Past Keynote Speakers

Fawn Germer, Author and Consultant

Few people have influenced the day-to-day performance of women more than Fawn Germer. The sought-after, bestselling Oprah-featured author, speaker and business consultant is revered for her authenticity and inspiration. She is respected around the world for her groundbreaking work on the leadership and performance dynamics that teach others how to deal with obstacles, then drill down and deliver. Fawn is an expert on change and viability, showing how to turn the stress of a change-driven world into an opportunity to innovate and transform. More than anything, Fawn is honest and real – so real that her audiences quickly connect with her as if she were speaking personally to each individual. She is an animated storyteller who uses compelling and entertaining stories to make the takeaway points that no one forgets.


Fawn once had a boss tell her that she’d never be more than she was at the time – a reporter – and she sure showed him. Fawn is a four-time, Pulitzer-nominated investigative journalist and the author of seven books including the Oprah pick, Hard Won Wisdom. Fawn personally interviewed more than 300 of the most accomplished women leaders of our times, including Olympic athletes, CEOs, prime ministers, presidents, Academy Award winners and many other trailblazers who shared with her the secrets of true success. From them, she learned that success is born in risk, and power comes from the self-awareness that disables our doubt and self-esteem issues.

She travels the globe with her message of viability, performance and power. In recent months, she keynoted for Harvard, Cisco, Pfizer, Deloitte, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark, Xerox, Bayer, AIG, PepsiCo, the NCAA, Marathon Petroleum, Hallmark, the Network of Executive Women, the UCLA Anderson School of Business, the Wharton School of Business and many others. 


Read more about Fawn at

Pegine, Motivational Speaker and CEO of Team Pegine, Inc

Known as a maverick leader Pegine is pioneering, irreverent and entrepreneurial.  As a Keynote speaker on leadership and business, she is motivational, inspirational, really funny, real and relevant.

Pegine is independent, confident, and perhaps a little eccentric. She is creative, innovative, and sharp-witted. A deep thinker she thinks in both linear and nonlinear ways. People love being around her, she is a natural leader with an adventurous spirit. She goes by her first name, Pegine. If first names are good enough for Oprah, Beyoncé and Shakira, it is good enough for her.

Pegine is the only Latina and one of only eight women inducted into the 60-member Motivational Speakers Hall of Fame, others include Anthony Robbins and Jack Canfield. Her company was named the #3 Fastest-Growing Privately Own Companies in North Florida. Pegine was honored at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Conference by Macy’s and Minority Business Enterprise Magazine where she was named one of three 2016 Women Who ROCK IN BUSINESS, she was the cover story. Named by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) the world’s largest HR professional society, as one of 100 Global Thought Leaders on Diversity and Inclusion. Clients include ten percent of the Fortune 100 global corporations, twelve percent of Direct Selling News Global Top 50 Companies and all branches of the US military.

A former Bronx gang member kicked out of her first high school, she is a true American success story. Her story and wisdom is featured in many books including “The American Dream Revisited” by Gary Sirak; “The Art of Bouncing Back” by Zelda Greenberg; “Speak and Grow Rich” by Dottie Walters; and “Breaking Through: Getting Past the Stuck Parts of Your Life” by Barbara Stanny.

Read more about Pegine at

Past Breakout Speakers

Gina Allgaier - Sex, Drugs and Healthy Lifestyles

Gina started Speak Up About Drugs after losing her 21 year old son, Tristan Thomas, to accidental overdose. Speak Up About Drugs assists individuals in finding resources for treatment and recovery, provides support for parents dealing with a child’s addiction, works with other organizations to provide substance abuse awareness and education, and supports legislation addressing the severity of today’s drug epidemic.


Before starting Speak Up About Drugs, Gina spent 26 years in marketing and sales for Kraft Foods. She is a wife and mother of three boys from Bentonville, Arkansas. 


Learn more at

Joe Bussell - Men as Allies, Panelist

Joe is currently Walmart's Senior Director of Realty Market Strategy, using customer insights and analytics to drive digital and physical strategies for the company. Prior to his current role, he held multiple positions within Walmart’s Ethics & Compliance department managing budgeting, strategy, risk assessments, monitoring, and training & awareness functions.  Prior to joining Walmart, Joe held management positions in the newspaper industry, grocery retail, and manufacturing industries.

Joe has been a champion for diversity and inclusion throughout his career, serving as a leader within the Hispanic Latino Associate Resource Group and driving the creation and management of programs such as Café y Carreras and Gateways.  Joe was selected as one of the initial participants in Walmart’s partnership with the MARC (Men Advocating Real Change) program to lead on gender and racial equality.


Joe has a Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas and a Masters of Business Administration from Capella University.

