it starts with you

One thing we love about ATD International Conference & EXPO are all the connections we make both old and new. We are showcasing a few of our past attendees so you can start recognizing a few faces and names at ATD21. 

  

  

Becky Magnotta

CEO, Homestead Coaching

Denver, Colorado

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Denver, Colorado, and my values are building community through joy and curiosity.  This threads through my personal and work life. 

I love spending time with my husband, Steve, and friends and family, and meeting new people and learning their stories. I enjoy eclectic reading, travel, good food and wine, and being in the mountains of Colorado, a new city to explore, or a beach. 

Through my company, Homestead Coaching, I bring joy and curiosity to my work of building community. My niche is senior leaders and their teams. I believe building great leaders creates great places to work. I use positive intelligence since being aware of how our thinking gets in our way affects how effective we are.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost two years after careers with DISH Network and Chevron.  My career has spanned accounting, finance, marketing, and sales training. I also was responsible for leadership development and talent development at DISH. 

Currently, I’m the chair of the 2021 program advisory committee and director of communications for the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Colorado Chapter. I’m a past president of the ATD Rocky Mountain Chapter and organized volunteers the last time the conference was in Denver.

What is your day-to-day routine?

As an entrepreneur, it varies from coaching clients to discussing issues with executives and how I can support them through coaching and development. I also spend time on business development and am constantly looking at how to continue to master my craft. 

What inspires you in learning and development?

I’m inspired by knowing that if I help individuals be stronger leaders, they can create a great place to work that will help people thrive. I was bit by this bug about 13 years ago when I started facilitating leadership development, and I have loved every step of the way.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was learning how to run my own business. Since my corporate experience is extensive, I had a lot of deep background to work from, which helped. If anything, the pandemic caused me to focus on what matters most and learn the craft of running a business.

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?  

I’ve attended six: Denver, Dallas, Florida, Denver, Atlanta, and Washington, DC

What was your first impression of the event?

My first event was in Denver, where I was a volunteer—a fabulous way to attend the conference. I was amazed at the sheer size and depth and the amount of learning that was available. I was thrilled by the people I was meeting, and the deep friendships that continue to this day.

What’s brought you back? 

I come back for the learning and community. I know I will walk away with some excellent nuggets. I also look forward to seeing many friends—probably this year more than ever. This conference has something for everybody. If you are further in your career, you can find resources to continue on the path of mastery. Also, I am proud of the fact that through ATD, we are building people who are starting their talent development career.

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

There are so many! Instead of picking one, I’d say it was the incredible lineup of keynote speakers. Because of this event I’ve seen Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Seth Godin, Brené Brown, Marcus Buckingham, and so many more.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference and EXPO and how did you apply it on the job? 

I’ve attended several of the preconference sessions. The most memorable was the session on integrated talent management, which I used extensively when I was responsible for talent development and when I’ve consulted with companies on their talent development strategies.

  

  

Kenneth Bright

Director of Organizational Development, Truliant Federal Credit Union

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, now. I have been doing OD work for more than 25 years. Currently, at Truliant Federal Credit Union I head up the training, recruiting, and employee engagement teams. I am a DDI Master trainer in targeted selection and learning systems. I am also certified in many of the Franklin Covey leadership courses. Truliant Federal Credit Union has won Best Places to Work in the Triad Area for four years running thanks to our employee engagement events, training, and culture. I was a single father who raised my two children who are now grown. I was blessed with my first grandchild last year and number two is on the way!

Your day-to-day routine?

Back-to-back meetings!  Meet with business unit leaders, executives, and the teams I lead to discuss strategies and opportunities to increase effectiveness and efficiency within our operations, policies, procedures, talent management, and staff development. Also, keeping abreast of the industry trends and technology. I always take time at the end of my day to rejuvenate and plan.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I have always had a passion for helping people succeed. I feel like it is a part of my calling. To watch someone learn skills and reach their full potential to develop a better future for themselves and knowing I had a part in that is quite gratifying.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

Same as everyone . . . COVID-19! We went from less than 30 people working from home to more than 300 in a matter of weeks. We rolled out a work-from-home training program and a WebEx training program and resource centers all during that time as well and still managed to win Best Places to Work!

