Cast of Characters

Our line up is truly representative of not just Iowa – but the Midwest and the best of the best anywhere!  Here’s just a little info about each of them.

Aaron Steinmann is the Marketing & Communications Manager for Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area, an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service dedicated to preserving America’s agricultural story in a 37-county region of Northeast Iowa. Steinmann has held a variety of positions in the communications field from Staff Photojournalist for the Clinton Herald to serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA Community Development Coordinator in Savanna, IL. After graduating from Mount St Clare College with a degree in Marketing Communications, Steinmann began doing freelance marketing and creative work which he continues on a part-time basis. He is also currently working to obtain his Masters through the University of Northern Iowa’s Communication Studies/Public Relations Program with an emphasis on studying how social media is being used by tourism organizations.

Alexander Grgurich -Alexander Grgurich is a young entrepreneur who is passionate about Des Moines. As a college student, Alexander was able to juggle studies and his small business while also getting elected to City Council his senior year. His passion for technology and politics has spurred him to develop a volunteer management application for political campaigns and advocacy groups.

Angela Maiers – Twitter has changed my life; and now I spend a portion of that life trying to help individuals and organization understand the power of this amazing platform. Even more importantly, the power of their voice and place in the world.  When I began my Twitter journey, the farthest thing from my mind was having a global voice. It was a nice place to connect with friends; nothing more or less. Never could I have imagined it would change my life in such profound and prolific ways.  I want to speak at this conference because we have world changing work to do; work that requires human being to do it. If we underestimate our gifts, talents, and contributions, this world can not change in the way we need to to.  If I can help those participating in the conference believe their voice matters, then I have become a part of the solution. I will do what ever needs to be done to make that happen!

Ben Stone -There is a gaping hole in the social media conversation. Nobody is talking about how social tools can be used INSIDE organizations to help organizations leverage the social capital of its members. I want to fill that gap. By 2014, half of our workforce will be Gen Y and they will not be leaving their social selves at the door. From Employee Engagement to Competitive Intelligence, social tools will be the difference makers in the new economy.

Bridget Wagoner – High quality educational systems are fundamental to our progress as a society. Flipping our educational system is an effort that requires collective will and widespread input and commitment. The diversity and progressive nature of audiences at #140 conferences make this an ideal forum in which to challenge fundamental beliefs about education and engender support for and committed action for educational transformation.

Cassie Boorn -Technology has opened up the ability to reach your customers in an entire new way. Small businesses are built on small budgets and limited resources and it is essential that they tap into the opportunities available to them. Cassie Boorn is a Social Media Coordinator at a mid-size PR firm based in New York and works on some of the largest brands in the world helping them reaching consumers online. Cassie currently lives in a small town in Illinois and has had a passion for small businesses, entrepreneurs and teaching people about the social web.

Claire Celsi – Claire Celsi is a public relations professional and Des Moines native. Her consulting firm, The Public Relations Project, assists businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, associations, and educational institutions in developing and implementing social media and public relations programs.  A Drake University alumna, she is a lecturer and adjunct professor at her alma mater, teaching PR and social media courses. Claire also serves on Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications National Advisory Board.

David Murray is Director of Social Web Communications for re:group, an Ann Arbor-based integrated marketing and communications firm. Murray helps clients communicate and navigate their brands through the digital landscape. He is the founder of the Social Media Club Detroit Chapter, he is a member of Detroit’s food blogging team, The Hungry Dudes, and also serves asDirector of Communications for the FutureMidwest Technology Knowledge Conference in Detroit, Michigan.

Aside from being involved in various projects, David is an advocate for education and best practices when it comes to digital and social web communications. He has presented and lead discussions at events across the country including Tedx Lansing, #unGeeked Chicago, SocialBiz World, Social Media Breakfast Toledo, #140Conf Detroit, Ignite events, and more.

David can be found blogging at The Way of theMurr. You can also connect with him on LinkedinTwitter, and Facebook. Currently he lives in Troy, MI with his wife Jenni, and their two cats, Bree and Boo.