Melissa Rhodes Carter - How Empowered Women Empower Women

Melissa is a former Foreign Service Officer for the United States Department of State and current director of the upcoming Bentonville location of Beautiful Lives Boutique - a women's retail thrift store that provides revenue for organizations supporting vulnerable women in NWA and around the world. 

Throughout her career, she has directed US government policy on trafficking persons, gender-based violence, refugees, and human rights. Passionate and articulate, Melissa has been known to deliver a message that is both convicting and empowering when it comes to the fight for social justice in the world today.

Read more about Beautiful Lives Boutique at

Noëlla De Maina - The Innovative Power of Inclusion: Lessons from Canada’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Noëlla De Maina serves as Consul and Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Services Manager at the Consulate General of Canada in Dallas. She spearheads Canada's efforts to advance foreign policy interests in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas through diplomacy, the development of foreign policy advice and programming. 

Noëlla joined the Department in 2010. Previously, she served as Senior Advocacy Strategist for North America, Africa and the Middle East; Manager – Strategic Policy and Program Manger for the Canadian Studies Program. She also co-developed Canada’s first digital diplomacy training programming for outgoing diplomats. 

She earned her undergraduate degree in International Business from Concordia University (Montréal, Canada) where she was a member of the School of Community and Public Affairs. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership from McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and a Masters of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Canada).  Born and raised in Montréal, Québec - Canada's French speaking province - Noëlla is fluently bilingual in English and French, and speaks Italian and Spanish.

JoBeth Evans - Sex, Drugs and Healthy Lifestyles

JoBeth is a nationally-certified Addiction Recovery Coach, Harm Reduction Coach, and Life Coach who specializes in working with women who are looking to live a life of abundance, whether they are recovering from addiction or living the 'good life' but wanting to take things to the next level. She also works to bring addiction services such as recovery coaching, intervention, sober on demand and failure to launch to businesses and corporations in Northwest Arkansas.


JoBeth is a wife and mother of two kids. She teaches public speaking at the University of Arkansas, and is a member of the NWA Advisory Board for The CALL, working to raise the number of foster parents in Madison and Carroll Counties.

Learn more about JoBeth at


Ronetta is the Founder and CEO of Francis Dynamics Consulting Group, which specializes in executive coaching and leadership development and was founded on the principle that when women own their brilliance and lead with authenticity, they flourish.  


Certified as a John Maxwell Team Member Executive Coach, Speaker and Trainer, Ronetta is a passionate public speaker.  In her coaching and training practice, she uses her dynamic “Bloom Where You’re Planted” Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program™, to support and empower leaders challenge the status quo, embrace their talents and refine their executive presence --  leading to their season of full bloom. 

Learn more about Ronetta at

Ronetta Francis - Bloom Where You are Planted

Ben joined Walmart's Global People team as Chief Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Officer in 2015.  In this role, Ben and his team are responsible for the continued healthy evolution of the company’s culture, the development of behaviors that embrace diversity and inclusion, and promotion of the company’s external reputation. He has been with Walmart since 2008. Prior to Walmart, Ben worked 11 years at Dell Inc. including serving as vice president of Corporate and Product Group I/T, and 14 years with ENSERCH Corporation. 

In 2006, Ben received the Temple University Fox School I/T Award for Distinguished Alumni. He holds an M.B.A. from Amber University in Dallas, Texas, a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in computer science from Temple University in Philadelphia, and completed Harvard’s Advanced Management Program. He serves on the boards of several national and local organizations, including the Walmart Foundation; Catalyst Board of Advisors; Ron Clark Academy (Atlanta); United Negro College Fund; Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce; and Thaden School (2016-2019) (Bentonville, Arkansas).

Learn More about Ben at

Ben Saba Hasan - Men as Allies, Moderator
Rahul Jalali - Men as Allies, Panelist

In his current role as Vice President, Rahul leads the IT organization focused on providing the cutting-edge Retail systems for all brands and formats of Intl Walmart Stores. Walmart International is a $120 billion revenue business with operations in 20+ countries.  The areas include Supply Chain, Replenishment, Store Operations, Global Sourcing and SAP Retail domains.

In his previous role, Rahul led the IT areas that developed Store and Club systems worldwide including US. Prior to this role he led Mergers and Acquisitions area from IT perspective. He was responsible for facilitating all IT aspects of M&A integration for new entities joining Walmart family in order to ensure effective due diligence, on-boarding and integration of new entities. He brings product knowledge experience of 22 years within the company in core retail domains.

Eileen Bowles Jennings - Say No, Scale Back, Recalibrate: Move Forward with Refined Focus and find Fulfillment and Success

Eileen has been with Arvest Bank for over fifteen years and is currently Senior Vice President – Area Loan Manager in Fayetteville.  Prior to joining Arvest, she held positions at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA, PNC Bank subsidiary - Midland Loan Services, and Key Bank Commercial Mortgage Capital Group. She holds 2 B.S.B.A.s from the University of Arkansas. She also attended University of Quebec at Chicoutimi to study French, and spent six months in Toulouse, France studying international business at the Ecole Superieur de Commerce. She is currently attending Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU in Dallas, TX.

