PeopleConnect LIVE – Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Wendy M. Purcell, Ph.D., FRSA

Harvard Research Scholar

Dr. Wendy Purcell PhD FRSA, a Research Scholar with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, leads research on global leadership and governance for sustainable transformation in higher education and business sectors.

Wendy was President Vice-Chancellor of a UK university (2007-2015), taking it to the top 1% of world universities and number one ‘green’ UK university. She is Emeritus Professor of Biomedicine at Plymouth University, UK and life scientist with experience in knowledge exchange and innovation, having worked with the pharma/biotech sector. Council Member of the United Nations University, Member of the Association of American Universities and Colleges, she is Visiting Professor at McGill University.

Wendy was a Non-Executive Director with the UK Government’s cabinet-level office the Government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Chair of its Nominations (Talent) Committee. She was Expert Adviser to Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Economic Growth and Sir Adrian Smith’s Postgraduate Review. She is a member of the RSA Sustainability Board, elected Member of the International Women’s Forum (UK and USA) and a Member of the Harvard-affiliated Institute of Coaching.

Wendy’s purpose lies in transforming lives through education and research in pursuit of social equity, the knowledge economy and sustainable development. She seeks to connect universities with business and society. Comfortable with complexity and scale, she is analytical as well as enterprising in her approach and takes a keen interest in equity, diversity and inclusion, leadership and governance and sustainability.

Wendy has authored over 100 academic publications, as well as book chapters, books and patent filings. She is currently editor of the lead journal Sustainability for a special issue on ‘Sustainable Higher Education and Leadership’ and lead author of a textbook for Bloomsbury entitled ‘Handbook on Sustainability in Higher Education: an Agenda for Transformational Change’ and Series Editor for Emerald for 17 books on ' Higher Education and the Sustainable Development Goals’.

Dr. Shirley Davis

Diversity & Inclusion Global Thought Leader

As President and CEO of SDS Global Enterprises, Inc., Dr. Shirley Davis brings a unique background as a seasoned HR and Diversity & Inclusion global thought leader, a senior executive, a certified leadership coach, and a former Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for several major Fortune 100 companies. She has worked in more than 30 countries on 5 continents and delivers more than 80 speeches a year. She continues to consult, coach, and present to leaders at all levels of an organization, in all business sectors, and across a number of industries.

She is the former Global Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Workplace Strategies for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Dr. Davis has also been a featured expert on NBC’s The Today Show, USA Today, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise Magazine, The Washington Post, and Inclusion Magazine. She earned the highest designation in the speaking industry as a Certified Speaking Professional, bestowed by the National Speaker’s Association, which put her in the ranks of only 15% of speakers worldwide.

She is the author of the best-selling book, “Reinvent Yourself: Strategies for Achieving Success in Every Area of Your Life,” and “The Seat: How to Get Invited to the Table When You’re Over-Performing and Undervalued.” She holds a Bachelor’s in Pre-Law, a Master’s in HR Management, a Ph.D. in Business and Organization Management, and is a former Ms. American United States. She is also a featured author for LinkedIn Learning’s online course entitled, “Inclusive Leadership.”

Dr. Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D., SPHR

Chief Human Resources Officer, the College of William and Mary

Dr. Christopher D. Lee is the inventor of the pioneering Performance Conversations method, a performance improvement system that replaces the outdated appraisal. He is an accomplished practitioner, author, lecturer, and consultant on HR related topics. His background includes having served as the chief HR officer for four institutions of higher learning. He is a former question writer for the PHR (Professional in Human Resources) and SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) examinations administered by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI).

He is the author of numerous HR related articles and chapters, and four books. Chris has presented at conferences and consulted with clients in the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa on search committee or performance management–related topics. A graduate of Auburn, Golden Gate, and Georgia State universities, he is also certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. Additionally, Chris is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.

Joshua Secrest

Vice President of Client Marketing and Advocacy, Paradox

Joshua Secrest is Vice President of Client Marketing and Advocacy at Paradox. Prior to joining Paradox, he led talent and talent acquisition teams for some of the world’s largest and most recognizable brands. During his time at McDonald’s Corporation, Joshua was head of global talent strategy and global talent acquisition where he helped build and launch the world’s first voice initiated application in partnership with Paradox, Google and Amazon. Joshua also spent over 13 years at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. where he led various HR functions, including global talent acquisition, philanthropy and home office development. Joshua graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Economics.

