2019 Ideation Conference Speakers


Ryan Sisson

CEO & Founder
Moniker Group

Ryan Sisson is a third generation San Diegan has a passion for San Diego and the people that call it home. During college Ryan stepped into an opportunity in real estate development with the Corky McMillin Companies. Spending time in Land Acquisition as well as the Site Development department he was able to gain great experience in the real estate space ranging from valuing, acquiring and purchasing property to the process of turning dirt into land ready for development. After time in the real estate space Ryan moved into digital marketing serving as a Marketing Strategist before transitioning to Fifty & Fifty, a digital design and technology agency. Ryan spent 5 years as the VP of Business Development helping create opportunities for growth and partnership’s. During the same season of transition into the digital world Ryan founded Moniker Group. Moniker initially started as a design services company specializing in designing environments around conferences and events. Over the last 9 years it has grown the parent and hub of six different businesses including Design, Retail, Events and Hospitality. Moniker Group today employees around 50 people and has a physical presence all around Liberty Station as well as in the East Village of downtown San Diego. Ryan continues to serve as the CEO with daily oversight of company operations as well as working with the partners to create new concepts, businesses and develop the amazing opportunities the company has been given. Outside of Moniker Ryan serves on the Board of Advisors for Makers Church in San Diego, board of the San Diego Creative Foundation as well as serves on the Beach Cities Young Life committee and the national committee for Young Life College. Past support included the board of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and San Diego Chamber of Commerce Small Business Roundtable. At home Ryan spends his time as a husband of almost three years to Kristen and a dad to their one year old little girl, Shiloh.


Travis Mason

Vice President at Airbus
Formerly, Chief of Staff at Alphabet

Travis Mason is the Vice President for Global Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Airbus. where he works with the company’s global leadership and technical experts to bring emerging technology and new businesses like autonomous air taxis, on-demand helicopters, unmanned aircraft and much more to market. Prior to this position, he worked at Alphabet as the Chief of Staff for Google X Engineering, where he focused on public policy issues facing the company's advanced technology efforts in robotics, aviation, renewable energy and life sciences. His earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Syracuse University, where he was recognized as a Harry S. Truman Scholar, one of the country’s most prestigious undergraduate awards. He earned his Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan and also studied at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government as a Galbraith Scholar. In addition to his service on the Aspen Institute’s Vanguard Leadership Board, he serves on the board of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Policy at Syracuse University. Having performed as a classical vocalist and pianist for much of his life, Travis is also an avid musician.


Jeremy Cowart

Award-Winning Photographer & Founder of The Purpose Hotel

Named the “Most Influential Photographer on the Internet” by Huffington Post, Forbes and Yahoo in 2014, Jeremy Cowart is an award-winning photographer, artist, and entrepreneur whose goal in life is to use his creative platform to inspire and help others. Jeremy is a sought-after speaker, having presented at TEDx, the United Nations and creative conferences across the country. His latest endeavor is The Purpose Hotel, a planned global for-profit hotel chain designed to fuel the work of not-for-profit organizations. He’s also the founder of a global photography movement, Help-Portrait and an online teaching platform, See University. His new book “I’m Possible” is coming soon at PossibleBook.com. He lives in Franklin, TN with his wife and four children.


Andrew Means

Andrew has dedicated his career to creating a more effective and efficient social sector by developing data tools that help organizations improve their impact. He is the founder of Big Elephant Studios, a technology and data consulting firm for nonprofits and philanthropy, and the CoFounder of BrightHive, a startup focused on data sharing technology and infrastructure for the social sector.

Additionally, Andrew started Data Analysts for Social Good, a professional organization for individuals interested in how data, technology, and analytics are changing the social sector. Through this work Andrew hosts webinars, classes, and an annual conference attracting hundreds of leaders from around the world.

Previously Andrew was the founding Executive Director or Uptake.org, founder of the consulting firm Impact Lab, Associate Director at the Center for Data Science and Public Policy at The University of Chicago; Manager, Director of Impact Measurement and Data Storytelling at Groupon; and Director of Research and Analytics at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. In all these roles Andrew has helped develop teams dedicated to using data to further the impact of the social sector.

Andrew is an internationally recognized speaker on issues of data and philanthropy speaking at conferences around the world. He is a member of the Board of Directors at Ingenuity Inc. and Chairman of the Board at 10k Windows.


Tyler Merrick

Founder of Project 7

Bio coming soon!


