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Kathleen Riessen

Kathleen is the business manager at Applied Art & Technology, a creative video and interactive studio located in Des Moines, Iowa, where she focuses on business management, business development and client growth.
She is a former Certified Public Accountant and has run seven businesses over the last 15 years including an advertising agency for 10 years. She is a certified Master Leader through Heartcore Leadership where she graduated top of her class, a mentor for Boston Breakthrough Academy’s Mastering Leadership Program, and a Leadership Iowa graduate.
She served on the National American Advertising Federation Board amongst industry legends and was awarded the Silver Medalist Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kathleen recorded 100 episodes on her podcast called “The Kathleen Riessen Show: Pushing the Boundaries of Leadership” and is a two-time author.
Most importantly, Kathleen is mom to three boys – Caden, Noah, and Andrew and two dogs and wife to Josh.

Tessa Porter

Tessa Porter is the President and Founder of Sprinkk, an Omaha-based company focusing on confectionery process design and small-scale contract manufacturing. Sprinkk recently opened a candy factory in Albion, Nebraska, and a new R&D candy lab in Omaha this June. Tessa is also the founder of Norma’s, a new natural fruit snack brand. 

Before starting her own company, Tessa was the Head of Innovation and Technology at Ferrara Candy Company in Chicago. She is proud to have developed a unique and powerful R&D team, as well as many unique products ranging from RAP® Protein Gummies to the full line of Black Forest Organic® products. She has a Masters in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  

Additionally, Tessa uses Sprinkk to amplify the voice of women in STEM, introduce confectionery science to students, and advocate for careers in the trades and manufacturing. In her free time, you’ll find her in a yoga studio, hanging out with her family, or chasing the wind around the world to go kite-surfing. You can connect with her on Instagram at @tessjport.

For something sweet: Text CANDY to 55444 for a fun free marshmallow recipe to make at home!

Pernell Cezar

Pernell Cezar is the CEO and Co-Founder of BLK & Bold Specialty Beverages, a social enterprise and certified B Corp. Pernell is an accomplished leader with more than 15 years of leadership success, who in just five short years has grown BLK & Bold to INC 5000’s list as the 61st fastest growing company in America. Through value-aligned partnerships with globally iconic brands, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Marvel Studios, and the NBA, BLK & Bold continues to build a community of consumers that drive its purpose of supporting under-resourced youth across America.

As a social entrepreneur and consumer goods expert, Pernell’s diverse portfolio spans from Target, SheaMoisture, Amazon and more, highlighting his ability to influence and build brands at scale from start-ups to multinational corporations.

Additionally, Pernell has served as the Strategic Partner to co-develop Target’s Forward Founders accelerator program, has served on Target’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Council, currently serves as a board member for Amazon’s Accelerator Division, and has been featured as a celebrity coach to emerging Black entrepreneurs on the show, Bet on Black produced by REVOLT-TV.

Leanne Prewitt

Leanne Prewitt is the president, CEO, and an owner of Ervin & Smith, an agency that specializes in using marketing to solve complex business problems. With a background in creative direction, she directs the firm’s consultative approach, helping organizations navigate the ever-changing business world. Leanne leads the agency’s culture and creative vision, overseeing operations that enable a team of marketing, design, and media specialists to create powerful and effective work for their client partners.

Leanne began her professional career in New York City, working for some of the nation’s leading agencies. In 2016, after a five-month sabbatical around the world, she returned to her hometown and joined Ervin & Smith. Her global perspective and expanded professional experience influence the work she does today.

Fiercely dedicated to the advancement of women through educational, professional, personal, and political empowerment, Leanne believes in our collective ability to positively impact society by standing up for ourselves and each other, refusing to settle for the status quo. She co-founded the political organization Women Who Run Nebraska to encourage, promote, and fund progressive women running for office throughout the state. Her mission is to support and empower women, preparing them for the future and helping Omaha move into its next great chapter.

