San Francisco HR Star Conference
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Featured Presenters

Jill Christensen is an author, international keynote speaker, employee engagement expert and President of Jill Christensen International – a global firm based in Denver, Colorado that focuses on teaching companies proven strategies to re-engage their employees. With three decades of real-life, in-the-trenches Fortune 500 executive-level experience, Jill’s view is radically different from many other employee engagement experts. Prior to launching her consulting firm in 2009, Jill served as the head of Global Internal Communications at both Avaya and Western Union. Jill’s proven approach for increasing employee engagement has allowed her to speak throughout the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and India. Jill is also a best-selling author, holds a Six Sigma Green Belt and was named a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer. In 2017, her popular blog was awarded a Top 100 Corporate Blog alongside that of Apple and Microsoft. Jill partners with the best and brightest leaders around the world to re-engage employees, improve productivity, retention, customer satisfaction and revenue growth. She has worked in 13 industries with clients that include: Samsung, Novartis, AT&T, Nokia, ARROW, TIAA and ACT as well as numerous U.S. cities and non-profit organizations.

Allison West, Esq., SHRM-SCP, AWI-CH is the Managing Principal of Employment Practices Specialists LLC and holds a simple approach to employment practices: be proactive. Using her employment law background, coupled with her sound knowledge of human resources practices, Allison provides proactive risk management services aimed at helping companies both prevent and resolve employment claims. She is a frequent speaker on employment law and human resources topics at national conferences related to human resources and diversity. Allison specializes in delivering customized in-house training programs to companies of all sizes, serving a wide variety of industries. Her clients include: Chiquita Brands, SanDisk, Kodak EasyShare Gallery, Sharp Hospital, and Portola Pharmaceuticals. Her expertise also includes delivering one-on-one sensitivity training to executives, managers and employees concerning harassment, discrimination, and disciplinary and/or behavioral issues as well as conducting workplace investigations, providing expert witness assistance and other HR consulting. Allison is a member of the State Bar of California and holds an AWI-CH credential.

Mark Vickers is the Chief Research Analyst and Data Wrangler at the HR Research Institute (HRRI), which is powered by - the world’s largest social network for HR professionals. Over the last five years, Mark has helped HRRI establish a leading-edge HR research service that has produced well over 200 major reports, infographics, case studies and other research products. He has also regularly spoken at and other events on a wide range of topics, from total rewards to the future of the HR function. Mark has worked in the fields of business research and communications for most of his career, starting at the Human Resource Institute at Eckerd College and then at the Institute for Corporate Productivity, Nielsen Media and Bersin by Deloitte. Mark graduated with Honors from Eckerd College located in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Shari Dunn is Managing Director, Gallagher HR & Compensation Consulting and has a long and varied background in compensation management. She has worked both internally as a manager and as a consultant with such firms as McKinsey & Co., Deloitte, Boise Cascade and Bank of America. She later founded CompAnalysis, a San Francisco Bay Area consultancy dedicated to helping employers make successful compensation decisions. Prior to being acquired by Gallagher in 2010, CompAnalysis had grown to become a leading independent compensation management consulting firm, specializing in broad-based pay plans. Now she and her staff at Gallagher work with both non-profit and for-profit employers to develop and maintain executive and broad-based compensation plans, as well as incentive pay approaches, for employers across the U.S. Shari has a B.A. degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and is the former President of what then was the 5,000 + member Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA). In 2022 she was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for Consulting Excellence from Consulting Magazine.

Robert Yang, Esq., CIPP is an attorney in the San Francisco office of Jackson Lewis P.C. As a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP), Rob assists clients with complying with the matrix of laws governing the privacy, security and management of data. This includes advising on compliance questions involving the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), HIPAA, EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and similar privacy laws. He is also an active member of the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity Practice Group, focusing on issues pertaining to the CCPA. Rob has handled cases responding to data breaches and government inquiries. Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Rob practiced insurance coverage law with a focus on cybersecurity, privacy and data breaches. There he counseled clients in connection with incidents impacting personal information. Rob has participated in developing strategy to defend companies in data breach class actions and investigations brought by regulators. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked as an engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earning him the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service. Rob earned his J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, his B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering and has been recognized as a "Rising Star" since 2021 by California Super Lawyers.

