Cast of Characters

This year is a little different — we’ll have well known and loved individuals lead each tract.  They will tell you whats going to happen, who is speaking and perhaps even speak themselves.  We’re planning on you liking what we are up to this year.  We are still creating tracts – and adding speakers!


Angela Maiers – Twitter has changed my life; and now I spend a portion of that life trying to help individuals and organization understand the power of this amazing platform. Even more importantly, the power of their voice and place in the world.  When I began my Twitter journey, the farthest thing from my mind was having a global voice. It was a nice place to connect with friends; nothing more or less. Never could I have imagined it would change my life in such profound and prolific ways.  I want to speak at this conference because we have world changing work to do; work that requires human being to do it. If we underestimate our gifts, talents, and contributions, this world can not change in the way we need to to.  If I can help those participating in the conference believe their voice matters, then I have become a part of the solution. I will do what ever needs to be done to make that happen!

Erin Olson is a high school English teacher at Sioux Central, a small, rural school in NW Iowa. Sioux Central is a 1:1 Laptop school. Erin is a proponent of inquiry design and conceptual learning. Erin connects her students’ voice to the world via technology, and her work was featured in the NY Times and on the NY Times Learning Network. Erin blogs and helps students blog about their interests. Erin works to incorporate social issues into her classroom, and this led to her class taking part in an online fantasy Supreme Court League. Realizing the web is an infinite resource, Erin views technology as an avenue to create, to collaborate, to share, and to learn. Erin is a passionate writer wanting her students to experience the power of language as a means to change the world. Erin has her Master’s degree in Instruction and Curriculum from Buena Vista University. Erin resides in rural Greenville, IA with her husband and two children.

Adam Hartley Principal of BCS Global Learning Hub in Birmingham, MI, will talk about why every school should be a global learning hub. social networks, personal learning networks and the Internet in general provide the tools for schools to begin transforming into learning hubs. The hub concept incorporates interdisciplinary, problem based learning that happens outside of the four walls of the classroom. Problems are real and solutions are shared, while learning the expected material is engaging and relevant. Like a hub for airlines … schools must transition into places where learners regroup, reflect and “refuel” in order to make positive change in the greater community.

Shaelynn Farnsworth is a high school English teacher at BCLUW, in Conrad, Iowa. BCLUW is a 1:1 Laptop School and Shaelynn creatively infuses technology into her English curriculum to engage learners through relevant,engaging curriculum aimed to challenge students. Shaelynn is passionate about connecting herself and her students through social media and has formed a blogging community, created a 1:1 Laptop Ning and co-developed the IOWAISH project which connected students in Iowa to an International School in Sweden.

Currently, Shaelynn will finish her Master’s Degree in English at the University of Northern Iowa this spring. She is a blogger and an advocate for young writers. Shaelynn resides in Conrad, Iowa, with her husband and two children.

Shawna Massow – I am from Robins, IA and hope to one day teach the students of Iowa. I am a current Junior at the University of Northern Iowa. Studying to become a Social Studies teacher I have had many classroom hours and have enjoyed every minute! I believe that social media plays a major role in my life and the lives of my students. Technology based lesson planning is the latest revolution in education and for a good reason. Allowing for very differentiated experiences social media and real-time internet allow students with varied learning needs to stay on track.

Aside from the uses of social media and real-time internet in the classroom, I find that they both keep me connected with my friends abroad. They are both Great!


Josh Fleming As the Digital Strategy Director for Lessing-Flynn Advertising, a marketing communications firm headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Josh is known in the social space as “AdMaverick,” one of his twitter handles and the name for Lessing-Flynn’s award winning blog, Josh has worked in digital marketing for over a fifteen years and has sever as Director of Business Development for and Interactive Director for The Integer Group. The former Mizzou grad is originally from Miami, Fl, but the father of four and husband of one is happy to call Iowa his home.

Jordan Lampe – Having collaborated with Dwolla for over a year, Jordan has worked closely with Ben Milne and the team to craft Dwolla’s communication, messaging, and media relations programs. Previously, he was a builder at the public relations firm Freestyle PR and was deployed to the U.S. Department of State’s Embassy in Austria. Jordan graduated with honors from Iowa State University, holding degrees in international communications, journalism and public relations. Jordan is a two-time Intramural Badminton Champion at Johnston High School (’03-’04).