Eileen was a member of Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2014, and named Commercial Banker of the Year for Arkansas in 2016 and Business Advocate of the Year in 2017 for the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.  She was previously President for the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, and for RMI, Inc. She also volunteers with the Arkansas Small Business Technology and Development Center and the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program. 


Grace has a vision of a world where people wake up looking forward to their workday because their jobs are meaningful, interesting, challenging, and even exciting. Her big question is, What if work was more fun? Not just livable; not just bearable: fun. Work shouldn’t suck. The corporate life shouldn’t be a rat race. It starts with the first-line manager and leader – and 60 percent of those new leaders shouldn’t fail in their first year.

Drawing on 25 years of corporate experience – including 16 years of executive leadership – plus 15 years of training and coaching fledgling leaders, Grace works with first-line managers and leaders to help them create meaningful, enjoyable, high-paying careers as they learn the skills most in demand by the companies they work for.

Read more about Grace at

Grace Judson - Managing the Inner Critic: How to Stop the Rotten Tomato Fight in Your Head
Brinda Murty - Is Your Career AI Ready?

Brinda Murty leads the artificial intelligence (AI) business at Genpact, a global professional services firm focus on delivering digital transformation. Her responsibilities include overseeing all AI products and services in the Cora AI portfolio, part of Genpact Cora, the company’s digital business platform. As a member of Genpact’s Digital business leadership team, Brinda determines the company’s go-to-market AI strategy, including interpreting outcomes of research and development activities to deliver AI-enabled solutions that solve real business issues for Genpact’s clients, which includes approximately a third of the Fortune 500. She helps enterprises understand AI’s potential to speed their digital transformation and drive strategic business outcomes.
Prior to her current role, Brinda was a partner in Genpact’s Capital Markets and IT Services business, where she led a joint venture called, and also managed relationships with several large, global investment banking clients. Previously, she was a corporate banker with experience at top financial institutions such Citi and ABN AMRO.
Brinda also oversees Genpact’s diversity and inclusion (D&I) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) program in the United States. She oversees activities and resources to engage Genpact employees across the United States in D&I and CSR activities, including helping Genpact’s businesses leaders leverage their passion in these areas and encourage activities among their teams.

Allyson is the founder and CEO of the 7 Minute Life, a time management company. Her books have sold more than 130,000 copies and have been translated into Chinese, Turkish, Korean, and Spanish. Her YouTube channel has had more than 1.7 million minutes watched. Allyson’s latest message is titled, “Start with Happy: Reigniting Passion and Purpose in the Workplace.” She works with female CEOs, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs sharing ground breaking strategies revolutionizing corporate cultures. Employees want to work with commitment, clarity, conviction, determination, and excitement. They want their work to matter.

Allyson worked in the financial services industry for 30 years including 24 years with Morgan Stanley. Her clients include Kellogg’s, Morgan Stanley, Northern Trust, IMCA, and the FBI. She has been a guest on CNN and Bloomberg Information TV. Her work has been seen in Investor’s Business Daily, Advisor Today, Morningstar, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun Times, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Success Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, and Fast Company.

Learn more about Allyson at

Allyson Lewis - The 7 Minute Life
Arthur T. Matthews - Conflict Ebb & Flow: Understanding Your Footprint and the Good, Bad and the Ugly!

Arthur has served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas for over two decades. He teaches undergrad and MBA courses in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. He also serves on the faculty at NYU and Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations where he teaches undergraduate, MPA and MBA courses. He has lectured at Harvard, Columbia and the Clinton School of Public Service.


Arthur is the Chief Operating Officer and bilateralpreneur of a boutique training and consulting firm by the name of Matthews and Matthews Consulting, which provides expertise in the areas of supervisory, managerial and leadership skills, implicit bias, employee & labor relations, human resources, organizational change, diversity and inclusion, conflict resolution, talent management, sexual harassment awareness and communication skills. Clients include Arvest Bank, Georges, Columbia University, J.P Morgan Chase, Colgate Palmolive and the Bermuda Ministry of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety. He has presented to global leaders from South Africa, Mexico, Bermuda, Canada and Panama and served as a Visiting Professor in China this summer at the University of Electronic, Science and Technology in Chengdu.


Arthur earned his Juris Doctor (J.D) degree from Howard University School of Law. He is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Learn more about Arthur at

Allison A. McElroy - Networking Ninja!

