Meet The 2021 Speakers
Founder / Creative Director, Amy Zaroff Events + Design
Myriad career paths have led Amy Zaroff to this high point in life. An early career as a television producer and later as a marketing director allowed Amy to refine her skills in design, planning and time management. Along with her husband, Amy fine-tuned her innate skills in event planning at their authentic, New York-style delicatessen. In 2004, she purchased the invitation, stationery and gift store, Give My Regards To, and added full-service event planning to the company’s repertoire of services. Over the next several years, Amy began to build an all encompassing event planning company that would deliver exceptional customer service by working intimately with clients to understand every aspect of their special event. By channeling years of experience in marketing, design, catering and event planning into one endeavor, Amy and her team have become known as the prime source for creating life’s most memorable experiences as Amy Zaroff Events + Design. Her company now handles social, corporate and non-profit events including experiential marketing activations across the country. Amy currently serves on the Advisory Boards of the Minnesota Events Coalition and #ShareTheMicMN. She prevously served on the boards of Appetite for Change, Pab's Packs and The Birthday Party Project. Amy was recently named one of the 100 people to know in Minnesota by Twin Cities Business Magazine and a Best Planner in America by Brides Magazine. Amy volunteers for several local agencies and organizations, offering pro-bono event planning for Twin Cities non-profits that benefit women and children.
Senior Economic Impact Analyst at University of Minnesota Extension
A member of the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, Brigid conducts analyses and writes reports for the program for the Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) program. Since 2008, the EIA program has issued numerous studies, covering a variety economic sectors in Minnesota - including tourism, education, manufacturing, retail, infrastructure, and local foods. Studies of festivals and events include a Classic Car Roll-In in southern Minnesota, bonspiels on the Iron Range, and Vikings training camp.
CEO, Hennes Communication
Bruce Hennes is CEO of Hennes Communications, one of the few firms in North America focused exclusively on crisis management and crisis communications.
Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Hennes Communications serves corporations, government agencies, manufacturers, larger nonprofits, education and healthcare institutions -- as well as law firms and their clients -- that are “on trial” in the Court of Public Opinion.
With over 40 years’ experience in communications, Bruce and the firm’s past and present clients include the American Public Power Association, Avery Dennison, Goodyear, Kent State University and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, as well as scores of law firms and municipalities across the continent.
Bruce has served for eleven years on the executive committee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and he’s an adjunct professor at Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. And in 1967, he had second row seats for the Janis Joplin concert and sixth row for Jimi Hendrix when both played in Cleveland.
Bruce A. Smiley-Kaliff
Managing General Agent and Senior Underwriter, Kaliff Insurance
Bruce A. Smiley-Kaliff, CFEE has been employed by Kaliff Insurance since 2001. He was appointed Executive Vice President in 2005 and became Managing General agent in 2011 and Senior Program Underwriter. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Festivals and Events Association, the Texas Association of Fairs and Events and is a Certified Festival and Event Executive. Bruce has been a member of the board of directors of the State Bar of Texas, Santa Rosa Foundation, Bexar County Development Corporation, Eastside San Antonio Development Agency and the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, Jewish Family Services of San Antonio and has served as the Mayor of a Texas City. Bruce also serves on various other service and philanthropic endeavors. He is formerly the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Bascom Companies, an international hotel development, and management corporation. Bruce teaches associations nationally on how to manage risk and limit their exposure to liability. Bruce's experience prepares him to assist the company's strategic plans for the future to maintain Kaliff Insurance's dominance of the markets for the protection of its clients and events.
Assistant Commissioner, Health Protection Bureau, Minnesota Department of Health
Daniel (Dan) Huff received his BA with a major in Biology from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and his Masters in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at theUniversity of Minnesota. Dan has over 25 years of experience in the public and private nonprofit sectors of education, environmental health and public health. He started his career as a high school science teacher where he received many teaching awards for his energy and creativity in the classroom. During his time with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Dan worked with local governments and residents in promoting best practices to protect surface and drinking water. This work continued in his role as Watershed Protection Director at the Friends of the Mississippi River. Dan joined the City of Minneapolis to coordinate its Sustainability Initiative in 2006. He served multiple roles at the City including six years as Minneapolis’ Director of Environmental Health. Dan joined the Minnesota Department ofHealth in 2019 as the Assistant Commissioner of Health Protection. Dan is passionate about public service, public health, racial justice and making government work for everyone. Dan’s most proud accomplishment is being father to two amazing kids and spouse to a wonderful partner. In his free time, Dan loves to be outdoors, especially in his canoe.
