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2021 HR Connect

2021 HR Connect

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2021 HR Connect

BONUS: All attendees of HR Connect will also receive complimentary access to HR Connect Virtual, which will be held on November 9-10, 2021. Attend from the comfort of your office chair to obtain even more knowledge on hot topics in the employment law landscape, uncover new strategies to fill the talent void, and learn valuable insights to engage and retain your top performers. Check out the agenda here.

Main Conference: Tuesday, October 19 – Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | Kissimmee, FL

Pre-Conference Workshops: Monday, October 18, 2021

HR professionals faced a year of historic change in 2020, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Forced to adjust to hastily created remote work spaces as areas of the country went in and out of lockdown, HR pros were also tasked with understanding and complying with new laws designed to help employers and employees alike overcome some of the challenges brought on by COVID-19.

On top of compliance challenges, HR professionals had to pivot the workplace culture (and the workplace itself) to accommodate for social distancing guidelines and other safety precautions. Workplace happy hours and corporate meetings became Zoom calls and e-mails. In-person face time became virtual screen time, and many employees were stuck caring for children forced into remote learning for the same reasons.

With 2021 came the hope for “normal,” but just because the calendar changed dates doesn’t mean these challenges magically disappeared. This year is a time for recovery and building back your organization to pre-pandemic levels.

To do that, you must learn how to prepare and plan for new challenges while mastering the art of overcoming the current ones. By attending 2021 HR Connect from October 18–20, 2021, you’ll head into the new year armed with valuable information and insights you’ll need to protect your organization in the years ahead.

This exciting live event—which will be compliant with all current COVID-19 safeguards and protocols—will cover all aspects of the HR function! Our expert speakers will present sessions on employment law, recruiting, and talent and culture.

Other conference topics that will be discussed:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
  • Open enrollment benefits communication
  • Leave management in the aftermath of COVID-19
  • Employee classification in the gig era
  • Onboarding in a remote setting
  • Cheap and easy ways to source talent
  • Requiring mandatory flu and COVID-19 vaccines
  • Drug testing do’s and don’ts
  • And more!

Gain even more HR knowledge by attending our preconference event on October 18, 2021. 

Pre-Conference Agenda

Pre-Conferences: Monday, October 18, 2021

AM Pre-Conference Workshops

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m.
Morning Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
AM Preconferences (One retail price offers three sessions.)

AM Precon 1 — Mind the Gap: Understanding Employee Financial Stress and How Benefits Can Drive Solutions
8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Presented by Mike Wilbert, Chief Revenue Officer, Purchasing Power

COVID-19 has greatly impacted employees in the U.S. over the last 16 months, and employers around the country continue to deal with uncertainty about the future. Seemingly overnight, the economy, workplace culture, and employee needs have changed, and employers will need to react to these changes.

One of the biggest shifts is the employer’s role in helping secure employee financial health and overall stability; today, it’s more critical than ever. With budget restrictions and full plates at work, HR professionals are looking for cost-effective ways to help provide solutions to their employees who need it most.

Recently, Purchasing Power surveyed U.S. employees and HR professionals to better understand the impact of COVID on employee financial stress, employee sources of stress, their financial reality and preparedness, and what types of financial voluntary benefits would they want to see from their employer.Attend this session to:

  • Understand the current state of employee finances and how this impacts them in the workplace.
  • See gaps between HR and employee realities and expectations.
  • Hear what types of benefits matter most to employees.
  • Find cost-effective ways to offer benefits will boost business outcomes.

AM Precon 2 — Empowering Differences: Uncovering the 4 Step Process of Empowerment to Make Real Change Happen
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. 
Presented by Ashley T. Brundage, Founder and President, Empowering Differences

Empowering differences is the intentional action of using power and authority for yourself or others while positioning ways in which you are not the same as the people around you. How can you use your differences—what makes you unique—to empower yourself and others to make real change happen?

This session will cover the "4 Step Process of Empowerment" and help you begin to interact with the "Empowering Actions" to leverage change. After attending this session, you will:

  • Have a solid understanding of how to use empowerment for betterment of others.
  • Have the ability to gain self-actualization surrounding differences that we all hold.
  • Be able to implement "use of access" as a core principle in creating more change for others. 

AM Precon 3 — Upskilling/Reskilling Workers to Close the Skills Gap at Your Organization
11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. 
Presented by Nikao "Nightwing" Hill, Sourcer, Wayne Technologies

Before the pandemic, employers struggled to fill vacant roles, citing the all-too-real “skills gap” as one of the primary reasons. Despite the high unemployment rate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the skills gap still remains, and some may argue that it has grown due to the implementation of new technology and remote working arrangements.

