Vicki Thomas won a $100,000 Purpose Prize in 2013 from Encore.org. Nearing retirement she pursued her purpose using her expertise to help two veteran nonprofits get on the map by placing national and local media stories about veterans needing housing solutions.

Vicki always pursued her passion and purpose in life -- she is now helping individuals develop their passion to help them develop their purpose.

Today many individuals are searching for purpose -- Vicki and colleague Joyce Cohen are helping others find their purpose by coordinating conferences, workshops, on site corporate sessions and one-to-one meetings.

Vicki helped Purple Heart Homes based in Statesville, NC and Homes for Our Troops based in Taunton, MA become visible by getting stories about veterans they were helping placed in national and local news outlets. She also helped create national programs, and brought in sponsors.

Her working career was with the ABC Television Network in New York City developing information about TV show performance using audience ratings to identify demographic advantages and positioning opportunities over competing broadcast networks and cable entities.

She was also a marketing executive with the leading national trade association for the nations credit unions (Credit Union National Association) to help increase interest and awareness in credit union membership.

Vicki produced, packaged, financed and marketed the Dancin' Grannies exercise videos and promoted the unknown group to national critical acclaim.

Vicki remains an excellent writer and speaker on the ramifications and opportunities an aging society has on business growth and the business bottom line. She also writes and speaks about what is missing in the work place that has so many employees searching for greater job satisfaction.

Vicki has no desire to ever fully retire or sail off into the sunset.

Joyce Cohen is a career development/mid-life transition specialist. She helps people discover purpose and future direction as a facilitator, life coach, speaker, outplacement counselor, educator, author and consultant.

As national Co-President, The Life Planning Network (LPN) www.lifeplanningnetwork.org., Joyce designed Paired2Learn (P2L), a Mentor program linking inter-generational learning partners to ease transitions. She is integrally involved with LPN, a national association for life planning professionals. She serves as liaison for the Virtual LPN chapter embracing members from across the country where no local chapter exists, and contributes to multiple internal projects.

Joyce facilitated career development, outplacement, mid-life transition, retention/engagement, and life planning programs in more than 365 companies, organizations, associations, colleges/universities, public/private schools,  government agencies, non-profits worldwide, helping participants find new purpose at work or emerging interests.

As Director of Veteran Relations, Purple Heart Homes, she created Boots to Backyards®, a mentor program helping Veterans find new purpose and prepared Military Spouse Fellows as facilitators. Joyce taught job search techniques for Veterans at  Entrepreneurial Boot Camp, University of CT and served as adjunct faculty at Keuka College, teaching mid-life transition through online education.

Joyce co-authored a chapter of  The Talent Management Handbook, contributed to several career development books, blogged for CT Post, published a career trend newsletter, and wrote numerous articles for trade journals and newspapers. She founded Unconventional Wisdom® LLC, focused on discovering what's next, designed and leads DIving in to Living...My Way workshops. She is updating eight life planning guides that she wrote into one volume, focusing on finding purpose at mid-life  www.u-wisdom.com

For 16 years, she served as Trustee at Keuka College in upstate New York, now Trustee Emerita, where she chaired various committees and was awarded the Eleanor Judd Wilkes Service Award. As volunteer with The Schegg Group, a CT outplacement firm, Joyce assists professionals in search of new purpose and opportunities through weekly networking and individual follow up.

Joyce resonates with George Bernard Shaw’s words “I want to be all used up when I die…this is a splendid torch I have hold of and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before passing it on to future generations.”

Dr Cynthia Barnett is a nationally recognized author, speaker and coach. Her “refirement message” has been featured in US News and World Report, local newspapers, and TV shows. Recently, The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine featured her in a lead article about women in mid-life who reinvented themselves. Dr. Barnett is the recipient of the inaugural AARP Purpose Prize, which recognizes people over age 50 who “use their wisdom and experience to revitalize their lives and make the world a better place.” She is an authority on "refire and reinvent," making dreams come true.

