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2015 Annual Conference Speakers



Keynote Speaker - Jeremy Gutsche, MBA, CFA

Jeremy Gutsche, MBA, CFA, is an innovation expert, award-winning author, "one of the most sought-after keynote speakers on the planet," and the founder of, the world's largest trend website, boasting roughly 2 billion total views and 3 million fans. Prior to Trend Hunter, Jeremy grew a $1 billion portfolio for a bank, and today, over 350 brands, billionaires and CEOs rely on his innovation expertise and management consulting, including Victoria Secret, Coca-Cola, Sony, IBM, NBC, Wells Fargo and Hughes Aerospace.

Routinely sourced by the media, Jeremy's broad appeal ranges from The Economist and CNN to Entertainment Tonight and The New York Times. He has been described as "a new breed of trend spotter" by The Guardian, "an eagle eye" by Global TV, an "Oracle" by the Globe and Mail, an "intellectual can of Red Bull" by Association Week, "the rockstar of keynote speakers" by Meetings Professional International and "on the forefront of cool" by MTV.

Before his dot-com success and work as an innovation keynote speaker, Jeremy studied innovation at Stanford, completed an MBA from Queen's University, became a Chartered Financial Analyst, and graduated as a Chancellor Scholar from The University of Calgary, where he was later awarded Graduate of the Decade. He was one of Capital One's youngest Business Directors and innovation leads. Prior to Capital One, Jeremy spent several years as a Management Consultant at the Monitor Group.


  • U of C Graduate of the Last Decade
  • Canadian Young Entrepreneur Award
  • Cisco Innovation Excellence Award
  • Axiom Book Award - Gold Medal in Success / Motivation
  • #1 Most Popular Book at CEO Read
  • Inc. Best Books for Business Owners
  • Amazon Bestseller in Business


Kimberly Abel/Lanier, Maritz Motivation

Kimberly Abel/Lanier is the Employee Solutions Leader for Maritz Motivation Solutions. In this role, Kimberly is responsible for developing and communicating the company’s thought leadership and point of view on workforce performance and employee recognition solutions. She works directly with clients and account teams to understand client needs and market direction and provide tailored solutions to drive business results. Kimberly is the resident expert in workforce recognition and is a nationally known leader in the field. Kimberly has over 20 years of experience in performance solutions consulting and workforce recognition product management and marketing. Previously, Kim held the role of Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Inspirus, a privately held company focused on workforce recognition solutions and service awards. Before Inspirus, she was the Co-Founder and President of Prosperiti, a privately held company focused on providing enterprise performance technologies to Fortune 1000 companies. She also served as the Vice President of Product Visioning and Performance Services for Cultureworx. Her clients have repeatedly won national awards for their solutions. Kimberly earned a B.A. in Organizational Communications from North Central College, an MBA Certificate from Loyola University in Chicago. She is a graduate of the Thunderbird Global Management Program and the Villanova ROI Institute. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Industry/Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In addition, Kimberly serves as a business mentor for BPeace International, a non-profit organization, is an Advisory Board Member for Speetra, a Speech Analytics Company and serves on the Recognition Council for IMA.

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Trent Akagi, Hewlett-Packard Company

Trent AkagiTrent Akagi is the Director of Variable Pay for Hewlett-Packard, a Fortune 10 company with over $120 billion in annual revenue and nearly 300,000 full-time employees in more than 170 countries. The world’s largest technology company, HP brings together a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software, services and IT infrastructure to solve customer problems.

In his role, Trent is responsible for developing and delivering the variable pay vision, and ensures HP’s programs align with its business and market demands. He is responsible for all HP’s bonus and recognition programs, processes, and policies, including strategy, design, execution, administration, and communication. This includes market competitiveness and planning, delivery, and analytics.

Trent has significant experience in mergers and acquisitions at HP, including the successful acquisition and integration of Tandem, Digital Equipment, Compaq, EDS, Mercury, and 3Com.