Sophie Alcorn, Esq. is the Founder & CEO of Alcorn Immigration Law with offices in Silicon Valley, New York City, Dallas and Houston. Sophie is a leading California immigration attorney, entrepreneur and thought leader. Board Certified as a Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization, she has helped thousands of people successfully navigate the U.S. immigration system. As an expert on U.S. and global immigration, corporations and entrepreneurs frequently seek her counsel on immigration mobility. Sophie has been quoted in publications like The New York Times, Financial Times and The Atlantic, and she has been invited to speak about immigration topics at TechCrunch Disrupt, the Bar Association of San Francisco and Stanford University. She authors TechCrunch's popular weekly immigration advice column, Dear Sophie, and she hosts the podcast, Immigration Law for Tech Startups. Sophie also founded the nonprofit - the Community for Global Innovation - to support international students in the U.S. obtain subsidized, high-quality legal advice and access to employment opportunities. Sophie’s mission is to help people harness their strengths, follow their hearts, find direction in their goals and live out their dreams.

Blair Martin, AIF is the Managing Principal of Stonebridge Financial Group where he leads a team of financial professionals in providing strategic financial services and ongoing, proactive support to his corporate and private clients. At Stonebridge Financial Group Blair creates customized financial strategies designed to preserve and grow corporate and private clients’ investment portfolios based on their individual goals. Blair began his financial career in 2001 at American Express Financial Advisors, where he gained valuable experience in individual wealth management and goal-based financial plans. In 2004 Blair joined Smith Barney, where he expanded his practice to encompass corporate retirement plans and executive benefits. There he gained recognition for his knowledge of 401(k) plans and client relations. In 2009 he was asked to join Stonebridge Financial Group, where he joined the Elite Advisor Group. Blair holds an Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation. He received a BA degree in International Business and French from the University of Oregon and an Associate’s degree in Viticulture, which he puts to use in his family’s wine business Toby Lane Vineyards.

Phyllis H. Sarkaria, MBA, MA is the CEO of The Sarkaria Group where she is a certified coach, facilitator and trusted adviser. With more than 30 years of leadership experience, Phyllis has held executive roles in human resources and government affairs with responsibility for strategic planning, merger integration and team effectiveness. She has led multi-million-dollar system implementation and integration initiatives, and she has worked closely with top executive leaders to build capability and improve organizational outcomes. Prior to founding The Sarkaria Group, Phyllis served as Vice President of Human Resources for Quidel Corporation - a leading medical diagnostics manufacturer. There she oversaw the company’s global HR strategy and programs for over 12 years. Prior to joining Quidel, Phyllis held roles in HR, financial analysis, strategic planning and government affairs, mainly with large corporations in the energy industry. Today she works with clients from a wide range of industries, serving as a catalyst to help leaders and teams gain fresh perspectives and elevate their performance. Her coaching certifications are from the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute, Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching as well as Systemic Team Coaching from Peter Hawkins. A Master Certified Executive Coach and a published scholar on authentic leadership, Phyllis is the author of Courageous Clarity: Navigating the Way Forward on Your Leadership Journey. Phyllis teaches Ethics and HR Analytics in the Organizational Leadership and Human Resources Management programs at Claremont Lincoln University. She holds a BBA in Finance and an MBA from Texas Tech University as well as an MA in Ethical Leadership from Claremont Lincoln University. Phyllis believes that leadership is a journey, not a destination, and that HR is often called upon to assist others on the journey of building their leadership capabilities.

Dave Collins is the Founder & CEO of Oak and Reeds - a corporate training firm dedicated to using the tools of improvisation to train clients on everyday soft skills. Dave is an award-winning improvisor, speaker and corporate strategist with over a decade of experience performing and coaching improv. Along with his teammates, Dave won the National Collegiate Improv Tournament. He has headlined shows across the United States and individually has coached hundreds of students and professionals in the art and practice of applied improvisation. Prior to founding Oak and Reeds, he worked as a change management expert at AECOM. As part of AECOM's workplace strategy team, Dave helped clients to examine the relationship between workspace and productivity, enabling people to break old habits and embrace change. Dave has a BA in Communication and Economics from Northwestern University with a specialization in Team Leadership.

Alexis Haselberger, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, RCC is a time-management, productivity and leadership coach. She spent the first 15+ years of her career managing human resources and operations at several early-stage start-ups. Over that time Alexis developed and implemented numerous leadership and productivity systems as well as training programs to ensure that goals were met and that the companies thrived. Additionally, Alexis has worked at an HR outsourcing firm as an HR consultant to over 100 companies. Today, through her private practice, Alexis helps individuals and teams do more and stress less via coaching and corporate workshops on the issues of time-management, productivity and leadership. Her client list includes notables like Google, Upwork, Lyft, Silicon Valley Bank among many others. Alexis holds a BA from New York University and remains active in the Bay Area HR community.