How can employers and HR professionals close the skills gap in their organizations and retain top talent longer? One solution is by training your workforce through upskilling initiatives or reskilling programs. Learn the latest strategies for reskilling/upskilling your workforce when you attend this expert-led session. You’ll also learn:

  • How to measure the cost of training current employees vs. the cost of hiring new employees
  • How to engage tenured workers
  • Ideas to make training easy and accessible
  • Strategies for motivating employees to take advantage of training opportunities
  • How to leverage training as an employee benefit

12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Lunch on Your Own

PM Pre-Conference Workshops

12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.   
Afternoon Registration

1:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.                 
PM Preconferences (One retail price offers three sessions.)

PM Precon 1 — Employee Engagement Strategies for Distributed Teams
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Presented by Jerry Seibert, Executive Consultant, OrgVitality

The coronavirus pandemic forced many organizations into a distributed setting in which some employees were forced to work from home, while others had to remain in-house due to the essential nature of their jobs. Offices were closed to help slow the spread of the virus, but essential facilities were forced to remain open, causing a rift among workforces across the country. Trying to engage both essential and nonessential workers has proven difficult. What works for one group may not work for the other. And as we continue to rebound and recover from this crisis, it’s time to question whether to keep your teams apart or bring everyone back together.

If you plan on keeping remote work in place post-pandemic but still have essential workers who must come into the workplace, you may be wondering how to keep these distributed workers engaged.

In this session, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of employee engagement, even when teams are distributed;
  • Best practices for uniting distributed teams to create one cohesive workforce;
  • Tips for communicating workplace safety to encourage all employees to come back into the office;
  • Social distance-friendly strategies for teambuilding and employee networking;
  • And more!

PM Precon 2 — Mental Health Considerations in a Post-Pandemic Workplace
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Presented by Raquelle Solon, Director of Organizational Development, FEI Behavioral Health

A major topic that is top of mind right now is mental health. There have been countless headlines examining some component of how COVID-19 is impacting our lives in ways beyond just the disease, not the least of which is how it is impacting our mental health due to the societal changes it caused.

One major impact from COVID-19 was the increase in the percentage of employees working from home. Isolation has increased the need for mental health services during the pandemic. Gaining an understanding of this important issue and reducing stigma helps enable individuals to seek the help they need.

While the treatment of mental illnesses has advanced, much of society’s understanding of mental health problems has not. Even though mental illness is incredibly common and treatable, stigmas and misconceptions often prevent those affected from seeking necessary help.

By attending this preconference session, you'll learn about the realities surrounding the most common myths associated with mental illness.

This session will focus on:

  • The history of mental illness,
  • Identifying employees who may be impacted,
  • Busting the myths about mental illness, and
  • Post-pandemic considerations your organization should implement for better employee mental health and long-term talent retention.

PM Precon 3 — Out with the Old, In with the New: Refining Your Benefits Offerings to Attract and Retain Top-Tier Talent
4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Presented by Karl Ahlrichs, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CSP, Senior Consultant, Gregory & Appel

Top-tier talent requires a top-tier benefits package if you want to attract and retain workers for the long haul, but gone are the days of Ping-Pong tables and nap pods; employees want bigger and better benefits. But which ones?

This session will help you understand which benefits your employees need the most, especially when recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll also learn:

  • How to communicate new benefits offerings using digital channels;
  • The importance of using employee feedback to help determine which benefits are of most value and which feedback methods will help yield the most results;
  • The difference between a one-size-fits-all vs. an a la carte benefits package and which one is best for your organization;
  • Cost-effective benefits offerings for those on a tight budget;
  • How to communicate benefits offerings during the hiring process; and
  • Which benefits help retain talent the longest.

— Agenda and speakers subject to change

Main Agenda

Day 1: Tuesday October 19, 2021

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Morning Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Opening Keynote
Lead Change with Confidence: Your 5-Step Plan 

Presented by Dr. Michelle Rozen

Dr. Michelle Rozen’s powerful blueprint for leading changes has transformed the lives, performance, and success of leading brands in all industries. Her science-based, easy-to-apply strategies have given leaders the actionable solutions and powerful confidence to lead their teams through rapid changes—all the way to off-the-charts results. Join Rozen for this one-of-a-kind actionable and motivating experience, and master the most powerful tools for mind-blowing results as a team, as a leader, and as an individual!

