KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

For this year’s conference, we have assembled a large and diverse group of speakers who will motivate you, challenge your thinking, and encourage action.

WENDY BAKER

(S ’95)

VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS, BlueEQ

Baker, who earned her Purdue degree in technical graphics technology, has established a 26-year career within the aerospace, defense, high-tech, and commercial products and services industries. Her broad professional experience includes technical design, engineering, program and project management, strategy development, and operations. In her current role at BlueEQ, a sales and marketing company with an emphasis in corporate training, Baker is responsible for strategic-growth channels, product development, and operations teams in support of corporate partnerships specializing in emotional intelligence, psychological safety, negotiation, and achieving peak performance.  Baker’s presentation is called “Leading With Intention and Impact.”
Baker, who earned her Purdue degree in technical graphics technology, has established a 26-year career within the aerospace, defense, high-tech, and commercial products and services industries. Her broad professional experience includes technical design, engineering, program and project management, strategy development, and operations. In her current role at BlueEQ, a sales and marketing company with an emphasis in corporate training, Baker is responsible for strategic-growth channels, product development, and operations teams in support of corporate partnerships specializing in emotional intelligence, psychological safety, negotiation, and achieving peak performance.  Baker’s presentation is called “Leading With Intention and Impact.”

Kendra Bracken-Ferguson

(la ’02)

Founder, BrainTrust Founders Studio

Bracken-Ferguson is a transformative brand builder, connector, and launcher. With a Purdue degree in communications and a career that spans brand development, strategic planning, operations, investing, board membership, and C-suite leadership, she has helped create, build, and monetize over 200 influencer-driven brands that have generated more than $100 million in revenue. Bracken-Ferguson has made it a business practice to build data-first businesses around niche influencers and talent primarily focused on lifestyle, beauty, and wellness. Her latest endeavor, the BrainTrust Founders Studio, focuses on increasing inclusive economic opportunities for Black beauty-and-wellness founders. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit BeautyUnited and also the host of Business of the Beat, a beauty and wellness podcast focused on highlighting stories of diverse founders and executives. Bracken-Ferguson, who established an endowment for Black female first-year student in Purdue’s School of Liberal Arts, is a former Golduster, president of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, member of the Jahari Dance Troupe, and advisory board member for Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication. She was a recipient of the 2021 Purdue Pioneering Women Award and the 2013 Purdue Emerging Voice Award. Bracken-Ferguson’s presentation is called “Your Future Self.”
Bracken-Ferguson is a transformative brand builder, connector, and launcher. With a Purdue degree in communications and a career that spans brand development, strategic planning, operations, investing, board membership, and C-suite leadership, she has helped create, build, and monetize over 200 influencer-driven brands that have generated more than $100 million in revenue. Bracken-Ferguson has made it a business practice to build data-first businesses around niche influencers and talent primarily focused on lifestyle, beauty, and wellness. Her latest endeavor, the BrainTrust Founders Studio, focuses on increasing inclusive economic opportunities for Black beauty-and-wellness founders. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit BeautyUnited and also the host of Business of the Beat, a beauty and wellness podcast focused on highlighting stories of diverse founders and executives. Bracken-Ferguson, who established an endowment for Black female first-year student in Purdue’s School of Liberal Arts, is a former Golduster, president of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, member of the Jahari Dance Troupe, and advisory board member for Purdue’s Brian Lamb School of Communication. She was a recipient of the 2021 Purdue Pioneering Women Award and the 2013 Purdue Emerging Voice Award. Bracken-Ferguson’s presentation is called “Your Future Self.”

Suzanne crouch

(la ’75)

Lieutenant Governor, State of Indiana

Proud to have been born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, Crouch has served as Indiana’s lieutenant governor since 2017. She previously served as the Indiana state auditor from 2014 to 2016 after serving in the Indiana House of Representatives from 2005 to 2014. As lieutenant governor, Crouch oversees a portfolio that includes the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and the Indiana Destination Development Corporation. Additionally, she chairs the Lieutenant Governor’s Roundtable on Mental Health, the Intellectual and Development Disabilities Task Force, and the Civics Education Commission. Among her many personal and professional honors, Crouch was named a Purdue University College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumna in 2018. Crouch will participate in a Q&A interview with Rafael Sanchez, anchor and investigative reporter at WRTV/ABC in Indianapolis.
Proud to have been born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, Crouch has served as Indiana’s lieutenant governor since 2017. She previously served as the Indiana state auditor from 2014 to 2016 after serving in the Indiana House of Representatives from 2005 to 2014. As lieutenant governor, Crouch oversees a portfolio that includes the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and the Indiana Destination Development Corporation. Additionally, she chairs the Lieutenant Governor’s Roundtable on Mental Health, the Intellectual and Development Disabilities Task Force, and the Civics Education Commission. Among her many personal and professional honors, Crouch was named a Purdue University College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumna in 2018. Crouch will participate in a Q&A interview with Rafael Sanchez, anchor and investigative reporter at WRTV/ABC in Indianapolis.

