These forums are sponsor supported discussions on relevant topics to the business community, featuring a panel of industry experts selected by the forum sponsors.
Proposed Rule on Noncompete Clauses
The Federal Trade Commission has proposed a rule that would ban noncompetes for almost all workers in the U.S. Our expert panel will discuss what the rule says, what the impact will be on employers, what the timeline might be for implementation, the implications for non-disclosure agreements and other restrictive covenants, and what alternatives the FTC is considering.
Director of the Entrepreneurship Law Clinic & Assistant Professor of Law
College of Law | University of Idaho
Nick Smith joined the law school faculty in 2022 as the director of the Entrepreneurship Law Clinic and assistant professor of law. He earned a J.D. summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota and was elected to membership in the Order of the Coif. He earned a B.A. in linguistics from Brigham Young University.
Professor Smith was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Paul A. Magnuson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and the Honorable Michael S. Kanne of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. His private practice experience focused on business and real estate transactions. He started his private practice career at Idaho’s oldest and largest law firm prior to founding his own firm. From 2016 to 2018, he lived in American Samoa, where he worked for a general business law firm. Immediately prior to joining the faculty, Professor Smith was an associate general counsel of a Boise-based technology company that went public during his tenure there.
Professor Smith’s research interests include corporate social responsibility; impact investing; environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in business decision-making; and social entrepreneurship.
Rhiannon Albert, SHRM-CP, PHR
Owner, HR Advisor
My Trusted HR
Rhiannon Albert is an experienced Human Resources Professional with over 22 years experience serving multiple industries. Rhiannon is passionate about business & people, specializing in leadership & coaching everyone to be their best. She owns My Trusted HR, a Human Resources Consulting business where she partners with business owners to deliver trusted HR advice & solutions.
Rhiannon is certified with both the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). She currently serves as a Trusted Advisor with Vistage and has served 3 years advancing the profession of HR, as a Board Member for the Human Resources of the Treasure Valley (HRATV).
Rhiannon holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Idaho, where she served as VP of Administration for SHRM. Years later she was asked to serve on the University of Idaho’s Department of Business Advisory Board, where she served for 7 years, affecting curriculum.
Alexandra (Alex) Grande
Holland & Hart
Alex Grande is a civil and employment litigator and partner at Holland & Hart. She advises employers through all phases of the employment relationship, providing guidance regarding state and federal workforce compliance issues and counseling clients on employment-related documents and policies. If a dispute escalates, she represents employers in court and before state and federal agencies. Alex received her B.A. magna cum laude from the College of Idaho and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Idaho College of Law.
For more information about the Experts Forums, please contact Cindy Suffa at (208) 639-3517 or [email protected].
Click here to access the archives of past Experts Forums reports.‘
Past Experts Forums
Cybersecurity awareness for your business — a two-part series
In 2021, cybersecurity is as important as ever. With ever-growing threats to businesses, having a robust security solution and plan is absolutely necessary.
We’ve all heard the stories of enterprises paying huge fines or even going out of business because of a simple hack to their systems. There are simply far too many threats out there to ignore the risks — from ransomware to phishing, it could cost you your livelihood. We invite you to join this two-part webinar series, where we will discuss ways to prevent cyberattacks, how to safeguard your business effectively and how to respond to a cyberattack and recover.
Part 1: How to Prevent a Cyberattack
October 21st at 10 a.m. MT
Supporting Documents from Part 1
Part 2: Respond and Recover from a Cyberattack
October 26th at 10 a.m. MT
Boise State University’s Institute of Pervasive Cybersecurity
Edward Vasko, CISSP, is the Director of Boise State University’s Institute of Pervasive Cybersecurity where he is currently helping Boise State establish itself as a top-tier University known for solving the complex cybersecurity problems facing all businesses, industries, and critical infrastructure. In doing so, his goal is to establish Boise State as a national leader of cybersecurity research and workforce development. He is a successive entrepreneur with over 30-years of experience in the cybersecurity industry. Prior to joining Boise State University, Edward established and was a Senior Vice President at Avertium, a leading national managed security and consulting provider. Before establishing Avertium, he was the co-Founder and CEO of Terra Verde, based in Phoenix, Arizona. Edward grew Terra Verde into Arizona’s largest provider of cybersecurity advisory and managed security services, with over 2,000 active clients around the world. Through his career, he started, successfully ran, and exited five businesses, all in the cybersecurity industry. His extensive experience in cybersecurity provides him deep expertise to help organizations of all sizes in securing their critical assets.
