Director Speaking and Training O.C. Tanner Institute
Kevin Ames is the director of the O.C. Tanner Institute and has provided inspiring motivational keynotes and training for more than 20 years. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur in his own right, Ames has traveled the globe working with companies such as American Express, Autoliv, Coca Cola, Iomega, Kimberly-Clark, NuSkin, Nature’s Own Sweden, Thiokol, Huntsman Cancer Institute and Sundance. A true appreciateologist, Ames is an expert in the areas of recognition and reward, team building, personal development, and leadership. His mission is to instill in every student a passion for personal and professional excellence.
Chief People Officer Brinker International, Inc.
Tony Bridwell is chief people officer for Brinker International. In this role, he provides strategic leadership to a number of people services, including team member relations, talent acquisition, executive and organizational development, and succession planning. Additionally, Bridwell oversees diversity, compensation and benefits, as well as learning and development.
Bridwell first began working with Brinker in 2009 when he was business unit president for Partners In Leadership, a leadership training and management company. During his time as a consultant, he played an instrumental role in redefining Brinker’s culture and coaching team members throughout the organization on the company’s vision. He officially joined the Brinker team in 2013 as senior vice president of PeopleWorks, and shortly thereafter was named chief people officer in 2014.
In addition to these attributes, Bridwell brings with him more than 25 years of experience in management with executive leadership of the operations, staffing and business development functions for multiple employers, most recently Partners In Leadership. He has also captivated large audiences as an executive facilitator and featured speaker for organizations across the world.
Bridwell also authored the book, “The Difference Maker: A Simple Fable About Making a Difference in the Life of Others.”
Team Member Insights Senior Analyst Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Sara Brothers joined Whole Foods Market’s team member insights group in 2015. Her areas of work include assessment validation, employee and engagement surveys, and other human capital analytics projects. Prior to working at Whole Foods, she was a consultant for both CEB and the Aldridge Group in various industries such as retail, technology, energy, manufacturing, healthcare and civil service.
Brothers holds a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Houston, where she also earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees.
Senior Consultant, International Consulting Group, M&A Practice Towers Watson
Mary Chico is a senior consultant within Towers Watson’s M&A practice. Chico focuses her consulting on leading complex global M&A, joint venture, divestiture and spin off transactions. She has extensive experience in talent retention, culture and integration effectiveness.
Prior to joining Towers Watson, Chico spent 20 years working for General Electric across senior HR roles in M&A, as a business partner and heading global leadership programs. She has a proven track record of developing and leading high-performing teams aimed at solving business critical issues.
Chico has years of experience in M&A including extensive work in the areas of cultural integration and employee engagement, design, development and implementation of global HRIS, pay and benefits ERP solutions and integrating related organizational design, staffing, selection, stakeholder communication and execution.
In collaboration with her peers at IBM, Boeing and Towers Watson, she has published articles in the areas of cultural integration and talent assessment that were presented at WorldatWork. Chico holds a master of science in organizational development from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a Six Sigma green belt, change acceleration process coach and certified in executive leadership assessment.
Author & Thought Leader Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence
Erica Dhawan is the co-author of the new book, “Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence.”
She is a globally recognized leadership expert and keynote speaker who is driving innovation across cultures and generations. Considered to be one of the today’s most provocative business thinkers on the future of work, she is the founder and CEO of Cotential — a company that has helped enterprises prepare for the global workplace of tomorrow. An in-demand speaker, Dhawan has spoken worldwide to organizations and enterprises that range from the World Economic Forum to U.S. and global Fortune 500 companies.
Her writings have appeared in dozens of publications, including Fast Company, Forbes and Harvard Business Review. She also serves as a member of the Aspen Institute Socrates Society, World Economic Forum Global Shapers and the Young Entrepreneur Council. She has an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, MBA from MIT Sloan, and B.S. from the Wharton School.