Actionable takeaways:

  • Understand change resistance, and get the tools to handle it.
  • Master the power of “2-Second Decisions” to transform performance and get the results you are looking for.
  • Learn about the C.H.A.N.G.E. Model and how to lead change with confidence.
  • Master the most powerful five-step plan for supporting your team through change.

10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.
Networking & Refreshment Break

10:20 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.
The Secret to Recruiting—and Retaining—Talent: Creating an Authentic Employer Brand
Presented by Craig Fisher, Founder, TalentNet Media

The employer brand is an essential component of your recruiting and talent acquisition process. A company’s brand helps define the type of culture that’s in place and showcases what it’s like to work there. A strong, authentic brand is vital for attracting and retaining top talent, and many jobseekers have the uncanny ability to spot ingenuine brands when they see them.

Think about your competitors and their brand. How can you compete against them for top talent? What makes their brand stand out above your own? These are questions you’ll want answers to when you start defining your employer brand, and this session will provide these answers and more!

During this session, attendees will learn:

  • The importance of brand authenticity
  • Key components that make up your brand
  • How to use employee feedback methods to help define your brand
  • How to determine who is responsible for maintaining your brand
  • What to do if your brand is tarnished by negative reviews on sites like Glassdoor
  • How to utilize your brand during the recruiting process


11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Panel: How to Thrive in a Multigenerational Workplace: Fostering a Harmonious Culture
Presented by Mike "Batman" Cohen, Nikao "Nightwing" Hill, Julie Adler, and Craig Fisher

The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and now Gen Z—oh my! That’s up to five generations of workers in the workplace. You may be thinking, “The Silent Generation? They’re far too old to be in the workforce.” Yet they are, and some are even running the country!

Part-time roles in particular attract a diverse range of age groups for a variety of reasons: Students have the flexibility to attend classes, parents can take care of children, and seniors can partially work while still enjoying their retirement. Look around your workforce—you most likely have at least three of these generations currently working for you!

Each generation has its own preferences, work styles, opinions, and experiences. So how can you get them all to work together effectively and harmoniously? During this session, attendees will learn:

  • What each generation values in an employer
  • Problems and opportunities created by multigenerational workforces
  • How to create a cohesive culture with mutual respect for all employees
  • Strategies for building teams across generations
  • Collaboration and communication tips that work for anyone of any age

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Networking Lunch (Provided)

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. 
Great on Paper: How to Ensure Candidates’ Skill Sets Match Their R
Presented by Crystyl Swanson, CEO and Founder, RENGA

When a candidate looks great on paper, it’s easy to assume you’ve found the best fit for the role. But once the candidate starts the job and it becomes apparent he or she doesn’t have the skill set he or she claimed to have, it’ll end up costing you big!

According to CareerBuilder, the average bad hire can cost a company up to $14,900 per hire. How can you stop making bad hires and start making better hiring decisions? It starts with assessments and other tools for gauging a candidate’s hard and soft skill sets.  In this session, an expert in "all things assessments" will break down the most effective resources for evaluating candidates’ hard skills and the types of interview questions you can ask to better understand their soft skills. You’ll also learn:

  • What behavioral-based interviewing is and how to incorporate it into your hiring process,
  • How to craft interview questions that reveal candidates’ skills,
  • When to alter approaches for the varied skills and competencies needed in an organization,
  • How to avoid assessments that may be unintentionally discriminatory.

2:30 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.
Networking & Refreshment Break

2:50 p.m. – 3:50 p.m.
Employee Handbook Updates for the New Year: What to Keep, What to Toss, and What to Think About for the Future
Presented by Michelle Tatum-Bush, Partner, FordHarrison

One of the most important documents all employers need to have is an employee handbook, and it should be up to date and legally compliant. Why? An out-of-date, inaccurate, or poorly written handbook really can do more harm than good. If you don’t have a handbook, you need to put one in place. If you have one and haven’t reviewed it in the past year, now is the time to do so.

With 2022 just around the corner, now is a good time to review your employee handbook and make sure it accomplishes what you want it to and is compliant with all state and federal laws. There have been many changes to state and federal laws, new laws, and court interpretations of laws that may affect your existing employment policies. The laws are always evolving at both the state and the federal level, and courts’ and agencies’ interpretations of older laws evolve, as well. Over the past several years, there have been a flurry of employment laws enacted affecting employer policies, and you need to be sure you address them in your handbooks.

Use this session to get a jump on what you should update in your employee handbook ahead of the new year. Our presenter, a skilled labor and employment attorney, will provide valuable insight on recent and coming changes in the law that may affect your employee handbooks and guidance on how to effectively prepare for 2022 updates to avoid legal missteps.

