Atlanta HR Star Conference
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Speaker Information

Dr. Earl L. Suttle is the CEO & Founder of Leadership Success International, LLC, an international consulting and training company based in Atlanta, GA that works with businesses and organizations to increase their profits and productivity through developing their people. As a business consultant and dynamic professional keynote speaker, Dr. Suttle delivers numerous presentations throughout the United States each year. He is a best-selling author of five books with Dr. John Hubbard, including: Earl’s Pearls on Enjoying Excellence, Preparing for and Managing High-Risk Situations in the Lives of College Athletes (An Athlete’s Guide), Preparing for and Managing High-Risk Situations in the Lives of Professional Athletes (A Player’s Guide), Great Life Choices for Teens (Who Want to Make a Difference) and his latest, Stressed to Blessed. He has also produced a number of CD’s and DVD’s on leadership and professional personal development. “Empowerment through education and enthusiasm,” is the mission statement of his company. Dr. Suttle has conducted keynote addresses and seminars for corporations like Aflac Insurance, AT&T, Delta Air Lines, The Coca-Cola Company, American Express, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the United States Postal Service, Kraft Foods, Toyota, The Hartford Insurance Group, Wells Fargo, the Georgia Department of Labor, Anheuser-Busch Companies, the University of Georgia and the University of Florida just to name a few. In addition, Dr. Suttle is a consultant to the National Basketball Association and the National Football League where he works directly with the players and athletes. Dr. Suttle has been featured in Ebony Magazine, In-Style Magazine as well as on CNN.

Jenna Bedsole, Esq. is a Shareholder in the Birmingham office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. and leads the Labor & Employment Group. She represents employers in a broad range of employment matters, including the defense of cases under federal and state discrimination laws and the enforcement of non-compete agreements. With the recent increase of wage and hour law cases, she has defended employers successfully in both single plaintiff cases and collective actions. In addition, Ms. Bedsole advises U.S. companies with U.S. workers in foreign jurisdictions about the effect of U.S. law on those workers and advises foreign companies in the U.S. on compliance with U.S. labor and employment laws. Ms. Bedsole also conducts management and employee training relating to employment issues in the workplace, drafts handbooks and employment agreements, provides policy review and regularly counsels employers to ensure compliance with applicable employment and labor laws. She is the Chairwoman of the Women's Business Council, listed in Best Lawyers in America® since 2015, named by Birmingham magazine as one of "Birmingham's Top Attorneys" and listed in Birmingham Business Journal's "Best of the Bar". Ms. Bedsole is a magna cum laude of the University of Alabama and earned her J.D. from the University of Alabama.

Debbie McGrath is the CEO of, a global company committed to delivering HR best practices and helping organizations build great businesses through community, collaboration, research, shared best practices and measurements. is trusted by 1.2 million HR professionals worldwide. Prior to starting, Debbie owned The CEO Group, a Canadian and European entity that created job board software, talent management software, HTC career magazines and career fairs. In August of 1998 The CEO Group was sold to Kaplan, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company. During her tenure Debbie served as President of the Canadian and European operations, as well as Vice President of Worldwide Sales. Complementing her extensive background in human resources, publishing and the Internet, Debbie also holds a degree in Computer Science and Business Administration from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Clare Draper, Esq. is a Partner in the Labor and Employment Group at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia and consistently has been named a "Georgia Super Lawyer" by Atlanta Magazine. His practice covers all areas of labor and employment law. Having served as lead counsel in all types of labor and employment litigation for over 20 years throughout the country, Mr. Draper has developed extensive expertise in assisting clients with HR management issues, including litigation prevention, development and implementation of workplace policies and practices, reductions and expansions of the workforce, employee retention, union/management issues, regulatory compliance and negotiating, drafting and litigating employment agreements, restrictive covenants and separation agreements. Mr. Draper is a nationally known expert in the field of government-mandated affirmative action plans, and he serves as national affirmative action counsel for several companies, including the second largest private employer in the U.S. In addition, he is the author of several employment related publications, the latest of which is the Pike & Fisher/BNA book Workplace Privacy: A Guide for Attorneys and HR Professionals. Mr. Draper received his B.A. from Yale and his J.D. from Vanderbilt, where he was an associate editor on the Vanderbilt Law Review.

