over 30 states and US territories, and also throughout Germany and South Africa. Directly responsible for the needs analysis, instructional design, and leadership duties on diversity seminars for requesting civilian and military organizations, Bobby also served as a participating think tank panelist in developing strategies on increasing the diversity of the Army and Air National Guard. He helped to develop and design a human relation-training program for newly assigned DEOMI staff and faculty members.

Bobby received his Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College and a Master’s of Science in Transformative Leadership from Bethune-Cookman University.



Alan Partin Workshop Facilitator
Vice President Client Relationships, PRISM International, Inc.

Workshop Facilitator: Becoming an Effective, Impactful Articulate Advocate

Event Host

Alan is Vice President Client Relationships at PRISM where he specializes in developing and nurturing client relationships. Prior to his role at PRISM, while working in the banking industry,

Alan discovered the bottom line impact that can be achieved by leveraging a diverse workforce to meet marketplace goals. By implementing a comprehensive D&I process and starting a Hispanic sales force to address the needs of an emerging Hispanic market, he was able to increase his department’s sales by 20% over a 2-year period. Because of Alan’s vision, hard work and determination, he was the youngest employee ever appointed to the company’s President’s Advisory Board.

Alan received his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Central Florida.



Stephanie Piimauna: Session Facilitator
Director Diversity & Inclusion at MGM Resorts International

TOP 20 Recipient of the 2015 ERG & Council Honors Award™

Session Facilitator: Creating Inclusive Environments through Power of Recognition – Ubuntu

Stephanie is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at MGM Resorts International. She works closely with the company’s Chief Diversity Officer in developing Diversity & Inclusion metrics, measurements, and goals as well as supporting the 12 CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Councils and 16 ENGs (Employee Network Groups).

She has been in the customer service and learning and development industry for the past 20 years. Over the last 12 years, she has traveled across the United States and Europe facilitating leadership training and delivering motivational speeches for many organizations including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, U.S. Airforce, and U.S. Army, the Four Seasons, Nacro UK, SMCOV and many other organizations.

Stephanie received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She also holds numerous certifications in leadership and diversity.

Thank You Sponsor!



Tanya Vaughn-Patterson: Session Facilitator
Senior Diversity & Inclusion Consultant, NextEra Energy

TOP 19 Recipient of the 2015 ERG & Council Honors Award™

Session Facilitator: ERGs and Philanthropy: Integrating Your Brand in the Community

Tanya is a Senior Diversity and Inclusion Consultant with NextEra Energy where she has served for over four years. She helps drive the company's diversity and inclusion efforts across the enterprise and manages the its 11 Employee Resource Groups.

Her role allows her to work with individuals with all abilities and therefore, has a front row seat to the many strategies and tools that can be used to assist all employees in working towards the common goal...organizational sustainability. Serving over 25 years as a human resources professional, Tanya is able to leverage her talent of developing others with her joy of working with all levels of the team to help the company achieve its business objectives.

Tanya received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Northwood University and her Masters in Human Resource Management from the University of Phoenix. Tanya is a United States Marine Corps Veteran where she served for over nine years.

Thank you sponsor!



Miguel Valenciano: Workshop Facilitator
Senior Consultant, PRISM International, Inc.

Workshop Facilitator: Leveraging Your Multicultural Skills and Competencies to Grow Your Career

Event Host

Miguel is a Senior Consultant at PRISM specializing in leveraging diversity and inclusion and increasing cross cultural effectiveness. For the past 18 years, he has served at PRISM as a Senior Master Facilitator/Consultant assisting clients around the U.S. and the world.

He is a native speaker in Spanish and is versed in French and Italian. He has lived and worked around the globe in countries such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Peru, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Marshall Islands, Philippines, Indonesia, Samoa, Tonga and many of the eastern European countries.

Miguel received his Master of Arts in Education from the University of Oregon and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Costa Rica.



Melissa Wallace, Session Facilitator
Senior Manager Diversity & Inclusion at American Airlines along with the American Airlines Inclusion & Diversity Team

TOP 3 Recipient of the 2015 ERG & Council Honors Award™

Session Facilitator: Driving For Results Through ERG Collaboration

Melissa is Senior Manager Diversity & Inclusion at American Airlines. A 31 year veteran with AA, she joined the Diversity Strategies team in 2008. In her current role, she helps with the execution of the strategic direction, implementation, and alignment of the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) to Business Initiatives, Community Involvement, and Employee Engagement.

The DAC is comprised of two representatives from each of the 19 Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs) at American Airlines which include ethnic, faith, generational, and other affinities. She helps leads the American Airlines Diversity Advisory Council to be recognized as one of the Nation’s top 25 Councils by the Association of ERGs & Councils for the past six years.

Melissa received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Western Kentucky University.

Thank you sponsor!


Presented by:

Association of Diversity Councils

PRISM International