Skip to main content
Pre Show Prep

Wendy Babcock

Communication Strategist, Speaker & Author

In 2006 Wendy left an abusive marriage and set out on a new journey to discover who she was. Along her path she found her passion for speaking and teamed up with Will Bowen to help share his vision of A Complaint Free WorldAs the only active Certified Complaint Free Trainer in the world, Wendy loves to bring humor to everyday examples of complaining. She has since been appointed the Director of Certified Complaint Free Trainers.


Brian Bennett

President of STIR Advertising & Integrated Marketing

Brian Bennett founded STIR in 2000. He remains the sole owner and is actively engaged in the management of client accounts. Brian develops strategic marketing plans for clients and leads their implementation by managing the account service group and overseeing all department heads. Prior to his years as an entrepreneur, Brian served as a marketing director and brand manager in Fortune 100 companies. He has extensive experience in the food and beverage industry with packaged goods marketing positions at major brands Ralston Purina, Sargento Foods and Con Agra (working on Reddi-Wip and Healthy Choices). He has also led new brand development and new product launches at several prominent agencies for clients such as Anheuser-Busch where he managed elements of the Budweiser, Natural Light, LA Beer, O’Douls corporate affairs business, Miller Brewing Company and Jim Beam Brands. Brian has also worked closely with the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and is currently managing integrated marketing campaigns for Meister Cheese and Renard’s Cheese.


Wayne Breitbarth

CEO of Power Formula LLC

Wayne is an experienced businessman, speaker, and author and an internationally recognized industry leader in LinkedIn training, marketing, and consulting. Wayne has shared his expertise with more than 100,000 business professionals through private business consulting, dynamic presentations to worldwide audiences, and his critically acclaimed book The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success (now in its fourth edition). He has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Wired, and American Express Open Forum and seen on NBC and Fox Business. Wayne works with companies to develop a comprehensive strategy for using LinkedIn to increase sales, raise brand awareness, recruit employees and reduce recruiting fees, and discover new markets for products and services. He is a CPA, received an accounting degree from the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater and an MBA from Marquette University, and has received recognition for his public service in the Milwaukee community, where he resides with his wife of 35 years.


Shane Cicero

Owner of JW Media, LLC

Shane Cicero is the owner of JW Media, LLC a digital agency that works with local businesses to increase their sales and improve lead quality through Facebook Advertising, so they can do what they do best. Before launching his own digital agency that manages over $100k in monthly Facebook ad spend, Shane oversaw social for The Midwest Foodservice Expo, where he put various organic and paid strategies in play to double their social following and increase engagement during the 3 day show. Shane has since worked with large brands like Blake Shelton's Ole Red Franchise, The Opry City Stage in Times Square to smaller niche Co-ops, coffee shops & restaurants like Saffron Table in Bozeman, Mt where he's helped increase revenues by 30% YoY.

Shane is also a past president of Social Media Breakfast Madison; a local Madison nonprofit that meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month to provide free education on trending social media topics along with networking over breakfast.


Lafayette L. Crump

Deputy Chief of Staff and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee

Lafayette L. Crump, JD, EDFP, is the Deputy Chief of Staff and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Prism Technical Management & Marketing Services, LLC, a multidisciplinary management consulting firm based in Milwaukee, with an office in St. Louis and experience across the United States.

At Prism, Lafayette led the growth of the business development training program and regional internships in science and engineering programs, in conjunction with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, which helped grow many of the region’s most successful diverse contractors and consultants. The programs also developed and placed talented diverse STEM students from Milwaukee with local technical firms, construction companies, and governmental units.

In addition, Lafayette is a practicing attorney, working to ensure equity for small businesses and nonprofits, and an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School, where his focus is ensuring that law students understand the needs, expectations, and reality of business owners.

Lafayette is a graduate of Duke University and Duke University School of Law, where, collectively, he served on the Journal of Gender Law & Policy, the Harassment Grievance Board, the Moot Court Board, and was president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


Chris Czarnik

CEO/Founder of Career [RE]Search Group

I travel the country teaching HR organizations to be "hunters" of talent instead of "farmers" of talent. My newest book: "Winning the War for Talent" has sold more than 3,000 copies and is being used as a model for transforming hiring and employee development efforts around the country.

My first job search book "The Human Search Engine®"​ was distributed to every member of the US House of Representatives with a recommendation from Congressman Reid Ribble as a model for proactive job search nationwide. My newest release "Human Search Engine® for Career Search: A Serious Job Seekers Guide"​ (Jan/2015) was adopted as required text in UW Madison's athletic department. In fall of 2016 the EAP program for the United States Congress chose Human Search Engine as their outplacement tool of choice for representatives leaving Congress.

