Meet the Presenters

Maria Elena Duron of KLI Brand 

Maria Elena Duron is a digital marketing professional with more than 18 years experience in all aspects of digital initiatives. She has over a dozen years of experience in international eCommerce. Her expertise has been recognized by the Texas Governor’s office with the Excellence in Small Business Award and Person of Vision award for the State of Texas. She is also recognized by the Grow with Google Program and commissioned to speak professionally for Google.

Donald Everett, Jr. of Runza 

Donald Everett, Jr. graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 1990. Upon graduation, he started at the Runza® National office as a Field Representative, supervising store operations for several locations. In 1997, Everett succeeded his father, Donald Everett, Sr., as President of the company. As President, he oversees IT, new store construction, and serves as a liaison with marketing, financiers, and stockholders. Donald’s dedication to the Lincoln community is demonstrated by the leadership he provides as a board member for several organizations including: First Christian Church Foundation, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital Board of Trustees, and West Gate Bank.

Tanna Hanna of ALLO 

Tanna Hanna is a native Nebraskan who has grown her marketing career by focusing on sales, customer retention, team building, and management. Hanna earned a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and Nutrition from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She currently serves as ALLO’s Director of Marketing and Social Media. For the past 13 years, Hanna has played a pivotal role in ALLO’s phenomenal growth and progress across the Midwest. She is determined to help communities utilize their fiber network to create meaningful change, dedicated to mentoring and developing the next generation of leaders, and actively demonstrating the dexterity of female leaders in balancing successful careers and a family-focused mindsets.

Marty Jarvis of Russ’s BnR

Marty Jarvis started with B&R Stores as a sacker in June of 1982 at Russ’s Market. He went on to perform different jobs within the store including working in the produce department, cashier, and a front end manager. In 1984, Jarvis moved to Super Saver where he was in charge of scanning. This job eventually led him to monitor pricing, buying, and advertising for Super Saver and Russ’s Market Stores. By 1999, Jarvis was named the Director of Marketing where he resides today. He oversees all aspects of marketing including both print and digital marketing, the Russ’s loyalty program, event marketing, and the company golf tournament.

Katlynn Pyatt of Authentic Branding & Marketing

Katlynn is the host of the Start Marketing podcast. A former plant killer and killer marketing strategist. She’s all about making branding and marketing more accessible and actionable for small businesses.

Dr. Ray Ward of Ward Laboratories, Inc. 

Dr. Ray Ward serves as the president and co-owner of Ward Laboratories, Inc. He is a certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg), certified Soil Scientist (CPSS), and certified crop advisor (CCA) with a Ph.D. in Soil Fertility from South Dakota State University. Ward works to enhance knowledge to develop soil health to ensure it is utilized to preserve soil and water resources while maintaining environmental quality. Ward has received many awards, including: Soil Science Industry Award and Soil Science Professional Service Award from Soil Science Society of America (2005 and 2007), J. Benton Jones, Jr. Award that was presented to him at the 12th International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis in Chania, Greece (2011), Henry Beachell Distinguished Alumni Award from the Nebraska Ag Alumni (2016), and most recently, the  2019 No-Till Innovator Award from No-Till Farmer.

Lori Cody of Inspirata, LLC 

Lori Cody is a creative visionary with a mission: To be of service and to create long-lasting, genuine relationships with others. Lori spent 28 years in retail corporate marketing, recruiting top talent and developing others based on their natural strengths and interests. In 2020, her career path changed, and she is now in the process of creating her own brand and service offering. Lori has a genuine desire for connection and purpose which has led her to launching Inspirata, “Breathe Life Into.” Since inception, Lori has been focusing most of her time partnering with FIVE RULE Rural Planning on Economic Development, Community Engagement, and a range of creative projects.

Cory Morris of Morris Better Bookkeeping

Cory Morris is a 21st Century Bookkeeping Professional focused on helping clients achieve their goals with more peace and joy. As a father of five kids, he has to answer difficult questions from, “Exactly why can’t I jump off this wall?” to “What makes the sky blue?” That practice has made explaining bookkeeping principles much easier. His focus on stories and examples takes the foreign world of accounting and makes it as local as Nebraska corn.

Kelly Wells Gewecke of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development

Kelly Wells Gewecke has been a Central Field Service Business Development Consultant since 2014. She covers 20 counties for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Throughout her career, she has acquired a wealth of economic and community development experience. Gewecke has taught business classes at UNK, and served as the Assistant Director of the Nebraska Business Development Center in Kearney. She has had her own tourism business and farmed with her husband. Prior to returning to NDED she was the Self Employment Team Leader at Easter Seals of Nebraska.  She received her undergraduate and an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. 