Aaron Temple

Aaron Templer’s professional and intellectual interests are at the intersection of creativity, brand, influence, and leadership. He is the founder of Three Over Four, a full-service brand strategy and digital marketing agency enjoying its 17th year. Aaron is a former national council President, local chapter president, and professional instructor for the American Marketing Association (AMA). The AMA awarded him a lifetime membership for “fearlessly leading, adapting, and creating change through a truly unprecedented time.” Aaron’s first book, Leading in a Social World, is a seven-time award winner that, as Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews put it, “turns our perception of social media marketing on its head.” Aaron is a contributor to and MarketingProfs, is an active speaker, a professor (Instructional Practitioner) at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is a leadership consultant, building and delivering programs that empower teams and individuals to realize the power of social capital. Aaron is also a world percussionist and composer of rhythms. Some call him the Gora Dhol Wallah.

Josefina Loza

Josefina Loza is the visionary founder and CEO of Lozafina, a Latina-owned branding, marketing, and public relations firm located in Omaha, Nebraska. With a rich background as a journalist and over two decades of experience, Josefina has carved a niche in the communication industry, emphasizing storytelling, brand messaging, and effective audience engagement. Her words span prestigious platforms like the Omaha World-Herald, Associated Press, and Huffington Post, showcasing her versatile and impactful approach to media and public relations.

Honored by the Omaha Press Club as a 2024 Journalists of Excellence Hall of Fame Member, Public Relations Society of America as the 2023 Newcomer of the Year, Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and recognized as one of Omaha’s most influential Latinas in Media, Josefina’s leadership extends to her active roles in various nonprofit organizations, aiming to foster economic equity and business development within diverse communities.

Danelle Schlegelmilch

Danelle Schlegelmilch is the founder of Passport Public Relations, a PR boutique serving clients in the lifestyle, food, and travel spaces. She has 20+ years of award-winning experience in journalism, public relations, crisis communications, advertising, and event planning. Fun Fact: In 2012, she helped create the vintage festival Junkstock and has promoted it to grow into the nationally recognized event it is today.

Danelle founded Passport Public Relations in 2016 after 14 years in the industry at ad agencies, nonprofits, and corporations. From Fortune 500’s to international nonprofits, start-ups, and viral sensations, Danelle has proven experience telling stories and securing top-tier media coverage in Forbes, Good Morning America, Martha Stewart, and many more. 

Her latest venture Maven Media Collaborative, which she co-founded in 2023 with Josefina Loza, is all about connecting passionate creatives to exchange ideas, master techniques, and elevate their craft. A globetrotter in her free time, this mother of two can also be seen supporting her husband’s indie-rock band Names Without Numbers. They daydream of selling it all, buying an Airstream, and hitting the road to explore full-time. 

Danelle would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Noor Naseer

Noor Naseer is a national leader of thought leadership and emerging technologies advocate at adtech software company, Basis Technologies. She guides clients on how to improve and evolve media and marketing plans to accommodate everchanging consumer behaviors, tech advancements and advertising trends.

Noor is also the host of adtech podcast, AdTech Unfiltered. She has been cited in and written for various industry outlets including Adweek, MediaPost and Advertising Week. She has spoken at events for the 4As, SXSW, Gartner, the American Marketing Association and the American Ad Federation. She also leads Basis Conversations, a company-wide space for DEI dialogue and learning.

Prior to Basis, Noor served in media roles for P&G and BlackBerry at Starcom MediaVest Group. She is a board member of Chicago-based nonprofit The Network. She is a graduate of Northwestern University with an M.S. in Integrated Marketing.

Frauke Hachtmann, Ph.D.

