2021 Speakers



Dave Davlin

Dave Davlin

Opening Keynote Speaker

Bio: Over 25 years ago, Dave Davlin began bringing smiles to faces with a form of entertainment he developed as a young boy. From NBA and major college arenas across America to the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea— and even to the world-famous Branson Strip— “Travelin” Davlin has entertained people of every age and background. His amazing ability with basketballs even landed his name and picture in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records.

Dave began to hone his speaking skills in the early 90’s as a national speaker in the public schools across America. Combining his entertainment ability with a powerful message, he was instrumental in the fight for education and against drugs. At the advice of friends working in corporate America, Dave began to develop presentations for the corporate and association market and the rest is history. He now speaks at numerous corporate and associational conferences each year. From public school students to CEOs, Dave’s message has made a difference in the lives of thousands, and his impact continues to grow each year as he shares his philosophy and wisdom through speaking and writing.



Stacey Hanke

Stacey Hanke

Closing Keynote Speaker

Bio: Stacey Hanke is author of the book; Influence Redefined…Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday®. She is also co-author of the book; Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action.

Stacey is founder of Stacey Hanke Inc. She has trained and presented to thousands to rid business leaders of bad body language habits and to choose words wisely in the financial industry to the healthcare industry to government and everyone in between. Her client list is vast from Coca-Cola, FedEx, Kohl’s, United States Army, Navy and Air Force, McDonald’s, Publicis Media, Nationwide, US Cellular, Discover, GE, General Mills and Abbvie. Her team works with Directors up to the C-Suite. In addition to her client list, she has been the Emcee for Tedx. She has inspired thousands as a featured guest on media outlets including; The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Thrive, SmartMoney magazine, The Economist and Business Week. She is a Certified Speaking Professional—a valuable accreditation earned by less than 10% of speakers worldwide.



Carolina Aponte

Carolina Aponte

Bio: Carolina Aponte is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of experience serving clients both large and small. In addition to working as a fractional CFO, Carolina is the owner of Caja Holdings providing outsourced bookkeeping services to multi-million-dollar companies, law firms, and diverse small businesses including local CPA firms and Non-profit organizations.

Carolina began her accounting career working on manual ledgers for a Miami law firm. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a degree in Business Management. Afterward, she climbed the corporate ladder at a thriving accounting software company until she moved to North Carolina with her family. There, she used her extensive understanding of tax code, accounting, and business management to start a boutique consulting firm to provide clients practical and effective internal accounting and tax-reporting solutions.

She holds a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Entrepreneurship certificate. Carolina is the recipient of the Latin American Businesswoman 2012 Award in Charlotte, NC, and the 2017 NAWBO Charlotte Rising Star Award. Also, a recipient of The Mecklenburg Times 2019 Phenoms honoree and 2020 50 Most Influential Women in the Charlotte region. She is also 2020-2021 President of the National Association of Women Business Owners Charlotte and a 2019-2020 Woman Business Owner of the year finalist. She is also an award-winning author of “Pave Your Own Way” Thirteen Skills To Create Your Professional Success.



Catherine Brennan

Catherine A. Brennan

Bio: Catherine A. Brennan is a business owner, author, public speaker, blogger, community activist, athlete, mother, grandmother, and most importantly, a depression survivor.

She has lived in Minnesota most of her life and has run a construction and development company with her husband, Mike. Her background is in public accounting and she took the leap to start a construction business in 1994 and a development company in 2000.

Cathy is a public speaker on the topic of wellness and has authored a book titled So Now What? A Guide for People Who Feel Stuck. It contains the lessons she learned from a very long battle with depression. The principles will be beneficial for anyone who feels stuck in their life. A companion workbook So Now What? A Guided Workbook to Get Unstuck is due out in April of 2021.

In her 50s, Cathy, found her ‘inner runner’. She has run the Boston Marathon three times, the New York City Marathon, and several other marathons. Cathy is also a triathlete, golfer, and loves to read. She and her husband have two married sons and one grandson.