ROBIN KWOK

(EE ’02)

Career Coach and Marketing Consultant / Growth Strategy and Operations Leader / International Expansion Expert

An innovator at heart, Kwok is a global leader in brand and product marketing, business development, and international expansion. Kwok has lived and worked in the U.S., Asia, and Europe and has led exciting projects and teams across diverse cultures in each region. Kwok has worked in both large corporate environments and hyper-growth startups, most recently serving as general manager for Airbnb while also running her own career-coaching and marketing consultancy. She is passionate about empowering women to innovate in life and design their own personal and professional journeys. Kwok’s work and contributions have been featured across industry conferences and in media outlets, such as CNBC, Marketing Interactive, CNN, Tatler, and Harper’s Bazaar. At Purdue, she served in leadership roles for diversity and women’s empowerment organizations, was a founding member of Delta Phi Lambda, and served as an officer for the Purdue Society of Women Engineers. Kwok holds MBAs from Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley. Kwok’s presentation is called “Get Ready to GLOW—Grow, Lead, Own It, and Wow!”
An innovator at heart, Kwok is a global leader in brand and product marketing, business development, and international expansion. Kwok has lived and worked in the U.S., Asia, and Europe and has led exciting projects and teams across diverse cultures in each region. Kwok has worked in both large corporate environments and hyper-growth startups, most recently serving as general manager for Airbnb while also running her own career-coaching and marketing consultancy. She is passionate about empowering women to innovate in life and design their own personal and professional journeys. Kwok’s work and contributions have been featured across industry conferences and in media outlets, such as CNBC, Marketing Interactive, CNN, Tatler, and Harper’s Bazaar. At Purdue, she served in leadership roles for diversity and women’s empowerment organizations, was a founding member of Delta Phi Lambda, and served as an officer for the Purdue Society of Women Engineers. Kwok holds MBAs from Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley. Kwok’s presentation is called “Get Ready to GLOW—Grow, Lead, Own It, and Wow!”

RAFAEL SANCHEZ

Anchor and Investigative Reporter, WRTV/ABC in Indianapolis

Sanchez is an Emmy Award–winning anchor and investigative reporter. He co-anchors the morning newscast Good Morning Indiana and also leads on breaking news and political coverage. Sanchez is community involved and invested. As the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, he’s focused on charities that champion education, promote self-empowerment and compassion, and encourage leadership and civic responsibility. Born in the Bronx, New York, Sanchez attended Indiana’s Franklin College, where he triple majored in journalism, political science, and Spanish. He proudly serves on the Franklin College board of trustees. Sanchez is conducting a Q&A interview with Suzanne Crouch, lieutenant governor of Indiana.
Sanchez is an Emmy Award–winning anchor and investigative reporter. He co-anchors the morning newscast Good Morning Indiana and also leads on breaking news and political coverage. Sanchez is community involved and invested. As the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, he’s focused on charities that champion education, promote self-empowerment and compassion, and encourage leadership and civic responsibility. Born in the Bronx, New York, Sanchez attended Indiana’s Franklin College, where he triple majored in journalism, political science, and Spanish. He proudly serves on the Franklin College board of trustees. Sanchez is conducting a Q&A interview with Suzanne Crouch, lieutenant governor of Indiana.

Rebecca shambaugh

(M ’78)

President, SHAMBAUGH Leadership

Shambaugh is a leadership expert, author, speaker, and founder and president of Women in Leadership and Learning, Shambaugh’s consulting firm, SHAMBAUGH Leadership, is known for accelerating the development and advancement of women while enhancing retention for top talent. Her firm partners with organizations to create inclusive and equitable cultures, incorporating an end-to-end pipeline strategy for women as they rise through the executive ranks. Shambaugh is a thought leader in gender equity and often speaks at conferences about her company’s research and best practices. She has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Leader to Leader, HuffPost, and TED Talks and showcased on CNBC and ABC. Shambaugh’s presentation is called “Women to Rise—A Road Map to Reboot Our Leadership in a Post-COVID Era.”
Shambaugh is a leadership expert, author, speaker, and founder and president of Women in Leadership and Learning, Shambaugh’s consulting firm, SHAMBAUGH Leadership, is known for accelerating the development and advancement of women while enhancing retention for top talent. Her firm partners with organizations to create inclusive and equitable cultures, incorporating an end-to-end pipeline strategy for women as they rise through the executive ranks. Shambaugh is a thought leader in gender equity and often speaks at conferences about her company’s research and best practices. She has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Leader to Leader, HuffPost, and TED Talks and showcased on CNBC and ABC. Shambaugh’s presentation is called “Women to Rise—A Road Map to Reboot Our Leadership in a Post-COVID Era.”

