Tracks include Diversity, Marketing, Technology, and Workforce led by various local business leaders.



Establishing Welcoming Environments for Customers and Coworkers


Linh Nguyen | Manager of Student Equity Initiatives, Western Technical College

AJ Clauss | Equity & Inclusion Leader, Western Technical College


How do you know if your space is welcoming? In today’s diverse workplaces and communities, fostering a culture where everyone feels respected, valued, and empowered is essential for innovation, productivity, and overall well-being. This discussion-based workshop will provide opportunities to learn from each other about how to create inclusive spaces. Join us in creating a future where everyone’s unique perspectives are valued and embraced.


AJ Clauss (they/them) and Linh Nguyen (she/her) work at Western Technical College in Equity, Inclusion, & Community Engagement (EICE). They work directly with students and employees at the college developing and implementing initiatives related to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI). This may include educational and social programming, workshops/trainings, policy review, and leading the Diversity Advocacy Team supporting college community members impacted by hate/bias. 

Strategic Approach to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging


Amrita Prakaashana, M.Ed. | Nursing Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity Director, Mayo Clinic

Melanie Yrjo, M.H.A | Operations Administrator, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic


During this presentation we will define diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, discuss how to develop a strategic approach to DEIB, and learn effective strategies to increase diversity in staff and leadership roles.


Amrita Prakaashana is the Nursing Equity, Inclusion, & Diversity Director at Mayo Clinic, with over a decade of experience in diversity recruitment, human resource development, adult education, transformational coaching, intercultural training, strategy development, project management, and dialogue facilitation. She works toward creating a culture and community where differences are embraced, where people can be their most authentic selves and feel a true sense of belonging. Amrita lives in Rochester MN with her family. She is an artist who enjoys creating with metal and collaborating with others to teach, learn, and create art. She seeks out opportunities where she can combine her passion for DEI and her passion for art to support her community.


Melanie Yrjo is an Operations Administrator in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic with over twenty years of laboratory and leadership experience. She holds a master’s degree in healthcare administration and a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Melanie is also the administrative partner for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Mayo Collaborative Services and serves on the Mayo Clinic Rochester Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Executive Committee where she aims to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. In addition to her professional responsibilities, Melanie is a mother of two sons, a Mayo Clinic Hospice volunteer, and a volunteer with the American Red Cross.

Our Perspective: Diverse Owned Business Panel


Albert Washington | Owner, Box Drop Mattress

Ashley Magee | Owner, Wuffy

Moderator – Carolyn Colleen Bostrack | Acton Academy & Fierce Foundation


We are fortunate that Greater La Crosse features numerous small businesses owned by individuals who are diverse and share underrepresented identities in our community. Hear from a panel of these expert BIPOC business owners as they share the strengths of their businesses, how their identities influence their work, why inclusivity matters, as well as the challenges of owning a business in Greater La Crosse.




From Bots to Besties: Harnessing AI and Automation for Social Media Marketing


Sarah Arendt-Byer | Marketing Communications Manager,  Nortek Air Solutions


Unleash the potential of AI and automation to streamline your social media marketing workflow. Learn how these cutting-edge tools can help you save time, improve engagement, and achieve results.


Sarah Arendt-Beyer has spent nearly two decades helping businesses succeed through effective marketing, in her work for marketing agencies and now in-house for a large manufacturing company. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from UW La Crosse, and later earned an MBA. For over a decade, Sarah has also served as an ad-hoc marketing consultant for the Small Business Development Center at UW La Crosse, coaching business owners on how to successfully market their businesses. She also earned a certification in Economic Gardening and served as a digital marketing team member for the Wisconsin Business Intelligence Team through the UW Center for Business Intelligence, collaborating with her team to help second-stage companies improve and grow. An avid public speaker and trainer, Sarah regularly coaches small business owners on developing marketing plans, building websites, and using digital marketing tactics like social media marketing, SEO, and email marketing.