Edward is also an active member on university advisory councils, working with universities to develop curriculum that more quickly enable our highly needed Cybersecurity workforce ready to help defend the nation’s critical data and assets. Appointed by Arizona’s Governor, Edward held a Commissioner role in Arizona’s Commission for Post-Secondary Education from 2015-2019. He was also appointed as the co-Chair of Arizona’s Cyber Team (ACT) Workforce Development Committee. He is a graduate of Arizona State University and multi-year recipient of ASU’s Sun Devil 100 business leadership award. Most importantly though, Edward is a proud father and husband.
Incident Response and Security Crisis Consultant (DART Team at Microsoft)
MacKenzie Brown brings both technical and research experience to her position as an Incident Response and Security Crisis Consultant for Microsoft’s Detection and Response Team (DART). There, she works with worldwide customers, taking a deeper dive into their security operations and environment, using the current threat intelligence of adversary techniques and tools, Microsoft’s cloud security stack, and current data metrics, for either proactive or reactive service support. In her previous role at Optiv, Brown focused on providing clients with incident response services, in addition to R&D experience, developing enterprise security program frameworks and strategic deliverables which provide model, direction, and development for implementing security solutions against emerging threats. Brown leverages her program development skills with her expertise and charismatic disposition for developing business, partner, and client relationships.
Adam Guyton is an Insurance Agent with 15 years’ experience working alongside business owners and executives. Adam is a technician when it comes to commercial insurance and creating risk management strategies for his clients. Adam is a leader in cyber insurance placement and his positive attitude and tireless energy encourage others to work hard and succeed. Adam and his wife live in Boise Idaho with their black lab Hank. In his free time he likes to ski, fish and mountain bike.
Clark Harshbarger is a Director of Incident Response at CrowdStrike, Inc leading Incident Response, Digital Forensics, and complex civil, criminal, and Advanced Persistent Threat access into protected networks. He served 17 years as a Special Agent (SA) with the Federal Bureau of Investigation where he investigated computer intrusions covering simple criminal misuse to complex National Security intrusions. His field experience was centered on Critical Infrastructure and Fortune 500 organization’s threat identification and mitigation. Clark has worked in Information Security, intelligence and research fields for approximately 20 years. SA Harshbarger holds a Masters of Computer Science, a Masters of Information Security, as well as Certificates in Computer Security and Digital Forensics. Clark is even less interesting in person.
June 8, 10am-11:15am
When your employees feel they have to hide or mask core parts of themselves at work because they feel unsure, unsafe, or invisible, it can take a toll on motivation, engagement, and ultimately employee retention and turnover rates. What’s the bottom line in your office? It’s your culture and it’s in the best interest of your business. Creating a workplace of culture and climate that both embraces diversity and values, in which every voice can have a substantial, beneficial effect on your people, practices and profitability.
Join us for a discussion around creating a stable, respectful working environment with opportunities for all and help establish your company as an organization with strong values within the community.
Click for resources
Click for resources
Idaho Power: Our Commitment to Each Other
We are committed to an inclusive environment where we are all valued, respected and given equal consideration for our contributions. We believe that to be successful as a company we must be able to innovate and adapt, which only happens when we seek out and value diverse backgrounds, opinions and perspectives. Our collaborative environment thrives when we are engaged, feel we belong and are empowered to do our best work. We are a stronger company when we stand together and embrace our differences.
Click for moderator and panelists
Click for moderator and panelists
Co-Founder & Partner, The Dignitas Agency, LLC.
Angela Taylor is an entrepreneur, creative strategist, consultant, leadership coach and DEI practitioner whose mission is to help leaders and organizations reach their full potential. Taylor’s entrepreneurial endeavors include The DIGNITAS Agency, LLC. (a consulting company focused on leadership development, change management and diversity, equity & inclusion strategy, where she is partner and co-founder), Indulge Boise Food Tours (a culinary experience company), Tindall Avenue Coaching (a life and leadership coaching firm she founded in 2018) and NetWorks Sports Consulting (a strategic consulting firm).
