Speaker Bios


Pulling Back the Pipe & Drape: Operations & Executions from the Masters
Tuesday, November 14, 2023 | 11 AM - 1 PM


Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 


Heart Leadership and Intentional Culture Education
Tuesday, May 16, 2023


Anthony Lambatos grew up in the catering business working for his father and founder of Footers Catering in Denver, Colorado. Anthony and his wife, April, purchased the business in 2010 and have successfully made the transition to a second-generation family-owned business.  With a focus on creating a great place to work, revenue has quadrupled since the purchase of the business. They recently moved Footers Catering into a new facility that will also house their newest venture – a 20,000 sq. ft. event center called Social Capitol Events. In 2019, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce named Footers Catering “Small Business of the Year” and they have been recognized as one of the best places to work in Denver by the Denver Post and Colorado Biz Magazine.

As a sought-after speaker nationally within the catering industry, Anthony is passionate about helping businesses create a culture that allows their businesses to thrive.  He specializes in Heart Leadership and management of teams with a focus on operational structure and employee engagement.  Anthony and April also have a sister company called “mibe” -  MIBE is the acronym for “Make It Better Every day” and the second part of the Footers’ mission statement.  mibe focuses on education around Heart Leadership and Intentional Culture Building for the hospitality industry.

Anthony graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in Business and in Economics.  He is a 40 under 40 award recipient from the Denver Business Journal and was named one of Denver's Top 25 Most Influential Young Professionals by Colorado Biz Magazine.

Anthony enjoys traveling, skiing with his family, wearing fun socks, and trying new hot sauces.

Sustainability with Luum Collective 
Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Ashleyn Przedwieck is the Founder, Creative Director at LUUM Collective. She is a seasoned events industry professional with over 8+ years of experience in the industry with a background in nonprofit, arts & culture, and creative placemaking events, with an emphasis on sustainable design, social impact, and community engagement.

She is a certified Sustainable Event Manager through the Events Industry Council, is Climate Reality trained, and studied at Minneapolis College of Art and Design through the Master’s program in Sustainable Design.

She is a highly sought-after creative director for her design-forward approach to curating impactful experiences that center on sustainability, encourage mindfulness, and inspire cultural shifts.

Modern Day Multicultural Weddings
How to prepare, celebrate and contemporize cultural wedding traditions
Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Reena Maheshwari
Kahani Events & Design

Reena has been in the wedding & event space informally for over 25 years doing Henna for South Asian weddings. She formally launched her own wedding rentals, design, and planning company - Kahani Events & Design - in 2019 with the goal of specifically catering to ethnic and multicultural & South Asian weddings.  Having been in this space for even a few years, she has seen the lack of resources and representation available to BIPOC/ethnic groups and is a leading force in creating change. She launched Colorful Weddings in 2021 and held the first Colorful Weddings Fair in 2022 - showcasing BIPOC vendors and/or those that cater specifically to ethnic and cultural groups.

Gretchen Culver
Owner and Creative Director
Rocket Science Events

Gretchen launched Rocket Science Events in 2010 which quickly became the go-to design and planning firm in Minneapolis, MN for couples looking for an out-of-this-world experience.  Gretchen has been named one of the “30 under 40 to watch” by Special Events magazine, one of BizBash's top 500 event pros, and one of BRIDES and Martha Stewart’s Top Planners. Her work has won international awards and has been featured in magazines, online, and on TV. She has spoken at numerous event industry conferences including, Engage! Summits, Be Sage Conference, and The Special Event. 

THRIVE // Work, Life, and How to Crush Both
Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

Photo of Bobby Dutton
Bobby Dutton created GrooveBoston in 2004, built on the statement "Music is No Longer a Spectator Sport." His team (now called GBM6) has since produced 10 US Concert Tours, and now delivers some of the biggest major concert traditions on college campuses, with some of the biggest artists in the world.  Bobby's pioneering work on "The New Concert Model" has won him awards internationally, and he was voted one of the "Top 25 Young Event Pros to Watch" by Special Events Magazine.  His team is all about making people happy, through legendary events.
More about Bobby here.

