2017 Keynote Speakers

Dr. Stephen Sroka

Sunday, July 9 @ 9 a.m.


Dr. Stephen Sroka is an internationally recognized motivational speaker, award winning teacher, author and consultant. He is an adjunct assistant professor in the Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine and was a teacher, coach and member of the crisis intervention team at Cleveland Public Schools from 1969-1999.


But “Boy is retarded,” reads the top of his third-grade report card. In elementary school, he was mocked for having a crossed eye and a speech impediment. He was crippled in a high school fight. Doctors said, “Listen to your teachers.” The more he listened, the smarter the teachers became. His high school counselor told him that he didn’t have the IQ to go to college, but he didn’t know that Steve had the I WILL. (Today it is called GRIT.)


He learned to live with the gifts of ADHD and dyslexia. He went from the “projects” to being inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. He was awarded The Walt Disney American Outstanding Teacher of Health and Physical Education, and has been on Oprah and covered in USA TODAY. He travels the world striving to reach, elevate and inspire with The Power of One message. After a cardiac arrest, he realized that The Power of One was not enough. He needed The Power of Many. We all do. He always did, he just didn’t know it. He does now.


See Related Article for more

Don Harkey

Sunday, July 9 @ 4:30 p.m.


Don Harkey spent the first decade of his career with Fortune 500 companies (3M, ADM) as a chemical engineer where he played different roles including a shift supervisor and project engineer. He also learned principles of leadership, Six-Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing. Most importantly, he learned how to implement systems that help teams to be successful.


Don cofounded People Centric Consulting Group with Randy Mayes. Don is a popular keynote speaker delivering high-energy, interactive and often humorous presentations on topics including managing Millennials, building a healthy culture, developing better managers and leaders, and methods of handling toxic employees. His primary role at People Centric is business development, although he still works with many clients. His favorite saying is “Passion is Productive."

Jesus M. Villahermosa, Jr

Monday, July 10 @ 4 p.m.


Jesus M. Villahermosa, Jr., is the founder of Crisis Reality Training, a safety and security consulting firm, 30 years ago while serving as a deputy for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Tacoma, Washington. He served as a member of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department S.W.A.T. Team from 1983 to 2013 and retired from the force a year later as a sergeant. Jesus is also the former director of campus safety at Pacific Lutheran University.


He was the first certified master defensive tactics instructor for law enforcement personnel in the state of Washington and was also a firearm’s instructor and is a certified active shooter instructor for law enforcement personnel. Jesus has participated in dozens of training sessions related to terrorism prevention and response as well as in hostage rescue and has put that training into action during actual high risk situations while under fire.


Since 1988, he has primarily focused specifically on the issues of school related and workplace violence. He has taught over 600,000 professionals and students across the U.S. and Canada on gangs, youth violence, workplace violence, rape and assault prevention, and school safety issues such as active killer response planning, lockdown training and school bus safety issues. Jesus has spoken to thousands of pupil transporters around the country on issues related to use of force, breaking up fights and responding to crisis on the bus. Additionally, Jesus has testified as a school safety, threat assessment and use of force expert in numerous trials both in the criminal and civil arenas and is highly effective in courtroom testimony.


In June of 1997, Jesus began teaching as a FEMA guest instructor at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where Emergency Management Services and schools established partnerships to minimize the impact of youth violence in our nation’s schools.


Jesus attended and completed the threat assessment course taught by the U.S. Secret Services’ National Threat Assessment Center in Washington, D.C., where targeted school and workplace violence prevention was the focus of the course.


In addition to co-producing segments of “The Sheriff’s Report” on Comcast Cable, Jesus has been a guest or interviewed for a variety of radio and T.V. talk shows including CBC radio in Canada, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw CNN’s Headline News and various local TV affiliates. He has been quoted in numerous national publications, wrote a gang reference guide for education professionals and is featured in numerous safety and security training videos.


Jesus is currently finishing a book on planning and responding to the active killer attack, which will reveal how to increase your chances of survival if you are a student, teacher or bus driver who is caught in the attack.

Howard Putnam

Former CEO of Southwest Airlines

Speaker Hall of Fame

Tuesday, July 11 @ 7 p.m.


Howard Putnam is the former CEO of Southwest and Braniff Airlines and group VP of marketing for United Airlines. He is a business and motivational speaker, author, consultant, commentator, and online mentor on: Leadership, Customer Service, Change, Transformation and Ethics.


Howard was raised on an Iowa farm and learned to fly out of a pasture in his Father’s J-3 Piper Cub. He entered the airline business as a baggage handler at Midway Airport in Chicago for Capital Airlines at age 17. Capital was soon merged into United and Howard held thirteen different positions in sales, services and staff assignments in several cities, before being named Group Vice President of Marketing for United Airlines, the world’s largest airline, in 1976.


In 1978 he was recruited to become President and CEO of fledgling Southwest Airlines in Dallas, TX. While at Southwest Howard and his team tripled the revenues and tripled profitability in three years. They also successfully guided Southwest through airline deregulation and Southwest was the first air carrier to order the Boeing 737-300, which later became the largest selling aircraft ever for Boeing.