After a fulfilling career as a Connecticut educator, Dr. Barnett was inspired by an article she read to introduce young girls to Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)  to lead to lucrative careers. She supports young girls to pursue a career in the sciences. In 1996, she started Saturday Academy (now Amazing Girls Science), which has grown to 15 educational programs for girls with 500 attendees annually. As Cynthia says, “I want girls to learn about research and empowerment so they are strong and powerful enough to handle what comes down the future pike.”

Cynthia’s newest venture is her book I’m Not Done Yet …And You Shouldn’t Be Either. Here she shares stories of events that led to fulfillment, from a childhood growing up on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, to coming to America, struggling to be accepted into a university, marrying, raising children, surviving divorce, and ultimately rising to the top of her field. I’m Not Done Yet will help readers uncover or recover their purpose to live a meaningful life. Cynthia is now paying it forward through her nonprofit program, Amazing Girls Science, to help girls ignite a spark for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). She balances her non-profit work with facilitating informative programs on cruise ships. Learn more about Dr. Cynthia Barnett at www.refiredontretire.com; www.drcynthiabarnett.com; www.Imnotdoneyet.com.

Michaela I. Fissel is Executive Director of Advocacy Unlimited, Inc., a statewide, peer-lead, nonprofit dedicated to improving the well being of individuals who experience mental health and co-occurring disorders (www.advocacyunlimited.org).

Since achieving recovery at the age of 21, Michaela committed to establishing pathways for young people to rise as leaders across the behavioral health system of Connecticut. With over ten years experience working in the field as a community researcher, activist, and non-profit administrator, Michaela has in-depth understanding of adults as a mental-health service population.

Central to her work is the belief that identity exploration supports recovery and the developmental transition to adulthood. Creating space for young people to be seen, heard, and valued is a critical and often overlooked aspect of service design and delivery. This includes all systems responsible for supporting healthy transitions of youth across the developmental trajectory. Michaela began investigating the role of mindfulness-based practices in supporting recovery from mental health and addiction challenges. Michaela is certified as an instructor for the YES! For Schools program, and offers stress-reduction workshops in schools and to groups of all ages.

Dave Glass is a senior creative and director of copy and content at Velocity, a division of Viacom.

He is a 15+ year veteran in advertising and promotion, and has influenced myriad brands in print, broadcast, digital, and social media.

Highlights include promotional television for the MSG+ Network (with print and digital extensions), social promotion and amplification of Visa and the NFL’s “Go in Six” campaign, and the cross-channel execution across MTV, VH1, and CMT of Sonic's "Shake Break". Visit www.velocityviacom.com.

Originally from Weston, CT, Dave resides with his family in Old Greenwich.

SaratogaPhotographer

Dr. Joel Goodman founded The HUMOR Project, Inc. in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1977 as the first organization in the world to focus full-time on the positive power of humor and creativity in everyday life. Joel is a popular speaker whose programs have tickled and touched the lives of millions in his presentations for corporations, schools, hospitals, human service agencies, and professional associations in all 50 states and on all 7 continents (including Antarctica).

Joel has authored ten jest-selling books (including Laffirmations: 1,001 Ways to Add Humor to Your Life and Work), created the www.HumorProject.com web site, and edits the free LAUGHING MATTERS e-zine.

His pioneering work has been featured in 7,000 TV and radio shows, newspapers, and magazines in 175+ countries, including: The TODAY Show, PBS, BBC, Latenight America, All Things Considered, the front page of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Successful Meetings, Journal of the American Medical Association, many AP national features, and what made his kids most proud: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Joel's unique calling was also featured on an ABC NEWS prime-time special on The Mystery of Happiness, which aired nationally three times.