Previously, Trent was the Director, Sales Incentive Design for Hewlett-Packard. In this role, Trent led a group of consultants responsible for advising senior sales and business leaders on ways to align sales incentives that drive business priorities and sales excellence.

Prior to joining HP, Trent was a senior associate consultant in the Toronto office of the Hay Group as a member of its Executive Compensation Business. In this role, Trent was a consultant responsible for advising senior management on incentive design, executive compensation, long-term incentive design and valuation, and salary administration.

Trent holds a Honours Bachelor of Science degree in actuarial science and economics from the University of Toronto in Canada.

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Andy Bailey, DirecTV

Andy BaileyAndy Bailey is an employee culture and engagement leader who helps entertain the future at DIRECTV. Delivering DIRECTVs premium video entertainment and customer experience begins in the hearts and minds of more than 16,000 employees at 100+ locations in the U.S. Andy and his team concept and deliver engagement solutions and coaching to DIRECTV operations leaders, improving the employment experience, productivity, performance and passion among DIRECTVs greatest assets employees. Andy has led employee engagement strategy and programs for more than 13 years. He is a member and on the board of directors for Recognition Professionals International (RPI), is a Certified Recognition Professional (CRP), and is a Certified Facilitator of Appreciation at Work. Andy lives in Denver with his wife and two young daughters.

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Greg Berger, Maritz Motivation Solutions

Greg Berger is a Senior Analyst on the Strategic Insights & Design team at Maritz Motivation Solutions. He serves as a dedicated partner to internal account teams focused on driving mutual success with clients through proving the value of investments in workforce recognition and performance programs. Greg helps clients define and align data at the behavioral, outcome and financial levels to provide actionable insight into people and program performance. With nearly a decade of consultative analytics experience at Maritz, Greg has worked with dozens of client accounts and leading Fortune 500 companies, including; American Family Insurance, Caesars Entertainment, Novartis, and Roche. He has earned the high honor of both the Innovations in Research Award and the Standing Ovation President’s Award.

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David Chittock, Incentra Inc.

David Chittock is President of Incentra Inc., an incentive and recognition company dedicated to improving organizational performance by promoting employee and sales channel engagement through the design and management of transformational performance programs. David delivers technology-based solutions to HR and Sales management, including performance strategy, rewards platforms, communications, e-learning, and fulfillment around the globe. His US/global expertise includes: Workforce Recognition, Employee Engagement, Sales Channel Incentives and Loyalty, Service Awards, Peer-to-Peer Recognition, and Awards Fulfillment. A 25-year veteran of the incentive/recognition industry, David helps clients take a more strategic and integrated approach to the award and incentive process, creating "recognition and performance cultures" that deliver measurable increases in employee engagement, sales channel loyalty, sales growth and safer work environments. David’s extensive experience includes helping Fortune 1000 companies in the planning/execution of employee and sales channel recognition, engagement, incentive, and loyalty programs. David has written case studies and articles and spoken on topics including HR Employee Recognition, 360° Recognition, the Impact of Corporate Awards, Creating Sales Loyalty, Sales Motivation, Recognition Training and Sales Incentive Program Planning. He is a member of Recognition Professionals International and sits on the Research Committee of the Incentive Research Foundation, where he helped produce the recent study: “The ROI of Employee Recognition.”

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Jenna Conway, Salesforce

Jenna ConwayJenna Conway is a Program Manager on the Technology People & Leadership team at Salesforce. She was a founding member of this tech-centric learning and development team eight years ago. She has since helped establish the technical training and professional development program for over 4000 engineers from the ground up. Jenna also built out the organization's recognition arm. She develops and delivers core recognition programs for the engineering team, including the hugely successful All-Stars Award, now entering its 4th annual cycle. Most recently, she conducted extensive cultural research within her organization and is building a program to recognize engineers who effectively share their knowledge and live the values of a learning culture (a case study she'll be sharing in her breakout session!). She is energized by helping engineers be successful, productive, and engaged and continues to focus on developing high-impact recognition programs. Jenna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley and resides in San Francisco, CA.

