Cleveland HR Star Conference
Wednesday, July 22, 2020 (postponed)
Featured Presenters

Paul Meshanko, MBA, CSP is an acclaimed author, international speaker, CEO and business leader with over 20 years of experience in leadership development and organizational culture change. After founding Legacy Business Cultures in 1997 his business has grown to become one of the country's top training, development and employee survey providers. As a presenter and facilitator Paul has captivated over a quarter million leaders and business professionals on five continents. His training materials have been translated into over 25 languages, and his newsletter is read by thousands of subscribers each month. His clients include: the US Senate, US House of Representatives, US Treasury, US Department of Justice, The Cleveland Clinic, DuPont, Parker Hannifin, Progressive Insurance, Johnson Controls, P&G, Symantec, Toyota, Johnsonville Sausage, Ernst & Young, Wake Forest Medical Center, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Congressional Office of Compliance just to name a few. Always with any eye toward research and science Paul's speaking themes include organizational and personal adaptability, unconscious bias, employee engagement and respectful work cultures. His most recent book, The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroleadership to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace was published by McGraw-Hill. Paul holds a BSBA from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Baldwin Wallace College. He resides in Annapolis, Maryland.

Debbie McGrath is the CEO of, a global company committed to delivering HR best practices and helping organizations build great businesses through community, collaboration, research, shared best practices and measurements. is trusted by 1.2 million HR professionals worldwide. Prior to starting, Debbie owned The CEO Group, a Canadian and European entity that created job board software, talent management software, HTC career magazines and career fairs. In August of 1998 The CEO Group was sold to Kaplan, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company. During her tenure Debbie served as President of the Canadian and European operations, as well as Vice President of Worldwide Sales. Complementing her extensive background in human resources, publishing and the Internet, Debbie also holds a degree in Computer Science and Business Administration from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Seth P. Briskin, Esq. is a Partner in the firm of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis where he is Chair of the Labor & Employment Group. Mr. Briskin provides labor and employment counsel to private, public sector and non-profit organizations. He represents employers and executives in employment litigation, wage and hour matters, non-competition and trade secret litigation, workers’ compensation claims/appeals, union organizing drives, collective bargaining, labor arbitrations and all manner of disputes involving the NLRB, OSHA, EEOC, OCRC, BWC and the Department of Labor. In addition, he prepares employment and consulting contracts, confidentiality and non-competition agreements and advises clients on severance packages and separation agreements. Before joining the firm, Mr. Briskin practiced at boutique and general practice law firms where he developed his experience in all areas of labor and employment law. He also interned for the National Labor Relations Board. Consistently named an Ohio “Super Lawyer” and awarded Crain’s Cleveland Business “40 Under 40” in 2005, Seth frequently speaks on labor and employment law issues. He serves as an officer on the Executive Boards of the Cleveland Leadership Center, American Jewish Committee, Beachwood Chamber of Commerce and the Cleveland Jewish News, and he is a former Chairman of Cleveland Bridge Builders. Mr. Briskin earned his B.S. from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations and his J.D. from Case Western Reserve School of Law.

Christina M. Royer, Esq. is a Partner with Elfvin, Klingshirn, Royer & Torch, LLC. She has practiced exclusively in the area of employment law representing individuals since 2004. Chris brings a breadth of experience in the area, in particular, her knowledge and skill regarding Ohio unemployment compensation law. Chris was selected as a "Rising Star" from 2009 to 2011 by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine, and she has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" in the area of Employment Law by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine since 2012. Chris's practice includes representing individuals in cases involving employment discrimination and retaliation, unemployment compensation claims, non-compete agreements and severance negotiations. Chris is a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the Ohio Employment Lawyers Association, where she has served on the Board and the Amicus Committee since 2007. She also served as Chair of the Cleveland Employment Lawyers Association from 2011 to 2015. Ms. Royer is also a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, serving as the 2014-2015 Chair of the Court Rules Committee. In addition to her law practice, Chris serves individuals in the workplace as an Executive Coach. She completed the coach certification program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland in May 2013 and also holds an Associate Certified Coach credential from the International Coach Federation. Chris's coaching practice focuses primarily on working with employees whose behaviors present challenges to the organization, assisting them to enhance their performance and become effective contributors in the workplace. She also coaches individuals who are seeking to attain greater career satisfaction and work/life balance, as well as assisting them to build or hone leadership skills. Chris was recently appointed as adjunct faculty at Cleveland State University teaching Human Resources topics to graduate level students in the Diversity Management Program. Chris is a frequent speaker on topics relating to employment issues. Chris earned her M.A. from Kent State University and her J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law, Summa Cum Laude.