Taylor received her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Stanford University, where she helped guide the women’s basketball team to two NCAA national championships, three NCAA Final Fours and one Sweet Sixteen appearance, before graduating in 1993. She earned her MBA (with an emphasis on marketing and management) at New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2002.
Odette Bolano, FACHE, MHA, BSN
President and CEOSaint Alphonsus Health System – Boise, Idaho
Odette Bolano, President and CEO, Saint Alphonsus Health System, provides executive leadership, strategic and operational oversight for a 610 bed, four-hospital system across the two states of Idaho and Oregon. Odette began her career as a nurse, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Texas Christian University. She earned her Master’s in Administration of Healthcare Services from the University of Houston – Clear Lake.
An active civic and community leader, Odette serves as a board member of the Idaho Hospital Association, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Boise Valley Economic Partnership (BVEP), Idaho Business for Education (IBE), Boise State University Foundation Board, and Boise State University College of Health Sciences Board of Ambassadors. Odette is an active member of the Carol Emmott Fellowship Board, a national organization committed to mentoring exceptional healthcare women leaders to achieve their highest potential and influence as leaders in healthcare. Odette was recently appointed to the Idaho Power and IDACORP Board of Directors.
Odette was honored as TWIN (Tribute to Women & Industry) award recipient and recognized as one of Idaho Business Review’s (IBR) Women of the Year in 2019. She was recognized by Modern Healthcare in 2020 as one of the nation’s most influential 50 Clinical Executives in Healthcare and in 2021 Top 25 Women Leaders. In Idaho, Odette was honored by the IBR as CEO of Influence and #1 in Idaho Business Review’s Power 25 list that names the region’s most influential men and women in healthcare.
Lisa A. Grow
President and Chief Executive Officer, IDACORP, Inc. and Idaho Power
Lisa Grow is President and CEO of IDACORP, Inc. and Idaho Power and serves on its board of directors. Before being named President and CEO in June 2020, Grow was Idaho Power’s Senior VP and Chief Operating Officer.
Prior to her position as President and CEO, Grow served as Idaho Power’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer from March 2017 to October 2019. Grow has also served as Senior Vice President of Operations and, prior to that, Senior Vice President of Power Supply.
Grow began her career at Idaho Power in 1987 and held many engineering positions before moving into management. She took on diverse jobs that allowed her to gain valuable experience in many areas of the company. In 2005, Grow was named Vice President of Delivery Engineering and Operations.
Grow is a leader in her field and involved in several industry groups, currently or previously serving on various committees and boards associated with the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, Northwest Power Pool, National Hydropower Association, Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee and the Department of Energy Electricity Advisory Committee.
Grow graduated from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and received a Master of Business Administration degree from Boise State University.
Trina Finley Ponce
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Program Manager, Boise and Vancouver Site Lead, HP
Trina is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager at HP Inc. where she launched her career 20 years ago. She is responsible for operationalizing HP’s global DEI strategy to meet local site-based needs, creating and managing innovative programming to attract, retain, and promote diverse talent. Trina has been a diversity and inclusion speaker, workshop facilitator, and panelist in local and national forums. She is passionate about building bridges between people with different narratives in both the workplace and community, and she is dedicated to fostering an environment of belonging where all can thrive professionally and personally.
Trina serves on the Salish Kootenai College Foundation Board of Directors, Wassmuth Center for Human Rights Board of Directors, and Kessler-Keener Foundation Board of Directors. She is a proud member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Outside of work and community service, Trina is a soccer mom who loves spending time with her husband and two active teenage children.
Dr. Dan Prinzing
Executive Director, Wassmuth Center for Human Rights
Dr. Dan Prinzing is the executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, builder and home of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. The Center’s mission is “to promote respect for human dignity and diversity through education and to foster individual responsibility to work for peace and justice.” As a career educator, his work has taken him from the classroom to state government to countries around the globe as a teacher, coordinator and trainer in human rights education. Dr. Prinzing holds a B.A. in History Secondary Education, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction, an MA in History and Government, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.
The First 100 Days
The Idaho Business Review is holding a three-part webinar series exploring the federal administration.
The First 100 Days will have exclusive sponsors participating in each panel discussion, moderated by a representative from the presenting sponsor’s company. Content, provided by our sponsors, will publish in the Idaho Business Review the week of each scheduled webinar.
