Please click below to learn more about the Executive Conference presenters.
Alison Huppert is a Product Development Specialist at the YMCA of the USA where she works with local Ys to support program, service and business model innovation across the Movement. She has worked for the Y for 17 years, of which 13 were spent at local Y associations. Alison has held roles in human resources, community engagement, fundraising, program operations and association leadership.
Brent Wake, Vice President, Public Policy & Alliance Initiatives - Indiana Alliance of YMCAs
Brent Wake’s career has centered on facilitating groups’ and individuals’ abilities to advocate for themselves—to tell their own stories before decisionmakers and policymakers at various levels of government.
For the Indiana Alliance of YMCAs, Brent leads proactive state and federal advocacy efforts to shape public policy and drive perceptions that advance the legislative priorities of the state’s Ys. His responsibilities also include the development of Alliance initiatives that capitalize on local Y work, create new opportunities for impact, position Ys (together) to be a player on the state’s most important issues, and leverage Ys’ collective impact efforts, thus producing long-term financial gains and public trust. Additionally, Brent serves as state director for the Indiana YMCA Youth and Government program.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Brent served as the northeast regional director for the Office of U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, which was followed by service as the legislative and business liaison for the office of Fort Wayne (Indiana) Mayor Thomas C. Henry.
Brent received his bachelor’s degree (Political Science/Pre-Law) and Master of Public Health (Public Health Administration) from Indiana University.
For more than 16 years, CJ has helped hundreds of overachieving professionals achieve record sales and profits. More importantly - he's taught them how to find more joy and satisfaction in all their hard work.
CJ’s professional career began at Arthur Andersen where he helped large corporations reengineer their business processes. In his next executive role, CJ was responsible for managing operations, finance and IT. His last corporate position provided him with the opportunity to manage a sales team in the software industry.
In 2003, CJ decided to venture out on his own and started an executive coaching firm. Since then, he’s spent more than 10,000 hours in front of entrepreneurs, executives and their teams.
After only a few years, CJ noticed that no matter how much success these professionals achieved, very few every seemed to truly enjoy the journey. It didn’t matter if they exploded the top line, doubled their income or become CEO – it never seemed to be enough.
CJ’s latest book, The Overachiever’s Dilemma, lays out a proven strategy to help overachievers get more satisfaction and joy in their lives while still achieving all their professional goals.
CJ lives in Indianapolis with his wife and two kids.
Deb has served as President and CEO of Clark-Lindsey, a non-profit Life Plan Community, since 2009, advancing its mission to engage the mind, spirit, and body in wellness and community so that older adults may thrive. The Clark-Lindsey Community includes 275 residents ages 62 or better and 275 employees, serving the older adults of Champaign County for over 40 years.
In 2018, Clark-Lindsey partnered with University of Illinois researchers to launch the Collaborations in Health, Aging, Research, and Technology (CHART) program. In 2017, Clark-Lindsey opened Illinois’ first Green House Homes and advanced regulatory readiness for a more resident centric, small home model. She currently serves on the Green House Advisory Council. Clark-Lindsey received the 2016 LeadingAge Excellence Workplace Award recognizing its culture of high resident and employee engagement and the 2016 Community Impact Award from LeadingAge Illinois in recognition of its monthly Ethel & Maud’s community luncheons. In 2013, Clark-Lindsey partnered with Masterpiece Living to further advance its vision of becoming a center for successful aging where lifelong learning and continued growth is supported by the entire community.
Deb serves a board member of the Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign, Illinois. She is a graduate of the 2012 LeadingAge Leadership Academy program, an association which represents aging services providers throughout the nation. She has served as coach and facilitator for the LeadingAge leadership program. Deb has an MBA from Eastern Illinois University, and a Bachelor degree in Accountancy from the University of Illinois. She has been a Licensed Certified Public Accountant since 1997, and received her Nursing Home Administrator’s license in 1998.