Joel joined Red Skelton, Willard Scott, and Meadowlark Lemon in receiving the prestigious International Lifetime of Laughter Achievement Award. He won the Beacon Humor and Peace Prize for his impactful work. Joel founded AHA!, the American Humor Association, which includes over 165,000 humor conspirators. He believes that it is important for business to "do well and do good" at the same time: The HUMOR Project has provided grants to 500 schools, hospitals, and non-profit agencies to help them develop services and resources that tap the positive power of humor.

Joel takes his work very seriously, and he takes himself very lightly as he helps people to get more smileage out of their lives and careers… and as he helps people to take their purpose seriously while taking themselves lightly.

Joel’s personal humor and creativity project take place when he is PopPop for his three-year-old grandson.

Ian Hockley is executive director of Dylan's Wings of Change.

When the Hockley family relocated from England to Connecticut in 2011, it was the realization of a family dream. Ian had visited the United States regularly since childhood, Nicole was from Rhode Island and Jake was born on the 4 th of July; in many ways it was coming home.

They moved to the idyllic town of Sandy Hook which Ian selected after touring the beautiful neighborhoods and meeting the staff at the elementary school, knowing Dylan especially would get a fantastic start as they made their new life. This bright beginning ran full force into the American nightmare on December 14 th , 2012 when Dylan was shot and killed in his first-grade classroom alongside 19 of his fellow students and six educators in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

Ian and Nicole created Dylan’s Wings of Change, dedicated to the memory of their son, with a mission to create strong, inclusive communities. Working with dedicated experts, the foundation created Wingman, a youth leadership program that develops social and emotional skills through engaging, experiential activities and inspires children to be empathetic and courageous young leaders.

Ian works full time for the foundation, dedicated to spreading the message of acceptance and inclusion for all. He warmly shares Dylan’s story with the world, the 6-year old boy who had his own way of communicating, who radiated pure love and described himself as “a beautiful butterfly” to his mother. Ian addresses the epidemic of social isolation and exclusion today and the need for social and emotional programming everywhere. Visit www.dylanswingsofchange.org.

Paul Mayer is President, The Schegg Group, a career transition firm in Shelton, CT. He is an accomplished Human Resources Executive with broad expertise in leading all HR functions including strategic planning, talent development, policies and procedures, employee/labor relations, and supporting a diverse and committed workforce. His strengths include implementing processes to increase employee engagement and enhance the organizational culture.

He provides advice, guidance and coaching to leadership, managers, and employees, ensuring alignment with overall strategic goals and succession plans. Paul has coached and consulted with employees at every level and been recognized for his ability to quickly address and identify solutions that reduce conflict and improve teamwork and operational effectiveness.

Paul is a US Air Force veteran and a graduate of Sacred Heart University where he earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management.

He has served in senior HR management roles in industries that represent machine manufacturing, utilities, consumer products, aerospace, high technology medical instruments, and specialty chemicals manufacturing. He has traveled the Americas as well as Europe and China to accomplish organizational objectives. Visit www.schegggroup.com/about-us/.

Jim McGrath was in the business world in many capacities over a 39-year career at IBM. International experiences included working near London, England for 8 years, and in Paris, France for 7 years and in Madrid, Spain for 2 years. His work included roles in HQ Corporate Finance, as Europe CFO for the IBM Consumer business, and as Europe CFO for IBM’s Retail Store Solutions business. In addition to expertise in financial management and operations, he has priced products from personal computers to mainframes.

Jim earned his MBA from the Johnson School at Cornell University, and completed his BA degree in Economics from Trinity College, Hartford, Ct. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the American School of Paris (Paris, France) and Dylan’s Wings of Change (Newtown, CT).

Recently, Jim and his family have set up a 501c3 Family Foundation, in honor of his daughter Victoria McGrath, who was injured at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The Foundation helps under served people where Victoria previously volunteered: special needs children, Middle East refugees, and returning US Veterans. See www.victoriamcgrath.org.

Hobbies include travel, sports (baseball and soccer) and gardening.

