General Session Speakers

Dan Heath

Dan Heath, Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE Center

Dan Heath co-wrote three of the most-loved business books of the past decade: Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive. All three were New York Times best-sellers. Together the Heath brothers' books have sold over two million copies worldwide and been translated into 33 languages.

Dan is a senior fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports entrepreneurs who fight for social good. He is also an entrepreneur himself, having founded Thinkwell, an innovative education company that will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017. A former case writer for Harvard Business School, Dan was named in 2013 to the Thinkers 50, a ranking of the world’s 50 most influential management thinkers, and also to Fast Company magazine’s list of the Most Creative People in Business. He has delivered keynotes or workshops for teachers, police chiefs, U.S. senators, interior designers, Navy admirals, health care leaders, marketers, ministers, and countless executive teams, across 26 countries on 6 continents. (He’s still waiting for that invitation from Antarctica.)

Dan has a Master of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.


M. J. Bishop

M. J. Bishop, University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation

Dr. M.J. Bishop is inaugural director of the University System of Maryland’s William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, which was established in 2013 to enhance and promote USM's position as a national leader in higher education academic innovation. The Center conducts research on best practices, disseminates findings, offers professional development opportunities for institutional faculty and administrators, and supports the 12 public institutions that are part of the system as they continue to expand innovative academic practices.

Prior to coming to USM, Dr. Bishop was Associate Professor and Director of the Lehigh University College of Education’s Teaching, Learning, and Technology Program where, in addition to being responsible for the institution’s graduate programs in instructional technology, she also played a leadership role in guiding the general and special education teacher preparation programs through a curricular overhaul to address the new Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) guidelines for teacher certification.

While at Lehigh, Dr. Bishop received several awards for her research and teaching including the 2013 Stabler Award for Excellence in Teaching for leading students to “excellence in their chosen field” as well as “excellence as human beings and as leaders of society.” In addition to her teaching, MJ was project director and a Co-PI of the Clipper Project, a 5-year Andrew Mellon funded research project aimed at evaluating the short- and long-term costs and benefits associated with offering Web-based courses to high-school seniors who had been “pre-admitted” to the university.

Prior to Lehigh, MJ was a software development project manager and Vice President for Operations on the Multimedia Thinking Skills (MMTS) project (funded by CAETI and National Science Foundation under subcontracts from George Mason University) where she was principally responsible for the daily management of the MMTS project, including formative and summative evaluation of the modules developed.

Author of numerous national and international articles, Dr. Bishop’s research interests include exploring how various instructional media and delivery systems might be designed and used more effectively to improve learning and teaching. MJ holds an Ed.D. in instructional design and development from Lehigh, an M.A. in English from Millersville University and a B.A. in political science and English from Lebanon Valley College.


Hannah Ubl

Hannah Ubl, Research Director, Keynote Speaker and Consultant

At her core, Hannah is an information junkie. She delights in bringing that information to the masses. As a researcher, speaker, generational expert, and coauthor of Managing Millennials For Dummies, Hannah thrives on studying what motivates, forms, and challenges every generation.

She has delivered her dynamic presentations in companies such as Cisco Systems, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, UnitedHealth Group, and Deloitte. Hannah is driven by the “a-ha” moments during speeches when audience members who seemed reticent at first can be seen nodding and smiling in appreciation.

An exceptionally curious person with an insatiable thirst to learn anything and everything, Hannah heads up BridgeWorks’ research initiatives, including delving into the latest trends on Generation Edge, the generation after Millennials. She is passionate about BridgeWorks’ gender, healthcare, and sustainability initiatives. Her research has unearthed valuable tips and actionable solutions for multi-generational workplaces and key strategies for marketing and reaching more generationally diverse client bases.

Hannah graduated from Boston University where she studied advertising and environmental science. A weird combination? Absolutely. Fitting for such an avid learner? Totally. In her spare time, she can be found playing with her two cats, reading in her favorite haunt or persuading her friends to join her at the adult night at the Science Museum. Yes, she is a nerd.


Chris Howard

Chris Howard, President, Robert Morris University

Dr. Chris Howard is the eighth president of Robert Morris University near Pittsburgh and one of the youngest college presidents in the United States.

He is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and earned a doctorate in politics as a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford. He also has an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School. Dr. Howard's service to his country began as a helicopter pilot, then as an intelligence officer, where he was assigned to the elite Joint Special Operations Command. He served in Afghanistan in the Air Force Reserve and was awarded the Bronze Star. He also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia.

Dr. Howard aims to make RMU the preferred strategic partner for corporations, organizations, professionals, and aspiring professionals in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. The university is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report and is now undertaking a $50 million capital project, the largest in its history, which will include the UPMC Events Center.

Before coming to RMU, Dr. Howard was President of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and vice president for Leadership & Strategic Initiatives at the University of Oklahoma. Previously he worked in General Electric's Corporate Initiatives Group and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Corporate Associates Program. Dr. Howard has served on the National Security Education Board, appointed by President Barack Obama, and the MyVA Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

He is a member of the board of directors of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Young Presidents Organization. He is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of Sigma Pi Phi, also known as the Boule, the oldest African-American fraternity in the United States.

Dr. Howard won the Campbell Trophy, the nation’s highest academic award for a senior college football player. He is a member of the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame and a winner of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. He also is a member of the National Football Foundation Awards Committee, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

Dr. Howard is the founder and a trustee of the Impact Young Lives Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings South African college students of color to the U.S. for summer educational and cultural tours. His wife, Barbara Noble Howard, is the foundation's executive director and a native of South Africa. The Howards have two sons, Cohen and Joshua.