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Kevin Cronin, O.C. Tanner

Kevin CroninKevin Cronin’s passion for Recognition is demonstrated by over 15 years in this field as a developer of strategy for one of the World’s largest financial institutions. Kevin has served as President for RPI for 2 years and has been a very active board member for 6 years. Today, Kevin applies his 15 years experience in the recognition industry to help our clients fully appreciate their employees with a unique Award experience.

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Steve Curtis, Sherpa Insight

Steve CurtisSteve Curtis, Ph.D., is a neuroscience-trained, Clinical and Performance Psychologist. He authored the Clarity survey in 1992 while assessing morale on athletic teams at Indiana University. He has since directed its use in more than 500 human resource and marketing applications, many with Fortune 500 companies. The Clarity survey has become a best-practices instrument that consistently drives positive change among employees, and new buying behaviors in the marketplace.

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Chris Galloway, Fusion Marketing

Chris GallowayWith more than 20 years of motivation industry experience, Chris leads the Performance Solutions division of Fusion Marketing — a St. Louis-based marketing services agency. It is in this blended agency environment that truly innovative solutions are beginning to emerge. Technology is an enabler of that innovation, but great results begin with deep-seated research, collaboration with clients, and advertising-quality creativity. Chris' passion in this industry is to create a blend of these elements that generates unprecedented results. Most of Chris' career has been with Maritz, whether it was operating large group travel events and incentives, or designing and delivering motivation programs. In his time at Maritz, Chris was a part of The Maritz Institute network of professionals and has led a variety of development projects. In addition to RPI, Chris is a member of the IRF, and blogs on motivation topics on LinkedIn.

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Dee Hansford, CRP, Dee Hansford Consulting

Dee HansfordIn 1991, Dee was promoted to manager of Walt Disney World's Cast Communications and in 1995, was named manager of the newly-formed Cast Recognition department; so she understands the leader's perspective. As an internal coach/consultant/trainer and facilitator, she led the design and implementation of Walt Disney World's first global recognition program, Partners in Excellence. The task involved coaching over 6,000 leaders in recognition/communication skills. Participation in the program increased 76% in one year while cast satisfaction ratings of local day-to-day recognition increased 15%.

Shortly after forming Dee Hansford Consulting in 1997, Dee was hired to help California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) create a recognition-based culture to support their strategic business objectives. CalPERS' employee and customer satisfaction scores have risen dramatically, productivity and team work have been enhanced and CalPERS is considered a "destination" employer, receiving the National Association for Employee Recognition’s "Best Program Award for 2002. California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) employed Dee as a consultant to design their recognition infrastructure which received the RPI "Best Overall Program” Award in 2012.

Dee is a founding RPI Board Member, Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) instructor and member of the Education Committee.

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Vicki Hargrove, Sr. Consultant, Cargill Incorporated

Vicki Hargrove spent 28 years at Cargill Incorporated, a global company of 150,000 employees, developing and supporting the recognition effort, focusing on leadership and employee development, working as an HR generalist and designing, and promoting the corporate innovation efforts. She led the first two company-wide Recognition Events and served on the Corporate Recognition Steering Committee since its inception. She was responsible for the Recognition website and other supporting materials and was the author of the RPI Best Practices' application where Cargill was selected as the 2008 Overall Best Practice Recipient. Her responsibilities included working throughout the organization from the production floor to the C suite in over 20 countries as an internal consultant. Vicki is a member of RPI, a certified recognition professional (CRP), a CRP facilitator, member of the RPI Education Committee, and she received a 2011 RPI Spotlight Award. She is also a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), the FL SHRM Chapter, and participates in activities with the ROI Institute. Vicki received a Ph.D. in adult education from The Ohio State University. In 2011, Vicki formed Hargrove Business Consulting and has worked with and presented at Conference Board events, worked with a start-up business to set up employee and recognition practices, and co-developed The Employee Journey™: a process for accelerating transitions. When not working, she reads mystery and military novels, plays golf, travels, hunts pheasants and plays with her two grandchildren.