Shakira Brown

Shakira M. Brown

Bio: Nationally Recognized Branding & Business Communication Strategist & Professional Keynote Speaker Shakira is a 13 time award-winning public relations, corporate communications and branding professional who uses her over 20 years of experience leading external and internal communications strategies for various small businesses, corporations and professional services firms to captivate and educate audiences. She is the Managing Principal and CEO of SMB Strategic Media, a firm specializing in helping small businesses get to the heart of why customers buy their goods and services by clarifying their message and uncovering their competitive advantage. She is also a leading business adviser and marketing counselor for America’s Small Business Development Center and for the Regional Assistance Business Corporation in New Jersey.

Shakira shares advice on how to “master every moment” in business as a regular contributor to BlackEnterprise.com and has been featured as an expert in PRWeek, BrandWeek, Woman's World, Working Mother, Creditcards.com, Crain's Chicago Business, US 1 Princeton Magazine, Jersey 101.5 FM, MidJersey Business Magazine, AOL Money & Finance, Plastic Surgery Practice Advisor, NJBIZ, Fierce Entrepreneur Podcast, Fridge Magazine and Smartmoney.com among many others. Shakira who is also known as the "Small Biz Whisperer” as she hosts, The "Moment Masters Show" (http://momentmasters.com) a small business focused podcast available on iTunes and Google Play, among others.

View my NAWIC AC promo here.



Zach Forner

Zach Forner

Bio: Zach Forner is a proven sales expert and organizational leader with over 15 years of experience across multiple industries. His personal mission is to inspire leaders and those they lead to renew their minds, take ownership of their personal and professional growth and build something bigger than themselves. Before joining Sales Transformation Group, Zach was a successful high grossing closer in multiple industries and worked internationally for many years. He now uses his experience and skills to isolate problems, provide solutions and establish phenomenal sales cultures among some of the top contracting companies in America.



Ingrid Golleher

Ingrid Golleher

Bio: My name is Ingrid Golleher and I am currently a Union Carpenter Forman for Skanska. I graduated High School in 2010 with a dream to be in musical theatre professionally… so I ended up in Job Corps searching for a trade, thinking “business” (receptionist) would be right for me. When I went in to the business office, it was full of people in the dark sitting on computers. Not my cup of tea. So I walked in to the “Construction Craft Laborer” trade office and a year later graduated with a foot in the door as a laborer in the union. My first Job was at Skanska as an apprentice and now eight years later I am a Forman showing other apprentices what to do.



Adam Guyton

Adam Guyton, AINS, CLCS

Bio: Adam Guyton is an Insurance Agent with 15 years’ experience working alongside business owners and executives. Adam is a technician when it comes to commercial insurance and creating risk management strategies for his clients. Adam is a leader in cyber insurance placement and his positive attitude and tireless energy encourage others to work hard and succeed. Adam and his wife live in Boise Idaho with their black lab Hank. In his free time he likes to ski, fish and mountain bike.




Gerri Harris

Geraldine “Gerri” Harris

Bio: Geraldine “Gerri” Harris is President/Managing Member of G. Harris Consulting, LLC, a professional business management services firm that provides customized training solutions and coaching. She consults on diversity and inclusion, leadership, organizational development, strategic planning, and specializes in business administration and operational processes-all as relates to design and construction. Prior to founding G. Harris Consulting, LLC, Gerri held executive positions in the construction industry for organizations operating in the areas architecture, hospitality, entertainment, gaming, and construction and construction management.

Corporate Experience. Gerri is former Executive Director of Diversity & Contracts for MGM Resorts International Design & Development, a leader in hospitality and entertainment based in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is credited with having managed and negotiated design and construction contracts for domestic projects under an annual capital improvement budget of $300M, single contracts ranging from $1M to $500M, and led construction diversity and inclusion efforts for projects up to $1.2B for MGM’s world known luxury resorts-Bellagio, MGM National Harbor, Park MGM, ARIA, Beau Rivage, and others.

