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IACETEach 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.

Trevor Barkway

Trevor Barkway, Synchro Marketing Australia

Trevor Barkway is the Managing Director of Synchro Marketing – a leading Workforce Optimization and Customer Loyalty Agency which he co-founded in 1994 with business partners Mark McCowan and Paul Butler.

Trevor holds graduate and post-graduate qualifications in applied psychology and is a Registered Organizational Psychologist with the National Psychology Board of Australia. He is an acknowledged specialist in the design, implementation and management of Performance Optimization Programs across Employees, Business Channels, Sales Force and Customer segments – including Sales Incentives, Recognition and Reward Programs, Innovation in the Workplace, Performance Management, Training Needs Analysis and eLearning, Enterprise Research and Development, Engagement Strategies and Customer Loyalty. Trevor’s earlier career embraced management consulting in the areas of executive selection, psychological evaluation, performance counseling, career / succession planning and a wide range of organizational development, management planning and market research projects across Australia and overseas.

Nan Barry

Nan Barry, Southwest Airlines

Nan Barry joined Southwest Airlines in 1988. She currently serves as Managing Director Executive Office and Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer. She leads the Internal Customer Care Team and serves on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Airlines Employee Catastrophic Assistance Charity.

Jeff Croy

Jeff Croy, Yo-Fi Wellness, Inc

Jeff Croy is CEO of Yo-Fi Wellness, Inc., Jeff’s experience balancing life and career demands while engaging in rigorous travel for work ignited his interest in wellness. In a short amount of time, Jeff and his team have developed Yo-Fi as a leading health technology company focused on behavior change.

Brian Dodds

Brian Dodds, CRP, CorporateRewards

With over 15 years of experience helping clients to determine best in class solutions by taking into account company history, current culture, desired culture, executive and employee input as well as the most current practices in the world of incentives and rewards, Brian's goal is to help create the unique solution that is the true representation of your company and drives employee motivation towards corporate objectives. Brian has been involved with and attended RPI conference and events for over a decade. Brian previously served as the President for Recognition Professionals International. Brian is a Certified Recognition Professional, CRP facilitator and winner of the Harkins-Howell Education Award in 2012. He is a graduate of Texas Tech University with degrees in Psychology and Classical Literature.

Melinda Doolittle

Melinda Doolittle

Melinda Doolittle is a soul-stirring songstress. She is a flawless vocalist with irresistible artistry and effortless style compelling her audiences to keep listening. Tone deaf as a child, Melinda's choir teacher would plead with her not to sing, but just silently move her mouth. Undaunted, her love of singing drove her to enter a talent show in the seventh grade where she stunned the audience with her miraculously spot-on vocals and beautiful voice. She never looked back! Melinda graduated with a Bachelor's in Music from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. She became a highly sought-after background vocalist singing for musical icons including Michael McDonald, Aretha Franklin, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Aaron Neville and Jonny Lang.

Doolittle became a household name during season six of American Idol in 2007. She came in third in the voting, with Simon Cowell calling her his “personal favorite,” and quickly became the sweetheart of American Idol, winning over the hearts of all with her stunning powerhouse vocals and personal charm.

In 2009, Doolittle released her debut album Coming Back to You, garnering rave reviews from critics, including The New York Times, which hailed her as one of the most “phenomenally gifted” singers in years. In 2013, she released her sophomore album, You're The Reason, giving fans yet another opportunity to hear her impeccable vocals and revealing a bit more of her personality. People Magazine stated, “Her voice is a slinky purr then a mighty growl that will keep you coming back for more.” In the middle of her album releases, she penned her book Beyond Me: Finding Your Way to Life's Next Level. Melinda is currently the well-loved co-host of TV Line's Reality Check.

Doolittle continues to thrill audiences everywhere from the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame to The White House, from the Copa Room to Carnegie Hall. In addition, she has been a featured guest with the Boston Pops, Charlotte Symphony and United States Air Force Orchestra to name a few, including a featured performer at the 2015 Boston Pops Fourth of July Spectacular. She is currently headlining her own soulful show It Must Be Love.