David Thompson, CFI is the Vice President of Operations with Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. (WZ). He is responsible for the day to day operations of WZ, as well as strategic planning in product offerings and the evolution of interview and interrogation content. David has also served as the Director of Investigations for WZ giving him the opportunity to manage a variety of cases while conducting interviews and consulting on investigations ranging from theft and fraud to sexual harassment and homicide. As a speaker for WZ, David has created customized training programs, presented at seminars, hosted a variety of webinars as well as conducted live broadcasts of training. He is also an active member of the International Association of Interviews and has contributed blogs, video tips and published several articles to support the continuing education of its members. While at WZ, David has also played an integral role in the ongoing research and evolution of content and innovative teaching methods. Developing training that is presented in a virtual broadcast venue, creating more opportunities for distance learning and contributing to some of WZ.s newest technology including a simulated interrogation system are a few of the projects David has been involved in. David has also worked with members of the Innocence Project Center on Wrongful Conviction of Youth and other academic partners on behalf of WZ to further the enhancement of interview and interrogation protocols throughout the US. David has contributed opinions on behalf of WZ for a variety of cases, and has been cited by the Federal Court of Appeals for his involvement on the topic of interview and interrogation.

Sheree Knowles, SPHR, CPM is a talented executive with over 20 years of HR leadership experience. She is the Founder of HR Knowledge Source (HRKS) - a human resources and talent management firm - and a Managing Partner with Human Capital Consulting Consortium (H3C). Prior to joining the entrepreneurial community she served as the VP of HR for companies with regional and national geographic footprints. Sheree is an accomplished practitioner who has achieved multiple certifications and designations throughout her career including: EQi 2.0 (Emotional Intelligence), SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources), CPM (Certified Project Manager), MBTI (Myers-Briggs) and DiSC. In addition she is a Certified Facilitator for ELI, Inc’s Civil Treatment Programs and a Master Facilitator for Facebook’s Leadership and Diversity Programs. Sheree is a highly-regarded business leader, curriculum architect, dynamic facilitator and professional speaker. She has been a featured presenter at multiple HR Star Conferences, DisruptHR, SHRM-Atlanta Conferences, NAAAHR Conferences, the Project Management Institute (PMI) as well as on radio and television. Sheree is respected as a thought-leader and subject matter expert in HR with an emphasis in workplace civility, employee engagement, project management, emotional intelligence as well as in diversity, equity and inclusion. She is also active with a variety of nonprofit organizations and has served as a Board Advisor for the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) Atlanta Chapter. Sheree is a graduate of the University of Dayton.

Jim Smith, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, PCC is an executive and life coach, international speaker, author and change strategist. Jim’s passion is to create a happier world and workplace one leader at a time. Jim spent 20+ years as a corporate executive in human resources, sales, marketing, finance and operations. He has coached leaders from 27 countries and 6 continents to achieve greater leadership effectiveness and balance. Jim holds a Professional Certified Coach designation through the International Coach Federation as well as Senior HR certifications from HRCI and SHRM. He is a founder and past president of the ICF Cleveland Chapter and a past two-term president of the Cleveland Society for Human Resource Management, in addition to teaching at Baldwin Wallace University in their MBA - Human Resources program. Jim is the author of several books on happiness, leadership and coaching and has touched the lives of over 20,000 people through his work on happiness and positive emotion at work. Finally, Jim worships dark coffee, dark beer and dark chocolate, and he deeply believes that, "Happiness is a decision, not an event."

Amy B. Shannon is the President of Pinnacle Leadership Solutions and has specialized in organizational development, human resources and training for over 20 years. For the past seven years, Amy has been an Organizational Development Consultant working with clients in the manufacturing, service, financial, non-profit and healthcare industries. Prior to her OD work, she served in Director-level positions with Western-Southern Enterprise and Kendle International. In both of these organizations, Amy built competency-based corporate universities that were nationally-recognized and noted in industry trade publications. In addition, Amy has worked with clients as an executive coach, leadership facilitator, team building consultant and strategic planning expert. She has also been a program facilitator for a city-wide leadership program for women and a lead facilitator at the annual HR Executive Summit. Amy has presented at several national conferences, including as a featured speaker at The Corporate University Week at the Disney Institute.

