SPARK! Leadership Summit

The 2019 SPARK! Leadership Summit will be held on March 5, 2019 at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel (16 N. Franklin Street, Watkins Glen).  This summit offers a fresh take on leadership development to bright, dynamic professionals from all industries across New York State and beyond. It features a national keynote speaker, six break-out sessions, lightning sessions, and the opportunity to network with up to 100 attendees. A few of the seminar topics include Communication in the Workplace, Creating a Circle of Trust, and Work/Life Balance. The slate of programming seeks to engage, encourage, and educate rising leaders, veteran leaders, and the leader in each of us! Information about our 2020 conference should be published in late 2019. 

Thank you to our presenting sponsor! 
Excellus Live Fearless


Registration is now open.  Click here to register!

 Headshot of Kate Douglas
Dr. Kate Douglas
Corning Community College


Dr. Kate Douglas is the 6th President of SUNY Corning Community College. She is the first woman to serve in that role. Dr. Douglas received her Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Prior to arriving at CCC, Dr. Douglas served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Sussex County Community College in Newton, New Jersey. Dr. Douglas began her community college career at Greenfield Community College (GCC) in Greenfield, Massachusetts. She earned tenure and the rank of professor before entering academic administration as the Associate Dean of GCC’s Division of Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Douglas continued her academic administrative career at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts as Dean of  Social Sciences.

In addition to being both a published author and international presenter on community college leadership, Dr. Douglas also had a successful career as a consultant. She was a trainer for the New Games Foundation in San Francisco, a founding partner of PlayWorks in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a trainer and executive coach for the Brimstone Consulting Group based in Portland, Maine.

At CCC, Dr. Douglas cut the ribbon on CCC’s first residence hall, oversaw a $20 million capital investment in the Spencer Hill campus that transformed the Library, established the Learning Commons, and reignited the athletic program with new facilities. Most recently, she has focused on public-private partnerships, which have resulted in a new state of the art $8m Health Education Center in downtown Corning and a $5m energy retro fit of academic buildings on CCC’s Spencer Hill campus with Siemens, Inc.

Session Description:

This session is a reflection of how leadership evolves over – in the presenter’s case - a 44 year career in both public and private organizations. Through presentation, exercises, and video clips participants will have the opportunity to consider what constitutes practical, effective and enduring leadership for themselves.


Headshot of Arel Moodie
Arel Moodie
Motivational Speaker and Owner
Art of Likability


Arel Moodie is a national best selling author and has been a featured speaker at the White House and has been personally acknowledged for his work by President Obama. Inc. Magazine called Arel a “High-Energy, Motivator” and named him to their “30 Under 30 list” of top American entrepreneurs under 30 years old joining people like Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Essence Magazine said “Arel should be the poster boy for rags-to-riches stories…He is America’s Top Young Speaker.” Arel has been quoted in The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Portfolio, Fox Small Business, Yahoo!

Finance, & USA Today. Arel was named by the prestigious St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland as one of the 100 Leaders of Tomorrow. Black Enterprise Magazine named Arel as one of their “Tycoons Under 35”. Arel Moodie has giving many popular TEDx talks including topics such as likability and innovation. He hosts one of the top career podcasts on iTunes, The Art of Likability, which is listened to in over 140 countries world wide. He is a contributor to Forbes, The Chicago Tribune and Huffington Post as well. Arel grew up on welfare in the projects of Brooklyn, NY where he witnessed those around him being murdered and imprisoned. Using determination and applying what he teaches in his presentations he was able to build a million dollar event production and education company while still in his 20s. As a professional speaker he has spoken to over 300,000 people in 48 states and 5 countries.

Session Description:

We live in an increasingly complex society. In this decade, every positive or negative interaction with co-workers and bosses are magnified through social media. Likability has never been more crucial for success due to the transparency and the speed in which information can travel. People don’t quit jobs typically, they quit bosses. A leader’s job is to create a vision and atmosphere that fosters loyalty, productivity and results.

This presentation will help leaders increase productivity, decrease costs related to turnover and help increase profits.

Leveraging the tools of likability will not change your authenticity or make you a people-pleaser, it will make you are more well equipped leader ready to take on the ever evolving challenges of the current workplace.