First 100 Days: Health Care
February 16, 2021
In a large part, the new administration was elected based on the promise to preserve the Affordable Care Act and to tackle COVID-19. With record number cases, nationally and locally, how will he control COVID-19?
Will vaccines be distributed fairly and expeditiously? Industry experts share their views on how this will affect Idaho business.
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Click for panelists and moderator
Thomas J. Mortell
Partner at Hawley Troxell
Mr. Mortell is chair of the firm’s health law group as well as a member of the firm’s Board of Partners. His health care practice focuses on advising hospitals and other health care providers on all aspects of health care law. He assists health care providers in business transactions, including the acquisition of competing entities, the formation of entities or facilities jointly-owned by hospitals and physicians, the acquisition of physician practices, and professional services contracts between hospitals and physicians. Additionally, he advises hospital boards on issues relating to physician integration, compliance, governance, and strategic planning.
Mr. Mortell has represented hospital clients in federal false claims act litigation, payer reimbursement claims, and related compliance matters. He represents and advises hospitals and other health care clients with issues relating to physician peer review, credentialing, and discipline. He also advises health care clients on issues related to compliance with HIPAA, EMTALA, and fraud and abuse regulations at both the state and federal level.
Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Blue Cross of Idaho
Mike Reynoldson is the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Blue Cross of Idaho, based in Meridian, Idaho. In this position he serves as a legislative advisor and government affairs contact to the federal and state government, the Idaho Legislature and local government throughout Idaho. In addition, he oversees the media relations activities for the company.
Reynoldson began with Blue Cross of Idaho in February of 2015. He has 28 years of experience as a public policy and political professional and previously served in similar positions for both Micron Technology, Inc. and Qwest Communications based in Idaho.
Reynoldson has extensive experience in the state and national political arena having worked for the Republican National Committee, serving as Executive Director of the Idaho Republican Party, and as the Campaign Manager for U S Senator Larry Craig’s 1996 re-election.
In Idaho, Reynoldson has supported several community organizations as a board member including: The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho, the Idaho Governor’s Cup, Buy Idaho, the Idaho Technology Association, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, and the BSU Foundation.
Reynoldson grew up in Parma, Idaho and graduated from Boise State University in 1990 with a degree in Marketing. At home, he and his wife Laurie are the proud parents of two yellow Labradors – 14-year-old Hank and 3-year-old Theo.
Director of State Advocacy for Saint Alphonsus and its parent system Trinity Health
Corey Surber currently serves as Director of State Advocacy for Saint Alphonsus and its parent system Trinity Health and has been part of the Saint Alphonsus team since 1992. She has served as adjunct faculty in the College of Health Science and School of Nursing at Boise State University for the past 12 years, teaching courses in health policy, healthcare quality and healthcare delivery systems.
Corey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from College of Idaho, and a Master of Health Science degree from Boise State University. Corey’s community involvement has included serving on various community boards including United Way of Treasure Valley (2010-present, board chair 2017-2019), Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry (2014-present; Board Chair 2020-2022), and the Boise State Alumni Association (2014-2020).
Corey has been honored with the Leadership Boise Distinguished Alumni Award, Idaho Public Health Association President’s Award, College of Idaho Alumni Service Award, Boise State University College of Health Sciences Honored Alumni Award, and was a nominee for the Idaho Business Review Woman of the Year and the Saint Alphonsus President’s Commendation.
Originally from Ontario, Oregon, Corey calls Boise home and enjoys spending time with her two daughters exploring Idaho’s beautiful outdoors, practicing nature/wildlife photography along the way.
First 100 Days: Business in Idaho
April 13, 2021
Before COVID-19, Idaho led the nation in economic growth, and recovered faster than many states.
But many businesses struggling to recover from COVID-19 and its economic disruption have pleaded with the federal government to create a new round of stimulus packages, both to help businesses weather the situation and to help consumers continue to spend money. Industry experts share their views on the potential for the state’s continued growth and weigh in on what sectors could benefit most.
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Click for panelists and moderator
Southern Idaho Regional President, Washington Trust Bank
With 26 years of banking experience covering the agriculture business, C&I lending, SBA loans and builder financing, Andy is well qualified to help his clients meet their financial goals. He works effectively with all areas in the bank to offer his clients a wide range of services.
