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The 21st Century Workplace:  
Recruiting and Retaining Talent

November 1-2 | Hyatt Centric French Quarter

The 21st Century Workplace:  Recruiting and Retaining Talent


Bria Sativa Aguayo

Executive Director

Becoming a Welder, Inc.

Born in California, but a Texan at heart, Bria Sativa Aguayo is a welder, horticulturalist and painter. It was while growing up in Dallas, Texas she discovered Earth's original artist, nature. Her fascination with the world’s diversity became the inspiration to look deeper and explore the colors, shapes, and textures the natural canvas had to offer, and so began a love affair that continues today.

Aguayo went on to hone her craft by pursuing degrees and certifications in Horticulture, Landscape Design and Welding. Much of her experience includes horticultural landscape solutions that use native, edible, and medicinal plants. Her focus is on sustainability, xeriscaping, low water and low maintenance design, along with Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW).

Aguayo currently sits on the Executive Board of the American Welding Society (AWS) Atlanta Chapter, and is dedicated to educating people about the benefits and opportunities in welding. She is especially excited to get more women welding since they make less than 5% of welders. To do this she teaches welding classes at Mass Collective (a space for multidisciplinary collaboration) in Atlanta, Georgia.

With a cheerful “get it done” attitude and enthusiasm to share her passions, Bria Sativa Aguayo uplift others while finding ways to combine her love of welding, art, and plants. She broadened her scope and began working with nonprofits, small businesses, and residents throughout Georgia and New Jersey. She has recently launched an initiative recruiting the rentry population, unemployed, and underemployed to expose them to welding, assist in the process of becoming welders and connecting the new welders to employers.


Samantha Angermeier

Staffing Analyst

HKA Staffing

Samantha Angermeier is a Staffing Analyst with nearly 5 years of experience in the recruiting field.  Sam has placed employees in a variety of industries including Construction, Engineering, Financial and Clerical roles.  Sam is passionate about utilizing technology as an avenue to transform applicants into happy employees as well as quickly and efficiently supporting client needs.  

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Danielle Birney

Director of Workforce Development

Pelican Chapter, ABC

Danielle Birney is the Director of Workforce Development at the Pelican Chapter Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Danielle is passionate about the people who build and
maintain our country. She works with the current and future construction workforce to help build upon
existing skills and facilitate learning of new skills. Danielle enjoys seeing people take advantage of the
different opportunities available to them, to grow in their careers and become as successful as possible.
Danielle first started understanding her passion for people and the construction industry when she
began her career at NCCER in Alachua, Florida shortly after graduating from the University of Florida
with a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications.


Eddie Clayton

Director of Workforce Development

Southern Company

Eddie Clayton is an employee of Southern Company in the Operations Services group. His responsibilities include supporting the Southern Company's generating fleet and construction projects with labor market analyses, providing guidance and support with appropriate contracting strategies and providing support to workforce development initiatives necessary for Southern Company to meet its indirect hire needs. 


Eddie serves on the Board of Directors for the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) and is a co-chair for the Workforce Development Committee. In addition, he serves on the board of directors for the Central Gulf Industrial Alliance (CGIA), and the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA). 


Eddie has been with Southern Company for 36 years.  He is a graduate of the University of Alabama with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. 


John Havlik

Senior Program Manager for Workforce Development


As Senior Program Manager for Workforce Development at the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), John Havlik provides support services to a national network of accredited training organizations, and, acts as liaison for several industry initiatives.  John has extensive workforce development experience as an adult educator and program manager working with federally funded employment and training programs; as well as, experience in general construction, machine tooling and heavy equipment operations.  Havlik earned a B. S. degree in public administration and political science from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

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Brad Kibbe

Director of Apprenticeship, Florida Masonry Apprenticeship  and Education Foundation

Brad Kibbe is the Director of Apprenticeship for the Florida Masonry Apprenticeship and Educational Foundation (FMAEF). The FMAEF partners with LEA’s, colleges, Department of Corrections, and contractors to provide apprenticeship programs that train and employ apprentices across Florida. The FMAEF was awarded the 2018 National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) Career Pathways Excellence award.