In fall 2016 I was honored to be named Subject Matter Expert on career choice and career change by Pearson Education- a division of the largest publisher in the world (Pearson Publishing).


Jay L. E. Ellingson, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Food Protection and Science Operations of Kwik Trip

In 1995, Dr. Ellingson received his Ph.D. in molecular microbiology from Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He did his postdoctoral fellowship training was with the USDA, Agriculture Research Service, National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, where he developed and patented a molecular diagnostic method for the detection of Johne’s disease in dairy cattle. This method has also been applied to the detection of the specific bacterium in both meat and dairy products. He then served as a staff molecular microbiologist with the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Center for Veterinary Biologics, also in Ames.

From 1999-2006, Dr. Ellingson served as the Director of Marshfield Clinic Laboratories - Food Safety Services, Marshfield, Wisconsin. During this time, Dr. Ellingson developed and patented a molecular diagnostic method for detection of E. coli 0157:H7. Starting in 2004 he also served as Chief Scientific Officer for the Marshfield Food Safety, LLC, a network of on-site process control food safety laboratories.

Dr. Ellingson is an adjunct professor in the Microbiology Department of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and has mentored and graduated several Masters of Science students in the Microbiology program.

2006-to-present Dr. Ellingson served as the Corporate Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Kwik Trip, Inc. in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Kwik Trip, Inc. is a vertically integrated dairy, beverage and food production company which owns and operates over 650+ retail food stores throughout Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, which are supplied through Kwik Trip, Inc.’s own distribution/transportation system. Starting in March of 2016 Dr. Ellingson became the Senior Director of Food Protection and Science Operations, where he is focused on the new federal and state food protection/regulatory initiatives and leading the food safety sciences behind Kwik Trip, Inc.’s food protection system.


Steven Frusolone

Founder of MarketSpark, LLC

Steve is the Founder of MarketSparx, LLC, a complete digital marketing solutions firm driving growth of small businesses. He is an accomplished digital marketer, educator, speaker and writer with a focus on today's digital marketing trends. He has been leading marketing initiatives for companies large and small, with the past 10 years focused on small business growth strategies. Known for proven track record of performance and innovation in Digital Marketing driving businesses in approaches to attract, acquire, engage and retain customers.


Emily Fye

Director of Events of Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee

As the Director of Events for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, Emily Fye is part of a team working hard to ensure a safe and successful Democratic National Convention this July in the city she calls home. Emily has been working with a wide range of people and businesses around Milwaukee and Wisconsin that will play a part in the expected 1,500 events happening during the convention.

Prior to the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, Emily served as Senior Account Executive at Catalyst Exhibits, Inc., a leader in the trade show and events industry located in the Greater Milwaukee area. At Catalyst, Emily worked with clients from all different industries and managed accounts that attended national and international events, including: Consumer Electronics Show, International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association Show, National Restaurant Association Show, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers Show, and more.

Emily attended the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, where she earned a bachelor's degree in marketing. She was a four-year member of the Varsity Women’s Soccer team and an account executive with Creative Marketing Unlimited, the student-run marketing firm on campus that coordinated and executed events for corporations and non-profit organizations throughout Wisconsin.


Kristopher Grove

Co-Founder of Soular Alchemy

Kristopher background is in massage/sound/energy therapy. He has a deep empathy for our customers and with a strong background in customer service he is able to connect with all of our customers and retailers alike and help educate them about their own physiology and the innate wisdom of the body. With his deep passion to see the alleviation of the suffering far too many have, he continually educates himself on the science of the Endocannabinoid System in order provide our customers with the power of their own health.


Ed Hastreiter, CPA

President of EWH Small Business Accounting

Ed is the owner of a small business accounting firm that has been in operation since 1979. He began his firm with one employee, himself, and has grown to 46 employees, recently expanding their accounting services in Onalaska, Wisconsin and Madison, Wisconsin. Over this span of time his company has worked with more than 2,000 small businesses on a monthly basis and thousands of others for yearend services.

Ed has achieved his success in business by building his company one business at a time. One key factor to his success is primarily due to one special trait; client retention. More than 55 of Ed’s original clients have been with EWH 20 plus years. Another remarkable figure is 65% of EWHs client base has been in business for longer than 5 years.