Derek Balsey – Derek is the Marketing Specialist / Social Media Manager at Kreg Tool Company and a Board Member of the Des Moines Social Media Club.  Derek’s experience in marketing covers a wide gamut including new-product brand development, print-ad creative, web banner and search advertising, product packaging, point-of-purchase, direct marketing, in-package advertising, direct response TV, and of course social media. Derek has helped Kreg develop an impressive social media presence online including a monthly newsletter being received by over 100,000 Kreg Fans around the globe, a Ning Community with over 30,000 members, and a YouTube Channel with over 2 million views.

Derek is an enthusiastic advocate for integrated marketing plans designed to enrich the customer experience and social media platforms which add measurable value to a company’s bottom line.  You can find Derek tweeting @derekbalsley, on LinkedIn, or helping out his wife Jessica with technical/marketing support over at www.theartofed.com.

Deron Durflinger is the Secondary Principal at Van Meter Schools. This is his 7th year as a principal, and 2nd year at Van Meter.  He is author of the #Vanmeter- Leading the Educational Transformation Blog, and he started the #vanmeter hashtag for Van Meter Schools, which today has thousands of followers and users. Deron is an active member of School Administrators of Iowa, serving on various state level education committees including Iowa’s ARRA EdTech Grant and the Competency Based Learning Advisory Committee. He has spoken at various Iowa school districts and state and national conferences about using social media, in particular Twitter to connect, learn, and lead in the 21st century.

Drew McLellan - Drew McLellan’s a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home. Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow. Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others. Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers. He’s written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books and in 1995, he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group. Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.

Grant Griffiths – n February of 2005 my first blog was born. This blog was used to market and promote my business. Soon blogging became my only form of written advertising because of its reach and effectiveness. What I also discovered was blogging is one of the most powerful marketing tools available for the small business, home business and professional service firm. In fact, I am so sold on the effectiveness of blogging, it is the reason I am co-founder of G2WebMedia.

Greg Vincent -the editor of Agriculture’s Home Page AgWeb, assumed his current role in December 2009. He is responsible for all content associated with the AgWeb brand, which includes the Web site, Web seminars, premium content development and new project initiative.  In 2009 Greg achieved Master Writer status with the American Agricultural Editors Association (AAEA). He is a former member of the AAEA board of directors and currently serves on the organization’s electronic media advisory committee. He is an alumnus of the Missouri Agriculture Leadership of Tomorrow program and is a graduate of Iowa State University.

Greg and Kayci, his wife, live with their three daughters in the Kansas City, Mo. area.

Gus Wagner -@RocketGroup is my twitter handle and Improving Relationship, Graphic, and Communication Strategies for Clients in Business, Politics, and Government is what I do. In short, we create original, affordable and effective communication tools for the real world, print and web applications. My talk in Des Moines is going to focus on #AstroTurfNetRoots – the process of engaging your audience to the point you will be able to call them to real action when you need it. This is something we do in our government relations activities but the process can work  for business too. Our website is RocketGroupLLC.com and we are based in the capitol of Missouri: Jefferson City. I am really looking forward to returning to the #140Conf and Des Moines!

Jeff Caldwell – Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com at Meredith Corporation in Des Moines, Iowa. Responsible for mobile and social extensions of and outreach for our brand as well as our main website and its community. Enjoy cool music, good books and listening to my 3-year-old daughter yell “Rock and roll, dadda!” Life’s good.

Jeff Pulver is the Chairman and Founder of pulver.com, and one of the true pioneers of the VoIP industry and a leader in the emerging TV on the Net industry. Leveraging well over a decade of hands-on experience in Internet/IP communications and innovation, Mr. Pulver is a globally renowned thought leader, author and entrepreneur. His blog is well read within the IP Communications Industry and in high-tech communities around the world. He is the publisher of The Pulver Report and and creator of the industry standard Voice on the Net (VON) events. Additionally, Mr. Pulver is the founder of FWD, the VON CoalitionPrimeTimeRewind.TVVivox and is the co-founder of VoIP provider, Vonage.

