Annual Conference - Presenters

Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Hours: 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Location: Albany Capital Center at 55 Eagle St, Albany, NY 12207

Complete Session Details and Exhibitor List are available on our Virtual Marketplace! Register your free account to engage and connect!

Meet our 2021 Speakers!

Anniedi Essien, Chief Swagger Officer | Well-being & Career Strategist | Women's Leadership | Keynote Speaker
Idem Spark

Anniedi Essien empowers busy professionals who've lost their mojo and are ready to not only have their dream job but have their DREAM LIFE. For over 20 years Anniedi has led individuals, organizations, and communities to level up their well-being. You could say she's a visionary strategist, with the 10,000-foot some brass-tacks let's-get-it-done honey! Anniedi is able to do this work because she's been there. After years as an exec and a brutal layoff, she was burnt out, weighed down, and missing her sparkle. She quickly learned that watching life pass by is NOT her jam.

She shed 50 pounds, launched Idem Spark, and channeled two decades of corporate wellness expertise into helping game-changers like YOU reclaim their health, rock their career, and get their sparkle on!

Her work has been recognized by the American Association for World Health and the World Health Organization, and she's a trusted advisor to C-level executives, business leaders, and Fortune 10 clients. As well as a yogi and a karaoke enthusiast.

Christina Farinacci-Roberts, Founder | Diversity & Inclusion Strategist | Equity Game Changer
Head Heart Hands Consulting LLC

Christina Farinacci-Roberts, the founder of Head Heart Hands Consulting LLC (HHH), is a 20-year veteran educator and a champion of Equity and Excellence for All. As a consultant, she advises senior executive clients to create equitable systems and inclusive structures for diverse stakeholders. This has enabled their organizations to remove barriers and shape cultures that drive substantive change and fuel sustainable growth. Christina’s use of the Wellness Inclusion Diversity and Equity (WIDE) framework and approach are rooted in educational pedagogy, critical race theory, and HeartMath.

Prior to founding HHH, Christina was the principal and CEO of a local charter high school where she advanced leadership and closed achievement gaps for girls of color. Christina has a proven track record for turning around institutions that were struggling to attain equitable outcomes. In New York City, she worked as a principal and former teacher in some of the most underperforming and historically underserved districts. Both positions required her to engage in successful change management through completely transforming the organizations’ culture to create a common vision, sense of urgency, and strong community.

Lastly, Christina’s passion for increasing DEI in all industries is grounded in her experience as the child of an immigrant mother. Christina has seen firsthand the challenges that racism and discrimination can produce but also the ways in which they can be fought and reduced, as well as the life-changing outcomes it can create.

Kathy Febraio CAE, President/CEO
NYS Association of Health Care Providers (HCP)

Kathy Febraio is a Certified Association Executive with over 20 years of leadership experience in association and trade group management. Before joining HCP, Kathy served as the Executive Director for the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, Inc. and as the Executive Director of the NYS Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Inc. Prior to that she led communication, public relations, and marketing efforts for the State University of New York System Administration, Office of Learning Environments in Albany and the NYS Credit Union League in Latham. Kathy has also been active in her local community, serving on the board of the American Marketing Association, Capital Region Chapter, and on the Advisory Committee for Emerging Issues in the Nonprofit Sector at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy. More recently she has served in various roles on the board of the Empire State Society of Association Executives, including Chair and Board Director.

Gabrielle Fisher, Founder

Gabby Fisher is a serial entrepreneur rooted in tourism, social impact, and economic development. Gabby serves as the Associate Director of the Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy, the Founder of co-mads, a marketing company that connects travel brands to Gen Z & millennial consumers, and she is also the Co-Founder of Capital Heart Connection, a community that brings Capital Region singles together via in-person events that support small, local business across the region. You may also recognize her as she is the social media manager for ESSAE!

Jeremy Johannesen CAE, Executive Director
New York Library Association

After serving as Deputy Director of NYLA from 2005 – ‘08, Johannesen left to lead the NYS Alliance for Arts Education. Jeremy returned to NYLA in 2012, assuming the role of Executive Director. Johannesen holds his BS in Arts Education from the College of Saint Rose and is recognized as a Certified Association Executive (CAE) by the American Society of Association Executives. When not working for libraries, Jeremy volunteers for them, serving as the President of his hometown Friends of Bethlehem Public Library.

Jennifer Martin, MBA, CAE, Executive Director
New York School Nutrition Association 

Jennifer has been in association management since 2011 and the Executive Director of NYSNA since 2014. She is an expert in the areas of governance, administration, iced coffee, and Harry Potter. Under her leadership, the NYSNA has been recognized for various achievements at both the state and national levels and has seen considerable growth.  Jennifer has also been recognized by various industries for her work, including being named a national 40 Under 40 recipient through Association Forum.