You'll also learn:

  • Employee handbook updates to be made before 2022,
  • How to prepare an employee handbook or audit your current employee handbook to determine how it needs to be updated for next year,
  • Examples of legally risky wording to avoid,
  • A list of essential policies to always include and best practice policies you should strongly consider,
  • Disclaimer language to always include in your employee handbook,
  • How to generally craft an employee handbook that meets your organization’s needs,
  • How to avoid inadvertently creating a binding contract,
  • And much more!

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Networking Reception in the Exhibit Hall

Day 2—Wednesday, October 20, 2021

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Morning Registration & Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Taking DEI to the Max: Strategies to Kick-Start Your Diverse Hiring Program
Presented by Debra Yarnall, Sourcing Strategy & Infrastructure Manager WarnerMedia

While the coronavirus pandemic has turned hiring on its head, jobseekers are making their voices clear that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) matter in the companies they work for. According to recent SurveyMonkey findings, 79% of jobseekers “say it is important that they work for a place that hires people from diverse backgrounds, with greater proportions among women and persons of color.”

DEI initiatives are crucial to an organization’s operations and growth. From a melting pot of characteristics, abilities, and innovation comes the creation of an organization’s most important asset: its culture. And you can't have a diverse culture without having a diverse hiring process. In this session, you’ll get expert tips and best practices for designing and implementing a diverse hiring program that meets your organization’s specific needs.

You’ll also learn how to:

  • Target diverse talent through social media and other recruitment avenues.
  • Audit existing practices and processes to make them more inclusive.
  • Revamp the interview process to ensure greater exposure to diverse candidates.
  • Harness technology to improve diverse hiring needs.
  • And more! 

10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.             
Networking & Refreshment Break

10:20 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.
Employee Leave Management in the Aftermath of COVID-19
Presented by Lisa Berg, Esq., Shareholder, Stearns Weaver Miller

Employee leave laws, like the FMLA, can cause a major headache for HR professionals, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, employee leave management became a major issue as workers contracted the virus, were forced to stay at home with school-aged children, and took care of loved ones who were also infected with COVID-19.

The FFCRA was put in place to address these employee leave issues, but unfortunately, the law expired at the end of 2020. Despite this, employee leave continues to be a top challenge, and now there are no longer federal protections in place specifically designed to manage employee leave related to COVID-19.

The FMLA can only go so far with protecting workers, so what options do HR professionals have when it comes to leave management in the aftermath of COVID-19? This session will unpack all the various leave laws your organization must know about, as well as:

  • How to request documentation from employees who have taken leave for COVID-19 reasons;
  • How to accommodate workers who have exhausted their leave entitlements;
  • How to creatively approach ongoing needs for leave to help the greatest number of employees while navigating the complex network of new and existing laws;
  • How to handle ongoing requests for remote work in the aftermath of COVID-19;
  • How to treat COVID-19-related employment decisions in accordance with applicable laws, as well as approach coronavirus symptoms or diagnoses like any other disability and always engage in the interactive process; and
  • How to develop an effective method to follow and analyze all applicable leave laws, paying particular attention to the messy intersection of federal and state laws when the right answer isn’t always clear.

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Mental Health and Well-Being: The Cost of Not Knowing!
Presented by Elaine Sephton, EBE, CHPC, AMHFA, Author and Mental Health & Wellbeing Advocate

Burnout, stress, and anxiety were starting to become common factors in employee turnover before the COVID-19 pandemic. But over the last year and a half, burnout, stress, and anxiety have become even more prominent among workers in all industries and at all professional levels.

According to a health tracking poll from Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 4 in 10 Americans say that worry and stress related to the threat of COVID-19 have played a negative role in their mental health. Additional data from the American Psychiatric Association reveals that employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity. And as we know, an unproductive workforce is detrimental to your organization's bottom line.

So what can HR professionals do to help their workers overcome mental health challenges? This interactive, and highly engaging session will help you:

  • Understand the impact mental illness has on productivity—globally and within your own organization.
  • Identify signs of mental illness within the workforce.
  • Recognize next steps for helping workers overcome mental health challenges.
  • Uncover and implement self-care strategies for your workers.

