2013 Conference Speakers

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2013 Conference Speakers 2017-01-03T23:18:04+00:00
  • at Midwest Social Media Conference

@Midwest brings you highly qualified experts in the social networking industry to speak about all forms of Internet/mobile technology, strategy, and marketing for the small and mid-sized businesses. Presentations are focused on topics concerning better social networking management, developing/maintaining a strategy, introducing new business models, improving profitability, and employing effective social media.

Keynotes Speakers

Thomas Ian NicholasThomas Ian Nicholas

Thomas Ian Nicholas began his career at the age of six, on the set of Who’s the Boss?, playing a young Tony Danza. It was an experience full of memories and most importantly for a young boy, Alyssa Milano.

At age 12, Nicholas embarked on a series of feature films that would shape his career, including the now classic Rookie of the YearA Kid in King Arthur’s Court and recurring roles on hit television shows like Party of Five. However, the by-products of acting wouldn’t be thrust upon him until he was booked at the age of 17 for the role of Kevin Myers. The American Pie empire had begun.

The gig that would make him one of the most recognizable faces of his generation, the boy next door whom everyone loved and trusted—and who, as Tara Reid’s on-screen boyfriend, would become the envy of hormonally challenged teens.

With the American Pie movies as a springboard, Nicholas was able to land other exciting roles including the Roger Avary directed The Rules of AttractionHalloween: ResurrectionNational Lampoon’s Cattle Call and Stealing Sinatra, opposite everyone from Tyra Banks to William H. Macy. He has worked on hit TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Medium. In 2004, Nicholas made his debut as a writer and director in L.A. DJ.

A lifelong musician, Nicholas released his debut album, “Without Warning,” in January 2008. Co-written by rock legends Bruce Kulick (KISS), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) and Dan Lavery (Tonic), the album is a collection of rock that toe the line between FooFighter’s melodic rock and John Mayer’s pop-crooner sensibilities. His follow up album, “Heroes Are Human,” was released in June of 2010. His 2012 release features the song “My Generation,” which is included on the American Reunion soundtrack.

In the past two years, Nicholas has been busy acting in independent films that include Please GiveThe Chicago 8 and Life Is Hot in Cracktown. Along with acting he also jumped behind the camera again to produce the fantasy film Fading of the Cries and drama/thriller The Lost Tree. His upcoming releases include Delivering the Goods and Ten Cent Pistol with Joe Mantegna and Jena Malone.

Melissa Schenk

Melissa Schenk

Entrepreneur, TV Personality, Educator

Twitter: @ms2weathergirl

Described by many as energetic, creative, and a leader in her field – Melissa wears many exciting hats as a Business Coach, TV Personality, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Shopping Channel Spokesperson, and Independent Turbine-Style Ambassador.

Melissa’s unique combination of skills, experience and business credibility result in her being in high demand from successful business people. You might remember her from Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” Competition. She was in the TOP 50 out of more than 35,000 entries.

Melissa Schenk is passionate about the power of video. Her professional experience spans a variety of networks from CTV, CNN, Shop NBC, The Shopping Channel, Online Shop TV and more! She is the owner of MS2 Productions – a high impact video, training and marketing agency that cost effectively brands, networks and markets for corporations and businesses with the next generation of media, video marketing and corporate storytelling.

Melissa Schenk is a highly motivated and successful entrepreneur / tv personality with more than 14 years of experience in on-air television and offline video production, who teaches from experience. As a certified Character Development Specialist with an extensive background in television, sales and marketing, she is a sought after educator and marketing strategist, specializing in digital and social media strategies for businesses. She is frequently sought after to craft powerful messages that speak to customers, educate prospects, increase conversions and build brand equity.

Session Speakers

@Midwest Speaker—Laura BleillLaura Bleill

Laura Bleill is the founder and owner of chambanamoms.com, the top local online resource for families in the Champaign-Urbana area. Since 2009, chambanamoms.com has helped local businesses leverage their resources to customize and target their marketing needs. A Chicago-area native and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Laura takes pride in being an adopted Champaign-Urbana “townie.” Laura has spoken at conferences (Blissdom, Type A Parent) as well as before many local audiences, primarily focusing on the power of hyperlocal, social media, and the digital world.  Laura, a mom of three, also works as the Marketing Coordinator for the University of Illinois Research Park.

@Midwest Speaker, Paul Boomer

Paul Boomer

Twitter: @paulboomer

Paul is an international speaker and consultant helping companies deepen their relationships with customers. He’s applied his knowledge to help businesses see up to a 17-time increase in their online effectiveness while others have enjoyed an additional $3.4-million in profit within 3-months of working with him.

Being hand picked to become a partner in the international research, strategic planning, and message development firm, Wizard of Ads, Paul dedicates his time to continually understand human behavior and the human-web-business relationship with the intent to deepen relationships.

