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2024 Session Descriptions

Opening Keynote Address - Shattering Limitations and Daring to Thrive
Presenter: Dima Ghawi

Dima Ghawi’s story of personal transformation encourages audiences to confront and conquer internal limitations. As she recounts her own struggles and triumphs, her vulnerability and insight sparks light for attendees’ own journey of self-discovery.

Dima dares individuals to examine at their own internal limitations, such as the pursuit of perfection, the fear of failure or being judged. She then equips audience members with the tools and courage it takes to shatter those limitations and emerge as empowered individuals.

Audiences will learn:

  • The importance of self-awareness and how effective personal leadership starts from within.
  • How conscious professionals lead to better teamwork, enhanced communication, and an improvement in the overall organizational culture.
  • How internal limitations inhibit individuals from performing at their best and advancing professionally.

Key attendee takeaways:

  • Elevate employee engagement and team morale by encouraging risk-taking and increasing individual self-awareness.
  • Shattering internal limitations creates more confident and conscious leaders.
  • By increasing courage in organizations, creativity and innovation also increases, improving the bottom-line results.

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3 Steps Strategic Relationships
Presenter: Lei Comerford

Personality is where we start, but Character determines who we become. During this interactive workshop, we will discuss the difference in personality and character. We will identify which of the Character

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Workplace Violence and its legal impact on employers
Presenter: Vicky Bowers

Understanding state and federal law and recent case relative to workplace violence and legal exposure; ways to mitigate legal exposure via training and workplace violence policies;

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Level Up HR with Technology
Presenter:  Chris Baldwin

The work world has changed, and there’s no going back. Attracting, developing, engaging and rewarding your employees has never been more important, and HR is at the center of it. CEOs increasingly expect HR to act strategically, despite being “built” as an administrative operation in most cases. Organizational and HR leaders must consider if their HR function is optimally organized and positioned to advance organizational goals in today’s workplace landscape to meet the unknown challenges of tomorrow. Now is the time to “level up” and align HR with the organization’s business strategy to empower your workforce in a new work environment. Leveling up means assessing where you are now, compared to where you want and need to be, and expanding and/or enhancing your HR function to support the CEO’s agenda. Technology can enable and advance your efforts to level up when used strategically.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the state of the workplace environment in 2024, what’s changed and why it’s critical to “level up” your HR function.
  • Identify specific areas of your organization’s people strategy that can be “leveled up” to support the CEO’s agenda and achieve big organizational goals.
  • Connect the dots between HR technology and efforts to align HR with the organization’s business strategy and learn about innovative emerging and evolving solutions.

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AI-Powered HR Leadership: Thriving with a Multigenerational Workforce
Presenters: 5 Minute Career Hack: Jamila Brown, Candyce Hunt, & Alicia Wade

Dive into the future of HR leadership with AI integration, revolutionizing talent management and decision-making. Uncover strategies for successfully leading a diverse multigenerational workforce by exploring generational traits, communication styles, and fostering collaboration.

Learning Objectives:

  • AI-Powered HR Transformation: Gain insights into the profound impact of AI on HR strategies. Learn to strategically integrate AI solutions, revolutionizing talent acquisition, performance management, and employee engagement. Master data-driven decision-making to elevate HR's strategic influence.
  • Multigenerational Workforce Mastery: Navigate the complexities of leading diverse generations within your workforce. Explore generational traits, communication styles, and expectations. Develop strategies to foster collaboration, transforming generational differences into a strategic advantage.

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Keynote Presentation: Discover Confidence in Weakness
Presenter: Greg Hawks

Insecurity attaches to our weaknesses and torments us with the motto “You’re Not Enough.” It’s never discussed in business settings but is at play in almost every situation. It hinders communication, vision, decision-making, risk-taking, and forward progress. Greg uses his story of climbing a 14’er in Colorado, Mt. Yale, as the analogy for extracting insecurities and finding confidence even where we’re deficient (areas of suckage).

An Ownership Mindset understands that confidence is the best gift we can give those we’re empowering for them to succeed. The three vital elements that combine to nurture strong confidence are Trust, Humility & Belief. Choosing to trust ourselves, operate in humility, and be purposeful about our beliefs, will guide us along the journey to the peak of confidence.

Confident individuals are a business advantage. Communication is more clear. A willingness to share missteps happens sooner. Courage to attempt something new is available. Being willing to engage in hard conversations happens more frequently. Transparency in conflict is offered. Empowering others becomes more natural.

