Featured Speakers & Topics
We are excited to return in-person this summer as we celebrate the 15th Anniversary of our Conference in 2022! Read about speakers below and check back as additional speakers will be added soon.
*Speakers Listed in Alphabetical Order
Coach Derek Brown knows the hardships of growing up on Chicago’s West side. He joined a gang at the age of 13 and spent many of his younger years between the streets and jail. By the time he was in his twenties, Derek had been shot and his best friend was lost to gun violence. Now dedicated to building up the same community he once helped to tear down, Coach Brown is determined to prevent the next generation from enduring the hardships he experienced as a child. He started a grassroots program in 2009, meeting youth after school for physical training. Boxing seemed to be the activity that best held the kids’ interest. As youth get further into the sport they experience, they begin to learn the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed in the ring. This program is about far more than fighting; it’s about achieving anti-violence through youth empowerment, with boxing the vehicle for fostering self-respect, confidence, and a sense of purpose within a culture of positivity. That grassroots effort has now grown into Boxing Out Negativity, where Coach Brown heads three anti-violence components: youth boxing, community outreach and community anti-violence. This is more than a program, it’s a way of life.
Dr. Ramona Cox
Dr. Ramona Cox is the Director of the Champions Network™ at Doc Wayne Children's Services. As Director, Ramona leads a growing team of diverse facilitators and team members focused on professionalizing the field of sport-based therapy and offering engaging and accessible mental health support globally. An NCAA Division I volleyball player at the University of Michigan, Cox obtained her Ph.D. in Kinesiology with a concentration in sport psychology from Michigan State University. Following Ramona’s collegiate volleyball career, she played 11 years of semi-professional football at tight end and fullback for the Detroit Demolition and Detroit Dark Angels. Ramona has a passion for sports-based youth development and has researched increasing sports and physical activity opportunities for urban African American adolescent girls.
Ramona is heavily involved in the sports-based youth development community as a facilitator and lead trainer for the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a board member of the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association and the McDonald Phelps Foundation, and a member of the State of Michigan Women in Sports Task Force. She has also worked collaboratively and implemented impactful projects with organizations such as the Women’s Sports Foundation and U.S. Soccer Foundation. Ramona continues to coach volleyball in Detroit at Cass Technical High School and Instant Replay Volleyball Club.
Darrell "Flash" Gordon
A native of Hillside, New Jersey, Darrell "Flash" Gordon had the privilege of playing at the University of Notre Dame under the leadership of Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz. He was a starting outside linebacker on the Irish's 1988 National Championship football team and earned his Bachelor's degree in Economics & Business as well as a Master's degree in Science in Administration from Notre Dame. He went on to receive a Juris Doctorate from Northern Kentucky University and a Certificate Strategic Perspective in Nonprofit Management from the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program. His many awards include:
The 2003 National Williams D. Reynolds Award, presented by the Notre Dame Alumni Association for exceptional work with youth for the betterment of the quality of life.
The 2015 recipient of the Center for Leadership Development Minority Achievers award for excellence in Business & Industry and the IARCA Excellence in Service Award.
The 2016 Sagamore of the Wabash award, presented by then-Governor Mike Pence as the highest honor in the State of Indiana.
Since 2001, Darrell has served as CEO/President of the Wernle Youth & Family Treatment Center in Indiana which serves the growth and development of troubled youth and their families. His extraordinary leadership and determination have transformed that organization to one with a positive national presence. He also serves as a national public speaker on the topics of Character Development, Diversity Training, and Leadership Empowerment for Change. In September 2018, Darrell became an author when his first book, Change Does Not Occur in a Flash, hit shelves. As an author, speaker, and business leader, Darrell has appeared on many national talk shows, news broadcasts, and commercials discussing topics on youth development, student-athletic success, dealing with change, organizational development and the need for character.
Theresa Grentz is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, having amassed 681 wins across a coaching career that led her to St. Joseph's, Rutgers, Illinois and Lafeyette. She was also the head coach of the US Olympic Women's Basketball Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, where she led the team to a bronze medal. Prior to coaching, Grentz was an athlete on Immaculata's three straight national championship teams from 1972-74, a team affectionately known as "The Might Macs." She scored more than 1,000 points for Immaculata and was named an All-American three straight years, as well as the AMF Collegiate Player of the Year in 1974. During the 1973 season, Grentz represented Team USA at the World University Games, the first event in which the USA competed in women's basketball. Grentz's storied career has spanned 5 decades and seen her recognized as a pioneer as both player and coach. An athlete at Immaculata when Title IX was signed in 1972, she benefited from the newly formed Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and later led Rutgers to the 1982 national title in the final year before the AIAW was disolved and the NCAA took control of women's championships.
Dr. Carrie Hastings
Dr. Hastings is a licensed clinical and sport psychologist. She specializes in mental skills & performance enhancement for athletes, psychological and neuropsychological testing, and individual therapy for all ages. Dr. Hastings maintains a private practice and is the Mental Health Clinician for the NFL Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams.
Dr. Hastings completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a hurdler and sprinter on the track team. Her personal and professional experiences fuel her work with athletes and non-athletes. She went on to receive her Masters and her Doctorate in Psychology from Pepperdine University. Dr. Hastings presents to national audiences on topics such as Trauma-Sensitive Coaching, Depression & Suicide among Athletes, Bullying & Hazing, and Coaching Athletes with ADHD and Autism.
Dr. Hastings is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology and is listed in the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology and Mental Training Registry. She is also a long-time Play Like a Champion Trainer and research specialist. When working with young children for individual therapy, she relies primarily on play therapy techniques, meeting regularly with parents to discuss themes apparent in the play. Dr. Hastings aims to provide support and practical feedback to help patients of all ages effectively address personal challenges.
Kory Minor is a dynamic speaker, entrepreneur, sales trainer and consultant, as well as the head football coach at St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, CA. A 4-year star star defensive player and team captain at the University of Notre Dame, Kory graduated with a degree in business marketing and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1999 draft. He played four seasons as a linebacker and special teams standout for the Carolina Panthers. Kory is the Founder and CEO of Kory Minor Training & Consultants, which is a Training Company for large to small corporations. A highly regarded sales team trainer, consultant, and peak performance coach, Kory is also an international speaker and best selling author. His clients include Fortune 500 companies around the world, sales organizations, business executives, and professional athletes. He is also a Play Like a Champion Trainer, bringing his positive energy and enthusiasm to coaches across the Los Angeles area.
Derrick Perry is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who was born and raised in South Bend, IN. Having worked in mental health with children and adolescents for over 10 years, Derrick is passionate about ensuring our youth can grow into productive citizens of the world. He serves as a Board Member for the Michiana Athletic and Recreation Association and leads its Relationships Activate Life Long Relationships Program, connecting with youth in school and program settings. "I’ve seen this city go through a lot," says Derrick. "As a South Bend native, entrepreneur, mental health counselor and community organizer, I’ve worked with just about every slice of life in this city. First and foremost, I consider myself a facilitator. I’ve learned how to have tough conversations—especially with regard to race and the criminal justice system. Whether or not you know someone who is justice-involved, the principles of restorative justice can help you grow as an individual and as a neighbor."
Ana Sierra is the Founder & CEO of the Ana Sierra Women’s Basketball League (ASWBL) and Sierra Dreams in Chicago, IL. Over 6 years, the ASWBL has grown into one of the largest annual women's pro-am basketball leagues in Chicago and now features youth mentorship programming and skill development for girls agest 8-18. The mission, of these organizations is to bring visibility to female athletes while leading, inspiring and empowering their journey on and off the court. A native of New York City, Sierra fell in love with the game of basketball at a young age, playing through college and semi-professionally while pursuing a career in business and entrepreneurship. She's also actively involved in the North Lawndale Athletic and Recreation Association, striving to build a "greater Chicago" by curbing violence and serving at-risk youth in inner city communities through basketball and youth development programming.
Nicole Williams embodies what it means to utilize the power of music to enhance the lives of people. A native of the Bronx, N.Y and graduate of renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, Nicole has an extensive musical background expanding decades both as a professional musician and music educator. She holds several evidence based experiential certifications and is a certified Resiliency Trainer. Nicole's work, knowledge and genuine concern for individual and organizational wellness, success and resilience is evident by clients that sought her expertise which include the Lebron James Family Foundation, I Promise School, University of Notre Dame, Beacon Health System, United Way of St. Joseph, Chick-Fil-A, DePuy Synthes (Johnson & Johnson), Saint Mary's South Bend Community Schools Corporation and Elkhart Community School Corporation.
Since moving to the Midwest with her husband Theo over a decade ago she been jamming ever since!
Dr. Amanda Zelechoski
Dr. Amanda Zelechoski is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist and attorney, specializing in trauma. In addition to serving as professor of psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Purdue University Northwest, she is also co-founder of the nonprofit organization, Pandemic Parenting. Zelechoski’s research examines the intersection between psychology, law, and trauma, particularly for underserved populations. This includes evaluating psychological and forensic assessment methods, as well as working across systems to implement evidence-based, trauma-informed practices. Most recently, she conducted research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and parents, which led to the creation of Pandemic Parenting, a free digital resource platform and non-profit organization.
Prior to joining Purdue University Northwest, Dr. Zelechoski spent 10 years as faculty at Valparaiso Univeristy. She is Board-Certified in Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology and has won a number of awards for her work, including the APA Div. 56 Award for Media Contributions to the Field of Trauma Psychology (2021), APA Div. 37 Child and Family Citizen Psychologist Award (2021), Indiana Psychological Assoc. Distinguished Community Service in Psychology Award (2020) and the Valparaiso University Martin Luther King Jr. Award (2020).