Eric Giguere

Awards Breakfast Speaker

Life for Eric Giguere only looked up. A capable worker with a good job and good pay, he married on September 28, 2002. Within a week, the newlyweds would be on their honeymoon. Six days after the wedding Eric went to work and looked forward to leaving for his honeymoon after his shift was over. That joy never came to be.

Eric had 5 years experience as a union laborer, and was two months into his first trenching project. The crew was installing a 12-inch water main. Eric got down into the 6.5 foot trench to inspect the pipe, and the trench walls collapsed. He was buried under several feet of soil. Eric panicked. He was unable to breath under the crushing weight. His fear began to subside and a feeling of warmth and comfort overcame him. Eric was dying. 

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He regained consciousness in the hospital where he learned of the quick action of his team to dig him out. The doctors told Eric he suffered permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen. Despite the odds against any life other than one of permanent disability, Eric never stopped fighting to overcome what he was told was now impossible.

Eric is an average guy who had the typical attitude toward safety: "Accidents happen, but not to me". Until the one that nearly took his life. Now Eric's mission in life is to make sure the arrogance he had toward safety doesn't become yours. His message is simple and serious, “This can happen to you.”

Eric lectures about his experience and his focus on safety – your safety. He has consulted for many companies, such as ExxonMobil, NiSource, PG&E and Questar Gas. He has spoken at many safety seminars including the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Professional Development Conference, the National Safety Council, the Common Ground Alliance Conference and Expo and the VPPPA. Eric has a great relates with the average “working man” and tells audiences about his personal story from the heart.

Nicholas Wyman

Opening Session Keynote Speaker

Nicholas Wyman is a workforce development and skills expert, author, speaker, and CEO of the Institute for Workplace Skills and Innovation (IWSI Consulting). Wyman is a leader in developing skills-building, mentorship and apprenticeship programs that close the gap between education and careers around the world. IWSI Consulting works with a range of companies, governments and philanthropic organizations all across the globe, including IBM, Siemens, Nissan, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz as well as the Commonwealth of Virginia, the United Kingdom and Australia.

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Wyman frequently lectures on workplace job innovations, and appears on national broadcast programs. He is a regular contributor to Forbes and Quartz, and was named LinkedIn’s #1 Education Writer of the Year. His award-winning book, Job U, is a practical guide to finding wealth and success by developing the skills companies actually need. He is actively involved in school to work programs focusing on STEM education. A third-generation writer, Wyman began his own career by learning a trade. He was named Australian Apprentice of the Year in 1988 and went on to captain Australia’s gold medal-winning Culinary Youth Team. He has an MBA and has studied at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship.

Steve Russell

Industry Luncheon Speaker

Steve Russell brings unique experiences perhaps like no other when it comes to leadership. Whether serving as a soldier, national speaker, critically acclaimed author, small business leader or serving the public as a US Congressman, Steve Russell draws on his varied and enormous wealth of experiences to convey what it takes to build teams, lead them and get things done.

Russell is the author of "We Got Him! A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein." The late Robin Moore, author of The Green Berets and The French Connection praised Russell's book as "an extraordinary personal glimpse of the war. A monumental credit to himself, his troops, and the United States of America," while General Tommy Franks calls it "a moving, gripping account of one of the most remarkable achievements of soldiering in a generation." Russell has also been the subject of more than a half dozen documentaries and is widely known for his leadership, national security and foreign policy expertise.


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Through expert storytelling, he captivates audiences with the recounting of his personal experiences as a leader in the hunt and capture of Saddam Hussein while inspiring them with a message of hope. Not some academic theorist, Russell draws on a lifetime of success in many fields whether battlefields, competitive business, political fights, or at home. He can also provide expert guidance on the fundamentals of leadership, team-building, goal setting, negotiation, decision making under pressure, and follow-through until the task is complete.

Russell has a bachelors degree in Public Speaking and a masters degree in History. He retired from the US Army as a combat infantryman serving in Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has been decorated for valor, meritorious achievement and service and is a graduate of both the US Army Ranger and Airborne schools.

He founded Two Rivers Arms, a rifle manufacturing business whose Iraqi rifles were featured in Clint Eastwood's film "American Sniper." He served as both an Oklahoma State Senator and as a US Congressman.

Russell has been married more than three decades and has five grown children, three of whom are adopted. He believes success does not have to come at the expense of the things that matter most.

Den Bishop

HealthCare Session

Den Bishop is President of Holmes Murphy, one of the nation’s largest employee-owned and controlled insurance brokerages, where he leads the Employee Benefits practice. He’s also the co-founder of ACAP HealthWorks, an innovation and consulting firm focused on measurably improving health.

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Den is a recognized industry leader, a member of the Council of Employee Benefits Experts, and is a sought-after national speaker on the topic of healthcare cost, coverage, and complexity. He’s also the author of “The Book on Healthcare Reform” and the upcoming book “The Voter’s Guide to Healthcare, and is well-known for this thought leadership and visionary forward-thinking on the economic implications of the Affordable Care Act.

With more than 30 years of advising employers on how to build effective employee benefits plans, Den is in a unique position to understand the financing behind healthcare. Holmes Murphy’s primary business sits at the intersection of employers, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and the government giving Den a unique view on how these stakeholders come together. Den’s vision is to better connect the public and private financing sources of the U.S. healthcare system to free up the healthcare heroes so they can focus on the important work of relieving pain, curing disease, and saving lives.

John Killingsworth

Economic Downturn Planning: Establishing a Competitive Balance of Overhead to Revenue

John Killingsworth is a faculty member of the construction management program at Colorado State University. His teaching and research focus is in the area of construction finance; specifically in examining economic conditions and its impact on financial behavior of construction firms. He is recently published in Building Profits and in the Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction.

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Dr. Killingsworth has presented at numerous CFMA and AGC conferences, luncheons, and as part of professional development training programs. These presentations focus discussion on preparing companies for economic changes. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Killingsworth worked as a construction manager in the commercial and government contracting sector. As stimulating as construction finance is, John also explores the creative side of life by leading a course through Europe each summer to study architectural history.