Get to know the 2021 featured speakers. Check back for more exciting speakers as they are confirmed!
Actress & Advocate
Marcia is set to star in the upcoming FOX drama BARKSKINS, a narrative detailing America's deforestation through the perspective of two immigrant woodcutters. Marcia also starred in the new Lifetime film LOVE YOU TO DEATH, a true story about a mother and daughter who are nothing like they seem.
Marcia appeared in the film series FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015), FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017) and FIFTY SHADES FREED (2018) in which she played lead character ‘Christian Grey’s’ mother ‘Grace Trevelyan Grey’. Marcia’s most notable roles include, ‘Celeste’ in MYSTIC RIVER (2003) for which she earned an Academy Award nomination and ‘Lee Krasner’ in POLLACK (2002), for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Marcia has appeared in dozens of films, including Woody Allen’s MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT (2014), PARKLAND (2013), opposite Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Giamatti and Ron Livingston, IF I WERE YOU (2012) co-starring Aidan Quinn, SOMEDAY THIS DAY WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU (2011) with Peter Gallagher and Ellen Burstyn, and DETACHMENT (2002) co-starring Adrien Brody, Christina Hendricks, and Lucy Liu. Additionally, Harden co-starred in Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut WHIP IT (2009), THE MAIDEN HEIST (2009) with William H. Macy, Morgan Freeman, and Christopher Walken, RAILS AND TIES (2007), Sean Penn’s INTO THE WILD (2007), Stephen King’s THE MIST (2007) for which she won a Saturn Award, CANVAS (2006) and THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE with Peter O’Toole. She was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for AMERICAN GUN (2005).
Most recently Marcia starred as ‘Dr. Leanne Rorish’ in the CBS medical drama CODE BLACK for three seasons, but her memorable television roles also include appearances on ABC’s HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, a starring role in the ABC comedy series TROPHY WIFE and a role as First Amendment attorney ‘Rebecca Halliday’ in the critically HBO series THE NEWSROOM. In 2009, Harden was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER. She also earned an Emmy Award nomination for her guest appearance on LAW & ORDER: SVU.
In 2018, Marcia released THE SEASONS OF MY MOTHER: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, FAMILY and FLOWERS. Marcia weaves stories of her adventures and travels with her mother, while reflecting on the beautiful spirit that persists even in the face of her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2011 she reprised the role she originated on Broadway in the Tony Award Winning play GOD OF CARNAGE. In 2009, it was her exceptional Broadway performance in this starring role that garnered her the Best Actress Tony Award and an Outer Circle Critics Award.
Marcia is a mother of three teenage children, and she is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ rights. Harden graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. in Theatre and an MFA.
Impact Entrepreneur, CEO and Investor; Former Chairman & CEO of Ashley Stewart
James lives a life focused on multi-dimensional transformation, the intersection of capital and race/-gender, and values-based investing and leadership. He has achieved success within multiple industries and communities, and he leverages these connections and learnings to help others be their best selves by encouraging the formation of unusual alliances amongst seemingly disparate ideas and peoples.
He has managed billions of dollars of capital at elite institutions, and his investment platform, FirePine Group (founded in 2009), has stewarded the capital of some of the world’s most sophisticated investors. In 2013, James challenged orthodoxy by parachuting into an insolvent Ashley Stewart as CEO, a retailer that had quietly served plus-sized, Black women in neighborhoods across the country since 1991. While fighting against crippling odds, ridicule and adversity, James authored and led a complement of marketing, philosophical, and mathematical changes that challenged societal conventions and simultaneously transformed a twice-bankrupt, insolvent brick-and-mortar retailer with decades of operating losses (and no Wi-Fi!) into a cutting-edge industry leader. His inspirational and metaphoric story has been featured in media outlets such as the Good Business Issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Thrive Global, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Women's Wear Daily, Morgan Stanley's Access and Opportunity Podcast, ABC News, and The Huffington Post.
James is a regional winner of the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the winner of one of five 2016 Power Player Awards granted by the National Retail Federation, the recipient of the 2017 Black Retail Action Group Business Achievement Award, the 2018 Temple Fox School of Business Information Technology Innovator Award, the 2018 Essex County Urban League Centennial William M. Ashby Award for community building and a 2019 One To World Fulbright Award. He is a former member of the board of the National Retail Federation, where he served as Chairman of the Innovation Advisory Committee.
James received his AB with honors from Harvard College and his JD with honors from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He lives outside Boston with his wife and three children. He is a former high school teacher.
Former Culture Strategist, Zappos
Robert Richman is a former culture strategist and was the co-creator of Zappos Insights, an innovative program focused on educating companies on the secrets behind Zappos’ amazing employee culture.