This message speaks to the heart of every person while also strengthening the connection within every team.


  • Create an understanding of how mean and dastardly insecurity is.
  • Learn how a karaoke bar factors into your freedom.
  • Recognize the consequences of unaddressed insecurities in work life.
  • Learn to be confident in every situation!
  • Understand trusting ourselves in a whole new way.

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Unleashing Your Legacy
Presenter: Will Campbell

This course is designed to help leaders of organizations develop and implement a strategy for building a Legacy through mentoring and succession planning. You will learn the importance of creating a vision that will shape the future and culture of your organization for years to come.

Course Objectives:

  • How to develop and implement a strategy to build a Legacy.
  • Moving from vision to action
  • Understanding the keys to securing your Legacy.
  • The importance of passing it on.
  • How to Live Beyond the Grave.
  • The power of mentoring and succession planning.

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Impact of Layoffs and RIFs on Work Visas and Green Card Processes
Presenter:  Oxana Bowman

Businesses across industries are reducing their workforces and implementing hiring freezes amid increasing labor costs and fears of slower economic growth. In fact, reports suggest that tens of thousands of workers could be looking for new jobs in 2023 following announced layoffs and job cuts at several major companies across the United States. Many of these companies have come to rely on talented foreign workers to fill domestic shortages of highly-skilled workers. While implementing a reduction in force (RIF) triggers several legal considerations for employers, notably potential obligations under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, a RIF impacting foreign workers brings additional challenges. Foreign workers included in a RIF could face complications with their immigration statuses that could mean they have to return to their home countries. Employers may further be unable to rehire valuable foreign workers following a RIF should the business outlook change.

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5 Trends Employers Need to Know and Act On
Presenters: Tami Rolen-Tharp & Chad Borque

Are you using benchmarking data to modernize your benefits strategy? Employee retention is the #1 HR priority for 66% of organizations, ahead of attracting talent—even in an environment where most organizations are expecting their headcounts to grow. To retain top talent, business leaders must understand the current market landscape, as well as diverse workforce interests in order to modernize their benefits strategies. To do this, HR leaders are leaning into benchmarking data to remain competitive. Our Benchmarking Survey data will give employers an evolved perspective on organizational wellbeing. These insights come from over 4,000+ US organizations that are navigating benefits and HR decisions, just like you, so their people and businesses can thrive.

Learning Objectives:

  • 5 Trends That Matter When Selecting Benefits and HR Strategies Headcount is growing: 57% of organizations predict an increase in workforce headcount by 2024.
  • Retention reigns: HR’s #1 priority is retaining talent — ahead of growing revenue and sales.
  • DEI matters from the top down: DEI oversight is a leadership accountability measure for more than 2 in 5 organizations.
  • HR tech is top of mind: 54% of organizations expect to add and/or upgrade their HR tech solutions by 2025.
  • Medical and pharmacy costs keep rising: More than 1 in 2 employers increased employee cost sharing in 2023.

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Tear the Paper Ceiling: The Case for Louisiana workers Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs)
Presenter: Meagan West

60% of Louisiana workers (& 50% of the U.S. workforce) are Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs) rather than a bachelor’s degree. If your organization lacks a STARs talent strategy, you only have half a talent strategy. Join us to discover the missing piece to your talent pipeline. See the latest data and insights on the STAR workforce and understand the business case on how STAR talent adds value to your organization. Learn how our new regional strategy tool can help you explore the diversity of STAR talent in your region and the proven pathways to find STARs with aligned transferable skills.

In this session, you will:

  • Identify the key characteristics of STARs
  • Map the business case for STARs as it relates to

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Harnessing the Power of an Inclusive Work Culture
Presenters: Dima Ghawi

Creating a culture of inclusion is no longer a “nice to have.” It is essential for recruiting, engaging, and retaining top talent. It is a competitive advantage of any company. In this keynote, Dima Ghawi shares findings gathered over decades of conducting hundreds of interviews and workplace surveys on how to create a welcoming and inclusive workforce. Dima’s real-life experiences with organizations around the world, as well as her unique and fascinating upbringing in the Middle East, bring to life for audiences the critical importance of diversity and inclusion.

Through powerful storytelling and personal narratives, she deconstructs conscious and unconscious biases, guiding attendees to address common workplace resistance to DEI. She teaches leaders that increasing inclusion creates a safe and healthy culture. More than picture-perfect diversity, this presentation shows audience members how to foster a sense of inclusion within their workspace.