Andy earned a MBA from Boise State University, Bachelor of Finance degree from University of Idaho, and is a graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School.
J. Mark Browning
Vice President, College Relations, College of Western Idaho
Mark has been at the College of Western Idaho (CWI) since 2016 and oversees all internal and external communications, marketing, advertising, oversight of all digital forward-facing efforts with the College’s website and mobile platform. Mark also has responsibility for the CWI Foundation, alumni, and advancement as well as all the local, state and federal government relations for CWI. Prior to CWI, Mark was Vice President at North Idaho College, chief communications and legislative officer for the Idaho State Board of Education, served as news director for the CBS affiliate in Boise, as well as the main anchor and executive producer at the NBC station in Pocatello.
Mark’s passion for education continues as he is in the defense state of his dissertation of a doctoral degree from Idaho State University in higher education leadership with an emphasis in community colleges. Outside of work you can find Mark and his wife Kym with their grandchildren, in the mountains camping, fly fishing, hiking, and enjoying the beauty of our great outdoors.
Account Manager, Express Employment Pros
“I love that working at Express, I do nothing but help people, make friends and somehow earn a living from that!” – Rob
Rob joined the Treasure Valley, Idaho team in October 2019 from a military leadership background. Growing up on the Central Coast, New South Wales, Australia, when it was a coastal country town, Rob spent lots of time outdoors, doing what country kids do best. Rob spent over 15 years serving Australia in their military. 2 Years in the Australian Army Artillery before moving over to the Royal Australian Air Force as a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer, specializing in Avionics. Having traveled the world on exercises and combat deployments, Rob brings a diverse experience to our team. Rob quickly got involved in numerous community and business groups within in our region to better serve our community and businesses. Rob currently serves on the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors as Chairman Elect, slated to move to the Chairman of the Board, January 2022.
When not at work, Rob enjoys being outdoors, hiking, camping, hunting and fishing.
“Courage isn’t vacant of fear, it’s facing the issue in the midst of that fear.” – General George Patton
Corporate Partner and Corporate Practice Group Leader
Holland & Hart
Nicole Snyder is a corporate partner in Holland & Hart’s Boise office and currently serves as the firm’s Corporate Practice Group Leader. Nicole delivers strategic counsel to small and large businesses and nonprofit corporations, and she serves as outside general counsel to some of Idaho’s most successful companies. She has served as transaction counsel for over 50 mergers and acquisitions, representing both buyers and sellers in small day-to-day acquisitions to transactions valued at over $100 million. Nicole also advises clients how to handle complex employment matters that arise in connection with business acquisitions, including layoffs and executive compensation.
ESOP 101: Myth Busting
March 11, 12pm-1:15pm
Structuring a business into an employee owned company has the potential to yield incredible rewards for the business owner and the employees. Join us for a candid, “myth-busting” conversation with the ESOP experts and learn why ESOP is trending to make Idaho business better.
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Click for panelists
Executive Director, The Beyster Institute at the Rady School of Management
Kim Blaugher has over 30 years of experience and has been in the retirement plan industry since 1983. His areas of expertise include ESOPs and executive compensation planning. He uses his income tax and accounting background to help companies determine the feasibility of an ESOP, forecast repurchase obligations, and craft ESOP transactions designed to address each client’s unique needs and objectives.
Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Earlham College and a Master of Taxation degree from the University of Denver. He passed the CPA exam in 1985. He is a member of The ESOP Association, the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and the Employee Owned S-Corporations of America (ESCA) (including its Advisory Committee). In addition, he is a Past President of the Boise Chapter of the Western Pension & Benefits Conference. A frequent speaker on employee benefits and ESOP related topics, Kim has also written articles on technical ESOP issues for both The ESOP Association and the NCEO.
Kim accepted the position as the Executive Director of the Beyster Institute at the UC San Diego Rady School of Management in March 2019. The Beyster Institute’s mission is to move the employee ownership community forward through educating students, academic faculty, management, company founders, and consultants to learn about and build ESOPs and other forms of employee ownership.
Prior to joining the Beyster Institute, Kim worked in the ESOP practices at Principal Financial Group, William M. Mercer & Associates, RSM and KPMG.
Director of Hisco, Manson Construction and Performance Contracting
Mary Josephs is a recognized authority on family and private company finance, governance and employee stock ownership plans. She has 30-plus years of experience assisting 300 ownership transitions for middle-market companies.