Global VP, Team Member Services Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Mark Ehrnstein has served as global vice president of team member services at Whole Foods Market since 2009. In this role, he is responsible for ensuring that Whole Foods Market’s vibrant culture is alive and well throughout the company’s continued growth to 1,200 stores. He oversees benefits, compensation, payroll operations and internal communications for more than 90,000 team members throughout the company’s 12 regions in the U.S., Canada and U.K.
Ehrnstein joined Whole Foods Market in 1999 as the director of team member services for the Northern Pacific region, and became the director of team member services in the Southwest region in 2003. He earned a bachelor of arts in industrial organizational psychology from San Francisco State University. In 2007, he received his senior professional in human resources certification from the Society of Human Resource Management.
VP & CHRO Baylor College of Medicine
Dane Friend is currently VP and CHRO at Baylor College of Medicine. Friend, who has been with Baylor since 1999, is responsible for all HR functions for the college and represents the institution in employment law matters.
Since taking on the VP role in 2011, Friend has overseen the debut of a college-wide reward and recognition program, developed and integrated a new set of core values, and is in the process of launching a comprehensive wellness program.
Friend has more than 15 years of experience in healthcare and higher education HR management. In addition to his HR experience, Friend is also a seasoned employment law attorney. Friend worked as a staff attorney with the Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas.
Friend holds bachelor’s degrees in sociology and political science from Houston Baptist University and a doctor of jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law. He is certified as a senior professional in human resources by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Senior Recognition Consultant Globoforce
Andrea Gappmayer is the senior recognition consultant at Globoforce. She has been a recognition strategist, consultant, speaker and coach for more than a decade. She has helped companies across the globe understand the power of leading with recognition. Her work with organizations such as Aflac, Oracle, Coca Cola Enterprises and Motorola helped leaders define their ambitions in launching a strategic recognition program and facilitated the change management necessary in making the program successful. Throughout her career, Gappmayer has consulted with C-suite executives on the financial power of strategic recognition, and she has coached managers around the world on implementing recognition into their personal management style. As a public speaker, she blends her brand of wit and wisdom with rich content and solid data reinforcing the benefits of strategic recognition to any organization. Gappmayer holds a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.
EVP, Human Resources & Internal Communications Direct Energy
Melinda Guerra-Reeves has more than 25 years in human resources in the energy, financial services, insurance and high-tech industries. Guerra-Reeves is currently the executive vice president of human resources and internal communications for Direct Energy.
Her experience cuts across multiple HR disciplines with deep technical expertise in employee relations, talent acquisition, talent development, and culture and organizational transformations. She is on the board of LiftFund, a designated community development financial institution whose mission is to provide credit and services to small businesses and entrepreneurs who do not have access to loans from commercial sources, and to provide leadership and innovation to the microlending industry.
Prior to Direct Energy, she was with USAA, an integrated financial services firm, where she last served as the executive VP of people services. Before that, Guerra-Reeves held key HR leadership positions with Compaq Computer Corporation and American General Life Insurance. She also previously served on the board of the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Antonio.
Guerra-Reeves holds a bachelor of journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and is a certified senior professional human resources.
EVP, Human Resources Apache Corporation
Margie Harris is an accomplished human resources leader in the Houston area who’s led human resource change initiatives at top Fortune 500 companies for more than 20 years.
Harris joined Apache Corporation in 2007 as vice president of human resources and was promoted to executive vice president of human resources in 2011.
As executive vice president, she established the human resource group at Texas Genco LLC, a wholesale electrical power generation company. She also headed the human resources group at Integrated Electrical Services, a national electrical contracting company, and Santa Fe Snyder, an independent exploration and production company and successor company to Santa Fe Energy Resources Inc. Harris was a lead design consultant at Hewitt Associates focusing primarily on executive compensation, broad-based compensation and benefit program design. Prior to her emphasis in human resources management, she held the position of financial controller for the international division of Continental Airlines and served as a landman at Shell Oil Company.
