Keynote Speakers

Kelsi Cowan
Kelsi Cowan
Educator

Kelsi Cowan

Kelsi Cowan is an educator at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, AR. She joined the team in April 2016 and has developed into one of the most dynamic, in-demand educators the museum has ever employed. She has been the featured educator in outreach presentations to the largest audiences in museum history.

Kelsi also is the museum’s weekend manager, overseeing all museum gallery and classroom activities on Saturdays, the busiest day of the week at the museum. In that role, she supervises a staff of nine part-time educators who deliver science demonstrations, Tesla Theater shows and serve as birthday party hosts. Kelsi also presents the weekly Wiggle Worms program for Museum of Discovery visitors aged 6 and younger and their families.

Kelsi graduated in 2014 with a B.S. in recreation, park and tourism sciences from Texas A&M University in College Station.

Edward DeJesus
Edward DeJesus
Author & Speaker

Edward DeJesus

More than 100,000 educators, policy-makers, and young adults unanimously agree that DeJesus’ message about reclaiming the lost economic fortunes of America’s youth is urban, powerful and unapologetic. DeJesus is a top speaker at over 20 major youth conferences each year. As a former VIBE magazine editor puts it: “DeJesus’ message hits home with the weight of a building falling on your head. And once every brick has touched down, audiences will have a clear idea of what must be done.”

Thirty years of experience in the trenches in some of the toughest neighborhoods and policy-making environments has prepared DeJesus to reveal the true social, political and cultural dynamics that keep so many youth from educational and workforce success. Through creative and inspirational storytelling mixed with cold hard facts, DeJesus argues that every community has the seeds to set up the structures that make a difference in their youth’s future. And, through his message, audiences learn how to make these seeds grow.

Edward DeJesus is the President of Edward DeJesus Seminars and Consulting. DeJesus and his team work to improve programs and policies for youth and young adults. DeJesus is a W.K. Kellogg Foundation National Fellow and holds a MS in management and urban policy analysis from the New School for Social Research. He is the author of the best-selling book, "MAKiN’ iT" as well as the author of several publications on issues affecting marginalized young adults.

DeJesus was born and raised in The Bronx, NY where he started his career in several major youth initiatives in the South Bronx, Harlem and Washington Heights sections of New York City. Later, DeJesus expanded his innovative and ground breaking work across the U.S., including rural areas everywhere.

He has blended his love for reaching youth with a special ability to impact policy by conducting research on effective programs that help youth acquire and maintain jobs. DeJesus served as a youth policy expert for the Sar Levitan Center for Youth Policy at John Hopkin's University and served on the Task Force on Employment Opportunities for young offenders for the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. He has served as a consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the U.S. Dept. of Labor, and the National Education Association.

DeJesus is a father of six and a competitive Ironman triathlete.

Cyrus Habib
Cyrus Habib
Lt. Governor

Cyrus Habib

Cyrus Habib was elected Washington state’s 16th Lt. Governor in November 2016 at the age of 35. A former legislator, Lt. Governor Habib represented east King County in both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate, where he served as Democratic Whip and a member of the Democratic leadership team.

In his role as Lt. Governor, he presides over the State Senate, serves as acting-Governor in the event of the Governor’s absence, and maintains a portfolio of key issues including Veteran and Disability Employment, Access to Higher Education and Creating a College-Going Culture, and Economic Development, Trade, and International Relations.

In this capacity, Lt. Governor Habib has traveled nationally and internationally marketing Washington state and strengthening trade relationships that ensure our economy flourishes, and that Washington remains a globally-facing, globally-competitive state. As a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Consular Association of Washington, and the Trade Development Alliance, Lt. Governor Habib maintains relationships with the diplomatic community in Washington state and nationally, welcomes foreign dignitaries to the state, and works to promote international trade and foreign direct investment.

A three-time cancer survivor, Lieutenant Governor Habib has been fully blind since age eight. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Iran before he was born, and he is both the first and only Iranian-American official to hold statewide elected office in the United States. He is the youngest presiding officer in the country, and has been recognized as a political rising star by multiple publications including the Washington Post and Governing Magazine. He is a graduate of Columbia University, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School.

Kris Johnson
Kris Johnson
President & CEO

Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson is the president & CEO of Association of Washington Business. Johnson joined the Association of Washington Business in July 2010, first serving as the vice president, operations. He then was named president in January 2014.