Kelly Charles-Collins, Esq. is a Partner with Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett, PLLC in Tampa, Florida. Mrs. Charles-Collins has over 17 years of experience representing management in employment law matters. She also presides as a Certified Arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association over employment, commercial and consumer cases in the U.S. and internationally. Mrs. Charles-Collins’ broad range of experience in employment law includes providing advice and successful litigation defense of matters in federal and state court and before administrative bodies in areas such as Title VII, the ADEA, FMLA and the ADA, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, retaliation, whistleblower, federal and state wage and hour laws, state tort claims and restrictive covenant agreements. She also provides preventive counseling for employers, defends EEOC and other administrative charges, conducts internal investigations, trains management and supervisors, reviews and drafts employment policies, assesses and implements workplace solutions and defends unemployment compensation claims. Mrs. Charles-Collins’ experience as staff counsel for a multi-billion dollar, global international insurance firm makes her well-suited to also handle matters covered by employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). Mrs. Charles-Collins represents clients in a broad spectrum of industries, including food service, automotive, community management, community associations, healthcare, transportation, information technology, security services, cruise lines, risk management and government contractors. Mrs. Charles-Collins is very active in her community and has routinely provided pro-bono legal services. She is admitted to practice law in Florida, Georgia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

David Thompson, CFI is the Vice President of Operations with Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. (WZ). He is responsible for the day to day operations of WZ, as well as strategic planning in product offerings and the evolution of interview and interrogation content. David has also served as the Director of Investigations for WZ giving him the opportunity to manage a variety of cases while conducting interviews and consulting on investigations ranging from theft and fraud to sexual harassment and homicide. As a speaker for WZ, David has created customized training programs, presented at seminars, hosted a variety of webinars as well as conducted live broadcasts of training. He is also an active member of the International Association of Interviews and has contributed blogs, video tips and published several articles to support the continuing education of its members. While at WZ, David has also played an integral role in the ongoing research and evolution of content and innovative teaching methods. Developing training that is presented in a virtual broadcast venue, creating more opportunities for distance learning and contributing to some of WZ.s newest technology including a simulated interrogation system are a few of the projects David has been involved in. David has also worked with members of the Innocence Project Center on Wrongful Conviction of Youth and other academic partners on behalf of WZ to further the enhancement of interview and interrogation protocols throughout the US. David has contributed opinions on behalf of WZ for a variety of cases, and has been cited by the Federal Court of Appeals for his involvement on the topic of interview and interrogation.

Sheree Knowles, SPHR is the Founder and Chief HR Officer of HR Knowledge Source (HRKS) - a human resources and talent management firm - as well as a Managing Partner with Human Capital Consulting Consortium (H3C). Sheree is a talented executive with over 20 years of HR leadership experience. Through HRKS and H3C, Sheree works with clients in a variety of industries, including technology, supply chain management, higher education, nonprofit, government, logistics and distribution, accounting, litigation and commercial insurance. Prior to joining the entrepreneurial community, she served as the VP of HR for both regional and national companies. Sheree is an accomplished practitioner who has achieved multiple certifications and designations throughout her career. These include: SPHR, EQi 2.0 (Emotional Intelligence), CPM (Certified Project Manager), MBTI (Myers-Briggs) and DiSC. She is also a certified facilitator for ELI's Civil Treatment Programs and Facebook's Leadership Programs. In addition, Sheree is a highly-regarded professional speaker. She has presented at multiple HR Star Conferences, DisruptHR, the SHRM-Atlanta Conference and the Project Management Institute (PMI). Sheree serves as a Board Advisor for the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources Atlanta Chapter and is a graduate of the University of Dayton. Also, she recently completed her first full marathon.

Erin Elliott (Ustaoglu), Esq. is the Managing Attorney for Elliott Immigration Law. She focuses her practice 100% on U.S. immigration law where she specializes in business and family immigration. Ms. Elliott has extensive experience representing businesses, organizations and individuals who require temporary or permanent visas in the United States. Ms. Elliott has been published in professional journals and is an active speaker on the topic of immigration law for various organizations, including the Georgia Bar Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Turkish American Cultural Association. Ms. Elliott currently serves on the Executive Board for the Georgia Alabama Chapter of AILA. In 2018 she was selected as an Attorney to Watch and in 2019 she was honored as a Super Lawyer. Ms. Elliott earned her JD from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, her undergraduate degree from Agnes Scott College and is licensed to practice law in Georgia.

David T. Griffin, C(k)P®, AIF® is the Founder and Director of Institutional Retirement Plans at Atlanta Retirement Partners and has been in the retirement business for over 20 years. Atlanta Retirement Partners provides fiduciary and participant services to private organizations, municipalities and tax-exempt organizations. David has earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies and the designation of Certified 401(k) Professional by The Retirement Advisor University in collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education. He was a finalist for Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year in 2018 by PLANSPONSOR Magazine and Atlanta Retirement Partners was named the 2019 PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Small Team of the Year. David holds the Series 6 and 63 securities registrations with LPL Financial, the Series 65 registration with IFG Advisory, LLC and is Georgia Life, Accident & Sickness and Variable Products licensed.