Jessica O’Riley – Jessica O’Riley has been involved in the Iowa tourism industry for 14 years, starting with a marketing internship at the Iowa State Fair. After graduating from Iowa State University, she joined the Fair’s full-time staff as a Marketing Coordinator. Four years ago, Jessica joined the Iowa Tourism Office as Communications Manager. She works with travel writers, reporters and bloggers on Iowa-related stories by pitching ideas, fact checking and providing photos. She also coordinates the Tourism Office’s social media efforts including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and blog.

Jim Boyd -Is this not the first one in Iowa? Even if it is not, I am always one who looks for opportunities to speak about the message for not only my employer, WHO, but also the organization I feel passionate about, the Optimist Club.

Jody Halsted – Social media is the most powerful tool I use to share my travel stories and connect with destinations to partner with on upcoming adventures. I want to share the useful applications of social media in terms of travel. I think the results of my experiment will be exciting; I can’t wait to have the experience and share it!


Jo Cheray – Joe Cheray is a 39 year old single mom to an 11 year old son with special needs. She spends her time taking care of him, volunteering in the community and running her company Wildheart Social Media out of her home in Topeka Kansas. She caters to small business owners, home based business, and the solopreneur.

John Carver is Van Meter’s Superintendent of Schools and is committed to transforming education. By providing laptop computers to students in grades 6-12, and computer labs for students in K -5 learning now looks different at Van Meter.  John has shared Van Meter’s experiences at both the state and national level and with Twitter he has connected and learned with educators globally.  John is a member of the School Administrators of Iowa and is serves on the State Competency-based Education Design Team.

Jon Thompson - is the owner of Evolve, an IT Support company focused on the under-supported niche of Mac-based businesses in the Silicon Prairie. He arrived in the social media world in the fall of 2009 with his re-entry in entrepreneurship and, while he describes his social media skills as mediocre at best, has seen results.

Josh Fleming is the co-founder of vineme.com, (vine-me) a social photo sharing site based on timelines. When he’s not trying to archive the world’s photos through crowd-sourced content, Fleming serves as the Director of Digital and Social Media Communications for Des Moines based, Lessing-Flynn. In 2009, Fleming co-founded AdMavericks.com, one of Iowa’s most read marketing blogs.

Karen Smith is a recognized leader in social media at Verizon Wireless. In 2008 she received a mid-year leadership award from the Midwest Area for her initiatives in social media from Verizon Wireless. Karen works within the guidelines of a geographic corporate structure and looks for ways to build local and regional relationships using social media.   As PR manager for Verizon Wireless Great Plains region, Smith is responsible for media coverage about Verizon Wireless in traditional and non-traditional channels.  Smith has been instrumental in Verizon Wireless sponsoring social media communities including Social Media Breakfast Des Moines, iBlogger Conference, Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St. Paul, and Mobile March Twin Cities.

Karen is an Iowa native, from Waterloo and a letter winner in field hockey at the University of Iowa. She has been spotted on many occasion at Hawkeye football games with her mom who is 86.  Smith began her career with a passion for promoting women’s athletics first in sports information and than in marketing with positions at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the University of Minnesota where she served as assistant athletics director for external relations.  She joined the wireless industry in 1998, first as marketing communications manager and than as public relations manager.  Her responsibilities also include employee communications and community relations around Verizon’s corporate cause of domestic violence awareness and prevention.

Keri Holmes and Judy Wrolson – Judy started with a home business and transitioned into a store several years later.  Not sure what she wanted to do with social media, she started with baby steps.  Keri Holmes is her designer, gifted sales person and right hand girl.  Together they are utilizing the power of community, years in retail experience and a commitment to keep it fun!