Allison is a gregarious cocktail of people pleasing, approval seeking, and humor instigating - like a bubbly spumante!? She finds life is better when you are friendly, engaging, funny, bubbly, warm, loyal, and a great listener. She works hard to be YOUR FRIEND, and share her experience and knowledge to help you reach your professional and personal goals.

Allison is a public speaker, a mentor, a cheerleader. She has 24 years of development experience. What keeps her going is the ability to work with some of the most amazing organizations and individuals! It fills her up, and puts a twinkle in her eye. She loves strategizing with people and really breaking down their lofty goals into an easy to follow plan.  


Learn more about Allison at


Melody Morgan is a highly regarded speaker, business and life coach. Melody’s mission is to help businesses and individuals reach their true potential, maximize their leadership abilities and achieve their goals.

As an entrepreneur and proud mother, she began her speaking and coaching business in 2016 and quickly became sought after. She has been the keynote speaker more than a half dozen organizations and is featured in a reoccurring monthly segment on  Good Morning Four States-channel KODE 12 which focuses on organizing you goals and your life. Melody actively engages her audience and motivates them to strive to live their best life.

Read more about Melody at

Melody Morgan - The Seven Me's
Nidhi Munjal - Men as Allies, Panelist

Nidhi is Walmart’s vice president, partnership services – India. This team acts as ambassadors and drives value within markets. She has been a member of the Walmart team for 11 years, holding various positions including director of country support for Central America and sub-Saharan Africa, senior director of systems process & analytics with the Responsible Sourcing and U.S. Compliance teams, and vice president of global people transformation. She has served in the Sustainability team with a focus on coordinating stakeholder groups including NGOs, media, government representatives, marketing, and others, along with leading the development of Sustainability Milestone Meetings and Global Responsibility Reports.

Before coming to Walmart, Nidhi worked for Sears Holdings Corporation, the nation's fourth largest broadline retailer, where she led communications for more than 800 stores. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Operations Management and Information Systems from Northern Illinois University, along with a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Management Information Systems from North Central College.

Sonia Jackson Myles - The Power of Sisterhood in Leadership

Sonia is the Founder, President & CEO of The Sister Accord Foundation, which has 3 areas of focus: educating girls and women, enlightening girls and women of the Power of Sisterhood, and eradicating bullying and violence against girls and women. She is also the Founder & CEO of The Accord Group LLC, which is a leadership development, executive coaching, employee engagement, branding & diversity consultancy. Before launching her Sister Accord business full-time, Sonia was a corporate executive with over 20 years of experience, managing over $20 Billion in spend. She has worked for Ford Motor Company, The Gillette Company and The Procter & Gamble Company.

Sonia has received numerous awards and accolades, including an NAACP Image award, the Gillette Legacy award, one of Essence Magazine's 'Women of Power' in 2008, and BCWN's Woman of the Year in 2015. She has numerous media appearances and mentions, including Disney, Fortune Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, Good Morning America, and The Huffington Post. Sonia currently serves as the Chair for FAMU’s School of Business & Industry’s Advisory Board a Board Member for The Impact Young Lives Foundation.

Read more about Sonia at

Jamie Smith - My Entrepreneurial Journey: Mindset, Mission, and Authenticity

Jamie Smith is a former newspaper journalist turned small business owner who now uses her skills to give small businesses and nonprofits “a voice with the written word.” Through her business, Jamie’s Notebook, Jamie offers writing, consulting, and training services designed to help clients communicate their vision and expertise. Before starting her business in 2009, Jamie was a reporter covering primarily the education beat in Benton County.

In her 10 years of being in business, Jamie has realized that being an entrepreneur is more about mindset than the physical act of starting a business. She’s learned, and now shares, how entrepreneurialism is about mission, mindset, and authenticity. Jamie is active in the local WordPress community, serves on the board of GiveCamp NWA, and co-founded a business networking group for the Elkins-area community. 

Read more about Jamie at

Lindsay Young - Networking Like a Rockstar!

As Chief Difference Maker at nu marketing, Lindsay helps small to medium sized design and construction companies with their marketing and business development plans. With over thirteen years of experience, she helps companies with marketing strategies, brand perception surveys, trade show implementation, customer and employee events, presentations, social media presence, employee training, and project management of branding and website redevelopment.

Lindsay received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in business management from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS. She is a past recipient of the Wichita Business Journal 40 Under 40. Currently, she serves as the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Missouri Valley Regional Conference Chair and is an active member and advisor of both the Wichita Chapter SMPS and Ozark Chapter SMPS. Lindsay holds the Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM) through SMPS. she is actively involved in NAWIC Northwest Arkansas and Hustle In Heels.

Read more about Lindsay at

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce
702 SE 5th St., Ste. 40 | Bentonville, AR 72712

Tel: 479.273.2841

Fax: 479.273.2831

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