You will learn:

  • How to create a safe and inclusive workplace culture
  • The meaning of unconscious bias and its effect in the workplace
  • What diverse employees are looking for and how to integrate these needs into management styles

Key takeaways:

  • The insight of a bottom-up approach, the influence of courageous office culture, and the power of affinity groups.
  • What diverse employees are looking for and receive actionable tips to create a courageous and integrative workplace culture.
  • How to create a more productive, engaging, and inclusive workplace for all.

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NLRB Update: The Attack On Union and Nonunion Employers Continues
Presenter:  Greg Guidry

The NLRB continues to issue pro-union and pro-employee decisions. This presentation by an experienced labor attorney will update attendees on important recent actions of the NLRB and its General Counsel that impact both nonunion employers and union employers. It will cover NLRB developments since my presentation at last year’s LASHRM conference.

Learning Objectives:

HR professionals need to keep up to date on the radical actions of the NLRB and its GC, so that they can ensure that they are in compliance with those actions. The presentation will update attendees on those actions, and will offer suggested actions to take in response to same, where applicable.

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Unleashing the Power of AI in Recruiting and Employee Engagement
Presenter: Craig Broome

In this session we will provide action-based steps to embrace Chat GPT, increase visibility on Indeed and ace the applicant engagement and onboarding experience.

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Cognitive Diversity - Understanding Different Thinking Styles
Presenter: Lei Comerford

What is Cognitive Diversity? How can I utilize this skill to be more effective? Join us for this informative session where we will introduce Herrmann’s Whole Brain Model and four unique thinking styles. You will have the opportunity to identify which is most dominant for you and learn how to pick up on clues that others give off. This session offers you the ability to improve your own self-awareness and begin working more effectively and efficiently with others when you implement these new skills.

Session Objectives:

  • Learn why Cognitive Diversity is the key to successful communication and relationships
  • Introduction to four (4) different thinking styles and discover which is your most dominant
  • Understand how to identify “thinking style” clues in the people you work with every day
  • Identify an action plan to improve your communication

General Session: Legal Panel When Legal Issues are Unleashed on You, What Would You Do?
Presenters: Jay Stovall & Vicky Bowers

Our expert panelists will discuss the top local, state, and federal legislation trends impacting their workplaces

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will gain an understanding of recent legislation, trends, and case rulings related to employment law.
  • Attendees will consider real-world application of compliance trends.

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How Trauma Impacts Organizations and How to Overcome it: The Seven Principles of Trauma Informed Cultures
Presenters: Stephanie Lemek

Over 70% of US Adults self-identify as having one or more traumatic experiences in their lifetimes. Even if your team doesn’t personally experience trauma, they will likely experience the effects of trauma through a friend or loved one. And those effects of trauma can show up everywhere, including the workplace. This session will explore the basics of trauma, including the definition, how trauma shows up in the workplace, and an overview of the seven principles of trauma informed cultures developed by The Wounded Workforce. The principles are as follows: Safety (Physical, Psychological, & Financial), Trust & Transparency, Community, Collaboration, Empowerment, Humility & Responsiveness, and Cultural, Historical, & Gender issues. Through these seven principles, organizations can build support into their cultures and create environments where everyone can be successful- regardless of past, present, or future experiences of trauma. These cultures proactively address mental health and also bolster the overall results of individuals and the business.

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The Top Workplace Investigation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Presenter: Monique Gougisha Doucette

This session will involve a discussion of common investigation mistakes that expose employers to heightened legal risk, including those relating to ignored complaints, poor communication and documentation errors.

Learning objectives:

This session will use factual scenarios and discuss best practices to help participants learn how to respond appropriately to internal complaints and minimize legal exposure.

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It’s All Fun and Games: Employee Benefits Compliance in 2024
Presenter: Heather Mazac

While it often feels like a losing game, learn what you need to know to win at employee benefits compliance in 2024. Walk away with a ready-to-use compliance calendar, learn the answers to the most asked benefits compliance questions from your HR peers and get a glimpse of what is on the regulatory and legislative horizon.

Learning objectives:

  • Review regulatory and legislative requirements in 2024.
  • Learn about the top compliance issues and how to avoid them.
  • Find answers to the most asked benefits compliance questions.
  • Discover important benefits compliance deadlines for 2024.