Lead Conversion: Turning Marketing Into Sales


Justin Garvey | Director of Brand Strategy, Metre Agency

Kerstin Boudreau | Director of Research and Communications, Metre Agency


Is your marketing and advertising strategy helping you convert leads to sales? Learn about strategies and best practices to maximize conversions and increase total lead conversions. We’ll discuss how to define your conversion funnel and establish strategies for filling that funnel to improve your marketing and advertising mix— leading to increased sales and profits.


Justin Garvey is the Director of Brand Strategy and Co-Owner of Metre advertising agency in La Crosse and Minneapolis. Justin leads projects at the agency that utilize research and data to guide strategies and produce results. He leads a creative and strategy team at the agency that utilizes an integrated approach to leverage video, web, digital, and print to deliver results for clients such as the Minnesota Department of Health, Gundersen Health System, Hennepin County, Mathy Construction, and Kwik Trip.


Kerstin Boudreau is the Director of Research and Communications and Co-Owner of Metre advertising agency in La Crosse and Minneapolis. Kerstin leads advertising and communication campaigns that identify key insights through research and data analysis. She has developed media and communication strategies for clients such as Gundersen Health System, Minnesota State Parks and Trails, State Farm Insurance, and Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. Before co-founding Metre, Kerstin co-founded Vendi Advertising and was agency media director at Ovation Marketing.

The power of brand: Building a winning strategy to grow your business


Chuck Lacasse | Executive Creative Director, Vendi


Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders & Creating a Culture of Growth
Do you want to develop future leaders that love where they work and live? Learn how to foster a more engaged, committed, and innovative organization that makes a lasting difference with clients and communities.


With a career spanning three decades, Chuck has worked as designer, art director, creative director, photographer, producer and brand strategist. An inexhaustible storyteller, he helps brands build connection with their audiences through unique and authentic narratives. His experience includes working with small independent companies as well as national brands such as Walmart, Whole Foods and Organic Valley. In addition to his marketing credentials, Chuck is also an accomplished photographer and avid curler.




Survival of the AI Savvy: AI Won't Take Your Job, Humans Using it Will!


Rodney Holumn | CEO/Founder, Coulee Tech & Coulee Techlink


Are your meetings truly collaborative in today’s hybrid world of work?  Meeting spaces may differ, but your needs remain the same – effective and productive collaboration.  The hybrid workplace requires solutions with high fidelity audio and intelligent video.  Learn how today’s technology ensures every meeting is an equitable, engaging and inclusive experience for everyone. 


Rodney Holum, also recognized as the “Buttkicker of Cyber Criminals,” is an acclaimed speaker with national recognition, an accomplished author with mulitple books in cyber security and artificial intelligence (AI), and the visionary CEOcelebrated on the Inc 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies multiple times.

With a passion for empowering small to medium-sized businesses, Rodney dedicates his expertise to devising practical strategies for integrating robust cyber security measures and cutting-edge AI technologies into their operations. His work predominantly involves collaborating with CEOs to seamlessly incorporate these critical advancements into their business strategies, enhancing efficiency, security, and innovation.

Rodney’s approachable style and profound insights into the challenges and opportunities facing today’s enterprises make him a valuable asset to any business looking to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

Meeting Equity - Collaborate with Success


Bryan Werner | President and Director of Business Development, Advanced Multimedia Solutions


Are your meetings truly collaborative in today’s hybrid world of work?  Meeting spaces may differ, but your needs remain the same – effective and productive collaboration.  The hybrid workplace requires solutions with high fidelity audio and intelligent video.  Learn how today’s technology ensures every meeting is an equitable, engaging and inclusive experience for everyone. 


Bryan Werner is the President and Director of Business Development at Advanced Multimedia Solutions. Founded in 2007, AMS provides design, installation, and support for Audio/Video and Technology needs with the Right People, Right Products and Right Approach. Bryan grew up in La Crosse and currently resides in Holmen with his amazing wife and three beautiful daughters. When not at work, Bryan enjoys traveling, cooking, entertaining and just about anything outdoors: backpacking, downhill skiing, camping, fishing, and more.

