Featured Speakers

 2017 Speakers

Robert L. Duran, Ph.D.
 Professor, University of Hartford
bob duran editRobert L. Duran, (B.A., University of the Pacific; M.A., West Virginia University; Ph.D., Bowling Green State University), is a Professor in the School of Communication and Director of Admissions Events for the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Hartford.  He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in Human & Applied Communication.  Specifically, he teaches courses in Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Family Communication, Nonverbal Communication, and Research Methods.  He has received the Roy E. Larsen Award as the outstanding teacher at the University of Hartford.  He has over 50 publications in academic journals and scholarly books and has presented over 80 conference papers at regional, national, and international conferences.   His research topics include communication competence, loneliness, shyness, media portrayals of interpersonal issues, the impact of technology on the development of romantic relationships, and most recently, the influence of cell phones on relationships.

Betsy Nilan
President, The Get In Touch Foundation
Betsey EditBetsy Nilan graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013 with her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Nilan graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in May of 2016 with her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies. Her thesis, “Empowerment Through Decision-Making: Patriarchal Society’s Effect on Women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genetic Mutation,” focused on the BRCA genetic mutation and how patriarchal society reacts to women getting tested and acting upon positive results. Betsy Nilan is a founding board member of The Get In Touch Foundation, a global breast health non-profit focused on teaching individuals of all ages on the importance of breast health through their Girls’ Program and Daisy Wheel. The Daisy Wheel tool has 8 tips on how to do a breast self-exam and is provided FREE to schools all around the world. The program is currently in all 50 states and 34 countries. After the passing of Mary Ann Wasil, her mother and founder of The Get In Touch Foundation, in April of 2016, Nilan stepped up as President of the organization. She identifies herself as a feminist and continues to dye her hair pink as a tribute to her mom.

Adam Von Gootkin
Co-Founder, Onyx Spirits Company
Adam EditAdam is a lover of life and lifelong entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of award-winning craft distillery, Onyx Spirits Co. With Onyx he has identified an entirely new market by offering America’s first ultra-premium moonshine and New England’s first whiskey. In 2015, his book Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine’s Journey to Revive the American Spirit, chronicling his unique approach to traditional business principles, was nationally released by Career Press. He is the founder of Highclere Castle Cigar Company where he’s partnered with the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, current owner of Highclere Castle, recognized throughout the world as the home in the award-winning TV show, Downton Abbey. The first cigar in the Highclere line is launching at the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association’s 85th Annual Conference in Las Vegas in July, 2017. Planning is in the works to build a whiskey distillery at Highclere in 2018. In 2017, he joined Movia Robotics as partner and CEO, innovating a unique robot control software with a global application and an initial focus on bringing robots into the classroom for the treatment of Autism. Adam serves on multiple non-profit and for-profit boards of directors, and was named one of 2016’s “Forty under Forty” by the Hartford Business Journal. He is conversationally fluent in Spanish,with a basic knowledge of Italian, French and German.

Brian Brushwood
Television/Internet Personality/Bizarre Magician, Hacking the System, Scam SchoolBrian Edit
Brian Brushwood is a Magician, Podcaster,Author, lecturer, and comedian. He is the creator and host of over 500 episodes of Discovery’s “Scam School,” with nearly two million subscribers on YouTube. in the show, he teaches the audience entertaining tricks at bars so they can “scam” a free drink from their friends. In 2015 his first full season of “Hacking the System” debuted on the National Geographic Channel. He has performed thousands of his live “Bizarre Magic” shows (appearing in every state in the continental US), headlined three years at Universal Orlando, appeared on dozens of TV programs (including twice on the Tonight Show), and now co-hosts The Modern Rogue with Jason Murphy.

