KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Sister Reyna I. Aburto

“Being One in Quorums and Relief Societies”

Sister Reyna I. Aburto was called in April 2017 as the second counselor in the general presidency of the Relief Society, the Church’s organization for its six million female members ages 18 and older. She was born in Nicaragua to Noel Blanco and Delbi Cardoza and married Carlos Aburto of Mexico in the Jordan River Utah Temple in 1993. They are both converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they have three children and two grandchildren.

She attended Universidad Centroamericana, where she studied industrial engineering for four years, and holds an AAS degree in computer science from Utah Valley University. She has worked in the language industry for more than 25 years, balancing work, family and Church responsibilities, and now owns a small translation business with her husband.

Sister Aburto says two major incidents from her childhood greatly impacted her life: surviving an earthquake that destroyed her home and killed her older brother, and living through a period of civil unrest in Nicaragua in the late 1970s. Through these difficult experiences of loss, uncertainty and fear, she learned relationships, family, love and faith are our most precious possessions.

In 1989, after going through a difficult time in her life, she was invited by Latter-day Saint missionaries to attend church in California. She was hesitant at first, but recalls feeling safe and at home the moment she stepped into the meetinghouse. A few weeks later, at age 26, she was baptized. She says she has “never stopped marveling at the beauty of the gospel,” calling her membership in the Church a huge privilege and gift.

Sister Aburto served on the Primary general board from 2012 to 2016, where her responsibilities included coordinating resources for children in the Church with disabilities, involvement in the Scouting program, improving Primary web content and providing trainings to Church leaders in the United States and Mexico. Her family attended Spanish-speaking congregations until 2013, when they began attending their neighborhood English-speaking ward, and she has served extensively in the Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, Sunday School and Scouting organizations in her ward and stake (diocese). Sister Aburto says her husband, Carlos, is her “best friend” and her “biggest support,” and they enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.

Joseph Grenny

“Crucial Skills for Connecting: How to Talk Best when it Matters Most”

Joseph is the coauthor of four immediate New York Times bestsellers with more than three million copies in print: Crucial Conversations, Influencer, Crucial Accountability, and Change Anything.

For the past thirty years, Joseph has conducted social science research with the goal to help leaders and organizations achieve new levels of performance. Specifically, he has focused on human behavior—the
underlying written and unwritten rules that shape what employees do every day.

A protégé of Albert Bandura, the world’s most influential and greatest living psychologist, Joseph’s internationally published research led to the development of his four books as well as four award-winning training solutions of the same titles, which have helped more than one million people and 300 of the Fortune 500 companies in 36 countries change human behavior.

Hal Gregersen

“Question Everything: Unlocking Better Answers by Asking Better Questions”

As Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center and a Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Hal challenges leaders to question the way they think and act to build a better, more creative world. To grasp how anyone can find and ask the right questions – ones that disrupt how we view and interact with the world – Hal has interviewed more than 200 renowned innovative leaders during the past five years for a forthcoming book, “Question Everything.” Hal is the founder of the 4-24 Project, an initiative dedicated to rekindling the provocative power of asking the right questions in adults so they can pass this crucial creativity skill onto the next generation.

Hal has co-authored ten books. His most recent (co-authored with Jeff Dyer and Clayton Christensen), “The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators,” explored where disruptive innovations come from by interviewing founder entrepreneurs and CEOs at 100+ of the most innovative companies in the world and assessing how 15,000+ leaders leverage five key innovation skills to create valuable new products, services, processes, and businesses.

Before joining MIT, Hal taught at INSEAD, London Business School, Dartmouth College, Brigham Young University and in Finland as a Fulbright Fellow. He is also a Senior Fellow at Innosight. Ranked as one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50, Hal works with a diverse set of organizations, ranging from Chanel to Zappos to UNICEF, to help them master the challenges of innovation and change.

Hal was a missionary in Finland long ago and recently served in the Mount Auburn ward (in Cambridge) with his wife, Suzi. They are the parents of seven children, scattered across planet earth, from Seattle to Nairobi, and eight grandchildren. Suzi and Hal have spent more than a decade living outside the United States – in England, France and the UAE. Currently, they are resident adventurers in Nahant (with their King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Sophie), where Suzi works as a sculptor and he pursues his lifelong avocation, photography.