Headshot of Sarah Agan
Sarah Agan
Independent Consultant and Founder
Gravel Road Consulting

A leadership coach, facilitator, and organizational development consultant, Sarah Agan has 20+ years experience working with public and private sector clients. Her experience ranges from working with leaders to bring about cultural transformation to using Improv techniques and trust-based approaches to enhance organizational performance. Sarah has served on the leadership teams of multiple Washington-D.C.-based consulting firms named to the Inc. 500/5000 list and held positions such as Director of Leadership Coaching and Organizational Performance. She completed Georgetown University’s executive programs in Leadership Coaching as well as Organizational Development and Change Management and serves on the board of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County.  A defining perspective Sarah has about leadership is well-articulated by John Quincy Adams: “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

Session Title: So Now What? (Facilitated Wrap-up)

Session Description:

If every fire starts with a SPARK, what does it take to keep the fire burning? During this interactive session participants will answer the question “So What, Now What?” to maximize their investment in having participated in the 2019 Regional Leadership Conference. Specifically, participants will:

  • Share and deepen key insights learned during the conference
  • Design practices to apply and integrate conference insights into everyday leadership
  • Create a leadership intention and optional 30-Day experiment
Headshot of John Bourdage
John Bourdage
Bourdage Consulting

Mr. Bourdage is a graduate of the internationally renowned Ivor Spencer School for Butler Administration and Personal Assistants in London, a Five Star Diamond award winning school. Mr. Bourdage founded Bourdage Consulting and began his consulting business by teaching businessmen to become more skilled at business etiquette, networking, and projecting a professional image in formal and informal settings. John also consulted with a number of candidates for public office at the federal, state and local levels on public appearances, donor relations, and coordinated various campaign events. John has written several articles on manners and etiquette that were published in various magazines and local newspapers through Gannett Publishing. Bourdage Consulting is built upon the custom design and delivery of training and other services that meet the specific needs of the client. John has delivered his training to universities, schools of hospitality, businesses and associations, hotels and casinos. He works tenaciously with his clients to improve their business goals and customer service.

Session Title: Effective Networking: Tools, Tips, & Techniques

Session Description:

This presentation will cover how to create personal presentations and connection through an understanding of social intelligence skills. The skills that will be covered are shaking a person’s hand, introductions, cutting in on a conversation, non-verbal communication, social cues, and conversations that builds relationships and connection. All of these skills will be offered via an interactive session with the audience. In the second half of the presentation, cover networking skills will be covered. This part of the presentation will cover networking strategy, the process of networking, tools of networking and tips for networking a room.

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Betsey Hale
Three Rivers Development

Betsey Hale is President of Three Rivers Development Corporation located in Corning, NY.  Three Rivers Development Corporation is a private non-profit economic and community development organization that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016. Hale serves on the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.  She is Chair of the Southern Tier Soaring Upstate Revitalization Review Committee and Co-Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Workgroup. Hale is a native of Lounsberry, New York.  She holds a B.S in Agriculture from Cornell University and a Masters of Agricultural Systems Management from Colorado State University.  She spent 30 years in Colorado and served in such diverse roles as Vice-President of Montrose Economic Development Corporation, Montrose County Commissioner and Economic Development Director for the City of Loveland, Colorado from 2006-2015.  She returned to Upstate NY in November of 2015 to join Three Rivers. Her areas of expertise include: agricultural economic development, creative sector development, downtown redevelopment, technology transfer, primary employer recruitment, retention and expansion and destination marketing. She also owned and operated the family’s cattle ranch and two landscape construction companies for 17 years. 

Session Title: Conquering Your Calendar: Making Chaos Into Calm

Session Description:

Whether you use a paper calendar or a technology tool, your calendar is only as good as the person filling it.  That person might be you.  Attendees will learn tips that I use and recommendations from other business leaders to effectively manage your calendar and keep you and your team in the right place at the right time.  You will also be given permission to say “No” to meetings and appointments which may not be priorities.

Headshot of Randi Hewit
Randi Hewit
Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes

A graduate of Rollins College, Randi Hewit serves as President of the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes.  Before joining the Community Foundation, Randi served as Vice President for Community Affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Southern Tier.  She is past Vice-Chair of ProNet, a professional organization serving program officers at U.S. community foundations.  She also serves on boards of directors for Corning Museum of Glass, Bethany Senior Living, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  She’s excited to talk about volunteerism at SPARK and said, “With limited time available to give, it is more important than ever to be thoughtful about your volunteer commitments. I look forward to talking about meaningful ways to get involved in the community while avoiding burn out and paper cuts.”

Session Title: Making the Most of Your Volunteerism

Session Description:

During this session we will discuss volunteerism, activism, and philanthropy and how to strengthen your connection to your favorite organizations and causes. Additionally, we will share practical guidance about serving on a board of directors.

Rachel Hogancamp
Rachel Hogancamp
Managing Partner
Rasa Spa

My role as Managing Partner of Rasa Spa has proven to be a journey in understanding what it means to be a leader and hopefully growing into that position year over year. We currently have 5 locations where we see clients with a 6th project under way and a staff of over 60 people each bringing something unique to our Rasa team. On January 1, 2019 I begin my role as Chair of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce board of directors which I see as another opportunity to both serve and grow.  Leadership is a powerful word that clearly means many things to many people and my view has been to start by being the best listener I can be with anyone I work with and to continually remember to come back to balance if things steer off course. Hierarchy is somewhat inherent in any organization and I believe that every person within any group serves a valuable role and I see it as part of my job to help them be their best selves in that role.  I would also hope that anyone who works with me at Rasa or in any of the non-profits I serve, also finds opportunities to grow and continue to discover what motivates them and feeds their passion about the work they do. 

