Speaker Bios

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 (Virtual Event)
Tuesday, 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.