Robert built Zappos Insights from a small website to a thriving multi-million dollar business teaching over 25,000 students per year. Through his work, Robert has been helpful for improving the employee culture at hundreds of companies.
As one of the world’s authorities on employee culture, Robert is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences around the world and has been hired to teach culture in person at companies like Google, Toyota, and Eli Lilly. He has pioneered several innovative techniques to build culture, such as bringing improv comedy to the workplace.
His book, The Culture Blueprint, is a systematic guide to how a workplace can help people grow, inspire amazing service, and ultimately drive revenue through amazing culture.
Robert graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in film, as well as from Georgetown University’s Leadership Coaching Program. He is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council, and he is based out of San Diego (though he’s on the speaking tour most of the time).
President, Merrill Gardens
Tana Gall is responsible for all aspects of operations and growth at the 70 Merrill senior living communities in 20 states – Merrill Gardens and Truewood by Merrill. Gall has over 20 years of experience in senior living leadership roles, and she is focused on creating a culture where the 4,000 team members and 7,000 residents who live and work at Merrill thrive. Under Gall’s leadership, the company is recognized as one of the most respected providers of senior living in the country. Gall recently led the launch of the Truewood by Merrill communities with a focus on seniors in the underserved middle market.
Gall is an industry leader, serving as a member of the Argentum Board of Directors and she was previously the leader of the Argentum Executive Director Leadership Institute. She is focused on bringing new leadership to the industry and was instrumental in the establishment of the Granger Cobb Institute for Senior Living at Washington State University. Based on her career accomplishments, she was asked to join the Bellevue College Healthcare Management and Leadership Advisory Board. Gall was also invited to join the International Women’s Forum, a group that includes more than 7,000 accomplished women from 33 countries. She was named a Woman of Distinction for 2021 by McKnight’s Senior living, an award that honors women in senior living who inspire and impact the lives of residents and team members. Gall volunteers with Treehouse, a Washington state organization supporting children in foster care, and is a part of the Husky Leadership Institute at the University of Washington, guiding students to become change agents in their communities.
Gall is a graduate of the University of Washington.
President and CEO, Integral Senior Living and Solstice Senior Living
Collette Gray, President and Chief Executive Officer of Integral Senior Living and Solstice Senior Living, joined ISL in October 2010. Under her leadership ISL has been ranked the 17th largest senior housing provider in the nation and one of the larger providers in the state of California. Operating in over 23 states, she provides overall strategic direction and drives results for both ISL and Solstice Senior Living while helping ensure the very best in resident and associate service. She also helps drive and oversee all new development projects. She encourages an environment in which associates are promoted for their ability to bring resources and ideas to the team and drives the company Culture, which is at the core of ISL and Solstice's success.
In 2017 Collette played a vital role as ISL launched a joint venture with Northstar Healthcare Income, Inc. bringing the ISL unique style of management services to 32 independent communities, in a brand called Solstice Senior Living.
Collette has worked in the senior living industry for over 26 years. She was with Merrill Gardens for six years.
Throughout her nine-year career at Atria Senior Living Group/previously ARV, she held a variety of positions including: Vice President and Regional Director of Operations, Regional Sales and Marketing Director, Executive Director and she started her career as a Community Sales Director at an ARV community.
In addition to her role at Integral Senior Living, Collette is also a long-standing Board Member of the California Assisted Living Association. She served as the Chairwoman of their inaugural Workforce Development Committee for 3 years. She has been a member of the Argentum Board since 2016 and serves as the Chairwoman of the Women in Leadership Committee.
Collette lives in Carlsbad, CA with her husband Mickey where they enjoy spending time with their five children, their dog and cat and enjoys anything outdoors.
EVP & President, Senior Living and Community Operations
Cindy Kent is a healthcare executive and corporate director widely recognized for her transformational leadership. With over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Kent is the Executive Vice President & President of Senior Living Community Operations for Brookdale Senior Living—America’s largest senior living company. Kent is a member of the Executive Leadership Team and responsible for driving Profit-and-Loss (PNL) and operational performance across Brookdale’s nearly 700 Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care product lines—including field operations, resident and family engagement, clinical and sales transformation. Kent is an independent director with Accolade which provides personalized, technology-enabled solutions that help people better understand, navigate and utilize the healthcare system, and a member of the Nomination and Governance committee. She was also a member of Best Buy Co.’s Board of Directors, 2018 to 2020 and served as a member of the Finance and Investment Policy as well as the Compensation and Human Resources committees. Kent is currently a Trustee of Vanderbilt University, where she serves as a member of the Audit as well as the Academic and Student Affairs committees.