Joseph F. Hastreiter

Accountant & Marketing Director

Joseph is a graduate from UW-Milwaukee with degrees in Accounting, Finance, Political Science and a minor in Economics. He currently works at EWH Small Business Accounting as the Marketing Director and Business Coach. Joseph’s parents, Ed and Ann Hastreiter, started the accounting practice in 1979 giving Joseph “hands-on” experience at an early age. The day to day encounters at home and at the office allowed him to learn the strategies effective to running a successful small business by the numbers. Having the advantage of many great mentors, Joseph has taken all of the knowledge and developed a workshop to teach and train business concepts and strategies in a way that is easy, simple and most importantly, effective! He looks forward to serving you and teaching you the strategies to run a more successful small business and turn more business decisions into measurable financial results.


Hsing-Yi Hsieh, M.S., R.S.

Director of Food Protection and Regulatory Affairs at Skogen’s Festival Foods

Hsing-Yi currently serves as the Director of Food Protection and Regulatory Affairs for Festival Foods, a privately owned chain of grocery stores in Wisconsin. In this role, she is responsible for leading the execution of the company’s food safety and quality programs as well as all regulatory compliance efforts across 33 retail locations. Under her leadership, Festival Foods is the recipient of the 2019 Food Marketing Institute’s Food Safety Innovation Award. She holds a M.S. degree in Food Microbiology from Iowa State University and has over 15 years of food safety experience in both public and private sectors. Hsing-Yi is passionate about food safety culture and training; she is also active in the industry and serves as a member of the Wisconsin Food Safety Advisory committee, Wisconsin Produce Safety Council and the FMI Food Protection Committee. She is the recipient of the 2019 Progressive Grocers’ Top Women in Grocery Award for her achievements.


Steve Ingham

Administrator of the Division of Food and Recreational Safety in Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Steve is the Administrator of the Division of Food and Recreational Safety in Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The 225 employees in the Division work to ensure that Wisconsin has “Safe Food, Pools, Lodging, and Camps.” Before moving to the regulatory sector in late 2008, Steve was a Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Food Science from Cornell University.


Mary Pat Knight

Founder of Leaders Inspired

Mary Pat Knight is a transformation strategist and expert in Leadership and Emotional Intelligence. Her 30-year career has spanned marketing, operations, strategic planning, Human Resource and executive coaching, primarily in the food and hospitality industries. Mary Pat has held key executive positions in the Hospitality Industry including, Senior Vice President of People Services for First Hospitality Group, Chief Operating Office for Food for Thought, Inc and Director of Marketing for both Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. 


Drawing on her Senior Executive and C-Suite experience, she has developed a simple, yet powerful system for creating Emotional Intelligence that creates healthy teams, inspires leaders and transforms cultures. 


D.P. Knudten


D.P.’s worked on some of the biggest brands in the business including Coca-Cola®, The Athlete’s Foot®, and ClosetMaid® during tenures at DDB Needham (Chicago), McCann Erickson (Atlanta) and creative shops in Denver, Sarasota, and Madison, WI. He is also the co-author of “ROTOMA—The ROI of Social Media ‘Top of Mind’” and the creator / host of the popular podcasts, ‘The ROTOMA Podcast’ and ‘NONFICTION BRAND.’ His latest (ad)venture is NonFiction Brandversity™, a learning community for passionate personal and small business branders.


Mark Laux

Hot Operator

Mark Laux helps restaurant owners, operators and marketers make communications and menus that produce a high return on investment and increase revenue through building powerful brands.

Mark started in the advertising communications business working with manufacturers and distributors in the foodservice industry. He led an advertising agency that helped a small, Midwestern appetizer company selling to restaurants grow their business from less than $1 million in sales to over half a billion. During that time, Laux was recruited by Wells Dairy, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Farmland Foods, General Mills, ConAgra and Otis Spunkmeyer, McDonald's, Mels Diners among others for their expertise in marketing and brand building.

While Mark and The Laux Agency worked with foodservice manufacturers, distributors and operators, Mark saw the need for restaurants to improve their communications to increase their profitability, and through that vision created HotOperator.

Today Mark spends his business energy at HotOperator specializing in restaurant marketing, menu development, social media marketing, foodservice advertising, and consulting for the restaurant business. He has helped restaurant owners, operators, and marketers all across the country engineer menus and develop communications that produce a higher return on investment and increase revenue. Specifically, he drives toward a higher spend average, improved plate contribution, and a more satisfying dining experience for consumers. He believes everyone benefits from a healthy and profitable restaurant business community.


Brian Lee, APR

President of Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media

Brian Lee, APR, is the president of Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media, a hospitality marketing/PR firm, and Revelation Events, a corporate event planning company. He also is a part-time lecturer on social media at Madison Area Technical College and the author of the book, Using Social Media for Business. In addition, Brian runs a dining guide called, which features a blog ranked No. 1 by Zomato.