Lindsey Smith – Lindsey is a freelance exhibit developer and curator at Exhibitsmith, specializing in content development and collections management. In addition to her consulting work, Lindsey is the archivist at Des Moines University and the collections manager at the Iowa Jewish Historical Society. Lindsey is co-chair of the Iowa Museum Association Exhibits and Collections Committee and is a TAN advisor for the State Historical Society of Iowa’s Historical Research Development Program (HRDP). She also leads preservation and exhibit development workshops for professional and community organizations, and manages the blog Museum Minute.   Lindsey received a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University, focusing on collections care and management, material culture, and local history. She is currently pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives & Records Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Lyz Lenz – I’d love the chance to share how Twitter is connecting Iowa to the greater media landscape and I want to encourage Iowans and the internet to embrace technology in one long awkward smooch.

Melynda DeCarlo – The Meyvn Group is committed to growing individuals, teams and organizations. Persoanlly? My goal is to inspire, learn, share and grow.

Michael Libbie - is the president of Insight Advertising, Marketing & Communications a full service advertising agency with clients in the United States and Europe.  Insight advertising goes beyond creating great print ads, websites, television and radio commercials…we help our clients better understand consumer trends and then create products and services that match the public demand.  Much of that is done by merging traditional and new media.  Our job is to not only be creative but to listen to buyers, consumers and the market.  In addition to the advertising agency Michael is responsible for the Insight on Business News Hour with Michael Libbie seen Monday – Thursday at Noon Central on the Webcast One LIVE Network.

Michelle Schlicher - joined the Greater Des Moines CVB in November 2006. As Marketing Manager for the CVB, her responsibilities include researching, developing, writing, and editing material for GDMCVB e-newsletters, press releases and outside publications. She trains/develops the marketing interns throughout the year. Michelle manages content and updates forSeeDesMoines.com, as well as oversees the social media efforts. She currently serves on the marketing committee for the Des Moines Marathon where Michelle also assists with social media efforts on their behalf.

Ori Bengal -Ori Bengal is an author, an award winning photographer and a business consultant.  While seeing the world from various couches, seeking the next adventure, he encounters amazing people and tells “groaner” jokes to all those he meets.  He has trained with UFC fighters, jumped out of airplanes, played bull poker and met many of his own heroes!! Amidst all of his adventures, he has made great friends, helped change lives and consulted with top business leaders.

Patrick Palmer - Owner and Technician at “The Computer Guy” in downtown Hampton, Iowa.  Since the age of 14, Pat has been working with computers, until starting his own small business in 1995 in his basement.  In 2009 he moved from the basement to a retail location.  Pat’s special brand of humor will gently poke fun at his wife Becky for her 2004 “That’ll Never Work” approach to Social Media — but now admits she may have been a been a bit mistaken.  Pat will also give examples of how he has taken ownership of the computer repair market in North Iowa via Social Media and why his wife still won’t let him use the “F” word in front of his mother-in-law.

Rebecca Grunewald – Twitter offered me the opportunity to branch out on my own, outside of my husband’s shadow and beyond my roles of wife and mother. Twitter has been a godsend to me. I have met so many great people, some in real life.   Twitter is great for so many things from opining directly to politicians or journalists, getting breaking news alerts at lightning speed to getting movie and music reviews from your Twitter family to of course, building your own brand through the magic of the Twitterverse. I hope to inspire others to do the same.

Ryan Bickel -joined the Blank Park Zoo Foundation in 2004 as the Director of Marketing. During his time at the Zoo, attendance has risen over 60 percent. Ryan loves to create interest in the Zoo. In 2009, he generated international media attention as well as over 25,000 phone calls in a single day to the Blank Park Zoo. More recently, he completed a three week Facebook ‘race’ that resulted in a 74 percent increase in the number of fans for the Blank Park Zoo’s Facebook page.

Ryan earned an M.B.A. from the University of Iowa in 2003 and a B.A. in Radio/Television and Mass Communications from Grand View College in 1995. He is also a graduate of the 2009 Community Leadership Program of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. Prior to joining the Zoo, Ryan edited the Emmy nominated Better Homes and Gardens Television show and The Seasoned Gardener, a show on HGTV, as well as numerous commercials and training films.

