Cleveland HR Star Conference
Thursday, August 4, 2022
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 Atlanta, Georgia.

Seth P. Briskin, Esq. is Managing Partner of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis where he is Chair of the Labor & Employment group as well as Chair of the Affirmative Action & OFCCP Compliance 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. Honored as an "Ohio Super Lawyer” from 2015-2022, 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. 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.

Kim Wallace is President, East Coast for EmployBridge, the largest commercial staffing and direct placement company in the U.S. With over 450 locations nationwide, EmployBridge primarily services the logistics, manufacturing and contact center industries. Kim has held leadership positions in the staffing industry for the past 24 years. Prior to joining EmployBridge, Kim helped to grow Hire Dynamics from 35 colleagues to over 650 while collaborating with HR professionals on workforce strategies. Under her guidance Hire Dynamics was humbled with multiple awards including Best Places To Work and Clearly Rated’s Best of Staffing in Client and Talent Satisfaction for 13 years which means ranking in the top 1% of all 20,000 U.S. staffing companies. Kim’s current role is to provide a positive motivational influence to reinforce company culture, build connections with clients and to assist in the growth of the organization - all the while sharing her passion for changing people’s lives with new career opportunities. Her passionate belief that “Every Experience Matters” helps build and drive the culture of Employbridge. Kim has been recognized by Staffing Industry Analysts as one of their Global Power 150 Women in Staffing. In addition, she is regularly interviewed by national media, including the Wall Street Journal, on the current changes in our workforce. Kim actively serves with many industry organizations, volunteers at Junior Achievement and Samaritan’s Purse, and mentors others through Women in Leadership. Kim is from Athens, Georgia and is a proud graduate of Georgia Southern University.

Phyllis H. Sarkaria, MBA, MA is the CEO of The Sarkaria Group where she is a certified coach, facilitator and trusted adviser. With more than 30 years of leadership experience, Phyllis has held executive roles in human resources and government affairs with responsibility for strategic planning, merger integration and team effectiveness. She has led multi-million-dollar system implementation and integration initiatives, and she has worked closely with top executive leaders to build capability and improve organizational outcomes. Prior to founding The Sarkaria Group, Phyllis served as Vice President of Human Resources for Quidel Corporation - a leading medical diagnostics manufacturer. There she oversaw the company’s global HR strategy and programs for over 12 years. Prior to joining Quidel, Phyllis held roles in HR, financial analysis, strategic planning and government affairs, mainly with large corporations in the energy industry. Today she works with clients from a wide range of industries, serving as a catalyst to help leaders and teams gain fresh perspectives and elevate their performance. Her coaching certifications are from the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute, Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching as well as Systemic Team Coaching from Peter Hawkins. A Master Certified Executive Coach and a published scholar on authentic leadership, Phyllis is the author of Courageous Clarity: Navigating the Way Forward on Your Leadership Journey. Phyllis teaches Ethics and HR Analytics in the Organizational Leadership and Human Resources Management programs at Claremont Lincoln University. She holds a BBA in Finance and an MBA from Texas Tech University as well as an MA in Ethical Leadership from Claremont Lincoln University. Phyllis believes that leadership is a journey, not a destination, and that HR is often called upon to assist others on the journey of building their leadership capabilities.

Christina M. Royer, Esq. is a Partner with Employment Law Partners. 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.

Sheree Knowles, SPHR, CPM is a talented executive with over 25 years of HR leadership and project management experience. She is the founder of two human capital and talent management firms: HR Knowledge Source (HRKS) and Human Capital Consulting Consortium (H3C). In 2021 HRKS was recognized as one of the Top 30 Small Businesses of the Year in Cobb County, Georgia and was featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle as well as in a televised edition of Inside The Blueprint. Prior to founding HRKS and H3C, Sheree held several highly visible senior-level HR positions for companies with national geographic footprints, including VP of HR for a $1B+ professional services firm. Her experience includes project management as well as leading centralized and matrixed teams in the following areas: talent acquisition; workplace civility; diversity, equity and inclusion; learning and development; talent management; performance management; employment investigations; compliance; organizational design and development; employee engagement and human resources optimization. Sheree is an accomplished practitioner who has achieved multiple certifications and designations throughout her career including: EQi 2.0, SPHR, CPM (Certified Project Manager), MBTI and DiSC. In addition she is a Certified EEOC Investigator, a Certified Facilitator for ELI’s Civil Treatment Programs, a Master Facilitator for Facebook’s Leadership and Diversity Programs and a Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach. As an inclusion and diversity leader, she helps organizations build respectful work environments where all humanity is valued and where unique differences bridge people together. Sheree is a sought-after speaker, subject matter expert and dynamic facilitator where she blends humor and high energy with real-world examples and practical applications. She has been a presenter at multiple HR conferences as well as featured on radio and television. Sheree 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 Atlanta Chapter. Sheree is a graduate of the University of Dayton.

