Don’t miss these dynamic keynote addresses from leaders in the industry.


Darby Allen

Darby Allen

The 2016 Albertan wildfire was the costliest disaster in Canadian history—destroying 2,400 buildings and homes and displacing the entire community of Fort McMurray. And through it all, from beginning to end, was Fire Chief Darby Allen. A figure of stability to his community, a reliable source of information to the press, and a humble leader, Allen became the human face of both incredible tragedy and courage. With Allen’s leadership, Fort McMurray was successful evacuated—and the fire claimed zero lives. How did he maintain composure in life-or-death conditions? What is it like to endure, and overcome, a disaster of such magnitude in one’s own backyard? Today, Allen is bringing the riveting inside story of the rescue operations to audiences everywhere. Framed as a personal narrative, this keynote takes you through his day-to-day struggles against the fire, shining a light on the community—and national—trust that empowered his efforts.


Elizabeth Freedman

Elizabeth Freedman

Elizabeth Freedman, MBA, CSP, is a Principal at Bates who advises and coaches executives on developing strategies to gain global influence and credibility, building strong stakeholder relationships, and motivating their employees and teams to deliver business results through outstanding leadership and communication. Through her consultative approach, and backed by rigorous evaluation, she helps C-suite leaders and senior leadership teams at more than 20% of the Fortune 500 and has worked with leaders holding a broad range of C-Suite functional and business roles.

Before joining Bates in 2011, Elizabeth worked at the consulting firms Accenture and marchFIRST. She also served as an MBA Marketing lecturer at Dominican University in Chicago and was a former Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. She is author of “Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace Without Hanging Yourself.” Her expertise on leadership has appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times and U.S. News & World Report, and was a featured coach in The Boston Globe. She has also appeared on The Moth, the Public Radio show that airs on more than 470 public radio stations worldwide.


Benjamin Hardy

Benjamin Hardy

Benjamin has been the #1 writer on Medium.com since 2016. He writes about self-improvement, motivation, learning, and entrepreneurship, organically receives more than 1,000 new email subscribers daily, and works to help his readers live in alignment with their highest values and visions.

A parent of 5 epic kids, Benjamin is pursuing his PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Clemson University. His research focuses on the psychological differences of actual entrepreneurs vs. wannabe entrepreneurs. His work has been featured at Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, New York Observer, Thought Catalog, and others.


Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday

Ryan is a strategist and writer. He dropped out of college at 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and later served as the Director of Marketing for American Apparel. His company, Brass Check, has advised clients like Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as many prominent bestselling authors. Ryan has written four books, most recently “The Obstacle Is the Way,” which has been translated into 17 languages and has a cult following among NFL coaches, world-class athletes, TV personalities, political leaders, and others around the world. He lives on a small ranch outside Austin, Texas.


Jade Simmons

Jade Simmons

In her inimitable career as a concert pianist, Jade has remained committed to expanding the boundaries of classical music and its presentation and as a result has revolutionized the concert platform. Today, she offers an incredibly diverse mix of repertoire from the classics to the cutting-edge and diverse audiences have come to expect creative projects backed by riveting performances. Jade has toured the US extensively in recital and with orchestra highlighted by performances at venues as wide-ranging as Ravinia, the Chicago Sinfonietta in Symphony Hall, New York’s Town Hall and the Detroit Institute of Arts. She has performed at The White House and has also received the Sphinx Organization’s Medal of Excellence in a concert held at the US Supreme Court hosted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.


Carla Rieger

Carla Rieger

Carla is an expert on helping people conduct “mental resets” to increase resilience so they can thrive and grow despite challenging situations. She is the director of The Artistry of Change Training, Inc., a consulting firm started in 1991. Her academic background includes an undergraduate degree in organizational psychology, graduate work in counseling psychology, plus certificates in conflict resolution, adult education and educational kinesiology. She has written four books, hundreds of articles and over 80 online learning programs. In addition, she has 24 years as an organizational change trainer and speaker, and 10 years of experience in the performing arts, specifically comedy.


Libby Spears

Libby Spears

Libby Spears is the founder of Bravo CC, a Communications and Consulting Venture, that works with professionals and corporations from across the United States to stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. For more than 10 years she has developed the highest-quality training and leadership programs all designed to help her clients change how they communicate in order to be successful. Libby’s client list includes JCPenney, GameStop, Accenture, Overhead Door and Stantec Engineering.

The author of two books, Libby has a love for writing and teaching. She is gifted at challenging people to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. Whether coaching executives from the C-Suite to close multi-million dollar sales, developing successful leadership programs for corporations, or captivating an audience from the conference stage, Libby’s troublemaking tendencies may be her greatest strength. She is not afraid to ask the tough questions or have the conversation that no one will have for the purpose of making BIG things happen.

A native of Lubbock, Texas, Libby’s first paid gig as a speaker came at an early age. As a seven-year-old, she was invited to tell a joke at an in-studio taping of a game show. When she was done, her life changed forever: She got paid! Years later, Libby taught college in the communication studies departments at the University of North Texas and Texas Christian University. In 2005, she started Bravo CC. Today, she focuses her business on three things: to educate, liberate, and entertain every person she works with.

Libby is a coffee addict, wife and mom, remembers way too much pop culture trivia from the 1970s and 1980s, was a debate nerd in high school, and knows every word to the 1980s rap classic, Bust a Move.


Any person who attends an NBAA convention, conference, seminar or other program grants permission to NBAA, its employees and agents (collectively "NBAA") to record his or her visual/audio images, including, but not limited to, photographs, digital images, voices, sound or video recordings, audio clips, or accompanying written descriptions, and, without notifying such person, to use his or her name and such images for any purpose of NBAA, including advertisements for NBAA and its programs.