Hiro Murata is the most pioneer of active aging business in Japan and an internationally recognized thought leader on aging society issues. He has worked with over 1,000 companies and contributed to develop various innovative products and services such as Curves in Japan, the world’s largest fitness chain for women, Raku-Raku phone, the best-selling age-friendly mobile phone, the first college-linked retirement community in Japan, and various leading-edge retirement housings.

He serves as Professor at Smart Aging Research Center (SARC) at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. Not only created the concept of “Smart Aging” but also he contributed to establish the Smart Aging Square, the aging-business-on-campus with various industry partners and the Smart Aging College, the intergenerational school on the campus. Both are the first implementation in Japanese national universities. He contributed the export of “Learning Therapy”, a non-pharmaceutical dementia improvement program developed by Tohoku University, to the USA. He now operates “Smart Aging College Tokyo” to support total 304 leading companies who wish to create health longevity support business.

He is an entrepreneur, business producer, gerontologist, and best-selling author of several books, including The Business of Aging: 10 Successful Strategies for a Diverse Market, and Seven Paradigm Shifts in Thinking about the Business of Aging, Retirement Moratorium: What Will the Not-Retired Boomers Change? and The Smart Aging Way: how to vitalize your life as you age. They have been described as “must read books” by more than 30 leading publications including Nikkei, Nikkei Business, Yomiuri, and Japan Industry News. Senior Shift Impact: how to change the super Aging societies into business, one of his best-selling books has been published in Chinese and Korean version. The Successful Business of Aging: turning the super-aged society into business opportunities is also published in Chinese. His recent book is “Smart Aging: 10 secrets to live well in the 100-year life era”.

He also serves as many public positions such as a committee member of Cabinet Office, Japanese -style innovation System Creation Committee by METI, New Healthcare Industry Creating Forum by Chubu METI, and Silver Service Vision Committee by Silver Service Association. He also serves to Hong Kong Polytechnic University as an International Advisor, and KARP (Korean Association of Retired Persons) as the first Japanese advisor.

He is a frequent commentator to many leading media, including Wall Street Journal, Nikkei, Yomiuri, Asahi, Mainichi, Japan Industry News, Newsweek Japan, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, Dow Jones, The Economist, Silver Industry News, TBS, NTV, Fuji TV, TV Tokyo, NHK, and BBC.

He is also a frequently invited speaker by non-Japanese organizations such as WHO Global Aging Forum, AARP, LeadingAge, WDA Forum in Switzerland, Pacific Health Summit in the UK, and many industrial and academic organizations in EU, Germany, Italy, France, Singapore, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. He was elected as a Global Aging Influencer by Aging Asia Innovation Forum 2018.

He holds a Master’s degree of Engineering from Tohoku University Graduate School of Engineering, and a MBA from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (French Nationale Grand Ecole) in Paris. He speaks fluent English, French, and Japanese.

Lyn Nevins has a rich background in leadership, mentoring, coaching, teacher education, career development, workshop facilitation, life planning seminars in public and private sectors. She trains adults, supervises, evaluates, defines training needs, and designs interactive instructional materials to educate, challenge, and engage learners. Lyn has invested many years in gender equity, intergenerational awareness, effective group dynamics, eliminating sexual harassment, and trains trainers in a variety of disciplines.

For over 40 years, Lyn has been a leader in CT educational circles. As Program Manager for new teacher induction programs in southwestern CT, Lyn served as Senior Consultant and Trainer for Cooperative Educational Services (C.E.S.), Fairfield County’s Regional Educational Service Center, Trumbull, CT. She serves as liaison between school systems and CT State Department of Education to ensure challenges and successes at both levels are understood.

Annually, she leads 100s of programs/workshops across CT, consults with principals and diverse school personnel, designs curriculum, trains 100s of facilitators annually to deliver workshops in educational settings. She problem solves through successful resolution with mentors and administrators on issues related to new teacher induction. Lyn has trained over 20,000 teachers to become mentors to new teachers and updates educators regularly.

