KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Charlie Wollborg

Curve Detroit Advertising, Moka Boka, TEDxDetroit

Breakfast Keynote

Charlie is a purveyor of attention. He helps growing brands stand out from the clutter.  

He opened the doors at Curve Detroit Marketing Strategy & Creative Design after being thrown out of several well-respected ad agencies. As a marketing strategist and creative director, he has delivered blue-sky ideas and bottom-line results for blue-chip national clients and budding challenger brands from Bose to Blue Cross to Boyne Resorts.

Charlie is your idea guy. No one does a better job with big picture concepts designed to launch brands, make a splash and demand attention. He continually investigates what's now, what's new and what's next in marketing, as well as how it can benefit your brand. His campaigns have been recognized by the Detroit Creative Directors Council for creativity and the Direct Marketing Association for effectiveness.

 

Charlie is the cofounder of Moka Boka, a new subscription box delivering one-of-a-kind stories and adventures to kids. Along with a handful of cool friends, he produces the TEDxDetroit conference which attracts more than 3,000 attendees from around the Great Lakes each year.

When he's not building brands, you'll find Charlie inspiring, educating and entertaining business audiences with his lively keynote presentations on marketing, innovation and motivation. Last year, he was named the second best PowerPoint Karaoke presenter in the world. This year, he hopes to win something that people have actually heard of. 

Charlie is happily married to his unhappily married wife, Elena. They have two young sons with wild imaginations and boundless energy and one lazy cat. 

PANELISTS & MODERATORS

Agency

Antonice Strickland

Senior Account Executive at Truscott Rossman

Panelist

Antonice Strickland has worked for Truscott Rossman for just over a year. In her time at Truscott Rossman, she advises local and national clients on effectively communications their brands through communications, media relations, and digital media.  She also leads community relations and internship management for the Detroit office. 

For over 3 years, Strickland also acts as an owner, publicist, and manager, for the Audacious Publicity & Management Group, based out of the Washington D.C. area.  Her organization's mission is to fearlessly create and promote brands, while leaving a unique mark on the client's target landscape through strategic marketing methods. 

Strickland served as the President of the National Black Public Relations Society from 2016–2018.

Strickland earned her bachelor's of arts in journalism from Michigan State University, where she was involved in many organizations, including a PRSSA chapter. She continued her education at Georgetown University where she earned a masters in public relations and corporate communications.

Meet Antonice Strickland at SDC 2019 to learn more about her experiences and stories.

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Courtney Howell

Identity

Panelist

Courtney is a senior account executive on Identity’s social media team. In her role, she works with companies to build social media programs that generate brand awareness and impact business goals. Courtney has an innate passion for marketing with specific interests in digital advertising and analytics.

 

A graduate of Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, Courtney earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with honors in marketing.

 

When she’s not working, Courtney sports her supermom cape. And, at the end of a long day, she finds comfort at the bottom of a frothy vanilla latte.

Kevin Kennedy 

Executive Vice President, Campbell Marketing & Communications

Panelist

Kevin Kennedy is Managing Partner and Executive Vice President of Campbell Marketing & Communications, overseeing public relations and social media activities for Michigan’s largest independent marketing communications company.

Kennedy joined what was then Campbell & Co. in 1984, starting as a staff writer, before advancing into roles in motorsports public relations and then PR management.   He was named a company vice president in the mid-1990s, before becoming a Managing Partner in 2014.

He has been honored with a Jim Chapman Award for lifetime excellence in motorsport PR in 2006 and in 2011 became the 25th recipient of the Spirit of Ford Award, Ford Motor Company's highest honor in auto racing, recognizing lifetime achievement and contribution to the industry both on and off the race track.   He has worked with some of the biggest legends in auto racing, from Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti, to A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty.

Kennedy is a native of Monroe, Mich., and graduated with a Radio-TV-Film degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1981.   While at EMU, he was a writer, columnist and editor for the Eastern Echo, and did radio for both WQBR and WEMU.

He worked for both the Ann Arbor News and Ypsilanti Press as a sportswriter and columnist, winning four journalism awards for his coverage of EMU sports.

Kennedy is married to Kathleen Pitton, also a graduate of EMU, and they have one son, John, currently a sophomore at Eastern.

 

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Chris Austin

Senior Media Relations Specialist at Airfoil

Panelist

Chris Austin is a senior media relations specialist at Airfoil. Austin previously worked at Identity. Driven by his love for writing and severe case of (undiagnosed) middle child syndrome, Chris continually aspires for self-improvement in all aspects of his life—from the strategies he conceives and implements for clients to his epically bad golf swing.
 

In his spare time, Chris enjoys reading, spending time with his awesome wife, daughter and twin boys, walking local nature trails with his camera and tripod in hand, and trying to convince his wife to let him travel to Antarctica to play with penguins. He’s always on the lookout for a great new golf course to play and is a die-hard hockey fan.
 

