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Meet The 2021 DisruptHR Speakers

Once in a while an event is born that shakes things up, it makes you think differently, and leaves you inspired. that event is DisruptHR!

DisruptHR is the ultimate information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower thought leaders in the HR field, and beyond. Over the course of an exciting evening, 12 speakers will get 5 minutes each to teach us something. Picture speed dating, but with ideas that will help transform HR and the companies they serve, as we know it.

Because this is such a high-profile event, we wanted to bring you our readers, a preview of the event by highlighting its list of fantastic speakers.

Head to disrupthr.co/city/fargo to find out more and get signed up!

Kim Kemmer, Senior Research Strategist and Consultant, Prime46

Kim is a strategist, an innovator, investigator and way-maker. Driven by the idea of reinvention, he will listen closely, ask insightful questions and ultimately help organizations find pathways to opportunity. Kim is invaluable for planning a thoughtful strategy to put clients on the right path toward reaching their critical goals.

As creative as he is analytical, Kim applies his expertise to every step of the research process from strategy to execution and analysis.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

The effect of bias on beliefs, reasoning and decision-making.

Bias resides comfortably in our human DNA. It helps us make decisions quickly by taking mental-shortcuts. Our ancestors found it helpful to stay alive in the face of danger, and not end up as lunch. Today, bias continues to influence our beliefs, what we think and how we make decisions. And while we may never be rid of bias, being aware of its influence will help us determine when it’s positive and when it can be harmful.

Why participate in this event?

I feel the position HR managers play in business is akin to what I do every day–and that’s to look for understanding and match roles to goals. I might even suggest HR should be known as ‘human research.’

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I’d like to share what I’ve learned about bias with the attendees to arm them with insights and actionable items HR professionals can implement on a daily basis.

How do you “Disrupt HR”?

I believe the way to disrupt HR is to examine what’s working and what’s not, innovate the former and eliminate the latter.

Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, Owner at HSH Communications

Hannah Stonehouse Hudson is a motivational speaker, coach and writer focused on grief, resilience and transforming peoples’ pain to purpose. As a widow, cancer survivor and chronic illness warrior, she strives to help individuals realize that they are not alone and that they are stronger than they know.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

Grief at work

Why participate in this event?

I want to bring my unique approach to dealing with grief at work to a new audience.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I want attendees to understand that the second year for a person grieving is almost always harder than the first year after an incident. I hope this will assist HR professionals in anticipating issues that may arise with an employee who goes through a loss of any kind. This is especially important to know in the year after COVID.

Melissa Marshall, Corecoach at Corecounts

Melissa Marshall is a CoreCoach at CoreCounts and is a student of business and life, studying strategy, leadership and mindfulness. She is an enthusiastic business and productivity coach who dedicates her time with clients to elevate their potential, eliminate limiting beliefs and curate cultures of engaged high performers. A graduate of North Dakota State University, Melissa has a background in Political Science, Women’s Studies and Religious Studies.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

You Can’t Handle the Truth– Discovering what your culture ACTUALLY looks like: What happens when you think you know what your organizational culture is like, just to find out your employees think otherwise? That gap between perception and reality may not be just a gap, it might be a gaping crater! It is easy to say you want to build an organization with a strong, healthy culture, but seeing the data and dealing with reality can hurt. The best way to fill a job is to make sure that job never becomes vacant, especially in these times. Measuring and understanding your culture is not only important but also a necessity in retaining top talent. Can you handle the truth about YOUR culture?

Why participate in this event?

I love the idea of people coming together to share new ways of thinking about why we do the things we do. Doing things the way we’ve always done them will, at best, get us the same results, but will likely leave people questioning their sanity.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I hope attendees leave this event with a new willingness to look at everyday work with a new perspective.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

Your perspective matters. Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, you all want to feel appreciated and heard. You want to know that the work you do is not only
seen but also matters. The gap between perception and reality can be vast and very real, whether you know it or not. So, let’s go from thinking we know what’s going on inside our organization to really knowing.

How do you “Disrupt HR”?

I’m willing to be bold and help HR professionals hear what they might not want to hear about what’s actually going on in their organization. Although they might not want to hear the truth… If they’re willing to ask, listen and take action on the truth, they can see immeasurable results.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Don’t let your ego get in the way. Be willing to get vulnerable and do things others before you weren’t willing to do so you can be a leader worth following.

Cole David Mercier, Communications Coordinator, Aldevron

Cole David Mercier is a marketing and communications professional serving the life sciences. He got his start in the marketing field through a summer internship at the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. After his internship, he spent his final semester of college shadowing marketing agencies Swim Creative and Flint Group in Duluth, MN. Aldevron was the first company he applied to as he geared up for graduation and he has happily stuck with the company since! He currently works as their Communications Coordinator where he collaborates with a variety of departments to help develop and deliver strategic messaging for internal and external audiences.

