Morning & Afternoon Speakers

Check back often for the announcement of more speakers

We would like to express our sincere gratitude and our highest appreciation for the following speakers who made our 2017 conference such an amazing and memorable event:

Lesley Jane Seymour

Lesley Jane Seymour is a media entrepreneur and founder of CoveyClub, a new club for life-long learners launched in February 2018 (Covey is a small flock of birds). CoveyClub allows women 40+ to bond over issues of interest and concern through virtual salons (Coffee & Conversation) or topics in the CoveyClub monthly magazine which is written and produced by the best journalists around the world. CoveyClub also offers a daily blog, weekly podcasts with women reinventing themselves (The CoveyCast) and a special list for high-level one-on-one networking (Lesley's List).

In January 2008, she was named Editor-In-Chief of More Magazine, the leading lifestyle magazine for women over forty with a readership of 1.5 million and Editor-in-Chief and Social Media director of More.com. In July of 2015, Seymour created history by having the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, guest edit an entire issue-leading to 8.5 billion media impressions worldwide. In 2008, Seymour led More to its first National Magazine Award nomination. In 2012, Seymour was named Executive Director of Meredith's Beauty Center of Excellence; in 2009 she was named number four on the 2009 Most Powerful Fashion Editors List by Forbes magazine.

Before taking over More, Seymour served as the Editor-in-Chief for Marie Claire magazine, Redbook magazine, and teen book YM. She was Beauty Director of Glamour, and senior editor at Vogue. She is the author of two books: On the Edge, 100 Years of Vogue and I Wish My Parents Understood. In 2013 she was named Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for Duke Magazine and a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices. She is a trustee at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Silvia Baldini

Silvia Baldini was born and raised in Turin, Italy, a town where the bond to your own family is as strong as the one for beautiful food and good wines. She moved to California when she was 17 and graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and then moved to New York to work in advertising.

Following a distinguished and award-winning career as an art director on Madison Avenue, Silvia pursued culinary training at ICC in NYC and Cordon Bleu in London. She worked at Michelin-star kitchens in Europe including Ottolenghi and the Ritz Carlton in London and has since established her own creative food group named Strawberry and Sage. In an appearance on a Food Network show, Chef Chris Santos declared her dessert: "The best dessert on this show ever." She became the first professional female chef in Connecticut to win Chopped, the award-winning show on Food Network. She has returned to Food Network as one of 16 chefs competing in the last season of Chopped Champions and has recently competed on Beat Bobby Flay.

Silvia also has a cooking series on FabFItFun.com with over seven million viewers. She is the lead chef, recipe developer and spokesperson for Realeats.com, a healthy meal delivery service. She is the co-owner and founder of The Secret Ingredient Girls who believe wellness, beauty and happiness begin with wholesome ingredients- a place where she can share her passion for food, cooking and wellness with others. She has a large and loyal social media following on all platforms.

Silvia's work and recipes have been published in Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Parents Magazine, TeenVogue, Readers Digest, Thrillist, Refinery29, Country Magazine, Saveur, Martha Stewart, Cherry Bombe, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Independent. She has made television appearances on CNN, ABC, and Dr. Oz, to name a few.

She is highly sought after as a keynote speaker and industry panelist with extensive experience in the food and media industry. She is a member of the New York Women's Culinary Alliance and the Toklas Society.

Silvia is also the proud mother of two beautiful and always hungry children.

Sarah Calhoun

Owner, Red Ants Pants
Executive Director, Red Ants Pants Foundation
Producer, Red Ants Pants Music Festival

Sarah Calhoun has nearly two decades of leadership experience in both the non-profit and small business sectors, working in the outdoor education industry before founding Red Ants Pants in 2006.

Raised on a farm in rural Connecticut, Calhoun was inspired to move to Montana by Ivan Doig's This House of Sky. From her home in the small town of White Sulphur Springs, she has become an inspiration to entrepreneurs nationwide and is known for her dedication to supporting rural communities.

Tired of wearing men's work pants that didn't fit, Calhoun designed pants that would fit, function and flatter working women. Red Ants Pants are made in the USA and that will not change. Red Ants Pants is based out of White Sulphur Springs, Montana where the storefront, distribution center, and international headquarters all reside in a historic saddle shop. Known for their grass roots marketing efforts, including ‘Tour de Pants,' the direct sales business model is proving effective.