Lyn facilitated mid-life transition and career development seminars for corporations, government agencies and downsizing organizations in private industry and federal government. She was a speaker at numerous national conferences, all receiving top ratings and rave reviews. Topics encompassed Leadership, Mentoring, and CT's Master Mentor Program.

Lyn has been recognized by peers and audiences for diverse subject matter expertise, leadership, keen sense of humor, enthusiasm, motivational skill, sensitivity to audience concerns, and she's "easy to learn from even after a long day at work."

Lyn’s major volunteer involvement is with Special Olympics CT. Sparked by her daughter's interest in volunteering with Special Olympics, Lyn and Chrissy have been a team coaching tennis athletes who serve as unified partners with special needs athletes. Unified partners are regular athletes who pair with special athletes in tennis doubles competition to coach and encourage their partners on the tennis court. Lyn also coordinates statewide tennis competitions for Special Olympics CT which involves rating players' ability in order to set up fair matches so all athletes can compete at their level, communicating with coaches across the state, and serving as head cheerleader for all things tennis. Lyn and Chrissy have enjoyed this activity together for 27 years. Seeing athletes compete, improve, and love the game has provided much joy for both athletes and coaches. What a gift to inspire our athletes and at the same time to be inspired by them.

Laura Gassner Otting helps people get “unstuck” — and achieve extraordinary results in their lives.

Through Limitless Possibility, Laura collaborates with change agents, entrepreneurs, investors, leaders, and donors to push past the doubt and indecision that consign great ideas to limbo. She delivers strategic thinking, well-honed wisdom, and catalytic perspective informed by decades of navigating change across the start-up, nonprofit, political, and philanthropic landscapes.

Laura’s 25-year resume is defined by her entrepreneurial edge. She served as a Presidential Appointee in Bill Clinton’s White House, helping shape AmeriCorps; had a leadership role at respected nonprofit search firm, Isaacson, Miller; expanded the startup ExecSearches.com; and founded and ran the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group, which partnered with mission-driven nonprofit executives, from start-up dreamers to scaling social entrepreneurs, to global philanthropists. She is author of Mission-Driven, a book for those moving from profit to purpose, and most recently the author Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life, which debuted at #2 on the Washington Post bestseller list, right behind Michelle Obama.

Through her commitment to give back, Laura has helped build a local Montessori school, co-founded a women’s philanthropic initiative, advised a start-up national women’s PAC, grew a citizen-leadership development program, and completed three charity-inspired marathons—projects emblematic of her passions and values. She’s turned on by the audacity of The Big Idea and that larger-than-life goal you just can’t seem to shake. She’s an instigator, a motivator, and a provocateur, and she’s never met a revolution she didn’t like. Visit www.lauragassnerotting.com/about/.

Barbara Greenspan Shaiman, throughout her career as educator, businesswoman, and social entrepreneur, has used her skills to empower others to find meaning and purpose in their lives and create social change, regardless of age.

In 1995, she founded Champions of Caring, www.championsofcaring.org , a non-profit organization that has supported over 15,000 youth in Philadelphia and South Africa to become leaders in public service and active, engaged citizens. In 2018, she created Dan's Champions, a project focusing on the needs of immigrant youth at inner city Philadelphia high schools. She is bringing together community partners to provide legal, psychological, medical, nutritional, cultural and educational enrichment and support.

Barbara launched the Philadelphia Chapter of Life Planning Network (LPN) and over the past five years have consistently grown and provided important community awareness and life planning curriculum to highlight important topics, proactively shift attitudes about ageism and the value of experience and wisdom. They've created and taught life planning curriculum at Penn State Brandywine, They are currently creating a intergenerational course at Temple University to discuss issues around aging and ageism. Through Osher Lifelong Learning Institut (OLLI)they've careted a curriculum Mastering the art fo Sr living which emphasizes the inmportance of meaning, purp, resil dealing with greif/loss, financial campetenies and end of life decision makeng. reated outreadch programs for greater Phila community. yrr
imagination of what could be.

