Speakers 2019

Mr. Ori Brafman

Multiple New York Times Bestselling Author

Ori Brafman specializes in organizational culture, employee engagement, business transformation, leadership, and emerging technologies. Mr. Brafman has advised all branches of the U.S. military, the Obama White House, the National Academy of Sciences, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, NATO, and YPO, among others.

Mr. Brafman is also founder and president of Starfish Leadership and co-founder of the Fully Charged Institute, which combines his work with that of Tom Rath. He is a Distinguished Teaching Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business focusing on improvisational leadership, data science, and artificial intelligence.

Professional Profile

Mr. Steve Justice

Aerospace Division Director – To The Stars (TTS) Academy

Steve Justice is the Director of the TTS Academy Aerospace Division, tasked with leading the effort to examine the possibilities of emerging sciences and technologies. This team will work to define advanced systems exploiting radical technologies, prototypes promising concepts, and develop operational systems that shatter conventional thinking.

He entered the defense aerospace industry in 1978 after graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology. After 31 years, Stephen is the recently retired Program Director for Advanced Systems from Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs – better known as the “Skunk Works”. Mr. Justice’s industry experience brings to TTS Academy a deep understanding of strategy definition, breakthrough technology development, advanced concept design, prototyping, system fielding, and program planning and execution using a leadership style that inspires innovation.

To The Stars Academy of Arts And Science Profile

Dr. Lilia Giugni

CEO at GenPol: Gender Policy & Insights & Fellow in Social Innovation, Cambridge Judge Business School

Dr. Lilia Giugni is a Research Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at the Cambridge Judge Business School. She holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Cambridge, where she researched the role if ideas and discourse in the transformation of European left-wing political parties. She is also a Teaching Associate in Social Innovation and has previously taught Comparative Politics, Political Science and Social Science Methodology.

She is also the CEO and co-founder of GenPol, a think tank consultancy researching matters of gender. Dr. Giugni has previously worked with think tanks and charities on matters of politics, policy-making and gender. She is passionate about the history of women in Cambridge and is constantly inspired by their difficult journey to be accepted in education.

University of Cambridge Profile
University of Cambridge Trinity Hall Profile

Dr. Jeff DeGraff

Professor of Management and Organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan

Dr. DeGraff’s mission is “the democratization of innovation.” He brings innovation to everyone, every day and everywhere through his books, his public television program (Innovation You), columns (Inc.) and radio program (The Next Idea). His articles and thought leadership on contemporary business matters have been covered by Business Week, US News and World Report and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

Dr. DeGraff is an advisor to Fortune 500 companies, a top innovation speaker, a business professor at the Ross School of Business, and a bestselling author. Jeff is also a Managing Partner of Innovatrium, an innovation center and consulting practice that specializes in teaching companies how to grow and become more innovative. He serves as an advisor to think tanks and governments. Jeff has worked all over the world, with significant experience in Europe and Asia, and in most industry and market segments.

Professional Profile
University of Michigan's Ross School of Business Profile

Mrs. Jodi Womack

Founder of the GET MOMENTUM Leadership Academy, Author of Get Momentum

Jodi Womack, M.A., is filled with abundant enthusiasm and expansive vision. Her natural leadership is evident in the way she pulled her own community together during the economic slide of 2009. Watching entrepreneurs struggle to stay afloat, Jodi invited business owners to join together once a month to combine resources, share ideas and become empowered to stimulate their own economy. The result has been tremendous; jobs have been created, services exchanged and hope renewed. Jodi created of the Women’s Business Socials to bring women in business together to have vibrant and meaningful connections in person and online. She also founded The GET MOMENTUM Leadership Academy with her husband, Jason. Her firsthand experience in business management, marketing, and customer service shines through their training and coaching firm. Jodi delivers innovative ideas with integrity and an authentic desire to see everyone succeed. Jodi turns “best possible scenarios” into everyday success.

GET MOMENTUM Leadership Academy

Mr. Jason W. Womack, MA, M.Ed.

Founder of The Womack Company, Executive Coach and Author of Your Best Just Got Better

With over 20 years of education and operational experience, Jason creates and transforms leadership programs, builds learning and development curriculum, and directs “think-tank” style discussions.

He was first chosen as one of “America’s top 100 thinkers in productivity” in 1997, and his 2012 book, Your Best Just Got Better achieved best-selling status within five weeks of being published. Jason is a speaker, coach, and author advising leaders worldwide. He invests his time, energy and focus serving as an agent of change. He has shared his ideas on leadership development with managers of organizations in 28 different countries.

Womack Company Profile

Mrs. Amy Norton

Senior Associate, GiANT Worldwide

Amy Norton is a senior partner at GiANT Worldwide, a global company dedicated to leadership transformation and healthy multiplication. She founded her consulting practice in 2014 after her own leadership journey and is focused on helping clients bring intentionality into all their circles of influence, starting with self.

