WOW Forum Speakers

Check back soon for 2022 Speakers and Bios

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:

Master of Ceremonies:

Taylor Kinzler

You may recognize Taylor Kinzler as the host of CT Live on NBC Connecticut. Taylor is a storyteller and journalist, as well as a self-titled “foodie” and she takes viewers on a different journey each day. Prior to joining NBC Connecticut in 2018, Taylor worked at WABI TV5, the CBS affiliate station in Bangor, Maine, where she reported during the day and anchored their 6 pm newscast Monday through Friday.

Taylor graduated from American University in Washington DC with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Law and Society. She loves all things seafood and has a wicked sweet tooth. When she’s not working, you'll probably find her at a local restaurant trying out their latest dish.

Born and raised in Massachusetts and a New England girl through and through, Connecticut feels like home to her not only because she used to travel here often as a kid, but also because she grew up on the coast! Some may not know that she’s also a former competitive gymnast and a singer!

Keynote Speakers:

Tara Whitney

Tara Whitney is a published author, speaker and coach with Tara Whitney International, LLC. She’s leading a revolution of women who are listening to their own internal wisdom, respecting and nourishing their bodies and trusting themselves in every area of their lives. Her book, Hungry: Trust Your Body and Free Your Mind around Food, offers a fresh perspective on why women have struggled with food and gives them a path to set themselves free. 

Tara has founded and grown several businesses, including an accounting consulting firm and a yoga studio. Tara lives with her family on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. 

Connect with Tara on Linked In

Or on Instagram

You can learn more about Tara and follow her podcast Hungry: Trust Your Body. Free Your Mind.


A Relationship with Food Without Dieting and Restriction

The weight loss industry is a growing $72 billion industry and is expected to continue to grow steadily in the years to come. One would think that would result in women feeling healthier, knowing how to nourish their bodies and feeling more confident. 

Yet, 95% of adult women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Despite trying to do everything right when it comes to food and exercise, many women feel like they're on a gerbil wheel and can’t get off. They’re exhausted, frustrated and feeling hopeless. 

In this talk, Tara is going to share with you a different way to be around food called Intuitive Eating. She’s going to share with you why diets aren’t designed to work in the long term, what to do instead, and why your body holds the guidance you need to eat in a healthy and peaceful way. No matter what your relationship with food is, you’ll walk away with a fresh understanding of how to make peace with food so you can care for yourself and your body.

Amy Newmark

Amy Newmark is the bestselling author, editor in chief, and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. Since she and her team took over in 2008, she has published 185 new Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, most of them national bestsellers. Amy is credited with revitalizing the Chicken Soup for the Soul brand, which has been a publishing industry phenomenon since the first book came out in 1993. She is based in Cos Cob, CT and when she is not working she and her husband are visiting their four grown children and their five grandchildren.


How to Thrive with Your 10 Keys to Happiness

You already have all the necessary tools to find your happiness—you just need to learn how to use them. Amy Newmark has read tens of thousands of true, revealing stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul’s contributors, stories about what worked and what didn’t work in their lives. She has synthesized these stories in ten easy-to-implement fast-acting keys to happiness, and will share them with you as well as stories that provide you with role models so you can use these keys to happiness in your own life.

Melanie Knox

Melanie Knox was born and raised in Torrington, CT. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Accounting from Post University in 1993. Upon graduating from Post, she was employed by her alma mater as Bursar for 2 ½ years. In 1996 she took a position in the Business Office at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington. In addition to working in the business office she was named the Head Varsity Softball Coach in 1999. This was a dream come true, she had played softball from a very young age, played in college and then became “Coach Mel” to her high school players.

In 2015 Melanie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon after her treatment she decided to pursue becoming a personal trainer. Fitness had always been a part of her life and she decided she wanted to help others. “Be healthy BEFORE you NEED to be healthy” is her mantra which she credits for her speedy recovery from a bilateral mastectomy. In early 2016 she obtained her personal training certification along with other group fitness class certifications; she then focused on her next step which was to open her own group fitness studio in Harwinton. That dream came true in August of 2017 when the doors to Coach Mel’s Group Fitness were officially opened for business. She resigned as Controller at Miss Porter’s School in February 2018 to be “Coach Mel” on a full-time basis.

Melanie credits her cancer diagnosis with helping her find her true purpose. She now teaches 27 classes per week, serving a wide variety of clients. She received the SilverSneakers Instructor of the Year Finalists Award in 2020 and continues to grow her offerings at Coach Mel’s Group Fitness. She continues to play softball, finds enjoyment in running road and trail relays with friends, and for true relaxation she loves to crochet. Melanie resides in Harwinton with her husband and two sons.