Ryan Johnson – As info-markers pollute the world of social media with claims of “Twitter Riches” they’ve done a tremendous job misconstruing what Twitter’s real value is in the minds of business owners.  Those of us who really “get” Twitter take it for granted, but the reality is that traditional small business owners don’t need a whole lot to fall into a catatonic state of confusion.  In a tale of two twitter accounts (one a big fat juicy failure) under two drastically different approaches I will illustrate how I came to identify the most undeniable fundamental truth about social media.

Sam Schill -

Sam Schill – Everyday: Sam currently works in downtown Ames for Innova Ideas and Services , which is one of the three Sigler Companies based in Ames.   Play: When time allows he enjoys golfing, Cyclones athletics, dancing with my 1 year old daughter, and working on his urban farm.   What are you reading?: The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank  What are you listening to?: Fitz and the Tantrums

Sandy Renshaw – Social media has changed my life. I think it must be similar to how people felt when the printing press was invented and the average person finally had access to books. I can fully see the impact use of social media has to help people find and grow a network. When I started blogging, Facebook andTwitter were new. Every year my appreciation and understanding of these powerful communication tools grows. It’s been exciting to see how technology that was new and different – and touted by only the early adopters – has evolved, and now has been embraced by so many. I want to share my experience with others so they can understand ways that Facebook and Twitter can help them connect with other business people they would never meet without these tools. It can have an impact on their bottom line. It’s not just for socializing.

Sara Broers – I want to let people know that it is possible to enjoy social media and even get paid while partaking in the experience. You CAN find a job on twitter.  Growing up in Iowa is an adventure that many people never get to experience. A two time cancer survivor, and having to learn how to walk again at the age of 40, Sara’s story is an inspiration for anyone that has struggled in their life. Iowa is where her feet were planted at a young age and remain there today. Through her faith, family, and friends she has learned to pull up those bootstraps and move on!

Shannon Latham – Shannon earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Ag Journalism/Public Service and Administration in Agriculture from Iowa State University, as well as an MBA from the University of Iowa. Prior to joining Latham Hi-Tech Hybrids, Shannon owned and operated her own communications business. She also worked as an account executive and public relations specialist for The Meyocks Group in West Des Moines, Iowa, and served as president of the Iowa Chapter of National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA).

Shannon McClintock Miller is the district teacher librarian and technology specialist at Van Meter Community School in Van Meter, Iowa.  Shannon is the author of the award winning Van Meter Library Voice blog and enjoys writing for ISTE’s Leading & Learning journal, various blogs, and in other forums. She has had the opportunity to speak in Iowa and around the country about advocacy, technology, social networking, and making a difference in education and the lives of others. She is a member of ISTE, SIGMS, ALA, AASL, and ILA (Iowa Library Association). Shannon serves as the advocacy chair on the Iowa Association of School Librarians and on the Iowa Center for the Book Advisory Council as the public school students and libraries representation. In 2010, she was also chosen to be part of the Cengage Learning/School Library Journal New Leaders Program

Shawn Mullen - I’m a relative newbie to this Web 2.0, Social Media gig. But at 50 years of age, I’ll be darned if I’m gonna miss getting with this program. I’ll admit it…I’m just getting started and am not as widely “linked”, “faced” “blogged” or “tweeted” as others, but I can share my beginner’s experiences in a fast paced, clear and concise presentation. I can also share why, from a business perspective, leveraging LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter is a no-brainer.I’m certainly no expert on the technologies, but I am an expert on my experiences.

Tara Litzenberger – Tara Saylor Litzenberger has always believed in knowing the rules before you try to break them. As part of the communications team for a Great Big Company, she gets a unique view of the concerns and opportunities of using Social Media on an global scale. Tara shares a behind-the-scenes look at company life on her blog, AdventuresInAg.com. She regularly spends time in 3 different states and still brags about the “Best Bale” award she won at company training.