Nancy J. Lewis, MS, PHR, SHRM-CP, RCC is a leading inspirational speaker, trainer, author and registered corporate coach. Nancy is the President of Progressive Techniques, Inc. based in Fayetteville, Georgia and has been conducting training for 30 years. She is the co-author of, Millennials and Beyond: Making the Leap from Texting to Talking.. Additionally, Nancy has worked as an adjunct faculty instructor at Georgia State University where she has taught courses in human resources. Nancy works with organizations that want to develop their people potential and with employees who want more fulfillment in their careers. She conducts dynamic keynotes and seminars on leadership, diversity and human resources. Also, she delivers customized, interactive and content-rich presentations and works with executives and managers to help them transform and enhance their careers. Nancy was included in the 2016 edition of Who’s Who in Black Atlanta and is the former host of the radio talk show, Sisters Together: Sharing Stories Straight From the Heart. She has been featured regularly on local radio and television broadcasts and was selected as a 2009 WNBA Atlanta Dream Woman of Inspiration. Nancy was also selected by Rolling Out Magazine as one of 25 most influential women in Atlanta. Some of Nancy’s clients include: Delta Air Lines, Inc., Chick-fil-A, Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia Power, FORD Motor Company, AT&T, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The American Heart Association, Winn Dixie, Georgia State University, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, SunTrust Bank, Spelman College, Kimberly Clark Corporation and Georgia Institute of Technology. Nancy earned a M.S. degree from Georgia State University in Urban and Public Affairs with a concentration in Human Resources.

Doug Claffey is the Chief Strategy Officer and Founder of Energage. Energage provides the technology platform that powers the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s annual Top Workplaces survey. His company’s products and services build on that survey experience to help employers improve their culture and drive business success. Doug’s leadership ensures that, “Making the world a better place to work together,” remains at the forefront. He started his career in aerospace engineering at GE and Analytical Graphics. Doug then left rocket science to work at McKinsey & Co. and then starting up Energage in 2006. Doug received his master’s degree in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware.

Ty C. Weber, MBA is a Strategic Planning Consultant with Ultimate Software. With has over 18 years’ experience in the HR technology industry, Ty specializes in helping companies understand how to transform their HCM system and teams supporting it. He specializes in the areas of implementation, process redesign, SOX compliance, data conversions, integrations, change management, post live support and technology. Ty started his career working on the client side of the business holding various leadership roles in HR, Payroll and IT. Then, for a decade, he led two consulting firms that helped companies select implement and support various HCM/Payroll/Benefit applications. He has worked on hundreds of implementations and brings a rare mix of strategic and tactical vision to clients to help customers of Ultimate Software transform their HCM landscape through the implementation and beyond.

Gavin Morton, SPHR is the Mobile CPO for - a global organization committed to delivering HR best practices and helping companies build great businesses through community, collaboration, research, shared best practices and measurements. is trusted by 1.7 million HR professionals worldwide. Gavin has a diverse professional portfolio in the private sector, including COO in Media, VP in HR and Talent Assessment. In addition, Gavin holds a litany of HR qualifications as well as a BSc in Electrical Engineering. With Gavin occupies a very unique role as co-driver and full-time inhabitant with his wife Sue of the HRGeniusBus RV and has done so since 2017. Gavin promotes best practices and HR leaders North America-wide by way of superior Human Capital products, services and technology ... whether he is curbside in the HRGeniusBus or networking at an HR event. Team Morton wonderfully aligns HR professionals with educational opportunities that assist them getting even smarter as well as assisting HR product and technology leaders tactically move their companies forward. Gavin also commandeers HR and culture for and can be heard adding his expert commentary to’s many research web and podcasts.

Shatanese Reese, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 20 years of experience in human resources. Her career spans industries such as retail, banking and higher education, and her training sessions have covered topics ranging from effective performance management, talent acquisition strategies, navigating employee relations matters as well as implementation of new HR-specific systems. Shatanese partners with managers and teams to ensure their greatest potential is reached through engaging and powerfully packed workshops. Shatanese has held several leadership roles throughout her career including Assistant Director of Staff Recruitment and Retention, Diversity Consultant and most recently HR Director. She has served on the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee where she was instrumental in spearheading various initiatives. Shatanese is the Owner of Super Extra Ordinary Mom, LLC, an HR Consultancy based in Atlanta which offers customized leadership development workshops. Also, she is author of the book, Live Every Moment: My Life As A Super Extra Ordinary Mom. Shatanese earned her MS in Interdisciplinary Studies - in the areas of business, psychology and French - from Iowa State University.

Seth Davies is Managing Partner and Senior Consultant at Competitive Solutions, Inc. where he runs the day to day operations of the Atlanta office. Seth is a popular speaker at human resources, operational excellence and quality conferences. He believes organizations today must create and sustain a culture with three non-negotiable attributes: a sense of urgency, a clear and concise business focus, and a leadership-driven accountability. In this regard he has assisted a wide variety of organizations in the development of their key business metrics, documented communication strategy and established collective accountability across the company. Organizations that Seth has worked with include Pfizer, Genentech, Genzyme, Goodwill Industries, Revlon, Michelin Tire, Alcon Life Sciences, National Institute Severely Handicapped (NISH), and several Army Depots.