Breakout Speakers

Breakout Speakers

BreAnna Davis

(LA’14)

Associate Attorney, Frost Brown Todd

As an attorney, Davis focuses her practice on product liability and tort litigation. She served as a judicial intern for Judge Ezra Friedlander and Judge Terry A. Crone of the Indiana Court of Appeals. Davis served as a law clerk in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) general counsel’s office. She was an All-American athlete and team captain of the women’s track and field team at Purdue, while also serving as an executive member of the Purdue Student Union Board. Davis currently volunteers with the Indianapolis Chapter of the International Council of Purdue Women. Davis’s presentation is called “Tap Into Your Sisterhood.”
As an attorney, Davis focuses her practice on product liability and tort litigation. She served as a judicial intern for Judge Ezra Friedlander and Judge Terry A. Crone of the Indiana Court of Appeals. Davis served as a law clerk in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) general counsel’s office. She was an All-American athlete and team captain of the women’s track and field team at Purdue, while also serving as an executive member of the Purdue Student Union Board. Davis currently volunteers with the Indianapolis Chapter of the International Council of Purdue Women. Davis’s presentation is called “Tap Into Your Sisterhood.”

Hillary Gramm

(HHS’05)

Executive Director, Higher Up Texas

Gramm has been empowering youth since 2006 through her work in the nonprofit sector. Growing up, she experienced home-life issues, which inspired her to delve into the obstacles children face that may hinder their chances of success. She began her career working in Houston, Texas, at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Houston and Communities In Schools–Bay Area. Gramm now serves as the founding executive director of Higher Up Texas, a program with a mission to teach life skills to young adults and guide them to their successful futures. The program’s vision is that all young adults have the knowledge, skills, and networks to be the best they can be and positively influence their communities. Gramm’s presentation is called “Dust Off That Rolodex.”
Gramm has been empowering youth since 2006 through her work in the nonprofit sector. Growing up, she experienced home-life issues, which inspired her to delve into the obstacles children face that may hinder their chances of success. She began her career working in Houston, Texas, at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Houston and Communities In Schools–Bay Area. Gramm now serves as the founding executive director of Higher Up Texas, a program with a mission to teach life skills to young adults and guide them to their successful futures. The program’s vision is that all young adults have the knowledge, skills, and networks to be the best they can be and positively influence their communities. Gramm’s presentation is called “Dust Off That Rolodex.”

Jessica Hartley

(LA’00)

Vice President of Strategy, Instrument

Hartley is an experienced strategy, client service, and business development lead with more than 20 years of experience collaborating with clients to leverage digital and innovation solutions. She actively supports the inclusion, development, and advancement of systemically excluded communities in corporate America. As an advocate and public speaker, Hartley has provided diversity, inclusion, and belonging consulting services to global startup, and nonprofit organizations. Hartley’s presentation is called “Level Up—Strategic Personal Branding.”
Hartley is an experienced strategy, client service, and business development lead with more than 20 years of experience collaborating with clients to leverage digital and innovation solutions. She actively supports the inclusion, development, and advancement of systemically excluded communities in corporate America. As an advocate and public speaker, Hartley has provided diversity, inclusion, and belonging consulting services to global startup, and nonprofit organizations. Hartley’s presentation is called “Level Up—Strategic Personal Branding.”

Keshawn Hughes

(MA LA’19)

Neurocoach / Marketing Consultant / Instructor

Hughes is an International Coaching Federation-certified neurocoach and leadership consultant serving in the top 1% of coaches with neuroscience credentials. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing and a master’s degree in strategic communication and specializes in neuroscience related to education, entrepreneurship, health, spirituality, and relationships. With 20 years of marketing and corporate leadership experience for top-ranking global brands, Hughes provides the language, strategies, and practical steps to help leaders and organizations ease stress, level up, and align with purpose. Hughes’s presentation is called “The Neuroscience and Power of Feminine Leadership.”
Hughes is an International Coaching Federation-certified neurocoach and leadership consultant serving in the top 1% of coaches with neuroscience credentials. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing and a master’s degree in strategic communication and specializes in neuroscience related to education, entrepreneurship, health, spirituality, and relationships. With 20 years of marketing and corporate leadership experience for top-ranking global brands, Hughes provides the language, strategies, and practical steps to help leaders and organizations ease stress, level up, and align with purpose. Hughes’s presentation is called “The Neuroscience and Power of Feminine Leadership.”

Vickie Maris

(A’86, MS EDU’08)

Speaker / Author / Podcaster / Digital Business Consultant

Maris is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and an authorized partner for the Everything DiSC and Five Behaviors programs. She also holds facilitator certification in Everything DiSC. Maris’s talks focus on team dynamics, team communication, and utilization of team members’ innate skills and styles at work. She has served in marketing communications and business development roles in the agricultural and software industries as well as for a nonprofit. Maris has also worked at the Purdue College of Engineering and the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. Maris’s presentation is called “Tune Out the Noise With Daily Silence.”
Maris is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and an authorized partner for the Everything DiSC and Five Behaviors programs. She also holds facilitator certification in Everything DiSC. Maris’s talks focus on team dynamics, team communication, and utilization of team members’ innate skills and styles at work. She has served in marketing communications and business development roles in the agricultural and software industries as well as for a nonprofit. Maris has also worked at the Purdue College of Engineering and the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. Maris’s presentation is called “Tune Out the Noise With Daily Silence.”