2020 JOY Speakers

Karen Auld

Karen Auld is an environmental professional, coach, consultant, writer, and inspirational speaker. After devoting years to helping. Fortune 500 companies take a responsible role in environmental sustainability, Karen has turned her focus inward. Understanding that the individual was the key to greater success, Karen became an avid student of self-empowerment. Earning credentials from the likes of Robert Holden and Steve Harvey, and being mentored by Hay House ‘s Cheryl Richardson and Reid Tracy, Karen strives to create what she calls Sustainable  Souls. In addition to large corporations, Karen is now grooming entrepreneurs and is a frequent keynote speaker. She wants to share the environmental successes in New Jersey, because it is our human nature to protect the things that give us Joy.

Loretta Breuning, PdD

Loretta Breuning is the founder of the Inner Mammal
Institute, which helps people find their power over their mammal brain. She is a Professor Emerita of Management at California State University, and author of Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain your brain to boost your serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphin levels. Understanding her mammal brain was liberating for her and she loves to help others find this relief. She worked in Africa for the United Nations before teaching. It helped her to understand what people have in common, and why we go
negative. Joy comes from chemicals we’ve inherited from earlier mammals. These chemicals evolved to do a job, not to flow all the time for no reason. We all have ups and downs because our happy chemicals evolved to do a job. When you know the job of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin in the state of nature, you can find them more easily today and understand that Joy comes in moment.

Herman Brodie

Herman is an international speaker, educator, behavioural economics specialist and co-author of The Trust Mandate. He has advised hundreds of major firms in the financial services industry during his 25+ year career in investment banking and consultancy. As a proud Ambassador of the Diversity Project, an initiative of the UK savings and investment industry to accelerate progress towards an inclusive culture, Herman is an advocate for workplace diversity and inclusion. His work focuses on helping people navigate a diverse environment by examining one behavioural concept that shapes the interpersonal exchanges: the stereotype. Herman believes that JOY can stem from understanding the purpose of stereotypes, how they work, and how you can improve or change yours. The result is that you will be able to build more honest, open and trusting relationships – both inside and outside the workplace.

David Burke

Blurring the lines between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor, world-renowned David Burke is a leading pioneer in American cooking today. Raised in Monmouth County, NJ, he has launched dozens of innovative restaurant concepts across the country. He has authored two cookbooks and become a recognized chef on television, including appearances on NBC’s TODAY Show and two seasons on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Burke believes that food can be described in one word: JOY. Food is a joy to prepare, to share, to gather and create and, of course, to eat. Food is what connects us around the dinner table and around the world.

Sarah Elizabeth Charles

Sarah Elizabeth Charles is a rising vocalist/composer based in NYC. Her band, SCOPE, has been together for 10 years, releasing three albums and performing at prestigious venues including the White House and Carnegie Hall. She was the recipient of the 2019 Yale University School of Music’s Distinguished Teaching Artist Award. Leading SCOPE while working with other artists and as a teaching artist represents her goal to reflect the world around her through her compositions, collaborations and educating. Having experienced a plane of JOY and gratitude that exists in the creation and absorption of musical sound, Charles believes that through music, human beings can experience a transformative range of emotional, physical and spiritual spaces.

David Cieri

David Cieri is a composer and musician who has written film scores for many of today’s most distinguished documentarians, including Ken Burns. Cieri’s film scoring work with Burns has been extensive, including The Vietnam War with Yo-Yo Ma and Trent Reznor. He has recorded nine acclaimed albums under his own name and made two records with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa. His music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center among other prestigious venues. Cieri believes that JOY has many tributaries and will explore our capacity and willingness to become “unstuck” from singular outlooks as one.