She serves on the alumni board of the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Harris holds a BSBA degree in finance from The Ohio State University and a MBA in finance and marketing from the University of St. Thomas.
VP, Human Resources BP America
Vice President Human Resources Calpine Corporation
VP, HR & Admin Svcs Marathon Oil Corporation
Deanna L. Jones is the vice president of human resources and administrative services for Marathon Oil Corporation since 2014.
Jones most recently served as vice president of human resources and chief commercial officer for Newfield Exploration Co. Prior to that, from 2008 to 2010, she served as human resource director for Reservoir Production Group of Schlumberger. Between 2006 and 2008, Jones held the position of vice president of North America for Schlumberger Information Solutions, and in that role, was responsible for leading software, information and the company’s related infrastructure organization in the U.S.
From 2003—2006, she served as vice president of personnel for Schlumberger Information Solutions, and was responsible for leading all human resource-related activities for Schlumberger's worldwide workforce from its London office. During the period of 1993—2003, she worked in a variety of managerial assignments of increasing responsibility for Schlumberger in Canada and the U.S.
Jones holds a bachelor of commerce from the University of Calgary, Canada, and has completed executive business courses in human resources at the University of Michigan and in finance at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.
SVP, Human Resources, Americas AMEC
Chuck Kemper serves as senior vice president of human resources for the Americas region of AMEC Foster Wheeler, a global consulting, engineering, procurement and construction company. Previously during his seven-year tenure at WorleyParsons, he served as group director, talent management and development, preceded by VP of HR for the U.S. and Latin America region. Prior to that he worked 14 years for Aker Kvaerner with his last role being VP of HR for the oil, gas, process and energy division.
He entered the engineering industry in 1992 and has worked in consulting and construction continuously since.
Kemper holds a B.S. in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from Xavier University. He also holds professional certifications in HR, employment law and benefits law.
Some of his industry and volunteer roles have included the board of directors of HR Houston, The Principal’s client advisory board, Houston E&C Salary Survey Steering Committee, counselor for Operation Jobs, St. Xavier alumni board of directors, and various church leadership roles in finance, personnel, children’s and adult education.
SVP, Global Change Management Practice Lee Hecht Harrison
Joanne Layne leads the change management practice globally for Lee Hecht Harrison.
Layne has extensive experience helping organizations build workforce resilience and change leadership capability during restructurings, transformations, and mergers and acquisitions. She is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, local events, and corporate off-site meetings. She was a thought leader at the Working Mother Magazine Multicultural Conference facilitating discussions on career management for multicultural women. She was the moderator for the Human Capital Institute Life Sciences conference. Layne was featured in the October 2002 issue of Oprah Magazine as an object lesson in personal and professional resilience.
Vice President Human Resources Kinder Morgan
Denise Mathews is an accomplished senior human resources executive with more than 35 years of experience in the energy sector. As vice president of human resources at Kinder Morgan, Mathews is responsible for the overall human resources function for the largest energy infrastructure company in North America with approximately 12,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada. She leads an experienced executive HR team that develops, delivers and integrates strategic HR initiatives to support the achievement of business unit results. She also manages corporate specialty groups in the areas of compensation, talent management, compliance, benefits, payroll and HRIS.
Prior to her position at Kinder Morgan, Mathews was vice president of human resources at El Paso Corporation. At El Paso, she led the transformation of human resources from a service organization to a strategic business partner.
Mathews has extensive experience in attracting, developing and retaining talent through effective workforce planning, recruiting, leadership development, coaching and total rewards strategies. She also has experience leading organizations through mergers and acquisitions as well as reorganizations requiring effective change management.
Mathews holds a bachelor of science in business administration and a bachelor of arts in French from Birmingham-Southern College.
SVP, Human Resources Southwestern Energy Company
Jenny McCauley was named senior vice president of human resources for Southwestern Energy Company in 2009. In addition, McCauley oversees an award-winning corporate communications function, responsible for internal, external and visual communications. She also leads Southwestern’s corporate giving program. During her tenure, McCauley has facilitated organizational growth which nearly doubled staff count, and spearheaded efforts resulting in a Top Workplaces designation for four consecutive years.
