Breakout Speakers

Breakout Speakers

Brandy Liss

Brandy Liss is an inspiring speaker, entrepreneur, and personal defense consultant who is passionate about empowering women. As the former CEO of The Arms Room, Brandy saw the need for ways to empower women so she joined Damsel in Defense where the mission is to Equip, Empower and Educate. Brandy uses humor to bring attention to the sometimes uncomfortable conversations surrounding personal protection. 

About her topic:
Be Your Own Hero 

In a world of uncertainty and danger, it is time to learn to protect yourself. Learn to have your voice heard and about the tools and traits available to defend yourself and the ones that you love. Let me equip, empower and educate you on how to BE YOUR OWN HERO.

Cherrie McBurney

Cherrie is the author of COVERED: A Story of Transforming Grace. She is a certified Life Coach and Keynote Speaker. Cherrie speaks at a variety of events, including women’s retreats, luncheons and team teaching events. Before leaving Corporate America to finish her book and pursue her passion to be a full-time writer and speaker, Cherrie contracted for a consulting firm as a Recruiting Specialist to the Oil & Gas Industry. She is the former Director of Human Resources at South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center and was previously employed at Ernst & Young for seven years where she held a variety of roles, including Onboarding Specialist and working as a team lead executing HR events. She received numerous awards and accolades at EY, including the Top Tier Instructor Award for her role in teaching firm-wide orientation and numerous Best Speaker awards with Toastmasters, International, where she also served as Public Relations Officer. 

About Her Topic
Covered: A Story of Transforming Grace.

Cherrie is formerly of the plain people having lived an “Amish-flavored” life as part of an ultra-conservative Mennonite community and suffering a personal hurricane in the process of leaving. She’s most passionate about using her story to encourage other women through their own hurricanes, speaking purpose and hope into their most broken places.

Bonnie Benkula, BSHCA, MBA, Certified John Maxwell Coach, Teacher and Speaker 

After working 20 successful years in corporate America, Bonnie jumped out of corporate America and started her own company. That one company has grown to three companies and now Bonnie spends time helping entrepreneurs figure out what they love doing. She is a sought out John Maxwell certified speaker and coach to C-Suite executives and more. Bonnie has a passion for Seniors and owns a company that serves wounded and aging veterans and seniors, CareBuilders at Home. She also has a passion for business owners and entrepreneurs and with her husband, consults business owners to maximize revenue. Their firm, First Choice Business Brokers, can help you sell your business or help you find a new business that is already cash flowing so you can work for yourself on your terms. But most of all, she is a fun and skilled networker that can help you overcome fear, define life on your terms and help you ignite your passion inside. 

About her topic:
Three Questions to Networking Genius 

Bonnie Benkula is one of our favorite speakers and served as our dynamic and funny MC in 2015. It is a treat to have her back this year and we urge you – Don’t miss her class! This class is sure to motivate and inspire you to live your life your way and maximize the impact of your networking efforts. Sure you network, but what is the payoff? Learn the three secret questions to networking genius. Learn to spend less time and maximize results. Bonnie will teach you three simple questions to ask to create an instant attraction and gain insight to identify your best prospects and most valuable relationships. Overcome fear, feel the fun and get ready to change the world after this energetic, fun and participatory class!

Tristi Muir, MD & Carla Czervenney, PT
Houston Methodist St. John Hospital

About Dr. Tristi Muir 

Dr. Muir is a urogynecologist who specializes in the treatment of female pelvic floor disorders, including medical and surgical management of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. She is board certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery and Chair of Houston Methodist Urogynecology Associates.

About Carla Czervenney 

Carla is a Physical Therapist specializing in pelvic floor health. She works one-on-one with patients to strengthen muscles and diminish pelvic floor problems.

About Their Topic:
Ladies Who Leak 

Urinary incontinence, overactive bladder and other pelvic health problems are common, frustrating and sometimes embarrassing conditions. Our experts will discuss the causes of these pelvic floor disorders and the variety of treatment options available today. 

Cynthia Rando

Cynthia Rando, CHFP is the Founder and CEO of Sophic Synergistics, a consulting firm that focuses on building environments and products that deliver the best in human centered design and user experience outcomes. She has spent 15 years in the field of Human Centered Design including 12 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. During this time she provided extensive leadership to the organization addressing several critical areas in Human Factors and Human Centered Design. She was also instrumental in implementing several culture change initiatives and innovative solutions for the agency, including: crowdsourcing, the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation and the NASA Human Health and Performance Center. 

Cynthia has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics and is also a Certified Human Factors Professional. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Human Factors Engineering from Clemson University and an MBA from Northeastern University. She has also taught Human Factors and Ergonomics course material at University of Houston Clear Lake. 

About her topic:
Bootstrapping Your Way to Success!

It is possible to live your dream of owning a business even if you do not have significant capital to invest. The more creative you are with how you allocate resources the higher likelihood you will find success. Join me as we discuss one entrepreneur’s bootstrap journey, including tips and tricks for success.

