NIRSA 2014
Invited Speakers

NIRSA 2014 includes an all-star lineup of speakers

NIRSA has lined up exceptional speakers to engage, inspire & motivate you!

Keynote and Invited Speakers

In tune with the more than 120 educational sessions that attendees will have access to as part of NIRSA 2014 are the outstanding speakers NIRSA has arranged for the four day event.

Connie PodestaConnie Podesta

Connie Podesta, selected as the opening general session keynote speaker for NIRSA 2014, is a dynamic and award-winning speaker and author. Internationally recognized, Podesta has presented before nearly every major industry and at over 1,000 different organizations on topics of diversity, leadership, change, teamwork, empowerment, service, innovation and much more.

Many high-profile speakers simply teach audiences what to do. Good keynote speakers show audiences how to do it. Podesta has a reputation for doing all that and more; she will help your team understand why it’s important to change behaviors, re-think attitudes, re-assess old ideas and get on board so they can make things happen! Described as a “whirlwind of energy,” Podesta’s outside-of-the-box strategies and laugh-out-loud humor make her one of the most talked about speakers around today.

Tony ClementsTony Clements

Tony Clements has been an active member of NIRSA for 40 years, including serving as President of the organization in 1989. Clements has been the recipient of numerous NIRSA service awards and received the NIRSA Region 3 Award of Merit in 2008. He was also presented the Association’s most prestigious recognition, the NIRSA Honor Award, in 1996.

Tony attended the University of Illinois where he was a member of both the basketball and football teams. He received his Master’s in Recreation and Park Administration in 1972 and went on to join the Division of Campus Recreation. He was promoted to Director in 1979, a position he held until retiring in January 2009. Upon his retirement, Tony was appointed as a Board member of the United Way of Champaign County (UWCC), where he has served for the last five years. Tony has been honored with numerous awards for his dedicated service. In 2002, he won the University of Illinois Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award. In 2003, he was named the recipient of the Monsignor Edward J. Duncan Service Award, presented annually to a University of Illinois “football letterman” who has displayed exemplary dedication to his community, state, and country. Most recently, Tony was honored as winner of a National Philanthropy Association award as an Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser. He was also chosen to join the Board of the Marajen Stevick Foundation in January 2014.

On a lighter side, one of Tony’s favorite past times is performing stand-up comedy. He has produced his own annual comedy show, The Clements Comedy Café, since 1990, and it has supported a number of social service organizations throughout the years. Tony has also performed with comedian Sinbad, emceed shows for Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, and has been the opening act for Jerry Butler and Ray Charles. In 1998, Tony was asked to be the warm-up act when President Clinton and Vice President Gore visited the University of Illinois.

Since he first began presenting at NIRSA educational conferences and workshops in 1973, Tony has presented on over 50 occasions at NIRSA sponsored events, including three General Session presentations at the Annual Conference. His unique blend of humor, experience, and knowledge has made him a long-time favorite among NIRSA members.

John P. DuganJohn P. Dugan

John currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Higher Education graduate program at Loyola University Chicago where he teaches courses on leadership, student development theory, and multiculturalism for social justice. John’s research interests focus on the influences of higher education in shaping college students’ involvement and leadership development with a specific emphasis on marginalized voices and ideas. John currently services as the Principal Investigator for the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL), an international research program examining the influences of higher education on socially responsible leadership and other educational outcomes (e.g., efficacy, resilience, social perspective-taking, identity development). To date more than 250 institutions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica have participated in the study yielding over 300,000 college student participants. John’s research has generated 24 printed or in press publications (e.g., refereed articles, books, and book chapters), more than 60 presentations at national and international conferences.

John is a past recipient of the ACPA: College Educators International Burns B. Crookston Doctoral Research Award, Nevitt Sanford Award for Research in Student Affairs, and was named an Emerging Professional Annuit Coeptis. Additionally, the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) recognized John as the Melvene Hardee Dissertation of the Year Runner Up and the NASPA Knowledge Community for Student Leadership awarded him the 2009 award for Outstanding Student Leadership Research.

Bernadette Mazurek MelnykBernadette Melnyk

Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk is currently the Associate Vice President for Health Promotion, University Chief Wellness Officer, and Professor and Dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University.  She also is a professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Ohio State’s College of Medicine. Dr. Melnyk earned her Bachelor’s in Nursing from West Virginia University, her Master’s with a specialization in nursing care of children and pediatric nurse practitioner from the University of Pittsburgh, and her PhD in clinical research from the University of Rochester. She is an internationally recognized expert in evidence-based practice, intervention research and child and adolescent mental health. Dr. Melnyk has consulted with hundreds of healthcare systems and colleges throughout the nation and globe on how to improve quality of care and patient outcomes through implementing and sustaining evidence-based practice. Her record includes over 19 million dollars of sponsored funding from federal agencies as principal investigator and over 210 publications.

Dr. Melnyk is co-editor of four books, including Evidence-based Practice in Nursing & Healthcare: A Guide to Best Practice and Implementing EBP: Real World Success Stories, and she has published . She is an elected fellow of the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Nursing, the National Academies of Practice, and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She has received numerous national and international awards. Dr. Melnyk recently founded the National Interprofessional Education and Practice Collaborative to advance the Department of Health and Human Services’ Million Hearts initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. She also created and chaired the first National Summit on Building Healthy Academic Communities in April of 2013 that drew over 300 leaders from 93 Universities and colleges across the U.S. and founded the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities, a collaborative effort to improve population health in the nation’s institutions of higher learning. 

Juan MerazJuan Meraz

Juan Meraz is the Assistant Vice President for Multicultural Services in the Division for Diversity and Inclusion at Missouri State University. Juan graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management, a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and a Master of Business Administration. He has been teaching full time at Missouri State since 1999.

Juan has served as the Provost Fellow for Diversity at Missouri State, and a faculty adviser for LEAL – Leading in Education to Approach Latinos, SIFE – Students in Free Enterprise and Omega Delta Phi, a Multicultural Fraternity. He is the President for the Academy of International Business US Mid-West and an Assistant Director for Latin American, Caribbean, and Hispanic Studies. As a Certified Diversity Professional, Juan provides training for various organizations and companies nationally. He has established the Student Transition and Education Program (STEP) recruitment program for Hispanic students to teach them about financial aid, admission, and student life at the University.

Juan works to bring a better understanding of different cultures to the Missouri State University campus faculty, staff, and students. He will present, “Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts” and “Developing a Diverse Workforce.”

Mitchell ThomashowMitchell Thomashow

Dr. Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence. Currently he is engaged in teaching, writing, and executive consulting, cultivating opportunities and exchanges that transform how people engage with sustainability and ecological learning.

In August, 2011 Thomashow became Director of the Second Nature Presidential Fellows Program. This new program is designed to assist the executive leadership of colleges and universities in promoting a comprehensive sustainability agenda on their campuses. Fellows provide executive consulting on climate action planning, long-range financial planning, organizational leadership, curricular implementation, and community investment.

Thomashow also served as President of Unity College in Maine from 2006-2011 and before that as Chair of the Environmental Studies program at Antioch University New England. He is the founder of Whole Terrain, an environmental literary publication, originating at Antioch University New England, and Hawk and Handsaw, a journal of creative sustainability, published at Unity College. He is also author of two books that have significantly influenced environmental studies education: Ecological Identity: Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist and Bringing the Biosphere Home.

Contact Us

Contact NIRSA Assistant Director of Professional Development, Brittany Rejda.