To show support for the hard-working side of Montana and beyond, the Red Ants Pants Foundation was born in 2011. The Foundation supports women's leadership, working family farms and ranches, and rural communities - the three things most important to Calhoun and the Red Ants Pants Community. That same year the Foundation launched its first program – the Red Ants Pants Music Festival. In 2011 over 6,000 fans came to celebrate rural Montana in a cow pasture. Over the years, attendees have enjoyed headliners including Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Wynonna Judd, and Keb' Mo. The festival continued its success into its seventh year on July 26-29, 2018 aiming to improve upon the authentic, rich community culture the 16,500 attendees enjoyed during the record-setting 2017 festival.

Calhoun's grit has brought her enterprises national recognition over the years – earlier this spring, the festival received the prestigious 2018 Event of the Year award from the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development. In 2016, featured in The New York Times and The Huffington Post. In 2015, selected as one of only 100 businesses nationwide to participate in the Small Business Majority's Small Business Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. In 2012, named the National Women in Business Champion for the Small Business Administration. In 2011, invited by President Obama to attend a White House forum on jobs and economic development after serving as a US Delegate to the APEC Women in Business Summit in San Francisco. Closer to home, she was honored when Governor Schweitzer named her the 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year for the State of Montana. Calhoun and her company have been featured in many national publications including Entrepreneur, National Geographic, Delta Sky, Country Woman, Sunset, and Airstream Life.

Calhoun has been called a "revolutionary figure in rural business today" and a "powerhouse of inspiration for women in business." Her dynamic style and inspiring experiences as an entrepreneur make her a highly sought after keynote speaker. She has given two TEDx talks, dozens of keynote addresses, and has been featured on national television programs such as CNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg.

As Calhoun has risen to the top echelons of success as a rural entrepreneur, she is paying it forward by actively encouraging and mentoring other women starting their own businesses.

Sara Laschever

Sara Laschever has spent her career investigating the obstacles, detours, and special circumstances that shape women's lives and careers. She is the co-author, with Linda Babcock, of two groundbreaking books about women and negotiation, Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation-and Positive Strategies for Change and Ask for It! How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want. She has written extensively about women in business, women in literature and the arts, women in academia, and women in the sciences. Her work has been published by The New York Times, The Harvard Business Review, The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, Vogue, Glamour, and many other publications.

Sara is frequently cited in the national and international media as an expert on women's leadership, the persistence of the wage gap, women and conflict resolution, work-life balance issues, and the multiple factors influencing women's long-term career success. She lectures and teaches workshops about women and negotiation for corporate audiences, colleges and universities, law firms, government agencies, and women's leadership conferences in the U.S. and around the world.

A founding faculty member of the Carnegie Mellon Leadership and Negotiation Academy for Women, Sara served as Academic Coordinator for the inaugural WIN Summit, a global women's conference focused on women and negotiation. She provides private and group coaching services to women navigating critical career transitions, taking on new leadership roles, and preparing for high-stakes negotiations.

Lisa Bresson

For as long as she can remember, Lisa has always had a thirst for adventure….and storytelling. When she was a little girl growing up in Miami, Florida, she climbed the beachside Tamarind trees, eating the sweet pods straight from the highest branches. She frequented old bookstores, marveling at the towering stacks of books that seemed a mile high from her childlike perspective. Now, she is a wife, mother, international book author, and early childhood education coach and consultant. But she is also...a certified scuba diver, technical tree climber, traveler, and licensed skydiver.

Lisa is the co-author of the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) new bestseller, Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking. After being published in September 2017, Big Questions quickly shot to the top of NAEYC's international bestseller list. Now in its 2nd printing, and currently being translated into Mandarin, the book is being used by universities, school districts, and state training agencies across the country as a tool to help early childhood professionals deepen their interactions with young children and ask more high level questions. Lisa and her co-author Janis Strasser have been presenting on the content of their book nationwide for the past year.

She is currently a Technical Assistance Supervisor for New Jersey's statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early childhood programs. Through this work, she mentors and coaches early childhood teachers and administrators through their journey of quality improvement. Prior to becoming a TA Supervisor in 2016, she taught in urban public preschool settings for 13 years. There she also mentored novice teachers and served on the Committee for Staff Development. She has been a contributing author for Teaching Young Children, NAEYC's magazine for teachers, for over a decade and serves on the publication's editorial advisory board. Lisa has published over a dozen articles and book chapters focusing on child development, developmentally appropriate teaching strategies for young children, and gender considerations in early childhood.