Ed Dvorak is an Executive with NBN Sports Technology. NBN is a global sports tech company that designs and develops data, statistics and tracking, location and risk mitigation solutions to YMCA’s, Aquatic Facilities, teams, and leagues since 2014. In early 2021, NBN established Zonyx as a separate company representing Nagi Smartpool (est. 2014) and Soocial (est. 2020). Ed serves as the US GM for Zonyx.
Ed has 30+ yrs. experience as a B2B Commercial Executive helping companies accelerate performance, enhance capabilities, and optimize their commercial relationships.
Prior to joining NBN in 2019, Ed held leadership roles with key Consumer Product Goods organizations:
- 5 yrs. as Global SVP/GM with Spalding Sports Group
- 6 yrs. as VP, Business Development with Diageo plc.
- 5 yrs. as VP, Global Strategic Customer Management with Cadbury Schweppes
Ed resides in the Chicagoland area with his wife, Cindy. He has 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren, who keep him young at heart and always on the move.
Ed brings 30 years of experience in food programs and a successful career as the now retired CEO of the Hopkins County Family Y. He's a graduate of Drake University Bachelor Social and Master’s of Public Administration. His prior work experience consists of the Iowa Conservation Commission, Des Moines Park and Recreation, Adjutant Professor at Drake University (where he developed the first Intergenerational Day camp with senior citizens at YMCA camp), and Branch Executive at YMCA of Des Moines.
In addition to his service as an onboarding facilitator, Ed is a recognized visionary for the YMCA movement. Ed created an Intergenerational Day camp for Seniors by collaboration with DSM Park and Recreation, Drake Students and the YMCA. With the YMCA in Des Moines was Director of the first Midwest Program School.
Ed’s brought the Summer Food program not only to his YMCA but the County. His pioneering work in taking the YMCA food program beyond YMCA walls through mobile meal programs was featured on National Public Radio and has spoken at multiple national anti-hunger conferences. He founded an anti-hunger council in his community and expanded summer meal services to ensure 1 in 4 kids in Hopkins County, Kentucky received meals through the YMCA, one of the highest saturation rates in the country. His considerable expertise and knowledge will be essential in helping your YMCA establish a sustainable food program for years to come. Ed spends time traveling as much as possible and consulting nonprofits and occasional Interim CEO. To date, Ed has assisted over 250 YMCAs or other nonprofits with starting and/or expanding their Antihunger Initiative.
Heidi Brasher is the Senior Director of Product Line Cohorts, Strategy and Innovation at the YMCA of the USA. In this role, she helps leverage innovation in local YMCAs to become National solutions whether it be modifying a program, creating a brand new one or adapting a service to serve a new demographic.
In addition to programmatic strategy and innovation, Heidi carries financial development responsibilities including grant management and donor reporting. Funds from national fundraising efforts directly support local Ys in their Strategic Initiatives including Improving Academic Performance and Increasing Social Equity for All.
Heidi has a 20 year history of work in local YMCAs that includes program management and development in the areas of early care, afterschool, day camp, and teen programs. She has worked in Marketing/Communications, Membership, and Financial Development but most recently led all centralized out-of-school programs in the YMCA of Greater Houston.
Joe Hinton is a Researcher with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in support of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (CHR&R) program. He is based in Chicago, IL. Joe’s role is to provide strategic guidance to communities who wish to put the County Health Rankings into action to improve health and advance equity. He is part of a team that develops online tools to connect communities to evidence-informed strategies and community change resources, fosters peer learning and connections, delivers knowledge and skill building sessions, and recognizes and celebrates health improvement.
Joel Sieplinga is the CEO of Camp Tecumseh YMCA, one of 27 Independent YMCA Camps in the Country. Joel has served full-time in the Y movement for 15 years, starting out working for the YMCA of Chicago, before joining the Camp Tecumseh staff as Day Camp Director, Overnight Camp Director and Associate Executive Director. After hiring hundreds of camp staff who have led and supported tens of thousands of campers, Joel has witnessed firsthand how a camp experience can change the lives of kids and adults. Joel grew up in the YMCA from birth and lives at Camp Tecumseh with his wife and two children.