Dr. Kathleen Buse is a business leader whose work focuses on advancing women in the workplace. As Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at ERC, Kathleen helps employers recruit, retain and advance women through research-based solutions and development services. Additionally, she is leading the efforts at ERC to expand the use of data analytics to support client initiatives. Kathleen’s experience includes 25 years in industry, beginning as an engineer and advancing to executive leadership. She spent 10 years in academia where she became an award-winning researcher and top- rated educator. After immersing herself in the 5 decades of research on women in the workplace and drawing on her own experiences in industry, she designed strategies and solutions that have measurably increased achievement for women within their organizations, especially in leadership roles and in critical professions. Prior to her role at ERC Kathleen was President of Advancing Women in the Workforce, Faculty Director for the Leadership Lab and Adjunct Professor at Case Western Reserve University. There she taught research methods including multivariate data analysis and led the effort to modernize the content across the quantitative course sequence to include big data and data analytics. Dr. Buse earned a Ph.D. in Management from Case Western Reserve University, an MS in Electrical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and a BS in Chemical Engineering & Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Her private industry experience includes Kodak, Lubrizol, Avery Dennison and Sherwin-Williams.

Margaret “Meg” Matejkovic, Esq. assists employers by providing practical tools to develop and maintain positive, proactive workplaces. With 13 years of private practice exclusively representing employers and in-house HR and employment law experience, Meg served as Associate Dean for External Programs for Akron Law from 2005 until 2013 when she opted to return to consulting with employers and the practice of law on a full-time basis. Meg continues to serve as an adjunct faculty member for Akron Law, teaching a course she developed in 2006 entitled, "The Human Resources Lawyer." Meg’s legal experience includes employment law scholarship, counseling of employers on all aspects of labor and employment laws, representation of employers before state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies, negotiation and drafting of employment agreements and development and maintenance of affirmative action plans. Additionally, she authors legal materials and teaches seminars both targeted to attorneys and in more employer/ employee-friendly formats. Meg serves on the national faculty for the Society for Human Resource Management. She has also served as President of the Akron Bar Association.

Lori Gabel, MOD, SPHR is the HR Talent Engagement Leader at Westfield, a regional Property and Casualty Insurance Company, where she leads Westfield University and is responsible for strategic talent management and learning solutions that drive organizational performance. In addition, she drives organizational change by providing strategic guidance for major change management initiatives. Lori has over 23 years of experience in talent management and corporate learning and education. She has held various positions with companies such as General Electric and The Timken Company. Lori holds a B.S. in Business Management and Industrial Relations from Kent State University and an Executive Masters in Organization Development from Bowling Green State University. In addition, she maintains multiple memberships and holds multiple certifications - most recently obtaining the Senior Professional in Human Resources designation.

Sonya Weiland is the President of WeilandWorks Consulting based in Northeast Ohio. Focused on building positive relationships as a strategic partner with clients, Sonya has partnered with senior executives developing talent management and HR solutions with clear links to business results. Her expertise includes creating, designing and implementing training, coaching and HR systems for clients such as Sandridge Foods, PIRHL Contractors, Taleris Credit Union and Ralston Instruments. Sonya is certified as a Professional in Human Resources through HRCI and is an active member of both SHRM and The Cleveland Coach Federation and has contributed to articles in The Cleveland Plain Dealer and various business publications. Sonya is recognized as an enthusiastic and interactive speaker and trainer supporting various companies, non-profit organizations and associations. A strong advocate for community involvement, Sonya serves on an advisory board and supports multiple non-profit organizations. Sonya is a graduate of John Carroll University.

Tom Wirbel, MBA is Vice President of CPI-HR. Originally joining CPI-HR as a Benefits Consultant, through innovative and successful strategies Tom has achieved notable results in aiding client-companies manage the escalating costs of health insurance. Motivated by client feedback that continues to point to health insurance as the number one HR concern, Tom focuses his expertise on developing and designing employee benefit plans. Throughout his career, Tom has also acted as an HR consultant to small and medium-sized businesses in Northeastern Ohio. A native of Cleveland, Tom graduated from John Carroll University with a BSBA and earned an MBA from Cleveland State University.

