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We are pleased and very excited to have such amazing presenters for the 2021 Virtual Conference!

Keynote Speaker​: "Strategic Energetic Transition"

Dr. Xavier Bruce (Ret. U.S. Air Force), known as Dr. X is the Founder of UpLift, which he created of his desire to help maximize the potential of others, regardless of any difficult situations or limiting beliefs that they might have. He is also a well-known keynote speaker and author. Dr. Bruce grew up in Lake Village, Arkansas. There he completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Air Force Academy in May of 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. In 2004, he completed his Master of Business Administration in Information Systems Management from Wayland Baptist University. While deployed to Afghanistan, Dr. X completed a Doctorate of Business Administration in Global Supply Chain Management from Walden University and later became a Certified Professional Coach from the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching in 2012.

Over the course of his military career, Dr. Bruce served as a Health Care Administrator, Cyberspace Officer, Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Officer, Supply Chain Manager, Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. He retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force in July 2019 after 24 years of service.

Workshop Presenter: "Freelance Careers for Military Spouses and Transitioning Vets"

Laura Pennington-Briggs is empowering the freelance generation! Through her company Better Biz Academy, in public speaking, coaching, and writing, she helps freelancers build the business of their dreams without sacrificing all their time, family, or sanity.

Laura burned out as an inner-city middle school teacher before becoming an accidental freelancer with a Google search for “how to become a freelance writer.” Since then, she’s become a contributor for Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Writer’s Weekly. Laura worked for more than 300 clients around the world, including Microsoft, Truecar, and the Mobile Marketing Association. She’s delivered two TEDx talks on the power of the freelance economy for enabling freedom and flexibility, and how it’s being used to address the technical skills gap in the U.S. She is currently establishing a nonprofit organization to serve military spouses and veterans interested in starting freelance careers. She is also the author behind the award-winning "How to Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business" and two forthcoming business books from Entrepreneur Press.

Workshop Presenter: "How to Fund Your Dreams"

Tina Smith, (Ret. U.S. Air Force) is a Financial Coach and President of The Financial T Coaching and Consulting Firm. “Does that make sense?” is one question she asks to make sure the message of financial improvement is getting through. Tina is passionate about educating young professional clients, to motivate them to act in improving their current financial situation. She knows why it’s important to have a financial coach and a real financial plan early in a professional career.

As a young military person, Tina experienced financial coaching and still reap the benefits today. In fact, having a financial coach early in her career secured her decision to leave an established firm to concentrate on serving young professionals. Since then, she has been an investment advisor representative and a health and life insurance agent for multiple states across the country. Tina obtained her Occupation Education Bachelors degree from Wayland Baptist University, and she is currently pursuing a Certified Financial Planner certification through the American College of Financial Services. Tina retired from the Air Force in 2013. She is married to Karshi, who is serving our country as a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps and has one son, Anthony.

Workshop Presenter: “3 Peace of Mind Tips for Navigating through Difficult Times"

Dr. Brianna Gaynor has a passion for mental health and has noticed the healing effects of her work. Through personal and professional experiences, she has also seen the detrimental effects of not getting the help you need can be. Time and time again, Dr. Gaynor has also had numerous conversations with people of all different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds who have indicated their apprehension about coming for help. 

Dr. Gaynor is a clinical psychologist who has been licensed in Georgia since 2011. She received her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology in 2009. While in graduate school, her training focused primarily on the treatment of children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Gaynor has also worked in various settings, including outpatient, residential, and a mental health hospital helping children, teenagers, and their families heal from significant histories of trauma and emotional disorders. Currently, she works at her own private practice, Peace of Mind Psychological Services, where much of her work focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and behavioral disorders through psychological evaluations. 

Workshop Presenter:  "Everybody Is A Boss"

Dr. Dauv Evans is the CEO and Boss for The Gallus Collective. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education leadership, as well as a Masters in Business Administration. He is the author of the book “Don’t Forget to Breathe, Inhale Opportunities and Exhale Results.” His guide to redefining success has been well-received by professionals in various industries.