Brad worked with the Osceola County School District for eleven years as a construction teacher and CTE program specialist focusing on industrial education, STEM and Career Pathways. Brad is an NCCER Master Trainer and certified OSHA instructor.


Jon Ponder

Founder & CEO

Prisoners of Hope

Jon D. Ponder is the founder and CEO of HOPE for Prisoners, Inc.  In 2017, Mr. Ponder was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to the Nevada Sentencing Commission and to the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education.  He was appointed to the Governor’s Reentry Taskforce and the US Commission on Civil Rights Nevada State Advisory Committee in 2016.


Jon holds a seat on the Executive Committee of RECAP (Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace) with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.  His responsibilities include oversight of all aspects of the programs and services provided by HOPE for Prisoners, including a comprehensive array of program components designed to assist individuals to successfully reintegrate into society.  He develops and implements strategic planning for the organization and is extremely passionate about the value of mentoring for persons coming out of correctional settings.


Mr. Ponder was himself formerly incarcerated and has more than twelve years’ experience in providing training for offender populations in correctional settings. His personal life experiences uniquely equip him to provide the guidance, direction and motivation for individuals attempting to navigate the challenges they face during the reintegration process.


Cassie Scher

Communications Associate

Nahigian Strategies

Cassie Scher is a communications associate with Nahigian Strategies, where she provides clients with guidance in earned media and digital media strategies. She has extensive experience in earned media event planning – including press conferences, product and policy rollouts, radio tours and trade show marketing, and is the go- to on all things social media.

Cassie brings to the team a background in marketing and political campaigns, policy and nonprofits. Before joining Nahigian Strategies, Cassie served as the Press Secretary and on the record spokesman for a DC policy group . Prior to that, she worked in the communications departments for both the Republican National Committee and the College Republican National Committee. Her work has been featured in a variety of print and broadcast outlets both domestically and internationally including NPR, USA Today, Politico, Baltimore Sun, and Fox News Radio, to name a few.

Cassie currently serves as volunteer faculty for the Leadership Institute and is an America’s Future Foundation Writing Scholar. She graduated from Arkansas Tech University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in History, Political Science, and Secondary Education.


Timothy R. B. Taylor

Chair, Construction Engineering and Project Management

University of Kentucky

Timothy R.B. Taylor, P.E., Ph.D. is the Terrell-McDowell Endowed Chair of Construction Engineering and Project Management in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Kentucky. His primary research areas are workforce issues and transportation infrastructure project development. Dr. Taylor holds dual appointments as an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and is the Program Manager for the Construction Engineering and Project Management Group within the Kentucky Transportation Center.


Dr. Taylor holds a doctorate in civil engineering from Texas A&M University and bachelors and masters in civil engineering from the University of Kentucky. He is a licensed professional engineer in Kentucky and Texas.

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Thomas J. Woodford


Phelps Dunbar LLP

Thomas J. Woodford, with over 30 years of management-side labor and employment experience, focuses his employment practice on representing employers in litigation, arbitration and mediation in federal and state courts and in proceedings before federal enforcement and regulatory agencies including the EEOC and the Department of Labor (Wage Hour Division, OFCCP, OSHA, and ETA), as well as similar state agencies.

Tom’s traditional labor experience centers on representing employers in union-management relations under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Railway Labor Act (RLA). He provides union-avoidance training and counseling during salting and election campaigns, collective bargaining, grievance arbitrations, unfair labor practice actions, withdrawal/decertification petitions and compliance proceedings.

Through individualized counseling, regular education and hands-on training of human resource professionals, attorneys and trade groups, Tom assists employers with employee recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, retention, discipline and termination of employment. Additionally, he routinely works with clients to draft preventative employment policies and procedures, employee handbooks, employment contracts, non-compete agreements, trade secret agreements, affirmative action programs, and drug testing programs.

Tom moved to Mobile in 1996. Prior to joining Phelps, he previously practiced at a regional employment law boutique on the Gulf Coast and a large multi-national firm in Washington, D.C.

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