Frauke Hachtmann is a full professor in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she holds the William H. Kearns Chair in Journalism. She teaches a wide variety of courses including media strategy, campaigns, global advertising, introduction to advertising and public relations, crisis communication, FOX Sports University, personal branding, advertising research, and promotional writing. In 2021, she received the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Advertising Division Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dr. Hachtmann’s research focuses on crisis response advertising, the strategic use of emerging media in sports communication, and international advertising education. She recently published a book, Crisis Response Advertising: Insights & Implications from COVID-19. In addition, her research has appeared in the International Journal of Sport Communication, the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing, Advertising & Society Review, the Journal of General Education, and the International Journal of Learning. Her work has been supported by grants from Duke University and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Research Council. Prior to being a faculty member, she was a media buyer, editor, and graphic designer for the Nebraska Athletic Department as well as a sales promotions manager in Germany. She came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a full-scholarship student-athlete on the women’s tennis team.

Dr. Hachtmann is a board-certified professional coach, consultant, and speaker. For more information about her services, please visit and/or connect on LinkedIn @fraukehachtmann.

Jillian McNamee

Jillian McNamee is a marketing and creative professional with nearly a decade of leadership experience in specialty pharmacy and digital health. A results-driven marketer, Jillian has a strong track record of spearheading projects that drive revenue growth, enhance brand visibility, and foster strong relationships with diverse audiences. As VP of Marketing for the Network of Advanced Specialty Healthcare, Jillian is dedicated to making a positive impact in the healthcare landscape for all stakeholders, and especially helping patients live happier, healthier lives. Jillian holds bachelor’s degrees in Global Communications and Film Studies from the American University of Paris, and it was in France she developed a keen interest in branding and baguettes. In her free time Jillian goes on adventures with her husband and their two dogs, watches a lot of soccer, and travels to cold, windy places like Iceland.

Suzanne Petersen

Suzanne Petersen is an Account Director at Swanson Russell, the nation’s leading full-service agency for brands that work and play outdoors. She’s also an outdoor enthusiast herself, which has come in handy with brands like Badlands Gear, Kimber, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Hattteras Yachts, and Cabela’s CLUB.

After starting her career in advertising sales, Suzanne pivoted to the SAAS world in 2013. She spent time with brands like Pernod Ricard (which owns Absolut Vodka, Jameson, and Malibu), JollyTime Popcorn, and even large financial institutions. She then spent a few years at Cabela’s before joining Swanson Russell in 2017 to help the agency manage its outdoor recreation clients.

One of Suzanne’s favorite recent projects was the development of a predictive sales model with Swanson Russell’s data team. This model helped her client better understand how their marketing budget could directly support their sales objectives now and years down the road.

Connect with Suzanne on LinkedIn.

Robin Barrett

Robin is a Senior Media Strategist at Swanson Russell, a full-service marketing communications agency in Nebraska. In college, she was originally focused on the creative side of the business but fell in love with the world of media along the way.

For the last 20 years, she has helped her clients reach the right person, at the right time, in the right place. Robin has experience with a wide range of B2B and B2C brands and has played an integral role in keeping her teams on top of the ever-changing ways consumers interact with content and advertising.

Originally hailing from Western Nebraska, Robin fills her free time with family, friends, fur-kids, and practically anything outdoors. Where there’s sand and water, you’ll find Robin. She also loves college football (even when the Huskers aren’t winning) and live music.

Connect with Robin on LinkedIn.

Jefferson Hillman

Jefferson Hillman is the fifth generation of his family to lead JDH, a commodity trading and feed manufacturing company headquartered in Omaha, NE.  He grew up around agriculture in California’s Central Valley before completing his undergraduate degree from Stanford.   Jefferson cut his teeth in the ag industry working as an analyst for a private credit fund focused on commodity investments in New York. In 2013, he returned to the family business, where he managed multiple departments, including accounting, banking, insurance, IT, HR, legal, safety and credit. In 2021, Jefferson was appointed CEO and soon after took on the role of Chairman of the Board.

Jefferson also serves as a board member of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), helping to shape industry practices and policies. As the fifth-generation leader of JDH, Jefferson is proud to continue advancing the company’s 137-year legacy.