Grant Griffiths – Grant started blogging in 2005 as a way to market and promote his own business.  Shortly after that, he started consulted with others on how they could use a blog to market and promote their own business.  From that grew a service where he and his son actually built blogs for other businesses.  In an effort to speed up this process, they developed a tool they used to build sites for others.  This tool became what is known today as Headway Themes.  A WordPress theme/frameworked used by 1,000′s worldwide to build their own sites and blogs with.

Ben Smith is principal of Social: IRL, a boutique social and new media agency based in Lawrence, Kansas. Social: IRL works with brands from across the United States to integrate social media in to all aspects of their daily operations through strategic business goals first based solutions. He is also host of the nationwide Social: IRL conference series, working with some of the most respected names in the industry to provide in-depth training and education in a format that move goes well beyond typical keynote presentations.

Prior to launching Social: IRL in July 2010, Ben spent more than 10 years with a leading regional news media organization. He transitioned from print to online and ultimately was responsible for launching and managing the company’s first dedicated social media division. Ben regularly speaks on social media related topics to national and regional audiences, and guest lectures to journalism and communications students at area colleges and universities. He is also founder of several community based social media organizations, including the Lawrence chapter of the national Social Media Club. You can find him on Twitter @benasmith.

Mark Cuddy is a sales and solutions analyst at Tributes. com, an online resource for current local and national obituary news, lasting tributes celebrating the lives of loved ones, and an online community to provide support during times of loss and grieving. Founded by Jeff Taylor, the founder of, the Tributes team is focused on creating a place for people of all ages to come together online to share and remember the rich stories of the important people in their lives. Mark comes to the State of Now event to chat with others in funeral service about how social media has changed the way they share obituaries and celebrate lives. Mark, a former Iowan, now lives in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley.

Karen Smith is a recognized leader in social media at Verizon Wireless. In 2008 she received a mid-year leadership award from the Midwest Area for her initiatives in social media from Verizon Wireless. Karen works within the guidelines of a geographic corporate structure and looks for ways to build local and regional relationships using social media.   As PR manager for Verizon Wireless Great Plains region, Smith is responsible for media coverage about Verizon Wireless in traditional and non-traditional channels.  Smith has been instrumental in Verizon Wireless sponsoring social media communities including Social Media Breakfast Des Moines, iBlogger Conference, Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St. Paul, and Mobile March Twin Cities.

Karen is an Iowa native, from Waterloo and a letter winner in field hockey at the University of Iowa. She has been spotted on many occasion at Hawkeye football games with her mom who is 86.  Smith began her career with a passion for promoting women’s athletics first in sports information and than in marketing with positions at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the University of Minnesota where she served as assistant athletics director for external relations.  She joined the wireless industry in 1998, first as marketing communications manager and than as public relations manager.  Her responsibilities also include employee communications and community relations around Verizon’s corporate cause of domestic violence awareness and prevention.

High-energy Liz Nead helps others embrace their visions and lead themselves to breakthrough moments. Using her skills as a speaker, life coach and host of Fox-17’s Life Dare reality television show, Liz motivates and inspires others with enthusiasm, humor and realism. As the mother of seven in a blended family, she knows realism! Liz, the 2011 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Celebrity of the Year, excels at “bringing life back to everyday life.”

Liz created the Life Dare television show and online community 30 Days of You out of a passion for finding inspiration from everyday living.   After years of speaking and life-coaching, she began to see and agree with a pattern in her audience and clients.  The men and women expressed one important desire:  they wanted purpose and pleasure to come from their daily lives.  While their long term goals were important, they really wanted growth and connection from their relationships, their health and their work.   A respected life strategist, Liz uses simple everyday tasks such as making vegetables and buying jeans to tackle deeper issues such as fear of the unknown and self-acceptance.

Jacque Johnson is owner of Adel Quilting & Dry Goods Co, located just west of Des Moines, Iowa.  Adel Quilting is a retail quilt shop, selling fabric, notions, patterns, etc to make quilts.  In addition to retail sales, this business also has an education component including classes and retreats as well as a social component where groups of friends gather to sew together.  Jacque uses both Facebook and Blogger to market products to customers and also to interact with and inspire customers.

Jacque’s education following high school includes several business classes focusing primarily on recruitment and employee management.  For 20 years, she served as a Human Resources Specialist for the US Postal Service.  Ten years ago, she left this HR career to establish Adel Quilting and Dry Goods Co.

Mother of three and grandmother of one, Jacque lives with her husband Frank in Adel.

Kristi Jones (@kjoneskc) is the Manager of Talent Acquisition at H&R Block.  She has over seventeen years of Human Resources experience.  Kristi also books speaking engagements for Ryan Estis, Chief Experience Officer at Ryan Estis & Associates (  She is an active SHRM volunteer and is currently the Director of Social Media for the Missouri SHRM State Council.  Kristi grew up on a farm in SW Iowa before moving to Kansas City where she resides with her husband and three girls.  She will be on a panel discussing how Twitter brought a group of women together to help each other become more successful business women and great friends!

Laura Gaulke is an UNtraditional marketer, social networker & content developer. With over 18 years of promotional experience and a background in product design and line development. Today she specializes in promoting new products, start-ups, cool events & UNcommon ideas!

Laura has a simple philosophy for life and business: Be Uncommon! She began studying fashion in high school at the Central Academy Design Program in Downtown Des Moines, where I learned the importance of uniqueness. Laura returned to college in 2003 where she earned a degree in advertising management and marketing from Drake University. She proudly says “while at Drake I had an account on “The Facebook” before my kids knew what it was!”

As a social media marketer and mom, she uses social media to spy on and communicate with seven boys and is learning new communication tricks for business daily! Laura runs the local Des Moines Business Mixer (Twitter hashtag: #dmbizmixer).   She is passionate about assisting businesses and individuals discover and develop their differences and how to use untraditional & social media marketing tools to help them cut through the noise and get their word out.

Go to to see recent amplified events she has helped to plan and execute.

Andrew Clark, The Brand Chef says: Well, let’s see: First, the Earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil. And then … Wait.  Let’s get back to the REAL beginning. BRAND   TRUE Brands are built by understanding four simple key components:Truth Relevance  Uniqueness EngagementLet’s talk about your TRUE brand. Not just as a business, but as an individual. From there, and with the realization that you have defined your “TRUE;” fostering, empowering and growing that brand in YOUR control!

Rachel Buse, from Des Moines, is a sculptor and home explorer. Three months ago, she started This website shares a growing collection of houses she’s discovered through online real estate listings. Her interests in these homes range from personal preference to historical significance. From patterns revealed in the collection, Rachel will share her observations and conclusions about online real estate marketing and where she hopes to take her house collection in the future.

Kristi Ritchie is a 1980 graduate of Clay Central High School in Royal, Iowa. She attended Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg and graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree in 1981. Kristi is married to Alan Ritchie. He graduated from Kansas City Mortuary School in 1983 and served his internship under Boyd.   Novinger at the Shum-Novinger Funeral Home in Bedford. Alan feels truly honored and humbled to serve and be supported by the four communities.

John Dukes -Senior Sales Advisor at Aurora Casket Co.

Emily Beckmann a.k.a. @ekbeck

Emily authors “The Dish on Des Moines,” a blog dedicated to food and events in the DSM. When not playing the role of informed Des Moines Foodie, the Simpson College grad can be found at Des Moines Ad Agency, Lessing-Flynn, where she leads client strategy and manages marketing campaigns. Earlier in her career, Emily’s passion for non-profit marketing paid off when she led marketing efforts for both Salisbury House & Gardens and Children’s Cancer Connection. She’s into making up words like “adorkable,” taking photography, graphic design, reading, networking, collecting prom dresses, and all things crafty! Ekbeck recently announced her engagement to a man named Nichols, sparking the obvious #NicholBeck hashtag. Hilarity ensued.


Shannon Latham – The phrase, status quo, sounds like nails on a chalkboard to Shannon Latham. She’s passionate about turning every day activities into extraordinary events. Shannon brings her passion for event planning to everything she does from leading a local Girl Scout troop meeting or hosting a field day for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds to partnering with local business leaders to make their rural county a destination. “People are going to have an experience with you, your company and its products or services, so why not intentionally make it a memorable and enjoyable experience?” she challenges. She how Shannon is using the power of social media to extend her company’s, as well as her community’s, brand experiences.

Judi Graff (aka: farmnwife) is a farm blogger helping farmers blog. With a degree in Agriculture Production she and her husband raise kids, cattle, corn and cain. In 2007, Judi started a blog to show how cute her kids were showing cattle. After major events during the 2009 harvest, she realized blogging was much more than just throwing a few pictures up on the internet. is just one of the 5 sites she maintains. Judi also produces here husband’s farm podcast. Her goal is for farmers to understand the importance in telling their story to provide a written heritage for future generations.

Larry Sailer is a north Iowa farmer and uses social media every day.  The days of the farmer considered a rube are over, and Larry will share with us how the technology of now is making a difference every day in his life.

Darcy Maulsby – A lifelong Iowan and farm girl, Darcy Maulsby is a writer and marketing specialist who has specialized in agriculture, business, food, and gardening for more than 12 years. Darcy helps companies across the nation with their marketing and communications needs, including website copy, newsletters, case studies, marketing brochures, magazine articles, and more. Darcy earned her journalism degree in 1996 and her master’s of business administration (MBA) degree in 2004 from Iowa State University (ISU). A fifth-generation farmer, Darcy and her husband live in the country between Lake City and Yetter, where she helps out on her family’s Century Farm. Visit Darcy online at

Janice Person – A passion for communications has driven my career and many parts of my personal life. This passion has been applied in various professional venues working as an editor for a trade publication, heading an account at a public relations agency and on the corporate side. Each of these moves has increased my perspective and provided opportunities to learn more about communications – the audiences served, strategies to employ and best practices. Whether the topic is a complex technical issue, sensitive topic for employees or a confidential acquisition, I have experience that assists in making messages clear and delivering the desired impact on the selected audiences.

Despite growing up in “the city,” the agriculture industry has been home for most of my career. My passion for communications is furthered by my confidence that we are supplying the public with the most abundant safest food and fiber supply in history.

Chris Chinn resides on her family’s hog farm near Clarence, Missouri with her husband Kevin, and their two children, Rachelle and Conner. Chris manages the production and financial records for the family’s 1,500 sow farrow-to-finish hog operation, as well as the family feed mill. She and her husband also have a small cow-calf herd, as well as 140 acres of alfalfa hay.

She is active in various levels of both the Farm Bureau and Pork Producers – from Shelby County, to the state and national levels at times – an involvement that stemmed from wanting to provide her farm’s viewpoint in discussions that could impact them. In the process, Chris had more opportunities to interact with people who haven’t got the same deep rooted connection to agriculture. And as she talked to more of the people buying products like the ones her family raises, she realized there was a gulf of misunderstanding. That misunderstanding has driven her to spend more nights & weekends away from her family than she’d like to in an effort to better understand the questions the public has and to be accessible to them for conversations.

Heather Lilienthal  Senior Communications Specialist at Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Ag commodities writer at Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. I assist in fielding media calls and developing media relations to help our farmers and staff tell the story of Iowa agriculture. In addition, I offer training programs for our organization’s Speaker Corps group and support other leadership programs.


Shawna Coronado is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Gardening Nude, which is a guide for living a green lifestyle. She is the CEO of MAD 4 World Enterprises and Partner of 78 Pesos, which is a video production company that specializes in online content. Shawna is an on-camera spokesperson, newspaper columnist, internationally recognized keynote speaker, environmental and health correspondent. She is an experienced spokesperson with green lifestyle living, organic gardening, culinary, and eco content creation who campaigns for social good.
With over eighteen years of experience with sales, marketing and public relations, Shawna also consults with small and mid-sized companies on how to best utilize social media and online branding to build better business.

Sam Schill and Nathan Haila Combined, Nathan and Sam have 7 kids, 5 jobs, 4 board positions, 15+ social media accounts and two very loving wives. They will talk about the art of balancing their “life work” which consists of raising families, co-founding a tech startup, working paid jobs, and being actively involved in their local community.

Denise Passehl has lived and worked in a small community in Iowa almost all of her life.  Her husband farms and she gardens, reads, plays with her twin grandchildren and goes to work every day.  It’s a normal, peaceful life.  Two years ago the big C (cancer) turned her life upside down.  Denise will share how the technology of now helped to save her life.

Kelly Tyler’s talk is called Going from internet strangers to friends, clients, and spouses. She spits in the face of people who think social networking is a waste of time (well, not literally, but you get the idea)! She has life-changing experiences from social connections and knows you can too.

Kelly is an organization performance consultant, specializing in corporate culture. Clients in the financial services, health care, research, education, and nonprofit industries have worked with Kelly’s consulting firm over the past 10 years.