Over her career, Kent has held leadership roles with increasing responsibility at Eli Lilly, Medtronic and 3M, where she led unprecedented revenue and margin growth. In her role as President and GM of the Infection Prevention Division at 3M, Kent led the division’s $1.7B global business operations in sixty countries and managed sales in 170 nations worldwide. With global profit-and-loss responsibility, Kent had direct management responsibility for research and development, clinical, commercial functions and supply chain operations for eighteen global manufacturing sites.
Kent has been recognized for her commitment to excellence in the workplace and her community. Directors & Boards named Kent a “Director to Watch” in its August 2021 Annual Report. In its spring 2020 edition, Savoy Magazine named Kent one of the “Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America.” In 2018, she was named Lead360’s “Executive of the Year,” in 2017 Black Enterprise Magazine named her one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Business” as well as one of the “Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America”. Kent was recognized as a “Top 35 Women Leaders in Healthcare” by the Women’s Health Leadership TRUST in 2014. She is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.
Kent received dual Masters degrees from Vanderbilt University—a Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Care & Leadership as well as her MBA in Marketing. She completed a BS in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences from Northwestern University. Kent resides in Franklin, TN.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Five Star Senior Living
As President and Chief Executive Officer of Five Star Senior Living, Katie Potter leads a team of progressive, purpose-driven professionals on a mission to enrich and inspire the journey of life for older adults, one experience at a time.
Ms. Potter assumed her role as CEO on Jan. 1, 2019. During her first year, she led the company through a yearlong restructuring that successfully culminated in a management agreement with Diversified Healthcare Trust (DHC). The change took effect on Jan. 1, 2020. She also serves as Senior Vice President of The RMR Group (Nasdaq: RMR), an alternative asset manager with more than $32 billion in total assets under management as of Dec. 31, 2020.
While primarily a senior living company operating more than 20,000 units in over 30 states, Five Star is also committed to evolving service offerings for older adults. Under Ms. Potter's leadership, Five Star's rehabilitation and wellness services division, Ageility, has transformed into a growing fitness and lifestyle brand for older adults that is grounded in clinical excellence.
Certified Master Chef & Director, CIA Consulting and Industry Programs
Brad Barnes is director of consulting and industry programs at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Chef Barnes is responsible for the oversight of ProChef professional training, operational engineering and intellectual property development. As a matter of practice, chef Barnes consults globally with a variety of clients ranging from educational institutions to hotels, real estate developers, governmental organizations, food manufacturers, and a variety of food business organizations seeking to drive operational change and excellence.
A 1987 CIA graduate, Chef Barnes has also served as the college’s senior director of culinary education and senior director of continuing education. Prior to joining the CIA in 2009, he was president of GigaChef, LLC and chef/owner of B&B Solutions, providing a variety of operational consulting services over a span of 15 years; he also led several commercial restaurant teams as executive chef. Today he remains an active businessperson as a partner in multiple food businesses across the US.
Brad Barnes is co-author of, So You Want to Be a Chef?, So You Are a Chef, and The American Culinary Federation’s Guide to Culinary Certification. He is the former national Certified Master Chef Committee chair for the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and a former past chair of the ACF National Certification Commission. He is an ACF-certified culinary competition judge and certified by the World Association of Chefs Societies as an international judge.
Chef Barnes is one of 72 Certified Master Chefs (CMC) in the country and was an inductee of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC), the American Culinary Federation’s honor society.
He has received many honors during his career including the President’s Award (2005), President’s Medallion (2004), and Hermann G. Rusch Humanitarian Award (2002) from the ACF for his work during 911. He was twice named Chef of the Year by the Chefs Association of Westchester and Lower Connecticut (1990 and 1993). Chef Barnes earned two gold medals at the Culinary Olympics in Germany and the Saint Michel Gold Medal for Pastry Display at the Société Culinaire Philanthropiqué New York Salon of Culinary Arts. He served as coach and design director of the ACF’s Team USA culinary Olympic teams in 2000, 2004, and 2008.
Director of Engagement and Program Services, Sunrise Senior Living
Traci Wagner is a Director of Engagement and Program Services for Sunrise Senior Living, and supports communities throughout the U.S. and British Columbia. She believes in the power of person centered programming, and the importance of maintaining identity for those living with memory loss. She has worked with the aging population and in long term care for 25 years and has specifically worked in the memory care field for the past 13 years. Traci has been practicing the Validation Method, a way to communicate with disoriented old people, for 11 years and is a Certified Validation Teacher. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition which helped launch her career in senior living.