WORKSHOP SPEAKERS

Jane Clayson Johnson

“A Conversation about Depression: Finding Hope”

Jane Clayson Johnson is an Emmy-winning journalist and author, widely known for her work on CBS’s The Early Show as co-host with Bryant Gumbel. Before that, she traveled the globe as an ABC News correspondent for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and Good Morning America. She has also reported for The CBS Evening News, 48 Hours and produced specials for the Discovery Channel. Her bestselling book, I Am a Mother, chronicles her decision to leave the network news business to have a family. Jane substitutes for host Tom Ashbrook on NPR’s On Point and for the last two years has been working on a book about depression which will be published by Deseret Book next year. Jane and her husband Mark live with their children in Belmont.

Steven and Margaret Wheelwright

“Temple and Family History Work: What’s Your Story?”

President Steven C. Wheelwright and Sister Margaret S. Wheelwright are in their second year as President and Matron of the Boston Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  President Wheelwright graduated from the University of Utah as a mathematics major, minoring in physics and chemistry. After completing a two-year mission for the LDS Church in the North Scottish Mission he married Margaret Steele and soon after they went to Stanford University where he received his MBA and Ph.D. at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Margaret received her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from Wheelock College in Boston.

During Steve’s long academic career he taught at INSEAD, a private business school in Fontainebleau, France, the Stanford Graduate School of Business where he also served as the Chair of the Strategic Management Dept., and the Harvard Business School where he also served as a Senior Associate Dean in charge of the MBA program, Faculty Planning and Development, and then as Chairman of HBS Publishing. He has also held endowed professorships at both the Stanford Graduate School of Business and at the Harvard Business School.

He presided with his wife, Margaret (Steele), over the England London Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2000-2003. From 2007-2015 he and his wife presided over BYU-Hawaii, part of the LDS Church Higher Education System. President Wheelwright also has served as a Bishop, a Stake President’s counselor, a High Counselor, and a Stake YM President. Sister Wheelwright has also served as a Stake YW President, a seminary teacher, a ward Primary President and as a Stake Relief Society President. President Wheelwright and Sister Wheelwright have 5 children and 20 grandchildren and their permanent home is in Oakley, UT.

Joseph Sowa

“The Gospel and the Creative Life”

Joseph Sowa grew up playing violin and listening to orchestral broadcasts on NPR. Surrounded by these sounds, he wanted to make more of them.

His concert works have been played by the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras, the PRISM Quartet, the Lydian String Quartet, the Quartetto Indaco, the Awea Duo, the Tower Duo, Jaren Hinckley, Daniel Stepner, and Charity Tillemann-Dick, among others.

He has been commissioned by performers including the Genesis Chamber Singers, the Farallon Quintet, Carolyn Hove, and Neil Thornock as well as foundations including the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and the Laycock Endowment for Creative Collaboration in the Arts.

Joseph’s sacred music, including originals and arrangements, has been performed in congregations across the United States and in London. His arrangement of “For the Beauty of the Earth” was recorded by soprano Charity Tillemann-Dick on her album American Grace, which debuted no. 1 on the Billboard® “Traditional Classical” chart.

Joseph is currently the 2017-18 Fellow for Collage New Music and a PhD candidate (ABD) in composition and theory at Brandeis University.

Joseph served a mission in Perth, Australia, and has held various church callings including ordinance worker (his favorite), Sunday School teacher, and elders quorum president.

Robert Wood

“Between Babylon and Zion: On Asking the Right Questions”

Elder Robert S. Wood, having served for over ten years as a General Authority and member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was called as the President of the Boston Temple where he served from 1 November 2009 until his release on 1 November 2012.  As a General Authority, he served as President of the Utah North and Brazil North Areas and at Church Headquarters assisted in the Area Committee, Public Affairs, and the Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcasts.  He is currently a member of the Military Relations Advisory Committee in the Priesthood Department.

He had previously been a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy, serving as an Area Seventy in the North America Northeast Area. He also previously served twice as bishop and as stake president and regional representative.  He has been on several high councils and served as a ward and stake Young Men’s president, and Sunday School instructor.  He was a missionary in the French Mission for two and a half years.  He is currently a sealer in the Boston Temple and is the Newport Ward mission leader.  In addition to many books and articles over the years, he is the author of The Complete Christian (Deseret Book, 2007).

A native of Idaho, Brother Wood grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and graduated from Idaho Falls High School.  He later married Dixie Leigh Jones of Palo Alto, California.  Dixie graduated from Stanford University in Modern European Literature.  They are the parents of four married daughters and have thirteen grandchildren and one great grandchild.  They currently reside in Middletown, Rhode Island.  Sister Wood has served twice as a ward Relief Society president, Young Women’s president, and Primary president, seminary teacher, and counselor in the stake Relief Society presidency.  She served with Brother Wood as Matron of the Boston Temple.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate in History with Highest Distinction from Stanford University, Brother Wood earned his A.M. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University.  He taught at Harvard University and Bentley College and was a professor in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia.  He served in the Netherlands as Fulbright-Hays Senior Professor at the University of Groningen Law School and at the University of Tilburg Department of Political Economy.  Brother Wood served at the U.S. Naval War College as Chairman of the Department of Policy and Strategy and as Dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies.  He held the Chester W. Nimitz Chair of National Security and Foreign Affairs and twice served as Director of the Chief of Naval Operations´ Strategic Studies Group   He has regularly provided advice to the White House, the Congress, and the Department of Defense and currently participates in national security and public policy studies and workshops in Washington, D.C..

John Thompson

“What Ancient Temples Can Teach Us About Drawing Near to the Lord and to One Another”

John S. Thompson is the Director of the LDS Institute of Religion for the Boston/Cambridge area, loves living in New England, and treasures his interactions with the young adults and their teachers and Church leaders. His passion for antiquities and religious symbolism compelled him to obtain a BA and MA in Hebrew Bible studies from Brigham Young University and the University of California at Berkeley respectively and a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Pennsylvania, having a research focus on early Egyptian and Israelite history and religion, temple theology, covenant theology, as well as ancient and modern priesthood orders. He contributes regularly to conferences and publications dealing particularly with ancient and modern temples, such as those hosted by the Academy for Temple Studies and The Interpreter Foundation’s Temple on Mount Zion series.  He is also a participant in the Harvard Giza Project, which is creating a state of the art database-website for research pertaining to that ancient site.

John serves on the executive board of the Harvard University Chaplains and really enjoys interacting with and learning from students and leaders of all faiths. He is also on the Board of Editors for Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture which promotes and engages in faithful scholarship pertaining to LDS scripture and history. Church-related experiences include Young Men’s president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, Ward Mission Leader, and Bishop (Philadelphia, PA 1st Ward).

John has been married for more than 25 years to the awe-inspiring and lovely Stacey Ann Keller, whose violin and singing captured his heart on their first meeting and subsequent first date cleaning up dead and dying flies in his parent’s cabin (don’t ask) and whose degree in English and music has kept their home filled with good books and sounds ever since. She is the founder of the Orem Utah Chorale and the annual LDS Messiah concert in Valley Forge, PA that are both going strong years later. She has experience teaching weekly music theory classes to children, serving as music director for local high school plays, blogging about finding joy in motherhood, and is currently founding and directing a community theater group. John and Stacey have nine children who wear them out but fill them with love.

Roz Soulam Hawk and Jeffery Hawk

“Connecting through Communication, Courtship, and Communion: How an introvert and extrovert got together in their 30s”

Roz received her BA in Theatre and Film from BYU and from there entered the world of film and television. She has enjoyed a multifaceted career as both a casting director and actress working on productions with some of the top people in the industry.  As a principal casting director in Utah, Roz was involved in more than 100 productions from commercials to movies of the week for all major networks.  She was the lead casting director for the LDS church for 10 years working on all levels of church media.   As a SAG actress, Roz has had many speaking roles in made for TV movies and TV series such as “Touched by an Angel” and “Promised Land.”

Jeff has spent 25 years in the field of cost of living research and expatriate compensation at the firm Associates for International Research, INC (AIRINC) based in Cambridge, MA.  His career has taken him to over 50 countries including an assignment to Brussels, Belgium for 7 years with his wife and children.  He loves all things international and hopes to get to 60 countries by 60. Jeff served a mission to Paris, France, and received a BS in Accounting and a BA in French from the University of Utah and his MBA from Bentley University.  Currently, Jeff serves as the Bishop of the Longfellow Park 1st YSA ward in Cambridge.

Jeff and Roz live with their three children and new puppy in Sudbury, MA.

Elizabeth Harmer Dionne

“What Does the Gospel Teach us about Good Citizenship: Civic Virtue, Civic Engagement, and Social Capital?”

