Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote

Monday, October 28 | 9:00 am - 10:00 am 

Walker Ashley, Professor, Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment, Northern Illinois University

Victor Gensini, Associate Professor, Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment, Northern Illinois University

Weather Research as a Catalyst for Discovery, Workforce Development, and Upward Mobility 

The Weather, Climate, Society research group at Northern Illinois University explores innovative social and physical science methods to understand extreme weather events and their impacts on society. A world-renowned research group at an emerging research institution, the group focuses on advancing new knowledge while simultaneously providing students with opportunities to conduct the highest quality research alongside faculty. 

Drs. Ashley and Gensini will explore the historical evolution of scientific understanding regarding weather hazards and disasters and highlight how shifts in perspectives and conceptualizations over the last century have influenced policy making. Using extreme storms as an example, they will discuss the interplay between changing peril risk, the expanding human-built landscape, and the escalating potential for weather disasters and how their research group is partnering with weather-sensitive industries to empower decision-making in corporate environments. The complexity associated with these partnerships and the research funding necessary to support them requires crucial support and expertise from a wide range of partners. Drs. Ashley and Gensini will explain how institutional and public investments facilitate this work and the importance of research administrators in seeking solutions to a host of challenges spanning computing resources, intellectual property, data sharing agreements, and media engagement.   

Dr. Walker Ashley is a Distinguished Teaching and Research, Scholarship, and Artistry Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment at Northern Illinois University. He is an atmospheric scientist and disaster geographer with interests in hazards and societal interactions, severe storms, and applied climatology and meteorology. His research team uses an interdisciplinary approach, employing techniques that span the social and physical sciences—from qualitative, survey-based research to the use of computer algorithms on remotely sensed data and numerical model output generated via high-performance computing. His scholarship characterizes the distributions of hazardous weather phenomena, their societal impacts, and how, ultimately, disasters will change in the 21st century. He serves as editor for two American Meteorological Society journals: Weather and Forecasting and Weather, Climate, and Society. He is an avid storm chaser and has an affinity for time lapsing all skyscapes. He also provides expert weather consulting services to a variety of industries and individuals impacted by weather and climate and holds the American Meteorological Society’s Certified Consulting Meteorologist designation.  

Victor Gensini, an associate professor of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment at Northern Illinois University, is a trailblazing researcher whose work is providing new insights into tornado and hail forecasting. Tornado and hail events are often life-threatening and cause over $10 billion in insured losses each year across the United States.

In 2018, he led a study showing U.S. tornado frequency is changing across the United States. Gensini is also at the forefront of research into long-term prediction of violent weather, seeking to hone forecasts up to a month before storms arrive. His research has attracted more than $1 million in funding from private companies and federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation.

As a gifted communicator, and because of his expertise, Gensini is often in the news media, including the Associated Press, the New York Times and the PBS Newshour. Over a recent two-year period, he was quoted in the media, or his work cited, roughly 8,000 times. 
Dr. Gensini is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist, a distinction shared by fewer than 250 scientists worldwide. He serves as editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, associate editor of the journal Weather and Forecasting, and chair of the American Meteorological Society’s committee on severe local storms. Gensini is also owner and sole-proprietor of WeatherAlerts LLC, a startup focused on expert witness testimony, consulting, and alerting customers of pending weather threats. 

Closing Keynote

Wednesday, October 30 | 9:00 am - 10:00 am  

Kristin Scroggin, Generational Diversity Consultant, genWHY Communication Strategies 

Attracting, Retaining, and Navigating a Multi-Generational Workforce 

Join us for a riveting presentation where Generational Expert Kristin Scroggin “spills the tea” on top-notch strategies to attract and retain the next greatest generation of employees for your institution. Kristin will guide you through the Roadmap to Retaining Rockstars, ensuring you're equipped to conquer the challenge of retention in today’s dynamic world. We will explore the importance of branding, job descriptions, and interviews to your future success, as well as vital training topics that can impact the health of your organization.
Communicating across generational norms can be challenging, and these norms vary drastically across countries. Kristin will also address these complexities, providing insights into navigating these differences effectively. Trust us; you won’t want to miss this game-changing session.

Learning objectives:
•    Attendees will explore the significance of identifying future leaders in their early career stages and learn how to nurture and train them for long-term organizational success. 
•    Attendees will discover the top 10 abilities to ask about during the interview process, ensuring they bring in the right talent from the start. 
•    Attendees will learn how to enhance their institution’s branding, job descriptions, and interview processes to align with contemporary expectations and improve recruitment outcomes.

Kristin Scroggin is huge fan of Generational Diversity, armed with a Communication Studies master's degree from the University of Alabama and a bachelor's from Montevallo in decoding GenZ slang and millennial emojis.  Kristin embarked on her research endeavors during her almost 20-year tenure as a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville before giving birth to her company, genWHY Communications in 2017. 

Kristin has a passion for decoding the generational enigma and is known for her straight-talk speaking style and wicked twist of humor. Kristin has been on stages in 42 states, left her mark in 3 countries, and sprinkled her wisdom across more than 160 conferences for 350+ diverse organizations. From Fortune 500 giants to pint-sized non-profits, she's been there, done that, and left an indelible impression.

Published in magazines, guest on multiple podcasts, and the workhorse behind groundbreaking research, Kristin isn't just about speaking – she's about making waves in the world of succession planning and leadership program development. 

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