WIBC Presenter Bios
Laura Sicola, Ph.D., Founder, Vocal Impact Productions
Dr. Laura Sicola is a leadership communication and influence expert, speaker, and author of Speaking to Influence: Mastering Your Leadership Voice. Her mission is to help executives become confident, inspiring leaders, whether on stage, on-camera, or just on the phone to get the results they want and make a positive, lasting impact. As the founder of Vocal Impact Productions, she has trained and coached executives at Comcast, IBM, the US Department of Commerce, and Women Against Abuse along with politicians and business owners, and nonprofit leaders from around the world.
Laura’s TEDx talk, “Want to Sound Like a Leader? Start by Saying Your Name Right,” has over 6 million views, and she has been featured on Fox & Friends First, NBC10 @Issue, and PHL 17. She has also spoken to thousands at conferences such as the Professional Business Women of California Conference and the PA Conference for Women.
Laura received her Ph.D. in educational linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also taught from 2001-2013.
Session – Technology
Emerging Payment Solutions for Business Owners and Consumers
Julie Pukas is Head of Commercial Strategy & Integration for TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®. In this role, Julie leads teams focused on crafting strategies and programs to bring products and services to Commercial Bank customers, developing integrated training, communications, and knowledge management for employees; and creating legendary experiences for TD’s customers and employees.
Julie, who joined TD Bank in 2014, is known for spearheading innovation and guiding transformation that generates high-impact growth for industry-leading financial institutions. With expertise in the latest payment technologies, backed by years of leadership experience directing domestic and international startup initiatives, she possesses expertise in emerging payments, mobile wallets, and e-commerce. Julie joined the Commercial Bank in November 2018 and most recently served as Head of Commercial Product Integration. Prior to this, Julie led the U.S. Merchant Solutions and U.S. Bankcard businesses, where she was responsible for all TD-branded consumer and small business credit cards and point of sale (POS) solutions.
Before joining TD, Julie served as Managing Director of Citi Commerce Services for Citigroup, where her key focus was on building global acquiring capabilities leveraging Citi’s global footprint. She also was Head of New Product Development for Citi’s card issuing businesses outside the U.S and served as President of Diners Club International, where she led the global network servicing consumers, corporate clients, and merchants. Julie was President of Citi’s U.S. Merchant Acquiring business from 1997 through 2005.
Julie is a frequent contributor on consumer finance and financial education topics to top business and financial news outlets, such as U.S. News & World Report, Huffington Post, Fox Business, CNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal’s “Watching Your Wealth” podcast, and has also appeared in a video on AmericanBanker.com and Cheddar discussing mobile and contactless payments.
As a champion for women in financial services, Julie is passionate about mentoring and coaching women in financial services. She founded the Philadelphia chapter of Wnet, a nonprofit organization intended to inspire and empower women in payments, and is an executive member of TD Bank’s internal Women in a Leadership resource group.
Julie is currently on the board of the Electronic Transaction Association, Wnet, and is also a member of the Discover Network Advisory Board. Julie serves as an outside Director for Remington & Vernick Engineers and is a member of the Board of Trustees of LaSalle Academy in Philadelphia, PA, which is dedicated to educating children in grades 3 through 8 whose life opportunities are limited by financial, academic, social, or emotional challenges, and whose parents/guardians desire, but cannot afford a Catholic education. Julie holds a B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University.
Session – Career Development
The NEW Continued Education: How Certification Can Take Your Career to The Next Level
Marjie Devlin, MBA, Education Program Manager, Penn State Abington
Marjie Devlin holds an MBA in Marketing and has worked in Sales, Marketing, and Workforce Development. She has managed training programs for an international training firm, a Career and Technical High School, and a Penn State University. Currently, she is an Education Program Manager at Penn State Abington’s Department of Continuing Education, where she evaluates and manages certification programs for their course portfolio.
Session – Career Development
Best Practices for Filling Your Pipeline By Generating Leads
Lisa Peskin, CEO, Business Development University
Lisa Peskin has more than 25 years of experience in sales performance and management. Throughout her career, she has developed an award-winning reputation as a motivational and results-oriented sales professional. After a successful career as Vice President of Sales for Automatic Data Processing (ADP), running a 40 man sales force, Lisa launched her own sales training, consulting, and coaching business in 2003. Since then, Lisa has helped thousands of sales professionals and sales managers increase their sales through training, just in time support, and programs designed to maximize opportunities and drive ROI.
Lisa launched Business Development University in 2010 with the goal of helping sales and sales management professionals maximize their performance and potential. Lisa and her team are passionate about making an impact on individuals, teams, and companies by helping them fill their sales pipelines with more qualified prospects on a consistent basis, close more business and ultimately exceed sales goals and expectations. In addition, the BDU team helps individuals that are managing and running sales teams to be as effective as possible in developing and motivating their sales associates to ultimately maximize their performance.
Lisa received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA in Marketing from Temple University. Lisa resides in Upper Dublin, PA, and is married with two children.
