Speaker List and Biographies

Presentation: Third-Party Logistics and the Supply Chain Industry

President and Chief Executive Officer, Wagner Logistics

Brian Smith, President and CEO of Wagner Logistics (Kansas City, MO, USA), is a logistics executive with over 20 years of experience in private distribution, logistics consulting, and 3rd party logistics. Throughout his career, he has saved companies millions of dollars by bringing a direct, engineered, and common-sense approach to business challenges. Brian joined Wagner Logistics in 2005 (formerly a family-owned, Kansas City based 3rd Party Logistics provider) and served in various management roles before becoming the first-ever non-family member CEO in the company’s 70+ year history.

Presentation: Feminism: A Global Movement

Professor of Religious Studies and Gender Studies; Chair of the School
of Humanities

Leslie Dorrough Smith, Ph.D., is Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the School of Humanities at Avila University (Kansas City, MO, USA), where she also directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program. She earned her Ph.D. in Religious Studies and a Doctoral Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research has focused primarily on American evangelicals and their impact on sex, gender, and reproductive policy. Her most recent publication is a textbook on the World Religions with co-author Steven W. Ramey (University of Alabama). In addition, she has also authored four other books and many scholarly and popular articles, most of which are related to the topics of religion and gender.

Presentation: The Business of International Higher Education
Chairman, InUni Global

David Fisher is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of InUni Global, an international marketing and recruiting company of Global University Systems, one of the world’s largest international higher education systems, a billion-dollar organization serving over 100,000 students. David is a Chartered Global Management Accountant with expertise in business strategy.

Presentation: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Johnson & Johnson

Ibraheem (Ib) is a servant leader, prolific inventor, entrepreneur, and early-stage healthcare investor whose career spans many years in different roles in the medtech ecosystem. Currently, leads Johnson & Johnson MedTech R & D External Innovation programs. He’s also a scientist, holder of multiple patents and previously a Research Fellow on innovation strategy and a the lead inventor for DERMABOND Advanced. Couple of his early stage investments were acquired by Johnson & Johnson and now commercialized.

Hassen Dhrif
Presentation: Design Breakthrough Products with Generative AI & Multimodal System

Hassen Dhrif is a results-driven Applied Science Leader with over 20 years of experience spearheading innovation in Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). He has proven ability to translate cutting-edge concepts into real-world applications, particularly in Generative AI and Multi-Modality solutions with a focus delivering tangible business value. He is skilled in utilizing advanced techniques such as autonomous AI agents (self-directed AI programs), Reinforcement Learning (training AI through trial and error), and Fine-Tuning Optimization (optimizing AI models for specific tasks and domains) to bring AI solutions to life.

Presentation: Regression Analysis: Understanding and Building Business and Economic Models.

Professor Emeritus in Economics (retired), University of Notre Dame

Lawrence Marsh is Professor Emeritus in Economics at the University of Notre Dame where he taught from 1975 to 2005. He served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business in 2010 and in 2016-2017 at Avila University in statistics and research methods in psychology. He is the author of several books, most recently Money Flow in a Dynamic Economy (2023).

Presentation: Community Engagement: An Arab-American Perspective

President at Chief Executive Officer, National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce

David Hamod is President and Chief Executive Officer of the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), the world’s preeminent organization for fostering trade and investment between the United States and the 22 countries of the Arab world. In addition to his Washington DC-based consulting firm, Mr. Hamod worked with the US Chamber of Commerce, IBM, the Brookings Institution, and the New York Times.

Presentation: The Future of Global Commerce

Vice President, Strategy and Growth, Kantar Consulting LLC

Christine Ojile is Vice President, Growth & Strategy-Retail practice at the London-based Kantar Group. Christine works with top-tier clients across a variety of industry verticals and markets. She interfaces with Kantar divisions to align solutions for clients’ retail/shopper/category insights and capabilities development needs, and works on special projects to support Kantar’s strategic initiatives. Christine was formerly a Regional VP for the “Syndicated” Solutions Client Development team, a Product Director for Kantar Retail’s Share Groups, eLearning Libraries, and “live” Event Conferences offers. Before joining Kantar (legacy MVI) in 2002, Christine spent 19 years with Hallmark Cards in sales, training, product and trade marketing, and project management roles. Her experience included assignments of increasing responsibility in both North America and international arenas.

Presentation: Artificial Intelligence: Promise, Peril and Issues

Leader, Artificial Intelligence Governance, IBM

Georg Olowson is passionate about fostering responsible AI innovation that positively impacts society. He is leading IBM’s Trustworthy AI community with 85+ experts in the DACH region. Georg is spearheading the Data & AI Partner business in DACH, shaping partnerships and driving strategic growth, in the area of Generative AI, Data and AI Governance.

Presentation: Business Beyond Borders: Navigating the Cosmos

Chief Executive Officer, Edge of Space

Stephan is the CEO and co-founder at Edge of Space, which provides STEAM access to Space. He is also the CEO and Co-founder of Angelus Funding, a trust-based global angel network investing in innovative, impactful companies. He is a member of the Global Business Angels Network. He is also the Executive Director of Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Space, a universal network of ecosystems for Astropreneurs. As the CEO of the non-profit Transform Poverty Global, he is focused on finding market-based entrepreneurial solutions that address global poverty and other United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Stephan serves on the board of directors of numerous impactful companies, including Spring Health India and the University Corpora- tion for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). He is an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University, teaching graduate MBA entrepreneurial skills.

Presentation: Political & Legal Influence of SMEs in the United States and Abroad

Vice President, Small Business Policy,US Chamber of Commerce

Tom Sullivan heads small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Sullivan’s career in small business advocacy spans 40-years n regulatory and legislative work from both the public and private sectors. Nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Tom headed the Office of Advocacy, an independent small business policy and legal office within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), from 2002-2008. Tom serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN).

Presentation: The Legacy of Hannibal Barca
Ph.D. President, Avila University

Jim Burkee, Ph.D. leads Avila University as its 15th President. A first-generation college student, Burkee grew up in a working-class Wisconsin family and earned his college degree studying business and history at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin. He received a fellowship at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, which he describes as “one of the greatest gifts of my life” to study American history. With 25 years in higher education, Burkee has held most academic leadership positions and senior-level administrative roles responsible for strategic planning, business and academic partnership development, and enrollment. In 2011, Burkee briefly left academia to partner in managing his family’s multi-million dollar business as managing partner and chief operating officer. He returned to higher education in 2013 after successfully leading the company.

Presentation: The Legacy of Hannibal Barca

Director of International Cooperation, Tunisia Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research 

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