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2021 State Conference Information


October 11-12 - Mystic Lake Center, Prior Lake, MN

Keynote Speakers

Steve Pemberton
Monday Morning Speaker

Considered one of America’s most inspiring business and HR leaders, Steve Pemberton’s triumphant life story is about defying seemingly insurmountable beginnings as a child orphaned into foster care. Born to a mother who was in the middle of a losing battle with alcoholism, it was said about Steve that “this little boy doesn’t have a chance in the world.” His inherited circumstances, handed down from one generation to the next, was not the fault of Steve, but he still looked at it as his responsibility. That determination to better his life was met by the kindness of everyday citizens who affirmed that fight. As told in the major motion picture and acclaimed, best-selling memoir, A Chance in the World, adversity only fueled his desire to become a man of resilience, determination and vision. Steve went on to find success as a corporate executive, innovative diversity and inclusion thought leader, visionary youth advocate and acclaimed speaker devoted to inspiring and helping others. Steve’s keynotes, like his life story, amplify his highly motivational messages: Believe in your dreams, rise above obstacles, create opportunities for others, and most of all, persevere.

Steve is the chief people officer of Workhuman. He champions and promotes the Workhuman movement to inspire HR leaders to embrace more humanity and foster a sense of purpose in the workplace. Steve is focused on building upon Workhuman’s award-winning culture, which has set a new industry standard through its own power usage of recognition and positivity. Before joining Workhuman, Steve served as the chief diversity officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance and Monster.com. A frequent presenter on Capitol Hill, in 2015, he was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to serve on the Advisory Committee for the Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities.

Elizabeth Smart
Monday Evening Speaker

The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held a prisoner for 9 grueling months.

Through this traumatic experience, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and National legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to conviction.

The Founder of the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation”, Elizabeth has also helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.

Elizabeth has chronicled her experiences in the New York Times best-selling book, My Story. In addition, she and other abduction survivors worked with the Department of Justice to create a survivors guide, entitled,You're Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment. This guide is meant to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences not to give up but to know that there is hope for a rewarding life.

Elizabeth has recently released a new powerful and inspiring book about what it takes to overcome trauma, find the strength to move on, and reclaim one’s life. Where There’s Hope is the result of Elizabeth’s mission: It is both an up-close-and-personal glimpse into her healing process and a heartfelt how-to guide for readers to make peace with the past and embrace the future.


Kay Frances
Tuesday Morning Speaker

Known as “America’s Funniest Stressbuster,” Kay Frances has shared her message to “lighten up, stress less and take care of ourselves” in 38 states and Canada for over 25 years. She holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration, a degree in Physical Education and a 4th degree black belt in karate. She was also a family caregiver for 7 years.

Kay is the author of The Funny Thing about Stress; A Seriously Humorous Guide to a Happier Life.

When it comes to humor, Kay is the "real deal" having performed as a professional standup comedian for many years and appearing on a number of national television and radio programs including Lifetime Cable’s Girls Night Out and NBC’s America’s Funniest People. She also lived and performed in New York City where she appeared at the nation’s top comedy clubs such as “The Improvisation” and “Catch a Rising Star.”

When it comes to managing stress, Kay learned the hard way by engaging in every unhealthy habit known to man before making her way back to good health and sanity. It was a long, winding, hilarious road!





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