Christine Saunders, MPhil, MSc, CSC, CM, President & CEO

Halmyre President Christine Saunders is an expert in methodologies that successfully persuade end-users to change their behaviors. Her approach is to drive at insights that are actionable for clients and to provide long-term strategic planning for brands with immediate impact.

She specializes in not-for-profits, public services, and knowledge-based businesses that often require a smart blend of communications and marketing to make the most of their modest budgets. And, she is adept at supporting clients who often have complicated internal decision-making structures.

The recipient of awards for integrated and interactive marketing & communications for education, municipal services, and financial services, Christine is a sought-after speaker on the emerging trends that impact real-world marketing departments. She has been responsible for all key facets of marketing and understands the challenges faced by clients working for large, public institutions.

Christine is a graduate of the University of King’s College, Halifax, Nova Scotia (BAH); the University of Edinburgh (MSc), and the University of Glasgow (MPhil). She holds her Canadian Securities Course designation in financial services and has been awarded the premier marketing status of Chartered Marketer by the Canadian Marketing Association for experienced and distinguished marketing leaders.

Margaret D. Stephenson, Esq., Senior Associate Counsel
Dowling Law, PLLC

Ms. Stephenson advises and represents not-for-profit organizations and for-profit corporations on employment and other matters in various federal and state courts and agencies. Ms. Stephenson also focuses her work on affirmative action compliance for federal government contractors and subcontractors, developing, maintaining, and advising contractors on Executive Order 11246, Section 503, and VEVRAA-compliant affirmative action plans. Ms. Stephenson previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney at the Warren County District Attorney’s office, where she prosecuted numerous matters throughout the North Country.  She is an active member of the Adirondack Women's Bar Association, previously serving as Vice President and President, and currently serving as Treasurer, and is a member of the Junior League of Albany. 

Theresa Russo, Co-Managing Partner and CEO
Shenker Russo & Clark LLP

Theresa is Co-Managing Partner and CEO of Shenker Russo & Clark LLP, a Government Affairs and Hospitality Law Firm with over 15 Attorneys and Professionals. Since founding the firm, Theresa has guided the firm’s growth and solidified its position as one of New York State’s most respected and successful firms.

As Co-Managing Partner and CEO, she focuses on key client relationships, attracting and retaining top legal talent to serve the firm’s clients, and developing the firm’s strategic direction. Theresa is committed to preserving a culture that fosters collaboration and an entrepreneurial spirit, earning “Best Place to Work” awards two years in a row by the Albany Business Review.

Theresa leads the Firm’s Alcohol Beverage Licensing and Hospitality Law Practice and over the course of her career, she has provided these legal services to restaurants, bars, hotels, caterers, cruise lines, liquor stores, wholesalers, and other businesses on a broad array of alcohol law issues. Theresa has helped businesses navigate the often complex liquor licensing process, providing her clients with peace of mind and significant savings in time and money.

Theresa’s Government Affairs experience gives her deep insight into her clients’ most challenging legal issues and helps her formulate creative solutions by negotiating, litigating, or changing laws and regulations. Great client service is the law for Theresa, who ensures her team’s accessibility and expects phone calls and emails to be returned promptly.

Theresa has also served as a lobby law compliance officer for more than a decade, providing guidance to the firm and its clients on a wide spectrum of issues and acting as in-house lobby law counsel to many companies in New York State -training employees, establishing systems for capturing and reporting lobbying activity and representing clients in audits and investigations. She routinely interfaces with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) and the Office of the City Clerk in New York City.

She has assisted clients throughout New York State and New York City with Alcohol Beverage licensing and lobby law compliance and has become one of the state’s leading attorneys in those areas. Before founding Shenker Russo & Clark, Theresa Russo worked for Wilson Elser’s Government Relations practice and established the firm’s Hospitality practice. Previously Theresa worked in the New York City Legislative Office under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and with former Governor David A. Paterson during his tenure as Deputy Minority Leader of the New York State Senate.

Pete Zimek, Founder & CEO
Novi AMS

Pete Zimek, CAE is the founder and CEO of Novi AMS. He has been an active participant in over dozen associations, volunteering in roles ranging from committee chair to President.

During one association’s strategic planning session in 2015, Pete was “voluntold” to build the first association management software to truly integrate with QuickBooks. Six years later, Novi AMS powers over 170 associations across the United States and is the only AMS approved by Intuit for the QuickBooks App Store.

In 2009, Pete founded iLS Network, a collective of online apartment guides that today serves over 30,000 renters per month in their search to find their next home.  In a prior life, despite the fact that he’s actually allergic to milk, Pete owned and operated two Ben & Jerry’s franchise stores.

Pete received his bachelor’s degree in History and his master’s in Management, both from the University of Florida. A transplant originally from New Orleans, Pete has made Florida his home with his wife Jennifer and daughters Olivia and Alexis.