Dion McInnis

Dion McInnis founded Empowered Creativity Institute after 27 years in leadership positions in higher education where he led institution in fundraising, alumni/community relations and communications. A lifelong writer and photographer, he has used the skills of seeing, listening and paying attention to help develop a management style that empowers individuals while achieving success for organizations. 

His current role focuses empowering management and leadership strategies to nonprofit organizations, particularly in the realm of fundraising. He remains active in photography, teaching at Houston Center for Photography and Jung Center of Houston, as well as at various photography clubs. He recently completed his thirteenth book, titled Empowered Creativity. Of all his roles, his most treasured remains that of being dad, an now, granddad. and 

About his topic:
How You See Determines How You Look.

How a woman sees herself has much to do with how she looks. Self-image is influenced by how you choose to see yourself. Do you look at yourself the way you look at a beloved friend or as your own toughest critic? Bringing decades of experiences as photographer, manager, writer and coach, McInnis offers a unique, blended wisdom of lessons learned from behind the camera and across the table with women as he has guided and revealed new ways of seeing oneself. Using stories, images and poetry, the presentation will cause attendees to think anew and be affirmed, knowing that celebrating beauty begins with the look in the mirror, and will leave with tips on how to see and celebrate one’s own beauty.

Leslie Carothers

Leslie Carothers is a design blog contributor to and a nationally known social media expert whose company, The Kaleidoscope Partnership, now in its 14th year, has executed on multiple influencer marketing campaigns for major national product brands and individual personal brands, including Cargill’s BiOH Polyols division, Better Homes and Gardens magazine, The Curtain Exchange, Hadley Court, etc. Her clients have appeared on The Today Show, on the Nate Berkus Show, and in many major national magazines. Her company also provides website + blog project management and copywriting services, social media amplification and public relations services and locally, here in the Bay Area of Texas, she trains realtors, and other businesses and individuals, how to use the tools of social media to propel their businesses powerfully forward, faster.

About Her Topic:
How to Build Your Media Opportunities, Fast, Using Twitter Lists 

Learn exactly how to use Twitter lists to connect with the media, fast, to build opportunities for your business to receive publicity!

Zenithe Ware, MD; Rosemary Eseh-Logue, MD; Manar Harmouch, MD
Houston Methodist St. John Hospital

Drs. Ware, Eseh-Logue and Harmouch are specially trained primary care doctors at Houston Methodist Primary Care Group at St. John. They work with patients to promote health and wellness and treat a variety of medical problems for patients of all ages.

About Their Topic:
Syndrome X is Escalating 

Metabolic Syndrome is a health condition that everyone is talking about, and nearly one out of every six adults is experiencing. Our primary care physicians unravel the mystery surrounding this group of risk factors – high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels and abdominal fat – which lead to heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.

Ron Potts, Copper Investigations

Ron Potts is a retired Austin Police Lieutenant with 35 years’ experience in safety. He was an assault detective and the lieutenant over crimes against persons, sex crimes, child abuse, mental health and domestic violence as well as a combat instructor. He has presented sexual assault and workplace safety seminars to businesses, universities, a neighborhood associations and individuals. He has been voted best seminar in conference and seminar of the year. 

About his topic:
Sexual Assault Awareness

A seminar discussing different types of rapists, preventative measures, and defensive tactics. We will discuss actual cases. Defensive tactics can be used immediately.

Lisa “Cookie” Johnson

Lisa “Cookie” Johnson has over 25 years as a financial professional navigating her clients through tax planning and preparation, accounting management, insurance evaluation and financial structuring. An entrepreneur since 1991, she is an Enrolled Agent (EA) a Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP), and a Chartered Retirement Plan Specialists (CRPS). She holds insurance licenses for Life, Health, Property and Casualty and financial certifications in Series 7, 63, and 65. Lisa works with clients to help them analyze and understand their complete financial landscape and her practice focuses on customized goal oriented planning tailored to each client’s unique circumstances. Lisa builds client relationships with honesty, transparency and trustworthiness. 

About her topic:
Entrepreneurship Basics 

  1. Business entity choices and which choices could help you weather a downturn in your business 
  2. Business Basics 
  3. Liability insurance 
  4. Budgeting 
  5. Being an Entrepreneur – working on your business, not just in it 
  6. Goal setting 
  7. Exit Strategies 
  8. Retirement plans

Karen Mooney, MBA, ACC

Karen Mooney is an International Coaching Federation certified coach, trainer and facilitator. She is a Core Clarity certified instructor that leverages the Gallup Strengths Finder assessment to help leaders transform their team talents into competitive advantage. She graduated from Texas A & M University with a degree in Construction Management and received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Tyler. For 20 years she has lead a facilities team at a large healthcare organization in the Texas Medical Center. Ms. Mooney has been a guest speaker and lectured at various facilities management and construction industry events. 

About her topic:
Slow down! How to Create Alignment for Personal Fulfillment.

Are you the epitome of the harried leader, wife, or husband? Always running from one thing to another, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated at the never ending to-do list? Are there things in your life you want to accomplish or achieve but they seem to keep getting farther and farther out of reach? Nora Ephron said “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” Of course that can be easier said than done! The demands of work, family and everything in between can often find us putting off activities that bring personal fulfillment in exchange for a higher priority. However, when that occurs we are no longer design our life but rather being a casualty of circumstance. In this session you will learn five steps you can take to bring about alignment of your life and awaken the possibilities of a life you design.

Dr. Rahan Memon
Houston Methodist St. John Hospital

About Dr. Rahan Memon

Dr. Memon is board certified in anesthesiology and specialty trained in pain medicine. He creates customized pain management plans for patients suffering from chronic pain.

About His Topic:
Relieve Your Achy, Breaky Back

Chronic low back pain can be very difficult to treat and can lead to other debilitating medical conditions. Dr. Memon will discuss how pain management can provide complete or partial relief for those who suffer from this common condition.

Steve Paterson

For the past twenty-five years, the Cork Guy has been studying the art and crafting of wine making. He is passionate about the proper pairing of food with the correct wine for the ultimate gastronomical experience. His wine education columns have been and are currently published in publications in California, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan as well as on line. He has visited wineries in Europe, Canada, Mexico, as well as those in over 30 states here in the good old U.S.A.. He has met with the wine makers and vineyard owners and of course sampled their vintages to gain an understanding of their crafting and pursuit for the perfect balance in their wines. 

Great meals are made more memorable and delectable with the proper pairing of the dining offerings with the correct wine, which will complement the acidity or the alkalinity of the food and will enhance the flavors of the meal. 

About his topic:
Wine does not have to be expensive to be good!

If you are interested in gaining knowledge in food pairing or want to know what makes a good wine this will be a step in the right direction in gaining those basics. Great wines are not necessarily expensive and not all expensive wines are better than inexpensive ones. Come and learn to enjoy something that is necessary to live and live life and food to its fullest.

Carolann Peters

With 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, Carolann is an authority on total business acumen and operational management. She has advanced skills in all marketing and sales techniques. She has a creative approach to business and personal development. She is a popular speaker for businesses and organizations. Carolann serves as a Business Advisor and training facilitator for Galveston County SBDC and has been a training facilitator for UH C….T. Bauer College of Business SBDC for 9 years. She co-founded and developed a prototype business model providing bookkeeping, tax and business consulting services to small businesses and franchised the company in 7 states. Carolann has obtained national recognition in Entrepreneur, Small Business Opportunity, and Home Office Computing Magazines for exceptional growth and development. She has personally launched and managed five different businesses and two nonprofit organizations from concept, including developing and managing a breast cancer specialty, retail boutique for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Carolann is a certified Master Life Coach, Business Coach, Executive Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Holistic Practitioner. She received her certification with Behavioral Healthcare Consultants. She received her Transformational Coach, DreamBuilder certification with Mary Morrissey and Life Mastery Institute. She received a B.S. Degree from University of Louisiana Monroe. Carolann is a trusted guide and catalyst for positive change. Her passion lies in helping entrepreneurs, executives and individuals succeed in all areas of life transformation. 

About her topic:
Ascending Adversity and Barriers to Boom Your Business.

Personal story of success and overcoming barriers to success from a business consultant, entrepreneur, and master life coach.

Debbie Simmons, Anchor Point

Debbie Simmons is the Executive Director for Anchor Point. From the very beginning, Debbie has been one to color outside the lines. She has been willing to go often times where others have never dated to go. From that fiercely independent little child to the teenager that umpired baseball to becoming a mechanical engineer to graduating from seminary and ultimately to helping start Anchor Point, God has been using her all along the way. God captured her heart during her elementary years and has been busily preparing her for the many role that she has now. Debbie’s passion and life calling is to help each of us learn to love without regard to risk. We see that in the many facets of her life but especially through her nine adoptive children and through her work at Anchor Point. 

About her topic:
Overcoming When Life Spins Out of Control

Have you ever been in a situation where you are hit with something totally out of your control? Suddenly you can’t breathe and you don’t know if you can ever figure your way out of the situation. We will take a look at three steps to not only help you survive but will ultimately help you thrive. 

Modupe Adeyefa, MD – Houston Methodist St. John Hospital

Dr. Adeyefa is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Breast Radiologist and Director at the Houston Methodist Breast Care Center at St. John. She is passionate about increasing the awareness of breast cancer among women in the community and for patients with a high risk of developing breast cancer.

About Her Topic:
Your Best Breast Health 

Breast health is important for every woman, at every age. Our dedicated breast radiologist explains how to recognize early signs of trouble and how diet, exercise, mammograms and risk factors play important roles in the prevention of breast cancer.