Southeast Credit Union Conference & Expo


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Keynote Speakers

Alison Levine

Alison Levine
First American Women's Everest Expedition Team Captain, faculty member at the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point, New York Times bestselling author of On the Edge

Alison Levine has made a career out of breaking boundaries and inspiring others to achieve more than they ever thought possible. A history-making polar explorer and mountaineer, she served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, climbed the highest peak on each continent and skied to both the North and South Poles—a feat known as the Adventure Grand Slam— which only twenty people in the world have achieved. In January 2008, she made history as the first American to complete a 600-mile traverse across west Antarctica to the South Pole following the route of legendary explorer Reinhold Messner. Levine completed this arduous journey on skis while hauling 150 pounds of her gear and supplies in a sled harnessed to her waist. She made history again in 2016 when she completed two first ascents: Hall Peak in Antarctica and Khang Karpo in Nepal. Her success in extreme environments is noteworthy given she has had three heart surgeries and suffers from Raynaud’s disease, which causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in cold weather—leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.

In addition to climbing mountains, Levine has also spent time climbing the corporate ladder. She has worked for several Fortune 500 companies in both sales and marketing roles and spent three years at Goldman Sachs. She left Wall Street in 2003 to serve as Deputy Finance Director for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his successful bid to become governor of California.

When not challenging herself in the outdoors, Levine focuses on training others to become strong leaders. She spent four years as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership. In 2013 she transitioned from training cadets to working with corporate leaders and currently serves on the board and faculty of the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point—one of the nation’s premiere executive leader development programs. She was a contributing author to the book Leadership in Dangerous Situations: A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services and First Responders (Naval Institute Press). She also served as a board member and Senior Fellow at the Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics at Duke University.

Levine is the founder of the Climb High Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of jobless women in western Uganda by training them to be trekking guides and porters in their local mountains, thus allowing them to earn a sustainable living wage through climbing-related tourism. Prior to her work in Uganda, women’s only avenue to earn money in this area of the country was through prostitution. Her efforts enabled the very first group of local women to climb Uganda’s highest peak—Mt Stanley. Her work to change the lives of women in Africa is the subject of the PBS documentary Living Courageously.

Levine’s newest role is that of executive producer of the upcoming documentary film The Glass Ceiling (, which chronicles the life of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (1961-1993), the first female Sherpa to summit Mt. Everest.

Levine was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 2018. She holds a BA from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Duke University, where she currently serves on the Board of Visitors. She is the recipient of the 2019 Ellis Island Medal of Honor which recognizes individuals whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration. The Medal has been officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of our nation’s most prestigious awards and is annually memorialized in the Congressional Record.

A sought-after consultant and keynote speaker on the subject of leadership development, Levine has addressed audiences ranging from Fortune 500 companies to professional sports teams to the prestigious World Economic Forum at Davos. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and other Extreme Environments. Having spent prolonged periods of time in some of the world's most dangerous and inhospitable places, she tackles the topics of creating cohesive teams, taking responsible risks, and developing no-nonsense leaders that can succeed in times of uncertainty.

FUN FACT: Levine’s life story was the inspiration for a craft beer called Conquer the Route Chocolate Stout which is distributed by Bold Missy Brewery and features her likeness on the label.

Session Description:

On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership
Imagine yourself on the highest mountain in the world. You have to deal with the physiological effects of extreme altitude--along with bone-chilling temperatures, battering winds, and a climbing team that's counting on all of its members to make smart decisions. There's simply no room for poor judgment -- one mistake or misstep can result in an "unrecoverable error." In any situation where lives are on the line or the stakes are exceptionally high--there's no better training ground for leaders than settings where people are pushed beyond their perceived limits. Drawing on her experience as team captain of the first American Women's Everest Expedition, Alison Levine makes a compelling case that the leadership principles that apply in the world of extreme adventure also apply to today's rigorously competitive business environments.

Tony Moore

Tony Moore
Culture Architect, Keynote Speaker, Author and recovering Human Resource Executive

Over the course of his more than 25 years in the C-suite, he has had the privilege of leading the people-side of multiple mergers and large-scale organizational turnarounds. Through this experience, Tony came to recognize culture as the soil in which everything in your organization lives or dies. His firm Tony Moore Speaks, works with leaders who want to improve bottom-line performance by creating a culture of engagement and ownership. His goal today is simple and straightforward; present disruptive ideas that challenge our thinking, share solutions born out of experience, and provide inspiration that moves us to action.

Session Description:

A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skillful Sailor
Against the backdrop of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity of the times in which we are living, a leader’s future success is inextricably linked to their mastery of change agility. Failure to do so will turn today’s legacy into tomorrow’s corporate disaster story. In the words of Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but rather those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Nevertheless, anxiety and distress are the common responses to the prospect of change and left unchecked they can blind us to the opportunity for growth that change provides. “A Smooth Sea Never Made a Skillful Sailor” outlines five foundational principles that when followed can serve as an anchor when the waves of change are upon us. Infused with humorous stories and valuable lessons learned through a lifetime of navigating change, this keynote will not only leave you energized, refocused, and ready to take on your next challenge, but also give you practical tools to assist you.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas
The NFL's First Female Official; One of the Sports Illustrated 100 Most Influential NFL Figures of All Time

Sarah Thomas changed the game in the world’s most quintessential male-dominated sport—football—when she became the first female NFL official. Now she’s inspiring others to dream big and believe anything is possible.

Officiating her first game September 13, 2015 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, Sarah’s hat, whistle, and flag are now on display at the NFL Hall of Fame and serve as a testament to this historic achievement. Sarah also made post-season history by being named Down Judge for the Patriots/Chargers 2019 playoff game. No stranger to being the first or breaking gender-barriers, she was the first female official to ever work a major college football game, to officiate a bowl game and to officiate in a Big Ten stadium.

Since her addition to the NFL's roster of officials, she has become a trail-blazing inspiration to women everywhere, embodying the notion that with a belief in self, inner drive, hard work, preparation, and a mindset of being the best you can be, no barrier or ceiling is impenetrable.

With the same unflappability that it takes to make a split-second call on the field, Sarah exudes equal confidence on stage as she shares key insights on overcoming adversity – and the odds – finding your passion while maintaining work-life balance, decision-making, and not only succeeding as a female in a male-dominated industry but achieving breakthrough success for males and females alike.

A Boss has the Title; A Leader has the People - Sarah Thomas

Session Description:

Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Official
Sarah Thomas is a woman of many firsts – she was the first female official to ever work a major college football game, the first woman to officiate a bowl game, and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. And as of February 7, 2021, she is the first female to officiate a Super Bowl. Now she’s sharing essential leadership lessons from her journey to the top of a male-dominated industry and vital insights on shattering the glass ceiling in the world of professional sports that can be applied to any field or industry. As an exemplar of what’s possible if you believe, Sarah brings audiences takeaways on breaking through in your own career, from staying focused under pressure and creating change to managing work-life balance and being the best you can be.

Safety & Security Awareness Workshop Speakers

Jim Soenksen

Jim Soenksen

Jim has over 20 years of experience in the information security, financial services, and technology industries. Jim, as a CPA (currently inactive), was also an internal auditor for a Fortune 100 company for 7 years. Conveying the knowledge and conviction it takes to fight cybercrime, Jim offers a realistic view of today's security, privacy, risk issues, and remedies for the business community. He blends business goals with technology, training, policies, and improved processes to provide the appropriate program and regulatory compliance for each individual company. Jim is a regular speaker and expert witness on Information Security and Data Privacy.

Jim is a subject matter expert in data privacy, information security, computer security breaches, FFIEC, Red Flags Rule, FACTA, FCRA, GLBA, PCI, NIST, COBIT 5, COSO, and ISO 27000/22301/31000. Additionally Jim has an in-depth understanding of HIPAA and HITECH Act regulatory compliance laws, and state/country data breach notification laws.

Jim conducts regular education sessions for clients and industry associations on Information Security, Data Privacy, Risk Management best practices, and Regulatory Compliance.

Chris Gill

Chris Gill
Senior Manager, Risk & Compliance Solutions, CUNA Mutual Group

Chris Gill is a Senior Manager in Risk and Compliance Solutions for CUNA Mutual Group. In this role, he leads a team of consultants who assist credit unions in identifying areas of risk in their operations and determining appropriate controls to reduce loss exposures.

Prior to joining CUNA Mutual Group, Chris worked for many years in both the banking and credit union industries. Chris graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and holds a MBA from the University of Mary Washington.

Breakout Session Speakers

Shari Storm

Shari Storm
Author and CEO, Category 6

Shari spent 16 years as an executive at a Seattle credit union.

Her proudest accomplishments at Verity Credit Union included being named an Innovator of the Decade by Net.Banker, heading up the successful Verity Mom campaign, and participating in Filene's prestigious i3 program.

Her first book, Motherhood is the New MBA: Using Your Parenting Skills to be a Better Boss was published by St. Martin's Press. With over 20,000 copies sold, it has been translated into Mandarin and purchased for publications in four countries.

Shari has been named a Woman of Influence by CU Times. She has been featured in American Banker, Credit Union Journal, CU Times, Credit Union BUSINESS, Credit Union Management, and The CEO Report.

She is now the CEO of Category 6 Consulting, which specializes in developing strategy with a strong focus on marketing and staff development.

Shari received her undergraduate degree from University of Washington and her MBA from Seattle University. She is also a graduate of the three-year CUES CEO Institute.

Session Description:

Capturing the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of Young Members
Every credit union wants to be there when a young person is ready to open their first credit card or get their first car loan. Members in the early stages of adulthood can be extremely profitable and presumably result in many more years of relational banking. Early affinity to a brand can lead to a lifelong relationship. “There’s lots of evidence that the brands you are emotionally connected to as a child you remain connected to as an adult,” says Rachel Geller, a partner and chief strategic officer at youth-oriented agency The Geppetto Group in New York.

Members under the age of 25 present a host of opportunities for credit unions and banks, both now and well into the future. Is your credit union doing enough to capture this critical market segment? Learn 10 things you can start doing tomorrow to ensure your FI does not miss out on a vital strategic initiative.

John Lanza

John Lanza
Chief Mammal, Author & Creator of The Money Mammals and Saving Money Is Fun Kids Club

John Lanza is the author of The Art of Allowance: A Short, Practical Guide to Raising Money-Smart, Money-Empowered Kids, host of The Art of Allowance Podcast and creator The Art of Allowance Project featuring The Money Mammals — a nationwide program for credit unions that helps parents raise money-smart kids. An expert on youth financial literacy, John and his creations have appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, The Wall Street Journal and The His & Her Money Show.

Session Description:

Capturing the Hearts, Minds, and Wallets of Young Members
Every credit union wants to be there when a young person is ready to open their first credit card or get their first car loan. Members in the early stages of adulthood can be extremely profitable and presumably result in many more years of relational banking. Early affinity to a brand can lead to a lifelong relationship. “There’s lots of evidence that the brands you are emotionally connected to as a child you remain connected to as an adult,” says Rachel Geller, a partner and chief strategic officer at youth-oriented agency The Geppetto Group in New York.

Members under the age of 25 present a host of opportunities for credit unions and banks, both now and well into the future. Is your credit union doing enough to capture this critical market segment? Learn 10 things you can start doing tomorrow to ensure your FI does not miss out on a vital strategic initiative.

Sundeep Kapur

Sundeep Kapur
Educator & Founder, Digital Credence

Sundeep Kapur is an educator who is helping brands define their OMNI-Channel strategies. After 25 years in corporate America as a business and technology consultant, he returned to his passion – teaching brands best practices so they can achieve the same success.

From OMNI-Channel to the emerging OPTI-Channel his expertise has helped chart the course to success at many brands. He relishes his experience from engagements across industry – retail, sports, entertainment, travel, technology, education, and financial services.

Sundeep’s specialty lies in consumer engagement across multiple channels. A brand can be successful if it can engage the consumer with relevant messages across channel. “Keep it relevant, keep them engaged, and you will nurture your way to the top.”

His research focuses on seven critical elements for an FI to be successful in 2025:

1. Transformed Branch Experiences
2. Redefined Future Payments
3. Digital: Integrated & Responsive
4. Security: Authentication, Transactions, Information
5. Smarter Employees & Channels
6. Big Data, AI, Machine Intelligence, Decision Science, & the Cognitive Cloud
7. Banking Delivered in Your Pocket

Sundeep continues to study FinTech, is involved in studying consumer experiences, and continues to audit brands with the intent of providing effective feedback to drive better results.

He is an industry-recognized expert who has delivered keynotes, run panels, and delivered "relevant, inspirational, and outstanding" education for organizations around the world. In addition to direct work with clients, he writes articles for magazines, teaches yoga, and is invited to speak at a number of financial conferences.

Sundeep has a B.A. in Economics, a B. S. in Computer Science, and an MBA.

Session Description:

Reason, Season, Lifetime: Your Journey to Becoming the Primary Financial Institution

Consumers need financial institutions to complete their financial journeys. They need money that drives everyday economics - it drives their needs, helps with problems, and fuels their aspirations. The consumer we serve has a myriad of choices in who they use and they can have more than 10 financial relationships in their lifetime. And of course, 2020 has changed a lot!

How do we insert ourselves into the center of each relationship? How do we become part of everyday transactions? Do you know what these consumers truly want? How do we leverage emerging technology as an enabler? What does it take to become the primary financial institution?

Join us for pragmatic and innovative insight driven by research, including:

• a survey of more than 4000 financial institution professionals
• evaluation of fintech solutions, and investments by large financial institutions
• a deep understanding of what consumers really want

This inspirational prescriptive discussion will highlight the key challenges we face, provide anecdotal case studies, and provide us with the right questions to ask as we chart our roadmap for success.

Five 5-Star Case Studies to Perfect Your Payments Program – Sundeep & Stephanie/Lindsey

The member you serve is paying for products and services every single day. They use cash, debit, credit, P2P/digital, and pay their bills online as well. They have many ways to pay and their “wallet” carries many “cards” – digital and physical.

FinTech and large financial institutions continue to pursue consumers to adopt their “superior, seamless, convenient, secure, and incentive-laden” payment instruments. Brands like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Venmo, Cash App, and X1 continue to take our members away.

How do you compete in this arena? What would it take for you to earn your consumers’ confidence to be that top of wallet card? What would a leading with payments strategy do for your financial institution? Can you truly lead with payments?

This session will provide you with insight garnered from five champions – nimble organizations large and small that continue to fight and even beat the “big boys.” Our discussion will focus on experience, earnings, fraud, agility, and insight – five very important elements as you plan your winning strategy.

Join us for a discussion on ideal practices. Innovative, yet practical ideas to power your payments strategy. And you know this, if you own the “wallet,” you will own the relationship; lead with payments!

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