With over 20 years of experience in higher education, Courtney Aldrich serves as the Associate Director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement. She works closely with the director to oversee ILA operations. Courtney utilizes her previous experience as UGA’s Director of Alumni Career Services to provide career development support to ILA students. She teaches course in Career and Professional Development in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. She has had numerous speaking engagements on networking. Courtney earned a MEd from University of Georgia and a BA (Advertising and Public Relations) from Florida Southern College. She lives in Oconee County with her husband (Jason) and children (Elizabeth, Leslie, Troy and Paige). Courtney enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.
Allen C. Amason is Dean of the College of Business & Professor of Management at Georgia Southern University. He earned a Ph.D. in International Strategic Management from the Moore School of Business, at the University of South Carolina, and he served on the faculties of Mississippi State and the University of Georgia. At UGA, he was Chair of the Department of Management in the Terry College of Business. Dr. Amason researches strategic decision-making and the role of top management teams in the strategy process. He is the author of the popular book, Strategic Management: From Theory to Practice, and has published more than thirty-five articles and monographs in various scholarly outlets. He has been on numerous editorial boards served as Associate Editor for the Journal of Management Studies and the Journal of Management. He is also past-President of the Southern Management Association.Professor Amason has served on the boards of various organizations including Georgia Oak Partners, the Russian Foundation for Population Health and Recovery, and the Ocean Exchange. He is a popular speaker and was the Terry College Teacher of the Year in 2006. He has done C-level consulting with a variety of firms including, Exide Technologies, Primewest Energy, Rosetta Marketing, Johnson & Johnson, Computer Associates, Novartis, Tenet Healthcare, Nortel, and Advanced Micro Devices. He holds a bachelors degree in finance, from Georgia Southern, and has been married for 35 years to his high school sweetheart, and Georgia Southern alumna, Cricket Amason. They have 4 children; the youngest of whom was the subject of the popular book, Expensive Yanna: An Adoption Story.
Nicholas Berente is an associate professor in Management Information Systems at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. He received his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University and conducted his postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on digital innovation in organizations, cyberinfrastructure, and institutional change. Dr. Berente is an experienced entrepreneur, the principal investigator for a number of National Science Foundation projects, and has authored more than one hundred peer-reviewed scholarly articles. His work has been published in top journals, including Organization Science, Information Systems Research, MIS Quarterly, and Research Policy. He is an Associate Editor for Information Systems Research, Visiting Fellow at the University of Liechtenstein, and Visiting Faculty at the Indian School of Business.
Jim Bullard is a Senior Consultant in the Risk & Compliance Solutions department for CUNA Mutual Group. In this role, he is responsible for assisting credit unions in identifying areas of risk in their operations and recommending appropriate controls to reduce loss exposures. He serves credit unions nationally and is the Team Lead for all lending related consultations. Prior to joining CUNA Mutual Group, Bullard held consultant positions at Solomon Edwards Group, Promontory Financial, and has more than 23 years’ experience in commercial lending at both community and super-regional banks. Bullard graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in business administration specializing in Finance. He also completed the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.
Pierre Cardenas, MBA, NCCO. Pierre has 33 years in the financial industry at both credit unions and banks. He has held executive level positions in organizations from $140 million to a billion in assets. Pierre has built and managed consumer, mortgage, indirect and commercial lending programs along with establishing innovative remote delivery channels and retail branch strategies. He has held positions in compliance for community banks & credit unions and maintains his NCCO designation. Pierre started his own business “Innovators of Change” in 2008 while serving as the Senior VP of Retail at a $540 Mill CU. In 2010 He consulted, presented & trained in credit unions across the country specializing in innovative direct & indirect lending strategies, BPI workflow efficiencies, advanced underwriting resolutions, sales training and loan portfolio management & evaluation. In January of 2015 Pierre took over the as CEO of Capitol Credit Union in Austin, Texas a $125M CU. As CEO of Capitol CU he continues to serve the credit union industry by training, speaking and consulting along with overseeing a Marriage and Family Counseling 501c3 non-profit organization he and his wife founded in 2013.
