MBA Research
With a focus on high school and post-secondary educators and administrators
Not-for-profit, research-based support for all Business Administration educators: entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, management/administration, and marketing.


Business Speakers

Opening Keynote

Maintaining and Driving Brand Loyalty During a Pandemic

Ty Tonander, Managing Partner/VP of Brand Design for Ultra Creative

Ty is going to talk about how branding is being affected by Covid-19. He will take us behind the scenes of high-stakes branding decisions being grappled with by organizations large and small as consumer needs and perceptions evolve. Topics will include:

  • Marketing tactics that Consumer Packaged Goods are developing in order to not only survive, but thrive during COVID-19.
  • Innovation that is helping brands remain relevant and helping them stay top of mind.
  • The purpose that brands are serving during the pandemic.
  • What brands should be aiming for to maintain success post Covid-19.

Ty J. Tonander is a Managing Partner/VP of Brand Design for Ultra Creative. He is a Brand Advisor and has been in the creative industry for 20 years – including roles at CBX, FutureBrand North America and Weber Shandwick Worldwide. He has led numerous redesigns and innovation projects for companies such as General Mills, Starbucks, Amazon, Mars, Pernod Ricard, Foster Farms, Georgia Pacific, Well’s Dairy, Jack Link’s and Chattem. He’s also worked with many small entrepreneurs to help bring their brands to life. Ty believes packaging should tell a story, engage consumers to want to purchase your product, and be tethered to consumer insights. He’s a trend fanatic and has led numerous trend-hunting expeditions for clients to help uncover the latest and greatest in product, design and innovation in any category.

Closing Keynote

“The Power of One” — Fostering a Speak Up Culture

Forrest Deegan, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

Forrest will talk about steps corporations can take to develop speak-up cultures and how this dovetails with MBA Research’s commitment to ethics through its partnership with the Daniels Fund. If you're curious how important this topic is for business,we encourage you to hear more from a leader in his field.

Forrest Deegan is responsible for enhancing A&F's Corporate Compliance Program and A&F’s Third-Party Risk Management program. He has oversight of functional compliance activities, ownership of specific compliance policies and works with internal partners to foster a speak-up culture throughout the business.  

Forrest is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago School of Law and was selected by Compliance Week as a "Top Mind" for 2018.

Prior to moving in-house, Forrest worked for nine years at Arnold & Porter in Washington D.C., representing multinational companies in advocacy and consulting capacities. Mr. Deegan clerked for Judge Kazen on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, after receiving his J.D. with honors from Duke Law School and his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Creative Thinking and Entrepreneurship

Nicole Clevenger & Raygan Barrett, Co-Founders of Wonderment

Nicole and Raygan will speak about their journey together, from teaching in a private art studio and co-creating a one-of-a-kind learning environment to starting an online, e-learning platform in November 2019 and developing a product during the pandemic. Their start-up, called Wonderment, provides curated art explorations that help parents, educators, and art organizations inspire, guide, and encourage creative thinking in children.

Nicole has 20+ years of teaching experience in an arts-integrated public elementary school in Columbus, Ohio and a privately owned art studio. She received her M.Ed in Education from The Ohio State University and develops early childhood curriculum for an online company and private school in East Hampton, New York. As an educator, her goal has always been to empower children to become independent thinkers, doers, makers, and problem solvers.

Raygan is an entrepreneur at heart. As a former art studio owner, designer, artist and consultant, she strives to help children fall in love with the exploratory nature and process of creating. She believes in the creative process and its power to spark joy and teach children to be more fully present and aware of the world around them.



To Create Inclusive Workplace Cultures, We Must Address Subtle Acts of Exclusion

Michael Baran, PhD, Senior Partner and Digital Solutions Lead at InQuest Consulting

Michael drives organizations toward innovative, evidence-based diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions by drawing on a deep understanding of the social science behind culture and cognition, identity and communication. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience from his own cultural anthropology research, he knows what works and uses those insights to create real change for organizations. In his presentation he will address the following topics and questions:

  • Acts of exclusion in the workplace, schools, and communities. 
  • What are subtle acts of exclusion and why do they matter? How are they related to “microaggressions”?
  • How can we speak up when subtle acts of exclusion happen to us or when we want to be allies?
  • How can we respond to feedback about subtle acts of exclusion with grace?

Michael has just released a new book, coauthored with Tiffany Jana, titled 
Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions

In addition to his inQUEST work, he has taught courses on race and identity, Latin America, child development, and research methodology at Harvard University and the University of Michigan. He has worked as Associate Director at the FrameWorks Institute and Principal Researcher at the American Institutes of Research, conducting ethnographic research to inform strategic framing and culturally competent campaigns around a variety of pressing social issues.