How to Stand Out and Stay True
January 18, 2022

Photo of Laine Palm

Laine Palm is the Owner and Creative Director who has dedicated her heart and time to building her wedding planning business from the ground up since 2016.

Laine crafts the business, brand strategy, and complete design for each client. She’s the first person you talk to when booking and the final word on all things design, planning and creating within her team. 

Off duty, she loves spending time with her husband and son, listening to podcasts, tending to her plant babies and hosting dinner parties for her nearest and dearest.

Campaigns, Conventions, and Caucuses
October 19, 2021

Jeannette Cleland headshot
Jeannette Cleland
Founder and Principal Producer
North Star Events

Jeannette Cleland is the founder and principal event producer for North Star Events. North Star
Events is a company founded on a bedrock of over a decade of experience in event production,
operations, and strategic project management.

While working in the White House as the Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events for First
Lady Michelle Obama, Jeannette solidified and honed her skill set into what would eventually
become the foundation of North Star Events. Jeannette has since employed her skills producing
a myriad of events of different sizes and styles including serving as the Event Manager for the
2013 Presidential Inaugural Kids' Concert for Military Families and running the command center
for President Obama’s 2013 Inauguration. Jeannette subsequently produced U.S. Senator Amy
Klobuchar’s Presidential Campaign Announcement (in a Minnesota blizzard) in February 2019.
Jeannette has spent a decade advancing trips and events for President Joe Biden, First Lady
Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Bill Clinton, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (to
name a few!). In addition, Jeannette worked on the 2006 Klobuchar for Senate campaign and in
the official offices of Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Evan Bayh, and Congresswoman Betsy
Markey in Washington, D.C..

Jeannette is a Minnesota native and enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, and cooking.

Sally Miller headshot

Sally Miller
National Director of Democratic Campaigns and Elections

Sally is currently the National Director of Democratic Campaigns and Elections for the grassroots fundraising platform, ActBlue.

Sally started her career answering the phones for Senator Paul Wellstone’s United States Senate office in Washington, DC where she would spend the next 8 years working for the Senator. She then went on to work for the Service Employees International Union where she spent the majority of her 10 years as the National Political Director for the South and Southwest Region based out of Chapel Hill, NC. Sally has run local, state and federal electoral, legislative and organizing campaigns especially in Minnesota and the South. She can now go from “ya, you betcha” to “hey y’all” very easily.

After leaving SEIU, Sally worked as a consultant on a range of campaigns, large political events, and non-profits doing political and membership engagement work. From her work on the 2012 Fight for Marriage Equality and Senator Tina Smith’s race to the Minnesota Twins Voter Engagement program in 2016, Sally is committed to introducing new people into voter engagement and making politics more accessible to young people and people in underserved communities.

Before joining ActBlue, Sally was the Executive Director of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party or DFL where she oversaw their large-scale annual events, their involvement in the National Democratic Convention and all democratic elections in Minnesota.

Alana Petersen headshot

Alana Petersen
Canary Consulting

Alana has over 25 years of public policy, campaign, and political experience. Petersen serves as
President of Petersen Group/Canary Consulting, established in 2012. Petersen advises
campaigns, PAC's, associations, and non-profits. She has recently worked for including but not
limited to US Senator Tina Smith's campaign, Public Policy of International Affairs (PPIA), MN
Senate Caucus, Governor Tim Walz, and the 2020 Biden/Harris Presidential campaign.

Petersen recently served as Managing Director for Lockridge Grindal Nauen's Federal
Government Relations practice. Petersen retired after 20 years of service with the US House of
Representatives and the United States Senate. In the US House of Representatives, Petersen
served in various leadership roles and on legislative issues. In the United States Senate, she
served as Deputy Chief of Staff for both Senator Franken and Senator Smith.