Estie Briggs, MS is President of Briggs Performance Consulting where she is an accomplished change coach and consultant with more than 15 years of experience launching large-scale organizational change management and training initiatives. Estie has coached leaders at all levels of the organization and has led hundreds of workshops across the globe to create impactful and relevant learning experiences. She is passionate about building strong interpersonal relationships, creating joyful workplaces and helping others recognize and leverage their strengths. Estie is an Everything DiSC authorized partner, Emotional Intelligence Coach, APMG Change Coach and SHRM credit provider. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies from Saint Mary's College of California and a Master's of Science in Organization Development from the University of San Francisco.

Brett L. Ward, CFI® is the Divisional Vice President of Client Relations for Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. (WZ) as well as a consultant and an instructor. Over the span of his career, Brett has led over 850 seminars on interview and interrogation techniques, and he has conducted hundreds of investigations throughout the United States for private, law enforcement and government entities. In addition is a frequently requested speaker for the National Retail Federation, American Society of Industrial Security, Eye for Retail – Europe as well as multiple labor and employment conferences. Brett's government sector clients include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the FBI; the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Brett began his career in corporate investigations in 1988 with the former May Company. He was promoted to Regional Investigations Director over multiple states in 1996 before accepting a position with WZ in April 1998. Brett currently runs the Private Division for WZ, a responsibility that includes 240 clients and 150 contractual and open registration programs annually. Brett graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma and received his degree in Finance, Business Administration.

Lorie Reichel-Howe is the Founder and Lead Trainer of Conversations in the Workplace as well as a professional mediator and a leadership communication coach. She equips managers, teams and business professionals to have “Safe Conversations” – transformative dialogue that uncovers hidden workplace issues. Whether addressing challenging team dynamics, mismanaged expectations, cultural insensitivity or good old-fashioned bad behavior, “Safe Conversations” foster greater innovation, inclusion and collaboration within organizations. With over 20 years of experience in communications, management and training and development, Lorie is passionate about supporting organizations in creating a culture where people love where they work and love the people they work with. Organizations Lorie has supported include Pinterest, SHRM, PIHRA,, Women in Technology International, Los Angeles Women’s Leadership Conference, Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, Santa Clara Superior Court, San Jose State University, Santa Clara County Office of Education among many others. Lorie received her B.A. from Seattle Pacific University and her mediation and conflict coaching certificate from Community Boards in San Francisco. In addition, Lorie has served as adjunct staff with Antioch University.

Hanna Bankier, MA, ACC is the Founder of and a Change Catalyst at Working Solutions Group where he is a consultant, content creator, executive coach and OD practitioner. Hanna spent the first 15 years of her career producing television shows that were seen on Discovery, Travel Channel and National Geographic. She left her VP of Production position at Northern California’s largest independent television production house to follow her passion for cultivating leaders at work and in life. For the past several years Hanna has helped organizations realize sustainable results by aligning employee performance with organizational excellence. In addition to setting standards and inspiring people, Hanna works with organizations to build energized and productive teams that can adapt to change and contribute to more positive cultures. Her clients span the worlds of media, manufacturing, distribution, consumer products, non-profits, consulting and marketing. Hanna holds a BA in Electronic Communication Arts, MA in Industrial Organizational Psychology, a Certification in Mediation and Conflict Resolution as well as an ACC Certification from International Coaching Federation.

James Palen is a Consultant at TIAA and a ScholarShare 529 representative. A firm believer that education is one of the most valuable treasures we can give to our future generations, James helps organizations to provide education and support for employees looking to save for education through the Scholarshare Workplace Savings Program. Increasingly employers have become interested in the growing need for their employees to support financial issues beyond the paycheck, including benefits, retirement savings and college savings. Doing so connects the company to the employee’s family, reduces employee financial stress and helps foster loyalty and retention. James works diligently with organizations of all sizes and industries to help their employees develop a grounding in financial wellness as well as tax efficient savings strategies and proper education planning. James has a strong background in comprehensive financial planning, but he is now wholly focused on education savings. James holds a degree in Financial Economics from the University of Maine.

Roberta Bechtel is the Director of Qualified Plans at Stonebridge Financial Group. She has been in the retirement industry for over 30 years working in multiple capacities as a 401k analyst, financial advisor, third party administrator and most recently as a Senior Relationship Manager for Empower Retirement. Roberta joined Stonebridge Financial in 2021 with a goal to provide service to plans at the highest standard. She is responsible for monitoring retirement plans with the goal of improving plan design, investment options and helping ensure that plan costs are in line with those of similar size and complexity. Roberta holds a Series 7 and 66 FINRA Registration as well as a California Insurance License.

Braden L. 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 3,200 HR professionals attended an HR Star Conference in 2019.