Scott Asmus of SourceLink Nebraska

Speaker Scott Asmus, leads SourceLink Nebraska and brings experience in business consulting, resource partner networking, and program development to the SourceLink Nebraska team. Asmus is an experienced speaker on the topic, previously speaking at several events, some which include the Nebraska Workforce Development Board, Nebraska Governor’s Economic Development Summit, and the NETForce Entrepreneurship Best Practices Summit.

Renee Sobotka of True North Technologies

Renee Sobotka is the Founder and CEO of True North Technologies, an innovative, Lincoln-based digital marketing firm. True North Technologies offers website and app development, search engine optimization (SEO), social media management, digital advertising, text marketing, and branding services. Sobotka is originally from West Point, Nebraska, and earned a finance degree from the University of Nebraska. She went on to become a Supervisor of Internal Audit for Union Pacific Railroad and has 10 years of software implementation and accounting experience in the banking industry. She serves on three local boards: American Marketing Association – Lincoln Chapter, Lincoln Independent Business Association, and East Lincoln Business Association. In 2021, Forbes featured her in their Next 1000, a first-of-its-kind spotlight of American entrepreneurial heroes.

Chuck Beck of Nebraska Business Development Center  

Chuck Beck serves as a PTAC Consultant and acts as a resource to companies that want to increase opportunities in the government market. Beck actively helps companies develop an understanding of the government market and provides tools and resources to help them succeed.

David Lano of Control Yours 

Originally from Kearney, David Lano started Control Yours 15 years ago on a whim. As a web design and development company, he primarily manages clients’ digital advertising accounts. He loves geeking out over metrics and spreadsheets, and tweaking things to optimize performance for his clients’ businesses. He’s been married to his wife Anne, for 15 years and has 3 children.

Jim Reiff of the Nebraska Enterprise Fund  

Jim Reiff serves as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Enterprise Fund and is a certified CDFI, services small and micro businesses across Nebraska and southwest Iowa. Reiff has been in the economic development field for over 20 years, focusing on micro and small business financing and development. He started full time work in the economic field at the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District as a loan and community development officer. He subsequently took several international roles including the CEO role in Albania serving over 5,500 clients, the CEO and Managing Director of an Indian microfinance company serving over 70,000 clients and the Managing Director for Opportunity International’s Latin American region of community development and business finance organizations.   

Shawn Kaskie of Rural Prosperity 

Shawn Kaskie is a co-investigator and holds the rank of Associate Professor as Rural Prosperity Nebraska Educator for the University of Nebraska which is based out of Broken Bow serving the surrounding 8-county rural area. Kaski works with communities and private entities to develop market research reports, business feasibility studies, community economic, tourism and housing profiles/studies.  Recently his lead on applied community research projects with businesses in Stapleton, Ravenna, and Callaway provided local knowledge of community development helping secure a $400k EDA CARES Act grant.

Martin Hobelman of Maverick Marketing

As a commercial videographer, Martin Hobelman has helped build brands and position companies as the local experts in their fields using video. He helps businesses of all sizes adopt video into their marketing mix and specializes in branding and recruitment content. 5 years ago Hobleman began filming with an iPhone and an idea, and today, his company Maverick Marketing ranks among the top 3 video production companies in the state

Andy Campbell of Pellasota, LLC

Andy has over 30 years of CPG experience. He is the co-founders of Pellasota, a small consulting firm based in the Midwest focused on small and mid-sized companies in the food, ag, and nutriceuticals areas. Pellasota has clients across the country with revenues ranging from $50k to $200M with a focus on helping companies improve their strategic growth planning and order-to-cash operations. Andy is a graduate of the University of Iowa (undergrad and MBA) and has also been an associate professor of marketing and operations at Central College in Pella, Iowa where he currently resides.

Gary Bren of Turner Technology

Gary Bren is the CEO and original co-founder of Turner Technology, an information technology services company with locations in Omaha and Holdrege. He has been in the computer industry since 1984, focusing primarily on helping small to medium sized businesses effectively leverage technology. Bren has over 30 years of experience helping small businesses utilize technology in all aspects of their business. As an engaged volunteer, he is a past board chair of the Heartland Red Cross, a past President of Omaha Downtown Rotary, and a past Rotary District Governor. He has been happily married to his wife Gretchen for 33 years.

Kiersten Hill of Firespring

Kiersten Hill is an amazing and dynamic speaker with a wealth of knowledge on marketing tactics and trends. Hill has almost 2 decades of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising. She has raised over $20 Million for Nebraska nonprofit organizations and worked to better train and equip nonprofit leaders and Boards of Directors.