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?

I’ve lost count! I have been coming since the early 2000s. I was coming when it was still ASTD!

What was your first impression of the event?

I was overwhelmed with it all at first! There was so much I didn’t know when I was first entering the industry, but the conference and expo design really helped me a lot along the way in my career. It is one of the main ingredients to my success.

What's has brought you back?

I was always impressed by the caliber of speakers and presenters, and the cutting-edge and essential topics for all levels of expertise of talent development. It increased my knowledge exponentially and gave me access to so many other new ideas, goals, and opportunities, not to mention the many friends I made over the years.

What was your most memorable/favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO?

So many friends and the networking nights! Meeting Stephen Covey in Atlanta. Sitting in the 10th row to see Barack Obama speak and thinking how will they ever top this? Then . . . the next year I was front row for Oprah Winfrey! You topped it!

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job?

I do not even know where to begin. I have learned so much from facilitation to curriculum design to new technologies and ways to create training that is more engaging online and in-person. The expo always helped me find the right vendors I wanted to partner with. Our first ever LMS that I implemented at Truliant Federal Credit Union came from a vendor I met at ATD!

  

  

Jason Sturges

Project Lead, AllenComm

Salt Lake City, Utah

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Germany (my dad was on an exchange program with the US and German navies) and have lived in Virginia; Washington, DC; and Utah. I am the president of ATD’s Utah Chapter and have served on the board for eight years. In addition to my work and chapter leadership, I teach a graduate-level course on talent development and corporate training. I love Mexican food.

What is your day-to-day routine?

In my current job at AllenComm:

My role is to be the connecting piece between project management and the resources our company provides as well as between the client and their team. I ensure that resources and expectations are in the right place to meet or exceed project quality and deadlines.

I start most mornings with team or client update meetings then dive into backing up any of production groups, giving initial quality reviews, and providing administrative and financial support to the project.

In my role as president for the chapter:

I represent ATD National and the overall talent development industry to organizations, members, and potential members throughout Utah. I provide strategy and vision to the chapter board. And equally importantly, I help attract, mentor, and develop new TD leaders, which is probably the most fun of everything that I have on my plate.

What inspires you in learning and development?

This is a great question. I love to help people get one step closer to their goal. I get energized when I can help the lightbulb turn on for someone. It is such a pleasure to use what I have been given to help make the lives of others better or easier, which is what a career in this field allows me to do.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

Pivoting learning programs from in-person to being equally successful online.

Employee engagement in a virtual and work-from-home environment, especially for onboarding new employees.

Developing a plan for reboarding employees and managing culture when there will be some employees and teams who don’t return to the office.

How many times have you attended the ATD International Conference & EXPO?
I have attended this event six times and been a breakout session speaker at four of them.

What was your first impression of the event?

“Wow, this is huge! I had no idea that so many people out there did the same thing I do! And who knew that ‘training’ was so multifaceted? Not me!”

What's has brought you back?

First and foremost, my desire to continually work to improve myself and stay on top of what is new, hot, and trending in our industry. Secondly, after experiencing the level of excellence ATD brings to the conference scene—with content, networking, vendors, entertainment, and keynotes—it simply is an event not to be missed. 

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

My most memorable aspect of attending the event is the level of passion that people had. Whether it was ATD staff helping in any of the booths, fellow attendees sharing their learning goals or resources, or vendors on the EXPO floor ready to show you how their solution would solve your problem, everyone was on their A-game, and you couldn’t help but catch it. My favorite part of the event has always been the keynotes that get you motivated for it, challenge your thinking, and inspire you to take what you’ve learned back to your organizations.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO and how did you apply it on the job? 

Oh my gosh, I don’t think there’s enough space to list everything I’ve learned from the six conferences I’ve attended. Each year I try to pick three to four high-level areas that I want to learn something in (or are major areas we’re tackling at work) and focus my breakout session attendance around those areas. Areas in the past have included diversity, equity, and inclusion; employee engagement; learning transfer; onboarding; offboarding; and learning technology for instructional design and facilitation. No matter what session I attend, at end of each one I ask myself, “Now that I’ve sat through this, what can I do?” This helps me prepare a presentation for my boss and team when I get home, as well as develop an action plan for application after the conference.