In his capacity as AWB president & CEO, Kris serves on the following boards/groups of Governor Career Connect Washington Task Force, Washington Health Care Forum, Washington Research Council, Forterra Inc., ReadyNation, American Chamber of Commerce Executives, Enterprise WA, Independent Colleges of Washington, WA Business Week, Council of State Manufacturer Association, Council of State Chambers, and National Association of Manufacturers SAG Executive Committee.

Prior to joining AWB, Johnson was the president and CEO of the Saint Paul Area (MN) Chamber of Commerce. There, Johnson led initiatives resulting in state and federal funding for the Central Corridor Partnership, which brought light rail transit from downtown Minneapolis to downtown Saint Paul. He led a comprehensive rebranding effort of the chamber and played a key role during the 2008 Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities. Johnson was also a member of the Twin Cities leadership team that helped secure funding for reconstruction of the I-35 W Mississippi River Bridge, which collapsed suddenly in 2007.

Before his work in Saint Paul, Johnson served as president and CEO of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce. It was there that Johnson led a regional chamber merger, resulting in the formation of the new Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, representing the interests of more than 1,250 businesses from five states.

From 1997-2002, Johnson served as manager of government/public affairs at the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce where he led advocacy efforts on local ballot issues and developed a grassroots program.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Montana-Western and the U.S. Chamber Institute program. In 2003, Johnson earned his certification as a chamber executive by the Institute for Organizational Management from the American Chamber of Commerce. In 2009, Johnson was selected as a Fellow for the Ford Foundation’s focus on Regional Sustainability Development.

Johnson, his wife Katie, son Logan and daughters Ellie and Alexa, are residents of Olympia.

Mark McManus
Mark McManus
General President

Mark McManus

In August 2016, Mark McManus was unanimously elected General President of the United Association (UA) at the UA's 39th General Convention and on November 10, 2016, he assumed his new position. General President McManus represents over 340,000 Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinklerfitters, Welders and HVAC Service Technicians across the United States and Canada.

Mark began his career with the UA in 1983 when he was initiated into Plumbers Local 24 in Newark, New Jersey. He was elected Business Agent in 1994 and Business Manager in 1997. His talents and leadership brought him to the United Association General Office in 2007 where he has served as International Representative and Administrative Assistant to the General President. He most recently served a five‐year term as General Secretary-Treasurer.

As General President Mark McManus is responsible for supervising the day-to-day affairs of the United Association and for decisions concerning internal union governance, as well as rendering decisions and adjusting disputes and other matters affecting the organization. He is the Chairman of the UA General Executive Board, UA Strategic Planning Committee and is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees on multiple UA pension Funds. Mark McManus supervises the development and implementation of all major policies and programs of the United Association including the industry leading UA Veterans in Piping®(VIP) Program.

In addition, he serves as Vice President of the Executive Council of the Metal Trades Department and is a member of the Building Trades’ Governing Board of Presidents and serves on the Board of Directors of Helmets to Hardhats.

Mark and the UA are extremely active in all aspects of the political world – National, State and Local, in a bipartisan manner.

Mark McManus has had a distinguished career in support of our nation's hard working men and women and is unwavering in his commitment to a strong and mutually beneficial partnership between labor and management.

Chris Reykdal
Chris Reykdal
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Chris Reykdal

Chris Reykdal was born and raised in Snohomish, Washington as the youngest of eight children. He has served as a high school history teacher, local school board member, state legislator, and budget and education policy executive for our state’s community and technical college system. Chris has dedicated his entire career to public education, and he is currently serving in his first term as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Chris and his wife, Kim, live in historic Tumwater with their two children, Carter and Kennedy.

Chris graduated summa cum laude from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in social studies and a teaching certificate, and he earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. He coached both youth and adult soccer for several years, he volunteered as a local city planning commissioner, and he had the honor of serving as a trustee for the College Spark Washington Foundation for six years.

Chris leads a team at OSPI that is committed to opening up multiple pathways to high school graduation beyond the “university for all” approach. To do this and truly embrace all students, Chris is leading the charge to expand technical education opportunities and to decrease our reliance on standardized tests that label our students. Additionally, he is building broad coalitions that are working to close opportunity gaps through critical policy and budget changes.

Contact

We are looking forward to talking to you. Do you have questions? Just drop us an email and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Event Address

7016 W Grandridge Blvd, Kennewick, WA