Kris Boesch is the CEO and Founder of Choose People, a company that transforms company cultures, increases employee happiness and boosts the bottom line. The Choose People 360° Culture Audit is based on over 1000 hours of research Boesch conducted with the Industrial Organizational Psychology Department at Colorado State University. Kris Boesch is also the acclaimed author of Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace and a TEDxMileHigh Presenter. Prior to Choose People, Boesch was the CEO of Exodus Moving & Storage. Under her leadership, Exodus became the largest mover in Northern Colorado with a turnover rate nearly 40% less than the industry average and a bottom line twice that same average. Kris has been featured as a workplace culture expert in Inc., Entrepreneur and Forbes and was recently named one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers by Inc. magazine. You may also recognize Kris who spoke at our national YMCA conference in Anaheim on “How to Communicate in Funkytown: What to Say & How to Say It.”
Michael Acker, MPH
SVP and General Manager, Blue Zones Project by Sharecare
Michael Acker leads Blue Zones Project® by Sharecare as senior vice president and general manager, overseeing all operations of the nationwide environmental transformation initiative focused on improving community well-being by making healthy choices easier. With a background in public health, Acker has played an integral role in Blue Zones Project efforts since the program’s inception in 2010. Today, 57 communities across North America have joined the Blue Zones Project movement, impacting more than 4.0 million people—with significant outcomes related to declines in obesity and smoking, and increases in exercise rates and healthy eating in those communities.
Blue Zones Project incorporates the findings of National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner, who identified five regions of the world—or Blue Zones®—with the highest concentrations of people living to 100 years and beyond. In the initiative’s formative stage, Acker worked closely with Buettner and others to create an evidence-based, scalable, and sustainable program that could help entire communities move toward optimal health and well-being by improving their surroundings to support healthy choices.
In his work with Blue Zones Project, Acker has overseen the onboarding of every new community, leading local team efforts to adapt the initiative to their area’s specific needs, and played an essential part in helping participants achieve certification as Blue Zones Communities—an honor bestowed upon innovative communities that have transformed their environment and achieved measurable impacts to their state of health and well-being. His resume includes work in various finance, strategy, and product management roles in the healthcare sector. He is a member of the American Public Health Association, Advisory Board member for the Council on Rural Aging, and Leadership Healthcare – Nashville Healthcare Council.
Acker understands the fundamental issues related to the rise of healthcare costs and believes the burden on the current system is unsustainable. At the helm of Blue Zones Project, he has helped create a new model for impacting population health and moving the needle in a sustainable way.
Acker holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and a bachelor’s degree in health policy from Ithaca College in New York.
Paul Ronayne is the Co-Founder of NBN23 Sports Technology. He started working as a product owner, concentrating on the development of tracking technology in Basketball since 2014, before starting the nagi smart pool project the same year, and has been dedicated to this project and technology ever since. Currently, Paul works as an international Consultant and client support for zonyx, representing nagi Smartpool and Soocial around the world, in countries such as the USA, Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia.
Paul has over 22 years of experience in technology, starting this career as a Web programmer for Cheshire Data Systems, Manchester UK in 1999. Paul then worked as a freelance Web programmer/designer whilst traveling the world for many years, before starting his own company, Design Lancer international. He has been working on various web development projects around the world, prior to co-founding NBN23 Sports Technology in Spain in 2014.
With more than 40 years of nonprofit program, executive and operations experience, Wade has a rich portfolio of consulting CEOs, CVOs and boards of directors on governance and board development, CEO search process, strategic planning, and operational issues. As a nonprofit CEO for thirteen years, in addition to thirteen years as a branch executive and program director in large, midsize and small YMCAs, and as a policy volunteer on several community boards, Wade’s first-hand knowledge and experience in nonprofit management is foundational to his unique ability to serve as a catalyst in empowering executives, teams and boards to shine. In his current role as the CEO of the Indiana Alliance of YMCAs, Wade is leading the efforts to enhance the relevancy and sustainability of all Indiana YMCAs through advocacy, public policy, board governance, strategic planning, shared services and networking efforts.