Elizabeth Harmer Dionne is the mother of four children and an attorney from Belmont, Massachusetts.  She began her career in business law but left the active practice of law when her oldest son was diagnosed with autism.  That led her down a path of advocacy for her own son and involvement in school and community organizations that support children with disabilities.  She currently works at Massachusetts Advocates for Children, representing low-income children with special needs, work which also forms the basis of her dissertation research into special education litigation.  As a member of Belmont’s Town Meeting (a form of town government peculiar to New England), she sits on Belmont’s Warrant Committee, which considers all proposed legislation.  She holds degrees from Wellesley College (Truman Scholar), the University of Cambridge (Marshall Scholar), and Stanford Law School and is a Ph.D. candidate in the political science department of Boston College.  She is the music chairman of the Belmont 2nd Ward, where she also conducts the ward choir and plays the organ.

Michael Thomas

“Career and Life Connections: How to Network, Find Mentors and Build Your Social Capital”

Michael K. Thomas is the President and CEO of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) in Boston, Massachusetts, an organization providing strategic policy leadership, capacity-building programs, professional development and consulting services to public policy makers and senior leaders of New England’s 260 colleges and universities.

He has worked in corporate training and human resources and held varied administrative positions in higher education institutions, both public and private. Prior to joining NEBHE, he served as Executive Assistant to the President at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brigham Young University and master’s degrees in higher education from Teachers College, Columbia University and Harvard University. He earned a doctorate in education and social policy from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Boston University.

He has held several university faculty appointments, currently teaching at Harvard University in the Continuing Education Division’s Graduate Management Program. He is a trustee of New England College and served as trustee and vice chair of the board of Worcester State University.

He is married to the former Jennifer Midgley Walker and they are the parents of four sons.

Jennifer Walker Thomas

“My Heavenly Mansion Will Have Good Parties: Building the Friendships that Make Life Joyful, Society Stronger, and Eternity Appealing”

Jennifer Walker Thomas has lived in the Boston area for over 20 years. She and her husband Michael arrived here freshly married, and all four of their boys were born here. It is home. Jennifer grew up in Salt Lake City, went to school at BYU, served a mission in Italy, studied in London, Italy, and Manhattan and finally moved to Boston where she has worked professionally, served in the church and volunteered in the community. In each of those places she has come to know remarkable women and men deeply invested in building Zion and has built deep and transformative friendships. She believes in the bonds that can be forged though working, studying, playing, serving and eating with other people and knows that those bonds can be a source of limitless joy.

Ike Nnah

“Finding Your Path: Navigating the Journey to Finding Your True Calling”

Ike Nnah is the Co-Founder & CTO of IntelyCare, a venture-backed fast growth tech company that’s disrupting the antiquated healthcare staffing industry. IntelyCare provides a truly on-demand care delivery platform built with smart mobile, web, and AI technology. It’s changing the way healthcare organizations provide consistent, quality care to their patients and residents. As CTO of IntelyCare, he manages every area of technology, R&D, product, including infrastructure, security, and overseeing Data Science and AI teams.

Ike started his career at Meditech, a medical software company in the Massachusetts area, he later went on to lead a Hospital Technology Department as they prepared and implemented solutions to meet the ARRA (American Recovery & Reinvestment Act). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from University of Massachusetts.

Ike is the Ward Clerk at the Hingham Ward. He’s married to Ada Nnah, with 3 lovely kids.

David Coppins

“Why I Hate Networking: How to Create a Large Network of Believers and Adoring Fans Just by Living Your Life”

David Coppins is currently Co-Founder and CEO of IntelyCare, one of Boston area’s hottest healthcare tech startups – disrupting healthcare staffing and solving the national nursing shortage crisis. He started his career as a strategy consultant for Monitor Group (now Monitor Deloitte) doing Competitive Advantage of Nations work and then focused on the financial services industry. Later he was a founding Principal of Monitor Clipper Partners, a private equity group that raised $630M for its first fund.

Prior to IntelyCare, David was President of Virgin Pulse, a Richard Branson company. Virgin Pulse is a SaaS company innovating employee engagement and wellbeing.

David was previously a Co-Founder of Upromise, a coalition marketing company helping families save for college, and served as President there before moving to Virgin Pulse.

Throughout his career, he has been a sometime DJ and is still known to play loud music for his large, raucous house parties.

David served in the Mexico Merida mission and has happily served in various callings in many different stakes, wards, and branches.

David, originally from Spokane, WA, graduated from BYU with a B.S. in Business Management. He married his high school sweetheart, Carol McCombs, and is the father of four amazing children.