Skip to Page Content

Conference Speakers

    Home     Agenda    Registration     Speakers    Sponsors

    Keynote Speakers

    Chef Jeff Henderson
    Nick Schacht


    Chef Jeff Henderson 

         Known around the world as Chef Jeff, Jeff Henderson is an award-winning American chef,
    critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author, philanthropist, television personality,
    and highly sought-after leader in personal and professional development. Known for his
    dynamic teachings and powerful story of personal transformation, Jeff illuminates audiences
    with proven, high-impact strategies that empower change, inspire fulfillment, and motivate
    millions to live the lives of their dreams.
         A California native, Jeff started his illustrious culinary career in the unlikeliest of places: federal
    prison. While serving nearly ten years, he would discover a previously untapped passion for the
    art of cooking. Using prison as a catalyst for self-transformation, he would be released in 1996
    and work his way up from a dishwasher to a cook under the tutelage of Chef Robert Gadsby.
    Jeff went on to work at Coronado Island Marriott, Hotel Bel-Air, and L’Ermitage Beverly Hills. He
    made history as the first African-American Chef de Cuisine at Caesars Palace where he was also
    named Las Vegas Chef of The Year and then executive chef at the renowned Café Bellagio.
    In 2007, Harper Collins published Jeff’s bestselling memoir Cooked, which lead to an interview
    with Oprah Winfrey. Shortly after the interview, Sony Pictures secured the rights to his inspiring
    tale of redemption and Jeff left his post at the helm of the prestigious Café Bellagio to embark
    on a journey that would lead him to television, consulting, and public speaking engagements all
    over the world. The same year, he also launched The Chef Jeff Project, a docu-reality series on
    the Food Network that followed Jeff as he mentored a group of disadvantaged young adults
    towards realizing their own unique dreams.
           Jeff would publish his first cookbook, Chef Jeff Cooks with Simon & Schuster in 2009 followed by America I AM Pass It Down Cookbook (Hay House/Smiley Books) and his first self-help book If You Can See It, You Can Be It (Hay House/Smiley Books). In 2012, Jeff’s first cooking show "Beat The Chefs" premiered on the Game Show Network, followed by "Family Style with Chef Jeff" and "Flip My Food".
         From incarcerated criminal to world-renowned chef, author, television star and authoritative
    life strategist, Jeff’s inspiring and moving story of life transformation has been featured on
    Oprah's Life Class, Good Morning America, Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, The
    Steve Harvey Show
    and in major publications such as The New York Times, Newsweek, USA
    Today, People Magazine, the Washington Post
    , and many others.
         A truly world-class presenter, Jeff has that rare ability to electrify audiences while also
    delivering uncommonly original and useful insights that lead to long-lasting success for
    individuals, businesses, and corporations alike. As a premier speaker on leadership and
    personal mastery, Jeff invites millions of people from all walks of life to believe that if they can
    see it, they can be it.
    When Jeff is now traveling the world teaching his life-changing lessons, he resides in Las Vegas
    with his lovely wife Stacy and their five children.

    Nick Schacht, SHRM-SCP, Chief Global Development Officer

    Nick Schacht is a highly experienced executive with more than three decades of experience in professional services, education, and corporate learning and development. He has a history of driving product innovation, growth and profitability, and he has led organizations operating worldwide. 

    Schacht is Chief Global Development Officer for SHRM, the world's largest HR professional society. Before joining SHRM, he was the founder and CEO of KnowCyber, a learning and development company focused on improving the cybersecurity-related skills of people in all types of organizations worldwide. Prior to KnowCyber, he was President and Chief Operating Officer for PetroSkills, a provider of training and development services to the worldwide petroleum industry. Prior to that, he was CEO and President of Learning Tree International, a publicly traded provider of IT and management learning and development. Schacht was also the President of Global Learning Systems, a start-up focused on e-Learning and digital content. He served in a variety of capacities at ESI International, culminating in his role as President when ESI was sold to the Institute for International Research (IIR) and then as Group President for the Americas for IIR. He has been a Research Fellow at the Logistics Management Institute, and began his career as a U.S. Navy Supply Officer, on the headquarters staff of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. 

    Schacht graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy, and holds Master's degrees in Administration from the University of Maryland University College and Information Systems Technology from The George Washington University.

    Break out Session Speakers

    Listed alphbetically by last name.

    Michelle Carlstrom

    As principal consultant and executive coach of Build a Better Culture, Michelle draws on 20 years of expertise and workplace leadership in employee assistance, work/life and cultivating professionalism.  She is an expert on the impact of coworker behaviors and has been a go-to partner for Executives, Deans and HR professionals in areas of managing at-risk and complex people problems; managing disruptive behavior, workplace bullying, and threats of violence; coaching abrasive leaders; cultivating professionalism; and fostering a positive work/life culture. With an MSW specializing in workplace social work, she is on the faculty at University of Maryland School of Social Work.