Andi Campbell
Workplace behavior expert with an emphasis in strategic talent management
Andi EditAndi Campbell is a workplace behavior expert with an emphasis in strategic talent management. As the VP of HR for LAZ Parking, she leads people and culture initiatives for LAZ’s 10,000+ employees across 28 states. Prior to joining LAZ, Andi was the VP of Learning & Development for LPL Financial. She was listed as one of the “Top 40 Young Trainers” by Training Magazine in 2012 and a “Game Changer” by Workforce Magazine in 2014.  She has received acclaim in CLO, ELearning and Parking Magazines for her work with people strategies. With a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Andi has served as a board and committee member for a variety of organizations, including the Association for Talent Development. She often speaks at events, conferences and organizations about her cutting-edge work with people and culture initiatives at LAZ Parking.  Andi has completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program, has a black belt in Tang Soo Do and is best known for creating scalable people strategies that drive measurable results – oh, and for giving hugs, not handshakes.

Carolyn DeRocco
Vice President of Programs and Education, Alzheimer’s Association
Cathy EditCarolyn has over 20 years of experience as a Therapeutic Recreation Director working with individuals with dementia in a skilled nursing facility and over 25 years experience as a support group leader working with individuals diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers. She is a member of the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council and a board member of the Connecticut Geriatric Society.      She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Relations from St. Joseph’s College, Long Island NY with a Certificate in Counseling and Certificate in Human Services. She has been employed at the Alzheimer’s Association Connecticut Chapter for over 10 years.

Malik Champlain
Law Enforcement Officer, Urban Schools Educational ConsultantMalik (1)
Malik was diagnosed with a hearing disorder that soon required surgery, this gave him special education services up until 6th grade. Each year after that those services were declined. Over the next few years Malik struggled to speak because of his stutter.
Unable to play sports until his junior year of high school, Malik triumphed in sports because he wanted to reach the top and stay there. He was later recruited by Western New England University.The WNEU basketball team won the championship for their region as well as regular season champions in their conference.  At WNEU he earned the Deans’ List for multiple years and he was recognized on campus for his Community Service in local elementary/middle/high schools. He later was recognized nationally for his community service by the NAACP on his passion for empowering the youth of the community.
Malik went on to receive a Master’s in Education. After three semesters he became homeless and had to drop out of school to pursue a job opportunity in Boston. This was not Malik’s dream job but it soon gave him the finances to rent his first room in a local Boston neighborhood. He later pursued and obtained a job at a local college as an assistant coach. His first coaching job and he loved it! These moments bring power to the words he often repeats to himself, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”
Malik is the author of “Live Your Dreams, Not Your Fears” an inspirational best-seller. Malik resides in the Greater Hartford area with his wife Rosalyn Champlain and two daughters.

Kevin Cottle
Executive Chef, Owner, Television personality
Kevin editChef Kevin Cottle became a household name during his appearance on the 6th season of FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen. Episode after episode Chef Kevin produced dishes that appeared to be works of art, receiving praise from the judges and cheers from his adoring fans. Yet, it wasn’t meant to be as Kevin had to settle for second place during the final episode of the season.
Chef Kevin has traveled much of the united states as a chef and has received numerous awards and accolades, including mobile’s four diamond award and the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. Chef Kevin was also honored to cook at the James Beard house as part of the best hotel chef series featuring “28 Atlantic” restaurant. He was also honored to be New Hampshire’s Top “Hot Young Chef” by New Hampshire Magazine.
Kevin is an Executive Chef and a partner to open several restaurants. He opened the world class restaurant, Fire at The Ridge.
Kevin is deeply involved with the Farm to Chef Program. As well as being on the board for Connecticut Restaurant Associations. It is Kevin’s goal to market products that are local; from farms to fisheries. He also works closely with the Connecticut Farmland Trust in an effort to obtain federal funding for local farmers.
In addition to Chef Kevin’s culinary talents being viewed on numerous television shows, such as his “live” weekly cooking segment on FOX61. As well as traveling the country speaking and doing culinary demonstrations. Chef Kevin has been written about in many magazines, he also delivered the keynote address at the biggest seafood show in the U.S. the 2010 International Boston Seafood Show on “why local and sustainable seafood make sense.”Chef Kevin was honored to be invited to cook at the James Beard House in July 2012 to cook there annual “soft-shell crab extravaganza” to a record setting crowd as well as several other amazing dinners at the James Beard House throughout the years.

Speakers subject to change