Petersen's other experience includes managing US Senate races, advising Presidential
campaigns, numerous state and local level races, and three recounts. Petersen has also served
as an Executive Director of a statewide non-profit, a federal government relations practice, and
a political consultant.

Petersen serves as board chair for Women Winning and the East Central Regional Arts Council,
and treasurer for the Pine County Minnesota Farmers Union chapter. Petersen's work and
reputation has been recognized in the state of Minnesota. The MN DFL awarded her the
Humphrey Award. Governor Tim Walz proclaimed June 14, 2019, Alana Petersen Day. Senator
Tina Smith gave a floor speech on her contributions to the state of Minnesota. She received her
BA from the University of Minnesota, Morris, and is pursuing her master's from the University
of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

What’s a Synonym for ‘Pivot’: This Event is Not About COVID 
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Built To Last: Cultivating Resilience When We Need It Most

Nancy Lyons;  CEO, author, and speaker
, Nancy Lyons has been at the forefront of the work culture conversation for more than twenty years. “People-first as a business strategy” is the guiding principle that fuels the unique, award-winning culture at Clockwork

Instagram: @clockworkinteractive

Twitter: @clockwork_tweet

Design Trends for 2021 and beyond

Brittany Morris; Owner, Planner and Designer of
Bella Mystique. Specializing in upscale wedding and event planning, wildly creative designs and her brand new launch of Styled Event Rentals.

Tech Trends for 2021 and beyond

Dustin Fabian; Production Account Manager at Heroic Productions, Dustin has been in the event tech industry for over a decade. Starting in San Francisco, and now Minneaplis, he has done everything from project managing, to show calling, to virtual event producing, and continues to work within multiple event industry sectors. His passion for helping create memorable experiences and inspiring attendees is what drives him to continuously learn the ever changing landscape of events.

Uncovering Your Values to Build Awareness Toward a More Fulfilled Life

Jessica Horton; Life Coach Practitioner, Jessica Horton Coaching and Consulting

Jessica Horton is a Life Coach Practitioner and Life Strategist. Her practice focuses on empowering women to empower themselves by creating an awareness of self and developing positive mindset shifts. Jessica graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Consumer Education with an emphasis in Retail and Environmental Textile and Design and is completing her Professional Life Coach Practitioner certification from Learning Journeys, The International Center for Coaching (an ATCP accredited program).  

Jessica spent much of her professional career as a corporate meeting planner at a top 100 retail corporation planning events ranging from 10 top executives at off-site retreats to 15,000+ team members at annual sales meetings in the US and internationally. She later transitioned to her own freelance planning firm executing corporate events as well as non-profit events and incentive trips. 

In 2020, she was forced (and blessed) to pivot into an entirely new career but one that she had naturally been doing her entire career: coaching. She is passionate about meeting clients where they are in life and helping them step into their truest, most aligned version of themselves. 

Jessica lives in Shakopee, MN with her husband and three children.

IG: @jessicahortoncoaching

Wine Tasting Class with Green Mangos Catering: Understanding what’s in your Prosecco

Thao Moore; Chef / Co Proprietor, Green Mangos Catering

Thao was born in Vung Tau, Vietnam, but her formative years were spent here in Minnesota. She is a graduate from the University of Minnesota – Duluth. After spending years in the corporate world, she decided to pursue her passion for food and wine.

Thao’s passion for food is closely followed by her love of wine. She is WSET Level 3 Wines Certified from Napa Valley Wine Academy.  She has further honed her wine skills by shadowing head winemakers from Napa and Sonoma, CA.

ILEA-MSP Wellness Hour
February 3, 2021
Brianna Tobritzhofer, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian who has been working in the field of nutrition for seven years in a variety of settings. She received her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Mount Mary University. Currently, Brianna is the nutrition services director for Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that cooks and delivers medically tailored meals to individuals living with serious and chronic illnesses. In addition to this work, Brianna provides freelance nutrition services including writing, social media management, and wellness presentations. She has a passion for helping people improve their relationship with food and has a holistic approach to nutrition and wellness.