Session Title: Emotional Wellness: A Key Component to any Individual's Overall Well-Being

Session Description:

Emotional wellness is a relatively new phrase to describe a rather critical part of our overall well-being that includes multiple components: physical, financial, social and emotional.  Since we are all whole beings, if any one of these segments is off balance or not attended to, it will throw our operating system off.  When discussing our work lives, it can be a part of any business to have an attitude of “it’s not personal” or let’s “stick to business” or any other phrase I’m sure we’ve all heard before.  But it’s impossible to take one’s emotional health out of the bigger picture and simply set it aside.  Giving proper attention to our emotional well-being will not only improve our personal and daily lives but it will most likely also improve our job performance which then in turn, supports the business that supports us. In our brief time together, I will share some industry statistics and look for some input from participants on your experience as a leader watching others struggle and perhaps share some of your own personal struggles. We will touch on some key elements in how anyone can focus their attention on their emotional well-being and how to work to improve it for yourself and your staff members.

Headshot of Barbara Hubbell
Barbara Hubbell
Senior Director of Strategic Initatives
United Way of the Southern Tier

Barbara Hubbell, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives with United Way of the Southern Tier (UWST), joined the United Way movement in April 2000.  Serving as UWST’s impact lead, she administers Southern Tier Kids on Track, the two-county initiative focused on early childhood development to improve long-term outcomes for children and families. Barbara manages the annual allocation of nearly $3 million in unrestricted UWST campaign proceeds in programs and initiatives across Chemung and Steuben Counties.  She provides training and support in outcome measurement and logic model development for local agencies and programs, and is a practitioner in the framework and principles of Collective Impact.  Ms. Hubbell holds an AAS in Business Administration from Corning Community College and a BS in Community and Human Services Management from SUNY Empire State College.  She resides and volunteers in Watkins Glen, NY.

Her thoughts on leadership: Those who are good leaders recognize the potential in others, and help them to develop their gifts and talents to move the organization forward. If you are inspiring others to learn, do, and become more, you are leading.

Session Title: Communication in the Workplace

Session Description:

Good communication is an important skill in any environment where there is human interaction.  In the workplace, regardless of the shape or size of an organization, good communication is essential to success. While the concept of communication might seem simple, misunderstandings related to communication can cause conflict or frustration in personal and professional relationships.  It is important to understand the basics of being a good communicator.  With practice, effective communication can help your business increase productivity, decrease errors, and make operations run more smoothly.

This session will help participants:

•          Understand why effective communication is so important in the workplace

•          Gain a better sense of their own communication style

•          Understand potential damage caused by poor communication

•          Enhance communication skills, including basic communication, listening, non-verbal, conflict resolution, and  questioning skills.

This will be an interactive session and will include a basic communication self-assessment.  Participants will be encouraged to engage in discussion, ask questions, and share experiences. 

Margaret Lawrence
Margaret Lawrence
Director of Human Resources

I have served in leadership roles, in both the public and private sector, spanning over more than 20 years. Each position proved to be a challenging and rewarding experience. From 1998-2002, I served as the President and CEO of the Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce, I then was given the opportunity to lead Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association. While working full time at Finger Lakes Wine Country, I committed to complete an Executive MBA Program at RIT. The rigorous 15-month program was life changing, and afforded me the opportunity, upon graduation, to become the COO of Glenora Wine Cellars and Knapp Winery. In 2009, I remarried, at which time, my husband, Jonathan, was running a health system in Western NY. Commuting back and forth proved to be challenging and did not allow me to give the operations role my all from afar.  Today, I am based at Welliver, working once again with a great team of people. I dedicate a significant amount of my time to strategic planning. Throughout my career, I have always felt a sense of responsibility to engage and get involved with community organizations. Presently, I serve on The Arc of Schuyler, the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency and the CSS Workforce Board of Directors.

A couple of rules I try to live by are, nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy, and to keep the view at 30,000 feet. Some days are easier than others to follow them, when I do, it always serves me well.

Session Title: Leading From the Middle

Session Description:

This session will be interactive and will offer lessons learned as well as examples of what has worked and not worked in my career.