Amy’s work includes leadership coaching, team development, and company-wide training and spans across many fields including financial services, construction teams, start-ups, non-profits, military, technology companies and more. Amy’s clients consistently realize sustainable results in leadership development initiatives and the creation of healthy organizational culture. In addition to working for the liberation of leaders and organizations everywhere, she is a sought-after speaker and writer.

Professional Profile

Mrs. Nicole Pinkham

Lead Senior Training Consultant, SummaSource

Nicole Pinkham serves as the Senior Training Consultant for SummaSource at Auburn Montgomery. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from Mississippi State University and a Master’s of Education with a certification in Educational Leadership from Auburn University at Montgomery. She served as a classroom teacher and assistant principal with Montgomery Public Schools, an educational specialist and curriculum director for public and private K-12 schools, an AUM program manager, and as an independent training consultant before joining Auburn Montgomery.

Nicole manages and directs training and consulting projects and has worked with numerous clients. She also serves as Director of the AUM Leadership Academy, a motivational keynote speaker for conferences, and training consultant for numerous programs. Her ability to equip leaders with tools to become more and achieve more allows for innovation of solutions to address organizational challenges.

Auburn University at Montgomery Profile
SummaSource at Auburn University Profile

Mr. Andy Christiansen

Founding Partner of Capacity7, Professional Certified Life Coach

Working with top leaders in business, military, entertainment and the non-profit world, Andy has a multi-industry and forward-thinking awareness most business advisors don’t bring to the table. This unique knowledge base has led him in successful partnerships with organizations like Coca-Cola, The U.S. Air Force, Chick-Fil-A, Newell Rubbermaid, The Mattress Firm, LabeLive Events, Points of Light, Team Novo Nordisk and Northwestern Mutual.

Andy is also the author of The 40/40 Principle, a book that reveals the purpose and power of strategic mentoring relationships in the post information age. He is an Honorary Professor of Leadership at Air University, USAF, holds a BBA of Finance from Kent State University, M.Div. from BTCP, PCC Professional Certified Coach from CoachU and a CLC Certified Life Coach from ILCT.

Professional Profile
Capacity7 Profile

Mr. Sherman Williams

Co-Founder, Palmer Williams Group

Mr. Sherman Williams is a former University of Alabama and NFL football player. He has experience and enjoys speaking to youth, churches, schools, non-profit organizations and corporations. Mr. William’s passion is using personal stories to change the lives of others, whether speaking about overcoming tragedy, life skills gained through sports or his faith in God.

The Palmer Williams Group was created to provide youth development programs to assist and guide disadvantaged youth to overcome interpersonal obstacles, embrace family values, education and avoid life’s pitfalls.

Palmer Williams Group Profile

CMSgt (Ret) William Calvin Markham

Retired Air Force Chief Master Sargent William Calvin Markham is a long time Air Force Special Operations Command quiet professional. Chief Markham has an extensive operational background to include advanced skills as a joint terminal attack controller, freefall, static line jump master and combat dive supervisor. He has deployed in support of numerous contingencies and Special Operations missions during Operations RESOLUTE SUPPORT, FREEDOM SENTINEL, ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM-PHILIPPINES, JOINT ENDEAVOR, PROVIDE PROMISE and PROVIDE COMFORT.

Chief Markham retired from the Air Force in 2016, but continues to support the special operations community in a civilian capacity as the Operations Officer for the Special Operations Warfare Foundation where he works to ensure the children of fallen Special Operations Forces are provided full college scholarships, counseling, tutoring and advocacy support to ensure a bright and solid future.

Gathering of Eagles Foundation Profile

Mr. Tanner Taddeo

Consultant, Aleron Group

Mr. Taddeo works as a consultant at the Aleron Group where he is part of a team that helps shapes organizational strategies by identifying key trends, factors and technologies that will influence and disrupt sectors and business models.

Prior to Aleron, Tanner was working as an IDEX Global Fellow for impact investing at Unitus Capital in Bangalore, India. Tanner started out in the international NGO space in New York City, having worked at Comic Relief, on their second annual Red Nose Day USA campaign, and ACF International: Action Against Hunger in fundraising/partnership capacities.

Tanner holds a BA in Philosophy from The College of William and Mary, a MSc in International Affairs from Florida State University, and is currently a MSt candidate for Social Innovation at University of Cambridge, Judge Business School.

Aleron Profile

Mr. Jim Vaselopulos

Founder, CEO and Executive Coach, The Leadership Podcast

Jim Vaselopulos is a C-level business advisor with a proven record as a leader, strategist, rainmaker and new business development expert. With a reputation for principled leadership, strategic vision, and effective execution, Jim has built successful new enterprises and turned around underperforming organizations. Jim has been a consultant to many companies across nearly every industry.

As the founder of Rafti Advisors, Inc., Jim helps early stage companies get off on the right foot, growth stage companies push through plateaus and mature companies with strategic shifts and complex challenges. Jim teaches sales and professional development, is a frequent speaker on leadership and innovation and volunteers regularly with veterans groups and business incubators.