Session – Personal Development
Importance of Self Care as we Navigate the New Normal
Karen Kish, MD, Nazareth Hospital
Karen Kish, MD, is a board-certified breast surgeon at Nazareth Hospital and Mercy Catholic Medical Center (MCMC), part of Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic. She received her medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine and completed a residency at Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health (formerly Abington Memorial Hospital) and a fellowship at UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. Dr. Kish is currently the director of the breast program and program director for a surgical residency at MCMC and serves as chairwoman of the Cancer Committee at MCMC. She is also an assistant professor of surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine.
Dr. Kish provides routine care and surgical services for patients with a variety of breast-related health needs at Mercy Breast Surgery and Nazareth Health Red Lion Road. To learn more, visit trinityhealthma.org.
Session – Communications
Communication Trends: Are emails enough?
John Politsky is the Founder and CEO of WeSpeak Easy Digital Marketing. He has over 25 years of marketing and entrepreneurial experience. In 2018, John also founded the Small Business Academy to educate and empower entrepreneurs and small business owners all over the Delaware Valley.
John is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Community College of Philadelphia. He serves as a classroom instructor for their Power Up Program and also is involved in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program as a speaker and as a panelist in the marketing and social media portions of the program. Prior to becoming an instructor, John also attended and graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.
He specializes in strategy-based marketing. He currently plans and maps out the marketing strategy for over 100 companies per year. His goal is to help purpose bound entrepreneurs and small business owners not only increase their traffic and revenue but also their process and profitability. He is a keynote speaker and ensures that in every class or keynote, there are actionable takeaways and not just theory.
John became an entrepreneur at 18 when he started a Disc Jockey\Entertainment company. He grew this company over 18 years and sold it when he was 36 years old and had 30+ employees. This is where he built his marketing and customer-centric skills and developed most of his strategic approach to marketing.
Session – LifeStyle
PA Wines and Wineries
Steve Wildy, Wine Expert
After spending his early childhood in Northern Ireland, Steve Wildy began his career in the restaurant industry at an early age in Pittsburgh, PA, as a dishwasher for a friend’s restaurant. He immediately fell for the hustle and bustle of the culinary world, and after relocating to Philadelphia in the late 90s to enroll in Drexel University’s International Studies program, he continued to work up the ladder in the restaurant field. An internship with the European Parliament in Brussels introduced him to a fantastic food scene, the world’s best beer, and to the early notion that a career in food and beverage might be better suited to him than a career as a politician. After a stint in specialty foodservice procuring fine cheeses and other gourmet food items for restaurants, Steve became the General Manager for Vetri, Marc Vetri’s eponymous flagship Italian restaurant, widely recognized as one of the cornerstone institutions of the United States’ Italian fine dining scene. As the Vetri Family grew in size, a love for wine led to Steve’s transition to Beverage Director, and again to Director of Operations. In 2015-2016 he facilitated the integration of all platforms and standards throughout the company’s acquisition by Urban Outfitters, Inc, where he stayed on and oversaw numerous new store openings across five states. Steve was recognized as one of Food & Wine’s 2015 “Sommeliers of the Year” and nominated by the James Beard Foundation as a semi-finalist in the category of “Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional” in the same year. He previously led the Vetri front of house team to consecutive “Outstanding Service” finalist nominations in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2016 he was named a laureate of the coveted La Paulee Scholarship program celebrating education and ambassadorship of the fine wines of Burgundy. His writing has appeared in numerous culinary and beverage publications, and he has guested on various podcasts about the beverage industry. He currently resides in Philadelphia with his wife and son, where he runs a consulting firm with a focus on cellar management and wine brokerage services.
Session – Career Development
Lessons in Leadership: How Behavior Spreads
AnnMarie Schultz, CEO, CORA Services
AnnMarie was named CEO in July 2015 after serving as Chief Operating Officer. Her visionary leadership and strong management have resulted in the expansion of services to thousands of more children throughout the region. Key accomplishments include expansion of related services to over 50 additional non-public and charter schools, securing a contract to provide early intervention services, and opening the Early Years Program at LaSalle University.
AnnMarie’s career began in direct client service as an Educational Advisor with Communities in Schools of Philadelphia, Inc. She advanced within the organization, eventually managing the ELECT Teen Parent Program in 22 high schools. She joined CORA Services in 2002 as Director of the Beacon Center at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School. Through the years, she has held several posts that have given her a broad perspective on the strengths and opportunities available to the organization. Prior positions include Division Director of Out of School Services, Director of Program Advancement and Marketing, and Chief Operating Officer.
AnnMarie is currently enrolled in the M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership program at La Salle University. She received her B.A. in Family Studies from Messiah College.