Tara Motheral, JD, SHRM-CP is an HR Advisor with ERC. She shares responsibility for co-managing ERC’s HR Help Desk where she provides members with information and professional guidance on a variety of HR and general business-related topics. Tara’s background in research and compliance prior to working at ERC is extensive. Covering the law school market for LexisNexis, she annually trained 1,200 students and faculty on how to effectively conduct legal research and held recruiting and performance management responsibilities over teams of student employees. Previously Tara also served as an attorney at a regional litigation firm where her practice focused on litigation of civil matters, including employment issues and contractual disputes. She also worked for the Office of the Ohio Attorney General, where she represented the Ohio Lottery Commission in administrative hearings. She also staffed a Charitable Law hotline where she researched and provided guidance to questions from the general public on topics including charitable giving, fundraising, and gaming. Tara holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and French from Lake Forest College, and she earned her law degree, with distinction, from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law.

Tom Daniels, MOD, SPHR is the Assistant Director for Graduate & Executive Program in Business at Bowling Green State University. His primary focus is recruitment and academic advising for the full-time MBA program and the Executive Master of Organization Development program. Prior to BGSU, Daniels was the Director of the Executive Interviewing Center at MRops and the Vice President of Learning & Development at TNS North America. Throughout his career, Tom worked in the advertising and market research industry, gaining experience in training, customer service and sales. Tom received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toledo and Master of Organization Development degree from Bowling Green State University. Active in the community he currently serves as the President of the Greater Toledo Area Chapter of the Association for Talent Development, the Treasurer for the Owens Community College Alumni Association and the Community Services Chair for the Northern Ohio Human Resources Association. Tom is also actively involved with EPIC Toledo and many other local professional organizations in Northwest Ohio.

Amy Hodous is the President of Hodous Consulting and possesses a diverse background of human resources experience in roles varying from HR Generalist to HR Director. Her more than 15 years of HR experience includes organizational design, recruiting, training, performance management, benefits and 401(k), payroll, legal compliance, employee relations, coaching, acquisitions, restructuring, communications and project management. Amy worked in a wide variety of industries such as technology, professional services and healthcare. Amy started Hodous Consulting with the purpose of enabling businesses to reach their potential through their people. Her consulting work is diverse and includes providing advice and strategic support regarding company structure and development needs, completing compliance audits, coaching and advising managers, resolving complex employee engagement and employee relations challenges, conducting separations, consulting on benefits and payroll issues and providing ongoing HR support needs. Amy has spoken at Cleveland SHRM, Corporate College, Medical Mutual, Baldwin Wallace and Lorain Community College on various HR topics. In terms of topics, Amy especially enjoys presenting on employment law, benefits management, strategic HR and wellness. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Miami University.

Chris L. Powers is a Senior Training Consultant with ERC where he specializes in a full range of customized course offerings, customized training and facilitation services. Chris’ training specialties include performance management, management development, supervision, coaching and communication skills. Chris possesses a strong background in engineering, business theory, business development and resource management. Chris is a highly engaging professional speaker, trainer, facilitator and coach with more than 30 years of experience working with more than 500 organizations in industries like manufacturing, medical, environmental, professional sports, banking, transportation, utilities and government. Before starting his business career, Chris served for 23 years in the U.S. Navy including as a training facilitator for the Naval Nuclear Power School. In this position he was selected as Instructor of the Year for outstanding facilitation and innovative teaching methods and awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for a 100% success rate in the teaching curriculum. Chris’s professional experience includes positions as Quality Black Belt for General Electric Consumer Finance and most recently as National Sales Manager for Sunrise Equipment Company. Chris received a B.S. in Applied Science and Technology from Thomas Edison State College and a M.A. in Business Administration from Webster University.

Braden L. Albert is the Founder and President of the HR Star Conference and its parent company, Abbington Court Media. A graduate of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Braden began organizing job fairs and trade shows in the mid-1990's. Intrigued by the idea of bringing people together for a shared, learning experience - and impressed by the impact such an experience can provide - Braden organized his first HR Star Conference in 1999. Today, the scope of the HR Star Conference includes annual events in Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; San Francisco, California; and Cleveland, Ohio. Over 3,300 HR professionals attended an HR Star Conference in 2019.