Howard led the visioning process at Southwest as well as further developing the “fun” culture and excellent customer service that Southwest is still known for today.  Southwest has been profitable every year for over thirty years, a record unsurpassed by any other airline.


In 1981, Howard was recruited by the board of directors of Braniff International to come aboard as CEO and save and/or restructure the financially failing airline. He was the first airline CEO to successfully take a major carrier into, through and out of chapter 11. Braniff flew again in 1984.

He is the author of “The Winds of Turbulence” on leadership and ethics. Harvard University wrote a case study on his experiences at Braniff, “The Ethics of Bankruptcy” as a model as to how to handle stakeholders in crisis.


He has also been an entrepreneur, serving as Chairman of a startup investment company and two small manufacturing and distribution companies.

Howard and Krista have two children, Michael, a commercial airline captain and Sue, in public relations and marketing.


See Related Article for More.

Conference Speakers

Tim Ammon

Vice President, School Bus Consultants


Fred Andersky

Director, Customer Solutions & Controls

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems


David Anderson

Director of Transportation

Adams 12 Five-Star Schools (Colo.)


Theresa Anderson

Anderson Consulting


Thomas Barth, Ph.D.

Survival Factors Investigator/Biomechanics Engineer

National Transportation Safety Board


Ben Belnap, Ph.D

Certified School Psychologist

Primary Children’s Hospital, Salt Lake City


Linda F. Bluth, Ed.D.

Special Needs Expert

Ellicott City, Md.


Marshall Casey

Director of Fleet Maintenance (ret.)

South Carolina Department of Education


Jeff Cassell

School Bus Safety Company


Matthew Clapp

North America Small Bus Manager

Kidde Fire Technologies


Walt Commans

Automotive Service Excellence


Denny Coughlin

School Bus Training Company


Aaron Dempsey

Okemos Public Schools (Mich.)


Norm Dube

Fire Investigator

ND Services, Inc.


Barbara Duffield

ESSA/McKinney-Vento Act Policy Expert


Todd Duncan

Tyler Technologies


Kevin Easley

Transportation Director

Raytown (Mo.) Quality Schools


Chris Ellison

Transportation Manager

Eugene (Ore.) School District


Tod Eskra

President, Transportation Services Co.


Amanda Essex

Transportation Analyst

National Conference of State Legislatures


Michael Flood

Vice President of Strategy



Glenna Gallo, M.S, M.B.A.

Special Education Director

Utah State Department of Education

President, National Association of State Directors of Special Education


Ali Haghani, Ph.D.

Prof. of Civil & Environmental Engineering

University of Maryland


Launi Harden

Transportation Supervisor

Washington County (Utah) School District


Charlie Hood

Executive Director



Betty Hughes

Pupil Transportation Safety Institute


Alexis Kostas, Ph.D.

Asst. Professor of Robotics

University of Nevada, Reno


Jeff Krueger

Director of Product Development

USSC Group/Fogmaker


Dan Mannix

Asst. Superintendent

Beekmantown (N.Y.) CSD


Greg Marvel

School Board Member

San Ramon (Calif.) Valley USD


Sonia Mastros


Orbit Software, Inc.


Pete Meslin

Director of Transportation

Newport-Mesa (Calif.) USD


Bruce Miles

Director of Government Specifications &

Product Validation

Blue Bird Corporation


Patrick Mulick, B.C.B.A.

Autism Coordinator

Auburn (Wash.) School District


Charlie Ott

Director of Transportation

Fremont (Calif.) USD


Tim Purvis

Director of Transportation

Poway (Calif.) Unified School District


Keshav Guptha Ragunathan

Senior Director, Asset Management

National Express, LLC


Dan Roberts




Alexandra Robinson

Executive Director of Transportation

New York City Department of Education


Joe Scesny

Safety Consultant

Supervising Motor Vehicle Inspector (ret.)

NY State Department of Transportation


Ali Shafani, Ph.D.

Prof. of Civil & Environmental Engineering

University of Maryland


Michael Shields

Director of Transportation

Salem-Keizer (Ore.) Public Schools


Sue Shutrump

OT/PT Supervisor

Trumbull County (Ohio) ESC


GP Singh

CEO & Founder, ByteCurve, LLC


Scott Smay

Director, Research & Development

Navistar/IC Bus


Eric Smith

Transportation Director

Seneca R-7 School District in Neosho, Mo.


Ben Springer, Ph.D.

Director of Special Education

Wasatch County (Utah) School District


Cindy Steigerwald

Director of Transportation/Safety

Mukilteo (Wash.) School District


Mike Stotler

Manager of Service Education

Thomas Built Buses


Mark Swackhamer

Assistant Director of Transportation

Humble (Texas) ISD


Michael Terreri

Project Manager, Clean Transportation

Center for Sustainable Energy


Jay Thurber

Transportation Coordinator

CSI Head Start/Early Head Start

Shoshone, Idaho


Jesus M. Villahermosa, Jr.

Owner & Founder

Crisis Reality Training, Inc.


Winship Wheatley

Attorney & Consultant

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