Alan Lundeen

Senior Director of Operations and Talent of Cousins Subs

Alan Lundeen is the Senior Director of Operations and Talent at Cousins Subs. In this role he leads the corporate operations team while recruiting and developing talent. Lundeen holds a Senior Certified Professional designation through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP), a Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational leadership from St. Thomas University in Florida as well as an Associate of Science degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin. Lundeen currently serves as the secretary of the Cousins Subs Make It Better Foundation board of directors.


Shari McCauley

Manager of Training at QSR Automations Inc.

With more than 30 years of restaurant experience in various training and leadership roles, Shari McCauley has a broad understanding of what it takes to make restaurant operations consistent, efficient and profitable. She’s spent the last five years at QSR Automations heading up the training department where she focuses on educating customers, employees and the reseller channel on the benefits and uses of QSR’s digital operational platforms – everything from kitchen automation, guest management and implementing off-premise dining strategies. She has a passion for the restaurant industry and thrives helping operators run their businesses more efficiently through the use of technology.


Nick Myers

Founder & CEO of RedFox AI

Nick Myers is the Founder & CEO of RedFox AI in Madison, WI. RedFox AI helps give brands a voice by leveraging the power of AI and voice assistant technologies like Alexa and Google Assistant. Nick is a TEDx and International Keynote Speaker having spoken across the U.S and the world in countries like Australia and Thailand on topics ranging from Artificial Intelligence and the future of work, social media in the era of Artificial Intelligence, and how any organization can give themselves a voice (literally) using voice assistant technologies like Alexa and Google Assistant.

Nick has been featured in publications such as PR Daily, Madison InBusiness Magazine, and co-authored an article for The Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing based in London, U.K. This year, Nick was nominated as Voice Commentator of The Year at the Project Voice Awards, has been recognized as an Madison InBusiness Magazine 40 Under 40 award winner for the Class of 2020, and in 2019 Nick’s company, RedFox AI, was recognized as a 50 on Fire company in the state of Wisconsin by Wisconsin Inno.

Nick also hosts a weekly podcast series called The Artificial Podcast where he interviews people from around the world who are making waves in the Artificial Intelligence, Voice-First, and other emerging technology, as well as dives into various topics about AI, Voice, and emerging tech to help everyone understand how these technologies are impacting our lives both personally and within organizations.

Susan Quam

Susan Quam

Executive Vice President of Wisconsin Restaurant Association

Susan Quam, Executive Vice President, joined the Wisconsin Restaurant Association in January of 1997. She served as Executive Director of the WRA Education Foundation for her first 15 years. As Executive Director, she worked to promote career opportunities and scholarships within the foodservice industry and provide continuing education programs for restaurateurs. In 2012 she moved to the Executive Vice President position, where she works closely with the WRA’s President and CEO to enact the vision of the WRA board of directors and oversees day to day operations for the entire organization. She is also one of WRA’s three registered lobbyists.

In addition to WRA operations management, her areas of emphasis include food safety education and training, food safety, food defense and nutrition regulatory affairs, state/national relations and new program development.


Katherine Ramirez

Founder and CEO of adBidtise

Katherine Ramirez has nearly three decades of career and entrepreneurial experience focused in Advertising Sales Management, Milwaukee-based marketing expert Kat Ramirez offers expertise as a sought-after Consultant, Mentor, Sales Trainer, Podcaster and Community Leader. Kat currently serves as Owner & Creative CEO of adBidtise, which she founded in 2014. adBidtise provides business owners with strategic ways to find affordable advertising options for their business needs, budgets, goals, and expectations so they can Stand Out and Grow.

Previously, Kat’s advertising sales experience has covered five markets with high-profile companies. Her previous Sales Management stops included: WDJT CBS Milwaukee, WYTU Telemundo WI Milwaukee, KETV ABC Omaha, WBUW Madison’s CW, KWBQ/KASY CW Albuquerque and WBXX-TV CW of East TN Knoxville. She launched her career as an Account Manager with Roberts and Russell, Inc. Advertising Agency, working along-side Leo Burnett and McCann Erickson.

Kat is a woman-owned, veteran-owned and minority-owned business leader in the advertising and marketing marketplace. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a minor in Advertising and Marketing from the University of Central Missouri. With over 30 years of experience - Kat has proudly served our country with the United States Air Force.