Colleen Breeckner

Colleen Breeckner is a Yoga Practitioner with over 4,000 hours of yoga training and 26 years of practice. She is certified in Thai Massage with the Lotus Palm school and the Sunshine Massage School in Thailand. Colleen is a Kripalu certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor, as well as a Certified Herbalist. She is the director of Lila Tandava Yoga Teacher Training and Co-Teacher for Pure/Equinox Yoga Teacher Training. She hosts workshops, classes and adventure retreats internationally and nationally. She has a spirited style that conveys complex spiritual teachings in an accessible way. She believes that in order to cultivate
JOY, there are methods for creating lightness. Yoga as a practice can help to cultivate more insight, inviting play and awareness back into our lives.

Ben Freeberg

Ben Freeberg is a funny, money man. A healthcare venture capitalist and stand-up comedian who studied Economics at Duke University, he is also a tennis coach, a snowboarder, an expert in the ancient art of juggling Chinese Devil Sticks and a cancer survivor. Freeberg believes that you experience JOY when your reality consistently exceeds your expectations — and the answer is not to set those expectations low.

Marion Grodin

Marion Grodin has been a headlining comic for the last 20 years. Marion has toured with Linda Ronstadt, opened for Lewis Black, Judy Gold, and Robert Klein and shared the stage with Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Jim Gaffigan, Joy Behar, Roseanne Barr and Robin Williams. She has appeared on the Joy Behar Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The View. She has also written and sold five screenplays, written for two sitcoms, and penned a memoir called Standing Up: A Memoir of a Funny (Not Always) Life. She is a favorite at New York City’s top clubs, including Standup NY and Gotham Comedy Club, where she regularly headlines. As one of the country’s top emcees, Marion’s incredible ability to improvise has allowed her to master the art of talking with the audience. In addition to her standup, Marion has produced two highly successful fundraisers, starring such luminaries as Martin Short, Lewis Black, Regis Philbin, Charles Grodin, and Paul Shaffer. Marion knows firsthand that laughter is truly the best medicine, by using it to survive breast cancer, divorce, and various addictions. She integrates her diverse life experiences, genuine concern for people, and unstoppable ability to make everything funny…in a forum that is both entertaining and hopefully helpful to other people. Marion believes that JOY is an inside job and it has so much more to do with your perspective than your circumstances.

Erin Maguire

Erin Maguire is a stand-up comic, writer, actor and podcast host based in NYC. Her comedy advice podcast, Dear Pod, charted in Apple’s top 100 comedy pods in America within two months of its debut. She recently headlined Caroline’s Comedy Club, appeared on Gotham Comedy NextVR live for Oculus, and wrote for Comedy Central’s Roast of Alec
Baldwin. She has appeared at the Lucille Ball Comedy
Festival, among some of comedy’s greats. She has also been featured at Women in Comedy Festival, Laugh Your Asheville Off, Boston Comedy Festival, and Woodstock Comedy Festival. Erin has frequently worked for ESPN and the Game Show Network. Erin appears regularly at clubs in NYC and she invites you to come laugh at/with/for/near her.

Roger Manix

As a Stanford University Graduate School of Business Instructor, Roger Manix created a methodology to teach emotional and social intelligence using play- based learning. He was invited to Parsons School of Design at The New School to develop a play-based program in Design Strategies for Cities, Services and Ecosystems. Currently, he teaches “Compassionate Leadership through Play” in the Global Executive Master Program. Roger has been nominated for The Distinguished Teacher Award along with Outstanding Contributions to Social Justice Teaching Award for his work on experiential learning. Roger is also co-founder of Ludolo, a play-based learning company that fosters creativity and empathy in Fortune 500 companies to make the world a kinder, more connected and joyful place. Roger believes that the basis for JOY is connection and that we don’t experience joy in a vacuum. Joy is born of relation to something else — people, animals, nature, meditation, food…. Collaborative play trains us to explore the unknown and maintain a joyful state of mind.

Michele Mitchell

Michele Mitchell is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist best known for her work exposing crimes against humanity. As both an on-camera reporter for PBS and CNN Headline News and as a documentarian, Mitchell has worked with survivors of mass violence in Bosnia, Cambodia, Kenya, Myanmar, Rwanda and South Sudan. She studied trauma in journalism as an Ochberg Fellow at Columbia University. Her documentary, The Uncondemned, has been translated into five languages. According to Mitchell, we live in a world where 85% of us encounter “small” traumas daily. How do we re-wire ourselves after a traumatic moment or sustained experience? The way forward is through JOY.

Michael Nayak

Dr. Michael Nayak is an award-winning scientist, engineer, pilot and military officer who deployed to the South Pole as a National Science Foundation Principal Investigator in November 2018. Michael is a National Defense Science and Engineering Fellow, a Collier Trophy nominee and winner of the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement for developing a new dynamical method to analyze planetary surfaces across the solar system. As Research Section Chief for the DoD’s largest telescope, he directed $85 million in federal research funds for optical/astrophysical R&D. Outside of work, he owns a small aerospace consulting firm and he also instructs skydiving, high performance parachuting and vertical wind tunnel flying. The season that Michael spent in the brutal South Pole cold at the bottom of the world taught him about being happy in the modern world. He found JOY in one of the most isolated places on Earth, discovering how shared suffering breeds teamwork and how isolation can make us more connected.

Edafe Okporo

Born in Warri, Nigeria, Edafe Okporo is an activist, businessman and author. He is passionate about extending a hand to communities in need and teaching leaders in communities and organizations how to motivate their members to act. Self-identification as a gay man led to his displacement from Nigeria in 2016. His memoir, Bed 26: A Memoir of an African Man’s Asylum in The United States, shares how he fought his way out of constant persecution and reclaimed his freedom. He became a fearless activist and an unstoppable force for change, determined to expose the truth. Today, he lives in New York City where he is executive director of RDJ Refugee Shelter in Harlem. He is also the founder of The Pont LLC, a full service media company helping brands tell their stories and empowering communities through storytelling. His work includes trying to build an inclusive society, both in and out of the workplace, that will spark JOY. Inclusion of LGBTQ people, refugees and marginalized people is a path to building a joyful society.

David Thompson

David is co-founder of the management consulting company, interstitio, and co-founder of Lunch Roulette, a simple, web-based process that randomly pairs people within an organization for lunch, improving communication and workplace satisfaction. Over the course of his career, David has worked for organizations in the for-profit, for-impact and academic spaces, and generally likes to spend his time making tangible contributions to complex social problems. He has a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of Cambridge and a Chemical Physics MSci from University College London. His work has been published on Forbes.com, HBR.org and ScientificAmerican.com. Through his work with Lunch Roulette, David has discovered an important connection between the physical space and digital tools and how this can lead to serendipity, alleviate a sense of social isolation, and spark JOY and engagement. His talk will explore the efforts that we make to avoid engaging with the unknown, and the visceral joy of random connection that we experience when we do, fostering both individual and collective well-being.

Jason Watt

Jason Watt is a founding partner of Smith Hospitality Group, comprising eight restaurants in two states, which include three of the most popular brands in Asbury Park. Watt has been with Smith for 21 years and has been instrumental in its evolution from a branding and marketing firm to a 30+million dollar enterprise. He is also co- founder of Fishbird, a brand and leadership development process offering a unique training culture and philosophy that supports organizations around the world through transformative breakthroughs. Watt believes that JOY is available as a choice and a declaration, not as something out there in the future to one day obtain.

Craig Wortmann

Craig Wortmann is a Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the Founder of the new Kellogg Sales Institute. Craig designed, developed and teaches the award-winning course called “Entrepreneurial Selling, ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the “Top Ten” courses in the country. Craig also won the Faculty Excellence Award, given to the professor who has had the most positive impact on the students. His book, What’s Your Story?, looks at how leaders and sales professionals use stories to connect, engage and inspire, and encourages them to communicate what really matters: vision, mission, ethical behavior, teamwork and commitment. Craig finds that we are all selling every single day, and that selling is listening, empathizing and helping others realize the right solution to make progress. Craig believes that JOY is rooted in helping others make progress in their lives.