    Carrie Cherveny, ESQ. - Panelist

    Carrie Cherveny is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Client Solutions in HUB’s Risk Services Division. Carrie has 20 years of combined experience in employee relations working on the management side providing human resources, employment law, and employee benefits legal guidance. Carrie works closely with clients to identify compliance risks across the organization and develop responsive strategies and solutions that ensure compliance and further the overall organization goals. Previously, Carrie B. Cherveny, Esq. served as the Chief Compliance Officer for the Southeast Region of HUB International and was responsible for providing compliance and consulting services regarding general health plans, ACA, ERISA, and other legal matters involving employee benefit programs.  Prior to joining HUB,  Carrie was General Counsel and Vice President for a national PEO.

    Bill Combrie - Co-Speaker

    Bill Crombie joined USI in 2012 as Senior Vice President and COO of Houston’s Employee Benefits practice. Bill currently leads USI’s Employee Benefits Practice in Louisiana. He manages all staff and business operations for the Louisiana offices. Bill enjoys working directly with companies in development of long-term employee benefit program strategies that support their specific human capital management and business goals.
    Bill has been in the employee benefits field for 30 years, much of which has been spent working with large, multi-state employers. He has held senior-level insurance carrier positions, including Cigna’s National Accounts Business Unit - Central Region and Anthem National Accounts Business Unit – Southeast Region. He’s also held senior-level consulting firm positions, including Hewitt Associates and PwC in Atlanta.
    Bill received his B.A. from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He lives in Mandeville, LA with his wife and two children.

    Michelle D Craig - Panelist

    Michelle D. Craig is currently owner of Transcendent Law Group.  With over 17 years of Am200 law firm experience, she was a partner with Adams and Reese LLP, New Orleans before starting her own firm. She holds dual degrees including a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and a Bachelor of the Civil Law (B.C.L.) from the Louisiana State University (LSU) Law Center. She also studied International and Comparative Law at the Université d'Aix Marseille III in Aix en Provence, France. In her practice, she facilitates effective negotiation, mediation and resolution of legal matters for small to large companies in the areas of litigation, labor and employment, economic development, and transactions. She incorporates project management and process improvement throughout her cases. To assist small and medium-sized firms in their process improvement, she created Prosquire, a legal project management software. She is very active in the community and currently serves at the Chairperson of the Orleans Parish Civil Service Commission and Vice-Chair/Chair Elect of the Downtown Development District.

    Monique Doucette - Panelist

    Ms. Doucette is a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins in New Orleans, Louisiana.  She practices primarily in the area of employment litigation and represents management in claims arising under various federal and state employment laws. Ms. Doucette has significant experience with litigating employment matters in a variety of business sectors such as construction, energy, banking and hospitality. She also has expertise in workplace harassment issues and regularly conducts customized workplace respect/anti-harassment training for employers.

    Ms. Doucette is a frequent speaker on various employment law topics and contributing author to multiple publicationsShe is also an avid supporter of the local arts and education in New Orleans by serving on the executive board of directors for the New Orleans Ballet Association and the Arts Council of New Orleans, as well as the board of directors for Urban League of Louisiana and the advisory board for the New Orleans Opera Association.

    Jill Fragoso - Panelist

    Jill Fragoso is the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, the only freestanding children’s hospital in Louisiana.  In conjunction with her executive oversight of general HR functions, she oversees the culture transformation journey currently underway.   Jill most recently served as the Director of Benefits and Wellbeing at Texas Children’s Hospital, ranked among the top 3 children’s hospitals in the nation.  There, she was responsible for strategy and operations of the health and welfare programs, Occupational Health Clinic, Employee Medical Clinic and Employee Wellbeing.  Prior to joining Texas Children’s, Jill served as the System Director of Employee Health and Workers’ Compensation for Presence Health, a 12-hospital system headquartered in Chicago.  She received both her BSN and MA in Health Promotion from the University of Iowa, where she was a varsity diver on the Women’s Swimming and Diving Team.  Jill is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.  She is also a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist.  She has presented at seminars and conferences on the topics of wellbeing in the workplace, and promoting and protecting worker health.  Jill and her husband, Lou, are both Ironman triathletes.  They have five children and live in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Dima Ghawi