Prior to Southwestern, McCauley was vice president of human resources for the Americas and Global LNG region of BG Group, an integrated natural gas company based in the U.K. McCauley held a variety of human resources positions for JPMorgan Chase, Aramark Uniform Services and Hilton Hotels Corporation.
McCauley’s work has earned recognition as a Woman of Influence through the Oil & Gas Diversity Council. McCauley currently sits on the board of Comp-U-Dopt and volunteers at a variety of organizations in the Houston area, including Vita-Living and The Ronald McDonald House. She is also a member of the Sierra Institute.
McCauley earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, and a master’s degree in psychology and human development from The University of Texas at Dallas.
President H-E-B Food Stores
Scott McClelland is the president of H-E-B’s Houston division. McClelland joined H-E-B in 1990 after a 10-year career at Frito Lay. He served in a number of marketing and operations positions before being named H-E-B’s chief marketing officer in 2000 and in 2003 he moved to Houston to be the division president.
Under McClelland’s leadership, H-E-B’s has grown from an 11 percent to a 25 percent market share by opening larger stores with a heavy emphasis on low prices, locally sourced products and tailored assortment based on the neighborhoods around each store.
McClelland serves on the Greater Houston Partnership, where he serves on the executive board and chairs the Education Advisory Committee. He is the former board chair of the Houston Food Bank and headed the $56M capital campaign to fund the construction of the largest food bank warehouse in the U.S. Additionally, he sits on the boards of Memorial Hermann Hospitals, Early Matters, and the Center for Houston’s Future and POSSE.
McClelland received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California and graduated from Harvard’s Advanced Management Program.
Vice President, Solutions Visier Inc.
Susan McGovern has spent more than 15 years of her career in HR and sales, focused on education and HR technology.
Throughout her career she has been passionate about helping HR professionals leverage technology to drive business impact within their organizations, translating to millions of dollars in bottom-line savings.
At Visier she oversees the functions that support and drive success for the Visier sales team including pre-sales solution consulting, enablement and sales operations. Prior to Visier, McGovern worked for PeopleSoft, SkillSoft and most recently SAP/SuccessFactors, where she and her team contributed to consistent year-over-year growth and significant revenue across Western U.S. and Canada.
Kim Oliver, PHR
Human Capital Director Americas Mammoet
Kim Oliver is the human capital director Americas at Mammoet U.S. Oliver oversees the human capital function for North and South America providing strategic leadership for Mammoet U.S. and Mammoet Latin America with responsibility for recruitment, talent management, succession, and strategic human capital in support of the company’s regional and global initiatives. In this role Oliver reports to Just In ’t Velt, head of human capital for Mammoet Holdings, B.V. in the Netherlands. She joined Mammoet in 2012 as part of the company’s initiative to develop a best in practice human capital function, and she serves as a member of the regional leadership teams as well as a member of global human capital team.
Oliver has more than 15 years of experience in the oil and gas and engineered heavy logistics industries in a variety of roles including financial reporting, tax accounting, treasury management and HR management. Previously, she was VP of HR at CVR Energy Inc. where she structured and developed an HR team to support more than 750 employees in the domestic refining industry.
Oliver has a bachelor of arts in human resources management from Ashford University and an associate in applied science from Tompkins Cortland Community College.
SVP & CHRO CenterPoint Energy, Inc.
Sue Ortenstone joined CenterPoint Energy Inc. in February of 2014 as SVP and CHRO. Prior to joining CenterPoint, Ortenstone was most recently SVP and chief administrative officer at Copano Energy, responsible for human resources, information technology, administrative services and commercial risk management. Before joining Copano, she spent more than 30 years at El Paso Corp., where she last served as EVP and chief administrative officer, responsible for HR and other functions. Additionally, Ortenstone worked for several El Paso business units in a variety of roles including CEO of EPIC Energy in Australia, president of El Paso Gas Services, and other engineering, operations and business development positions.
