June 5, 2019

Blair County Convention Center, Altoona, Pa.

8:00 am-4:00 pm

Whether you’re a leader in an existing or an emerging business, a startup or part of the corporate world, today’s competitive marketplace demands you keep ahead of the latest business trends, embrace an entrepreneurial attitude to succeed –and empower your employees to do the same.

This conference features two dynamic keynote speakers, Jeff Tobe and Bill Strickland, who will inspire you with their personal insights and strategies for extraordinary business success.

Our Keynote Speakers

Jeff Tobe, author of Coloring Outside the Lines, is an expert in customer experience and getting the workforce more engaged in what they do everyday.

Bill Strickland, founder and executive chairman of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, is a renowned author, visionary educator and community advocate known for leadership strategies that turn the impossible into the possible.


Breakout Sessions

In addition to attending opening and lunchtime sessions with Jeff and Bill, choose from a great workshop lineup led by experienced professionals.  Topics include:

  • Attracting and hiring talent with the right skillset
  • Fostering multi-generational employee relationships
  • Understanding the latest trends in artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on your workforce
  • Hiring your first employees


Panel Discussion

A panel of experts from REI, EMG Brands and Sourceree, led by moderator, Greg Woodman, Founder and CEO of Affinity Connection, will discuss Developing a Culture that Encourages Innovation.



End the day at a “lightning round” networking  event and cultivate valuable business connections.

Find a detailed agenda here. Cost for attending is $20 and includes lunch.  Registration is required. Seating is limited.

Jeff Tobe

President and  Author, Coloring Outside the Lines

Certified Speaking Professional Jeff Tobe’s credentials are impressive. Insider Magazine dubbed him “The Guru of Creativity” and readers of Convention & Meetings magazine chose him as one of their favorite speakers along with other celebrities including Bill Clinton, Anderson Cooper, Condolezza Rice and Daniel Pink. He is a creativity and customer experience expert, professional speaker and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to increase their bottom line by changing their customer experience and retaining great talent.

Tobe founded Coloring Outside the Lines in 1994 and since then has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from ones with less than 20 employees to Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, PepsiCo, Bank of America, ReMax International and many more!

Jeff Tobe’s most requested programs focus on CREATIVITY/INNOVATION, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE and EMPLOYEE MANAGEMENT.  His high-energy, high-fun and high-content programs create the ideal presentation for any kind of corporate or educational foundation.

William Strickland, Jr.

Founder and Executive Chairman, Manchester Bidwell Corporation

Bill grew up in Manchester, an inner-city neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and credits a high school art teacher with changing his life. That relationship led to the creation of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, which began as an after-school arts program in a donated row house he secured while a college student at the University of Pittsburgh. Today, Manchester Bidwell Corporation has evolved into a national model for education, culture and hope. In 1969, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in American history and foreign relations.

With the decline of the steel industry created widespread unemployment, Bill assumed leadership of a struggling education program, Bidwell Training Center, offering vocational training to displaced and underemployed workers, providing job skills for Pittsburgh’s emerging economy.  His template for social change included forming relationships across the country with businesses, foundations, government officials and individuals who shared his vision.

Bill has served as faculty and on the Board of Trustees of numerous universities, earning 22 honorary doctorates, been appointed to the White House Council for Community Solutions, and served as Chair of the Expansion Arts Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.  He has been honored with countless prestigious awards, including the MacArthur “Genius” Award and authored the acclaimed, Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger & Achieve the Extraordinary.   Bill and his family reside in Pittsburgh.


John Horell, EA

President at KIZ Resources, LLC

John received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from The Pennsylvania State University in 2004. That same year he began his professional career with Harry K. Sickler Associates in Tyrone, PA. Currently John is President of KIZ Resources, LLC. John and his company are recognized throughout Pennsylvania for their experience and leadership in obtaining and monetizing various types of government incentives. A strong advocate for higher education, John serves as a member of the Penn State Altoona Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence and the Altoona LaunchBox supported by the Hite Family Advisory Boards.

Mary Lou Maierhofer

Partner at Margolis Edelstein

Mary Lou Maierhofer is a partner at Margolis Edelstein, having practiced in insurance defense for over 25 years. Mary Lou Maierhofer is an experienced civil trial attorney with a background in employment law, professional malpractice, product liability, construction defects, civil rights, automotive and premise liability. She is honor be cited as one of Pennsylvania’s Super Lawyers every year since 2016.

Before practicing law, Mary Lou was the owner and operator of radio station WQHG-FM (106.3) in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Jonna M. Contacos-Sawyer, SPHR, CCP, SHRM-SCP

President, HR Consultants, Inc.

Jonna M. Contacos-Sawyer has more than 30+ years of management and human resource experience, which she utilizes to lead HR Consultants, Inc. (HRC), a management and human resource consulting and training firm.  Ms. Contacos-Sawyer has led the growth and expansion of HRC’s diverse clientele across the U.S., specializing in the areas of strategic planning and organizational development and from this expertise aligns business strategies and objectives with customized performance management systems that result in improved individual, team, and organizational performance.  The firm has provided creative human resource solutions to more than 1,000 organizations in the private and public sector.  HR Consultants, Inc. is one of the first management and human resource consulting firms in the nation that was ISO 9001:2008 certified, now 9001:2015 certified.

Ms. Contacos-Sawyer has extensive experience in the development and delivery of both custom curricula and off-the-shelf training solutions.  She has coached numerous Executive-level and Leadership-level members of multi-million dollar organizations. Jonna is a dynamic and highly rated presenter and certified trainer able to motivate audiences with her enthusiastic personality.

A.J. Drexler

Owner, CEO, and Chief Strategist at Campos

A.J. is the owner, CEO, and Chief Strategist at Campos, the company she purchased in 2014. She has over 25 years of experience using all forms of research to help organizations and brands deeply understand their customer. Whether their purpose was brand planning or re-imagining their customer’s experience, A.J. has served as the lead Strategist for a wide variety of clients in the energy, healthcare, retail, education and non-profit sectors.

An entrepreneur at heart, A.J. has founded or owned her own business since she was 29 and now volunteers with organizations dedicated to helping women-owned, minority and entrepreneurs in evolving communities to grow. A.J. obtained her BA from Boston College in the Master program in American Studies and is a graduate of the 3-year Owner/President Management program at Harvard Business School.

Greg Woodman

CEO, Affinity Connection Inc.

Greg Woodman is an experienced direct marketing/fundraising professional in the alumni interest group, nonprofit and business to business space, with more than 35 years of experience creating content, publishing and brand affinity programs. Woodman is also an adjunct professor teaching Entrepreneurial Leadership at Penn State University since 2006. Greg was formerly the VP of Marketing and Sales for AIRWALK Footwear, increasing revenue from $16 to $200 million during his 6 year tenure as VP of Marketing and Sales. He is also an experienced publisher, having developed football annuals for Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State and Syracuse and a variety of Penn State products including the Stand Up Joe Paterno in 1984.

Adam Murphy

Founder and President, Sourceree

Adam Murphy is the Founder and President of Sourceree. He is responsible for providing technical leadership to teams across both governmental agencies and commercial organizations.

Adam is an experienced technology entrepreneur and government program manager. He is comfortable crossing the boundaries of commercial organizations and government agencies. He not only works to mentor junior engineers, but also regularly addresses senior leadership in the Pentagon and C-level executives.

Throughout his career, Adam has founded and developed technology start-ups, as well as managed classified intelligence programs and provided consulting solutions to most of the U.S. and Foreign Intelligence Agencies.

Adam has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and an Advanced Certificate for Executives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and numerous other technology certifications. He has served on the advisory boards of governmental, educational, and industrial organizations.

John Russell

Founder and President, EMG Brands

With more than a decade of management and successful startup experience, John Russell has a knack for recognizing a business’s potential and innovating a strategy for success. He opened his first Verizon Wireless retail location in 2008 at just 22 years old, in his hometown of Tyrone, Pennsylvania and discovered his passion for business. That single store expanded to 20+ locations with over 100 employees.

In 2014, he invested in Green Home Solutions, a franchise business focused on mold remediation and air purification. John’s success in the wireless business made him an attractive candidate for the company’s CEO. After taking on the position, he moved the headquarters from Connecticut to Pennsylvania in 2016. During his time as CEO, he lead the franchise to record-setting growth and revenue production. In 2017, John stepped down as CEO and John founded EMG Brands to handle call center, marketing, accounting, and other operational needs to help successfully support his growing portfolio of businesses. He says the business was created with a vision to revitalize the community he loves through entrepreneurship, realizing it was a “no-brainer” for him to centralize key company back-end resources in his hometown of Tyrone.

Today, John is a strong advocate for the area, which he believes makes sound business sense for entrepreneurs because of its exceptional lifestyle, reduced cost of doing business, connectivity, and efficiency of today’s technology.

Roman Weyant

Process Improvement Supervisor, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

Roman is the Process Improvement Supervisor for REI’s East Coast Distribution Center in Bedford, PA.  Roman’s career started with REI in 2010. He has worked in multiple departments and has been promoted several times, most recently into his current position.  As the Process Improvement Supervisor, Roman leads the facility in PI training, coaches employees on PI processes and best practices and fosters a culture of operational excellence.