Michael received his B.A. from Emory University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology with a certificate in Culture and Cognition from the University of Michigan. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Community Engagement to Strengthen Employees and Employers

Shonna Dorsey, MS, PMI-ACP, Senior Business Systems Consultant in Information Services for Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company

Shonna will talk about how she engages with the community through her work at Mutual of Omaha engages and how employees can advocate for themselves to “follow their passions” at work in a way that is a win-win for employee and employer.

Shonna is a Nebraska native who holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Management Information Systems from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In her 20+ year career in information technology, Shonna has served in a variety of roles including startup co-founder, nonprofit vice president, business analyst and project manager.

Shonna is a community builder who serves on boards for several organizations dedicated to supporting workforce and community development initiatives throughout Nebraska including Heartland Workforce Solutions and RISE.

Shonna is a Commissioner for the Nebraska Information Technology Commission. She is dedicated to efforts to provide access to tech career advancement and professional development opportunities for all.


Going Remote with Large Teams

Joe Saculles, Senior Vice President of Operational Initiatives at U.S. Bank 

Many of us are familiar with working remotely now that we’ve been doing it for several months, but Joe will talk specifically about how this works with large teams. Mr. Saculles leads the project management team to drive key initiatives for Consumer and Business Banking Operations. He works with a team of 100 people and will share insights on remote work, including how he is “drawing his team closer” during these times, tools they use to maintain efficiencies, and how the banking industry is responding to consumer needs as a result of COVID-19.


Survival of the Fittest: How Smart Retailers Thrive in a Pandemic

Adam Lukoskie, Vice President, National Retail Federation Foundation

In 2020, retailers don’t have a choice about whether to transform business – the choice is how well they do it. Join Adam LukoskieVice President of the National Retail Federation’s foundation, and hear how NRF member retailers, Starbucks, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply Company, and Target have addressed the pandemic head-on, embracing technology, adopting more stringent customer safety policies and generally shifting to meet consumer demands. Hear how they’ve leaned into the human side of business and prioritized employees’ health and safety. Learn critical lessons from best-in-class CEOs and share their tools for success with your students. Presentation will include:

  • Game-changing business decisions made by retail CEOs duringthe pandemic
  • Retail as a formidable industry that continues to offer many exciting career paths
  • Free resources from NRF to use with your students, including:
    • NRF Leadership Series 
    • Metrics on retail’s economic impact, Y-O-Y
    • NRF job board
    • NRF research articles

Adam Lukoskie is Vice President of the NRF Foundation, where he oversees major programs and ensures that Foundation programs align with the National Retail Federation’s advocacy, research and workforce issues. Lukoskie has 15+ years of successful system transformation and teambuilding. At Teach for America, he oversaw $35M in purchasing, streamlined TFA’s procurement process, and led an award-winning team. He holds a B.A. from University of St. Thomas and an MBA from Georgetown University.

Employees Are Your Best Marketing Tool

Glenn Elliott, Owner at Olo Mazi 

Glenn Elliott, owner of Olo Mazi, an HR Consulting group, will speak at Conclave about building a company culture in which employees are the best marketing tool. Olo Mazi uses a people-centered approach for adaptive organizations who are looking to reconstruct their organizational structure, culture, and performance. Their work with their clients includes focusing on the areas of organization, culture, inclusion, talent, performance, and coaching to help businesses become “magnets for engaged and loyal humans”.

Glenn started Olo Mazi this past year after spending the last twenty years on executive teams at two world renowned companies, HSBC Financial Services, and Zappos. He holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, and B.S. in Political Science.

How to Conduct an Informational Interview

Billy Glading, CEO of

This presentation will highlight the process of conducting an informational interview and explain why this practice is important and beneficial for students. The session will provide the audience with information on how to contact an industry professional for an informational interview, go over key points on how to conduct the interview, provide sample questions to use during the interview, and how to follow up with the interviewee after the interview. After this session, participants will feel more confident in training students to conduct an informational interview and feel inspired to begin their career exploration and building their network with industry professionals!

Billy is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of, a video-based website and the premier provider of thousands of career informational interviews. Prior to starting Candid Career Billy spent five years playing lacrosse professionally in the MLL, and four years working as a commercial insurance broker in Chicago and Washington DC. Seeing a need for, and value in, a more video focused career education tool for young adults, Billy partnered with Neilye Garrity to create