WHAT MOTIVATES ME:
Storytelling. I’m constantly trying to figure out new and exciting ways to bring clients’ unique stories and brands to life in a way that will help them achieve their goals.

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Entertainment

Brett McWethy

Director of Marketing Communications at Olympia Entertainment–Detroit Red Wings

Panelist

Brett McWethy graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2003, and completed his Master of Science in Sports Management from EMU in 2006. He currently serves as the Director of Marketing Communications for the Detroit Red Wings.

 

With the Red Wings, McWethy leads communications strategy for the organization’s business operations, promoting community impact events, business transactions, corporate sponsorships, ticketing information, marketing, special events and other messages, establishing a cohesive voice of the organization’s brand. He also manages general publicity for Little Caesars Arena and oversees media operations for collegiate athletic events at the venue. 

 

Prior to returning to his home state of Michigan, McWethy spent 11 years in the state of Illinois working in intercollegiate athletics public relations. He was employed by the Big Ten Conference in suburban Chicago from 2013-17, and served as the conference’s Director of Communications for the final two years.

 

During his time as a student at EMU, McWethy spent all four years working in the sports information office. After graduating, he was hired as the sports information graduate assistant while completing coursework for the newly formed Sports Management graduate program.

 

McWethy, a Kalamazoo native, currently resides in Berkley, Mich., with his wife Katie, and their 2-year old son, Greyson. 

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Kurt Svoboda

Associate Athletic Director for External Communications & PR, U of M Athletics

Panelist

 

Kurt Svoboda has worked in college athletics administration for 19 years, spanning communications, marketing, operations, multimedia, technology and event presentation. He is currently the Associate Athletic Director in charge of external communications and public relations at the University of Michigan. Svoboda leads the communications team in executing digital initiatives and facilitating relationships between the public and U-M athletics – including University communications, Big Ten Networks, marketing, development, ticketing, facilities, multimedia, alumni and event operations. 

Prior to U-M, Svoboda served as the Senior Assistant Athletic Directorat Stanford University, the nation's most successful Division I program with 36 sports and 900 student-athletes. Before Stanford, Svoboda oversaw public and media relations as well as video and multimedia unitsat Harvard University, the nation’s largest intercollegiate athletic program. Svoboda holds degrees from Colby-Sawyer College and Harvard, and resides in Ann Arbor with his wife, Joanna and son, Jaxon. 

 

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Zahra Huber

Podcast Host and Creator

Panelist

Zahra Huber grew up in New York City and moved to Michigan in 2002. She went to the University of Michigan and received her Bachelor’s Degree in English and Journalism. Zahra worked at WWJ Newsradio 950 for nearly eleven years. She was a reporter, editor, and producer there. She currently works as a senior editor at Campbell Ewald, an ad agency in Detroit.

 

During her free time, she hosts a podcast titled “Breaking Pita With Zee.” Zahra talks about issues she faced growing up as an Arab-American woman in the United States. You can find it on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, iHeartRadio, and Pandora. 

Melissa Boudreau

Chief Marking Officer at Emagine Entertainment

Panelist

Melissa Boudreau, Chief Marketing Officer, Emagine Entertainment, grew up in Detroit, MI and is a lover of all things Detroit and Michigan.  Melissa’s career began as a store manager for the Michigan based, Moosejaw Mountaineering, she left as a Senior Marketing Manager working on the inventive “Moosejaw Madness” marketing campaign.  

 

In 2015, Melissa was lured away by another Michigan based company, Emagine Entertainment, an innovative movie theater chain, where the guest experience is bar none.  From overseeing media initiatives and website development, to Emagine’s “guest-centric” loyalty program, Melissa is always looking for the best fit for Emagine, from corporate partnerships to community involvement.  

 

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Management from Ashford University and a Master of Arts in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications from Michigan State University.  Melissa is considered an expert in social media marketing, print media, and is certified in YouTube and Google AdWords, through the Michigan State New Media Driver’s License.   

 

As an advocate for women’s health, she uses her free time to increase awareness about endometriosis.  Melissa and her husband, Bryan reside in Royal Oak, MI and together enjoy traveling, Detroit Lion’s football and of course going to the movies.

 

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Corporate

Tim Wieland

Media and Public Relations Manager, Bosch USA

Corporate Moderator

 

Tim graduated from Eastern Michigan University honors program with a Bachelors in Public Relations and Political Science. He served as President of Eastern Michigan University Public Relations Student Society of America, and is currently President of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Detroit chapter.

 

After graduating from Eastern, Tim worked at Airfoil where he started as an intern for a semester. He would then move on to account coordinator, account executive, senior account executive, eventually moving up to Vice President. As VP he oversaw portfolio of technology and automotive accounts including Microsoft, Parrot, Comcast, Faurecia, Ford Direct, and also Serving as member of The Agency Management Team.