Cornelius A. Dowdell, MBA, LSSGB is a high potential leadership development, career progression and leadership branding consultant with Emory University. He has more than 15 years’ experience in leadership and management, operations, human resources, corporate learning and career planning. Cornelius has held influential roles at CGI Federal, Louisiana State University and Emory University partnering with learning officers and human resource teams to develop high potential leadership development programs, customer relationship management system integration and corporate branding standards. Over the past 10 years, Cornelius has also managed corporate learning for educational institutions collaborating with Fortune 500 companies and has provided coaching services for all levels of management. In addition Cornelius has conducted hundreds of employee learning programs in management, leadership development for high potential managers and employees, train-the-trainer and dealing with difficult people. Cornelius earned a BA in political science from Louisiana State University and an MBA from Capella University. He is certified in Leadership and Management Development, Lean Six Sigma and leadership curriculum. Cornelius is involved in numerous professional and non-profit organizations.

Connie Wedel, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP is the Founder and CEO of HR Without Borders - a leading human resources consulting firm. Connie is an HR executive, consultant, coach and facilitator with over 25 years of global leadership experience. Prior to joining the entrepreneurial community, she served as the top HR executive for several leading global companies. Connie is an accomplished practitioner who has achieved multiple designations and certifications throughout her career. A partial list includes: EMHRM from Cornell University, GPHR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, EQi 2.0 (Emotional Intelligence), Cultural Intelligence (CQ-L2), Birkman Method, Influence Style Indicator (ISI), Change Navigator (CN), and Decision Style Profile (DSP). Connie is also a highly-regarded speaker and author. In addition to being an adjunct instructor at the University of California, San Diego, Connie has presented for SHRM, National & CA Diversity Council, the US Deptartment of Labor, San Diego State University and LEAP HR. Her articles have been published in Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and People Development Magazine.

Maya Lewis, PHR, SHRM-CP, MPA is the Founder of Professional Adulting. She combines her unique perspective as a Millennial with a background in human resources to tackle talent engagement and retention challenges with researched-based, experience-centered solutions. Lewis is passionate about empowering Millennials and the next generation of HR leaders to change the world through their work. She has an innate ability to simplify the complex and is adept at connecting business outcomes with people strategies to deliver tangible results. With over 15 years of experience she has developed policies and programs in compensation, benefits, onboarding, engagement and training for a variety of organizations. Lewis currently serves as a consultant in the advisory practice at Korn Ferry where she focuses on rewards as a way to drive superior performance in the workplace. Previously, she worked as a Senior Compensation Analyst at the Georgia Institute of Technology administering multi-structure compensation programs for over 4,000 staff members. Additionally, she led compensation strategy and programs for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. As a dynamic speaker, Lewis has shared her expertise with organizations like the Urban League and at the Human Resources Development in the Middle East Conference in Kuwait. In 2017, Lewis published her first book, Professional Adulting, to help Millennials transition into the workforce with tips, insights and career guidance. Lewis earned an undergraduate degree from Georgia State University and a Master's degree in Public Administration from North Carolina State University.

Rhian Sharp, MBA, MHR is the Founder and CEO of Sharp Medical Recruiting and Consulting. Sharp provides permanent placement solutions as well as HR consulting, training and employee development, HR compliance, executive coaching and compensation and benefits plan design services. Rhian has been an HR leader for almost 20 years and a healthcare leader for 16 years working with industry leaders like McKesson and Gentiva. In 2009 Rhian was named the first HR Director for the newly created Georgia state agency DBHDD. The agency consisted of the 7 behavioral health hospitals in Georgia. Rhian is passionate about driving organizational growth by finding the right people. She is skilled at high volume recruiting, medical direct placement and executive searches and is viewed by her clients as a trusted advisor, mentor and coach. Rhian earned a BA in Economics from Georgia State University as well as an MBA and Master's Certificate in Human Resources. She is an avid fitness enthusiast having completed 16 half marathons and a wide variety of fitness challenges.

Braden Albert is the Founder and President of the HR Star Conference and its parent company, Abbington Court Media. A graduate of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Braden began organizing job fairs and trade shows in the mid-1990's. Intrigued by the idea of bringing people together for a shared, learning experience - and impressed by the impact such an experience can provide - Braden organized his first HR Star Conference in 1999. Today, the scope of the HR Star Conference includes annual events in Los Angeles, California; Atlanta, Georgia; San Francisco, California; and Cleveland, Ohio. Over 3,300 HR professionals attended an HR Star Conference in 2018.