Civic Recognitions and Volunteerism. Gerri was named in the “Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity” by Diversity-Plus magazine in 2018. In 2019 she was a finalist for the “Woman of Distinction” award from the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Las Vegas Chapter. In 2020, she became the first African American woman to serve on the board of Nevada Contractors Association (NCA) as chair of its Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee. Also, she received the “Collaborator Excellence in Supplier Diversity Award” from the Western Region Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC).

Gerri currently serves on the boards of National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC), is the first African American to hold the position of vice president for National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Las Vegas Chapter #74, and serves on the NAWIC National Diversity & Inclusion Task Force/Committee.




Nikki Larchar

Nikki Larchar, SHRM-CP

Bio: Nikki Larchar, SHRM-CP, is the co-author of a sexual harassment prevention comic book and the co-founder of Define the Line, a company that is on a mission to eliminate workplace sexual harassment by empowering employees to speak up for themselves and each other.

After years of navigating tricky situations and harassing behavior, Nikki wanted to create the sexual harassment training she wished she had early in her career. The Define the Line comic book and training sessions help individuals know what to do or say when faced with inappropriate and harassing behavior in the workplace.

Since their successful crowdfunding campaign in 2018, Define the Line has helped train over 1,800 individuals and continues to help people feel more confident speaking up for themselves and others to create workplaces that are safe and secure for everyone.

Nikki’s work has been featured in NPR, HRCI, HR Dive, and HR Bartender. She has been honored to receive the 2019 Workforce Magazine’s Game Changers Award, 2019 BBB Spark Award, 2020 BizWest Women of Distinction nomination, and the 2019 Tresemme + Vital Voices Fellowship Award.

When Nikki is not inspiring groups, you can find her serenading Disney songs to her dog while her husband tries to escape the beauty of her voice in their Cocoa, FL home.

To learn more about Define the Line visit: www.definethelinecomic.com



Melanie Myers

Melanie Myers

Bio: Holds a Master of Science in Construction Management from Eastern Michigan University and is a full-time Project Manager of Planning, Design and Construction for St. Joseph Mercy Health System in SE Michigan and part-time Educational Coordinator for NEF. She has fifteen years and counting working in the industry and fifteen years working in higher education. She was an active NAWIC member of the Lansing, Michigan Chapter from 1999-2020. During her time in NAWIC she held several leadership positions within her chapter, regional committees, and was elected Region 4 (now North Central Region) from 2010-2012. She also served ten years on the NEF Board as Trustee and an active member of the Executive Committee serving as Secretary, Vice-President (twice), President-Elect (twice), and President. During her time on the NEF Board, she authored the Construction Industry Specialist (CIS). Currently, she is the President of the Eastern Michigan University Construction Management Alumni Chapter and helped develop the first Alumni Mentoring Program. This program links alumni with current students to support and help them directly connect with alumni working in the construction industry. As a part of the Mentoring Program, she has led an annual Student Alumni Summit that brings students and alumni together for an informative networking event. For her efforts, she was named the 2020 recipient of the Ozzie Pffafman Volunteer Award. Last Fall, she joined the newly formed Michigan Chapter of Women in Healthcare in hopes of connecting with other women working in healthcare positions.



Megan North

Megan North, RPLU, MBA

Bio: North began her Insurance career as a Risk Management & Insurance major at the University of Mississippi. Since that time, she worked in finance and retail insurance before settling into the wholesale channel where she has worked for the last 10 years focusing exclusively on Cyber, Management and Professional coverage lines.

Most recently, North has developed a heavy emphasis and focus in Cyber & Tech which led to her selection as a “Young Gun” Broker in 2018 with Insurance Business America. She enjoys education in addition to working with her clients, and has industry speaking experience including hosting a panel on Management Liability for the 2013 IRMI Energy Conference and participating as a panelist for a Cyber-focused session at the Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) national conference in 2017. She has authored multiple coverage articles ranging from Cyber, the Energy Sector and Contractors Professional and is part of a team responsible for developing, negotiating, and coordinating enhancement endorsements and cyber policy reviews with partner insurance carriers.