Event Program

8:00 am – Registration Opens (Continental Breakfast Items Available)

9:00 am – Keynote Speaker: Let’s Get Engaged (Ballroom 3)

Jeff Tobe, author of Coloring Outside the Lines, presents the Four Pillars of Engagement

9:50 am – Break (Coffee, Tea and Water available in lobby)

10:00 am – Breakout Sessions

Hiring Your First Employees – (Room 202): John Horrell, CPA, Sickler, Tarpey & Associates, Mary Lou Maierhofer esq, Attorney, Margolis Edelstein

Recruiting the Right Employees in a Competitive Marketplace – (Room 207-208): Jonna Contacos-Sawyer, D.B.A./ HR Consultants

Embracing a Multi-Generational Workforce – (Room 203): Jeff Tobe, Author of Coloring Outside the Lines

Business Trends in Artificial Intelligence – (Room 205-206): A.J. Drexler, CEO of Campos Research

10:50 am – Break (Coffee, Tea and Water available)

11:10 am – Breakout Sessions

Hiring Your First Employees – (Room 202): John Horrell, CPA, Sickler, Tarpey & Associates, Mary Lou Maierhofer esq, Attorney, Margolis Edelstein

Recruiting the Right Employees in a Competitive Marketplace – (Room 207-208): Jonna Contacos-Sawyer, D.B.A./ HR Consultants

Embracing a Multi-Generational Workforce – (Room 203): Jeff Tobe, Author of Coloring Outside the Lines

Business Trends in Artificial Intelligence – (Room 205-206): A.J. Drexler, CEO of Campos Research

12:00 pm – Lunch (Ballroom 3)

  • Boxed Lunches
  • No Formal Program
  • Designed to allow movement and networking

12:30 pm – Keynote Speaker: The Art of Leadership (Ballroom 3)

Bill Strickland Jr., Founder & Executive Chairman Manchester Bidwell Corporation shares his lessons learned on building business and community.

1:30 pm – Developing a Culture that Encourages Innovation (Ballroom 3)

  • Greg Woodman, CEO of Affinity Connection
  • Adam Murphy, President of Sourceree
  • John Russell, CEO of EMG Brands
  • Roman Weyant, Process Improvement Supervisor at REI
  • 15 Minutes Q& A

2:30 pm – Lightning Networking Event (Grand Lobby)

  • Light Refreshments and Soft Drinks Available

4:00 pm – Event Concludes

Keynote Speaker: Let’s Get Engaged (Ballroom 3)

Presenter: Jeff Tobe, author of Coloring Outside the Lines

Jeff Tobe, M.Ed., CSP is one of the most dynamic speakers in the world, as attested to by clients including PNC Bank, Microsoft and RE/MAX International.  His keynote will kick off the day with the “Four Pillars of Engagement”: Curiosity, Trust, Accountability and Communication. Learn how to design the ideal customer EXPERIENCE by getting your people more ENGAGED with what they do every day.


Hiring Your First Employees (Room 202)

John Horrell, CPA, Sickler, Tarpey & Associates

Mary Lou Maierhofer esq, Attorney, Margolis Edelstein

If you’re hiring your first employee, congratulations! It’s important to start off on the right foot as an employer by making sure you follow all of the legal rules that now apply to you. From tax forms to government registrations to insurance requirements and more, being an employer carries a number of new obligations. A labor attorney and a CPA will guide you through the legal considerations, requirements and systems you will need to put in place to properly manage payroll, benefits and taxes.


Recruiting the Right Employees in a Competitive Marketplace (Room 207-208)

Jonna Contaos-Sawyer, D.B.A./ HR Consultants

With more than 30+ years of management and human resource experience, Jonna will share her expertise and provide strategies to help managers and workforce professionals identify and recruit the best employees for the position and company from today’s highly competitive job market.


Embracing a Multi-Generational Workforce (Room 203)

Jeff Tobe, Author of Coloring Outside the Lines

Learn how to embrace a multi-generational workforce that includes, millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers. Managing the diverse workforce can lead to greater productivity, new ideas and greater job satisfaction.


Business Trends in Artificial Intelligence (Room 205-206)

A.J. Drexler, CEO of Campos Research

We’ve all heard the buzz words and seen the bots. But what is the real story about artificial intelligence? Join us as we explore the latest trends in AI and talk about how data, algorithms and robots are changing the world we do business in. From automated work processes, security, customer service, sales, logistics to distribution you’ll get insight into the applications that could be the future or your business.


Keynote Speaker: The Art of Leadership (Ballroom 3)

Bill Strickland Jr., Executive Chairman Manchester Bidwell Corporation

Bill Strickland has spent the past fifty years transforming the lives of thousands of people through Manchester Bidwell Corporation, the jobs training center and community arts program he founded in Pittsburgh. In The Art of Leadership, Bill shares lessons from his own life about how world-class working environments create a platform for employees to reach their full potential, and often lead to miraculous results.


Developing a Culture that Encourages Innovation (Ballroom 3)

Host: Greg Woodman, CEO of Affinity Connection

    • Adam Murphy, President of Sourceree
    • John Russell, CEO of EMG Brands
    • Roman Weyant, Process Improvement Supervisor at REI

Attempts to build a culture of innovation – where employees share new ideas, then use fast and cheap processes to get breakthrough solutions to market – often fall flat. Companies like Airbnb and Uber show that people with innovative spirit and a talent for coming up with new ideas can breathe life and profit into the business. Our panel will first introduce broad concepts that businesses can deploy to create a culture that promotes and respects innovation. Three businesses in the region that have been successful developing cultures that embrace innovation will share some of their approaches and the results that they have seen.

Presented by: