We are pleased and very excited to such amazing presenters for the 2018 conference! The experts listed below is an example of the type of expertise on-site so you know you are getting the right person and the right information.

CALL FOR PRESENTERS for the 2020 VeteransBizUp Conference will be Available Soon. Please check back.

Keynote Speaker

Sean Douglas is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, Master Resilience Implementer, Professional Speaker, International Radio Show Host, Performance Enhancement Expert, and Author. He inspires and motivates you to “Live Your Brand” so you can grow personally and professionally.

Sean spent four years as an Air Force Basic Training Drill Instructor where he developed over 600 men and women into military leaders. Sean is energetic and passionate about inspiring others to succeed. While serving his country for the past 16 years, he has also started three successful businesses. His book "Decisions: The Power To Overcome Self-Defeating Behaviors", reflects his passion for inspiring others to succeed and grow through worst seasons of their life.

Sean teaches Mental, Physical, Social/Emotional, Spiritual Resilience Skills that empowers you to withstand, recover and grow through adversity, stress, and life's changing demands in a highly interactive and engaging environment, utilizing online coaching sessions and face to face workshops. Sean equips people with the tools necessary to live EPIC lives, and leaves people better equipped to manage change effectively. His WHY is he's a suicide survivor and has hit rock bottom, never felt loved or valued, and felt lost in the world. He now shares his powerful testimony on stages everywhere and sends the message that at any point you have the power to say this is not how my story ends.


Workshop Presenter: "Power of being certified as a Veteran Owned Business"


Cassandra is a community and civic leader whose platform is to change how small business owners think, how the world views the entrepreneur, and how we ourselves define success.   In more definitive terms, Cassandra’s passion is with in her vision and purpose and how it transitions into leaving a legacy. As a business owner herself for more than 16 years, Cassandra has championed, not only for her own business, but has worked effortlessly to search for opened doors that will catapult small businesses everywhere towards success.

As any certified minority or woman owned business enterprise understands, opportunities exists everywhere….it’s in the “where” that these augmented relationships and opportunities exists.   As a highly sought after speaker, Cassandra continues to empower small, minority and women owned businesses through consultations, workshops and training symposiums throughout the nation.  Cassandra’s extensive knowledge and expertise of business structure, development, certification processes, and leadership have secured her client base with such corporations such as Automobile Club Association (AAA), Carl Warren and Company, Allstate Insurance and numerous other organizations. Cassandra found the time to also author and pen three exciting books:  “God’s Little Book of Business”, “The Power of Cake”, and “Under the Influence of a Vision.

presentersWorkshop Presenter: "Bridging the Gap From Here to There - Leadership Strategy Session"

Chris Jordan is an Executive Leader of TeamCNE, LLC, an independent Executive Leadership and Life Coaching firm. Chris specializes in training, equipping and motivating people to reach and exceed their goals professionally and personally from a leadership perspective.

As a veteran himself, Chris has over 22 years of public service experience with the Air Force and a local county police agency. Chris says that "Even before my public service, I had life experiences that taught me, sometimes painfully, the delicate nature of humanity. I have incorporated these life lessons into every aspect of our business and it is the driving force behind my passion to encourage and empower everyone I come in contact with."

Chris holds a graduate certificate in Christian Ministry from Liberty University, a Masters of Science and Bachelor of Science degree in Management, Public Safety Executive Leadership Program, from Johns Hopkins University; and an AAS in Criminal Justice and Public Affairs from the Community College of the Air Force.  He is also the President of the MedStar Franklin Square Toastmasters Club, a certified member of the John Maxwell Mentorship Team and a member of the Harford County Chamber of Commerce.

presentersWorkshop Presenter: "Blocked to Brilliant: 5 simple steps to your own thriving profitable business"

“My passion is to propel women veterans forward by giving them the tools, strategies and moral support needed to make the smooth transition to civilian life”

Airial W. Dandridge, a Certified Life & Veteran Development Coach, is the founder of The Veteran Woman, LLC, a group dedicated to supporting and empowering female veterans as they transition from soldier to civilian life.  Dandridge was an active duty soldier in the United States Army for 12 years. While enlisted, she served as a Multimedia Illustrator (25M), Information Systems Analyst (25B) and carried special duties as an Equal Opportunity representative and Sexual Assault/Harassment Response & Prevention (SHARP) advocate. Since that time, she has become a Certified Solution-Focused Life Coach through the Universal Coach Institute, as well as a Certified Veteran Development Coach (CVDC) through BlueRio Strategies & Hawkeye Collaborative.

Dandridge like those she serves, is a 12-year Army veteran that once struggled to find direction during her own transition period.  Held back by a lack of direction, limited resources, and personal trauma resulting from domestic violence, sexual harassment and military sexual assault, she felt alone trying to find her place in the world. It wasn’t until she stumbled upon her own life coach that she found the direction and personal determination she needed to move forward, eventually creating this very program. Today, she teaches women how to use their military experience as an advantage to both their personal and professional lives; especially those who don’t fit the traditional mom or 9-to-5 roles.


Workshop Presenter:  "Business Development Series: Proposal Writing"

Andrena Sawyer is the Founder and President of P.E.R.K. Consulting, an advisory firm for small to mid-sized nonprofits and businesses. Originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone, she and her family moved to the United States when she was nine years old due to a civil war that left thousands dead and untold numbers maimed and displaced. She now credits her family's move during the war for her interest in human triumph and perseverance. She has since actively worked to mobilize and empower others.

At age 15, she founded Triple “T” MAD (Teens Trying to Make a Difference), a community service organization for teens in central New Jersey. As a student at Howard University, she continued to cultivate her interest in community development by founding Rock, the MIC—an annual outreach for youth in the DC area. These experiences laid a firm foundation that continues to define her work. For her work with entrepreneurs and small businesses, Andrena has been named among the “Top 30 under 30” movers and shakers in Washington DC by WKYS 93.9. She has also been awarded the International Alliance for Women World of Difference 100 Award, the Women Owned Small Business Award by the Associated Black Charities, and the Hope for Africa Leadership in Community Development Award. In addition to her work with P.E.R.K. Consulting, she is the author of The Other Side of Assertiveness, Ponder It In Her Heart, and The Long Way Home.

Workshop Presenter: "Killing the Superwoman Complex"

Dr. Nicole Swiner was Voted 1 of 10 Best Doctors in NC in 2017, Dr. Swiner is a family physician, 2-time best-selling author, blogger, speaker, wife and mother in Durham. She is also affectionately known as the Superwoman Complex expert and has written 2 books on the topic. She loves taking care of the family as a whole—from the cradle to the grave. Her interests include Minority Health, Women’s Health and Pediatrics. She attended Duke University and went to medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston, SC.

She’s lived in the Triangle since finishing residency at UNC-Chapel Hill and continues teaching as an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Family Medicine department. When she’s not treating patients at Durham Family Medicine, she’s speaking locally and nationally, blogging, teaching others to self-publish and spending time with her family. Her passion is making medicine "plain" to her patients, so that all people, from all walks of life, can understand how to take better care of themselves and their families. She often blogs, guest blogs and speaks locally and nationally on these and other topics. She is also available as an influencer and brand ambassador, as she’s previously represented SheBuysCars, Hyundai, Ana clothing, DurhamKnows HIV awareness and BJB Designs on social media.

presentersWorkshop Presenter: "Chess vs. Checkers - When to Make the Right Move"

Ernest J. Robinson is a certified VA Transition Assistance Program Benefits Advisor and Instructor. Soon after graduating from High School, Ernest began his career in the United States Marine Corps. His participation includes Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. After being honorably discharged from the military, he continued to higher education by completing his Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Union University with a dual major in Psychology and Criminal Justice and claiming honors (Psi Chi, Alpha Phi Sigma); all while serving in the student government association, Student Athletic Advisory Committee, Inaugural President of the Student Model U.N., and Vice President of the Pre-Law society.

In addition to his service in the United States Marine Corps, Ernest worked for the Department of Justice, Department of Social Services, for-profit business cultivating relationships and generating sales with remarkable success. His passion for advocating for the community led him to working as a Membership Director for the historical non-profit YMCA. He also served with a large cadre as a National Professional Skills Trainer for the Young Men's Christian Association. Currently, Ernest is a Benefits Advisor for the Department of Veteran Affairs and volunteer his time with many organizations such as the Children Defense Fund, Trans-formative Justice, US Global Leadership Coalition, NO Labels, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, The Congressional Black Caucus and many others. When opportunities are available to participate in committee activities, he work with both local and national with Father Hood Initiatives, Youth Leadership Development, Voter Registration Education and Mobilization.


Workshop Presenter:  "Life Calling Vision Board Strategy"

Athena Thomas is a Certified Life Coach and Founder of The Life Calling Coach. The Life Calling Coach is a company that has over 20 years of experience in providing expert consultation services with a specialty in using vision boards to establish a path to their life calling and spiritual growth. She is also the founder and facilitator of the Sister Circle Support Group for women, a program for victims of domestic violence.

Athena knows the difficulty of managing hardships as she had stumbled through many trials, including raising a son with Autism and overcoming depression and anxiety. She now uses her voice, talents, and learning programs to help others nurture their roots, re-establish focus, and manage work-life balance so that they can grow into their life calling. Her holistic approach in her coaching sessions focuses on the mind, body, and spirit.

Athena holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Psychology from Liberty University and has over 11 years of experience in this field. During her tenure, she has held many roles including management of the Therapeutic After School Program where she worked to provided family support to build successful strategies for the students at home and in school. Currently, she provides behavioral, academic, and psychological support to middle school students with Autism. She helps students identify goals, a plan to reach them, and monitors their progress.

Athena is currently working on her first coaching book entitled, “What Are You Rooted In?” which will be released in 2018.

Workshop Presenter:  "The Job Is Yours" 

Erika Etienne is most notably a proud Air Force veteran that served honorably as a Personnelist and had much success in her post military career, both in the private sector and federal government. She has an MBA with a concentration in Human Resources from Saint Leo University and has post graduate education in Human Performance Improvement and Performance Management (PM) Consulting, and is certified in Performance Management Innovation.

Erika has served as an HR Generalist, as well as specialized in areas, such as Recruitment, Employee Relations, Organizational Development, and Learning and Development. She currently serves as her agency's sole PM Program Manager, where she provides subject-matter expertise and oversight regarding PM policy, as well as the development, implementation, and evaluation of the program within the agency.

As the agency's PM consultant, she advises, assists, and counsels management on the day-to-day administration of the PM program and implementation of best practices to reach organizational goals. Erika is passionate about educating veterans on opportunities for career advancement, maximizing opportunities to demonstrate their skills, and leveraging their training to be the highest performers. She teaches veterans presentation skills, interviewing skills, resume writing, and how to negotiate their salary. It is her personal mission to help veterans transition smoothly from the military and reach success in their post-military careers.

Workshop Presenter: "Navigating Life Transitions with Mindfulness for Couples"

Sherrell Moore-Tucker is a veteran who joined the U.S. Army in September of 1998 and attended training advanced individual training at FT Rucker, AL to be an Aviation Specialist.During her five years of active duty service Sherrell, served on the S-3 staff at Headquarters with Yongsan Garrison, 17th Aviation Brigade in Seoul, Korea and the 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment in Fort Rucker, AL.  While on active duty Sherrell earned her Bachelor's degree from Excelsior College and received various awards and decorations such as the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon. After completing her time in service Sherrell received an honorable discharged and continued pursing her educational goals earning a Master's degree in Human Resource Administration from Central Michigan University in 2006.

Sherrell's workshop will be focused on military couples with her topic "Navigating Life Transitions with Mindfulness" Sherrell is passionate about educating people about mind-body principles that are applicable for everyday living. She serves your community by educating and teaching communities and businesses about natural health and wellness principles, various forms of yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques for stress management, social and health related trauma, and self-care. She is registered with the National Yoga Alliance and Holy Yoga. Her specialties and background includes Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa flow-style yoga, Yin yoga, Reiki, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Holy Yoga, Christian and breath mediation, Pilates, and modern dance. She is also, a certified natural health consultant through Trinity School of Natural Health, and a Thai Yoga Bodyworker.


Power Session Presenter - "Ninja T.E.A.M. Training - Use What You Already Know"

Robert Thibodeau is a 12-year Army veteran, 9 years enlisted with three years of that time as a Drill Sergeant, and three years as a Cavalry Officer. He left the military and went into the insurance business. In just a couple of year time, he opened his own office and started training his own agents. Soon, his office was rated as the #2 producing office in the country for his company! His desire was to be a police officer, so he eventually closed his office and became a law enforcement officer. He retired in 2011 after being injured while in the line of duty. He now operates an online Christian radio station, which has been rated as #1 in the world in the Christian genre; and is a teacher/coach in the Leadership / Team Building field.