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



Citizenship, Service and Social Capital: Keys to a Healthy Society


Rick Kyte

Endowed Professor and Director, D. B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership, Viterbo University


Over the past 30 years, American society has seen a steady decline in civic engagement—voter participation, membership in churches and service organizations, and volunteering.  This decline is especially evident in the erosion of “middle institutions”—those places between home and work, where friends, neighbors, and strangers come together in conversation and in service, and which are necessary to sustain a healthy democracy.  This presentation will look at the symptoms and causes of this decline in civic engagement and then propose ways to reverse that decline and restore health to American communities.


Richard Kyte is Endowed Professor and Director of the D. B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin where he teaches a variety of ethics courses dealing with issues in health care, business, leadership, and the environment.  He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University in 1994.

He is the author of several books, cohosts a podcast titled “The Ethical Life” and writes a biweekly column that appears in 75 newspapers across the country.  He is asked to speak frequently on the topics of servant leadership and ethical decision making.

Culture Shock: Create a Positive and Fun Culture for Your Business


Mark Schneider, Co-Owner of Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning

Carson Schneider, Comfort Specialist of Schneider Heating & Air Conditioning


“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” – Peter Drucker. In this session, we will emphasize the importance of culture in your business, and how to create and sustain one that benefits your coworkers, your customers, and you.


Mark Schneider is the third generation owner of Schneider Heating, providing HVAC solutions to the Coulee Region since 1937. Mark graduated with a major in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin.  Carson is Mark’s son and is working to become the next generation for the company. Carson also graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a business degree majoring in Finance and Economics. Both are actively involved in the business and community.

Bringing Life to Work


Neal Bennett

Founder and President, Occupational Chaplains of America


Coming soon!


Neal Bennett is the founder and president of; Occupational Chaplains of America. O.C.A. provides highly rated, on-site, personal, Employee Support Services to small businesses throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. O.C.A’s support is utilized by 80-100% of employees within each business served. (www.emloyeesupport.biz)   Neal is also the founder and director of; The Neighborhood, a 501c3 non-profit, that provides a variety of care and support for local, hard working, families who are battling cancer. (www.meetinglocalneeds.org)




2023 Workforce Trends


Teresa Pierce

Executive Director, Workforce Connections, Inc.


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.

Talent Acquisition Strategies Leveraging AI & Automation


Kristy Bronk

Director of Talent Aquisition, Dynamic Lifecycle Innovations


Better, faster, and more effective.  This is the expectation most organizations have for their recruiters, and without automation in processes, it’s easy to get stuck in the whirlwind.  In this session we will discuss building a talent acquisition strategy and technology stack that leverages technology to win the battle for top talent in now and into the future.


Kristy Bronk is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Dynamic Lifecycle Innovations.  There she is entrusted with leading a world-class department in full lifecycle recruiting, with three main pillars of focus.  Adding science into the art of selection, promoting Dynamic’s culture and proactive pipelining to support a zero days to fill strategy.  Prior to her work at Dynamic, Kristy held several roles at Manpower in her 11-year tenure, which fueled her passion for recruitment and leadership. 

Kristy is known for building connections, evangelizing things that she is passionate about, advocating for skilled trades, retaining, and growing talent in our community, and supporting companies through culture enhancements with a people first focus.     

Retaining Young Professionals in Your Business


Jennifer Livingston Thompson, Director – Community Engagement, Mayo Clinic Health System

Tanner Holst, Interim Regional Chair of Administration, Mayo Clinic Health System


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.


Jennifer Livingston has spent 25 years developing relationships in the community. As the Director of Community Engagement for Mayo Clinic Health System, she understands the need to make connections both inside and outside the walls of work. The former Emmy award winning news anchor and reporter spent years spotlighting the people and places that make this area so unique. Jennifer has volunteered with numerous organizations over the years and now works to bridge colleagues and community to create a culture of positivity and partnerships that make an impact.


Tanner Holst, MBA, FACHE is the Regional Chair (CAO) for Mayo Clinic Health System in the La Crosse, WI market. Tanner has over 25 years of healthcare industry experience with the vast majority in healthcare practice leadership. Tanner serves on several local and regional boards in finance, not-for-profit and community development organizations. Tanner Holst is an Instructor in Healthcare Management at Mayo Clinic School of Health and Sciences, Adjunct Faculty in the College of Business Administration at UW-LaCrosse, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Six Sigma Black Belt, and is a Gold Quality Fellow at Mayo Clinic. Tanner Holst has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and an MBA from UW-LaCrosse.



From Data to Action: How to Find and Translate Usable Insights for Business Success


Aaron Aslin

Chief Brand Officer, Wonderstate Coffee


In this talk, you will learn how to identify and extract valuable data from your customers, as well as techniques to transform this data into actionable insights that drive business growth. 


Aaron Aslin is an accomplished business professional with a wealth of experience in brand management, data analysis, and strategic planning. He currently serves as the Chief Brand Officer for Wonderstate Coffee and also holds the position of Board Treasurer for the Viroqua Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. With a career spanning over a decade, Aaron has consistently demonstrated his ability to identify, analyze, and translate data into actionable insights and strategies that drive top and bottom-line growth for renowned organizations such as Organic Valley, Tillamook, Ready Pac Foods and Juice It Up! Inc.