Mark Curran has been working in and around credit unions for more than 40 years. He began his career at the IBM Raleigh Employees Federal Credit Union as a summer intern while in college. Upon graduation from Radford University, he began working full-time for the same credit union, where he held multiple positions, from Teller to Charlotte Area Manager, before leaving to pursue other opportunities within the credit union system. Today, this credit union is the $3 billion Coastal Federal Credit Union based in Raleigh, NC. Mark has been the President and CEO of Lion’s Share Federal Credit Union in Salisbury, NC since 2011. Lion’s Share FCU is a $45 million credit union serving 11,000 members, who are primarily employees of Food Lion grocery stores. Prior to joining Lion’s Share, Mark was the Senior Vice President of Business Development for the South Carolina Credit Union League and Palmetto Cooperative Services, a CUSO providing item processing and statement processing solutions for credit unions. While there, he expanded the customer base to include more than 350 credit unions in 8 states. Mark has also worked for the CUNA Mutual Group, where he was a Senior Account Manager responsible for servicing the insurance needs of 45 credit unions in South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia. He is a graduate of CUNA’s Southeast Regional Credit Union Management School (SRCUS) at the University of Georgia, where he was President of the Class of 1991.
Elizabeth Davis (M.A., NYU; Ph.D., Alabama) is the Coordinator of the interdisciplinary and cross-curricular Writing Certificate Program and teaches rhetoric and composition courses in the Department of English, including courses in Technical and Professional Communication, Writing for the Web, and Advanced Studies in Writing. She also coordinates the UGA Writing Fellows faculty development program and works to support writing instruction and assessment for the UGA community and beyond in a variety of workshops and seminars. Dr. Davis has worked with the College of Education’s Language and Literacy Education faculty to provide professional development for secondary school teachers in digital writing pedagogy and assessment. She has published work in the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative, International Journal of ePortfolio, and Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. She is the co-author, with Nedra Reynolds, of the Third Editions of Portfolio Keeping: A Guide for Students and Portfolio Teaching: A Guide for Instructors (Bedford/St. Martins, 2014).
Timothy A. Gardner currently serves credit unions Sales Executive with CUNA Mutual Group, serving 40 credit unions in Georgia and South Carolina. Most recently, Tim was the General Manager – Sales and Distribution for the International Division. Tim led the sales account teams in Europe, managing the Financial Services Programs, as well as third party relationships while based in Dublin, Ireland. Previously, Tim served as Financial Solutions Officer in the CU Financial Solutions area. As a Financial Solutions Officer, Tim helped credit unions understand the financial impact of CUNA Mutual’s products and services, and also consulted with credit unions on the use of CUNA Mutual’s financial solutions. Prior to joining CUNA Mutual, Tim was the Financial Analyst for Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union in Washington, D.C. He was responsible for the investment portfolio and preparation of the monthly financial statements. Earlier, Tim was an investment analyst at Merrill Lynch while attending college. Tim attended the University of Michigan for his undergraduate degree in Finance, Upper Iowa University for a Bachelor in Accounting, and has received an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago. CUNA Mutual Group is headquartered at the Credit Union Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and provides insurance and financial services to credit unions and their members world-wide.
Dr. Dale Gauthreaux is the Founder of Forge Leadership, a leadership advisory practice specializing in helping leaders address performance and engagement challenges. Through consulting, training and/or coaching, we help leaders develop the capacity and capability to accomplish their organization’s goals. A student of organizational culture and effectiveness, Gauthreaux brings over 30 years of experience in manufacturing, financial services, education, non-profit leadership and consulting. He is uniquely positioned to help equip your leaders to accomplish “what’s next?” Gauthreaux holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University, M.A. from Louisiana State University and B.A. from McNeese State. He has previously held teaching positions at Georgia State University, the University of Georgia, Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD), the University of Akron and the University of Richmond. In addition, Dale has served the Southeast CUNA Management School as a member of the faculty or Academic Director since 2007. At UGA he served as Director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement in the Terry College of Business. Previously, he worked as a human resources consultant for Capital One Financial (Richmond, VA) where he held various responsibilities for leadership and executive development. Prior to Capital One, he served as Manager of Training and Leadership Development at Swagelok (Solon, OH). Gauthreaux was a founding partner of Accelerated Growth Resources, an organizational development consulting firm that provides executive coaching and leadership development services.