President & CEO, Saint Paul Festival & Heritage Foundation Deb Schaber has over 18 years of festival, event & marketing management experience. She is currently the President and CEO of the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation that produces the Saint Paul Winter Carnival and Cinco de Mayo Westside Saint Paul Festival. Her first project in this role was the building the 2018 Ice Palace during the Super Bowl and has continued on with a successful covid drive thru pivot of the 2021 Winter Carnival. She also spent 12 years as the Marketing & Events Director at Mid America Festivals, where she managed the marketing, strategic planning and event management for multiple Renaissance Festivals. She served on the MN Festival and Events (MNFEA) board for 6 years, and was the executive director for the Shepherds Harvest Festival for 3 years. When she is not working, she enjoys golfing, attending local events, and spending time with her 1 year old English Lab, Sadie.
General Manager, The Wedding Guys®, Inc.
Ellaina Henke received a B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management with an emphasis on Event Planning and a minor in business from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Ellaina has experience in various aspects of the Special Events and Hospitality industry including Banquet Management, Hotel Sales, and Operations and Logistics. She has been with The Wedding Guys®, Inc. for close to 10 years. She first joined on as an intern during college, then full-time as Operations Manager in 2015, and was promoted to General Manager in 2018. Ellaina’s role as General Manager encompasses all areas of the business. She specializes in client relations and communication, event logistics and planning, and business system management. A highlight of her volunteering experience includes her involvement as a member of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) ESPRIT Awards planning committee when hosted in Minneapolis in 2019. In her role, she works to assist The Wedding Guys® in acting as a conduit between engaged couples and the professional companies offering services for weddings, pre- wedding preparation, and life after marriage. The company is internationally recognized for the production of UNVEILED–The Ultimate Wedding Planning Event. Most notably known for their live-event tradeshows, they also produce the annual Wedding Trends Look Book and have a robust digital presence.
Jasmine Brett Stringer
Author, Carpe Diem with Jasmine
Jasmine Brett Stringer is a keynote speaker, award-winning author of Seize Your Life: How to Carpe Diem Every Day, on-air TV personality, and host of the podcast and lifestyle blog Carpe Diem with Jasmine. In the early 2000s, Jasmine was living her life like so many others—on autopilot, without vision or purpose—until she was given an unexpected gift. A lay off! As she said goodbye to her “corporate gig” she realized she hadn’t been truly happy or fulfilled in years. So she made a choice not to stay miserable any longer and to do whatever work was required to find happiness wherever she could. Jasmine leveraged a pivotal moment in her life to learn the true meaning of carpe diem. She found endless, little ways to connect with herself and others through “JAZZ’ed UP” DIY projects, style, entertaining and travel on a budget. Today, Jasmine is on a mission to help people live empowered and authentic lives. Through her Seize Your Life keynotes, workshops, and customized coaching sessions, Jasmine guides clients and audiences through a simple process to identify their goals and achieve their personal definition of success. Jasmine’s common-sense approach to creating a life of one’s own has inspired thousands of people across the world to carpe diem! Jasmine has shared her positive message to corporate and nonprofit organizations such as Land O’ Lakes, Federal Reserve Bank, Airbnb, Cargill, Goodwill, Mondelēz International, Bayer and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Jasmine inspires revelation and change by leveraging her experiences working with some of the world’s biggest brands including Kraft Foods, General Mills, Toyota, Box Tops for Education, Fox Searchlight, Publicis Groupe and the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN TV). Additionally, Jasmine speaks on how to effectively network and how to build synergy and develop interpersonal skills-core tools for living a vision-driven life. Jasmine is a graduate of American University’s Kogod School of Business in Washington, D.C. She was named a Twin Cities Fearless Woman in 2017 and a Woman of Promise by the Girl Scouts in 2012. Additionally, she was awarded Distinguished Alumna of American University. Ebony Magazine featured her as one of its “30 Future Leaders Under the Age of 30 in America.” Jasmine is based in Minneapolis, but can often be found two hours south of the city working with her husband Roger at the family farm.
Founder / Chief Experiential Curator, Claim Our Space, LLC
Katie Battis-Troyer (pronouns: She/her/hers) is the Founder and Chief Experiential Curator of Claim Our Space, LLC. Katie served in several community- and social equity-centered roles within government, philanthropic, and corporate organizations. Through these experiences she recognized that institutions have a unique opportunity to leverage events to expand their impact and attain social justice while fostering deepened relationships in their communities. Katie has a passion for curating creative events that drive impact while always keeping innovation, relationship building, and fun at the center. Katie is trained in the Technology of Participation (ToP)® facilitation methods. She believes that these methods are grounded in building consensus within groups to come to a common vision. Katie leverages the ToP methods when facilitating community engagement conversations and to guide visioning, design, and evaluation of events with her clients. Katie holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Concordia University-Saint Paul. She was selected as a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow through the Minnesota Council on Foundations in 2015. Katie resides in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband Tim. Katie enjoys interior design, watching virtual music concerts, and learning to cook new cuisines – currently Jamaican.
Co-Founder / CEO, Street Factory Media, Inc.