Unleash Your Inner Influencer: Master the Art of Personal Branding


Cedric Friesen, VP of Business Development at Mid-West Family

Jen O’Brien, VP of Innovation at Mid-West Family


Are you ready to unlock your potential as a social media influencer? Join us for a dynamic workshop where you’ll learn how to take control of your personal brand and establish yourself as a top influencer in your industry. This workshop is designed specifically for small business owners who want to build their personal brands, increase their reach, and engage with their target audience. During this workshop, you’ll discover five key strategies for building a successful personal brand. You’ll learn how to craft a unique story that sets you apart from the competition, use social media to engage with your audience and showcase your brand, create online content that reflects your brand identity, build meaningful relationships with other influencers, and track your progress to ensure you’re on the right track to achieving your goals. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have the tools you need to unleash your inner influencer and take your personal brand to the next level. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to jumpstart your influencer journey and become the success you’ve always dreamed of being!


Cedric Friesen has helped local and national brands win against their competition through multiple marketing tactics for over 25 years. He has used the knowledge of helping industries stand out in their category to empower individuals to build their brand and be noticed. Cedric looks forward to uncovering your personal brand’s narrative and building on your success – purposefully and effectively.



Jen O’Brien is a seasoned broadcast media professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. With a keen interest in digital marketing, Jen recognizes the fascinating power of communication and storytelling in connecting people from all walks of life. As the VP of Innovation and Director of Marketing at Mid-West Family, Jen helps clients create positive change through engaging content and strategic distribution across various channels. Bringing people and communities together is at the heart of her work. She’s excited to share her expertise in personal branding with you.


Revenue Responsibility – Who Owns It?


Cate Hollowitsch

Chief Marketing Officer, Nesnah Ventures


Revenue Responsibility – Who Owns It?


Who is responsible for driving revenue?  In many organizations, this is an on-going debate between marketing and sales.  Both sides want the credit when it works, and neither side wants to own it when it doesn’t.

We will discuss the gap between marketing and sales, the key roles in organizations, and build agreement on where the responsibilities truly lie.  This session discusses how to create a unified revenue-generating strategy for both marketing and sales. 


Cate Hollowitsch is the Chief Marketing Officer for Nesnah Ventures, a private equity firm. Cate is an energetic, results-driven marketing professional with more than 30 years of experience, and her expertise in branding, innovation, and digital transformation have elevated her to the highest roles within several industries. As an executive, she also has an extensive background in business acumen, value creation, and strategy for small to medium size businesses. She is the author of Confidence Counts, and an adjunct professor in digital marketing.





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.  

Radical Inclusion vs. a Gotcha Culture


Carolyn Colleen Bostrack

Owner of Acton Academy Midwest & FIERCE Foundation


This signature talk “Radical Inclusion vs a Gotcha Culture” advocates for a shift towards genuine inclusivity in our interactions with others. In today’s society, there is often a pervasive “gotcha culture” where individuals are quick to criticize and attack others without attempting to understand their perspective. The keynote argues that we must move towards a culture of radical inclusion, where empathy, understanding, and meaningful dialogue are prioritized.

The speaker discusses the challenges of practicing radical inclusion, such as the discomfort of engaging in difficult conversations and confronting our own biases. However, they emphasize the benefits of creating a culture of radical inclusion, both for individuals and society as a whole. Ultimately, this keynote encourages us to reject the gotcha culture and embrace a more inclusive, compassionate approach to interacting with others.


Carolyn Colleen is a fierce mother of three children, author, international speaker, entrepreneur, and business strategist focused on helping others achieve their goals.

Carolyn is the founder of the FIERCE Academy, an online program that helps women create life strategies that enables them to have the life they dream of—without sacrificing their families, careers, or lifestyles. She is also the author of F.I.E.R.C.E.: Transform Your Life in the Face of Adversity, 5 Minutes at a Time!

Carolyn is the owner of Acton Midwest private schools, where the philosophy is clear thinking which leads to good decisions, Good decisions lead to the right habits, The right habits lead to character and Character becomes destiny, a consultant and thought leader for Case Western Reserve University as a leader within the Xchange approach, an initiative built upon a scientifically based, multi-disciplinary approach for leading and managing teams. With a soon to be Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Behavior, an MBA, and a BA in Business, Carolyn is passionate about uniting as a human race to elevate each other, remain positive through challenges, and raise above the noise to build stronger communities.

From standing in a food line at the Salvation Army to earning a Ph.D., Carolyn is avid about sharing her own life story and encouraging others to make changes that move them from fear to focusing on the pursuit of their passions. 

Designing Equitable Work-Based Learning Experiences


Grace Janssen

Interim Career Services Manager, Western Technical College


Work-based learning experiences allow employers to access diverse job candidates with the hands-on experience they’re seeking. These experiences can help cultivate diversity in the talent pipeline by providing the structure, support, and training that people of many backgrounds need to succeed. This session will discuss how companies can create equitable work-based learning experiences to meet the demands of our evolving workforce.


Grace is the current Interim Career Services Manager at Western Technical College. During her four years at Western, she has worked to find ways to connect students to local employers through experiential learning activities. Before Western, she served as an Environmental Conservation volunteer in Paraguay and created cross-cultural programming through study abroad experiences. Outside of work, you can find her working in her garden or enjoying the beautiful trails La Crosse offers.