Jeremy Tolan

Partnerships Manager, Spark Hire

Jeremy Tolan is the Partnerships Manager at Spark Hire. He’s responsible for cultivating and maintaining relationships among Spark Hire's strategic partners. Since joining the team in 2012, he has served in a variety of roles and helped hundreds of leading organizations successfully implement video interviewing. Today, more than 6,000 organizations have interviewed millions of candidates across 100+ countries on Spark Hire.

Session Speakers

Rishi Rana

General Manager


Rishi Rana is GM (CEO) of the Higher-Ed business in the edtech sector for PowerSchool Group LLC, leading strategy, growth, and with direct ownership of Product, R&D, Services, Customer Success, Sales, and Marketing. He has over 22 years of executive and leadership experience with a proven track record in leading businesses while developing complex, critical software solutions, products, and platforms across various domains.

Previously, Rishi was COO of AGDATA LP. He oversaw the transformation of several product and service lines into a single platform providing data-enabled insight and analytics for the agriculture industry. Rishi has led several businesses towards high growth in topline revenue, revamping service lines and factory models towards multiple-fold EBITDA growth. Prior experience includes serving HCM and Talent landscape as SVP for Global Services at Skillsoft Limited and GM-APAC for SumTotal Systems, where he setup offices in various countries and crafted teams and functions from the ground up. Rishi also held several leadership roles at Microsoft for over a decade where he led product, services, and strategy across a variety of functions and markets globally.

Rishi is an avid speaker at events and recipient of several awards in management excellence, strategy, communication, and mentoring. He recently won the “CEO with HR Orientation” Award from Asia Pacific HRM Congress. He holds a BS in Computer Science & Math and an MBA, both from Texas A&M University.

Danielle Brown Becka

Director of Product Management

PowerSchool Group LLC

As Director of Product Management, Danielle is responsible for delivering the strategic vision behind PowerSchool’s portfolio of products for higher education. With over a decade in the education and technology space, she has led many customer- and business-impacting programs and teams across Product Management, PMO, Professional Services, Customer Success, and Support. She is an accomplished consultant, trainer, and speaker, and has created and led many software-specific courses around the country. Danielle is an alumna of Americorps, the voluntary service program that aims to lift communities in need. She holds a master’s degree in Math Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.

Danielle enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, family, traveling, reading, and staying active with yoga, hiking and running outside. Danielle is an active member of her community, serving on the Board of Directors for the Anti-Defamation League of Austin and the Alumni Advisory Committee for the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin.

BJ Ball

Vice President of Sales


As Vice President of Sales for PeopleAdmin, William (known as BJ), is responsible for managing and growing sales operations. He brings a wealth of more than 15 years of software experience, including consulting, services leadership, and SaaS implementation in addition to leading sales organizations.

Sarah Renneker

Product Manager, Faculty Information System


Sarah has been working in the HigherEd talent technology space for the past five years and is excited to be part of the digital transformation of systems across campuses. Her current focus is on PeopleAdmin’s Faculty Information System. She brings detailed knowledge of the higher education market to create the best solutions for faculty, academic affairs, and staff. She works closely with PeopleAdmin brilliant leaders, engineers, sales, services, and support professionals to bring our vision to life for customers.

Kelley James

Product Manager, HigherEd Platform


As a product manager at PeopleAdmin, Kelley’s focus is to continue to grow the Higher Ed Platform. She is passionate about the intersection of technology and education and believes that strong digital products can help campuses thrive. Prior to joining PowerSchool, Kelley spent 6 years at a national education nonprofit where she worked on technical products for the higher education community. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Virginia Tech.

Danny Linton

Associate Director, Functional Online Solutions

University of Memphis

Danny Linton has been with the University of Memphis for more than 23 years. Holding both master's and bachelor's degrees in Communication from the UofM, Danny is responsible for supporting all Web sites within the Division of Business & Finance. In addition, he serves as the system administrator for WorkforUM, the University's applicant tracking and position management system. He also leads a multitude of instructor-based and online training courses for the University. Danny also has taught film & television courses for the University's Department of Communication for more than two decades.