Blythe Hill

Blythe Hill is the CEO and Founder of the Dressember Foundation, an anti-trafficking nonprofit organization that engages women and men in the fight to end modern-day slavery. Through their annual campaign, thousands of people across six continents commit to wearing dresses or bow ties for the month of December as a way to bring awareness and raise funding for anti-trafficking work. In six years, Dressember advocates have raised over $6MM USD. Dressember has received press attention from the likes of Forbes, Glamour, InStyle, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, the TODAY Show, Relevant, among others. Originally hailing from Seattle, Blythe now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their puppy, Friday. She loves a good red wine, a good cheese and, clearly, a good pun.


Justin Wheeler

CEO & Founder

Justin Wheeler is the founder and CEO at Funraise, a venture backed technology platform helping nonprofit organizations modernize their fundraising and donor management tools. As a social entrepreneur, Justin helped start two successful nonprofits, both of which became multi-million dollar organizations. He brings over 10 years of experience from the nonprofit sector and was an early team member of Invisible Children, which raised over $50M in the first 8 years of operation.

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Michelle Cho

Co-Founder & Executive Director at Gladeo

Michelle Cho is the Co-Founder/Executive Director of Gladeo, a digital media non-profit that fosters career exploration for students from diverse backgrounds. After years of volunteering, Michelle noticed a huge gap between school and career, especially for students from low income neighborhoods. Determined to bridge the gap, she co-founded Gladeo in 2015. Gladeo harnesses the power of storytelling and technology to inspire, educate and empower underserved students to find and pursue their dream career, particular. Gladeo shares inspiring career stories of diverse individuals to breakdown stereotypes, to open eyes to new opportunities, and to inspire people to believe that their aspirations are achievable. “You need to see it, to believe it.”

Michelle is an award-winning film producer who has also worked in film development and financing. She was also Director of Operations for a commercial real estate company. Michelle is a 2018 Ashoka/American Express Emerging Innovator, a StartingBloc Fellow and Gratitude Award recipient. Michelle is a graduate of Stanford University.


Em Sexton

CEO & Founder
The Flourish Market

With a past career on Wall Street as a Vice President of Communications and Change Management, Em Sexton brings her ‘win them over’ know-how, delightful enthusiasm and every day wit to encourage others to use their influence for good. From Wall Street to the streets with no name, you can now find Em traveling in developing nations to find gorgeous new goods for her Downtown Raleigh, NC Boutique + online shop, The Flourish Market. She is an overly obsessed dog mom, a karaoke back up dancer aficionado, a business coach to women entrepreneurs, an unlikely Crossfitter, and an avid believer that every single person is worthy of influence.


Chris Marlow

CEO & Founder
Help One Now

In 2007, Chris met a starving young orphan living in an abandoned gas station in Zimbabwe. That encounter compelled him to start Help One Now, which currently impacts over 50,000 people each day by empowering high capacity local leaders around the world and organizing tribes that do good. He also author of Doing Good is Simple. He currently lives in downtown Raleigh with his wife, two daughters, and his German Shepherd pup


Alli Worthington

Author & Co-Founder
Blissdom Conference

Alli Worthington is the author of The Year of Living Happy, Fierce Faith: A Woman's Guide to Fighting Fear, Wrestling Worry and Overcoming Anxiety and Breaking Busy: Finding Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy, a speaker, podcaster, and business coach.

She is the co-founder of the Blissdom Conference a business conference that helps writers, podcasters, influencers, and online entrepreneurs take their work to the next level.

Her goal is to help women live the life they were created to live. Alli co-founded multiple companies and has helped individuals, ministries, small business owners, and Fortune 500 companies be more successful.

Alli’s no-nonsense, guilt-free take on business, family, and balance lead to appearances on The Today Show and Good Morning America. She has written for Huffington Post, Fox News, Redbook and more.

Alli, her husband, Mark, and their five sons live outside of Nashville, TN with the only golden retriever who refuses to retrieve.

You can connect with her at AlliWorthington.com and on Instagram at AlliWorthington.


Katie Saffert

CEO & Founder
Hatched Collective

Katie Saffert is a Brand Strategist & Visionary who has cultivated a community for female entrepreneurs. She has created this community to make space for female owned brands to be seen and heard for who they are and consult them on how to show up for what they do.

After being an entrepreneur for 12 years, prior to opening Hatched Collective, she realized there was a lack in available resources for how to build a community and how to build a business. Her goal is to inspire women to step into their power and become the leader within their own community.


Tony B. Kim

CEO & Founder
Hero Within Store

As a blogger, host and designer, Tony B Kim is one of the most influential voices in the pop culture community. He has been writing about comic cons, media and fandom for over 10 years. Diversity within pop culture is one of his main passions and he champions for more representation in comics, TV and film. Tony is an entrepreneur and is CEO of geek fashion company HeroWithinStore.com. Officially licensed by Marvel and DC Comics, Hero Within seeks to celebrate heroes and disrupt the pop culture fashion industry. He and his wife Erin have not only grown their family through adoption but they both advocate for the foster care system. (Twitter at @Crazy4ComicCon).

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Mel McGowan

Co-Founder of PlainJoe & Chief Creative Officer of Storyland Studios

Mel is Co-Founder of PlainJoe and Chief Creative Officer of Storyland Studios. He combined his background in film and design during a decade long stint at the Walt Disney Company. Post-Disney, he has led teams which have won multiple Solomon Awards for “Best Church Architect,” and “Best Builder” and is the author of Design Intervention. Mel was named one of the top 25 influencers by OC Metro Magazine, is a contributing editor to Outreach Magazine as well as an Adjunct Professor at CBU’s College of Architecture, Visual Arts & Design. Mel creatively leads the a unique multi-disciplinary SPATIAL STORYTELLINGSM studio, which integrates the multiple disciplines of master planning, architecture, interior design, show set design, environmental graphics, and themed attraction design in the creation of compelling experiences and environments around the world for both causes and companies and such as Disney, Universal, Wynn Resorts.

Sarah Hernholm

President & Founder
Whatever It Takes (WIT)

Sarah Hernholm is the Founder/President of WIT - Whatever It Takes and Smart City Saturday. Sarah's focus is on creating platforms for teens to use their voice, launch businesses, and create sustainable impact in their communities. WIT is the only college-credit social entrepreneur and leadership course for high school teens in the country, motivating teens to launch enterprises designed to change their communities! Sarah also created Smart City Saturday which hosts teen only hackathons around the country. These hackathons provide teens the opportunity to spend the day tackling their city's greatest challenges and then pitching their proposed solutions to city-officials. Along the way she has delivered three TEDx talks, serves on the board of SCALE, and remains committed getting the teen voice heard and their ideas implemented.

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Matthew Emerzian

Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer of Every Monday Matters (EMM)

Matthew Emerzian is founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of Every Monday Matters (EMM), a not-for-profit organization committed to helping people and organizations understand how much and why they matter. The EMM K-12 Education Program currently reaches over 1.5 million students in 49 states and 6 countries, and the EMM Employee Engagement Program is changing the culture of companies nationwide. Emerzian's new book, Every Monday Matters - How to Kick Your Week Off with Passion, Purpose, and Positivity, hit the stores in January 2019. His work has been hailed by Oprah.com, The TODAY Show, Fast Company Magazine, The Huffington Post, Hallmark TV, and several other media outlets. Over the past ten years, Emerzian has traveled the country sharing his unique story and insight on finding purpose. His life-changing message focuses on sustained personal and social change that happens by stepping outside of our selves. His third book, You Matter – Learning to Love Who Your Really Are, will be out February 2020.


Carrie Anton

Creative Architect & Chief Wonder Woman of Wonder

Carrie Anton is the leader of Wonder: An Idea Studio, an ideation company offering creative training and consulting to transform organizations by empowering people. She shows how creativity can serve as the foundation of any organization seeking to attract and retain talent, stay ahead in a constantly changing world, boost bottom lines, sustain during tough times, and become the leader among the competition. Ideation and strategic thinking are the base of Carrie's past, as she previously worked as a full-time editor for American Girl Publications' Advice & Activity line from 2005 through 2013, during which time she also wrote several contemporary nonfiction books for 8-to-12-year-old girls. Anton left the cube life in 2013 to grow Wonder: An Idea Studio while simultaneously freelance writing full time. In addition to serving clients such as Reebok, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Shutterstock, her writing has been published by Women's Health, Family Circle, and Oxygen, among others. Her latest work is the co-authored book, Me, Myself & Ideas: The Ultimate Guide to Brainstorming Solo(Andrews McMeel, April 2019).


Michael Dean

In 1988, Mike Dean, co-founded Brand33, a group of marketers and creatives whose sole purpose in life was to drive results through differentiating, compelling and honest visual and written communications. B33 is still going strong and remains focused on its original mission. What started out as a band of young, idealistic brand zealots, has evolved into a “seasoned” group who have had the privilege of working on brands as diverse as Perrier, Honda, Sony Pictures, The Cheesecake Factory, The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Disney (to name drop a few), and has lived to tell about it.

Mike’s biggest claim to fame? His three beautiful kids and the fact that the other co-founder and the six original employees from 1988 are still with the firm today.


Charles Lee

CEO & Founder

Charles is the Founder and CEO at Ideation, an idea-making company that specializes in helping brands scale their business by effectively integrating their strategic plans into day-to-day implementation. Ideation fills this gap between strategy and implementation with innovative approaches to idea execution, business strategy, brand (re)development and effective storytelling, and creative services that bridge concepts into the real world. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?: How to Move Ideas to Execution, a practical book designed to help people move ideas to implementation.

Charles is regularly invited to speak to leading brands on topics such as fostering creativity, disruptive innovation, idea-making, and brand strategy. Executive leaders from brands including Wells Fargo, Toyota, William Morris Endeavor, NBCUniversal, CAA, Caterpillar, ONE Campaign/Product (RED), The White House, Catalyst, and many others have benefited from having Charles present at their key events. In addition to speaking, Charles has served as host and/or moderator for numerous events with NY Times best-selling authors and executives from brands including Google, Twitter, Groupon, Starwood, Disney, NBCUniversal, CAA, Toyota, TOMS, charity: water, United Way, World Vision, and many others.

Dan Kam

Daniel is a successful serial entrepreneur that has over 20 years of experience working in the US and Asia, and has developed a reputation for successfully building and scaling businesses and investments globally.

Daniel is a big picture strategist and enjoys developing effective leaders and teams that will impact the world to make a difference.

Daniel has over 20 years of operational experience in the graphic arts, screen printing and apparel industries, and has designed and managed work space environment buildout projects for both large and small companies and organizations. He has extensive sales management and marketing experience within various industries including technology, entertainment, non-profit, hospitality, food and beverage, cannabis, education, athletics, and creative services.

Daniel has helped businesses and organizations build remarkable brands via innovative business design, organizational change architecture, brand integration, design, web, event design, and marketing services.

Executive leaders from brands including Apple, Microsoft, Toyota, Honda/Acura, Caterpillar, Universal Music, Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, Major League Baseball, T-Mobile, AT&T, Marriott Hotels, Starbucks, State Farm Insurance, TOMS, WeWork, have benefited from their engagements with Daniel.

Daniel graduated with a B.A. in Urban Design and Planning from the University of California San Diego and is a Certified Executive Master Coach.


Nate Spees

Partner & CEO of Grizzly and Host of Creative Mornings

Nate Spees helps brands and people simplify complexity and be their most creative selves. Named one of “The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now” by Hatch Magazine, he is a sought after speaker, community builder, and local creative leader. In his work, Nate has advised the creative and storytelling practices of venture-backed startups, leading Non-Profits and Fortune 500 enterprises including Microsoft, Qualcomm, Marriott, WeWork, Hilton, Surfrider Foundation, and Xbox. Nate lives in San Diego with his wife, daughter, and dog. In his spare time, you can find him enjoying family, paddle boarding, golfing and searching for the city’s best coffee. Find Nate online at www.natespees.com and at www.madebygrizzly.com.


Sheri Lozano

CEO & Co-Founder

Sheri Lozano is co-founder of Link2Lift. In 2016, four years of research led to the development of the Common Good Collaborator. A method used with clients to address the symbiotic connection between workplace culture, human-centered design, collaboration, and common good. Sheri, along with her co-founder Sergio, have the ability and passion for transforming space to enrich communities. Sheri is CEO and principal for Link2Lift. Her experience leading collaborative teams began in 1995,and in 2004 she discovered her appreciation for reimagined space. She works with property owners, business leaders and nonprofits to re-think their physical space and improve collaboration. She is passionate about using her expertise to create intentional workspaces where organizations can accelerate their work and impact.

Rick Webb

Co-founder & Director
Grit Studios

Rick is the Cofounder and Director of Grit Studios, a high-impact entrepreneur support organization that is focused on providing qualified entrepreneurs with access to investor, mentor and problem solving resources. He has a passion for impactful startups, STEAM education and creating a collaborative, innovative business environment.

Rick graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in Architecture, and MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering & Management. After graduation, he formed his first consulting firm—Webb & Shirley—that focused on retail operations improvement and worked with many of the nation’s largest retailers.

Rick joined Walmart in January 2004 after more than 20 years of consulting in the retail industry. He last position at Walmart was the Senior Vice President of Global Business Processes, responsible for increasing associate and inventory productivity, while enhancing the customer shopping experience and increasing the effectiveness of the Walmart supply chain and home office operations around the world.

In 2009, Rick was selected for the Sam M Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a leadership award selected by the Walton family. In 2013, Rick was elected into the OSU College of Engineering Hall of Fame. In 2015, Rick was the recipient of the Institute of Industrial Engineering’s Champion of Industry award, awarded to industry leaders who have had significant impact to their companies and the engineering discipline. In 2017, Rick was selected to the OSU School of Industrial Engineering’s Cowboy Academy, a small group of alumni who have made measurable impact to the industrial engineering discipline and the global business environment.