When Life Throws You a Curveball It's How You Swing That Matters

From a young age life has thrown curveballs at Melanie (aka Coach Mel), starting with the loss of her mom to cancer. Melanie grew up much like the other kids, just a bit different, but she, went to college, got married and had two kids. Then the curveballs came again, one after another. First divorce, then her own cancer diagnosis and then, with a fairly new business, Coach Mel's Group Fitness, that had only been open for 2 1/2 years, she had to deal with the pandemic and the state shutting down fitness gyms. Hear how she has weathered the storm and credits her "swing" at these curveballs to making it through some difficult times, both personally and professionally.

Jane Condon

Greenwich’s own comedian and mom JANE CONDON has two boys. Otherwise everything’s fine. The Associated Press has dubbed her “an uppercrust Roseanne” and The New York Times says, “Condon had the audience cackling, guffawing and in hysterics as she sliced through marriage, husband, kids, politics and other topics.” She loves to tell stories about her adventures (mostly survival tales) with her husband and kids.

Condon was named one of 10 Comedy Best Bets in Back Stage’s annual comedy issue. She has appeared on ABC-TV’s The View and Lifetime TV’s Girls’ Night Out, FOX-TV’s series finale of 24, Nickelodeon’s Nick Mom Night Out, as well as NBC’s Last Comic Standing and the Today Show.

She is the grand prize winner of the nationwide Ladies of Laughter Contest.

Also the She Devil Comedy Festival (2019).

She won “Audience Favorite—NY” on NBC’s Last Comic Standing.

And she has given commencement speeches at Wellesley College (her alma mater), the University of New Haven and Wilson College.

Her hilarious first cartoon book, Chardonnay Moms, was co-authored with fellow Greenwich resident Bobbi Eggers, and is available on Amazon.

If you want a quick laugh, follow her on Instagram.

Afternoon Breakout Session Speakers:

Allison Blackwood

Allison Blackwood is the President/CEO and owner of AEI Staffing, a thirty-year-old local staffing firm based in the NW corner of CT. After a 20-year career in financial services, socially driven businesses, and not-for profits, she returned to her hometown and bought her family’s business. Throughout her work with various sized community minded organizations, Allison has developed an expertise in leading teams of people as they go through significant changes in both their personal and professional lives. She has a B.A. in Psychology from American University, an MBA from Georgetown University, and has completed additional Certifications in Change Management and Conflict Resolution. Her professional passions include economic development, organizational design, employee engagement & development, and career coaching.


Resilience Through Change

Whether you believe it’s something inherent people simply “have” or something that can be taught and learned, resilience is a critical quality for everyone in their professional lives, especially during times of organizational change. In this session we will discuss various definitions and understandings of resilience, how we can use it to enhance our own capacity, and how it can prepare us for additional transformations in our lives and in business.

Doreen Dilger

Doreen Dilger is a Certified Manifest Method Coach, Certified Life Coach, Desire Map Licensed Facilitator, Author, Speaker, Founder of PINC Management, Founder of Women Empowering Women Now, and mentor to women on living their best life now.

Known as the "The Master Motivator," Doreen works with fast-moving, highly-motivated women entrepreneurs who want to make a BIG leap in their business that works with their lifestyle and who want a clear vision and plan to get there.

She will show you how to STOP working so hard, stop the distractions that pull you off track, and START focusing on the core essentials: prioritized action steps to help you achieve your goals faster.

Her secret weapon is planning with focus and fun. With over twenty years of experience helping women entrepreneurs, her clients say her rare gift is to cut through the B.S., create an action plan that will help them stay focused, produce results, and live their best life now.

A natural mentor, motivator, and leader for women, Doreen can instantly see what's blocking and preventing you from a successful lifestyle business — and will skillfully help implement strategies and systems.

And whether she's running her online women's community for entrepreneurs, networking, publishing her next book, or flying to Florida for beach therapy, there's no doubt that this woman knows how to Power Up her Productivity.

She resides in Watertown, CT, with her husband Clive, dog Bailey and two cats, Lilly and Binx.

Connect with Doreen:


Strengthening Your Sense of Purpose

Are you unclear about your future path? Is there a desire deep inside you that you would like to take action, but fear is keeping you back? Are you uncertain about your sense of purpose?

Through this fun and interactive workshop, Doreen will help you narrow down your sense of purpose, determine what obstacles are blocking you, and provide key action steps to Strengthen Your Sense of Purpose so you can live your best life now.

Lance Leifert

Lance is a Mindfulness and Meditation Instructor certified with the International Mindfulness and Meditation Alliance (IMMA). In addition to training in mindfulness meditation, Lance is also formerly trained in the Transcendental Meditation® technique under the direction of the Maharishi Foundation, the originators of TM®.

Lance teaches mindfulness mediation to individuals of all ages and experience levels. He currently teaches out of October Gardens Yoga and Meditation Center in Harwinton. In addition to practicing and teaching mindfulness meditation, Lance is also a Reiki Level 3 (Shinpiden) practitioner.