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Theresa Harkins, Inspirus

Theresa HarkinsTheresa Harkins has been an influential and pioneering force in the field of employee recognition as demonstrated by her dedication and determination to take recognition to the next level. Her commitment is clearly apparent with her reign as past President of Recognition Professionals International in addition to being the contributing factor that led to the development of the Certified Recognition Professional curriculum.

Theresa is a visionary, strategic Human Resource leader as indicated by the achievement of such esteemed certifications as the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Certified Compensation Professional (CCP). She was an early innovator in the deployment of global enterprise employee recognition strategies, within Fortune 500 organizations, by using her training and facilitation skills and knowledge to assist in the implement of these initiatives.

As a chartered professional in the recognition industry, Theresa had a vision to help eliminate the splintered recognition approach in her organization by creating an aggregated program structure to provide a sense of unity and consistency in the company. It is with this desire that Theresa led the development of the award winning best practice recognition programs at Delta Air Lines.

Theresa currently leads the Performance Solutions division at Inspirus where she consults with clients as respected expert in the industry to design recognition programs that align with the organization’s cultural goals and needs.

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Paul Hebert, Symbolist

Paul HebertPaul Hebert is the Vice President Solution Design for Symbolist and is widely considered an expert on motivation and incentives. Paul has been interviewed by the BBC, interviewed by, and quoted in USA TODAY (February 2009 – Posh trips for jobs well-done are fading away; May 2010 – Using trips as rewards for star employees makes a comeback; September 2011 – Reward travel for employees makes a comeback), quoted in the New York Times Sunday business section on employee wellness programs, featured in “The Debate Room” at, published in Loyalty360 magazine, published whitepapers and articles for HRM Magazine, is a contributing author on the Fistful of Talent blog, is a founding member of the Editorial Advisory Board for HR Examiner, has authored a monthly online and print column for Incentive Magazine, and is the Social Media Editor for the Enterprise Engagement Alliance. Paul also authors the #1 followed blog on incentives, Incentive Intelligence.

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Bill Karwoski, Sherpa Insight

Bill is the founder of Sherpa Insight and has been a leader in understanding the effect emotions have on purchase motivations and behavior. Bill spent 18 years at BI Worldwide prior to founding Sherpa Insight in 2010. Bill has 30+ years’ experience navigating market conditions to help his clients grow their business by aligning their business objectives with creative solutions that impact the bottom line.

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Matthew Majernik, Cleveland Clinic

Matthew MajernikMatthew Majernik joined Cleveland Clinic in 2008 and is the key architect, implementer, and leader of the successful “Total Rewards” strategy that is aligned with Cleveland Clinic's mission and the Human Resources objectives of attracting, engaging, developing and retaining talent. Based on Cleveland Clinic’s goal of patient satisfaction, the Total Rewards strategy includes state-of-the-art compensation design, health, welfare and work/life balance benefits, as well as overall employee wellbeing programs. A key component of this strategy is “Caregiver Celebration”, Cleveland Clinic’s innovative employee recognition program. Matthew also directs the HR Information Systems and workforce planning functions in support of the mission and strategic objectives of Cleveland Clinic. Mr. Majernik has also held senior-level human resources positions at FedEx Corporation; Westinghouse Electric/CBS; Hershey Foods Corporation; Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation (AHERF); and most recently, FirstMerit Bank Corporation. At FirstMerit, as Senior Vice President of Total Rewards, he was responsible for directing, planning and administering the organization's total rewards strategy. He was Managing Director, HR and Total Rewards at FedEx and Vice President, HR Planning, Systems and Technology at AHERF. Mr. Majernik holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Pittsburgh and a BS in Business Administration, Management Information Systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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John O'BrienAs Vice President of BI WORLDWIDE’s Employee Performance Group, John O’Brien’s primary focus is to develop employee engagement strategies and solutions that change the behaviors of employees to align with our customers’ business objectives. An expert in Employee Recognition Strategy, he educates HR professionals around the world on how to best engage their employees through employee engagement strategies, solutions and best practices. John works closely with customers, leading account design strategy to drive engagement in customer program audiences, and achieve measurable results. O’Brien joined BIW in 1984 following graduation from St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Minn. where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Psychology and Communications.