Headshot of Krista Matia
Krista Matia
Donor & Community Engagement Manager
Food Bank of the Southern Tier

A young professional ‘transplant’ to the Southern Tier, Krista Matia holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in business and marketing from Elmira College and currently serves as the Donor & Community Engagement Manager at the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Friends have described Krista as energetic and a collaborator. Her FEBI style is Organizer/Driver. Krista grew up in western PA as the only daughter of a single mother until she was 10 years old and got a whole gaggle of step siblings and extended family. She makes it her personal mission to give back with time, treasure and talent to the community she now calls home. Current board service includes: Fund for Women Director and Volunteer Committee Chair; Association of Fundraising Professionals Finger Lakes Chapter Board of Directors; Elmira College Engagement committee; Elmira College Reunion Wine Fest committee; and Horseheads Holly Days Committee. In her spare time, she works on freelance marketing projects for small businesses, professional development training, is Auntie to 7 nieces and nephews, enjoys gardening and reading.  Krista resides in Horseheads with her husband, Erich and their cat Sophia.  

Session Title: Public Speaking for Emerging Leaders

Session Description:

•    Do the words “public” and “speaking” make your palms sweat and your heart race? How about standing in front of a crowded room? Did you know that you do most of your ‘public’ speaking in small groups or 1 on 1 settings?

•    No matter the group size or the topic, if you haven’t prepared, let nerves take over, or don’t understand your subject matter, you’ll never present your best self.  Effective communication skills in-person, on the phone and via email all impact your ability to get what you want, move up in your career, and be the leader you know you are inside. 

•    Why not have your palms sweat and get butterflies in your stomach with excitement to speak to a group? In this presentation, we’ll review some tools, tips and tricks that will make your heart race with LOVE for public speaking in any setting. Through examples, interactive exercises, and constructive criticism, we’ll get better together and be able to take those leadership opportunities that come our way!

Headshot of Matt Sharpe
Matt Sharpe
Director of Human Resources & Sales
Cameron Manufacturing & Design

I am from the small town of Youngstown, NY.  It is on the point where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario.  I have worked in the helicopter tour business, call centers, big box retail, hospitality and currently manufacturing.  I have experience in sales & marketing, operations management, training and human resources.  This experience has helped me to become a true business partner and to see the impact all areas of the business have on the whole. 

My thoughts on Leadership -  Leadership is a Decision and people need to make it; Leadership is an Obligation and people need to step up.  People are in positions because they enjoy the job and are good at it.  Leadership is different, every time you take on a new Leadership position you take steps away from what you are good at and enjoy doing.  To be a good leader you must love lead, if you take the leader position for the pay, prestige on any other reason you will eventually struggle and not enjoy your job.

Session Title: Mentoring is Crucial to Success

Session Description:

We will examine the key benefits of mentoring, including stress reduction, retention, and as a recruitment tool. In an interactive, engaging format we’ll explore what others have tried and whether it has or has not worked.  The goal is to provide attendees with methods to create a productive mentoring program for an individual or in the workplace.

Headshot of Clare van den Blink
Clare VandenBlink
Senior Vice President & CIO
The Hilliard Corporation

Clare is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Hilliard Corporation. Clare oversees the company’s Information Technology services including support for manufacturing technology, technology infrastructure and cloud services, and cyber security. Clare is an experienced, and innovative Information Technology leader with 30+ years of experience in industry and higher education. Prior to joining Hilliard, Clare was the CIO and Vice President at Pace University, and a director of technology teams and strategic initiatives at Cornell University. In addition, Clare has taught in area colleges on topics of computer technology and education, and is an experienced leader in online education. In 2017, Clare received the Athena Leadership award presented by the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce.  Clare is an active community volunteer and serves on the board of the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, The Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, Fund for Women, Chemung-Schuyler Catholic Charities, and on the Board of Trustees for Elmira College. Clare speaks frequently on IT Strategy, innovation, emerging technologies,  and cybersecurity in manufacturing. Clare writes about information technology and leadership with a focus on “how do you prepare for a job that does not exist?” Clare’s informed vision and strong implementation skills combine to merge technology strategy with execution across many types of organizations. 

Session Title: Work/Life Balance: Is it Possible?

Session Description:

Balancing the needs of career, family and time for yourself is a challenge for us all. Is it even possible? In this interactive session, we will discuss the options and obstacles to having a successful life balance at different stages and dimensions of your life, such as career, time for yourself, friends/family and community. Is it possible to have it all, but not all at once?  Let’s discuss.

Headshot of George Winner
George Winner
Keyser, Maloney & Winner, LLP

George H. Winner, Jr. is a lifelong resident of Chemung County and currently is a practicing attorney with the firm of Keyser, Maloney & Winner,LLP in downtown Elmira. He served as NYS Assemblyman for 26 years assuming the position of Minority Leader Pro Tempore for the last 14. In 2004, he was elected to the NYS Senate where he served for 6 years before retiring in 2010. His community involvements are numerous including currently a  Trustee of Elmira College. He has three daughters and reside with his wife Lynn in the City of Elmira.

Session Title: Creating a Circle of Trust

Session Description:

20-25 minute presentation with an opportunity for question and answers. Presentation will cover networking and communication skills and how they form the foundation in a circle of trust.