Ortenstone graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. She serves on the advisory board for Civil and Environmental Engineering, as well as the industrial advisory board in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. In 2013, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013 for the UW College of Engineering. She also serves on the board of trustees for Northwest Assistance Ministries of Houston.
EVP, Talent Management United Supermarkets, Ltd.
Phil Pirkle is executive vice president of talent management for United Supermarkets Ltd., a position he has held since 2011. In that role he also serves as a member of the company’s executive team. Pirkle joined the United team in 2001 as director of human resources and was appointed vice president of human resources in 2003. He became senior vice president of talent management in 2006 before being promoted to his current position five years later.
Pirkle brought a wide range of experiences from the people side of the balance sheet to United, having been a banker and business consultant. His previous work experience includes Ingersol/Rand, Lubbock National Bank and Emprise Bank in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Pirkle holds a B.A. in economics from Baylor University, an M.E. in counseling and psychology from Central Oklahoma State University and an MBA from Texas Tech University. He holds certifications as an executive coach from the University of Texas at Dallas and Lean Six Sigma from Villanova University, and is a senior professional in human resources.
Vice President, Human Resources Crestwood Midstream Partners LP
Director, Human Resources City of Houston
Omar Reid is human resources director for the City of Houston and is responsible for the financial and administrative activities of the department. As the HR director, he provides guidance and initiates policies for all city departments. His focus and objective in HR is to continue as a strategic partner with other city departments in managing the city’s workforce of more than 22,000 employees. Additional areas of responsibility are HRIS, risk management (safety and worker’s compensation), citywide corporate training, benefits administration, finance and strategic design, employee and labor relations, salary and compensation, and workforce and strategic planning. Reid has implemented several major initiatives that significantly improved the services provided to the city’s workforce.
Reid earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Houston — Downtown, and an MBA from Texas Southern University. He has more than 29 years of human resources and specialized leadership/management experience. His expertise in leadership, team building, problem-solving and communications have been demonstrated by his successful involvement in both business projects and community activities. He has been invited to speak or visit with leadership teams and organizations across the country. Reid is also the author of “The Traffic of Life: Characteristics of Effective Leadership.”
Houston Market Leader, Executive Compensation Towers Watson
John Rhew is the practice leader for Towers Watson’s executive compensation consulting practice located in Houston. He has more than 17 years of experience in compensation and specializes in the assessment and design of executive and director pay programs.
His experience includes ongoing advisory work with senior management and outside directors on a variety of topics including compensation strategy development, annual and long-term incentive plan design, employment contracts, change-in-control agreements, governance of executive compensation, and the overall competitive pay analysis.
During his career, Rhew has worked with companies in a wide variety of industries including chemical, healthcare, manufacturing and utilities in managing all aspects of their compensation programs. Being in Houston, he has a particular focus on advising oil and gas organizations and serves as an advisor on the firm’s oil and gas industry team.
In addition, he is responsible for the design and administration of Towers Watson’s oil and gas compensation survey and oilfield services compensation survey. These surveys provide Towers Watson with access to world-class data resources that provide critical context for the compensation decision-making process. Rhew has a bachelor of business administration in marketing from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Tony Rogers, Ph.D.
Principal, Gulf and Latin America Region Right Management
Tony Rogers is a senior consultant in our talent management practice and serves as a subject matter expert for leadership development at Right Management. Additionally, he specializes in the energy sector with a focus on oil and gas.
Since the 1990s, Rogers has been helping leaders develop the skills to lead business transformation. He has led large-scale global business transformation projects for Fortune 100 to Fortune 1000 companies, including mergers and acquisitions, strategic joint ventures, consolidations and privatization projects. He specializes in leadership development with an emphasis on global awareness, cross-cultural competence, collaboration and innovation.