12:30 p.m.
Conference Adjourns

Agenda and speakers subject to change

2021 HR Connect

Your Presenters

Julia Adler     

Julia Adler is as a Senior Sourcer at Wayne Technologies. She works based on clear deliverables, provides full-cycle transparent data, and is changing the way our clients view sourcing. On a day-to-day basis, she sources candidates, delivers talent maps and market data, finds e-mails, uses/has experience with a wide variety of tools, and contacts candidates with messaging built around the DISC personality profiles. She also acts as a partner to your recruiting function and hiring managers to deliver the strongest results.

Outside of Wayne Tech, Adler volunteers as the Head of the Marketing Committee of ATAP (Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals) and is a Staff Writer for RecruitingDaily. She was a speaker at SourceCon 2020, Global TA Day 2020, HRTX 2021, and several webinars. In her free time, you can find her on a run with her pups, painting, or listening to podcasts.

Karl Ahlrichs Karl Ahlrichs, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CSP, is a national speaker, author, and consultant, presenting on the people issues in all industries, and is often quoted in the local and national media. Ahlrichs' experience is perfectly suited to times of great organizational change.  He has decades of strategic consulting to all industries, using risk management and good organizational development theories to bypass “best practices” and move directly to “next practices.”  Ahlrichs is a CPE presenter for the AICPA, and for more than a decade he was the Program Chair for the Indiana SHRM annual conference.  He has been a regular contributor to The Journal of Accountancy, and for more than 20 years he has facilitated an invitation-only CFO Roundtable for Central Indiana.
Lisa Berg

Lisa Berg is a Shareholder in the Labor & Employment Law Department of Stearns Weaver Miller, and is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Labor and Employment Law. Berg provides advice and counseling to employers of all sizes to minimize risk of labor and employment litigation.

Berg exclusively represents management in labor and employment matters, and has experience in a diverse group of industries, including healthcare, pharmaceutical, information technology, education, airline, manufacturing, automobile, legal, housing, construction, arts, professional sports, propane, banking, real estate, financial, hospitality, and retail. 

On a daily basis, Berg provides advice to clients concerning all aspects of the employment relationship, such as: reductions-in-force; employee discipline, evaluation and discharge; wage and hour practices; accommodation of disabilities; family and medical leave; drug abuse and testing; and workplace privacy and data security. In addition, Berg appears before the EEOC and state and local EEO agencies to handle charges or complaints of discrimination, and works with in-house legal counsel and Human Resource professionals to prepare position statements and produce other data designed to prevent potential lawsuits.

Ashley T. Brundage

Ashley T. Brundage is the Founder and President of Empowering Differences. While seeking employment at a major financial institution, Brundage self-identified during the interview process as a male to female transgender woman and subsequently was hired. Starting as a part time teller she rose to VP, Diversity, and Inclusion in less than 5 years. Brundage captured this 4-step process of using empowerment to cultivate change in her new book and online course. She credits her success to those closest to her for providing actionable allyship including her 2 teenage sons, Bryce and Blake.

Kim Buckey

Kim Buckey serves as DirectPath’s key advisor and senior subject matter expert on employer-sponsored benefits and communications to improve the employee experience. She founded DirectPath's compliance and communications team, which provides strategy, content development, and management services that drive business results through engaging communications and connecting employees through a year-round personalized benefits journey.

As an industry thought leader, Buckey is often quoted in top business and trade publications.  She also works closely with client services, marketing, and product development to improve the employee experience, increase the health literacy of consumers, and explore the potential impact of new regulations on employers.

Don Everett

Don Everett is the founder and CEO of Workforce Interactive. After a 20+ year career in the technology sector with organizations like Oracle, and subsidiaries of Dun & Bradstreet and SAP, he formed his company in 2006 with the intent of providing employers with unprecedented insight regarding human capital analysis.

Everett is uniquely qualified in the field of correlative analytics involving values, emotional intelligence, and workforce operational data.  He has performed over eighty occupational studies in which organizational performance metrics were reconciled with corresponding employee values and emotional intelligence.  Everett majored in Computer Sciences through the Business College at the University of Florida.  


Nikao "Nightwing" Hill is a Sourcer and Recruiter with Wayne Technologies. At Wayne Tech, we work across two dozen different recruiting tools to deliver a diverse candidate pool to global clients across all industries. Hill is Vice Chair of the Programs Council with the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), contributor to SourceCon, and a conference presenter. When he is not clicking away at a computer, you will find him honing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, learning new guitar riffs, or burying his nose in a book.

Mike “Batman” Cohen

Mike “Batman” Cohen is the Founder of Wayne Technologies, a Contract Sourcing and Recruitment Training Organization. His approach to sourcing is one based on deliverables, transparent data, and using multiple platforms to find the greatest diversity and quality of candidates.