Susan Pyles is the Vice President, Professional Development at ERC where she oversees delivery of all client service solutions. An award-winning human resource leader, Susan brings more than 20 years of achievements in talent management and assessment, performance management, employee experience, HR analytics, leadership development, coaching and workforce planning. Susan has leadership experience in many industries, including manufacturing, retail, financial services, health care and academia. Previously, as Director, Global Talent Management & HR Business Partner at MTD Products, a worldwide leader in outdoor power equipment, Susan was responsible for talent acquisition, planning and development, HR analytics and employee engagement. Susan led a variety of global initiatives at MTD, including an annual talent review, coaching and succession planning for senior leadership, implementation of a leadership competency model and 360 assessment, transformation of performance management, the configuration of a suite of talent modules in Workday as well as the launch of an online learning solution. Prior to MTD Susan was Manager, Talent Development at Invacare, a global leader in the manufacture and distribution of medical products. A familiar face to the ERC family, Susan served as an ERC Practice Leader & Senior Consultant prior to Invacare. In this role, she led a variety of initiatives for ERC clients and members, including performance management and career development systems, selection processes and tools, leadership development and executive coaching programs, talent assessments and organizational design as well as strategic planning projects. Before originally joining ERC Susan spent a decade in the learning and performance department of Ohio Savings/AmTrust Bank, ultimately leading the department as Vice President. Under her leadership, Ohio Savings was a multi-year recipient of ERC’s NorthCoast 99 Award and Training Magazine’s Top 100 Award. Susan carries nearly a dozen certifications, holds a Bachelor of Business Management degree from Ohio University and holds a Master of Arts degree from Kent State University.

David Thompson, MS, CFI® is Partner and President of Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (WZ) as well as an active instructor for the organization. He is responsible for the strategic vision of the company and oversees the day-to-day operations of the business. David also leads the evolution of interview and interrogation curriculum development to provide research-based investigative tools to practitioners while driving change in the industry. Through his experience as a practitioner David has had 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. David has created and delivered customized training programs internationally. In addition he has conducted live broadcasts of training and has presented keynotes at numerous events. With a dedication to leading change David has collaborated with members of the academic community, advocacy groups and other relevant partners to further the enhancement of interview and interrogation protocols throughout the US. He has contributed expert opinions 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. He has also provided consultation on legislative propositions and has served as a subject matter expert for reform efforts and case evaluations. David attended Canisius College in Buffalo, New York where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Criminal Justice. He continued his education at Arizona State University, earning a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology.

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.

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.

Sonya Weiland, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Founder of Your Partner in HR 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.

Mark Whitmore is the Founder and Head Coach of Lodestone True North. In the natural world lodestone is a magnetized mineral that seafarers have used throughout history to find their way on journeys. Similarly, Lodestone True North seeks to help entrepreneurs and managers navigate and achieve the full potential of their organizations as well as themselves. An entrepreneur since he was 20 years old, Mark spent decades as a commercial and residential property owner and manager. Mark soon learned that property management was not just about buildings, but also about the people who live and work in them. Mark discovered an inner talent for mentoring and for providing business advice leading to the creation of his firm. Mark and his team offer a set of management and organizational tools - Principled Products - helping their clients discern what is most important to them, both for running their businesses and for living full, rewarding and principled lives. Mark's education includes California State University, Northridge and Kent State University.

Amanda Smith, Esq. is an attorney with Kastner, Westman & Wilkins LLC where she assists employers by providing legal counsel and practical HR advice. As a labor and employment attorney Amanda is dedicated to assisting employers with managing their workforce in an effective and proactive manner. Her work includes conducting workplace investigations as well as providing practical training on employment law-related topics such as harassment prevention, managing leaves of absence and supervisory skills, among others. Amanda also counsels employers regarding labor negotiations, litigation, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution matters as well as wage/hour compliance, performance and leave management, discipline and workplace policies. In addition she represents employers regarding legal claims before state fair employment practice agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Amanda earned a B.S. from Allegheny College and an M.S. from Kent State University, both in neuroscience. She graduated with honors from the University of Akron School of Law.

Margaret Brinich is the Manager, Surveys & Research at ERC where she spearheads the research arm of the NorthCoast 99 awards program. Using data visualization and interpretation, she helps organizations better understand the talent landscape in Northeast Ohio while continuing to raise the bar for attracting, engaging and retaining talent in the region. She is also responsible for the development, administration, analysis and reporting of ERC’s compensation, benefits and workplace practices surveys, as well as ERC’s Member Polls. Margaret also leverages ERC’s primary datasets to write articles and white papers on various HR topics for internal and external publications. Before joining ERC Margaret’s experience included 5 years of qualitative and quantitative research in the Department of Bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic. She received her B.A. degree in Political Science as well as a Certificate of Bioethics from Cleveland State University. In her spare time Margaret serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Ohio’s oldest civic journalism project - the Lakewood Observer.