With Right Management since 2002, Rogers is a senior consultant in talent management division and provides leadership on client engagements in Right Management’s Southern market.
Rogers holds a B.A. in economics from Rice University and Ph.D. in counseling psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. He completed a residency and fellowship in behavioral medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He pursues continuing education at the Thunderbird’s School of Global Oil and Gas Management.
Director, Human Resources Office Johnson Space Center
Natalie Saiz strategically manages and leads the Johnson Space Center human resources office, providing exceptional support to agency and center goals with an HR team of 100 civil servants and contractors. Saiz consistently works to provide center leaders with comprehensive human capital strategies and programs to enable a capable, valued and engaged JSC team.
Saiz has had several career accomplishments at JSC including the establishment of JSC employee resources groups, designed to connect to JSC’s mission and to foster participation in recruiting, retention and outreach. Additionally, she developed and implemented the formal mentoring program at JSC.
She initiated the program/project management development program to develop and prepare future program-level project managers for the long-term challenges facing NASA. She created the Inclusion and Innovation Office at JSC to help build a diverse and inclusive culture that values open mindedness, innovation and creativity. Additionally, Saiz led the JSC workforce transition effort after shuttle retirement and major changes to JSC’s vision and mission.
Saiz holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, human resources management from The University of New Mexico and a master of arts in human resources management from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
VP, Administration & Human Resources Newfield Exploration Company
Thomas Smouse is vice president of administration and human resources for Newfield Exploration. He was named to this position in 2014 and is a member of the executive team with responsibilities for providing leadership to the human resources, IT, business performance management and office services functions.
In addition to his more than 20 years of oil and gas industry experience, he has worked in the deregulated power generation, trading and marketing, and death care industries.
Prior to joining Newfield Exploration, he was the director of human resources for Noble Energy. He lead teams engaged within the U.S. domestic operations, East Mediterranean operations and corporate functions to achieve short- and long-term business growth and financial outcomes. He has lead multifunctional teams providing talent acquisition, workforce planning, performance management, talent development, government reporting, non-employee management and college recruiting initiatives. He is a strategic human resources professional focused on impacting workforce solutions to improve overall business performance, leveraging a unique blend of analytical, operational and people leadership expertise to drive successful process improvement, cost reduction and develop cross-functional work teams.
Smouse holds a B.S. in business administration from Southeast Missouri State University.
Director, Team Member Analytics Whole Foods Market, Inc.
David Snyder joined Whole Foods Market in 2012 as the senior director of team member insights.
Snyder brings a unique combination of analytical expertise, storytelling, and a passion for helping individuals and organizations succeed. Snyder and his team provide company leaders with the insights needed to shape talent management strategy at Whole Foods Market and ensure every individual team member has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Prior to joining Whole Foods Market, Snyder spent 12 years at Nordstrom Inc. in numerous HR and finance leadership roles. Most recently, he founded and led the workforce insights team. He used fact-based analysis to help develop strategic initiatives over a wide spectrum of talent-related topics, such as strategic workforce planning, scheduling optimization, employee productivity, quality of hire, leadership development and total rewards. Snyder started his career as a CPA and consultant at a large regional accounting firm in Seattle.
Chief – Thermal Design Branch NASA Johnson Space Center
Carlos Westhelle is the chief of Johnson Space Center’s thermal design branch where he leads the design, analysis, integration and system management of critical passive thermal and thermal protection systems on multiple human spacecrafts.
In previous roles he served as the technical assistant for strategic integration in both the engineering and the exploration integration and science directorates leading the development and integration of domain implementation plans and setting priorities in research and development for enabling exploration and science efforts. A dedicated and accomplished engineer, with unique skills combining technical systems engineering expertise with strategic analysis and design, Westhelle has demonstrated experience managing all technical aspects of highly complex projects across multiple disciplines and organizations spanning from entry descent and landing guidance algorithm development, integration and testing of a large science satellite, to organizational development and culture change practices.