Jennifer Green has been a credit union member as long as she can remember, and is a passionate advocate for all things credit union. Her knowledge and understanding of credit unions stems not only from her personal experiences as a credit union member but also more than 15 years working with management, staff, and volunteers at credit unions with assets ranging from less than $1 Million to over $1 Billion. Jennifer’s career with the Louisiana Credit Union League included experience in many areas of credit union operations, including education & training, marketing & communications, financial counseling, compliance, business lending, and human resources. She spearheaded development of the League’s Member Business Services Council, which expanded to include credit unions not just in Louisiana but also Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. She was also instrumental in bringing the Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor program to Louisiana credit unions through a unique partnership with the National Credit Union Foundation and the Mississippi Credit Union association. An active supporter of the SRCUS/Southeast CUNA Management School since 2002, Jennifer currently serves as a liaison and project reviewer for third year students’ whitepapers. Mrs. Green graduated from the University of New Orleans in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She has earned numerous professional designations, including Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE), Credit Union Compliance expert (CUCE), Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC), and Professional in Human Resources (PHR).
As Director of Cooperative Initiatives, Jeff Hardin works to build relationships and foster a strong sense of community among credit unions in the Carolinas, and to strengthen connections with other cooperatives throughout both states. He directs the CUaware Protégé Mentor program, a program that pairs young professionals or professionals in a career transition or crossroads with a mentor from another credit union for one year. Jeff also provides support to the Chapter & CUaware system in the Carolinas. With years of experience in communications, Jeff also helps credit unions share the stories that make them unique in the financial services marketplace. In this role, he is author of the Seven Principles Blog on carolinasleague.org. A proud Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE), Jeff works with a volunteer network of CUDEs in both states to raise awareness of and appreciation for the history, principles, and philosophy of credit unions and cooperatives. CUDEs work cooperatively to host the Principles and Philosophy Conference each year, and collaborate on service projects to benefit credit unions and their members. In his spare time, Jeff volunteers for Orange County Living Wage in Carrboro-Chapel Hill, NC. He enjoys hiking and other outdoor activities, especially in the North Carolina mountains.
Michael Huff joined Associated Credit Union (Peachtree Corners, Georgia) in October 2003 and has served the credit union in Branch Operations, Business Development, and Student Lending. Huff is currently responsible for the Project Management Office. He has more than fourteen (14) years of credit union/banking experience and over seven (7) years of project management experience. As AVP, Project Management, Huff oversees the implementation of major initiatives across the credit union. Huff represented his credit union in London, England in 2017 through a partnership with the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) and the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL). He has also served on the ACU Innovation Committee and the ACU Ignite “Member Loyalty” Committee. Huff received his Executive MBA with honors in 2009 from Kennesaw State University. During this time he gained valuable experience in strategic planning, executive leadership, financial management, operational management, and international and virtual teaming. He also holds a PMP Certification; a Southeast Region CUNA Management School Certification; and a B.B.A., Management and Marketing, from the University of Georgia. He has a strong commitment to family, community, and personal development.
Dr. Melenie Lankau received her doctoral degree in 1996 from the University of Miami’s School of Business in Organizational Behavior. After a 24 year career in academia, she joined Chick-fil- A as a full-time internal consultant to the Learning & Development department in Field Operations. Prior to joining the Corporate Office of Chick-fil- A, Dr. Lankau held a faculty appointment as an Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at Wake Forest University’s School of Business for six years. In her tenure at Wake, she was appointed as the first Senior Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion for the School of Business. In this role, Dr. Lankau worked with the leadership of the School to develop a strategy focused on diversity enrichment and inclusiveness, providing direction and support to enhance faculty and staff recruiting, retention, and development efforts. She also worked with student services and admissions to coordinate and support diversity efforts in student recruiting and retention, and served as the primary liaison with University-wide diversity initiatives. Dr. Lankau also served as an interim Dean of Graduate Programs and interim Director of the full-time MBA program. Prior to Wake Forest University, Dr. Lankau held faculty appointments at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration (1996-2000) and The University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business (2000-2010). While at the Terry College of Business, she was the Director of the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program, a two-year leadership development program for competitively selected undergraduate business students. During her years as a Professor, she was the recipient of numerous teaching awards at Cornell University, The University of Georgia, and Wake Forest University.
