General Sessions

This year's presenters include a life coach, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Coach of the Year and a former U.S. Marine turned author and social entrepreneur.  

Click on each tab below to learn about the general sessions and presenters.
Opening General Session: Valorie Burton, MS
Friday, November 16, 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. 
valorie_croppedResilient and Ready: How to Thrive Through Challenge and Change

Today’s world requires the ability to adapt to change and thrive despite the challenges that occur. Valorie Burton will help you understand how to create the building blocks of resilience so you can:
  • Bounce back from setbacks
  • Maximize opportunities
  • Develop the thinking style that helps you succeed under pressure—find your joy and maintain a positive perspective
  • Navigate disappointments in a way that makes you better, not bitter.
In this practical, engaging conversation, Valorie will equip you with a survival toolkit to face any challenge that comes your way.

About the Speaker:

Valorie Burton, MS, is a bestselling author, speaker and life coach dedicated to helping people get unstuck and be unstoppable in every area of life. She is the founder of the Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute and has served as a certified personal and executive coach to hundreds of clients in more than 40 states and 10 countries. For over 15 years, her books, speaking engagements and coaching programs have helped people:
  • Make major life changes that are exciting and scary at the same time.
  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Become strong leaders, navigate office politics, and achieve professional dreams.
  • Navigate setbacks and disappointments in a way that makes life better, not bitter.
  • Speak up with confidence rather than settling for less.
  • Go to sleep at night feeling at peace about decisions.
  • Conquer emotions that cause procrastination, emotional spending, and self-sabotage.
Burton knows what it feels like to endure family health challenges and dreams deferred. And she understands the power of being resilient and tenacious in the face of such disappointments. In the summer of 1999, she had an epiphany that confirmed her life purpose: to inspire others to live more fulfilling lives. At the time, she was good at what she did for a living, but not passionate about it.  Despite her fears, Burton took a leap of faith to pursue her dream. The transformation has led her to write ten books, including Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable, Successful Women Think Differently, and What’s Really Holding You Back? Success Magazine named her book, Why Not You? one of the “Top 25 Must-Read Success Books.” Her book Happy Women Live Better: 13 Ways to Trigger Your Happiness Every Day helps women make intentional choices right now to increase their happiness on a daily basis. Her books have been translated into seven languages.

Burton has a master’s degree in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in journalism from Florida A&M University. She earned a BA in International Affairs from Florida State University. She and her husband grew up in Denver, Colorado, and live near Atlanta, Georgia, with their three children.
Wellness General Session: Ivan Joseph, Ph.D.
Saturday, November 17, 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

It takes self-confidence to get things done. In fact, that is how Ivan Joseph defines self-confidence: the ability to accomplish the task at hand. Using visualization and other exercises, he helps people get a sense of the current level of their self-confidence.

In this fascinating and research-based talk, Joseph discusses: 
  • The attributes of self-confident people 
  • How to develop self-confidence 
  • Giving feedback that builds self-confidence 
  • Self-talk and self-affirmation 
  • Interpreting failure
With a Ph.D. in sports psychology, Joseph shares studies that apply in business and life. He put these studies to use in his work — he coached at the World Championships and took a collegiate soccer team from a losing record to the national championship in just five years.

In this dynamic and engaging keynote, audiences gain specific tips and takeaways to build their own and others' self-confidence.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Ivan Joseph is the vice provost of student affairs at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to joining Dalhousie, Joseph served as director of athletics at Ryerson University for 10 years. In that role, he was responsible for strategy, leadership and management of the Department of Athletics and Recreation. 

Joseph led Athletics and Recreation through an exhaustive self-assessment which resulted in the creation of a five-year strategic plan to guide the annual work of staff, coaches, administrators and stake holders in support of the vision of becoming one of the top athletic and recreation programs in the country.

Before joining Ryerson, Joseph was director of soccer operations, head men’s soccer coach and assistant professor of health and physical education at Graceland University, a century-old liberal arts institution in Lamoni, Iowa. Born in Guyana, he grew up in Toronto where he was a nationally ranked high school track and field athlete. He was recruited to Graceland as a student-athlete in 1993.

The 2006 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Coach of the Year and three-time Coach of the Year in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, Joseph led the Graceland men’s soccer team to three conference championships and its first NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship. His men’s and women’s soccer programs were consistently ranked among the top in the NAIA polls.

Ivan Joseph has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health from Graceland, a master’s in Higher Education Administration from Drake University and a Ph.D. in Sports Psychology from Capella University.
Closing General Session: Matt Tenney
Sunday, November 18, 10:20 – 11:45 a.m.
Matt_croppedLeadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery and a Boardroom

In this inspiring and content-rich program, Matt Tenney introduces the power of servant leadership through his story of spending five and a half years confined to military prison for arranging an unauthorized delivery of government funds, learning to be happy with nothing, living like a monk for more than three years, discovering the power of a life devoted to serving others, and co-founding and leading two non-profits. 
Tenney will show you how to improve your capacity for servant leadership and how that shift results in greater success as a leader as well as greater happiness. Drawing on insights from his experiences as a prisoner, monk and social entrepreneur, as well as from some of the best workplace cultures in the world, he’ll share powerful ideas and tools for developing the leadership skills that result in highly engaged, highly innovative, highly successful teams.

About the Speaker:

Matt Tenney is a social entrepreneur and the author of “Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery and a Boardroom.” He is also an international keynote speaker, a trainer and a consultant with the prestigious Perth Leadership Institute, whose clients include numerous Fortune 500 companies. He works with companies, associations, universities and non-profits to develop highly effective leaders who achieve lasting success by focusing on serving and inspiring greatness in the people around them. Tenney envisions a world where the vast majority of people realize that effectively serving others is the key to true greatness. When he’s not traveling for speaking engagements, he can often be found in Nashville, Tennessee.