In 2008 She created Embraceyourlegacynow.com and wrote the book "Live Your Legacy Now: Ten Simple Steps to Find your Passion and Change the World" which has created a platform for her to share her message and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to take an inter generational approach to creating projects for personal growth and social change. She has presented this message nationally hoping to change the world one person at a time.

Harry Spencer has 20+ years of leadership experience managing total rewards at significant organizations (i.e., JetBlue Airways, Time Warner Inc. and ExxonMobil). Harry combines his passion for great programs with his finance background to identify innovative plan designs and solutions. His initiatives have delivered millions in annual savings, improved utilization, streamlined the participant experience, and bolstered appreciation.

As Vice President of Compensation, Benefits & Corporate Social Responsibility at JetBlue, Harry is responsible for the design and delivery of total rewards and social responsibility programs for JetBlue’s ~22,000 Crewmembers. Harry and his team led a benefits redesign for JetBlue, introducing plans that bend JetBlue’s cost curve and manage for wellness. He implemented an innovative concierge benefits program, BlueCarpet, that offers Crewmembers specialized support. In Compensation, Harry is responsible for pay programs spanning from the frontline through the Board. In the Corporate Social Responsibility space, the team has developed award-winning signature programs like Soar with Reading (bringing books to under served communities) and Blue Horizons for Autism (helping children get acclimated to flying).

As Vice President of Global Benefits and HR Operations at Time Warner Inc., Harry was responsible for all aspects of health and welfare, 401(k), pension, international benefits programs, non-qualified supplemental and deferred compensation programs, stock plan administration, corporate payroll and shared services organization in the UK (payroll, benefits, health and safety). He is comfortable with strategic as well as tactical aspects of employee benefits and HR operations. While at Time Warner, Harry oversaw the implementation of a personalized care management program and an optimized 401(k) program—which increased participation and appreciation of employees and was recognized by the World Street Journal and Money magazine.

Before joining Time Warner Inc., Harry was a member the ExxonMobil benefits harmonization team, responsible for the design and delivery of benefits for the newly merged company. While at Mobil, Harry co-founded the first prescription drug purchasing coalition with PepsiCo and Sears—and later created a profit center for the benefits function by selling memberships and leading coalitions that provided purchasing leverage to addres s common challenges in the prescription drugs and long term care area.

Harry was an active Board member of the National Business Group on Health for ten years and Chairman for four years. He is a member of the Executive Forum of Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship.

Harry graduated from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA with his BS in Accounting. He resides in Weston, CT and is actively involved in community service activities.

Corky Stewart was born during WW ll to military parents at the Rattlesnake Bomber Base in Pyote, Texas. His early life was characterized by relocations every 3-4 years, thriving from the challenges offered by new schools, neighborhoods and friends. Graduating from Dartmouth in 1967, he followed in his parents’ footsteps, serving in the United States Air Force along with his father during the Vietnam war.

Upon leaving active duty as a Captain in 1971, he embarked upon a career that included working with Ross Perot, Arthur Andersen & Company, and retired as a Partner from Hewitt Associates in 2000.

Since his retirement, he has served on a number of Boards that have included the Norwalk Hospital Board of Trustees, the Open Door Shelter, and a number of musical organizations. Corky has also served as Board President for the Norwalk Hospital Volunteers (6 years), Board Chairman (3 years) for the Open Door Shelter, President of the Westport Community Band (6 years).

Not all of his service has been at the Board level. While leading the Open Door Shelter Board, it became necessary to change the organization’s operational leadership, necessitating a national search. Corky resigned his Board Chairmanship to assume the Executive Director responsibility while the Board conducted the search. After 9 months, the new Executive Director took the helm and Corky returned to the Board. In his words, the experience was the “most challenging, the most difficult, and the most rewarding opportunity I have ever been offered".

Corky’s personal life has been equally full. In addition to having played the trumpet for more than 70 years, he is an accomplished skier, tennis player, cyclist and boater. The anchor in his life has been his wife, Jill, for more than 50 years, who shares his passion for helping those in need. Together they share the joys of their children and grandchildren. Visit www.opendoorshelter.org.

Jill Stewart has been in the education field as a teacher, school-age child-care director and advocate as well as a "professional volunteer" since graduating from college. Shortly after having her first child and becoming a working mother Jill focusd on the need and availability for quality childcare for infants, toddlers, school age children. This led to a new career path utilizing her teaching abilities and interest in helping working families find high quality, safe and affordable resources for after-school time.

She has been involved in School Age Child Care in both paid and volunteer capacities in the following ways: Executive Director of Chappaqua Children’s Workshop (K-6) in New York; President of the New York State School Age Care Coalition; President of the Westchester County, New York, School Age Directors Association; Board Member of the National School Age Care Alliance; and National School Age Care Alliance Program Accreditation Endorser/ Trainer.

In Norwalk, Connecticut Jill volunteered at the Open Door (Homeless) Shelter and identified a need for afterschool activities. She collaborated with religious groups and other community organizations to attract adult and student volunteers as well as in-kind donations to start a small (K-12) after school program, "Afterschool Buddies." Jill helped design a beautiful new space for 'Afterschool Buddies" on the grounds of the shelter. She continues to serve as Volunteer Program Coordidnator, providing the Shelter's children and families with a safe, warm, welcoming, enriching and loving place of their own to heal from the upheaval of poverty and homelessness. Visit www.opendoorshelter.org.

Ryan Thompson is a beverage industry veteran. While at Red Bull Energy Drink, his field marketing initiatives in the mid-Atlantic region drove sales in five years from 250 cases a month to 2.5M+ cases sold annually increasing total awareness from 15% to 97%. His contributions on the Dos Equis brand’s successful "Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign ensured innumerable industry honors, including a Golden Effie Award for 5 Years Sustained Success, and he led ground-breaking marketing campaigns with proprieties like Tough Mudder and World of Adventure as well as securing Dos Equis as the first Official Beer Sponsor of College Football Playoff on ESPN.

Thompson served as Vice President of Creative Services at the award-winning production company, iDEKO, refining its client engagement strategy and experiential marketing capabilities to ensure strategic, creative and cost-effective solutions for clients. Ryan is Principal Consultant at PEAK Experiential, a marketing and communications firm focused on integrated commercial strategy, brand activation and experiential marketing. He works predominantly in the beverage and active lifestyle industries. Thompson began his career working in account management at Lowe Lintas & Partners.

He holds a B.A. in Speech Communication from James Madison University and did post-baccalaureate work at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. When he isn’t inspiring experiential marketing initiatives for big brands, Thompson can be found redefining experiences for the next generation, sitting on the board of the Urban Youth Racing School, and leading units for Scouting BSA.

John Viola spent 28 years with the FDNY as a Firefighter, Lieutenant, and Captain. While serving as a Lieutenant with Engine 4 Ladder 15 in lower Manhattan, his Firehouse responded to the Twin Towers on Sept 11, 2001. Unfortunately, 14 brave members of Engine 4 Ladder 15 perished that day.

After retiring in 2003, Viola looked for a way to pay back society for all the help they received during this very dark time. Viola joined a Volunteer Organization, HEART 911, made up of FDNY and NYPD members who were also first responders at the Twin Towers.

The mission of H.E.A.R.T 9/11 is to respond immediately to natural and man-made disasters; rebuild community centers in hard-hit areas to meet grass roots needs; recover by building resiliency for individuals, families and communities. H.E.A.R.T 9/11 is Healing Emergency Aid Response Team.

15 years later Viola is a Board member as well as Project manager for HEART 911. Visit www.heart911.org.