Crissy Ortiz, an influential leader, applies 17 years of experience in “bridging the gap” between organizational leaders and the neurodiverse community, specifically autism spectrum disorder. Crissy’s specializations include diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition, and learning and development. These areas serve as a niche in progressing understanding and engagement of an untapped cohort of talent poised to enter the workforce. Crissy currently manages a new autism study at the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to this role, Crissy held varied positions, over the course of 13 years, with one of the nation’s largest credit unions, South Carolina Federal Credit Union. A former position included Executive Director of the $1.3 billion-dollar cooperative’s talent management consulting group, Optimal Talent Solutions. Crissy is completing her doctoral studies in Leadership and Human Resources Development, at Regent University. She obtained a Master of Arts degree in Human Resources Management and Management (Webster University) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology (Charleston Southern University). In addition, Crissy holds a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) certification.
Dr. Craig Piercy is a senior lecturer of MIS in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia and the Director of the Master of Internet Technology program – Terry College’s first online Masters program. He earned his Ph.D. in the Management and Decision Sciences at the Terry college of Business – University of Georgia. His primary research has been to improve decision making in the face complex decisions involving multiple objectives. Dr. Piercy also holds an MBA from the Terry College and a B.S. Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Tech University. He attended UGA from 1990 to 1997. After a 3 year stint as an assistant professor in the Computer Science department of Towson University in Towson, MD, Dr. Piercy returned to UGA as a faculty member. Prior to his return to academia, Dr. Piercy worked as a process improvement engineer in the Textile manufacturing industry for Milliken and Company. His duties included the installation and maintenance of production and testing equipment. He was his production facilities leader in implementing Milliken’s TQM/SPC program which led helped the company earn the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in 1989. Dr. Piercy is a co-author and contributor to 5 information systems and business textbooks and is a creator of online educational media. He has also worked as a process improvement engineer, consultant and systems developer. He spends most of his free time with his family (he’s currently a high school and elementary school dad), enjoying outdoor activities and making things.
Bjørn F. Stillion Southard is inspired by helping people realize that they have something compelling to share with an audience. He is the co-author (with Christine Clapp) of “Presenting at Work: a Guide to Public Speaking in Professional Contexts.” Bjørn has more than 15 years of experience delivering public speaking instruction and seminars across the country and is a national award-winning debate coach. He is also an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and the Director of the Public Speaking Program at the University of Georgia. Bjørn has developed numerous presentation skills development programs, for both individuals and small groups, and for short and long-term engagements. He is especially proud of his involvement in various prison communication programs. Bjørn has a PhD and Master of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Rhetoric and Media Studies from Willamette University. He was also a collegiate All-American in speech, and a collegiate top-20 debater.
Dr. Merle Strangway has been enthusiastically received as a presenter and trainer by audiences across the United States and Canada. Merle is the founder and current president of The Learning Edge, Inc., a training and consulting company that focuses on helping people enhance their workplace performance. Merle has partnered with organizations such as The Home Depot, Cisco, The CDC and Southern Company to create award winning programs that develop skills in the areas of leadership, team building, coaching, employee engagement and emotional intelligence. He has also developed and taught in management programs at Emory University’s Program for Professional Development for more than 9 years. Merle began his business career with the Royal Bank of Canada, moving to Athens, GA in 1991 to pursue his doctorate at the University of Georgia. He still lives in Athens with his wife Carol.
Denise Wymore is the Co-Founder of The 6th Story. Her consulting focuses on the sixth cooperative principle, cooperation among cooperatives. In her 30 plus years with the movement she has experienced the ground truth of the organization as a teller, member service representative and loan officer. Then she went to the “back office” where she worked in support functions, that included compliance, HR, training, and operations. She found her passion in marketing, or what she likes to call cultivation. As a consultant she specializes in helping credit unions tell their story, both internally and externally. She has worked with credit unions all over the US ranging in asset size from $3 million to $3 billion. She facilitates strategic planning and turns “me too” brands into something worth talking about. She is the author of two books: Tattoos: The Ultimate Proof of a Successful Brand and The 2020 Vision of Marketing. Denise is a graduate of Western CUNA Management School, a certified Net Promoter® Score Associate and in 2012 was named a CU Times Woman to Watch. Last year, Denise joined the Volunteer FIRE/EMS department in her tiny town and is studying to become an EMT. In New Mexico she spearheaded the Keep It Co-Op campaign that has united all cooperatives in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Espanola. She believes that we are better together.