In thankfulness for all she has been given, Doolittle gives back to these amazing organizations: Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, The League, and Malaria No More (Presidential Delegate to Africa).

Mercedes Escala, IBM

Mercedes is the Director of Global Recognition & IBM Americas Compensation. She has held this position since November 2011 and currently works in North Castle, New York. Mercedes is Peruvian and studied Business Administration at the Universidad de Lima. She also has a post graduate degree in Human Resources from the Universidad Catolica de Chile where she lived for 20 years. She joined IBM Chile in 1994 as HR Compensation and Benefits Analyst, and was appointed to numerous roles with increasing responsibility prior to moving to New York: HR Manager for IBM Chile; Business Operations Manager for IBM Chile; Compensation and Benefits Manager for SSA and Incentives Manager for LA; and LA Compensation & Benefits Manager and LA Incentives Manager. Mercedes is fluent in English, Portuguese and French as well as Spanish — her mother language. She is married and has one daughter.

Jeffrey Fina, Michael C. Fina

As Chief Customer Officer, Jeffrey is responsible for all customer-facing departments at Michael C. Fina and is dedicated to providing a one-of-a-kind experience for company partners. He oversees customer experience, marketing, product development, and business development. Under his leadership, Michael C. Fina has developed innovative recognition solutions and strategies to help customers celebrate the success of their employees and sustain relationships over the long term. Active in several industry organizations, Jeffrey previously served on the marketing committee for RPI. He is a frequent guest lecturer at the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida, his alma mater.

Ginger Hardage

Ginger Hardage, Senior Vice President Culture & Communications, Southwest Airlines Co.

As Senior Vice President Culture & Communications for Southwest Airlines Co., Ginger believes she has her dream job. Southwest Airlines is known for its legendary Culture and reputation, and the company is a perpetual standout on Fortune’s Top 10 “Most Admired Companies in the World.” Ginger oversees the activities that nourish that Culture and the internal and external Communications function for the largest domestic airline that carries 100 million Customers every year.

PRWeek has named Ginger to its 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011 Top 50 Power List and previously as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Public Relations. As a nationally recognized public relations professional, Ginger was distinguished as one of Texas’ Most Powerful and Influential Women in 2010; received the National Public Relations Achievement Award in 2009; was named “Legendary Communicator” by Southern Methodist University in 2007; and was selected for the James C. Bowling Executive-In-Residence Lecture Series at the University of Kentucky in 2005. The Texas Public Relations Association (TPRA) named her its PR Practitioner of the Year for 2000.

Ginger currently serves on the International Board of Trustees for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Arthur Page Society, and is the President of the Trinity Commons Foundation. She previously served on advisory boards of Novartis in Basel, Switzerland; Business Civic Leadership Center, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Big Brothers and Sisters of Metropolitan Dallas; Southwest Cares; and the Council of Public Relations Firms.

Before beginning her career at Southwest Airlines in 1990, Ginger held a variety of marketing and public relations positions at Maxus Energy Corporation, Diamond Shamrock Corporation, and Life Insurance Company of the Southwest.

Ginger earned a B.A. in advertising/public relations from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and was recognized as an outstanding alumna by the College of Mass Communications at Texas Tech University.

Ginger lives in Dallas with her husband, Kelly, and has grown stepsons, Patrick and Ross.

Vicki Hargrove

Vicki Hargrove, CRP, Hargrove Business Consulting

Dr. Vicki Hargrove formed Hargrove Business Consulting in 2011 after retiring from Cargill, Inc., with 28 years service. She has worked with businesses across the globe in the area of recognition, performance management, leadership effectiveness, innovation, change, and employee engagement. Vicki is a Certified Recognition Professional, facilitator of CRP courses, and writer of Cargill's Best Practice Application where the organization was selected as the Overall Best Practice Recipient.

