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CEO Address & Leaders in Learning Panel Discussion

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Education may not have significant weight within an organization, so how can you ensure your voice gets heard? As leaders in learning, it is imperative that you show the value of learning to the organization from a community engagement and revenue standpoint. Hear first-hand from your peers who have experienced and excelled with these challenges and gain insights and strategies to apply to your day-to-day role.

Richard Finstein

CEO, CommPartners

Rich founded CommPartners as a provider of online learning services and events in 1994. His vision was to create a culture where people could learn, advance their careers and have fun. He has a passion for helping clients connect with their communities through education. Rich graduated from the University of Maryland and did his graduate work at Marymount University in instructional design. He now lives in Columbia, Md., with his wife of over 35 years. He has two grown children. Rich enjoys marathon running, biking, tennis and rooting for Baltimore sports teams.

Casandra Blassingame

Director of Education, American Gear Manufacturers Association

Casandra D. Blassingame - Recognized as a leader in adult and continuing education, she has over 20 years of experience in higher continuing and professional studies and workforce development and has dedicated her career to delivering high quality programs and engendering an atmosphere of collegiality and collaboration.

Casandra believes that leadership is a duty, not a position: A duty to lead by example. To work with staff and encourage a sense of community that extends beyond the unit and transcends the organization. A privilege that is charged with a vast amount of responsibility. The responsibility to inspire, development, mentor, and empower; and to direct instructors and staff to believe in the mission, vision, and goals of the organization and put it into action.

As the Director of Education for the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA), her primary responsibilities are to lead and collaborate with our [instructors] subject matter experts in the gear industry to develop relevant education and training courses and programs for gear industry professionals worldwide; lead the strategic initiatives for the education department and assist the membership director in providing "value added" benefits for our members; and develop partnerships with academic institutions and workforce development agencies to promote gear education through manufacturing curriculum and training program opportunities. In addition to her responsibilities at AGMA, she also serves as a Commissioner for the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

Casandra is a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where she also earned an MEd in Adult and Higher Education. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science from Talladega College, Talladega, AL.

Teresa Lynn Eyet, IOM

Senior Director, Conference Programming and Educational Development, AHCA/NCAL

A seasoned professional with a broad skill set, Teresa has worked in the retail, computer software, human resources, television production, and association management fields.  Prior to joining AHCA/NCAL in June of 2005, Teresa enjoyed a long career as a television producer and researcher. Her programs aired on Discovery Channel, TLC, Travel & Living, and Discovery Wings as well as numerous non-broadcast credits. 

As the AHCA/NCAL Senior Director of Conference Programming and Educational Development, Teresa facilitates the curriculum development for five national conferences and works to continually develop programming that is forward thinking and engaging.  She established the webinar program into an important content delivery method and worked with the AHCA/NCAL team to develop and launch a learning management system and an elite trainer community. In addition, Teresa transitioned association events into app environments.  

Teresa has a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master’s Degree in producing for Film and Television from the American University in Washington, DC. 

Teresa achieved her IOM credential in 2012 from the Midwest Site of the Institute for Organizational Management (IOM) and served as the board chair for the organization in 2016. She is a currently participating in a study group in preparation to sit for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) exam in May 2019. 

Josh Yavelberg, PhD

Education Manager: Online Learning, National Recreation and Park Association

Josh Yavelberg entered into the association field after years of teaching in higher education. His interest has been in furthering the practical applications of online learning by integrating his understanding of research and theory. Recently, Yavelberg has joined the ranks of NRPA where he manages all online learning interactions including the development and delivery of online courses, certificates, certification and accreditation preparation, webinars, micro-learning, and other professional development experiences where there is justified need. Maintaining an academic spirit, Yavelberg also strives to assess and share his experiences to further the body of knowledge in the industry. 

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