Mary is a director of Hisco, Manson Construction and Performance Contracting. Ms. Josephs was selected as one of the Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A by Mergers & Acquisition publication. Chicago Crain’s recognized Ms. Josephs as a Notable Entrepreneur in 2019 and Private Board Directors magazine named Mary a Director to Watch in 2019.
Before starting Verit Advisors in 2009, she founded LaSalle National Bank’s ESOP group and later led Bank of America-Merrill Lynch’s ESOP Solutions Group.
Randy S. Million, CPA
Executive Principal – Ripley Doorn & Company, P.L.L.C.
Payton E. Stockton
Associate, Foster Garvey
Payton focuses her practice on complex business matters, as well as guiding clients through the design, implementation, operation and maintenance of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).
Payton works with small and large businesses, executive officers and boards of directors on matters including corporate structuring and governance, mergers and acquisitions, drafting and negotiating business agreements, contracts, and purchase and sale agreements. She has worked with clients in a range of industries including professional services, construction and engineering, manufacturing and distribution, real estate and consumer products, among others.
Scott Schlange had a decision to make three years ago, stay in Beverly Hills or take a job in Idaho. He made the right choice and brought his 15 years of banking experience to KeyBank as Idaho’s Commercial Banking Sales Leader. As a hobbyist boxer, he brings the same skills he learned in the ring to his clients and employees on a daily basis- determination, dedication, and heart. Scott is a dad of three with his wife, who makes it all happen. A graduate of California State University of Northridge and active volunteer in the community, he has proudly put down his roots in Idaho.
Managing Director, Verit Advisors LLC
John Solimine is a Managing Director and Founding Member of Verit Advisors. John leads Verit’s Debt Capital Markets efforts and the execution of both ESOP and non-ESOP transactions which focus on sourcing, structuring, and arranging various forms of debt or equity capital for Verit’s clients. John has over 20 years of experience in investment banking and debt capital markets, particularly with middle-market companies and private equity sponsors in succession and liquidity transactions. He began his career at LaSalle Bank (now Bank of America). His investment banking experience was broadened at Bear Stearns & Co. and Jefferies & Company, Inc.
Looking to buy a Business?
…Ready to sell your Business?
Join us for an Experts Forum Webinar Series and learn from a panel of professionals representing legal, finance, strategic planning, and business services to help you prepare for your next business transition.
Select a date for more information and to register for one discussion or the entire series. There is no cost to participate. Registration is required.
September 24th 10AM-11AM
Riding the wave to Online Education
During a time of change, resiliency and the unknown, we must expand our minds and evolve with the waves.
Join us on a discussion around bridging the skill gap for existing and prospective employees, tools and resources available with online education, traditional universities shifting to an online platform with curriculum, and the different ways companies can benefit from offering tuition reimbursement and multifaceted learning advancement programs within their organizations.
MODERATOR: Megan Dibb
MSML Strategic Partnerships Manager
Western Governors University
Inspired by the mission to improve lives and strengthen communities through the power of education, Megan Dibb joined Western Governors University in 2013. As a Strategic Partnerships Manager for Idaho and the Northwest Region, Megan works closely with employers and thought leaders to ensure the online, nonprofit university supplies accredited, relevant degree programs the modern workforce demands. In addition, she assists prospective students and guides them toward learning resources designed to grow their knowledge and skills – and open new doors of professional opportunity.
Prior to that role, Megan served as WGU’s Scholarships Strategy Manager. She led the development and execution of scholarship programs awarding nearly $16 million to more than 8,000 individuals – and removing critical barriers to student success.
Megan earned a Master of Science in Management and Leadership from WGU and a Bachelor of Science in Gender Studies from the University of Utah. She has served as a Board Member for Lutheran Social Services of Utah and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and Mothers Without Borders.
PANELIST: Tonya M. Drake, Ph.D.
Regional Vice President, Northwest
Chancellor, WGU Washington
A leader in higher learning, Dr. Tonya Drake has dedicated her career to expanding access to high-quality, career-focused education. Named Chancellor of WGU Washington in 2018, she has guided the nonprofit, online university to new levels of success: WGU Washington now enrolls nearly 13,000 fulltime students, has granted more than 21,000 bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and has been awarded the 2018 Silver Award for Job Training by Seattle Business magazine.