Kate Shields is Chief Executive Officer of Vault Communications, one of the fastest-growing marketing communications firms in the U.S. as recognized by Inc. magazine, the Philadelphia Business Journal, and the Philadelphia 100. For more than two decades, C-level executives from diverse industry sectors have entrusted Kate to counsel them in strategic communication planning, crisis communications, corporate social responsibility, media relations, and digital/emerging media. Kate brings a valuable client-side perspective to her work, having held communication roles in-house at Campbell Soup Company and ARAMARK. Kate has served as an Adjunct Professor of Communication at La Salle University, teaching undergraduate and graduate students in the Philadelphia and Prague campuses. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, The Forum of Executive Women, For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation, and Audubon Pennsylvania. A mother to three daughters, Kate is passionate about the professional advancement of women and has served as Chair of Take the Lead for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia’s prestigious Paradigm Award selection committee, and as an active volunteer for her alma mater, Mount Saint Joseph Academy. Named one of the “Top Women in PR” by PR News, Kate holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton and a graduate degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Session – Technology
Start Updating Your Apps To Update Your Time Management
David D. Simons, Principal, Kingdom Social Media
David D. Simons is a mediapreneur who utilizes his offline and online skills to promote brands, increase businesses, support causes, and build relationships. His passion and excitement for media have attracted Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, churches, and entrepreneurs. David obtained a degree in Digital Media from Sacramento State University and a Master’s degree in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University. David is the CEO of Kingdom Social Media, which is an organization designed to teach business owners and business leaders on how to use social media to build their businesses effectively. David has been recognized by Entrepreneur.com, Dell Computers, Yahoo, Xerox Corporation, and Hootsuite for his strategies in social media. David lives in Philadelphia, PA, with his loving wife, Abigail Simons. David lives by this rule: “The biggest risk you will take in life is not taking risks.”
Session – Personal Development
Good Things Come to Those Who Hustle: Empowering Your Side Gig
Graziella has been telling the stories, creating events, and getting media attention for organizations and individuals for the past 25 years. Graziella’s wealth of experience includes managing public relations campaigns and events for clients, which include the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, Rutgers University Department of Fine Arts, Global Philadelphia Association, and the Philadelphia World Heritage City Project.
A native New Yorker, Graziella began her career as a fashion copywriter on New York’s Seventh Avenue, for the burgeoning direct mail catalog company Brylane, Inc., a parent company of their newly formed Victoria’s Secret catalog.
With a desire to expand her career experience, Graziella accepted a position at Rockefeller University in New York City as an Administrator for the Dean, where she developed her event planning skills while producing international conferences for world-renowned scientists and dignitaries.
Graziella has also worked at Ricci Associates Advertising as a Senior Account Executive. With fluency in Italian and expertise in project management, Graziella supervised the agency’s largest account, Cento Fine Foods. Cento later hired Graziella to help with its exclusive distribution of Buitoni pasta for Nestle Italiana and appointed her Director of Marketing.
Graziella worked as Communications Manager for Rutgers Camden Center for the Arts (RCCA) and the Walter K. Gordon Theater. At RCCA, Graziella programmed over 34 concerts and events per year, which included all details from contract to performance and public relations.
Graziella currently handles all communications, programs, and events for the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia (WTCGP).
Graziella is an advocate for the arts and has been the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, LifeLine Music Coalition, Inc. since 2003. Graziella has co-produced 19 jazz festivals and hundreds of concerts, including the popular West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival and the Philadelphia Jazz and Soul Festival.
Session – LifeStyle
Being Mindful: Quiet Your Mind, Body, and Soul through Meditation
Jackie Chaz, Northeast Family YMCA
Jackie is a 200 Hour RYT, meditation teacher, and Prancing Peacock Yoga School graduate. She is a firm believer in trusting the universe. After spending years as an avid runner, Jackie first realized the healing power of yoga while nursing a torn ligament. She now credits that injury for bringing her back to the yoga mat and can remember the exact moment she realized she would become a yoga teacher. She was in the middle of a class healing that injury, and something about the movement, music, and meditation was so emotionally healing it brought her to happy tears when she realized she was exactly where she was meant to be. It was at that moment she knew she wanted to allow others the ability to feel the healing power of yoga too and that she was meant to be a yoga teacher. Although the injury wasn’t fun, sometimes the universe needs to go to great lengths to wake us up and lead us to our dharmas, and she is beyond grateful it led her to that class that day!
Jackie’s time on the mat has helped to manage anxiety and has been instrumental in her journey of self-love and body acceptance. She encourages her students to use yoga and meditation as a way to settle their minds, connect inward, and celebrate their bodies.
Jackie works in marketing during the day, and when she’s not on the mat, she’s likely somewhere frolicking in nature, snuggling her French Bulldog, or reading a good book.
Session – Personal Development
Brilliantly Resilient: Embracing Your Past, Present, and Future
Mary Fran Bontempo, Author, Speaker, and Humorist and Kristin Smedley, Author and Speaker
Mary Fran Bontempo and Kristin Smedley are both TEDx speakers, authors, content and program creators, media hosts, and the co-founders of Brilliantly Resilient. Kristin is the founder of a global patient advocacy nonprofit, and Mary Fran is a dedicated advocate, speaker, and writer for the recovery community.
They have navigated major challenges, including heroin addiction and blindness, and created Brilliantly Resilient after discovering common strategies and tools for not only surviving but thriving through a crisis and beyond. Mary Fran and Kristin are committed to helping others uncover their own Brilliance and Resilience to live life Brilliant, not Broken. Find them at www.brilliantlyresilient.net.