Kelly holds a BA from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame and an MBA from Rockhurst University. She is the Executive Director for The Center for Spirit at Work, an adjunct management professor for the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a Kauffman FastTrac® Facilitator, and holds the Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certification. She’s also a graduate of The Player’s Workshop improv program (the same as many SNL stars and actors).

Kelly is an award-winning speaker and author. She has spoken internationally and in every state in America. She is the author of two books. Secrets of Seasoned Professionals, published in 2008, and Put Your Whole Self In! Life & Leadership the Hokey Pokey Way, published in 2010.


Patrick Palmer - Owner and Technician at “The Computer Guy” in downtown Hampton, Iowa.  Pat will mediate a panel of Des Moines restaurants that are using social media in their business.

Phil James is the Chief Milkshaker at Good Milkshake, LLC. Good Milkshake works with people to help them create campaigns which connect on an emotional level with their customers through the use of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, advanced analytics, email marketing, SEO and blogs.

Although Good Milkshake is not limited to food companies, we have very specific expertise in helping restaurants and foodies excel in digital media marketing. We’ve helped businesses in many industries create revenue through the use of social and digital media on a shoestring budget.

Phil lives in Des Moines and is the father of four future Chicago Cubs infielders.

Christopher Juhl


Genie Maybanks – Artichoke, bacon, and Sauvignon Blanc lover Genie Maybanks has been in the food and wine industry for 22 years. At New Pioneer she is lucky to have found the perfect crossroads that blends the degree she earned from the University of Iowa in Environmental and Human Geography with her love of food and cooking. Every day at work, Genie strives to promote social change one tasty and fun bite/byte at a time.

Siobhan Spain of Dirt on the Farm fame and one of seven siblings who created a blog to document their hopes, ideas, resources and activities as they work toward revitalizing the farm, which is situated in Iowa between the happenin’ little towns of Prole and Cumming. Along with their husbands, wives, children, cousins and mom, JoAn van Balen, they explore opportunities to nurture our lives and the land.

Kitty Sheehan - Writer, editor and photographer;and social media community consultant for several brands. Former teacher, corporate trainer, consignment store owner and graphic designer, relocated to New York’s Hudson Valley from Iowa.

Tim Sieck, a founding partner of Skywalk Group, specializes in helping organizations attract, develop, and retain key talent. Prior to joining Skywalk Group, Tim was a Director of Consulting at the Novations Group where he applied his extensive experience in employee development, career development, and human resources processes to Fortune 500 companies. His last assignment at Novations was leading the effort to expand their business into Latin America. Tim’s career also includes Human Resources and Organizational Development work at McLeodUSA and W.W. Grainger.

During his career he has worked closely with executive teams and employee groups to help them achieve organizational results through the effective use of their people systems. Tim’s work has included clients such as Ford, Apple Inc., McDonald’s, Crowe, Pfizer, Chevron, BP, Caremark, Trilogy, General Mills, and Andersen Windows.

Tim’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree from Upper Iowa University, and a Masters degree in Organizational Management. Tim is also a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).


Mike Carberry is the Director of Green State Solutions, an Iowa based consulting firm specializing in advocacy, outreach and campaign organizing around nuclear power, global climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainability, conservation and other environmental issues.

Clients have included the Friends of the Earth, Iowa Global Warming Campaign, the Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew), the Iowa Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Iowa Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Mike is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a B.B.A. in Marketing and a minor in Communications.

Gigi Belmonico is the CEO of The Bombshell Factor™ She is an exciting presenter that inspires women to connect with and love themselves in new ways and in turn helps women to connect with others! Many women have qualities that make them “look” beautiful, but Gigi takes it even further– she teaches women how to develop the more esoteric qualities that truly connect women with each other without the typical drama, trauma, and jealousy so prevalent today.

An Image Consultant for over 25 years, she’s also shown thousands of women how to feel powerful in their femininity through tools such as body typing, makeup and fashion personality, core wardrobing, and much much more so that EVERYday is Bombshell day!!

She was featured in “Mom Spa:75 Relaxing Ways to Pamper a Mother’s Mind, Body, and Soul,” by Gin Sander, and was a contributing author in Gin’s book “Raging Gracefully:Smart Women on Life, Love, And Coming into Your Own”.

