SPEAKERS  
     
 
       
  Brandie Rucks Park  
President, Aurora Group

Aurora Group, Inc. is an Atlanta-based marketing firm that specializes in outsourced sales for major Fortune 500 clients. Aurora Group’s overarching goal is to serve a variety of clients in various industries, providing them with leading door-to-door solutions.
 
       

       
  Chandler Goule  
Congress Gala Speaker - National Assoc. of Wheat Growers

Chandler Goule is NAWG’s Chief Executive Officer, coming into that role in July of 2016. In this capacity, Chandler will oversee NAWG’s industry relations, act as Executive Director of the National Wheat Foundation, and lead NAWG’s efforts to advocate for American wheat farmers. Prior to his position at NAWG, Chandler served as the Sr. Vice President of Programs for the National Farmers Union for several years. Goule also formerly served as the staff director of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry for the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture under former chairman Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn. Peterson is a member of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats Coalition. Goule has worked extensively in Washington, D.C., on agriculture, food safety and trade policy. His previous experience extends to companies such as Bayer CropScience, Syngenta and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Washington office of Rep. Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas. Growing up in rural Morgan Mill, Texas, Goule is familiar with agriculture policy and the rural way of life. He graduated from Texas A&M University on a 4-H scholarship, earning a Bachelor of Science in animal science with an emphasis in production. While in Washington he completed his master’s in political management and corporate and public affairs at The George Washington University. Goule has appeared on “Good Morning America,” CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” and NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show.” He has also been interviewed on Bloomberg TV and C-SPAN’s “The Washington Journal.” Goule resides on Capitol Hill and is an avid scuba diver and snow skier.
 
       

       
  Dan Clark  
Tuesday Closing Assembly Speaker

Dan Clark is CEO of a multimillion-dollar corporation, an internationally recognized Speaker, Entertainer, Songwriter/ Recording Artist and New York Times Best Selling Author. Since 1982, Dan has spoken to more than 3 million people in over 4,000 audiences, in all 50 states, and in 30 foreign countries. Achievers North America and Achievers Europe named Dan one of the Top Ten Speakers in the World!

Dan is the primary contributing author to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series and author of twenty of his own best-selling books, including “Puppies for Sale” which was made into a film at Paramount Studios starring the late Jack Lemmon. Dan has been published in more than 30 million books in 30 languages worldwide!

Dan suffered a paralyzing injury that cut short his football career. Sixteen doctors told him he would not recover but recover he did! Since then, Dan has flown in fighter jets twice the speed of sound, raced automobiles in Germany and was honored to carry the Olympic Torch in the 2002 Winter Games. Dan has been the general session speaker at the United Nations World Congress, conducted UN leadership training in Europe, Asia and Russia, and was the keynote speaker at the U.S. Air Force Four Star Generals conference. Dan has spoken to our combat troops all over the world, is a Leadership and Character Development Consultant for the US Armed Forces, has worked with Fortune 500 companies, NASA and Super Bowl champions. Dan’s inspirational story has been featured on over 500 TV and radio shows, in Entrepreneur Magazine and as the feature article in Mayo Clinic Magazine. Dan is one of the most in demand speakers in America and recognized expert on Managing Change, Building Winning Teams and Taking Life To The Next Level!
 
       

       
  Dr. Dionne Toombs  
Acting Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Dr. Dionne Toombs is currently the Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) extramural grant funding agency for agricultural research, education, and Extension programs across the nation.

Previously, Dr. Toombs was Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), where she provided leadership on a wide range of issues affecting science programs and science policy in agricultural research, education, and economics. She directed and coordinated activities of OCS to strengthen science and science leadership, improve national coordination, and enhance outreach and awareness.

Dr. Toombs provided scientific leadership and coordination to the White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science and Technology Council working groups, across USDA and other federal agencies, and the agricultural community. As director, she managed the information OCS provides the Secretary of Agriculture and USDA science agencies, ensuring the scientific research and advice are held to the highest standards of intellectual rigor and scientific integrity. She spearheaded collaboration with USDA advisory boards and builds partnerships with the scientific community.

With over two decades of USDA service, Dr. Toombs has significantly contributed to USDA’s agricultural research, education, and Extension services while serving in various leadership roles, including heading the Division of Nutrition at NIFA. In this role, she led USDA nutrition science leaders who helped steer science policy and program development to ensure America’s food supply is safe, nutritious, and accessible to all citizens. Dr. Toombs has been repeatedly featured as one of USDA’s most impactful woman scientists and recognized by the Secretary of Agriculture for outstanding leadership.

Additionally, Dr. Toombs served as the National Program Leader (NPL) for NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), leading large competitive grant programs to fund research into nutrition, food science and technology, and food safety. These research investments include helping rural, low-income, minority, and at-risk populations make more informed food choices and become more physically active. Prior to serving as NPL, Dr. Toombs was a Program Specialist for Food Science and Nutrition at the former USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service, now NIFA. She started at USDA as a student intern at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Throughout her career, Dr. Toombs has helped her colleagues, staff, and students maximize their potential by bolstering their talents and developing their leadership skills. Always willing to champion the next generation of scientists, she often emphasizes the importance of relationship building, citing collaboration as a key to her success.

Dr. Toombs earned her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Howard University, her Master of Science degree in Food Science from Alabama A&M University, and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bethune-Cookman University.

She enjoys spending time with family, Pilates, participating in community service projects, and learning how to play golf.

Source: https://www.nifa.usda.gov/dionne-f-toombs
 
       

       
  Dr. Shannon Horrillo  
Divison Director, Division of Youth and 4-H

Dr. Shannon Horrillo is the Division Director for Youth and 4-H in the Institute of Youth, Family, and Community. In this role, she provides leadership and oversight for the division’s research, education and extension activities across the nation through competitive grant programs. These programs are focused on promoting positive youth development and advancing food and agricultural sciences. She also provides leadership to the division’s strategic priorities as well as supervision and administration of the 4-H Youth Development Program at the federal level. Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Horrillo served over 13 years with the Cooperative Extension Service as the interim Director of Extension and Associate Dean for Engagement and Associate Director of Extension in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno and in several leadership roles at the University of California Cooperative Extension – including State 4-H Director. Dr. Horrillo received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate from the University of California, Davis in the areas of child and human development.

Source: https://www.nifa.usda.gov/dr-shannon-horrillo
 
       

       
  Juan Bendana  
Friday Night Assembly Speaker

HI THERE! JUAN HERE. THIS IS MY STORY. I was the student in school that wanted to get involved, put himself out there, and make an impact. Only problem? I didn’t know how. On top of that, I didn’t believe he could. I was the kid that could never stick to anything. This tore away at my confidence. I turned to toxic vehicles to hide- I turned to food.I got to the point where I was 65lbs overweight, depressed, suicidal and felt like there was no getting better. I desperately wanted to find a way to finally believe in myself. But no matter what I did, I kept falling back into destructive habits that made me feel more and more like a failure. It was paralyzing. In 2014, I hit a point where he had enough. I remember looking in the mirror and was fed up with what I saw. I highly considered ending my life. But I knew I could change. I realized that I was the only person capable of changing my life. And it was going to take changing the things I did every single day and finding the right mentors. I surrounded myself with positive role models that showed me that I had the power to make the decisions that would ultimately change my life. Within 6 months, I lost the 65lbs, transformed my mindset and more importantly, I was finally happy with the person that I had become. Fast forward to today, I have now dedicated my life to being that positive role model for students. Students need a voice that they can relate to. They need someone that has been there. Someone that speaks from experience. My ability to influence and inspire students solely rests on the fact that I’ve been where they are. I had positive role models that completely changed my life for the better and I am grateful I get to be that for students today.
 
       

       
  Kyle Scheele  
Sunday Morning General Assembly Speaker

Kyle Scheele is on a mission to build a better world. He is an inspiring author, speaker, and cardboarder who has challenged tens of thousands of students across the nation to build a better world. Whether he’s keynoting to an arena full of students, singing “Don’t Stop Believing” with 37,000 friends, or building yet another cardboard masterpiece, Kyle is constantly working on one thing: closing the gap between the way the world is and the way it could be. Kyle has spoken to over 350,000 audience members in 49 states. His projects have been featured by outlets like Upworthy, Buzzfeed, WIRED, Fast Company, Mashable, Laughing Squid, MAKE Magazine, and more. When he’s not on a plane or a stage, Kyle is at home in Springfield, MO, where he lives with his beautiful wife Lindsay and their four crazy kids. He’s still not sure how he ended up with such an incredible family, but he’s trying to lay low in case this whole thing was some sort of mistake. In his free time, Kyle enjoys reading, creating TikTok videos, and building weird stuff out of cardboard.
 
       

 
 



 
 
     
 
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