Rick is a Board Member for the NWA Children’s Shelter, the Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and the NWA Tech Council. In addition, he is an advisor to a number of businesses and university leaders.

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Joseph Ruiz

President & CEO of LEAPROS Workforce Solutions, Co-Founder of Evrlink

Joseph Ruiz is the cofounder of Evrlink who also serves as president and CEO of LEAPROS® Workforce Solutions. Joseph is a transformational and visionary leader with extensive experience in talent management, specialized recruiting, executive and professional coaching, and business management. His experience includes establishing new business ventures, assembling high-performing teams, and adding value to people and organizations by helping them achieve their goals and desired outcomes. Prior to founding LEAPROS®, Joseph established highly successful organizations in the human capital sector by earning the confidence and loyalty of top-tier employers, assembling world-class recruitment teams, and bringing needed innovation to the recruitment industry. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Joseph was a talent acquisition and staffing executive with two international recruitment firms where he earned the reputation of being an effective leader and top producer. Joseph began his career performing and supervising internal audits for a Fortune 1000 company and previously served as a public affairs specialist for the US Military. From an educational perspective, Joseph is pursuing a doctorate degree in Organizational Change Management and Leadership at the University of Southern California (USC) and graduated summa cum laude from Gonzaga University, earning a master's degree in Organizational Transformation and Leadership. He also graduated cum laude from Hope International University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management. In terms of professional certifications, Joseph is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) through the Human Resources Certification Institute; a SHRM Senior Certified Professional through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM); a Certified Human Resources Specialist (CHRS) through Michigan State University; a Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC) and Certified Temporary Staffing-Specialist (CTS) through the National Association of Personnel Services; and a Certified Executive and Leadership Coach through The John Maxwell Company. Joseph also served on the Board of Directors of Connections Academy, an online public charter school (K-12), and on the Business and Accounting Programs Advisory Board of Saddleback College, California's top-ranked transfer school. “Success is…knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.” –John C. Maxwell


Sergio Lozano

Co-Founder of Link2Lift and Senior Design Director & Innovator at Nike

Sergio Lozano is co-founder of Link2Lift. In 2016, four years of research led to the development of the Common Good Collaborator. A method used with clients to address the symbiotic connection between workplace culture, human-centered design, collaboration, and common good. Sergio, along with her co-founder Sheri, have the ability and passion for transforming space to enrich communities. Sergio is a Senior Design Director and Innovator at Nike. He has designed and created products for Nike over the last two and a half decades. His experience spans from brand-defining innovation to core/entry level footwear. He currently leads a diverse creative team to imagine and build product concepts for athletes.


Penny Hunter

Hunter Strategy

Penny Hunter has been coaching individuals and organizations for a few decades. With a background in broadcasting, advertising and branding, this award-winning creative understands the difference between a good idea and an executable idea that will take off. Penny previously served as the VP of Marketing/Communication for International Justice Mission. She has helped feature films, software companies and non profits build a solid brand and reach their goals. Penny is an author and speaker who is launching What I WIsh I'd Known podcast in early 2019.

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Sean Morrison

CEO & Co-Founder of Evrlink, Managing Partner of LEAPROS Workforce Solutions

Sean Morrison brings over 17 years of executive-level, business and leadership experience that he uses to grow and serve others. His core competencies and expertise includes engineering, technology, and finance, among other disciplines. Sean is known to be extremely proactive in anticipating business challenges before they occur. The more complex the issue, the more motivated Sean becomes to provide innovative solutions and support, considering problem-solving is one of his key strengths. Throughout his career in thriving and multifaceted companies, Sean managed various operations and process improvement initiatives across product and service oriented industries, solving problems, optimizing customer satisfaction and creating value for all stakeholders. He is currently the Managing Partner of LEAPROS Workforce Solutions and serves as Chief Executive Officer of Evrlink Inc., a game-changing talent platform for employers, networkers, and job seekers to engage like never before. He has an unwavering commitment to providing life-changing opportunities (worldwide) that advance careers and businesses while creating more good for our world. From an educational standpoint, Sean completed the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (Global Force for Good), renowned for being one of the most rigorous programs for nuclear, mechanical, and chemical engineering disciplines, along with a business degree from Hope International University. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” -Albert Einstein


Past Presenters & Facilitators


We’re proud of the diversity of people, industries and brands that have been represented by our presenters and facilitators over years. We’re regularly seeking out both new and proven voices that may benefit our participants seeking to scale their respective endeavors.

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