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Developing Your Leaders: Building Your Teams for Success
Presenter: Paul LaLonde

Research shows that the manager-employee relationship is vital to organizational success. But more than half of all new managers fail within their first two years on the job. Why? It’s all about preparation — or lack of it. Organizations do not prepare their managers to lead! To address this, CEDA developed CEDA University, an in-house leadership development program that empowers managers to grow. This session offers a look at how this program was developed, what’s its impact has been at CEDA, and how other organizations can build their own leadership development programs.

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Mastering Employee Retention Strategies
Presenter: Secret Morris

This comprehensive session delves into the intricacies of retaining valuable talent within your organization. From understanding the critical role of employee retention in organizational success to implementing effective retention programs, participants will gain the knowledge and skills needed to foster a workplace culture that encourages commitment and satisfaction. Explore the manager's pivotal role in employee retention, learn the art of conducting impactful "stay" interviews, and discover how to develop and implement measurable retention programs tailored to your company's unique culture. Elevate your leadership capabilities by emphasizing the crucial role leaders play in championing and supporting successful retention initiatives.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the significance of employee retention in organizational success.
  • Identify key factors influencing employee satisfaction and commitment.
  • Explore the manager's role in employee retention.
  • Gain insights into conducting effective "stay" interviews.
  • Practice proactive strategies to prevent valuable employees from leaving.
  • Develop skills in fostering open communication to address employee concerns.
  • Recognize common challenges associated with employee retention programs.
  • Understand the importance of measurable metrics in assessing retention initiatives.
  • Explore different types of employee retention programs.
  • Analyze the alignment of retention programs with the company's culture.
  • Discuss strategies to overcome problems in existing retention programs.
  • Learn how to tailor retention programs to meet the diverse needs of employees.
  • Develop the ability to create and implement a measurable employee retention program.
  • Emphasize the role of leadership in championing and supporting retention initiatives.

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Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace: Navigating the New Frontier
Presenters: Erin Kilgore & Scott Huffstetler

Emerging and evolving technologies have always impacted the workplace. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, and in society at large, has created additional issues, complexities, and potential legal challenges for employers. This presentation will discuss AI’s current and potential future impact on labor and employment matters, including the use of AI in recruiting and engagement of employees, as week as provide legal and practical approaches for human resources professionals in navigating this new frontier.

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Improving Talent Management with Human Capital Management (HCM) Analytics
Presenter: Natalie Canestro

Employees are the top sustainability resource of any organization, and good data and analytics can provide the focus needed to address critical needs for maintaining organizational performance. In a post-COVID recruiting, engagement, performance, and retention environment, leaders are challenged to meet employee needs in a new way. Learn how HCM analytical tools can assist your organization to reduce turnover, attract candidates, improve engagement, and enhance performance. An overview of scalable technology functionality and case studies/use cases will be presented to outline how leaders can enhance their utilization of data and take action throughout the employee lifecycle

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Functional Forgiveness: The Underrated Business Imperative
Presenter: John Baldino

Employees spend approximately 2.8 hours each week involved in conflict, according to a CPP, Inc. From a financial perspective, that’s around $359 billion in hours being paid for employees to argue, hold grudges and change the dynamic of communication at work. Businesses struggle with communication on a good day so having unnecessary or unresolved conflict added in will only cause deeper structural and organizational flow issues. And while conflict management is a useful skill to exercise, the lack of understanding of forgiveness as a piece of that plan will lead to more repeated situations with those same involved individuals. In that same CPP, Inc. research, 29% of employees say they “nearly constantly experience conflict.” To have almost 1/3 of staff experiencing degraded work experience is not cost-effective nor is it in line with espoused organizational values. Forgiveness requires an understanding of the full picture, a desire to move outside of power plays and a finesse in implementation. Most of the skills necessary to do this are not taught to our employees, managers or senior leaders. How can it be implemented without a commitment and a context? This session will unpack the necessity behind forgiveness as a business imperative as well as the steps to add this consideration to the internal conflict resolution process.


  • To be able to identify the mired and conflicted communication snags in conflict management within an organization
  • To be able to define what forgiveness (in a business context) is and isn’t
  • To be able to practice functional forgiveness as a methodology in conflict resolution and in sustained, healthy internal communication

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The Heart of the Matter: Why the Work of HR Matters in Today’s Companies
Presenter: Steve Browne

The landscape of work has changed dramatically, and HR has been called upon to step in, lead and drive the efforts to be people-first. It’s time to show how HR is relevant, necessary, useful and proactive.

This session explores new and fresh approaches to make this transition in becoming a people-centric organization. Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP is the Chief People Officer of LaRosa’s, Inc. and lives out the heart of HR on a daily basis.