Kris Cannon-Jackson, MBA, CTA is a highly regarded speaker and facilitator with more than 20 years' of experience in human resources and business management, with a passion of helping to engage employees in the workforce. Since 2009 she’s owned the HR Consulting firm, InnerGi Consulting, where the focus is helping businesses with their HR needs. Kris is a Certified Diversity Practitioner, is SHRM and HRCI certified and very active in the community. She volunteers for several organizations, including the CYP Club, Columbus Inspires, WELD (Women for Economic & Leadership Development) and Ohio SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).

Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC where she specializes in the areas of HR Consulting, Outplacement and Executive Search. Natalie services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid-to-upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. Natalie began her career in the Human Resources industry over twenty-two years ago. She approaches her role in a consultative manner: as a counselor. Each company - and the openings within it - is unique, so analyzing the personalities of employees and company culture is imperative to her. As a result of this approach combined with her deep experience in the executive search industry, she has built a loyal client base. Natalie is a graduate of Cleveland State University and holds advanced degrees in Education, Community Health and Sports Medicine. She continues to learn and share innovative techniques for leadership, sourcing and searching for top talent and providing informative presentations to HR and business leaders.

Jesus Munoz is the Operations Manager of Consumer Reporting Compliance Associates (CRCA). He joined the CRCA team in 2017 from the real estate industry and rapidly moved up the company ranks. In 2019 he was promoted to Senior Support Specialist for CRCA and shortly afterwards to Operations Manager. Today, he oversees the entire day-to-day operations of CRCA as well as the client support function. Jesus has received some of the highest scores in Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) courses. Jesus holds the PBSA Criminal Records Research Provider Certificate as well as the PBSA FCRA Advanced Certificate. Besides running operations for CRCA he also participates in client relationship development, tracking productivity, supply chain issues, compliance and vendor negotions.

Ardie Harrison, MA is a talented HR Professional with over 25 years' of HR leadership experience. She is the VP of Client Engagement with HR Knowledge Source (HRKS) - a human resources firm - and recruitment with The Recruitment Alliance, a talent management subsidiary of HRKS. Ardie has held HR leadership roles in various industries such as telecommunications, law enforcement, government, education, automotive, manufacturing and professional services. Her work experience includes leading teams and helping organizations meet core HR needs in areas like human resources information systems, talent management, organizational design, recruitment, performance management, employee engagement, compensation and payroll. Ardie is a Certified Facilitator for ELI, Inc’s Civil Treatment Program, a Certified Professional Coach, Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) and past Facilitator for Facebook’s Leadership and Diversity Programs. She has served as the President of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR) Atlanta Chapter for 3 years and serves on the Chapter’s Board of Directors. She also serves on the Executive Board for the Veterans Empowerment Organization. Ardie holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Northwood University and Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Ashford University.

Michael Karst, Esq. is an attorney with Kastner, Westman & Wilkins LLC where he assists employers by providing legal counsel and practical HR advice that enables employers to maintain positive, proactive workplaces. Michael is a labor and employment attorney who exclusively represents employers in managing the full spectrum of workforce issues. Michael devotes a majority of his legal practice to litigating claims involving termination decisions, wage and hour compliance and labor disputes. He also routinely counsels employers on day-to-day employment issues such as leave management, discipline, reasonable accommodations and payroll practices. Michael began his legal career representing employees in discrimination and harassment claims. That experience gave Michael insight into the reasons why employees most often file administrative complaints with the EEOC or pursue litigation. He uses his broad experience to train employers on the proactive steps they can take to avoid or efficiently resolve disputes. Michael serves as a Vice President of the Akron Bar Association. He holds a B.A. from Butler University and a J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law.

Allison Kenney, PHR, SHRM-CP, MBA is Manager, HR Advisory Services at ERC where she oversees the HR Consultant team that provides services to ERC’s HR Help Desk. Allison ensures members are provided with the most current information and professional guidance on a variety of HR and general business-related topics. Allison also delivers consultation on HR projects to ERC members and clients. Allison has over 19 years of comprehensive HR experience. With a strong generalist background, her areas of expertise include: employee relations, compliance, policy interpretation and employee engagement. She has held various HR leadership roles, predominantly in the health care industry. Prior to joining ERC, Allison served as Director of Human Resources at Ohio Living, Human Resources Manager at Hudec Dental and Senior HR Generalist at University Hospitals. Allison has been instrumental in contributing to organizational people strategies through her knowledge and guidance on engagement programs, change initiatives, policy amendment and compliance requirements. Allison holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University and is certified in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Karen Clark, MBA, MHRM, CDP is a dedicated HR Consultant with more than 15 years’ experience managing human resource programs and functions through her consulting firm Think Teach Aspire, LLC. She is an engaging and enthusiastic facilitator with the ability to build relationships with a diverse population and effectively communicate across all levels of the organization. Karen has been studying, researching and facilitating sessions related to inclusion for over 20 years. In 2017 she earned her Certificate of Diversity Practitioner (CDP) through the National Diversity Council. Since that time she has developed and conducted sessions on Implicit Bias with over 3000 participants to date. Karen continues to develop customized courses on issues concerning race, inclusion and workplace equity.

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 3,200 HR professionals attended an HR Star Conference in 2019.