Aside from her professional work in education and publishing, she is also a member of a division of United States Parachute Association, Sisters in Skydiving (SIS). Through SIS, Lisa and other female skydivers seek to empower newer skydivers and create meaningful relationships amongst women in an otherwise male dominated sport. She has been part of the New York-based parachutist community since 2010 and is a contributing author to several prominent skydiving publications.

Lisa is the mother of two teenage sons, Levi and Jacob, and shares time between New Jersey and Connecticut with her husband Jason, partner in life and adventure. Through public speaking events around her published works and various other projects, she continues to offer unique perspectives by sharing her experiences, challenging the mold, and speaking from the heart.

Jamie Pleva-Nickerson

At 28, Jamie Pleva-Nickerson tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation. This mutation meant she would have an 87% chance of developing breast cancer before turning 60 and 54% chance of having ovarian cancer. Armed with this knowledge and having a front row seat to her older sister Tracy's life with breast cancer as a young woman, she decided to "take the power back from cancer" and scheduled a double prophylactic mastectomy. A month before surgery, at her first mammogram, the doctor found calcifications that were biopsied and confirmed she had breast cancer. Her surgery was now lifesaving. Three months after her surgery, Jamie's sister Tracy died after living with breast cancer for 9 years. In that moment Jamie made her decision to do all that she could in the fight against breast cancer, specifically in premenopausal women.

Jamie became heavily involved with The Young Survival Coalition (YSC), the premiere non-profit organization dedicated to helping, supporting and educating young women with breast cancer. Tracy was one of the 10 original founders of the YSC and now Jamie dedicated herself to helping the organization that helped her and her sister.

For 10 years, Jamie has participated in the YSC's Tour de Pink. A 3 day, 220-mile bike ride along the east coast. She has raised nearly $200,000, along with her teammates, in the years she has been riding.

Jamie has become one of the most well-known faces at the YSC. From continuing to advocate for young women, and educate the medical community and public that breast cancer can and does happen to young women, to speaking at numerous fundraisers and pharmaceutical events. She has given multiple interviews to Glamour Magazine, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, etc.

Jamie is the recipient of the YSC's Kristen Martinez Legacy award for her dedication to the YSC and her advocacy work. This award is given to someone that embodies the same passion and fierce advocacy work as the namesake. She also received the Val Skinner LIFE Hero award. A LIFE Hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose. Someone who has demonstrated courage in the face of breast cancer and purpose in the fight to eradicate the disease.

In 2014, Jamie was asked to take part in the worldwide campaign Hear Our Stories by Estee Lauder, with her father Ted Pleva. This intimate and uniquely done documentary closely followed four families whose lives where forever changed from a breast cancer diagnosis. Jamie's story was unique in that her father was her main caregiver during treatment and she was the youngest at diagnosis.

Now, nearly 10 years out from her cancer diagnosis Jamie continues to "take the power back from cancer". Unable to have children due to her chemo treatments she used 2 eggs she froze before beginning her treatment and is now mother to twin 3-year-old girls. As a woman and mother who works full time, continues her advocacy work and supports her husband in their family business, Jamie finds herself ready for more. She is dedicated to helping to end the disease that took her sister and hundreds of thousands of other women and men and to support those that currently face a breast cancer diagnosis.

KJ Johansen

KJ Johansen is a Stand-up Comedian & Co-owner & a host of KBJB Radio/TV, Co-owner of Humor House Productions, & host of Kitchen Witches (Cooking Show).

KJ started exploring her broadcasting and comedy early in life, in high school KJ started her own radio show on the school's station WSHR located in Lake Ronkonkoma Long Island, NY, funny enough, she also worked as a Manager for McGuire's Comedy Club (now Governors) on LI New York (FYI-where she met her husband of 23 years).

Since then KJ has produced and performed Comedy show's in all different venues, including the Ridgefield Playhouse, Funny Bone comedy clubs, Caroline's NYC, amongst a few.

In September of 2016, KJ and several others, created KBJB Radio/TV.

KBJB streams 24×7 with music from original artist not only in the US, but all over the world! We are proud to call ourselves The Home of the Original Artist.  KBJB has all Original programming with great shows & comedy as well!

Comedy is KJ's Passion and on stage she pulls her audience in for pure laughs with stories of her life, her family & some audience participation! Sit up front for the best experience!

Her comedy Style has been described as "Witty & Sassy" & "High Energy & Hilarious"

Watch for KBJB's live events coming to a venue near you!

KJ & her circus family currently reside in Litchfield County Connecticut.

For more information on KJ Johansen go to kbjbradio.com or contact kbjbradio@gmail.com