Jeff Dickman of Pellasota, LLC

Jeff Dickman is a principal and partner at Pellasota. He has 18+ years of supply chain management/CPG expereince working for a Fortune 500 company and as an independent consultant for G2G Consulting. Dickman has worked across multiple business units, temperature states, and supply chains; specifically, plant manufacturing, logistics planning, warehousing/transportation, new item innovation/speed-to-market, continuous improvement, organization development, and supply chain strategy. Dickman has spent a lot of time working and developing tools used for change management and strategy execution.

John Ricks of the Nebraska Tourism Commission

John Ricks is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission. He joined the Commission in January of 2017. Ricks is architect of the state’s new award-winning marketing campaign, “Nebraska. Honestly. It’s not for everyone.” The campaign took the country by storm and hundreds of media outlets across the country that praised the effort as bold and risky. The new campaign has been very successful in the marketplace setting all-time records in 2018 and 2019 in terms of visitor expenditures, visitor counts, tax revenue and jobs. Ricks has spent more than 30 years working in tourism destination marketing for a number of different states. As an advertising agency executive, he led marketing efforts for Wisconsin and Wyoming. Working with Wyoming, he led strategy efforts that created the award-winning “Forever West” campaign. Previously he was Associate Director of the Colorado Tourism Office where he launched the very successful “Come to Life” marketing strategy that resulted in five consecutive years of record-setting results in terms of visitation, visitor spending, tax revenue generated and marketing ROI.

Adam Kroft of redthread

Adam is the founder and CEO of redthread. A 29-person creative advertising agency located in the heart of the midwest in the Haymarket of Lincoln, Nebraska. Working with local and national brands from U-Stop to Google to #TeamTrees, redthread has built marketing campaigns and helped grow businesses of all shapes and sizes. Kroft started his entrepreneurial career at 15-years-old buying and selling sneakers on the streets of Chicago. After that business failed, he went off to college at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where he majored in advertising. As he was graduating, Kroft launched a freelance side-hustle which eventually became redthread. redthread has been recognized as the 2021 Inc. 5000 #100 Fastest Growing Company in the Midwest and the #1853 fastest growing company in America. Kroft has personally been recognized as 2019 Lincoln’s YPG 4 Under 40 Award and the Walter Scott Entrepreneurship Award.

Jon Zvolanek of USPS

Jon Zvolanek joined the USPS in 2014 as a Sales Executive. Today, Zvolanek serves as the Senior Sales Executive. He works with current customers and business prospects to develop postal solutions with mailing and shipping products. Zvolanek brings twenty five years of experience in the logistics, print, and mailing industry having worked as Vice President of Operations for two different Survey Research firms in Lincoln, NE. Zvolanek has also worked in Operations Management for fulfillment and in the check printing industry.  He has worked with the Postal Service and served on Postal Customer Councils in NE, CA, CO, KS, and currently serves on the Industry Board for the LPCC.  He is a past co-Chair and has presented at the National Postal Forum, while presenting regularly at local PCC’s. In 2010, he received the Jerome Wieser Award for his contributions to the LPCC.

Kayla Pfister of Nebraska Star Beef

Kayla Pfister grew up in the cattle business. Over the past decade she has been instrumental in helping to grow her family’s rural Holdrege based cattle feeding business into the internet retail beef market. Kayla has worked for the family business for 18 years and has been a partner in Nebraska Star Beef for the past 2 years. Nebraska Star Beef is a multi-faceted sales arm of Phelps County Feeders who is one of central Nebraska’s bellwether cattle feeding operations. Kayla is directly involved in sales, marketing, production scheduling and general business oversight. Nebraska Star Beef offers – in addition to premium Angus and Wagyu beef – seasoning, beef jerky, meat snacks, and accessory items. Nebraska Star Beef serves customers ranging from Professional Athletic Organizations to local restaurants and direct customers across the United States via their website, Amazon, Bass Pro, and Scheels. 

Alyssa Wyant of Pen & Post

Alyssa Wyant is the owner of Pen & Post, a full service marketing agency. With a background in Organizational Communication (UNK) and Journalism and Mass Communications (UNL), she loves ensuring a business is functioning at its fullest potential, telling its story, and serving its customers. Pen & Post helps clients from all over the country with copywriting, design, social media, digital and print advertising, strategic business planning, customer relationship management, and more. Wyant has been in the higher education industry for over ten years and has experience in industries including publishing, healthcare, and small businesses to name a few.

Clarissa Feldman Former GROW Nebraska Product Marketing Specialist and Owner of Setting D Ranch LLC

Clarissa is the former product photography specialist at GROW Nebraska. With a large combined portfolio of product photography, she is an expert. Clarissa has years of experience in business, management, and retail. Recently, pursuing her business Setting D Ranch, LLC. full-time.