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Matt Robb, MotivAction

Rhonda SuchardaMatt Robb is a Business Development Director responsible for managing the relationship between clients and MotivAction. Matt joined MotivAction in 2010 after more than 10 years of leading teams in incentive & recognition and travel management initiatives. Matt has extensive experience in creating, structuring, and operating engagement and incentive programs from conception through onsite operations and measurement. Matt is a seasoned marketing professional with additional experience in the design and development of incentive and recognition platforms which engage, motivate, and create loyalty for a company and its brand. Matt is a respected leader known for building strong relationshops and is responsible for managing client expectations, quality, and MotivAction performance.

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Barbara Ruddy, CRP, STARS - Staff Training & Recognition Services

Barbara RuddyBarbara Ruddy brings more than 17 years of experience in the field of employee recognition to Recognition Professionals International. As a long time employee with the State of Arizona, Department of Economic Security, an organization of 10,000 employees, Barbara was responsible for the design, implementation, on-going administration, measurement, communications and marketing of a strategic employee recognition system. The comprehensive PRIDE Program has served as a model for many other organizations in both the public and private sectors. Barbara also does work with Rideau Recognition Solutions as a Sr. Consultant & Trainer.

Barbara served as a member of the RPI Executive Board, and was a member of the RPI Advisory Board. As an active supporter of RPI, she chairs the "Recognition Champion Award Program in honor of Pamela Sabin" committee. This award is presented annually to recognition practitioners for their commitment and passion for employee recognition. Barbara is a certified trainer for all four of RPI's Certification Courses for Employee Recognition Professionals as well as the RPI "Recognition Fundamentals" Course. Barbara was acknowledged by RPI with the 2009 Spotlight Award for her long-time support and multiple contributions to the organization and again in 2011 for her work with the Certified Recognition Professional courses.

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R. Scott Russell, Verizon

Scott RussellR. Scott Russell is an industry leader in recognition and has worked in culture and recognition within Verizon for nearly 10 years. His work ethic and creativity have made him a valuable asset to both the Midwest and South Area teams within Verizon. He has also had impact on several national initiatives for his company. He is a CRP graduate and serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of RPI. Scott is also the Education Committee's Co-Chair and leads the efforts to educate our base and possible new members on recognition standards and practices. Scott is excited to share his ideas and examples of how to create that special moment that will be remembered long after the reason for the recognition has passed.

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Roy Saunderson, CRP, Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute

Roy SaundersonRoy Saunderson is a global expert on employee recognition. He is president and founder of the Recognition Management Institute, a consulting and training firm specializing in showing leaders how to get recognition right. He has consulted and presented to clients such as AEP, Bell Canada, Boeing Corporation, Ceridian, Credit Suisse, Disney Corporation, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, 3M Canada and 3M India, and WNS, as well as the Canadian Federal government, provincial departments and professional and trade associations. The Recognition Management Institute is the consulting and training division of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Roy has been a judge for the Best Practices Awards for Recognition Professionals International for the past five years and facilitates their professional certification programs. He has written numerous articles on employee recognition and rewards, is a monthly columnist for Incentive Magazine, and also authored GIVING the Real Recognition Way. Roy is a member of Recognition Professionals International, Incentive Marketing Association, the Society for Human Resources Management, World at Work, the International Federation of Professional Speakers and the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers.

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Tom Short, Kudos Inc.

Tom Short is the Founder and Co-CEO of Kudos Inc., where he oversees operations, client service, sales and marketing. Tom has had the pleasure of working with many different entrepreneurs and organizations, helping them focus their strategies and solve their business, branding and marketing challenges. He has founded numerous, highly successful, companies including Bright Ideas and Idea Machine – which was recognized as one of the top ten interactive agencies in Canada. In 2003, Tom merged Idea Machine with Rare Method, an integrated marketing agency, to create the largest independent interactive agency in Western Canada. Rare Method was ranked amongst some of the best organizations in the country as one of Alberta Venture Magazine’s Fast 50 and Profit Magazine’s Profit 100 for several years running.