Batman has worked with a diverse group of clients including: Whole Foods, The New York Times, Waste Management, GIPHY, Walter P. Moore, and more. He is also a contributor to SourceCon and RecruitingDaily, helps run SourceHouston, and is a Brand Ambassador for ERE, and an Executive Board Member on the Association for Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP).

Brian Fink

Brian Fink is currently a Senior Sourcing Technical Recruiter for Twitter. With 10+ years of specialized recruiting experience, he has helped a wide range of professionals ranging from entry-level candidates (new grads) to C-Suite executives take the next step up in their careers and stretch their professional capabilities. Fink specializes in recruitment tooling, building Boolean strings, natural language search, and raw sourcing. He believes and advocates that you are never done learning, regardless of where you are in your career.

Craig Fisher Craig Fisher is the founder of employer brand marketing and recruitment technology and process strategy firm, TalentNet Media. He has led global marketing, employer brand, and recruiting innovation at Allegis Global Solutions—North America’s largest RPO and staffing company. He has also led talent acquisition teams at the Fortune 500 level owning recruitment process, marketing, and technology. His digital branding methods have been adopted as best practices by companies like LinkedIn, Toyota, YUM! Brands, Microsoft, and many more. He’s the author of Inbound Recruiting, and a popular keynote speaker at tech, social media, HR / recruiting, and sales conferences worldwide.
Mary Anne Kennedy

Mary Anne Kennedy, founder of MAK HR Consulting, is a Senior HR executive with over 25 years of global HR experience where she has shaped high-performing cultures at Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 growth-driven organizations.  She has developed executable HR strategies that motivate teams and individuals in order to achieve corporate objectives. Organizations include Yusen Logistics Americas, (Part of the NYK Group), BMS pharmaceutical, and Herman Miller Office Furniture.

Kennedy is a sought-after speaker and author in the Human Resources arena, with a variety of have published articles and the book “Finding the Right Job, a Step by Step Approach” ( She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Science and has certifications in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) administration and Development Dimensions International (DDI) behavioral-based interviewing.

Mariam Malik

Mariam Malik graduated from Georgia State University with a BBA in Marketing in 2013. Malik has spent her career in full-lifecycle recruitment for various companies and industries, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As a minority, this has always been an important topic for Malik, as she helps companies strategize and implement DEI programs with their talent acquisition teams. She currently serves as a Women in Tech (WIT) Advisor for the Georgia State University campus, and conducts free résumé reviews for current students and alumni.

Marilyn Moran Marilyn G. Moran has been representing employers for over 20 years as a trusted advisor and experienced litigator. She is passionate about learning her clients’ businesses from the ground up and working with management to solve problems and implement smart business solutions as efficiently as possible. Moran provides advice and training to employers on a wide variety of employment law issues, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, noncompetition agreements, executive compensation issues, and reductions in force. She also helps employers navigate the process of accommodating employees with disabilities under the ADA and managing employee leave under the FMLA and USERRA
Joan Peterson

Joan Peterson is the Master Facilitator, Leadership Coach, and Vice President of Bluepoint Leadership. Peterson is a highly skilled facilitator and coach with over 15 years of hands-on experience working with leaders at all levels and in many different industries. She is noted for her passion for what she does and for her energetic and interactive facilitation style. Her feedback typically includes the words: engaging, excellent, enthusiastic, informative, and professional. She is equally adept at working with front line emerging leaders as she is with executive teams.

Her areas of expertise include helping organizations, teams, and individuals understand how to lift the performance of others, how to improve team execution by way of innovation and creativity, and how to create an aligned and engaged organization that is primed to deliver on its vision. Peterson has a BA in English and a Master's Degree in Organizational Science from Villanova University. She has also earned professional accreditations from DDI, Career Systems, Lominger LTD, and Right Associates.

Michelle Rozen

Michelle Rozen, PhD, is a game-changing, revenue-building, performance-boosting change expert, keynote speaker, and highly respected authority on the psychology of change. She is an author, a Huffington Post contributor, and a frequent guest on media outlets such as NBC, ABC, FOX News, and CNN. 

Dr. Rozen’s rare blend of audience engagement, killer take-away strategies, and instant connection with the audience have made her one of the most unique and memorable speakers on the stage today. Her latest work is around “2-Second Decisions,” helping people to master time management and power through decision making in turbulent times. Dr. Rozen consistently speaks for Fortune 500 companies and her clients include some of the most recognizable companies in the world including Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, and The U.S. Navy.