        Dima is Middle-Eastern in her genes, American in her heart, and a global citizen in her spirit. She ignites the untapped potential in individuals across the globe, empowering them to shatter limitations and become courageous, purpose driven leaders. Her own journey is one of escaping confinement, crossing continents, and transforming her life’s purpose. Harnessing the power of her story, Dima is committed to inspiring individuals to attain personal and professional growth.
         Through keynote speeches, workshops, and executive coaching, Dima shares her unique leadership transformation journey with one goal in mind: motivate and activate those around her to reimagine their potential and grow into leaders. 
         Dima draws from two decades of corporate experience leading global teams and developing future leaders worldwide. She has worked across the United States, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa for several Fortune 100 companies including IBM, Merrill Lynch, and Intuit. She has honed a keen expertise in developing leaders to meet the demands of the global workforce.
         Dima’s memoir Breaking Vases received Writer’s Digest 2018 Grand Prize Award, Best Indie Book Award, Readers’ Favorite Award, and National Indie Excellence Award.
           In addition to her global empowerment work, Dima serves on numerous nonprofit boards. She has been recognized for her services with the 2014 President of the United States Bronze Volunteer Service Award, the 2019 Baton Rouge Business Report’s “Influential Women in Business” Award, and the 2016 Louisiana State University “Esprit de Femme Award.” She has been featured in numerous publications for her professional and philanthropic work.

    Nikki Chriesman-Green, Esq. - Co-Speaker

    Nikki Chriesman-Green joined USI Southwest in January 2015 as our in-house ERISA Counsel.  She is focused on helping our benefits division and our clients stay compliant with requirements of various benefits laws.    She has over twenty years of professional experience in employee benefits. 
    Before joining USI, she worked as a Lead Plan Governance Consultant for a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 corporation, with a primary focus in employee benefits law, regulatory concerns, disability litigation, and employee claims and appeals during her five-year tenure with the corporation. 
    Nikki is a member of the State Bar of Texas and American Bar Association. She is also admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas and the Supreme Court of the United States.  She has served in various leadership roles for the L. Clifford Davis Legal Association as the president, executive board member and various other committee roles.  In August 2014, she was admitted as an honorary member of the Texas Bar College.   She is currently an adjunct professor for Texas A&M School of Law where she coaches the moot court advocacy teams.  Nikki is a former associate member of the Eldon Mahon Inns of Court, member of the Southwest Benefits Association and a professional member of SHRM.  Nikki earned her BA from Texas Wesleyan University, a Masters in Organizational Leadership in Public Service/Non-Profit from Quinnipiac University, and her J.D. from Texas A&M Law School, formerly known as Texas Wesleyan School of Law.

    Amber Hurdle

    Amber Hurdle helps professionals connect the combined value of personal brands, employer brands and business brands to achieve bottom line results. She personally understands what it takes to accelerate success as a former teen mom who evolved into a powerhouse business woman, having worked with international celebrities and Fortune 100 companies alike, and she was recently recognized among the “Top 40 Under 40” by the Nashville Business Journal. Amber Hurdle Consulting’s clients include large brands such as FedEx Ground, Marriott Hotels, and Stella & Dot, as well as small businesses who want to play big. As a professional speaker, talent
    optimization certified consultant, author, app developer and podcast host, Amber is also committed to her community and profession. She serves on the board of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, acted as co-chair of the City of Lebanon's West Side Park Task Force, and serves on the board of her local National Speakers Association chapter, to name a few volunteer interests. Whether her content-rich experiences energize leadership to boldly live their organization’s culture and next-level their employee engagement or empowers entrepreneurs to think strategically, Amber’s straight shooting “velvet machete” and warm personality never fail to motivate professionals to up their game in business and in life.

    Craig Juengling, PCC - Panelist

    Craig Juengling brings over two decades of executive level leadership and experience to his profession as an Executive Coach. Craig ran first hospital at age 29 and when he left seven years later, he was responsible for a division of eleven hospitals located in seven states with over 1500 employees. Later in his career, Craig built Maryland’s second largest specialty health care system by acquiring competitors and implementing aggressive internal growth strategies.  Over the course of ten years, his company grew from one location to eight locations with nearly $100 million in annual revenue with over 750 employees throughout the state.

    In 2009 Craig made the decision to leave health care and pursue a passion to become a professional and executive coach.  He is one of an elite group of Executive Coaches certified by the International Coach Federation. He is the only Professional Certified Coach in Louisiana with experience as a CEO.

    Ryan Kohler

    Ryan is the Founder and CEO of ApplicantPro, a hiring software company founded in 2006. Ryan and his team have grown the small startup into a leading provider of hiring software for over 6,000 companies around the nation. Ryan's mission is to help companies, managers, and HR teams improve their hiring results. To do this, he and his team strive to create educational content, tools, integrations, and software to help businesses drive their hiring results.