Marianne Cascone – A mother turned inventor and international business woman. In 2007 Marianne invented a unique legging for little girls. With a talent for creativeness and design, a clever packaging of the leggings created Bon Bon Cupcakes. Bon Bon Cupcakes quickly turned into a successful apparel business selling worldwide. With the help of social media, Bon Bon Cupcakes has become, and remains, the number one selling microfiber ruffled legging of it’s kind! This venture has opened doors for many business opportunities for Marianne, as well as some exciting personal opportunities. Marianne lives in Kansas City, MO and currently devotes her time to giving back to the community as the co-founder and organizer of The Ultimate Movement, as well as chairing various fundraising events.

Laura Wynn Marketing Diva and Professional Relationship Broker. Lieutenant General of My Tiny Army of Chaos (four soldier cavalry).

Just your average Diva; Loving life and Un-Bleeping-Stoppable! Living Creed: How’s That Look Nice, HUH? (Translation: 3-year old speak for “I’m gonna do it my way, and it’s gonna ROCK!”)  As a survivor of “cyber assassination” executed by adults, I am strongly motivated to share the immediate and long term harm that results from the snowball effect of a single twitter post, even if the initial intention was simply to generate laughter using a local personality as subject matter.


Jody Halsted is a family travel authority and social media educator.Jody has been blogging since 2004, when she became a stay at home mom to her eldest daughter. As frequent travelers, Jody and her husband heard “You can’t travel after you have a baby.” When internet searches for family traveling turned up results for Walt Disney World and similar vacation spots, Jody began sharing her family travel how-to’s in her first travel blog, Have Kid Will Travel.

In 2010 Jody launched FamilyRambling®, a website designed to inspire family travel, provide tips to make it easier and share first hand trip reports. In 2011 Jody focused her love of family travel in Ireland by launching Ireland With Kids, a website designed to promote family travel in the Emerald Isle. Jody writes for various online and print publications as well as consulting small businesses and Convention & Visitors Bureaus about harnessing new media, attracting consumers and creating word of mouth advertising. You’ll find Jody on twitter @iatraveler, at the Family Rambling Facebook page, hanging out on Google+ and pinning up a storm on Pinterest.

Deb Brown was raised in Iowa, worked for many years in Chicago and returned to Iowa to care for her aging parents.  You may have seen Deb on a road trip with her mom Shirley!  Debworks is a marketing company that specializes in helping small businesses spread out to online marketing.  You can find Debworks on twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ talking about great ways to travel locally.  She takes her background in marketing and applies it to travel and creates an experience that everyone wants to enjoy.

J. Eric Smith is the Executive Director of the Salisbury House Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa. He is a writer, speaker, trainer, planner and manager with over 26 years worth of proven leadership experience in the nonprofit and government sectors.

Eric is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, the Naval Supply Corps School, and the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College. He is a former active duty Naval Supply Corps Officer who served as a resource management and procurement director with the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, before embarking on a career in the nonprofit sector as a fundraiser, public relations specialist, operations manager and executive director.

Jennifer Wilson is an award-winning writer for Esquire, Better Homes & Gardens, National Geographic Traveler, AAA Living, Traditional Home and many other national magazines and newspapers. Find Jennifer and all sorts of great stuff about the Croatia project that formed Running Away to Home, at


Tara Saylor Litzenberger has always believed in knowing the rules before you try to break them. As part of the communications team for a Great Big Company, she gets a unique view of the concerns and opportunities of using Social Media on an global scale. Tara shares a behind-the-scenes look at company life on her blog, She regularly spends time in 3 different states and still brags about the “Best Bale” award she won at company training.

Drew McLellan’s a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home. Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow. Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others. Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers. He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books and in 1995, he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group. Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Jeff Pulver is the Chairman and Founder of, and one of the true pioneers of the VoIP industry and a leader in the emerging TV on the Net industry. Leveraging well over a decade of hands-on experience in Internet/IP communications and innovation, Mr. Pulver is a globally renowned thought leader, author and entrepreneur. His blog is well read within the IP Communications Industry and in high-tech communities around the world. He is the publisher of The Pulver Report and and creator of the industry standard Voice on the Net (VON) events. Additionally, Mr. Pulver is the founder of FWD, the VON CoalitionPrimeTimeRewind.TVVivox and is the co-founder of VoIP provider, Vonage.

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