At each organization Tom built, employee engagement was first and foremost to building effective teams. He brings this expertise to Kudos’ strategic direction and every conversation he has with clients, prospects and the industry overall. He is passionate about the role recognition plays in overall employee engagement and is dedicated to educating the world about what genuine recognition can change for employees everywhere.

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David Sturt, O.C. Tanner

David SturtDavid Sturt is the author of the recent New York Times bestseller, Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love. He has been interviewed and quoted by the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, Forbes, CBS Radio, Huffington Post, and numerous other media organizations. He is a weekly contributor on and is a highly sought-after speaker, presenting to audiences at HR and leadership conferences across the US, Canada and the UK. These include SHRM, WorldatWork, ASHRA, Employers Council, HR Houston, Evanta, and multiple chapters of SHRM. David has a degree in Training and Development and an MBA, and has two decades of experience in research, innovation and leadership. He was born in England, raised in South Africa, educated in the US and Asia/Pacific, and has a passion for doing things that make a difference in the world.

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Rhonda Sunnarborg, MotivAction

Rhonda SunnarborgRhonda Sunnarborg, a Senior Business Analyst and Channel Practice Leader at MotivAction, has more than 20 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies to change the behavior of employees, salespeople, and channel partners. She is the author of “A Culture of Recognition: Building a System to Celebrate Great Performance,” a 50-page how-to guide published in 2000. Rhonda has conducted recognition workshops and program development sessions for her clients, in addition to designing their program structures. Rhonda has served on the RPI board and holds a B.A. in Communications/Business from St. Catherine University, St. Paul and a Master’s Degree from the University of Dallas.

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Jason Thomson, Creative Mercenary

Jason ThomsonJason Thomson is one of the world's only marketing communications specialists focused on recognition. What's unique is that he brings marketing to the recognition world, as opposed to bringing recognition background to marketing. Full bio can be found here:

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Tina Weede, US Motivation

Tina WeedeTina Weede has an extensive background in performance improvement and recognition in both business-to-business and consumer marketing. She has designed, implemented and managed incentive programs of all sizes, providing wisdom through measurable results. She has a proven track record of delivering award-winning and successful solutions by utilizing a team approach and acting as an extension of her client’s team. Her vision and insight have led to many innovative new services which have had a lasting positive effect on the performance improvement business.

Tina’s background is in advertising, where she began her career at J. Walter Thompson. In 1990, she moved to the communications department at USMotivation. She later served as Divisional Vice President of Major Accounts, where she was instrumental in helping clients align incentives with their business objectives. In 2010, Tina was promoted to President of USMotivation. She currently serves as Executive Vice President on the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Board of Directors, and on the Board of Trustees for The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE) Foundation.

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Keynote Speaker - Jeffrey Tambor: "Performing Your Life"

Jeffrey TamborVeteran actor Jeffrey Tambor’s hilarious and inspiring presentation, Performing Your Life, will motivate attendees to discover the artist within themselves. Part one-man show, part seminar, part question-and-answer session and endlessly entertaining, Tambor’s empowering lessons are catalysts for change, promoting introspection among attendees.

His career as a Master Teacher of actors has given him insight into human behavior that translates into helping all people. He draws from his own experiences within his long career to advise his audiences. Tambor’s captivating session is a performance in itself as he helps attendees realize and dismiss some of the great fears that hold them back from their potential.

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Conference Quicklinks


Each conference breakout and keynote address is approved for .1 CEUs as approved by IACET. Recognition Professionals International (RPI) has been approved as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), 8405 Greensboro Drive, Suite 800, McLean, VA 22102.

Thank You, Business Partners

2016 Recognition Professionals International

1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114
Phone: 651-290-7490 | Fax: 651-290-2266 |