Jerry Seibert

Jerry Seibert is an executive consultant at OrgVitality. He has 30 years of experience working with organizations to measure and improve customer, employee, and other stakeholder perceptions. In addition to leading a wide range of client engagements, Seibert has also led research in internal customer service and its connection to business outcomes. He has designed and implemented employee surveys for numerous organizations, ranging in scope from global entities to small privately held firms.

Seibert is the coauthor of Hidden Drivers of Success: Leveraging Employee Insights for Strategic Advantage, published by SHRM in 2013, and has more than 20 publications to his credit in a variety of peer reviewed and professional journals. Seibert received his M.A. degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. He has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Delaware.

Elaine Sephton Elaine Sephton is an author, an expert by experience (EBE), and a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor through the National Council of Mental Well-Being. She delivers programs for adults, fire and emergency medical services, and public safety professionals. Sephton has over 30 years of experience working in the “people business” of corporate America, both in the industry and as a consultant. She is also the creator of "You Are Not Alone for Business," a program to move from awareness to action in the mental health and well-being space. Her book, My CRAZY Summer a memoir: God, Medication and Me, tells the story of her first suicide attempt in 2014 and describes the tension between faith and medication, together with the importance of "being real."
Jeffrey Slanker

Jeffrey Slanker, a shareholder at Sniffen & Spellman, P.A., concentrates his practice in the areas of Labor and Employment Law and Appellate Law. His labor and employment law focus is on representing employers and management in federal, state, and administrative litigation. He has defended employers in discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour, labor relations, employee benefits, and harassment matters. Slanker's Appellate Law experience includes both trial support and briefing and argument of cases before Florida and Federal appellate courts in cases involving labor and employment, education, civil rights, and constitutional law matters.

Raquelle Solon

As FEI Behavioral Health’s Director of Organizational Development, Raquelle Solon is responsible for the delivery of workplace violence prevention, leadership development, organizational development, and crisis management training. She also works with clients to review current training, policies, and procedures to identify gaps and implement solutions. Solon’s experience spans a variety of industries that include retail, higher education, healthcare, mental health, human services, general business, and manufacturing.

Crystyl Swanson

Crystyl Swanson is the Founder and CEO of RENGA, a 100% female-owned business, devoted to creating revolutionary engagement in the workplace through a proactive, strategic approach to associate development, team collaboration, and recruiting.   Swanson has a little under two decades of experience in creating highly effective team environments, which foster diversity and inclusion, while increasing productivity.  She has held progressive leadership roles in account management, sales and marketing, and currently holds a principal position at one of the largest HR consulting firms in the world.  

Her certifications include Extended DISC Facilitator, Emotional Intelligence (EQ2), Hartman Value Profile (HVP), Organizational Culture Coach (Certified Coaches Alliance), and is working on her Associate Certified Coach credential (International Coaching Federation), Challenger Sales Model, Vital Smarts (Negotiation, Crucial Conversations & Crucial Accountability), and holds her Bachelors in Music from Oklahoma City University.

Michelle Tatum-Bush

Michelle Tatum-Bush, partner at the Melbourne, Jacksonville offices of FordHarrison, provides advice and handles disputes for employers in Florida and with operations throughout the United States. Her clients represent a wide variety of industries, including construction, brokerages, medical practices, management, insurance, and not-for-profit organizations.

Tatum-Bush has particular expertise in FMLA and ADA accommodations matters. She is also passionate about helping clients throughout their litigation matters, whether the cases involve discrimination and harassment in the workplace, retaliation against whistleblowers, WARN Act claims or violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in the Employment Act.

Michael Wilbert     

Michael Wilbert is the Chief Revenue Officer at Purchasing Power, LLC, a voluntary benefit company offering the leading employee purchasing program through the convenience of payroll deductions. Wilbert comes to Purchasing Power with nearly 30 years of deep sales leadership experience within the benefits space. Wilbert received his Bachelor of Business Administration from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Debra Yarnall     

Debra Yarnall is the talent acquisition sourcing strategy and infrastructure manager for WarnerMedia. She has 20+ years in recruitment and sourcing transformation and technology and 15 years managing and directing global sourcing teams of 45+ on 4 continents.

Yarnall is an industry leader in candidate generation, advanced sourcing techniques, recruitment automation software, talent nurturing, and training/development. Her industry focus is on media/entertainment, consulting services, technology, insurance, business services, and talent acquisition. She has specialized experience in vendor management, HR technology design and integration, and training and development and previously worked at Recruitment Agency, Prudential Financial, Aon Corporation, and IBM.