When you attend you’ll learn:

  • How to show employees that their work matters – personally and professionally. (HRCI - Develop and manage workplace practices that are aligned with the organization’s statements of vision, values, and ethics to shape and reinforce organizational culture, Leadership & Strategy)
  • How to lead from the seat you have in framing, creating and sustaining solid people practices throughout your company. (HRCI - Establish and manage effective relationships with key stakeholders to influence organizational behavior and outcomes, Leadership & Strategy)
  • How having fun is a business skill and NOT a soft skill. (HRCI – Promote and support the organizational culture, Business Leadership)
  • How to approach your work strategically by building relationships across departments and functions. (HRCI - Establish and manage effective relationships with key stakeholders to influence organizational behavior and outcomes, Leadership & Strategy)
  • How to thrive and enjoy the work of human resources at every stage of your career.(HRCI - Align the human capital strategy with the organization’s business strategy, Business Strategy)

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On the Road to Compliance.- Navigating the Latest Trends and Updates to EEOC Guidance
Presenters: Maria Guerra & Marvis Hicks

In this presentation we will delve into the latest trends we are seeing at the EEOC and offer valuable insights into the evolving landscape of workplace equity and compliance. We will explore the implications of the trends and most recent EEOC updates to provide you with the necessary tools to foster compliant workplaces.


  • Analyze the recent trends of the EEOC and their implications for the modern workplace.
  • Provide insight into the latest EEOC guidance and technical assistance updates, emphasizing their relevance to those in the HR community.
  • Equip attendees with actionable strategies and best practices for fostering healthy and compliant workplaces.

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Impacting Employee Wellness by Supporting Financial Health
Presenter: Lacey Maynor

Financial worry is the leading stressor for the majority of Americans. Employers are at the forefront to offer resources to empower employees make informed financial decisions. Reducing this stressor can lead to more productive time at work, contribute to employee engagement and loyalty and even increase utilization of other benefits. Offering solutions for your employees should be a strategic part of your overall wellness plan and might be easier to implement and friendlier to your budget than you think.

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Power of Cultural Intelligence
Presenter: Loren Rosario-Maldonado

Loren's speaking engagement will focus on the power of cultural intelligence in talent development, highlighting how it can be harnessed to create a more inclusive, high-performing, and innovative workplace. Drawing from her extensive experience working with clients across the globe, Loren will provide practical insights and actionable strategies that can be implemented within any organization.

During her presentation, attendees can expect to gain the following insights:

  • The role of cultural intelligence in talent development: How to identify, attract, and retain top talent from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
  • Fostering an inclusive learning environment: Techniques for creating a supportive and culturally intelligent workplace that encourages personal and professional growth.
  • Developing culturally intelligent leaders: Strategies for equipping leaders with the skills necessary to manage and develop diverse teams effectively.
  • Leveraging cultural intelligence for innovation: How embracing diversity and inclusion can drive creativity and innovation in your organization.

Loren's unique blend of cultural intelligence expertise, leadership experience, and people strategy know-how will give your audience an engaging and insightful experience. Her presentation will leave attendees with valuable tools and techniques that can be applied to enhance talent development processes and foster a more inclusive and successful work environment.

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Closing General Session: HR Unleashed !! Transforming from Support Role to Strategic Leader
Presenter: Steve Browne

The time for HR to work in the background has passed. It’s time for HR to be strategic at an organizational, professional, and personal level. This session will equip attendees with an approach to be intentionally strategic in their HR role regardless of their level. It will also show them how to integrate departments to move the entire organization forward through performance.

Attendees of this event will hear about the following learning objectives:

  • Understand how to be a valued, and sought after, resource instead of only providing support when needed. (Business Management & Strategy – Establish strategic relationships with key individuals in the organization to influence organizational decision-making.)
  • Learn how to effectively develop people individually from the Executive level down through the organization. (Business Management & Strategy – Participate as a contributing partner in the organization’s strategic planning process. For example: provide and lead workforce planning discussion with management, develop and present long-term forecast of human capital needs at the organizational level).
  • Work from a people-first and strengths-based position in their HR role and teach managers to do the same. (Business Management & Strategy - Facilitate the development and communication of the organization’s core values, vision, mission, and ethical behaviors.)
  • Effectively assess and place people in roles where they can perform and excel personally and for the organization. (Business Management & Strategy - Participate in strategic decision-making and due diligence activities related to organizational structure and design.)

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Louisiana Society for Human Resource Management

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