She has also developed a proprietary Cyber coverage solution, and is co-creator of the first modern Cyber Umbrella policy (an AmWINS Exclusive Product – CyberUP) which is an entirely new type of insurance policy designed to address gaps caused by silent cyber throughout an Insured’s program.

About AmWINS:

  • Largest wholesaler in the United States with over $20B in annual written premium
  • Specific industry vertical dedicated to Construction which writes several billion in annual premium for coverage solutions tailored to the design/ construction/ and contracting space
  • Offers many proprietary cyber programs including:
  • CyberUP: silent cyber solution and cyber-triggered umbrella product
  • Contractors’ BluePrint which is a combination E&O, Pollution, EPLI and Cyber product designed to meet the specific needs of Insureds operating as General Contractors to Artisan Sub-Contractors and everything in between



Mark Pace

Mark Pace

Bio: Mark Pace, a 4th generation of a 96-year-old, family-owned heavy highway construction company in Virginia. Mark has 36 years of experience as well as owner of several other complementary companies that vary from blasting to physical fitness. He also serves on multiple boards throughout Virginia. Mark is married to his wife Amy of 25 years and has two children in college, Nicholas 22 and Megan 20 (GO HOKIES). When he isn’t digging ditches, he enjoys snow skiing, kiteboarding and painting.



Nesha Pai

Nesha Pai

Bio: Nesha Pai is the founder of Pai CPA, PLLC in Charlotte, NC. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from NC State University and has held her CPA license since 1996, after passing her first attempt at the exam as a senior. She began her career and cultivated her passion for helping businesses within the world-renowned accounting firm Arthur Andersen, and later within multiple, privately held Fortune 500 companies as a business consultant, relationship facilitator, and accounting analyst. She realized she had a strong pull towards the small business and entrepreneurial sector.

Since starting her own firm in 2011, Nesha has continued nourishing her vision and the business growth of the Queen City by creating Pai Networking Group in 2017, and launching a podcast series, ‘Piece of the Pai,’ that focuses on successful Charlotte entrepreneurs sharing their business insight. In January 2020, Nesha published her book “Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles”, which won the award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category by the American Book Fest. She has been a Charlotte resident since 1993, and recently was named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women of 2020 in the Mecklenburg Times. Nesha is a proud mom of a son, graduating in Engineering, from her alma mater, NC State University.



Charles Renner

Charles Renner

Bio: Charles Renner has played a leading role in facilitating significant public-private partnerships (P3) across the United States. He conducts an annual survey and analysis on P3 projects nationwide and continuously evaluates trends and best practices for the unique financing tool. Charles applies his findings when advising clients and communities on projects that serve the lasting interests of businesses, government, and people.

Charles is the chair of the firm’s Public-Private Partnership team, and has a broad experience working with complex development incentives such as community improvement districts and tax increment financing. His approach is collaborative, seeking true long-term partnerships with mutually beneficial outcomes for all public and private stakeholders.



Michael Riegel

Michael Riegel, ACC PMP

NAWIC Partner

Bio: With over 30 years of experience building and leading cross functional teams to deliver critical projects, Michael now partners with organizations and leaders to develop practical solutions and exceed their goals by embracing the philosophy of “what got you here won’t get you there.”

Michael Riegel is a coach, consultant, author, speaker and project management expert with 30 years of experience working across industries delivering projects and programs for internal and external clients. He has developed and expertise in managing technical professionals and creating teams to deliver projects and meet organizational goals. Michael began and built his career on the ability to develop practical solutions to complex projects. Michael implemented and managed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Small Business Development Program where he delivered coaching and mentoring services to emerging companies and small business owners in the construction industry. Michael provides coaching, training, mentoring, and consulting services to multiple organizations including Amazon, Apple, Fox Home Team Sports, Columbia University, NYC Small Business Services, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Washington Gas and Light, Railroad Construction Company, National Association of Women in Construction, and Professional Women in Construction.