The Road to Electric Vehicles and Charging – Are We There Yet?


Jeff Springer | Manager, Innovation and Efficient Electrification, Dairyland Power


A brief introduction of the types of vehicles from ICE to BEVs followed by a look at the exciting vehicles that are available today and what is coming soon.  Electric vehicle charging and the potential impacts on businesses will be covered in the second half of the presentation.  The fun part will be questions from the audience – this is your chance to ask whatever it is that you always wanted to know about electric vehicles!


Jeff is a Certified Energy Manager with over 34 years of utility experience assisting agricultural, commercial, and industrial, consumers with efficient electrification technologies, power quality, and demand response programs. His recent work has been focused on transportation electrification and charging infrastructure development. Jeff has led Dairyland’s effort to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure including managed home chargers, public Level 2 chargers, and high power direct current Level 3 public chargers. He is a founding board member and Secretary – Treasurer of CHARGE EV LLC, a cooperative led effort to develop a national presence for cooperatives in the electric vehicle charging market. He serves on the Interconnection Task Force of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification and as an auxiliary board member of Wisconsin Clean Cities.  



What Do Great Companies have in Common?


Teresa Pierce | Executive Director, Workforce Connections


Have you ever wondered what excellent companies do to attract, recruit, and retain their top talent? Learn what these companies have in common that allow them to excel year after year.


Teresa Pierce has served as the Executive Director of Workforce Connections, Inc. since Sept of 2012. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, she was the organization’s Director of Operations providing leadership, accountability, project management and program direction for numerous programs in western Wisconsin.  She is well versed in employment and training practices including welfare reform, job training, workforce development, strategic endeavors, and intergenerational human resource practices and trends. As a leader in non-profit development, Teresa holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Viterbo College; and is a past member of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors. Her family owns and operates a farm in northern Monroe County.

K12 – Mining For Your Future Talent Needs?


Kevin Ruetten | Business Services Coordinator, Western Technical College BIS

Amanda Langrehr | Director of Career & Technical Education Cooperative, CESA 4

Britta Rotering | Supervisor of Career & Technical Education, School District of La Crosse

Isaac Mezera | K-12 Partnerships Manager/Adjunct Instructor- Comm Skills, Western Technical College


Western WI regional K12 schools are ever changing; but now more than ever schools and regional employers/organizations need to both understand the role they play in this new opportunity for talent development! Regional high schools have become the growing “gold rush” for talent!  How do regional employers take advantage of new programs?  How do employers say “YES” we want in! Join this breakout to hear from a panel of K12 professionals to explain what student career planning looks like in our schools in which employers play a vital role.


Currently serving as Business Services Coordinator for the Western Technical College BIS and Western WI Workforce Development Board, Kevin works with employers and steering committees throughout western WI to develop strategic pipelines to find employees of all skill levels.  Kevin’s experience in Midwest economic impact tourism roles, leading a WI Chamber of Commerce, serving on the WMC Chamber State Board, AAU Basketball & USA Volleyball club coaching, and implementing regional workforce strategies allows him to understand the K12 student and why they have to be part of all employers workforce strategies.


Prior to accepting a position at CESA 4, Amanda spent eight years in education, six of which were spent teaching middle and high school Business education, with a focus on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and career-based learning programming. Currently, she serves as the director of Career and Technical Education, Regional Career Pathways Regional Coordinator, CESA 4 Academic & Career Pathways Coordinator, and the Mississippi Valley CESA 4 Youth Apprenticeship Regional Coordinator. Her experiences have provided her many opportunities to present statewide to education and employer groups on a wide variety of college and career readiness initiatives. Her passion is collaborating with community stakeholders to develop high-quality career pathways to help students start on a successful path toward rewarding careers, while simultaneously developing a strong pipeline of talent to benefit the extraordinary employers in our region.