Small Weddings are Big Business
January 19, 2021
Moderator: Valerie Gernhauser, Owner, Principal Planner, Designer, Sapphire Events

Total Virgo. Extroverted introvert. Recovering attorney. Yale grad. Mother of four. Bag hoarder. Overachiever. Front row at live shows. Pug lover. Calm, cool and collected. Expert gift giver. Consummate student. Audiophile. Tequila gimlet. Jeans-and-t-shirt kind of girl.

Speaker: Wendy Kay, Owner | Creative Director, Birds of a Feather

With a background in producing and directing live and recorded television for the better part of 10 years, Wendy is the definition of “quick on your feet.” She prides herself on being a professional problem solver—which has served her well in her 10 years of planning and executing flawless events.

Wendy founded Birds of a Feather Events in 2010 after planning her own wedding, and has continued on to become a serial entrepreneur of sorts starting several sister companies, including Tiny Weddings Dallas in 2020. With a straightforward approach, Wendy builds a rapport with her clients. She believes that the more she gets to know her couples, the better (and more personal) the wedding will be.

Wendy is thrilled to be on both the BRIDES and Martha Stewart Weddings lists of Best Wedding Planners in the US. When she’s not working or traveling you can find Wendy at home in Fort Worth with her husband and 3 cats. She is an 8 wing 9, if you follow Enneagrams, and she is a proud member of Ravenclaw house.

Speaker: Gretchen Culver, Owner & Creative Director, Rocket Science Events

I planned my first wedding in 2002 and was hooked. My Art History degree is more useful than you’d think it would be. I have a thing for stripes and watches. My three kids are amazing and my husband is inspiring. I consider myself an amateur foodie and champagne connoisseur. I am a Rent The Runway Ambassador #thanksitsrtr. If I weren’t an event planner, I would probably be an interior designer or a painter. I love empowering female entrepreneurs.

Speaker: Michelle Harrison, Owner/Planner, Michelle Harrison Signature Events & Intimate Signature Events

Michelle Harrison is the founder and Sr. Planner of Michelle Harrison Signature Events an award-winning Event Planning, Design and Management company based in Atlanta and the mother of the smartest most amazing 4-year-old daughter in the entire world.... She is a Southern-California native, who has had 20 plus years of incredible experiences operating memorable and cutting-edge social and corporate events in over 22 countries around the world. Michelle began her planning career with a series of annual events for the Central California Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. She also worked as a wardrobe stylist for a well-known Los Angeles-based agency specializing in print media, album covers, music videos, and television sitcoms. 

After relocating to Atlanta and working the 1996 Atlanta Centennial Summer Olympic Games, Michelle suddenly realized her true passion – Producing Events. Michelle made it official and founded her own event company My Dreamz Eventz in 2004, after having spent the preceding five years as a wedding & social event planner and freelance corporate events operations manager for many fortune 500 companies. She decided it was time for a “REBOOT” and rebranded in 2018 as Michelle Harrison Signature Events and in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic created Intimate Signature Events, a company focused on unique curated weddings and other milestone celebration services that meet the needs of the modern client by way of smaller more intimate setting.

Michelle credits her professional success to great mentors, authentic relationship building, amazing loyal clients, her sensitivity to her clients’ needs with her hands-on approach and her ability to find a way through creativity and vision to make each event unique.

Michelle is a speaker, mentor, former board member of the (ILEA) International Live Event Association’s Atlanta Chapter, founding member of the Small Wedding Society, certified wedding planner and designer and her work has been featured in Modern Luxury Magazine, JEZEBLE Magazine, Perfect Wedding Guide, Two Bright Lights, Aisle Society, Celebration Society Southeast, and the Styled Network’s “Married Away”.


Master Series: Value Driven Venues (Virtual Event)
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Jessica Barrett
Kastina Morrison

We created Bigger Picture Solutions as a natural extension of the work we’ve been doing over the past 16+ years; building and managing venues, creating events and experiences while focusing on vendor relations, organic and innovative opportunities for connections within the industry.  

Jessica created the operational infrastructure of two freestanding venues in the Twin Cities that have made a significant impact on the overall industry while booking over 150 events annually and a yearly gross revenue exceeding $2.5 million each. She has consulted with venues in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area such as The Food Building, Studio 125, Keg & Case Market, and The Holden Room. The BPS team also includes Kastina Morrison, who comes from a similar venue management background. She was on Jessica’s Aria team for 3+ years.  After leaving, she managed the opening & sales objectives of two boutique venues, Brick x Mortar and Harriet Place in Minneapolis. You’ll reap the benefits of a woman-owned business with an extensive network, expertise on design and aesthetic choices, as well as 20+ years of collective experience.

Our goal is not to build up cookie-cutter spaces but to honor the uniqueness of each individual venue while being led by our core values of integrity, transparency, and hospitality. We’re here to help you make your clients the hero of their story while maintaining your unique brand identity.

Hybrid Event: Taking the "Virtual" out of Virtual Events
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Amy Zaroff is the Founder and Creative Director of Amy Zaroff Events + Design and the host of the IGTV series “Today is a reason to Celebrate” featuring small business owners around  the country who share their stories during these challenging times. Her company has produced life’s most memorable experiences for almost 20 years, with a focus on corporate, non-profit and experiential marketing events. 

Tim began his career with AVEX in 2005. His background in lighting design, energetic approach to event design and high level of customer service were quickly noticed and propelled him into a client management position. After service as an account manager for 7 years with the company, Tim was promoted to his current position managing the sales and marketing efforts of the company.  With 14 years at AVEX, Tim has been an innovative force, driving the company focus and skill-set forward.  When he’s not working with all the amazing people here, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Lauren, and is also an active member of the Minneapolis/St. Paul theatre community.

Hybrid Event: Cultivating your Entrepreneurial Energy
Tuesday, October 20,2020

Michelle Tran Maryns is the Founder & CEO of We Sparkle Co., a public benefit corporation that helps founders build their businesses with balance via our suite of AI-powered software tools that saves them time, increases their sales, and optimizes their productivity in a sustainable way. Prior to We Sparkle, Michelle was the Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Meda, a community development financial institution named by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the top minority business development center in the country for four years in a row. Before Meda, she was the Associate Director of Digital Strategy & Innovation at the American Academy of Neurology, Strategy Consultant at Rêve Consulting, Community Relations Specialist at the U.S. Department of Justice, and a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State. In her free time, she helps startups and businesses as a volunteer at WomenVenture and Entrepreneur in Residence at Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest. She earned a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Bachelor of Arts in Slavic Languages & Literatures from the University of Kansas.
Garrio Harrison is an entrepreneur who has spent his career at the intersection of sales and marketing. He has helped both small-to-medium-sized businesses and high growth startups put the marketing systems in place needed to fuel their growth while optimizing their marketing budgets.

At Curious, he helps startup founders and small business owners focus their available marketing resources on the revenue goals they’ve set for their organizations.
Char Dobbs is a strategic consultant at The Activate Network, who helps entrepreneurs find the intersection of purposeful profit and authentic alignment. Having worked as an engineer, entrepreneur, supply chain manager, and as a personal branding specialist, she recognizes that both passion and strategy are crucial components of lasting success.

Observant but personable, Char has a knack for empowering her clients to cut through the clutter to make priority pivots, leading them toward more clarity, impact, and profit in their endeavors. She leverages her operational acumen to develop actionable pivot plans that encompass her clients’ short-and long-term goals, culminating in sustainable growth and rewarding results. She firmly believes that helping visionaries, leaders, and organizations, through the transformative work of embracing their purpose and power unlocks their potential to prosper and thrive.