    Because he is an entrepreneur and owns a business that involves working with thousands of HR folks, he understands what it takes to bridge the gap between an organization’s vision and the goals of HR. Ryan enjoys working one-on-one with these professionals, empowering them to become more technical, teaching them to think more like a Marketer and how to apply these skills towards hiring. Ryan is proud to be an HRCI and SHRM-CP Approved Provider and is devoted to sharing his knowledge and experience to help make hiring processes more strategic and accurate. He currently conducts weekly, free webinars that provide HRCI & SHRM Continuing Education credit and presents at SHRM events around the country.

    Devin Lemoine

    Devin has been helping people successfully manage, grow and develop their teams and organizations for 20 years. She leads the Success Labs team of consultants with the primary focus of partnering with local and national organizations to create custom programs and processes that drive organizational goals and strategies.  This includes work in the areas of vision, strategy, leadership development, talent management, and team building and planning for building capacity and sustainability.

    Devin was the:

    • 2013 GBRSHRM Professional of the Year
    • A Business Report 2016 Influential Women in Business recipient
    • A 2016 LSU “100” recipient for Fast Growing Businesses
    • a 2018 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Fellow 
    • and 2019/2020 Louisiana Economic Development CEO Roundtable member

    She speaks locally and nationally on the topics of talent management and leadership including the 2017 National SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition and for Johnson & Johnson’s Finance Women's Leadership Initiative in 2018.

    Major current projects are in organizations that include Woman’s Hospital, Albemarle, LSU, Louisiana & Missouri Hospital Association, Fidelity Bank, Danos, and Investar.  

    In Devin’s spare time, she likes traveling, bike riding and being outdoors. She is also the mother of grown triplets who reside in Knoxville, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; and London, England. 

    Gregory F Rouchell

    Gregory Rouchell counsels clients on the full spectrum of labor and employment issues, representing them in litigation that surfaces under both federal and state law – from class action lawsuits to individual workplace claims. Greg serves clients in the swimming pool, agriculture, automotive, financial services, health care and medical industries as well as others. In service to a large national company with thousands of employees, he handles all employment matters that arise in states across the country, often advising the client on a daily basis. He’s also a commercial litigator, defending companies and financial institutions in an array of cases, including high-stakes disputes.

    Greg understands that often employers get hit with frivolous discrimination, retaliation, harassment and other claims. Because he has zero tolerance for fraud and abuse of the legal system, he fights for his clients with both passionate persuasion and solid logic. When potential problems arise, clients appreciate Greg’s candid approach to the situation.

    While Greg’s practice focuses on litigation, he also serves as a close, respectful and responsive advisor to his clients. When an employer calls with a problem, he turns his attention to it immediately, examines the relevant information, determines all the angles of the various laws that could conceivably apply, and then conveys his strategic recommendations. Clients refer others to Greg because of his experience and knowledge but also because he fully understands the company’s business, operations, structure, policies and procedures and the issues unique to its industry.

    Michael Williamson

    Michael L. Williamson serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Southeast Louisiana serving Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. Michael has 30 years of executive level nonprofit management experience, 25 of those years served in the United Way system.
         Under Williamson’s leadership as CEO, United Way developed a Blueprint for Prosperity with a framework to eradicate poverty in Southeast Louisiana and a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and economically stable. The Blueprint included an expansion of the traditional United Way granting process with the addition of seven collaborative grants.
        Williamson is committed to a focus on community outcomes as the top strategy for increasing accountability and maintaining United Ways’ leadership in philanthropy. He has worked to strengthen United Way’s public-private partnerships at the local, state, and federal level to create scalable community building efforts while creating and leveraging the state’s only United Way advocacy program, which has been responsible for countless legislative advancements since its inception.

    Laila Morcos Zissis ​- Moderator

    Laila Morcos Zissis is the founder of Laila Morcos Zissis, LLC. a company focused primarily on working with motivated women who want to achieve their dreams. As an International Coach Federation (ICF) Certified Coach and a Certified Health & Wellness Coach, she works with clients to overcome personal challenges to achieve WHOLE, SOUL happiness in life. She also works with business owners to help them create a clear path to realizing and achieving their business goals. 
    Zissis is also the Founder and President of LikeMinded Ladies™, a membership organization comprising women who support each other both professionally and personally to advance toward accomplishing their goals. Zissis is also a Media Consultant and Marketing Executive for MILES, the nation’s leading tourism marketing partner, where she works hand-in-hand with New Orleans & Company and their members to create forward-thinking content marketing.
    Zissis spent 13 years working as an award-winning television and radio news anchor and reporter and afterwards worked as a Public Relations Senior Account Executive.