Britta Rotering is the Supervisor of Career & Technical Education for the School District of La Crosse.  Britta has spent 21 years in education, 14 of which were spent as a middle and high school Family & Consumer Sciences educator, and leading school-to-career programming for school districts in Western Wisconsin. Since leaving the classroom, Britta has served as a School District CTE (Career & Technical Education) Administrator. Britta leads CTE Programming, Academic & Career Planning, and Career Pathway Development, She is the Administrator of the La Crosse School District Engineering, Health Science, Architecture & Construction, and Culinary Arts Academies. Britta’s role also includes directing the La Crosse Youth Apprenticeship Consortium, which has been very successful in creating strong youth apprenticeship partnerships, bridges to registered apprenticeship, and crosswalked youth apprenticeship programs for dual credit attainment.  She is passionate about creating strong partnerships between our K-12 school system, our students, and La Crosse Area Businesses. Britta also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of  Wisconsin- Stevens Point in the master of education program.  


Isaac Mezera, K-12 Partnerships Manager at Western Technical College, is a seasoned education professional with 20 years of experience as a high school English teacher. Since June 2021, Isaac has been instrumental in building relationships with K-12 partners, developing dual credit options, and facilitating collaboration among K12 Districts, area business and industry, and Western faculty and staff. His student-centered and forward-thinking approach aims to improve access to dual credit programs and experiences for all students, making him a valuable asset in shaping educational partnerships.

Higher Ed Panel


Danielle Rhodes | Corporate and Community Relations Liaison, Viterbo University

Angie Martin | Director of Business & Industry Services, Western Technical College

Lisa Klein | Community Engagement Coordinator, UWL


Join us for a two-way conversation between our region’s higher education institutions and you… local business professionals!  Learn more about programs at UW-La Crosse, Viterbo University, and Western Technical College that provide opportunities for your company to connect with students and faculty for internships, speaking engagements, mentorships, project-based learning, promotion, and more. You’ll also have the chance to share your creative ideas with the panelists about how your company could engage with higher education students and staff.  


Danielle Rhodes serves as Corporate and Community Relations Liaison at Viterbo University. Her goal is to ensure a smooth process for business engagement at Viterbo through the development of the Community Gateway Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in public relations and digital media from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and has a background in social media management. She has also loved getting involved in the La Crosse dance community.


Angie Martin serves as the Director of Business and Industry Services for Western Technical College in La Crosse, WI.  In her 12 years at Western, Angie has developed a passion for bridging the gap between industry needs and educational programing. Her professional background in manufacturing, retail, and quality assurance uniquely positions Angie to understand a multitude of business processes. In her leadership role at Western, she connects with businesses to learn about their training, development, and workforce needs.  As a proud alumnus of Western, she believes deeply in the technical college’s ability to be innovative and agile in responding to employer needs in a rapidly changing workplace.  In addition to her associate degree from Western Technical College, Angie holds a BBA from Viterbo University in Organizational Development and Leadership.


Lisa Klein is the Community Engagement Coordinator at UW-La Crosse. She is a UWL alumna who began her career at the university in August 2019 after serving 20 years as a television news anchor and reporter for WKBT-TV in La Crosse. As the UWL Community Engagement Coordinator, Lisa plays a key role in fostering the university’s commitment to the community as part of the campus’s strategic plan. She led the effort to start the UWL Community Engaged Learning (CEL) program – which matches community needs with campus experts – and was awarded the 2022 American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Excellence & Innovation Award for Civic Learning and Community Engagement. Lisa uses her communication skills to create new opportunities for students, faculty and staff to engage with our community, build relationships and tell UWL’s story. She is skilled at identifying and communicating with target audiences. At the heart of this work is her love of people, an appreciation for diverse thinking and commitment to honoring everyone’s personal story.