@Midwest Speaker—Jacob DeGealJacob DeGeal

Jacob DeGeal is a graphic designer at Web & Interactive Communications at Illinois State University. He is also a steering member of Bike BloNo, Bloomington-Normal’s local bike advocacy group, Webmaster and committee member of Your Normal LGBT Film Festival, and an web design instructor in Illinois State University’s program of Arts Technology. He is a member of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts), CUDO  (Champaign-Urbana Design Organization), and UCDA (University and College Designer Association). In his non-existent free time, he enjoy urban gardening, beer brewing and catching up on outdated television (right now it’s Lost).

Sherry Galbreath

Sherry Galbreath

Twitter:  @sherrygalbreath

With more than 25 years of experience in industries as varied as trapshooting, building materials and healthcare, Sherry Galbreath has learned the value of marketing planning and strategy from the inside. “Every business is different, and you have to start fresh with a unique plan for each one.”

As president of ACME Solutions, LLC, she provides advertising, communications, marketing and event services to clients throughout central Illinois. While covering the varied needs of each industry, she always concentrates on the basics of defining goals, brand, message and audience before even beginning to think about tactics. A self-confessed font geek, and devotee of the thesaurus and AP Style, words and messages are always top of mind. “One written word can express volumes, if it’s the right word and the right font.”

@Midwest Speaker, Chris GlassChris Glass

Chris’ passion for internet marketing has driven him to become a leader in his field, where he is constantly striving to help businesses achieve financial growth and long term success. Chris is a contributing writer for the renowned social media information site, Socialnomics.com, and works full time at Terrostar Technology Solutions as their VP of Business Development. A jack of many trades, Chris’ key areas of expertise are web design, search engine optimization, social media, and strategy consulting. He is results driven and always willing to help out; the kind of guy people entrust with valuable information. Chris is definitely someone you want to know!

Brian Huonker

Brian Huonker

Facebook: bkhuonker
Twitter: @bkhuonker
LinkedIN: bkhuonker

Drawing from an undergraduate degree in design from Illinois State, Brian honed his skills as an art director for CS&A Marketing and Communications (a national business to business marketing agency) creating everything from corporate identity and brochures, direct mail and websites to commercials and multimedia projects. Currently Brian is focusing on a master’s in communications, emphasizing the communication preferences of the millennial generation while working at Illinois State University’s University Marketing.

“Our clients know the subject matter the best. They are the experts. Our job is just to dissect their message and figure out the best and most effective way to communicate it. That’s where the creativity comes in.”

Not only working on award-winning designs, Brian also focuses on helping clients integrate new technologies into their media mix. “Whether that’s texting, social networks, e-mail, websites, or traditional snail mail, each audience has their own prefered method of communication and we have to be prepared for all of them.”

@Midwest Social Media Speaker, Sean McGinnisSean McGinnis

Sean McGinnis is Director of Digital Marketing for Sears PartsDirect, part of of Sears Home Services and Sears Holdings Corporation. Sean lives in the Chicago area and has been involved in digital since 1998. He also provides corporate training across the US on SEO, content strategy and other digital marketing disciplines.

Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson

Senior Regional Development Director – Illinois

Steve is Constant Contact’s small business expert in Illinois and Wisconsin.  A knowledgeable marketing expert with 30 years of experience, Steve has helped thousands of small businesses, associations, and nonprofits develop and implement effective email marketing, social media and online survey strategies. A popular speaker and educator, Steve gives small businesses and nonprofits the tools, techniques, and strategies they need to grow and expand their business and to maximize the power of relationship marketing.  Steve’s experience in small business ownership, business development, sales, and fundraising help associations, small businesses and nonprofits achieve success.

@Midwest Speaker–Penny SansevieriPenny C. Sansevieri

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert.  Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns.  Penny is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self Publishing for NYU and she is the author of nine books, including Powerful Pinterest and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the “leading guide to everything Internet.”  AME has had eleven recent books top the bestseller lists including New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.  Additionally, Penny contributes regularly to: HuffPo, Social Media Magazine, and PR Newswire. http://www.amarketingexpert.com.

@Midwest Social Media Conference Speaker, Rebecca WardlowRebecca Wardlow

Rebecca Wardlow is a Social Media Strategist with a focus on training individuals on how to use social media to maximize profits. She has been teaching social media courses at Kishwaukee College in Malta, IL for the past year. Rebecca’s passion is to help others understand and use social media to better enhance themselves or their business. She understands the latest social media platforms, apps and tools allowing her to encourage others to utilize social media to listen, connect, share and grow personally and professionally.

@Midwest Social Media Speaker, Bernia WheatonBernia Wheaton


Bernia Wheaton is an Award Winning e-Marketing Strategist and Communication Specialist.  Over the past 15 years, Bernia has provided Consulting services to businesses, non-profits, and governments throughout North America. Bernia’s expertise is in e-marketing strategy development and execution, economic development, and strategic planning.

As an innovator and out-of-the-box thinker, Bernia has earned International acclaim with the BREI Award of Excellence for Program Impact, as well as the EDCO Social Media marketing award.