Matthew Kelly is Co-Founder and CEO of Street Factory Media, Inc., a national experiential marketing agency headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and offices in Portland, Dallas, and Tampa. SFM provides many of the biggest brands, and their agencies, a vast assortment of experiential services. Ranging from event activations, content development and capture, set fabrication, creative services, and non-traditional media opportunities. Prior to founding SFM in 2003, Matt was Co-Founder and CEO of Cycle Sport International, Inc., a sports marketing agency that developed and managed professional cycling team properties that competed on a global level. It was during this time where he had the opportunity to study the intersection of brands and logistics, which helped develop the approach for SFM. Matt proudly served six years on the Board of Directors at CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, and currently on the Board of Trustees at City of the Lakes Waldorf School.
Director of Events & Programs, mpls downtown council
Meghan Gustafson has over 18 years of experience in the events industry. She is currently the Director of Events and Programs for the mpls downtown council and responsible for their monthly programs as well as planning large scale public events like Holidazzle and Aquatennial with over 500,000 attendees annually. Meghan is on the Board for the MN Festivals and Events Association, a long-standing member and former Board President for ILEA MSP, Co-chaired the ILEA Live in Minneapolis in 2019 and sits on the MN Events Coalition Steering Committee. She was recognized by MN Meeting and Events Magazine Hall of Fame as the Special Events Professional of the Year in 2012 and spends her free time outdoors with her dog Waylon Jennings.
Championship Juggler / Yo-Yo Enthusiast, The Danger Committee
Mick Lunzer brings an incredible amount of experience to the stage having worked as a performer and keynote speaker for two decades. Mick has spoken to hundreds of companies across the United States, Canada, Scotland, Ireland and England. Mick is a world champion juggler. He is part of The Danger Committee, a comedy, juggling, knife throwing trio. Mick uses performing as a metaphor to demonstrate the principles and ideas that can have a profound and lasting impact on your organization. Mick has made quite a name for himself in the world of juggling, having won or placed in international competition fifteen times. He has won World Championships in Team Juggling, Combat Juggling, and the World Diabolo Open, and is currently the reigning Canadian Juggling Champion. In addition, Mick is a world class Yo-Yo player, having developed the legendary trick Buddha’s Revenge, which is now compulsory in international competition. Mick is also the developer of the Master of Yo-Yo program, a comprehensive training and rating system for both competitive and casual Yo-Yo enthusiasts around the world.
Executive Director, Bentleyville Tour of Lights
Nathan was born, raised and resides in Northern Minnesota with his wife Tricia of 30 years along with 3 doddles spending most summer months at their lake home in Grand Rapids. Nathan has 4 grown children and one grandchild. He spends 4 months a year traveling the world visiting some 43 countries. Most often time is spent in Southeast Asia in the country of Laos renovating countryside schools and building roads. Nathan is the President of Advantage Emblem & Screen Printing in Duluth, a company he started 33 years ago. In 2001, Nathan began putting up holiday light at his home in Esko, MN. His personality of going over the top with things has grown from a weekend obsession of holiday lights to overseeing one of Minnesota’s most popular outdoor attractions, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights that is hosted annually at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth with yearly attendance of over 300,000 visitors.
CEO, Caravel Marketing, Inc.
Paula is the CEO of Caravel - a national consulting company specializing in sponsorship marketing. Former Minnesotan now Seattleite, Paula is an enthusiastic trailblazer with decades of marketing and sales experience in sponsorship, media, sports, events and entertainment. Paula is also the founder of Sponsorship Mastery – an annual summit and webinar series dedicated to improving individual and organizational sponsorship performance.
Special Event/Festival Producer, Stone Arch Bridge Festival
Sara Collins is an MNFEA board member. Sara is a project management consultant for public festivals and high-touch special events. She has worked extensively in sponsorship over the past 25 year aligning sponsors with opportunities in art, film, music, and entertainment properties.
Steven A. Adelman
Adelman Law Group, PLLC and Vice President, Event Safety Alliance
Steven A. Adelman is head of Adelman Law Group, PLLC in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, and Vice President of the Event Safety Alliance. His practice focuses on risk and safety at live events throughout North America, and he serves as an expert witness in crowd-related lawsuits. Steve Adelman is principal author of the authoritative Crowd Management standard, ANSI ES1.9-2020, and lead author of the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide, which has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. He is a law professor, author of the “Adelman on Venues” blog, and he recently has served as health and safety director for a series of live events across the United States. Steve Adelman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tourism Specialist, University of Minnesota Tourism Center
Xinyi Qian, Ph.D. has been a Tourism Specialist at University of Minnesota Tourism Center since 2013. Dr. Qian is the lead instructor of the Festival and Event Management online course, an educational program that builds essential knowledge for successfully managing and sustaining a festival/event. Dr. Qian also conducts applied research on a variety of tourism-related topics, including visitor profile survey for tourism destinations, attendee profile survey and attendance estimate for festivals and events, active transportation, sustainable tourism, among others. Dr. Qian received her Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management from the Pennsylvania State University.