“Meditation is a very important part of my life and daily routine. I rely on it to keep a healthy mind and body and to stay focused on the things in my life that are important. Additionally, I love to help teach others to embrace the power of meditation and the positive changes it brings to them.” – Lance Leifert

David Olchowski

David had a very successful 30-year career in Connecticut aerospace manufacturing, working for legendary companies like Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand and United Technologies. He spent the last 15 years of his career as an executive with full P&L ownership in president and general manager roles as well as senior “Lean” leadership roles. Under David’s leadership, one business grew from $20M to $32M; another from $41M to $70M and from 135 employees to 260. Not only has David worked for Fortune 500 companies in multi-site operations and international organizations, he has also worked with private-equity owners and for small, agile businesses.

A true passion for people and continuous improvement has been core to David’s success. That passion has enabled David to grow businesses profitably, driving the top-line sales while delivering operational improvements and implementing significant organizational change. He impacts a business by:

- Engaging the hearts and minds of the organization, top to bottom.

- Aligning the team around the most important initiatives.

- Driving accountability for delivering results.

- Creating a culture that continually improves.

The critical element to his success has been a focus on people: developing, coaching and mentoring others to succeed. That mindset of enabling others’ success and of serving the community led David to ActionCOACH, inspired by the vision: World abundance through business re-education.

David’s business, Acadia ActionCOACH Business Coaching, is a team of certified business and executive coaches. They help driven and energetic business owners and leaders grow their top line, increase their profits and improve their operating efficiencies. They will hold you accountable for your results and, just like a sports coach, push you to perform at optimal levels.

David’s Core Competencies: General Management, P&L Ownership, Strategic Planning, Business Development & Marketing, Organizational Development, Team Leadership, Culture Change, Employee & Leadership Engagement, Continuous Improvement, Change Management


Creating Great Habits and a Success Mindset 

Many of us struggle to create and achieve goals that fill us up and help us to be become more successful. We will discuss how to create a success mindset, overcome your limiting beliefs, and create great habits that will unlock your greatest potential. 

You will walk away with:

  • Clarity on what is holding you back from achieving your goals
  • Strategies that you can use to build great habits and eliminate bad ones
  • Practical, actionable steps to make real meaningful change to your mindset and open the doors to success

Cailyn Paradise

Cailyn Paradise is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones who has over 15 years of experience in the finance and insurance industries.

Cailyn's finance career began in 2006 when she found herself sitting on a trading desk and discovered a new passion. Cailyn worked for several different hedge funds and commodities traders before moving into the insurance world. While she felt her insurance career allowed her to have a positive impact on her clients and allotted more freedom to care for her young children, she missed finance. In 2019 she joined Edward Jones as a Financial Advisor where she has the ability to direct her own business. Cailyn's main focus within her practice is to uncover what is most important to her clients and then help them to achieve their personal financial goals.

Cailyn and her husband are raising their two children in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut, where they grew up themselves. They can typically be found hiking with the dog, taking trips to Rhode Island or skiing in the winter.


Financial Empowerment

Together we will discuss our emotions around finance, the hurdles that we face as women and how we can overcome some of those obstacles.  Let's get some of our goals on paper and put a plan in place!  While we are at it, let's chat about why this is important!

Karen Thomas

Karen Thomas is a certified etiquette expert enjoying 21+ years of continued success creating leaders and powerful business practices throughout the tri-state area. She offers unique training that strengthen communications, company and entrepreneurial image; all while increasing the bottom line. Her powerful training techniques allow participants to emerge with a new sense of confidence knowing their leadership skills are on point in any given situation. Karen's unique ability to engage an audience is what allows her to enjoy a long and continued presence on tv, radio and colleges across the US.

Karen is seen heard and read monthly on NBC CT Live, Good Morning CT - News Channel 8 as well as in MA on Mass Appeal Lifestyle show. She is the resident etiquette expert to the Anna & Raven morning radio show on Star 99.9 FM CT & WALK 97.5 FM Long Island, NY as well as a contributor to Moneyish Magazine - a Dow Jones Publication, Best Life online and several other magazines.

She is a published author of Poised, Polished, Professional - the Experts' Guide to Executive Presence which is used as her teaching tool in CT colleges including Quinnipiac and UCONN where she lectures each semester.

Karen resides in NWCT with her husband Ken, her 3 children and her 2 exceptionally well mannered black labs, Ruger and Axel. Visit:


Power Up Your Presence - to be Seen Heard & Read

In this workshop you will learn:

  • Specific techniques to allow you to stand out in your field
  • How to use the Power of Polite to attract and maintain connections
  • Establish yourself as an expert 
  • Valuable connections you can utilize immediately to connect to media resources