We were pleased and very excited to have such amazing presenters for the 2020 Virtual Conference!

Thank you for your support!

Keynote Speaker

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

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


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

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

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


 Workshop Presenter: "How to Fund Your Dreams"

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

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

Tina continues to be active in the community. She serves as a deacon in her church, a mentor at a local community college, and a financial volunteer aboard Quantico Marine Corps Base along with sharing principles from her book, It’s Your Turn: Walk In Your Financial Purpose. Tina retired from the Air Force in 2013. She is married to Karshi, who is serving our country as a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps and have one son, Anthony.


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

Dr. Brianna Gaynor has a passion for mental health and has noticed the healing effects of her work. Through personal and professional experiences, she has also seen the detrimental effects of not getting the help you need can be. Time and time again, Dr. Gaynor has also had numerous conversations with people of all different ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds who have indicated their apprehension about coming for help. However, these same clients have also been very pleased that receiving psychological services was nothing like what they expected. Therefore, her goal is to demystify the stigmas associated with mental health.

Dr. Gaynor is a clinical psychologist who has been licensed in Georgia since 2011. She received her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the Georgia School of Professional Psychology in 2009. While in graduate school, her training focused primarily on the treatment of children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Gaynor has also worked in various settings, including outpatient, residential, and a mental health hospital helping children, teenagers, and their families heal from significant histories of trauma and emotional disorders. Currently, she works at her own private practice, Peace of Mind Psychological Services, where much of her work focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of various mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and behavioral disorders through psychological evaluations. Peace of Mind also specializes in helping the whole family by providing therapy services starting at age 2 years old through adulthood.

Workshop Presenter:  "Everybody Is A Boss"

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

For over 10 years Dr. Dauv has devoted his time and talents to teaching, training, and coaching personal and professional excellence. He is an advocate of promoting employees’ mindset to that of a BOSS to produce a more productive and well-rounded team. He has worked with organizations to maximize the productivity of teams and better prepare them for leadership opportunities.

Dr. Dauv uses his personal and professional life experiences when sharing his message of resilience and having a BOSS mindset to better identify opportunities. Audiences range from college students and faculty to c-suite level executives. As a trainer, his content derives from his years of sales and leadership training and curriculum design experience. He has spent countless hours working with organizations behind the scenes across the country and redesigning training.  He is also the organizer of The Gallus Event, a bi-monthly open-exchange social in Durham, North Carolina designed to provide local Black professionals and business owners with a platform and an opportunity to connect.

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

LaQuista Erinna, DBH, LCSW (Ret. U.S. Army and Military Spouse) is the founder of T.H.R.I.V.E. Behavioral Health & Consulting, LLC. Dr. Erinna is a military spouse and Army Veteran with over 20 years of service. After returning home from her second deployment to Iraq, she became increasingly concerned with the many challenges Servicemembers faced upon reintegration into their civilian lives. Dr. Erinna realized that she wanted to help people live their best lives possible. She decided to continue her education and pursue a Master's of Social Work. After spending years providing Veteran homeless outreach and intensive case management with the federal government, she knew she wanted to provide more direct clinical services. Dr. Erinna decided to open her own private practice while finishing her doctoral studies. Today, T.H.R.I.V.E. provides behavioral health services and education to military and non-military clients who have experienced trauma.


Workshop Presenter: "Managing Stress During a Transition"

Shelley Rawlings is all about promoting lifestyle changes in order to create healthy bodies, strong minds, and prosperity. She is the Founder of WellnessAMPED, a boutique BME/DBE/SBE company that helps organizations create holistic custom solutions. Our goal is to create fun, engaging, and unique programs to AMPLIFY company culture leading to improvements in health and performance. With over 20 years of corporate leadership experience, she is passionate about helping businesses face and overcome the challenges of today's multigenerational workforce, complex company cultures while assisting employees maintain a work-life balance. Shelly is certified by the National Association for Corporate Wellness and is a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist.  She is also a member of the Corporate Health and Wellness Association.

Shelly will be presenting with Ms. Rita Bruce, a Certified Coach who is passionate about empowering people to choose wellness. She is committed to helping clients, teams and groups identify strategies to manage their challenges with stress. Rita's 25+ years as a management consultant in corporate leadership supported Industry & Government clients and mentored Veterans. She obtained a Master of Business Administration from the University of Connecticut and is accredited by the National Board of Health & Wellness Coaching, Georgetown University Institute of Transformational Leadership, and is a member of the Internation Coach Federation.


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

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

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



Sean Chrysostom - Capital One

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

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

Kevin M. Coleman - KMC Empowerment

Kevin M. Coleman is the founder of KMC Empowerment where he provides empowering speeches, leadership training, communication training, professional development training, and executive coaching to help make individuals and organizations successful.  KMC Empowerment has always been a passion of Kevin.  Kevin knew that he had much to offer those in leadership positions to help make the organization reach maximum growth objectives!  This starts with building relationships and partnerships.  Therefore, KMC Empowerment was established to help promote professionalism, work ethic, passion, and relationship building techniques that will always inspire individuals and organizations to exemplify team excellence.  KMC Empowerment training incorporates some of John C. Maxwell’s principles. Kevin has over 20 years of presentation skills for individuals, groups, teams, and organizations.  I am the founder of KMC Empowerment, LLC where we provide executive coaching, empowering speeches, and professional development training to make individuals and organizations successful.

Kevin Wayne Johnson - The Johnson Leadership Group

Kevin is an independent certified coach, mentor, trainer, and speaker with the nationally recognized John Maxwell Team, where he leads learning experiences that are tailored to meet the specific needs of the audience to help maximize efficiency, growth, awareness, and effectiveness. He invites those in the audience to “Put Your Dream to the Test” and provides them with a step-by-step action plan for making those dreams come true. This essential exposure to personal development techniques includes guided study and the practical application of John Maxwell’s proven leadership methods, which include ”Leadership Gold,” “Developing the Leader Within You 2.0,” “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” “Becoming A Person of Influence,” “How to be A R-E-A-L Success,” and “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.” Kevin enjoyed a 34-year career (retired) in the federal government and private industry as a middle-to-senior level leader. He has managed workforce development/ training, organizational change, acquisition/procurement, customer service, client relationships, security, budget/finance, records management, property administration, facilities, information technology projects, and human resources as Chief of Staff, Department of Defense, Fort Meade, Maryland.

Thomas Ellis - EWC Consultants

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

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