Michael’s approach to coaching, consulting, and mentoring combines his natural intellectual curiosity (to fully understand the “what” and the “why”), analytical skills (to accelerate development of options and develop a framework for goal attainment), and his ability to personally connect with his clients. Michael tailors his approach to each client’s individual needs and set of circumstances and lives by the motto “what got here won’t get you there” both personally and professionally.

His book, Build Like the Big Primes – A Contractor’s Guide to Building Your Business While Balancing Your Life, focuses on helping construction professionals make the transition from “contractor” to “business owner”. The book takes the reader through the core elements of the business end of the business with usable tips, techniques, and approaches that help the business owner reach their potential and learn from the experience of similar companies. His latest writing project is Half Baked: A to Z Lessons from a Professional Coach and Amateur Baker and it can be found on LinkedIn.

Michael earned his MBA at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and is a certified Project Management Professional. He is a certified coach through the International Coach Federation and completed the Master Trainer program through the Association of Talent Development. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Deborah and their rescue dog Nash. If he was not supporting leaders and organizations, Michael would be chasing natural disasters and helping communities recover – essentially creating order out of chaos– similar to helping his clients create order in their personal and professional lives.



Purvi Shah

Purvi Shah

Bio: Purvi Shah helps clients realize complex real estate and construction projects, one strategic contract at a time. She works closely with real estate, lender and construction clients, acting as legal counsel and business advisor through every step of the transaction and strategically analyzes, negotiates and drafts sophisticated, customized, multiparty commercial contracts. She advises clients on real estate and business loan workout transactions, and construction-related services for a variety of projects including commercial real estate, warehouse and distribution facilities, hangars, arenas, manufacturing and assembly centers, and government buildings, including office and maintenance space. Purvi assists and collaborates with lenders, executives, in-house counsel, architects, project managers, developers, manufacturers, engineers, and general contractors. Further, Purvi also assists public and private sector clients in public-private partnership (P3) projects.

Before joining Husch Blackwell, Purvi was in-house counsel for a steel manufacturing and construction company. In that role, she provided general counsel, including day-to-day business needs, risk analysis, compliance and regulations, and anticorruption and business conduct training. She was a trusted advisor to senior management and gained firsthand knowledge of what clients expect, how to work with senior leadership, and how to mitigate and manage business risk. Purvi draws on that experience as she helps clients think through and attain their goals. Clients appreciate her ability to see the complete picture of any project, from conception to completion. They also value her prompt response and willingness to go the extra mile.



Andy Sterlen


Bio: Andy has over 20 years of experience in industrial hygiene in the chemical industry. In his role as a health education specialist for NC OSH, he instructs many widely varied topics from chemical hygiene and PSM to crane inspections and steel erection. He began his career as a R&D and process chemist in the field of polymer chemistry. After graduate school at NCSU in Pulp and Paper and Chemical Engineering, he returned to industry as a plant manager and lead engineer where he managed chemical production, plant construction, as well as Process Safety Management and chemical hygiene.

He has authored several published papers, holds 7 US patents in polymer chemistry and has MESH certifications in General Industry, Construction and Industrial Hygiene as well as being a certified OSHA Construction Safety Specialist. For fun, Andy enjoys traveling across the United States playing Australian Rules football for the North Carolina Tigers in the USAFL.



Piljo Yae

Piljo Yae

Bio: Piljo Yae started in the construction industry as an Interior Designer; however, she quickly learned that her structural steel knowledge was minimal, so she decided to take a position with a structural steel company to acquire technical knowledge and business skills. She worked her way into a Sr. Project Manager position in the structural steel industry and then into Construction Management as a Project Manager/Superintendent.

She has been involved in projects, such as the Philadelphia Convention Center Expansion Project, The Barns Foundation, The Triborough Bridge (now called RFK Bridge), The Erie Canal Locks and Gates, The Champlain Canal Locks and Gates, and many more.

She also is serving as the NAWIC Northeast Regional marketing co-chair and is responsible for updating the NAWIC Northeast Regional websites. Currently, she is taking a sabbatical and plans to finish hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in summer 2021.

Piljo studied Architectural Interior Design at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY.