Fall 2021 Speakers

Ronee Andersen

Coaching and Consulting by Ronee

Ronee Andersen founded Coaching and Consulting by Ronee in May of 2019. Her business focuses on helping leaders and small business owners reach their full potential by leverating leadership, emotional intelligence, team building, diversity and company culture.

Prior to starting her own business, Ronee worked in Human Resource for 20 years overseeing the HR function for 10 of those years. She has worked in companies from 50 to 6,000 employees. She has experience working in family-owned businesses, the private sector and publicly traded companies, as well as, in the public sector in city and county government. She has held positions as HR Officer, HR Director, and Senior HR Director. She has been a member of leadership and executive teams.

Ronee has held her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification since 2003. She has an MBA with an emphasis in Human Resources. She is a certified coach through Coach Training Alliance. Ronee, also, has an Advance Certificate in Strategic HR from Cornell University and a Certificate in Organizational Analyis from Stanford University.

Danielle Atchison

Business Immigration Attorney
Midivani Corporate Immigration Compliance Institute

Danielle practices in corporate immigration law. She assists employers with immigration compliance plans, policies and procedures, I-9 audits, E-Verify compliance, and immigration related defense from ICE worksite enforcement investigations. Danielle assists the firm’s clients with visas for international personnel, investors, and executives, including E-1, E-2, L-1, H-1B, P, O visas, and employment-based green cards.

Matthew S. Brick

Brick Gentry P.C.

Matt Brick is a shareholder of Brick Gentry P.C. His practice involves providing legal guidance for cities and/or corporations. In addition, Matt represents businesses and governments in a variety of labor and employment issues.

For his corporate clients, Matt handles a variety of matters ranging from: forming business entities such as corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships; negotiating contracts, assisting with the purchase and sale of businesses; and entering in equity sales and/or joint ventures with outside parties.

His municipal practice involves ordinance drafting, prosecutions, contract preparation, litigation defense and handling real estate issues. Matt has experience with municipal issues involving governmental immunity, open records, open meetings, constitutional rights and eminent domain.

Matt’s employment practice involves advising employers on employee discipline, assisting with drafting, reviewing and revising employment policies, and handling hiring and reduction issues. Matt also works with employers on union-related matters, such as unfair labor practice charges and negotiating collective-bargaining agreements.

Prior to joining the Firm, Matt worked for the Vinson & Elkins law firm in Dallas, Texas, defending and advising clients in a wide range of labor and employment issues. Matt has extensive civil litigation experience defending public and private corporations on matters such as wrongful termination, discrimination disputes, wage and hours cases and a variety of other statutory and common-law claims.

Scott Burgmeyer

Founder & CEO
Creative Solutions Group

Scott is a Leadership, Excellence, Lean, Six Sigma & Baldrige Guru, is the founder & CEO of Creative Solutions Group. For over 30 years, Scott has worked and consulted in manufacturing, technology, education, finance and health care industries. Scott has held Quality Manager, CI Manager, Human Resources & Talent Director, SVP Quality & Improvement, and Chief Improvement Officer titles.

As a Master Black Belt and creator of The DMAIC Way®, Scott’s goal is for everyone to Make it Better! Make it Stick!

Ronald Cox
CIRAS Director
Iowa State University


PhD, Aerospace Engineering, Iowa State University, 1989
MS, Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas/Arlington, 1983
BS, Aerospace Engineering, Iowa State University, 1979


Ron’s industrial experience includes work in the aerospace industry on transonic aircraft wing design and wind tunnel testing. He was vice president of engineering for a manufacturer of cooling towers prior to joining CIRAS. There he led engineering design, testing, and manufacturing activities and directed the plant productivity and quality assurance programs. Ron also taught and conducted research while on the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering faculty at the University of Oklahoma. His research work focused on numerical modeling and hypersonic vehicle design. Ron was a CIRAS field agent in the Mason City area for four years before assuming his current position as director of CIRAS in 2001.

Serving CIRAS from 1997.
Thomas Cunningham

Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

Tom Cunningham understood the important role of lawyers from an early age by watching and learning from family. His grandfather was a civil defense lawyer for 45 years, and a great-uncle served as a law school dean and counsel at a war crimes tribunal. Their success and passion in helping clients inspired Tom to pursue his own legal career.

Tom practices exclusively in labor and employment law, where he provides counseling on employment issues and tries employment cases. Tom was attracted to this area because workplace issues and the employment relationship are central to people’s lives. “A reliable, skilled workforce is critical to a company’s success. Helping employers address issues and solve problems concerning their most important asset—their employees—is what I do. It’s important work,” he observes.

Tom characterizes the scope of his practice as “across the board.” The matters are as varied as discrimination and wrongful termination litigation, advising employers on employment policies and personnel issues, helping management address union campaigns, representing management in labor arbitrations, NLRB proceedings, OSHA enforcement proceedings, affirmative action compliance, noncompetition actions, and wage-hour disputes.

Tom’s intelligent, tenacious, and strategic approach and record of success have proved invaluable to his clients. “Employers look to their labor counsel not only for legal answers and effective courtroom defense, but also proactive guidance and strategic planning—all of which is the ‘value added’ I bring to my clients,” Tom says.

At the same time, Tom’s philosophy is that being prepared, unafraid, and experienced at trial are necessary to obtain favorable results for clients named as defendants in employment lawsuits. “I help management determine when litigation is their best option—and then execute that decision to achieve the best result. The objective always is that the company achieves its goals and prospers.”

Lisa Even

Leadership Professional​
Even Connection Leadership

Lisa Even is a leadership professional, who delivers high-energy keynote presentations and workshops, that challenge leaders to think beyond their backyard and believe that they happen to their teams, and not the other way around. Lisa is on a mission to connect with 1 million people and create good ripple effect in the world. Audience’s love working with Lisa, often describing her as the energizer bunny for their events.

Trained in Public Relations and Public Administration, she has a unique background in operational leadership, project management, marketing, and business development. She has led large multi-disciplinary project teams as well as managed close to one hundred people. Through business workshops, rapid fire coaching, and speaking, she partners with leaders and teams to relate, create, and innovate through connection, culture, and productivity.

Denise Forney

Training Development Advisor
MidAmerican Energy Company

Denise Forney is an Organizational Development professional, serving as a Corporate Training Advisor for MidAmerican Energy Company. She is a natural engager of people, building relationships within her organization and with the local community for the past 26 years of her career in training and development.

She is the creator of the MidAmerican Energizer series, driving momentum on diversity related topics internally and for organizations such as the Iowa Employment Conference, the Association of Talent Development (ATD) and the Energized Women Resource Group.

Denise leads authentically with positive energy, new ideas and brings out the best in everyone. In addition to her role at MidAmerican, she is a “teacher, trainer and edu-tainer” – teaching guitar lessons in her home and on her front porch and playing locally in the Des Moines metro area. She and her husband John have been married for 20 years and have three beautiful children: Rachel, Kaitlyn and Jacob.

Mary Funk

Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

Mary E. Funk is a shareholder with Nyemaster Goode, P.C., handling almost exclusively employment and labor matters. She litigates on behalf of management in state and federal courts, administrative agencies and before arbitrators concerning employment contract disputes; sexual harassment; race, sex, age, national origin and disability discrimination; wrongful termination; Family and Medical Leave Act; Fair Labor Standards Act; non-compete agreements; and unemployment. In addition to litigating cases, Mary proactively counsels clients on issues such as hiring and firing, drug testing and policies, harassment and discrimination investigations, employment policies, wage and hour issues, employee leave issues, and company handbooks. She also negotiates collectively bargained contracts and drafts corporate documents related to employment such as contracts, non-compete agreements, policies and procedures, company handbooks, and settlement agreements and releases.

Mary is a native of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and a 1995 graduate with distinction of the University of Iowa College of Law. During law school, Mary served as a Note and Comment Editor for the Iowa Law Review. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Drake University, graduating magna cum laude, in 1992.

Jason Haglund

Ag Rural Mental Health & Addiction Specialty Coordinator
COVID Recovery Iowa

As owner of Haglund Consulting LLC., Haglund provides behavioral health subject matter expertise and executive coaching based in Story City. Understanding the uniqueness of rural Iowa, Haglund strays beyond his professional experiences and draws upon the lessons he has learned from his own multigenerational family farm. As co-owner of Boone County based Hickory Grove Family Farm, Haglund is the 5th generation to continue the family farming tradition. Keeping up with the constant evolving pace of science, technology, and management of uncertainty can be overwhelming. Haglund understands first hand juggling all of this is required to own and operate a technology informed, financially viable, sustainable family business. This unique perspective affords Haglund to lead engaging, relatable discussions on topics such as stress management, emotional wellness and burnout.

Haglund, an accomplished senior executive, delivers guidance, system design consultation, and educational trainings on suicide prevention, mental illness, addiction, behavioral health policy, crisis/disaster management, stigma, and stress. Haglund is leading a speciality team at the Iowa Department of Human Services implementing the FEMA crisis counseling program disaster response to the Pandemic and Derecho of 2020. This project draws upon in-depth expertise of the state behavioral healthcare system, mental health literacy, change management, and his deep agricultural roots.

Dr. Jody Janati

Trainer, Speaker, Conference Facilitator

Trainer, speaker, conference facilitator… Jody Janati has a Doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership, and a Masters degree in Speech Communication. She offers a variety of public and professional workshops on conflict reduction tactics and effective communication skills. During her academic career she worked in various leadership roles, taught for over a decade at both the University of Minnesota and the MN state prison system. She currently trains for numerous organizations throughout the US. Dr. Janati is also the author of six books and DailyOm’s best-selling class, Protect Yourself from Control Dramas. Create Your “MasterPeace” with Dr. Janati!

Todd McDonald

ATW Training & Consulting

Todd McDonald has been a community and business leader for over 30 years. From 1989-1998 McDonald served as Vice-President of Research, Marketing and Sales for American Media, Inc., ultimately becoming Executive Vice President from 1995-1998. In 1998, McDonald founded his own training and development firm, ATW Training Solutions, Inc. ATW provides tailored training solutions to clients on a local, national and international basis. Todd is also owner of New Horizons Computer Learning Center of Des Moines.

Thought of as being results-oriented, some of McDonald’s other accomplishments include:

  • Developing and delivering training programs and speeches to audiences throughout the world on topics such as teamwork, customer service, change management, communication, time utilization, and leadership.
  • Assisting organizations in development of strategic initiatives and plans in industries such as banking, finance, manufacturing, insurance, hospitality and education.
  • Authoring two books: one on communication between managers and their employees, “I Wish You Would Just…” and the other on time management, “How to Find 100 Extra Minutes a Day.”
  • Assisting in the development of the training and development profession through volunteering on ATD committees on a local and national basis. He has been a National Advisor for Chapters for ATD, served on two International Conference planning committees and was named Volunteer of Year on a national level.

Currently McDonald serves on the Board of Directors for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Entrepreneurs Association, Waukee Betterment Foundation and Urbandale Chamber of Commerce. He is also on the Advisory Committee of the Ken Blanchard Companies.

Skye Mercer, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Virtual HR Consultant & Leadership Coach
Skye HR Consulting

Skye Mercer, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is an Iowa-based, certified Virtual HR Consultant & Leadership Coach with nearly 20 years of professional HR experience. Her mission is to support business leaders with creating happy, productive, and compliant workplaces through proven HR and leadership programs.

Skye’s diverse HR experience- from managing national HR services for 3,000+ employees in a Fortune 500 company – to working as an HR Department-of-One for a 100-employee organization, helps her to understand and provide solutions to your unique HR challenges.
Among others, Skye has worked with: The US Tennis Association, The Woody Williams Foundation, multiple counties in Iowa, The Grand Canyon Trust, Safe Passage Violence Prevention Center, and NAMI. Skye is currently a Small Business Consultant with the Iowa Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

Skye is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and is a Society for Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). She is also a Certified Disability Management Specialist (CDMS), which requires expertise with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and Workers’ Compensation. Learn more about Skye at www.skyehrconsulting.com.

Karina Monesson

Sr. Manager

As Sr. Manager of HCM Research & Advisory, Karina Monesson leads UKG’s thought leadership research strategy and partners closely with business leaders to help them maximize the value of their technology investments. A former journalist and market researcher, Karina speaks regularly with conference and customer audiences about HCM trends and best practices and her work has been featured in Forbes, SHRM, HR Dive, HR Executive, HR Daily Advisor, and Human Resources Today. She serves on the Research Board for the Equity at Work Council and the Board of Directors for Conquer Addiction, and she is passionate about leveraging research, data, and technology to improve peoples’ lives and drive systemic change.

Ali Payne


As the President for ethOs, Ali Payne leads a team of engagement and wellbeing experts who work with clients to not only develop a strategy to drive employee engagement, but also to help them focus on the right employee experience and resources for all of the demographics in their workplace.

Ali has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the organizational wellbeing, culture, and employee experience industry. Prior to joining Holmes Murphy, Ali spent 15 years with Gallagher Benefit Services as Divisional Vice President, Practice Leader, Wellbeing and Engagement building a team of wellbeing and engagement professionals. Through this experience, she understands first-hand the value and importance of integrating organizational goals with strategies to engage talent. She helps her clients improve their employee retention and productivity through successful strategy development, implementation, and execution.

Ali is also an organizational engagement/culture expert and an award-winning thought leader. Recognized for her work in the industry, Ali was named the Employee Benefit Adviser’s Wellness Adviser of the Year in 2018.
Ali received her undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology from The University of Iowa and her Master of Science degree in Health Promotion and Human Resource Management from Nebraska Methodist College. She also holds a certificate in Leadership from Harvard Business School.

Outside of work, Ali enjoys spending time with her husband Charlie, daughter Olive, and twin sons Fritz and Otto.

Lars Peterson

Licensed Psychotherapist

Lars Peterson, LISW, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice. Lars specializes in working with individuals who are experiencing anxiety, stress, relationship issues, trauma symptoms and work/vocational issues. Lars also works with couples and families.

Lars serves as a trainer for Employee Family Resources (EFR). Training topics include mental health, change, diversity, team building and leadership and communication issues. Lars is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Iowa, Des Moines campus.

Lars serves as a consultant to family businesses on ownership and management transition issues, leadership, conflict resolution, family harmony and effective communication.

Lars’ background also includes serving as the COO of Transition Point Business Advisors, a Vice-President of two for profit companies, serving as the Associate State Director of the Iowa Small Business Development Centers at Iowa State University, and owning and operating a psychotherapy and consulting firm.

Lars holds B.S. and M.S.W. degrees from the University of Iowa.

Barb Ranck

Courageously Imperfect Coaching & Development, LLC

Training and Coaching for 23+ years


  • BA – Secondary Education – University of Northern Iowa
  • Masters – Adult Learning & Human Performance – Drake University


  • Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coaching Federation (ICF)
  • Certified Enneagram Coach through Your Enneagram Coach, LLC
  • Certified Facilitator, Data Dimensions International (DDI) Leadership Training


I’m a working mom and wife, having held a career in training and development at a Fortune 500 company while also serving and giving back to the community.

I also know what it’s like to work hard for what I have, and look successful by the world’s standards, yet still feel like there was something missing. It wasn’t “enough.”

My solution? “Put my head down” and keep pushing ahead. Work harder. Exhaustion. Burnout. Double-down. Repeat the cycle.

It was taking a toll – on my health, on my relationships, and on my ability to bounce back quickly.

Through an experience with a life coach, my biggest realization I had was that I didn’t have to work harder or wait for something (or someone else) to change in order for things to change. When I gained clarity on the best path forward for me, the emptiness left and the energy returned. My health and relationships improved. My energy returned and continues to this day.

This discovery has been so impactful for me that I’ve made it my life’s mission to help others create the fulfilled version of their lives so they can have it all, too.

Tammy Rogers
Certified Coach
Aveea Partners

Tammy Rogers is best known for helping leaders experience “Aha” moments in order to develop new ways of thinking, new attitudes and new behaviors that transfer to the real world.
Tammy is a certified coach. She’s been instrumental in nine business start-ups. She’s held Vice President titles in both Human Resources and Operations – and has had the opportunity to lead more than 200 employees in remote offices from Boston to Los Angeles and Minneapolis to Atlanta.
Tammy has written more than 50 internationally distributed training programs. She has worked with best-selling authors like James Autry and Bob Nelson. And she has partnered with hundreds of companies – both large and small – to help them improve results through the building of people, processes and procedures.

Renee Schulte

Workforce Specialty Coordinator
COVID Recovery Iowa

Renee Schulte has over 20 years of leadership experience in the mental health field at the national, state, and provider levels. Her work in the public and private sectors has given her a unique understanding of the complexities in this area. Renee is nationally recognized for her expertise in behavioral health policy, system design, policy and financial analysis, and strategic consulting. As a licensed mental health therapist, Renee has worked in many levels of care including psychiatric hospital, child welfare, and therapeutic foster care. As a legislator, she spearheaded the passage of mental health redesign in Iowa. She began Schulte Consulting, LLC in 2012. As a consultant she has worked with multiple states creating strategic plans, legislation and regulations. She has also used her expertise and unique background in government relations and consulting for both non-profit and for-profit providers of healthcare services. She is presently working as the Specialty Coordinator for Workforce: Essential/Non-Essential, and unemployed for Covid Recovery Iowa. She and her husband, Brent reside in Urbandale, Iowa.

Stephanie Smith

Training Consultant
ATW Training Solutions

Stephanie Smith is a training professional with over 20 years of training and leadership development experience. She came to ATW from the banking industry where she specialized in both virtual learning and classroom facilitation.

She is skilled in designing and developing management programs that upskill and reskill leaders at all levels. Stephanie is versed in adult learning styles which increases learner engagement and enhances overall comprehension. Stephanie’s ability to work in a fast-paced, agile environment and commitment to building strong partner relationships has proven to lead teams and organizations to success.

Stephanie has a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, College of Business, majoring in Marketing. She enjoys volunteering in the local community and spending time with her family.

Nataliya Boychenko Stone

Employee Benefits Consultant, MBA, CEBS
Holmes Murphy & Associates

As a key player of Holmes Murphy & Associates, Nataliya is dedicated to providing creative solutions and tools her clients need to design their employee benefit programs. A native of Ukraine and fluent in three languages, she has the skills necessary to communicate and implement employer sponsored benefits and initiatives to diverse organizations. Nataliya specializes in healthcare data analysis, health care reform and legal compliance, cutting edge wellness programs as well as a full suite of employer sponsored benefit programs. Nataliya is also a Holmes Murphy shareholder.

Nataliya joined the Employee Benefits Division of Holmes Murphy in 2006. Prior to joining Holmes Murphy, she worked for Wells Fargo in Consumer and Business account management where she held a variety of advisory capacities involving life and health, investments and business financial services.

Nataliya is a frequent speaker on Health Care topics at local, regional and national industry events. She also enjoys teaching employee benefits to the graduate students at Drake University as an Adjunct Professor. Nataliya earned her bachelor’s degree in Finance and her master’s in Business Administration at Drake University. In addition, Nataliya holds her Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS), Group Benefit Associate (GBA), and Retirement Plan Associate (RPA) designations.

Nataliya is an active member of Greater Des Moines community, currently serving as the Finance Chair on the Board of Directors for The Employee and Family Resources and a mentor for some of the most progressive global insurance startup companies through the Global Insurance Accelerator. In 2020 Nataliya was honored as the 2020 Emerging Woman of Influence by Business Record and The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. In 2017 Nataliya was one of 15 executives who graduated from the Executive Education Center at Drake University’s Leading Others program. In 2016, Nataliya received a Community Vision Award from the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and in 2012, she was honored as one of the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty under 40 for her professional achievements and community involvement.

Melissa Wright

Community Outreach & Resource Planning Specialist
Des Moines District of the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division

MELISSA WRIGHT is the Community Outreach & Resource Planning Specialist for the Des Moines District of the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. She is responsible for all educational outreach and strategic enforcement planning for the district, which encompasses all of Iowa and Nebraska. Melissa has 14 years of federal service. She was a Wage and Hour Investigator prior to this position and conducted many complex investigations related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Davis-Bacon Act, Service Contract Act, and more. Melissa graduated from Drake University and earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Public Administration.

Daniel Zinnel, EdD

Proteus, Inc.

Dr. Daniel Zinnel is a facilitator, speaker, and learner. Authenticity, intentionality, humility, compassion, and joy are his leadership values. In 2020, he launched Growth and Joy, LLC to help individuals, businesses, and organizations develop proactive, practical, and purposeful leaders. He has trained and spoken to over twenty thousand individuals on a variety of topics including leadership, power and privilege, LGBTQ inclusion, and building your personal brand. Daniel was previously on faculty as an adjunct at Des Moines University and Iowa Central Community College. He developed One Iowa’s LGBTQ Leadership Institute, was part of a team that created the 4Equity Tool, and has previously served on the curriculum committee of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. Zinnel has over 10 years of nonprofit administration and leadership including currently serving as the CEO of Proteus, Inc. and previously as the Executive Director of One Iowa. Daniel serves as Tri-Chair of the Social Capital within Capital Crossroads, Vice Chair of the John Stoddard Cancer Center, and is on a variety of other community boards and advisory councils.