— Agenda and speakers subject to change

2021 HR Connect


Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
6000 West Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, FL 34746

Room rate: $209 + $30 resort fee*/night
Hotel cut-off:  Friday, September 24, 2021. Hotel rooms may sell out earlier than the cut-off date, so book early!
Reservation Center: 1-407-586-0000 and refer to the HR Connect
Reservations URL

Simplify Compliance/BLR has no affiliation with any third-party companies or travel assistance providers. Rooms should be booked directly with the event hotel using the official information provided on the website and in the brochure. 

* The prevailing daily resort fee, will cover several in-room amenities which will include:

  • Resort Wide Internet Access Includes:
    • Enhanced in-room wireless Internet Access for up to 6 devices
    • Basic Wireless Internet Access in Public Areas and Convention Center on a Shared Network.
  • Two bottled waters replenished daily in your guest room
  • 24-hour access to Relâche Fitness Center
  • Scheduled shuttle service to Walt Disney World® Theme Parks & Disney Springs®, based on first come first serve available to all guests. (shuttle can hold up to 55 people)
  • Local, toll-free and domestic long-distance telephone calls
  • $10 credit towards dry cleaning services
  • Private training session (15 min.) at Relâche Fitness Center (Limited sessions available Tue - Sat from 5 a.m. - 12 p.m. Appointments required, please visit the fitness center to sign up)
  • One bucket of range balls at nearby Celebration Golf Club.


Main Conference

    Retail Pricing | $1,099

Pre-Conference Workshops:

  • AM/PM Pre-conference Sessions | $299 each
  • Both AM/PM Workshops | $499 (Save $99 when you purchase both!)

Register together and save! Take 15% off groups of 3 or more, or 20% off groups of 5 or more registrants. Contact our sales team at 800-274-6774 ext. 8069 to take advantage of this great offer.

Questions on a discount you've received? Please email

2021 HR Connect



At Hiretual, our mission is to empower recruiters and Talent Acquisition professionals to be the best at what they do. We help talent teams go beyond typical talent pools so they can reach quality candidates and build workplaces equipped to reach organizational goals.  We also recognize that every organization's hiring process is unique, and we work with our customers every step of the way to help them build the recruitment experience their business needs. Find out more here:

2021 HR Connect

COVID Safety

Simplify Compliance places the highest priority on the safety of our guests. In preparation for attendance at our events, we want to share the following measures to promote health and wellbeing:

  • Simplify Compliance is following CDC guidance and is recommending that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask while indoors. Masks may be removed while actively eating or drinking.
  • Food service will follow the safety guidelines implemented by the hotel.

To view all the safety measures that Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center has implemented, please see the information listed on their website:

Simplify Compliance will continue to monitor the COVID-19 environment and the recommended guidelines and will communicate adjustments to the onsite policies and procedures as we approach the live event date.

To safeguard all those in attendance at our events, we ask that you stay home if you are feeling sick, have tested positive for COVID-19, are awaiting results from a COIVD-19 test, or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Please contact our customer service department to talk through options to move your registration to a future date.

Simplify Compliance reserves the right, in its sole discretion, without refund, to expel and deactivate and/or revoke the credentials of participants who violate these safety provisions.

2021 HR Connect

Credit Information

AM Pre-conference Workshops:

AM Precon 1 — Mind the Gap: Understanding Employee Financial Stress and How Benefits Can Drive Solutions
AM Precon 2 — Empowering Differences: Uncovering the 4 Step Process of Empowerment to Make Real Change Happen
AM Precon 3 — Upskilling/Reskilling Workers to Close the Skills Gap at Your Organization

HR Certification Institute HRCI
SHRM Preferred Provider

CREDIT INFORMATION: This program has been submitted to the HR Certification Institute® for review.

BLR®—Business & Learning Resources is recognized by SHRM to offer SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP professional development credits (PDCs). This program is valid for (1) PDCs. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

PM Pre-conference Workshops:

PM Precon 1 — Employee Engagement Strategies for Distributed Teams
PM Precon 2 — Mental Health Considerations in a Post-Pandemic Workplace
PM Precon 3 — Out with the Old, In with the New: Refining Your Benefits Offerings to Attract and Retain Top-Tier Talent

HR Certification Institute HRCI
SHRM Preferred Provider

CREDIT INFORMATION: This program has been submitted to the HR Certification Institute® for review.

BLR®—Business & Learning Resources is recognized by SHRM to offer SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP professional development credits (PDCs). This program is valid for (1) PDCs. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit