2024 Leadership Institute

2024 CACUBO Leadership Institute



Ashley Conteras


Session Title: Motivating Your Team by Adapting Your Leadership Style & Driving Effective Conflict

Ashley Contreras, a Client Service Leader at Gallagher, supports a team of client managers in their delivery of high-touch customer service.

Ashley’s career has focused on adapting and meeting the needs of her clients, primarily finance and HR leaders at public sector organizations. In her client-facing role at Gallagher, she is practiced in adapting her style to effectively support public sector leaders by anticipating their needs and empowering them to make effective decisions. While in this role, her client base consisted of over 100 community colleges, K-12 schools, and municipal organizations throughout the State of Michigan.

Since moving into a supervisory role, Ashley drives training and development of service staff across Michigan and manages the service delivery process for Gallagher’s employee benefits consulting team. She drives process improvements, pushes for innovative strategies, and works to help her team see the big picture while managing the day-to-day workload.

Ashley is an active member of the local community and regularly volunteers for local programs like Gilda’s Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She has her B.S. in Marketing from Grand Valley State University and is a licensed insurance professional.


Sam Davidson

Nashville Entrepreneur Center (The EC)

Session Title: Community is a Choice

Sam Davidson is the CEO of Nashville Entrepreneur Center (The EC), and a speaker, author, and entrepreneur who tells stories that need telling to motivate others to change the things that need changing. In 2006, he founded Cool People Care, a media and merchandise company that has leveraged new technology to connect thousands of individuals to causes and nonprofits in local communities. Cool People Care’s line of eco-friendly and cause-related merchandise has raised over $125,000 for causes ranging from disaster relief to hunger awareness. He has since gone on to co-found three additional companies, the most recent of which is Batch, a national gift and retail company that connects entrepreneurs with new customers.

 Davidson has twice been named a “Most Admired CEO” by the Nashville Business Journal. Both Davidson and his companies have appeared in numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, Southern Living, The Boston Globe, NPR, and USA Today. In 2020, Davidson founded SmallBusinessPledge.org to raise awareness about the positive impact small businesses have on communities all across America, especially as so many closed permanently due to COVID-19.

 A sought-after speaker, he frequently speaks on topics such as leadership, entrepreneurship, and community service to audiences at colleges and conferences around the United States. He is the author of three books: New Day Revolution, 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need, and Simplify Your Life. He graduated from Samford University and lives in Nashville with his family.

Davidson’s speaking style is high-energy, engaging, informing, and motivating. Whether speaking to five people or 5,000, Davidson reels audiences in with humor and captivating storytelling while leaving them with valuable, memorable lessons that are immediately applicable. Often, he gets his audience moving as well, asking them to share and collaborate with a neighbor. Doing so allows each attendee an even deeper perspective during his time on stage.  


Carlie Dos Santos


Session Title: Fostering A Culture of Talent Development

Carlie is the VP for Talent Management at Follett. She is responsible for Talent Management, including talent development and learning and development, in addition overseeing the development of Follett’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging roadmap and DEIB Council. With 25+ years of Talent Management experience, Carlie’s expertise, and innovative approaches to leadership development, learning and development, succession planning, and DEIB reflect her passion for talent management strategy and creating a culture of belonging where team members engage authentically in learning and development as they grow personally and professionally.


Lori Hensler


Session Title: Fostering A Culture of Talent Development

As Chief People Officer at Follett, Lori serves as a strategic partner and trusted advisor to ensure operational excellence. A strong proponent of team development, Lori sets high expectations and gains alignment based on collaboration and a shared mission. She holds crucial conversations, fostering an atmosphere open to addressing challenges while pushing for progress. Prior to joining the leadership team at Follett, Lori served as Head of Human Resources at Flinn Scientific, spearheading organizational design and change.


Nichole Johnson


Session Title: Organizational Wellbeing & the Power of Leadership Influence

Nichole is the Area Vice President Higher Education & Nonprofit Benefits & Hr Consulting at Gallagher. She specializes in providing employee benefits, insurance brokerage and consulting services for Higher Education and Nonprofit employers. She is an active participant in each of those niches within Gallagher. Her expertise is in helping clients align their employee benefit strategies with their organizational goals. She serves as a liaison between employers and insurance carriers and will assist them in strategy, vendor management and ongoing support.

Nichole also supports the growth and development of Gallagher’s early talent within her IL/WI Public Sector branch. She created a five-week intensive new hire training program for recent college graduates. She also coordinates the internship training for the branch. Her passion for mentorship and development has led her to host the ongoing new hire meetings to monitor progress and offer additional support.

Nichole has been with Gallagher since 2013, where she was an intern during the summers for 2013 and 2014. She joined Gallagher full-time in 2015. She completed the Gallagher Career Associate Program for training and growth in her first few years at Gallagher.

Now, she is participating in a two-year leadership training program called G3 (Growing Gallagher Greats). This invite-only program has targeted Nichole as a future leader within Gallagher and has an intensive training schedule including instruction from a career coach and multiple mentors.

She is also a member of GROW (Gallagher Resources and Opportunities for Women). As an active committee member, she serves to bring women from the Chicagoland area together. Her favorite aspect of the GROW program is the mentorship and connections to women leaders within Gallagher. 


Sally Rigney


Session Title: Fostering A Culture of Talent Development

Sally has more than 20 years of progressive experience in HR and is currently the VP of Human Resources Business Partnerships (HRBP) for Follett. The majority of Sally's career has been spent as a strategic business partner, working with executives to drive forward the mission, vision, and goals of the organization. She is experienced in leading and transforming teams, organizational design, facilitation/training, change management, talent management, reporting and data analysis, employee relations, coaching and digging in to solve problems.


Mark Saine


Session Title: Application of Learning, Leadership That Inspires & Teams that Work

Mark Saine is the Senior Director of Client Leadership Solutions at TIAA. Mark supports clients by helping them to build leaders internally that are prepared to take on increasingly complex roles and to manage the demands of a rapidly changing environment. He provides leadership development services including workshops, retreats, consultation, and coaching.

In his previous role at TIAA, Mark initiated and oversaw corporate-wide leadership and executive development initiatives such as leadership transitions training, top talent programs, mentoring programs, and coaching engagements. Mark’s gift for creating relevant and engaging programs created momentum for leadership development inside TIAA that engaged leaders at all levels in the organization.

He has worked for TIAA for more than 20 years, joining the organization as an internal training consultant. Mark began his career in higher education as a director of career services. In that role he found his passion for adult education and leadership development. Since joining TIAA, Mark has managed the learning and leadership development of our Asset Management group and eventually expanded his reach to encompass the enterprise-wide leadership development efforts. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree from Anderson University (Indiana), a master’s in student personnel from Ball State University (Indiana), and a master’s in organizational psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University (New York).

Mark’s work with clients focuses on:

  • Creating an institutional strategy to develop a pipeline of leaders.
  • Building initiatives that support leadership development at all levels of an institution.
  • Identifying top talent and building programs to support their on-going growth.
  • Designing and developing customized leadership programs.
  • Facilitating interactive, engaging development programs.
  • Coaching key leaders and high-potential talent.

Outside of TIAA, he has taught undergraduate courses including Organizational Behavior, Group Dynamics, Interpersonal and Managerial Communications, Career Development, and Principles of Adult Learning.

Mark has also earned certification from the Hudson Institute of Coaching, is certified to administer the Leadership Circle Profile and Leadership Culture Survey and is a Social Style Master Trainer. Additionally, he holds certifications to train numerous courses including: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Situational Leadership, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leadership Challenge, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations.


Kathleen Schulz


Session Title: Organizational Wellbeing & the Power of Leadership Influence

Kathleen Schulz is the Global Innovation Leader for Organizational Wellbeing within Gallagher’s Benefits and HR Consulting division. She works with Gallagher teams and clients to design holistic strategies to address the total employee value proposition – including all the dimensions of wellbeing, employee engagement, productivity, and resiliency.

Kathleen has more than 20 years of experience in designing and implementing wellbeing, fitness, occupational health, EAP, benefits, work/life and organizational development initiatives.  Prior to joining Gallagher, Kathleen spent nineteen year’s leading award-winning occupational health and wellness programs at Campbell Soup Company and four years leading the health and wellness programs for NYNEX corporation in New York. Her experience lies in designing integrated approaches to organizational wellbeing by connecting culture, employee behavior, risk, and outcomes.

Kathleen was named a 2022 Luminary by BenefitsPRO Magazine for transforming and humanizing the benefits business, Top 25 National Wellbeing Leader by the Corporate Health & Wellness Association and Corporate Wellness Magazine and received a YWCA Tribute To Women In Industry “TWIN” Award recipient recognizing women who have made significant contributions to industry in managerial, executive, supervisory and/or professional roles.


Justin Szymakowski


Session Title: Fostering A Culture of Talent Development

Justin is the Director of Talent Development at Follett. He has a deep expertise in Talent Management, Organizational Development and Learning & Development. His career has included supporting, coaching, and training thousands of leaders to identify their strengths and cultivate environments where their team members can learn, grow, and multiply their impact on the business. Justin currently serves as the Talent Development.