Theresa Harkins

Theresa Harkins, RPI Past President, CRP, CCP, SPHR, Inspirus

Theresa is a visionary, strategic 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 by using her training and facilitation skills and knowledge to assist in the implemention of these initiatives. As a chartered professional in the recognition industry, Theresa eliminated the splintered recognition approach in her organization by creating an aggregated program structure to provide a sense of unity and consistency in the company. With this desire, Theresa led the development of the award-winning best practice recognition programs at Delta Air Lines. Theresa currently leads the Solutions division at Inspirus, where she consults with clients as a respected expert in the industry to design recognition programs that align with the organization's cultural goals and needs.

Caitlin Hill

Caitlin Hill, CRP, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Caitlin Hill is a Certified Recognition Professional and is the Recognition Program Manager at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. She is part of a team tasked with developing and providing recognition tools for all faculty and staff. She is a die-hard Buckeye fan, die-hard Walking Dead fan, and likes to knit. She also loves her job and still gets excited about figuring out new and better ways to let her faculty and staff know how great they are!

Amy Hurley

Amy Hurley, LSW, CRP, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Amy Hurley is the Program Director for Recognition at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. She has responsibility for providing recognition tools for the over 20,000 faculty and staff in a 24/7/365 large health system with multiple locations. Amy is a Licensed Social Worker and a Certified Recognition Professional. She is proud to sit on the Board of Directors for Recognition Professionals International and chair the Best Practices Committee.

Scott Jeffrey

Scott Jeffrey, Monmouth University

Scott Jeffrey received his Ph.D. in Managerial and Organizational Behavior from the University of Chicago in 2003. His current research interests revolve around the use of incentives in organizations, both for employees and for customers. In particular, he is interested in tangible incentives, high-end merchandise and travel. His most current project is leading a research team exploring the motivational events industry.

Kelli Johnson

Kelli Johnson, Client Success Strategist, Inspirus, LLC

Kelli is a nineteen year recognition industry professional with sales, solution and account relationship management experience. She led the Mountain America Credit Union platform implementation and is genuinely interested in helping grow client partnerships and build upon the value that Inspirus brings to our clients.

As Client Success Strategist, she helps clients to continue the momentum and adoption of the Inspirus engagement platform throughout their employee population. A variety of methods are deployed to bring visibility to client platforms through strategic communications, training and building Recognition Ambassadors to further encourage a culture of recognition at the organizations we serve.

Amy Kramer

Amy Kramer, CRP, Maritz Motivation Solutions

Amy's passion is improving employee engagement, driving performance for direct sales forces and improving well-being for people. In her role as a solution strategist, Amy builds strategy and designs business solutions to help companies drive better lives and experiences for their people and better business overall. Amy has 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry, ranging from pharmacy, hospital, managed care and pharmaceuticals. She is an expert on wellness and is a Certified Recognition Professional from Recognized Professional International.

Ryan Maddux

Ryan Maddux, MA, CRP, WLCP, Wells Fargo

Ryan Maddux, Business Initiatives Consultant with Wholesale Talent (HR) at Wells Fargo, focuses on enhancing team member engagement through professional development, coaching, recognition and wellness programming. Passionate about diversity and inclusion, team member recognition, and innovation, Ryan brings over 15 years of industry experience from work with non-profit, government and Fortune 100 companies in the areas of: Human Resources, Leadership Coaching, Marketing, and Technology. Ryan works with business leaders and HR professionals to bring consistency, visibility, and fairness to team member experience efforts, directly aligned with core retention and talent management strategies. Ryan completed his MA in Organizational Leadership from Augsburg College and also holds an MA degree from Humboldt State University. He completed the Work-Life Certified Professional® (WLCP®) certification through WorldatWork and is a Certified Recognition Professional® (CRP®), instructor, and member of Recognition Professionals International®.