 

For 12 years Tim had been building up his experience in public relations while bringing new and innovative ideas to the company. In October 2015 Tim decided that it was time to move on to a different company which brought him to Bosch USA. At Bosch he is the Manager of Media and Public Relations where he directs and manages the development, implementation and coordination of Bosch Mobility Solutions media relations strategies and tactics. 

 

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Christina Fecher

External Communications and Public Relations Manager at Meijer

Panelist

 

Fecher has been with Meijer for 8 years. She began as a community relations specialist and is now the community relations and public relations manager for the company. 

Prior to her joining the Meijer team, Fecher's focus was on medical and health public relations. Working at as a communications specialist at the Michigan Public Health Institute, and the Michigan Department of health Services.

 

Beginning her career at the Detroit News as a reporter, Fecher focused on her project,"The Long Road Home" in which she earned the first-place award at the 2007 Michigan AP Editorial Association contest. 

Fecher earned her bachelor's in journalism and communications at Michigan State University. 

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Dan Miner

Corporate and Executive Communications at DTE Energy

Panelist

 

Dan Miner is director of communications for DTE Energy. Miner is currently responsible for informing and inspiring all audiences about DTE’s progress toward becoming a force for growth in the communities where we live and serve, including internal culture, diversity and inclusion, workforce development and recruiting, safety and wellness. 

In his 17 years at DTE, Miner also served in roles of increasing responsibility in executive learning and development, investor relations, internal consulting, finance, project management and regulatory affairs. 

Prior to DTE, Miner designed industrial equipment for automotive and steel manufacturing plants. He earned Bachelor of Science and Engineering and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Michigan. 

Miner lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he volunteers as a youth soccer coach and athletic fundraiser.

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Michelle Gilbert

Vice President of Public Relations and Social Media at Comcast

Panelist

 

As vice president of public relations, Michelle Gilbert is responsible for developing and managing all proactive and reactive external and internal communications initiatives for Comcast Cable’s Heartland Region, which includes Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. She leads a team that’s focused on humanizing the Comcast brand, reinforcing the company’s position as a technology leader and sharing its customer experience transformation through media relations, social media, other digital communications strategies and internal communications.  

 

A 30-year PR veteran, she believes her key to success has been building and nurturing relationships in every aspect of her profession. As she leads her team to help the company transform its image, relationships play a key role in her strategy.

 

Prior to joining Comcast in 2014, she led the PR department at Verizon Wireless for Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky, where she managed the three-state region’s media relations, social media, community relations and employee communications. Michelle also served as a vice president at one of Michigan’s most prominent marketing and public relations firms.  

 

Over the years, her work in PR has earned Michelle various awards from prestigious organizations, including IABC, PRSA, PR News and The American Business Awards. She is a recent graduate of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute through Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT). 

 

Michelle serves as an executive board member for PRSA’s Detroit chapter and HAVEN in Oakland County. She is also a senior advisor on the executive board of WICT’s Great Lakes Chapter as well as a chapter advisor for NAMIC Detroit. Michelle leads the WICT Great Lakes Speakers Club helping chapter members improve their presentation skills. 

 

Michelle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Sociology from Michigan State University.

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Travel/Education

Melissa Foster

Media and Film Relations Manager at The Henry Ford

Panelist

 

Melissa Foster has been with The Henry Ford for nearly 7 years now. Melissa received her bachelor's degree in Integrative Public Relations from Central Michigan University.

 

Melissa manages media and film relations at The Henry Ford and its five attractions: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, The Henry Ford Giant Screen Experience, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Benson Ford Research Center. She also assists with the onsite coordination of The Henry Ford's Emmy-winning TV show "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" which airs Saturday mornings on CBS nationwide.

Prior to The Henry Ford Museum, Melissa worked as an Account Executive at Airfoil and PCGCampbell.

 

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Laura Vestrand

Communication Coordinator at the Detroit Institute of Art

Panelist

 

Laura Vestrand has been with the Detroit Institute of Arts for 4 years. Beginning as a Marketing & Public Relations Assistant in 2015, Vestrand worked her way up to communications coordinator. Vestrand is in charge of traditional media and has assisted with social media eforts. 

Vestrand served as a junior board member-public relations coordinator at the Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control. She has also worked as an administrative coordinator at Franco Public Relations Group.

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Maria Carter-Ewald 

Director of Community Relations at Whitmore Lake Public Schools

Panelist

Maria Carter-Ewald has been at the Whitmore Lake Public Schools for nearly 10 years. For the past 5 years, Carter-Ewald has served as the director of community relations. 

She earned her bachelor's in journalism from Central Michigan University with a minor of public affairs and women studies. Carter-Ewald is also an alumni of Whitmore Lake Public Schools. 

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Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive, co-educational public university in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The university was founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School.