Robin Borough

Director of Talent Acquisition

Chapman University

Robin Borough has been the Director of Talent Acquisition at Chapman University since July 2019. This being her first foray into higher education, she is a seasoned executive from the corporate space, author and speaker with over 30 years of professional experience in Management, Training, Design Thinking, Marketing and Talent Acquisition. As a corporate counselor Robin is well known for her ability to help companies develop winning teams. Robin authored Competing for Your Future, and is an active board member and advisor for multiple entities including and Ms. Borough is educated at California State University of Northridge, and Universite Laval, Quebec; is married for 36 years and has three adult children and three grandchildren (so far). A consummate and curious learner, Robin became a nano-farmer during the pandemic and is currently studying quantum physics and conversational Spanish.

Iris Palmer

Senior Advisor

New America

Iris Palmer is a senior advisor for higher education and workforce with the Education Policy program at New America. She is a member of the higher education team and also works closely with the Center on Education and Labor. She provides research and analysis on the ethical use of predictive analytics in higher education, apprenticeship, community colleges, and adults enrolled in higher education.

Palmer previously worked at the National Governors Association on postsecondary issues. There she helped states strengthen the connection between higher education and the workforce, support competency-based systems, use data from effectiveness and efficiency metrics, and improve licensure for veterans. Prior to joining NGA, she worked at HCM Strategists on the Lumina Foundation’s initiative to develop innovative higher education models, including new technologies and competency-based approaches. Before joining HCM Strategists, Palmer worked at the U.S. Department of Education in all of the offices related to higher education: the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, the Office of Postsecondary Education, the Policy Office, and the Office of the Undersecretary. She received her undergraduate degree in political science from Goucher College and her master’s of public policy from George Mason University.

Jim Hundrieser, Ph. D.

Vice President for Consulting and Business Development


Dr. Jim Hundrieser is the inaugural Vice President for Consulting Services with the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). At NACUBO, he is providing higher education institutions with new strategies to match ambition with action focusing on revenue growth, building capacity, providing pragmatic solutions, and conducting operational assessments. During his tenure at NACUBO and previously at the Association of Governing Boards (AGB), Jim has worked with over 30 institutions to identify creative solutions that will improve institutional performance.

Over his 30-year career in higher education, Jim has served in a variety of roles from an institutional vice president, to consultant, to faculty member, to residence hall director. The core of Jim’s work has been focused on providing ways for students to gain access to and succeed in higher education. Prior to joining NACUBO, Jim served AGB as their Managing Director of Institutional Strategies focusing on institutional sustainability with strategies to grow, partner, or build strategic business models. Jim has spent his career in higher education serving as an institutional vice president at two private and one public university. He most recently served as Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs at Plymouth State University. Here he reengineering efforts of the undergraduate admissions department, which resulted in two straight years of record first-year enrollment with more college ready students and made foundational operational changes that resulted in long-term efficiencies. As Vice President of Student Development at Lynn University, he led an effort that increased first to second-year retention rates by 8 percent in two years.

Jim also served in a senior role consulting for Noel-Levitz as their Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management. There he worked with more than 50 campuses to create strategic enrollment plans, comprehensive retention strategies, and campus workshops on improving the quality of student life and learning.

Jim is active in educational associations and is continually working to imagine and create new business models that ensure every student receives a high quality, rigorous, engaging, outcomes-oriented education. He holds a BS from Northern Michigan University, an MEd from Plymouth State University, and a PhD in leadership and education from Barry University (FL).

Alison Griffin

Senior Vice President

Whiteboard Advisors

Alison Griffin’s experience on the implementation side of higher education and workforce development, and as a grantmaker, is reflected in her practical understanding of how policy shapes outcomes. Her career in postsecondary education policy includes two terms as a policy advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as a role with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), where she guided state policy development. Alison comes to Whiteboard Advisors from Strada Education Network, where she served in a senior leadership role focused on external affairs, government relations, and national engagement activities.

Bringing a deep sense of mission to her work on behalf of Whiteboard Advisors, she believes the solutions to our most pressing education challenges, from affordability to access, require thoughtful collaboration among a growing community of policymakers, impact investors, entrepreneurs, practitioners, and philanthropists. Alison is a frequent commentator in the media on issues at the intersection of higher education and employment and is a Forbes contributor.

She was appointed by Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) to the Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees and serves as the vice chair of the board for the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Alison holds a masters degree in education from the University of Georgia and graduated from Southern Methodist University with undergraduate degrees in business policy and psychology.