Annake Ramsey

Produce Program Manager, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley

Annake has served as CROPP Cooperative’s Produce Program Manager for 14 years where she manages the produce farmer side of the business including procurement and production management, raw product quality, and new product development. Annake developed CROPP’s farmer food safety training program, which helps farmers create farm food safety plans. She serves as a Wisconsin representative to the North Central Regional Center for Food Safety Training at Iowa State and on the Wisconsin Produce Safety Advisory Council. She is a Produce Safety Alliance trainer, providing required training on the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule to farmers in Wisconsin. Annake began her relationship with Organic Valley as a produce farmer-member. In the early 2000s, she grew mixed vegetables for wholesale production for Organic Valley, CSA and farmers markets.

Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents more than 2,000 farmers in 35 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom and achieved $1.1 billion in sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, egg, meat and produce products.


Hudson Riehle

Senior Vice President, Research & Knowledge Group of the National Restaurant Association

Mr. Riehle received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Skidmore College in New York and his Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Appointed by the Secretary of Labor, he has been a member of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Research Advisory Council; a former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Alexandria (VA) Convention and Visitors Association; a member of the Center for Food Integrity Consumer Research Advisory Panel and the Wharton Executive Advisory Panel; and is currently included in the current edition of Who’s Who in America.

As the Senior Vice President of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association, Hudson Riehle directs the Association’s consumer, economic, technology, market, human resources, tourism and operations research as well as oversees its extensive knowledge center activities. Frequently cited by major national and international news organizations and appearing on national television broadcasts, he has authored a variety of articles and serves as an information source and spokesperson for the restaurant and hospitality industry.


Aric Sonnenschein

REHS/RS Food Scientist-Advanced Produce Section in Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Aric Sonnenschein is a Food Scientist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Produce Section, with an emphasis on produce food safety for Wisconsin. Aric has over a decade of experience relating to food safety and public health. He is currently credentialed as Registered Environmental Health Sanitarian. Aric past experience also includes serving 16 years in the Air National Guard as a Public Health Technician and Aeromedical Evacuation Technician. His current role as a Food Scientist has been focused on the Produce Safety Rule and the implementation of the rule to all qualified farms and farmers while ensuring food safety as a priority through education. Aric is a Wisconsin resident and currently lives in the Fox Valley Region.

Debbie Taber

Debbie Taber

Human Resources & Office Administrator of Wisconsin Restaurant Association

Debbie Taber is the Human Resources & Office Administrator for the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. She is a member of the Ask WRA Team which is a group of professional WRA staff who are available to answer questions from restaurant operators via phone call or email. Debbie shares her expertise daily with restaurant operators on all things restaurant operations, specializing in labor law and human resources issues.


Joseph Weitzer, PhD

Managing Partner and Senior Strategist, Soulful Leadership Consulting Network

Described as a highly effective, strategic leader, Joseph Weitzer takes pride in his approach, which seeks to understand the strengths and assets of team members, and then supports their development, the alignment of resources, and engagement of individuals through empowerment as a means to achieving desired outcomes. As a catalyst for change, he has been instrumental in establishing a culture of continuous improvement in several organizations where he held senior leadership roles. He credits the success of those organizations in consistently exceeding performance targets, with his ability to optimize the strengths of his teams and foster a culture characterized by collaborations focused on achieving high employee and customer satisfaction.

Over the past four years, he has personally worked intricately with more than 40 area businesses and organizations providing technical support and leadership focusing on strategic discussions and organizational planning, succession planning, executive/leadership development and coaching, process improvement, and employee engagement and performance. Among his most recent assignments, Joe was recruited to stabilize a business division characterized as one that required a high degree of financial support, had low perceived value within the larger organization, no recognized brand distinction, a small customer base, and high degree of employee turnover. Within three years, he had guided the division in its establishment of a successful brand with regional recognition as a solutions provider. The division had diversified its customer portfolio, improved customer retention, achieved a 97 percent customer satisfaction rating, refined its go-to-market strategy for new product innovations, implemented an internal quality improvement process, and had increased the size of its team by more than 200 percent. Customer-driven change led to a more diverse portfolio of services and an increased value proposition for its clients. Both topline and bottom line metrics continued to exceed targets in each of the five years preceding his departure.


J Danger Wolf

Founder of The Good Land Cannabis Co. & Dangerbakes LLC

With over 25 years in the culinary industry, Chef Wolf combines his passion for food with a Master’s of Marijuana from The Cannabis Training University to provide private label gourmet sauces as well as chef-crafted cannabis products for people and their pets. Chef Wolf aims to educate the public and introduce people to the benefits of cannabis. He serves as Education Chair for the Milwaukee Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, was voted Rising Star in 2018 and was nominated for Chef of the Year in 2019. He is currently studying to become one of the first to receive a Specialized Certificate in Culinary Cannabis and Edibles from the ACF and is state-licensed as both a hemp grower and processor.