What do you love about Salt Lake City?

The outdoors! We have two amazing premiere seasons, winter and summer, with world-class skiing, snowboarding, and assorted winter sports as well as hiking, camping, rock climbing, biking, and cycling, all of which can be accessed within 30 minutes or less.

In addition, we’ve got:

  • A perfect blend of big business and local startups
  • Award-winning beer and coffee
  • A focus on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in all aspects of our community
  • Friendly neighborhoods and communities focused on families and supporting and taking care of each other
  • And, have you seen our new airport?  😉
 

 

Catherine Williamson-Hardy

Deputy Director, Company: Durham County Department of Social Services

Durham, North Carolina

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have over 25 years of experience in the human services field.  After serving five years as the Assistant Director of Customer Accountability and Talent Development at Durham County Department of Social Services (DSS), I was appointed Interim Director of Durham County Department of Social Services by the Durham County Board of Social Services. At the end of her tenure as Interim Director, I was named the first Deputy Director of Durham County Department of Social Services.  

In addition to my experience working in local Departments of Social Services, I have over 15 years of experience as a professional trainer, coach and consultant.

What is your day-to-day routine?

I work in concert with the executive leadership team to ensure the agency-wide operations of Durham County Department of Social Service are carried out.

What inspires you in learning and development?

I believe a successful career is rooted in the expertise one brings but only grows to its fullest potential when you add the why and how. Some call that soft skills; I call it my superpower gain through constant awareness of how important it is to develop my technical expertise and emotional intelligence to bring that expertise to bear in any environment.

What has been your biggest challenge in the last year? How did you overcome it?

The question of one’s biggest challenge would be hard to tackle in a normal year, but in 2020 it took on different forms—but in one-word: COVID-19. Social services are essential agencies that needed to figure out how to continue to provide services (child and adult protective services, Medicaid, food and nutrition, and so forth) during a pandemic. Also, only weeks before, Durham County had been the victim of a malware attack that compromised our ability to leverage technology to aid us fully.  With all this, the first thing we did was establish an on-site command center that afforded us the opportunity to social distance but easily communicate with one another because our telephone systems were down. All our computers needed to be reimaged. But we made the best out of a challenging situation by focusing on what we could do and how we could keep staff/clients as safe as possible. That meant going back to the basics; for example, using a bulletin. Simultaneously, we worked in concert with our IT department to determine what we would need when we could fully leverage the considerable amount of technology we had in place to afford our staff to work remotely. Today at least 85 percent of our staff work remotely.   

How many times have you attended ATD International Conference & EXPO?  

Four

What was your first impression of the event?

I was in awe at the sheer magnitude of the conference. I had never attended a conference with many speakers, workshops, and participants.

What's brought you back?

I come back year after year because of the breadth and depth of the curated content, the keynote speakers, and the wealth of material offered.

What was your most memorable or favorite part of ATD International Conference & EXPO? 

I have several amazing memories from the conference, but this one tops them all:

I had waited in line with thousands of other attendees to hear President Barack Obama speak.

His and Tony’s exchange was excellent.

The next morning, I went to the hotel gym to workout. I noticed a man standing near the door in a suit, but it was early, and I was still trying to wake up, so it didn’t register to me how odd that was. I entered the gym, and another man is standing with a suit on. By this time, I had started to put things together.  Yes, I worked out with President Obama in the hotel gym! So, at ATD’s conference, you never know what exciting moment you will find yourself in😊.

What did you learn at ATD International Conference & EXPO, and how did you apply it on the job?

Over the years, I have learned a lot. One example is my experience with Stephen Covey’s work when I attended the DC conference. I brought back Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to my agency, getting myself and others certified to train this curriculum. 

All staff from the receptionist to the director go through this training. It has become an integral part of the learning environment of our agency. 

This year we pivoted to the all-access online version.