The Leadership Podcast Profile

Mr. Jan Rutherford

Adventurer | Author | Green Beret

Jan Rutherford entered the U.S. Army at age 17 (weighing 114 pounds), and spent six years in Special Forces as a Green Beret medic and “A” team executive officer, and three years as a military intelligence officer. Jan has over 25 years of business experience and has held executive roles in business development, marketing, sales, training, product management, and as a CEO. He is the founder of Self-Reliant Leadership, LLC, leads Crucible expeditions with executives and transitioning military veterans, and is the author of The Littlest Green Beret: On Self-Reliant Leadership. As a professional speaker, Jan was recognized as one of “The Top 100 Leadership Speakers for 2018” in Inc., and was a TEDx speaker in 2018. Jan also serves on numerous boards, and invests time with select DOD units and veteran organizations. He is also the co-host of The Leadership Podcast.

Self-Reliant Leadership

Mrs. Staney DeGraff

CEO, Innovatrium and Author

Staney DeGraff works with clients to build collaborative innovation communities that bring diverse groups together: businesses, non-profits, education institutions, government agencies and arts organizations. Her research is focused on quantifying the commercial and social value of innovation. She has a MBA and a MS in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan. She co-wrote “The Innovation Code: The Creative Power of Constructive Conflict” with her husband, Jeff DeGraff.

The Innovatrium approach centers on the Innovation Genome, a model that fosters successful organizational leadership and improves effectiveness. The model is grounded in more than thirty years of research and thought leadership from renowned professors at the University of Michigan. It is recognized by Financial Times as one of the 40 most important frameworks in the history of business, and has been used with great success by hundreds of companies.

Innovatrium Profile

Col (Ret) Michelle “Mo” Barrett

Motivational Speaker

Michelle “Mo” Barrett started her military career at the Air Force Academy. After graduation, she launched her career as a successful failure, becoming the first member of her pilot training class to receive an “Unsat” on a training flight. As a new Air Force pilot, she flew the Alenia C-27A and 2 years later, moved to Northern California to fly the Lockheed C-5. After 9/11, Mo deployed with a small team to a bare base in Uzbekistan, converting it from austere airfield to airlift hub for support missions to Afghanistan.

Mo spent her 25-year career using hard work and authenticity. Her ability to view the world through lenses of humor, optimism and perspective have guided her through the challenges of life and career. Her unique presentation style and contagious energy will capture your attention, make you think and help you refresh common sense!

Colonel Jeffrey Donnithorne

Colonel Jeffrey Donnithorne is the Chief Academic Officer of Air University, serving as the principal academic advisor to the Commander and President of Air University. Col Donnithorne is a graduate of Duke University and was commissioned through Air Force ROTC in May 1997. He flew his first operational tour in the F-15E in the 391st Fighter Squadron at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, followed by an assignment in the Pentagon as an Air Force Intern. In 2005, he returned to the F-15E as part of the 90th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. In 2009, Col Donnithorne attended the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), followed by doctoral studies in International Relations at Georgetown University. Col Donnithorne joined the faculty of Air University in 2013 as the Commander of the 31st Student Squadron at Squadron Officer School, followed by an assignment at the Center for Strategy and Technology where he led the Blue Horizons program. His book Four Guardians, published by Johns Hopkins University Press in June 2018, explores the role of service culture in shaping American civil-military policy-making.

Major Summer C. Kolcun

Motivational Speaker

Major Summer C. Kolcun is the 5th Generation Branch Chief, Directorate of Logistics, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Arlington, VA. She is the lead for life cycle sustainment of 5th Generation fighter aircraft, F-35 and F-22, and supports organizing, training, and equipping over 150,000 airmen and technicians in support of maintaining the aerospace weapons system inventory.

Previous to this assignment, Major Kolcun was a Strategic Policy Fellow at the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, where she supported and executed humanitarian deconfliction for Syria and Iraq. She is an Aircraft Maintenance officer with experience in C-17, F-22, C-40, KC-135, and C-5 aircraft. Major Kolcun deployed in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN, where she led the largest aircraft maintenance enroute in CENTCOM.

LTC Josh Stewart

U.S. Army Officer, U.S. Transportation Command

Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Stewart is currently assigned to U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Recently based in the United Kingdom, LTC Stewart completed a Master of Studies degree in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School with research focused on gender-related issues in the U.S. military. Working with Dr. Giugni, LTC Stewart examined the history of women in the military, gathered current perspectives from mid-level leaders, and identified areas for additional focus as well as research.

LTC Stewart began his military career as a Field Artillery officer after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1997. He has served in a variety of locations with assignments predominantly focused on assessing adversary and competitor capability and intent. LTC Stewart is passionate about organizational improvement and enthusiastic about mentoring junior personnel and future leaders.

LEDx 4.0 will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube (see links below)
LEDx 4.0 will be streamed live on YouTube:
Air University’s YouTube Site