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August 12-14, 2024

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2024 Keynote Speaker Bios

2024 Keynote Speaker Bios

Karith Foster

Karith Foster is a Speaker, Humorist and best-selling Author of the best-selling book. She is also a Diversity Inclusion & Belonging Expert and the creator of the groundbreaking INVERSITY™ methodology. 

Her work is creating a seismic shift in diversity, leadership and culture change in academic institutions, organizations and corporations across America.

In addition to being CEO of INVERSITY™ Solutions, Karith is also the Founder of F.R.A.M.E the Foster Russell Alliance for Meaningful Expression a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose mission is to inspire free speech, inclusion, social change and empowerment through education and mentorship on college and university campuses “If you can laugh at it you can get through it,” is her motto and the invaluable lesson she seeks to instill in others. This is the underlying theme of her popular TEDx Talk “The Art of Defying Stereotypes: Learning to be True to Your Voice.”

Karith is an alumna of Stephens College and Oxford University. 

Karith resides in NYC, Texas and Southern California with her husband aka “The Aussie” and her two beautiful and hysterical daughters.

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 him 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). In 2013 he published 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 to world-renowned chef, author, television star and authoritative life strategist, Jeff’s inspiring story of life transformation has been featured on Oprah’s Life Class, Good Morning America, Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, CNNThe 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 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 not traveling the world teaching his life-changing lessons, or working with at risk young people through his nonprofit The Chef Jeff Project. He resides in Las Vegas with his wife Stacy and their five children.

Jeff Henderson

Jeff Henderson helps people and organizations turn their ideas into reality.  He has a track record of doing this himself launching several thriving organizations including Buckhead Church, Gwinnett Church, Preaching Rocket, North Point Online, Launch Youniversity, UpFront and a new idea in 2017 for Fathers and Sons called Champion Tribes.

Prior to serving as a pastor, Jeff spent 15 years in marketing at Chick-fil-A, Inc., the Atlanta Braves, Callaway Gardens and Lake Lanier Island Resorts.  He has a unique first-hand knowledge of both the non-profit and for-profit worlds.   Jeff has also become a trusted voice for business and non-profit leaders in communication coaching.  His online training courses have helped thousands of leaders become better communicators because, as Jeff says, “leadership eventually comes with a microphone.” 

An avid sports fan, Jeff believes the Atlanta Hawks made a big mistake by never drafting him.  After all, the Hawks have yet to win an NBA Championship.  Despite this, Jeff continues to practice his jump shot in the drive-way with his 15-year-old son Cole, 17-year-old daughter Jesse and his wife of 20 years, Wendy. 

Cy Wakeman

Cy Wakeman is a drama researcher, New York Times best-selling author, and 2023 World’s #1 Leadership Guru who is recognized for her Reality-Based approach to leadership. Backed by over 25 years of unparalleled experience partnering with top brands spanning all industries, Cy’s philosophy offers a modern approach to leadership in which employees and managers alike can deliver better results with less drama, higher engagement without entitlement, and more happiness in even the most challenging workplace realities.

Deemed “the secret weapon to restoring sanity to the workplace and the worldplace,” Cy empowers leaders to love their teams up while calling them up to greatness. Her client list includes Google, Meta, Viacom, NBC Universal, Keurig Dr. Pepper, NASA, Pfizer, CVS, Johns Hopkins, Stanford Health Care, Bank of America, among others.

As a highly sought-after conference headliner, Cy holds a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speaker’s Association, placing her within the top 3% of speakers worldwide.

Cy’s social platform audience has surpassed 250,000 followers. Her Reality-Based Leadership newsletter that often goes viral within organizations reaches over 25,000 raving fans who discuss and apply her modern leadership techniques each and every week.

She has published four best-selling books, the latest of which is Life’s Messy, Live Happy: Things Don’t Have to Be Perfect for You to Be Content (2022). Cy also hosts the No Ego podcast that offers her latest insights into how to address the toughest leadership challenges of today.

Ken Yerkes

Ken Yerkes’ ability to transform complex scenarios into workable strategies has earned him not only his clients’ trust, but also acclaim as one of the country’s recognized leaders in labor and employment law. In addition to being an inaugural National Law Journal Trailblazer (limited to 26 practitioners), he is a fellow in both The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and the Litigation Counsel of America and has also been interviewed, quoted and/or featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inside Counsel Magazine, Corporate Counsel Magazine and Law360.

His unwavering drive to serve as a comprehensive resource to his clients has allowed him to design a practice that balances litigation, counseling and traditional labor matters.

Ken has been a featured speaker and presenter at numerous law partnering conferences and in-house law training programs in cities including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Toronto. Topical subject matter included a focus on managing litigation as a business and effective strategies to maximize legal services.

His passion for the law makes him a willing partner and collaborator with clients and colleagues alike, and his people skills have helped him to develop a keen understanding about what clients actually value in outside counsel and the delivery of legal services.