For over 10 years Dr. Dauv has devoted his time and talents to teaching, training, and coaching personal and professional excellence. He is an advocate of promoting employees’ mindset to that of a BOSS to produce a more productive and well-rounded team. He has worked with organizations to maximize the productivity of teams and better prepare them for leadership opportunities. Dr. Dauv uses his personal and professional life experiences when sharing his message of resilience and having a BOSS mindset to better identify opportunities. Audiences range from college students and faculty to c-suite level executives. As a trainer, his content derives from his years of sales and leadership training and curriculum design experience. He has spent countless hours working with organizations behind the scenes across the country and redesigning training.  

Workshop Presenter: " Growth Through Discomfort: How to Use Your Challenges as Stepping Stones to Success"

LaQuista Erinna, DBH, LCSW (Ret. U.S. Army and Military Spouse) is the founder of T.H.R.I.V.E. Behavioral Health & Consulting, LLC. Dr. Erinna is a military spouse and Army Veteran with over 20 years of service. After returning home from her second deployment to Iraq, she became increasingly concerned with the many challenges Servicemembers faced upon reintegration into their civilian lives. Dr. Erinna realized that she wanted to help people live their best lives possible. She decided to continue her education and pursue a Master's of Social Work.


After spending years providing Veteran homeless outreach and intensive case management with the federal government, she knew she wanted to provide more direct clinical services. Dr. Erinna decided to open her own private practice while finishing her doctoral studies. Today, T.H.R.I.V.E. provides behavioral health services and education to military and non-military clients who have experienced trauma.

Workshop Presenter: "Managing Stress During a Transition"

Shelley Rawlings is all about promoting lifestyle changes in order to create healthy bodies, strong minds, and prosperity. She is the Founder of WellnessAMPED, a boutique BME/DBE/SBE company that helps organizations create holistic custom solutions. Our goal is to create fun, engaging, and unique programs to AMPLIFY company culture leading to improvements in health and performance.


With over 20 years of corporate leadership experience, she is passionate about helping businesses face and overcome the challenges of today's multigenerational workforce, complex company cultures while assisting employees maintain a work-life balance.


Shelly is certified by the National Association for Corporate Wellness and is a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist.  She is also a member of the Corporate Health and Wellness Association.

Workshop Presenter: "Managing Stress During a Transition"

Rita Bruce, a Certified Coach who is passionate about empowering people to choose wellness and will be presenting with Shelley Rawlings. She is committed to helping clients, teams and groups identify strategies to manage their challenges with stress.


Rita's 25+ years as a management consultant in corporate leadership supported Industry & Government clients and mentored Veterans. She obtained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut and is accredited by the National Board of Health & Wellness Coaching, Georgetown University Institute of Transformational Leadership, and is a member of the Internation Coach Federation.

Workshop Presenter:  " A Veteran’s Guide to Returning to School and Deciding on a Career Path"

Valarie R. Austin (Retired U.S. Army) is an author and dynamic career & college readiness speaker. In her workshop presentations, she offers practical advice to high school/college-bound students and parents, which details a framework of the knowledge, discipline, and financial goals needed to begin and graduate on time from college into a fulfilling career. She is passionate about helping others to find their most fulfilling career path. With a master’s, an associate and two bachelor's degrees, she understands the college journey from her multi-faceted experience.

Valarie’s unique insights allow her to describe the decisions and actions students and parents should consider to select a college/major, obtain funding for school, and choose a career. After her graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Valarie spent 21 years in the Army as a Military Intelligence Officer. She is also a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In addition, Valarie is a veteran-owned business owner who is the founder, exclusive author, and President of Vauboix Publishing LLC.

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Sean Chrysostom - Capital One
"Special Presenter and Panelist"

Sean Chrysostom earned his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Finance from Howard University in 1987.  He has spent over 30 years in commercial banking, with an emphasis on consumer and small business lending.  Sean has been an advocate for greater financial education within social and faith-based organizations in the metro DC area.  Sean is the Financial Access Educator in the Mid-Atlantic region of Capital One.

Over the course of his career, Sean has seen the powerful impact that financial literacy has in elevating individuals and families from poverty to prosperity.  He is a passionate advocate for helping individuals learn how to effectively handle money, credit, debt, and risk.  He has worked diligently to help create empowered communities while building financial dignity within individuals.  Real financial dignity allows everyone the opportunity to be self-sufficient with the fundamentals to build their own businesses, buy homes, increase credit, and make better investment decisions.

MBallou Conde-Kouyate - M&T Bank
"Special Presenter and Panelist"

MBallou Conde-Kouyate is the Vice President and Business Banking Relationship Manager of M&T Bank located in Washington, DC

She will be speaking as a panelist during the Business / Financial Segment of the conference as well as give a special presentation about how to acquire funding through M&T Bank.

Bio to follow.

Andy Surine - M&T Bank
"Special Presenter and Panelist"

Andy Surine is the Team Lead of M&T Bank located in Washington, DC.

He will be speaking as a panelist during the Business / Financial Segment along with MBallou as well as give a special presentation about how to acquire funding through M&T Bank.

Bio to follow.

Kevin M. Coleman - KMC Empowerment
"Financial Business Panel Moderator and Day 2 Opening Speaker"

Kevin M. Coleman is the founder of KMC Empowerment where he provides empowering speeches, leadership training, communication training, professional development training, and executive coaching for the past 20 years. He aims to help make individuals and organizations successful. 


KMC Empowerment was established to help promote professionalism, work ethic, passion, and relationship-building techniques that will always inspire individuals and organizations to exemplify team excellence as well as incorporate some of John C. Maxwell’s principles for maximum success.

Ken Alozie, Greenwood Capital Advisors

Ken Alozie is a Principal for Greenwood Capital Advisors, LLC where he helps small businesses obtain a variety of capital necessary to fuel growth including SBA financing, credit lines, working capital loans, business acquisition financing, and real estate financing, to name a few.  For almost twenty years, Ken has helped companies use capital to grow – first on Wall Street and now for Main Street companies. He also volunteers for SCORE and the National Academy of Finance Board.

Ken has a master’s degree in Finance from the London Business School and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Kevin Johnson - The Johnson Leadership Group
"Business Panelist Moderator"
"Becoming a Person of Influence

Kevin Johnson is an independent certified coach, mentor, trainer, and speaker with the nationally recognized John Maxwell Team, where he leads learning experiences that are tailored to meet the specific needs of the audience to help maximize efficiency, growth, awareness, and effectiveness. He invites those in the audience to “Put Your Dream to the Test” and provides them with a step-by-step action plan for making those dreams come true. This essential exposure to personal development techniques includes guided study and the practical application of John Maxwell’s proven leadership methods, which include ”Leadership Gold,” “Developing the Leader Within You 2.0,” “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” “Becoming A Person of Influence,” “How to be A R-E-A-L Success,” and “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.”


Kevin enjoyed a 34-year career (retired) in the federal government and private industry as a middle-to-senior level leader. He has managed workforce development/ training, organizational change, acquisition/procurement, customer service, client relationships, security, budget/finance, records management, property administration, facilities, information technology projects, and human resources as Chief of Staff, Department of Defense, Fort Meade, Maryland.

Janice Walker-Emeogo - Maryland Department of Labor
"Special Presenter"

Janice (Jan) Walker-Emeogo is an experienced outreach community and economic development leader who has worked successfully in the Maryland market for over 20 years. In her current role, Jan serves as the Small Business State Outreach Director at the Maryland Department of Labor in the Office of Small Business Regulatory Assistance. She is a passionate advocate and liaison for small, minority, and women-owned businesses and consistently seeks to support this community by connecting them to resources and programs to start, manage, and grow their business.


Prior to joining the Maryland Department of Labor, Jan worked as Vice President and Business Banker at Capital One Bank. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Phoenix in Business Management. Jan currently serves as a member of the Maryland Commerce Sub Cabinet Small Business Workgroup, an advisory board member for the Baltimore Metro Women’s Business Center, and Outreach Chair for Maryland Public Television’s (MPT) Women’s Leadership Forum. In addition, Jan has served as a reoccurring panel speaker for the Goldman Sachs 10ksb Baltimore Business Support Panel, Morgan State’s Baltimore Means Business Program, and Pitch Competition Judge for the Maryland Small Business Development Center Programs.

Thomas Ellis - EWC Consultants
"Special Presenter and Panelist"

Thomas Ellis is a sales management veteran with over 25 years of experience in coaching, consulting, developing sales personnel and sales managers. He began his professional sales career in the copier industry before moving on to the telecommunications industry where he was employed by Motorola and Nextel. During his 13-year tenure with Sprint Nextel, Thomas was promoted to the positions of Sales Manager and Director of Sales. He received Sprint/Nextel’s highest sales award, President’s Council, for 10 consecutive years.

In 2010, Thomas decided to expand his expertise through the launch of EWC Consultants. EWC Consultants focuses on teaching sales teams, business owners, and sales professionals how to master basic sales activities which lead to closing BIG deals. The process he developed is repeatable, easy to learn, and generates great results. Some of the clients that EWC has helped include The Elocen Group, AARP, Ideal Electric, Baywood Hotels, JK Moving, FSC First, and Skybitz.

Kenneth Clarke - PEAKE Financial Wealth Solutions

Kenneth Clarke is a financial advisor with the Peake Financial Group.  In this position, he spearheads the firm’s efforts to assist business owners in developing and implementing strategies that can enhance, protect and capture business equity, while at the same time coordinating personal and business planning to better build and protect their overall wealth.  He specializes in integrative planning with an emphasis on pre-retirement and retirement planning, while incorporating risk and income protection. 


With his years as an entrepreneur and as a business owner, he brings his practical knowledge to his work with the business community he serves.   Kenneth enjoys sharing information through speaking engagements and has presented to several companies and associations, including the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, Maryland Dental Society, Howard University Law School, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), among others.

Chris Jordan - TEAMCNE

Chris Jordan is an Executive Leader of TeamCNE, LLC, an independent Executive Leadership and Life Coaching firm. Chris specializes in training, equipping, and motivating people to reach and exceed their goals professionally and personally from a leadership perspective.

As a veteran himself, Chris has over 22 years of public service experience with the Air Force and a local county police agency. Chris says that "Even before my public service, I had life experiences that taught me, sometimes painfully, the delicate nature of humanity. I have incorporated these life lessons into every aspect of our business and it is the driving force behind my passion to encourage and empower everyone I come in contact with."

Chris holds a graduate certificate in Christian Ministry from Liberty University, a Masters of Science and Bachelor of Science degree in Management, Public Safety Executive Leadership Program, from Johns Hopkins University; and an AAS in Criminal Justice and Public Affairs from the Community College of the Air Force.  He is also the President of the MedStar Franklin Square Toastmasters Club, a certified member of the John Maxwell Mentorship Team, and a member of the Harford County Chamber of Commerce.

Leroy McKenzie, Jr. - JNF Enterprises
"Special Presenter and Panelist"

Leroy C. Mckenzie Jr. is the President/CEO of JNF Enterprises, which is a Distribution, Publishing, and Business Consulting Firm located in Baltimore, Maryland. He is also a contributing writer for the Real-Life Real Faith…Men of Faith Magazine, Entrepreneurs of Color, and His Favor Magazines.

Mr. Mckenzie has written two books of poetry, which have been featured on Heaven 600’s poetry café, a business finance book, The Customer Is Not Always Right, A Common Sense Guide To Establishing A Strong and Flourishing Business,  and Young & Gifted, The New Generation of Entrepreneurship, and a book on Leadership, He also wrote the Art of Leadership, Success Strategies for the 21st Century Leader. He has performed his poetry and spoken at churches and various other venues throughout the country. JNF Enterprises was started in 2004, with the publishing of Mr. Mckenzie’s debut books of Poetry “The Inner Soul” Volumes 1&2, and the launching of their Christian Apparel line.

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