Rita Maehling

Rita Maehling, CRP, HLT, Inc.

Rita Maehling is Director of Human Resources at HLT Medical in Maple Grove, Minnesota. She oversees all human resource functions for the 100-employee medical device company, including its recognition programs. Rita serves on the RPI Board of Directors, and prior to joining HLT in 2014, she was an independent consultant specializing in learning and development, employee recognition, and general project management. Rita is also the co-author of one of the first recognition-specific books, Recognition Redefined: Building Self-Esteem at Work.

John Mangini

John Mangini, CRP, Rymax Marketing Services/Brainstorm Logistics

John Mangini is the Marketing Manager for Rymax Marketing Services/Brainstorm Logistics. John is a Certified Recognition Professional with over 20 years experience in Marketing for both brands and agencies. John’s contributions to Rymax have helped the organization see significant growth in revenue, main stream press impressions and social media engagements.

Amy Marhoefer

Amy Marhoefer, Southwest Airlines

Amy Marhoefer joined Southwest Airlines in 2004. She has held positions with the Inflight and Marketing Departments, and currently serves as the Internal Customer Care Team Lead within the Executive Office.

Mark McCowan

Mark McCowan, Synchro Marketing Australia

Mark McCowan holds graduate qualifications in Business/Marketing. He has worked in sales and marketing since 1987. Mark is a past National Board Member of the Australasian Incentive Association, a Member of the International Society of Performance Improvement and has lectured in direct marketing at the Advertising Federation of Australia's (AFA) Adschool. Since 1990, Mark has focused on consulting to major Australian companies on the development and fulfilment of Incentive Marketing programs. Mark has strong experience with Employee Engagement, B2B and B2C Customer Loyalty and Sales/Channel Incentive Marketing Programs for clients in the industries of banking and finance, automotive, commercial vehicles, pharmaceutical, rural, media and telecommunications. Mark co-established Synchro Marketing Australia Pty Limited in 1994.

Christina Papoulias

Christina Papoulias, Senior Benefits Analyst and Wellness Specialist, Marriott International

Christina Papoulias is a Senior Benefits Analyst and Wellness Specialist at Marriott International, Inc., a leading hospitality company with 360,000 employees worldwide. Christina joined Marriott in 2008 and is responsible for the management of Marriott’s health plans with an emphasis on wellbeing and health promotion. She is certified as a Corporate Wellness Specialist from the Corporate Health and Wellness Association. She received her B.A. in Marketing from George Washington University.

Ruth Ross

Ruth Ross, R Squared Resources

Ruth Ross spent 30 years as a senior human resources leader at top companies, including spending the last ten of those as an EVP of HR at Wells Fargo, from which she retired to follow her passion to start a company focused on the critical business imperative of employee engagement. Prior to joining Wells, Ruth was a VP of HR at Charles Schwab, where she ran HR for key business units and then ran a number of corporate HR functions. Previously she held key HR roles in New York City at Citibank, PaineWebber, American Express and Estee Lauder Cosmetics. She is a frequently requested speaker at corporate and industry events and is the author of Coming Alive: The Journey to Reengage Your Life and Career.

Barbara Ruddy

Barbara Ruddy, CRP

Barbara Ruddy, a Certified Recognition Professional and RPI Instructor, has about 20 years of experience of recognition and training. She works for the Arizona Department of Economic Security and was responsible for the design, implementation, marketing and on-going administration of a comprehensive recognition strategy for approximately 10,000 employees that has been a model for other public and private organizations.

R. Scott Russell

R. Scott Russell

R. Scott Russell is a 20-year veteran of event management from his days as a concert promoter in Southern California to his most recent 12-year stint in Operations with Verizon Wireless. Scott is currently working as a consultant and event planner associated with a new Music School/Venue/Record Label just outside of Austin, Texas. Scott is an RPI Board Member and leader of the Learning Action Team.

Gary Sanford

Gary Sanford, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, AVP Compensation and Benefits, Employee Experience and Engagement Team, Mountain America Credit Union

Twenty-eight years of human resource experience in various industries, i.e. manufacturing, insurance, legal and finance. Gary has spent several years of presenting to professional groups on many HR subjects, i.e. leadership, compensation, employee benefits, coaching, safety and employee discipline to name a few.

He currently is employed with Mountain America Credit Union headquartered in West Jordan, Utah, near Salt Lake City, as its AVP compensation and benefits. Mountain America Credit Union is among the top 30 credit unions nation-wide and the fifth largest with the number of branch locations, 86 in five states, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Roy Saunderson

Roy Saunderson, CRP, Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute

Roy is Chief Learning Officer for Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute in its consulting, education and thought leadership division. He has been a subject matter expert in helping companies get recognition right for the past 20 years. He serves on RPI’s Education Committee and has been a judge on the Best Practices Awards Committee for the past 7 years. Roy is the author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and a popular columnist in Incentive Magazine and Training Magazine.

Suzanne Schell

Suzanne Schell, CRP, ROI Institute Canada

Suzanne Schell is CEO of ROI Institute Canada, the Canadian partner of the ROI Institute. An accomplished ROI professional and speaker, Suzanne is involved in program evaluation projects, makes topical presentations to forums and professional groups and she teaches the ROI Methodology at many levels to a variety of organizations and audiences. Suzanne's experience in the rewards and recognition space brings that expertise to the workshop.

Kathy Stark

Kathy Stark, CRP

Kathy Stark is a Human Resource and Operations Leader specializing in Recognition, Programs, Events, and Cost Effective Solutions. Kathy is responsible for the strategic development and execution of employee programs and events that support the business case and drive value for the company. With a proven track record in leading cross functional teams located in different regions to deliver high quality events and programs, Kathy has been successful at working in complex organizations with the ability to assess situations and build partnerships that deliver high value recognition and events. Kathy has been a member of RPI for 18 years and holds CRP and World at Work certifications.

David Sturt

David Sturt, EVP, O.C. Tanner Company
Author of New York Times bestseller Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love

David 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.

Rhonda Sunnarborg

Rhonda Sunnarborg, MotivAction

Rhonda Sunnarborg, a Senior Business Strategist 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.

Jason Thomson

Jason Thomson, CRP, Creative Mercenary

Jason 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:

Paul White

Dr. Paul White, Appreciation at Work

Dr. Paul White is a psychologist, author and speaker who makes work relationships work. Co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, Dr. White provides practical, relevant information to employees and leaders in a straightforward and humorous manner.

As a speaker and trainer, Dr. White has taught around the world, including North America, Europe, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean. His expertise has been requested by Microsoft, Miller Coors, NASA, the Million Dollar Round Table, the Milken Institute, DIRECTV, the Salvation Army, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Napa Valley Community Foundation, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and numerous other national organizations.

Dr. White has developed a unique way for organizations to motivate employees that leads to increased job satisfaction, higher employee performance and enhanced levels of trust. The Motivating by Appreciation Inventory and Appreciation at Work training resources can complement and strengthen recognition programs as attested by numerous corporations, colleges and universities, medical facilities, schools, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

Dr. White graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wheaton College (IL), earned his Masters of Counseling from Arizona State University, and received his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Georgia State University. He has been married for over 30 years and is the father of four adult children.

Chris Winkelspecht

Chris Winkelspecht, Maritz Motivation

Chris' passion to bring out the best in people coupled with his expertise in behavior has led to great experience developing recognition and reward strategies to meet a wide array of business challenges in Fortune 500 companies. In his role at Maritz, Chris connects, consults and collaborates with clients to optimize their recognition systems ability to drive performance and engagement. His goals are to provide clients the most robust set of resources to support recognition strategy in the industry guided by academic standards and delivered with practical consideration.

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