To replicate the university’s positive impact and connect more individuals with in-demand learning opportunities, Drake became WGU’s Regional Vice President for the Northwest in September 2019. She holds that position in addition to her duties as Chancellor and oversees the university’s strategic direction in nine states: Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Drake has a strong commitment to learning and student success. Her work is guided by the belief that higher learning transforms lives and deep convictions rooted in equity and inclusion. She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education, including most recently as the Vice President for College Relations and Advancement at Edmonds Community College. Drake has held leadership positions at Shoreline Community College, Maricopa Community College District, Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, and the University of Washington.
Drake holds a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy Studies and Master of Education from Arizona State University, a Bachelor of Arts in Business from University of Washington, and an associate degree from Lower Columbia College.
Drake earned the Certificate of Leader Development for National Security and Strategy from the National Security Seminar at the U.S. Army War College. She served as keynote speaker at the Global Leadership Summit in South Africa on the topic of “Deconstructing Race” and received the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Associated Students of Edmonds Community College. In 2019, she was named among Seattle Business magazine’s “Daring Women.”
PANELIST: Denise Aberle-Cannata
College of Western Idaho
Joining College of Western Idaho (CWI) in early 2019 as Provost, Denise Aberle-Cannata has been a leader in continuing to carry the College forward in transformative education, promoting campus diversity and inclusion, and using key technology and educational resources to encourage pioneering instructional methods. Committed to providing students with education and service at the highest quality level, Cannata believes CWI is and will continue to be the community college leader in delivering quality education and training in the state of Idaho. Serving more than 31,000 students, she has led forward-thinking campus initiatives at CWI on retention and student experience, expansion of business and industry partnerships for credit and non-credit programs, and new multi-learning modalities to support students’ needs in an ever-changing educational landscape.
Cannata holds a Master of Science in Education from University of North Dakota. Prior to CWI, Cannata served in several leadership roles at higher education institutions across Colorado, New Jersey, and North Dakota. Starting her higher ed work in the community college sector at Bismark State College, she was a pioneer in creating online courses and degrees for the institution. As the first institution to launch energy degrees online, Cannata’s work resulted in several partnerships between the College and the energy sector designed to help replenish the workforce and establish the National Energy Center of Excellence.
Working in higher education for more than 20 years, Cannata has helped drive student excellence, institutional sustainability, and distance education initiatives with programs to meet institutions’ short- and long-term strategic visions. Her work is characterized by data-driven decision making, strength-based leadership, and development of dynamic, higher education programs and services that align with an institution’s mission, vision, values, and goals.
PANELIST: Sumi Sankaran-Deal, MBA
Training Manager & Co-Chair
POWER Women’s Network
Sumi Sankaran-Deal is a seasoned human resources and training specialist with over 18 years of experience in leadership development, learning management systems development, strategic planning, and project management. She has managed the entire process for building learning programs including conducting needs assessments, designing and delivering content, to measuring effectiveness at the conclusion of the programs. Sumi has managed projects, some international, with teams and budgets of varying sizes, keeping multiple stakeholders informed on team progress in meeting strategic goals.
Christine has a passion for helping people find what fills their buckets. Working in the fields of education planning and savings for over twenty years she’s collaborated with educators, families, financial professionals and lawmakers to educate and successfully initiate and shape policy and progressive programs to do just that.
Her broad view of the unique strengths and challenges surrounding the education and savings systems has aided her work in curriculum writing, career software expansion, college, career and technical education development, 529 savings and public policy. Christine believes these efforts have positively impacted how families achieve their dreams of future education goals.
- 20-years in the education field, including 7-years in the education-financial services industry
- Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Human Resources, a minor in Human Resource Management from Boise State University
- Masters of Science, Instructional Performance and Technology from Boise State University.
Past Experts Forums
Aug. 20, 10am-11am
Mental Health Beyond the Curve
During the current pandemic — a time of isolation, disconnection and solitude — our daily lives are significantly changed as our movements are restricted in efforts to contain and slow down
the spread of the virus. Facing new realities of working from home, home-schooling children, temporary unemployment, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, it is important that we look after our mental, as well as our physical, health. This webinar will help provide strategies for staying productive in our personal and professional lives during this difficult time.