Cole was born and raised in Glenwood, MN, and currently resides in Fargo, ND with his fiancé, Karissa, and rescue Goldendoodle, Murphy. Cole can usually be found outdoors running, hiking, skiing (in the winter), walking the dog, playing tennis or hammocking in the park with a nonfiction book. When stuck indoors, he enjoys video games and board games, going to the movies, singing and playing instruments and cooking a good meal.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

I will be presenting on Gen Z and TikTokResumes, and how optimizing the end user experience for the right audience is critical to consider when competing for talent.

Why participate in this event?

This topic is all the hype right now and I think the older generations (yes, even millennials) are quick to see the negative in an online trend that disrupts the way we recruit and retain talent. As a “zoomer” myself navigating the corporate world, I also see some red flags to this, but in my presentation I will identify the positives from this trend and weigh some future implications that could benefit the business community!

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I hope attendees gain fresh perspectives from all our speakers, discover the positives out of new technological concepts and boil down what about “the status quo” is important and what about it could be challenged!

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

When a new online trend or tool arrives in your inbox, no matter what field you are in, define what it is for, what problem it solves, any issues it creates with current ways of doing things, what from the past it replaces and how that can inform you how to best prepare for the future! There is nothing wrong with old fashioned, but being open-minded about streamlining processes and systems is beneficial for staying nimble in your industry.

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/ business community members can do right now to perform better?

In the age of maintaining your digital presence on social media, I think as it is in real life, we can fall trap of comparing ourselves to others. To that, I say, best not to overthink it! There is definitely a value to building a network or following online, but doing it as your best authentic self is the only way that will add value to the relationships you are building and the opportunities they bring.

How do you “disrupt HR”?

I have a passion for creating awareness for my generation. We are new to the workforce, and as with every generation past, we have our quirks that older generations are eager to point out on day one. However, the best qualities I have seen from my peers are being adaptive, quick on our feet, technologically savvy and having the desire for an authentic experience. Having the know-how on cross-generational values can streamline ways HR can communicate and collaborate in the workplace!

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

This is my first DisruptHR! I work in marketing at a biologics manufacturing company and wholeheartedly believe everyone in our community has something to bring to the table at this awesome event, whether you are attending or speaking, and no matter what role you play in the organization(s) you serve

Amanda Mckinnon, Bodacious Brander + CEO At Mint Brand Marketing

Amanda McKinnon is a risk-taker, a magic maker and a business shaker. Her career is a wildly woven ball of branding and marketing strategy, writing, graphic design, event planning, media buying, public relations and beyond. McKinnon has had the privilege of working within and alongside organizations in an operational and development capacity while gaining experience in human resources and management. This means she understands the value of a positive culture, fiscal responsibility and producing results. McKinnon is a branding bullet that has propelled businesses to the top in their industry. She has spearheaded efforts to put startups on the map, teamed up with authors to launch best-selling books and helped marketing departments go from the pain in the butt to powerhouses for her clients.

Why participate in this event?

One of our core values is to be learners. In the same breath, I want to be a teacher to help people really understand the depth of branding and the benefits it can have on a business when done well.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I want them to understand that their people and the customer experience are their biggest branding assets.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

This message is for any human working in a business. We all play a role in branding regardless of our title or job description.

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/business community members can do right now to perform better?

Focus on asking more questions instead of racing to what you think or hope is the right answer.

How do you “disrupt HR”?

By being who I truly am and allowing our team to not only see my strengths but also my weaknesses. One of our other core values is to be FUN-havers, so I do my best to make sure we live that out. We often spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our family and friends. So if we are not having fun, what are we doing it all for?

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

If your organization doesn’t have core values, come up with your own for yourself and let those act as a guide in your career.

Carrie Brimhall, President, M State

Minnesota State Community and Technical College President Carrie Brimhall is an authentic, visionary leader who believes in the power of education to transform lives, families and communities. Her focus as a leader is on innovative strategies, workforce solutions, leadership development and community partnerships. As a first-generation college student, she is driven to remove systemic and systematic barriers to ensure all students reach their highest potential and achieve their dreams.

Dr. Brimhall has served M State for a total of 24 years in varied roles throughout the institution. She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in organizational management with a specialization in leadership at Capella University, her bachelor’s degree in communications at

Concordia College and her associate of arts degree at Minnesota State Community and Technical College.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

Getting comfortable being uncomfortable. We understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, but it can be difficult to know if those efforts are making a difference. “Check the box’ efforts are not creating meaningful change. The presentation will cover the ways we can increase our cultural competence, strengthen Our commitment to equity and inclusion efforts and take action to build inclusive teams where everyone feels like they belong. Intentional change will be uncomfortable. Still, we need to embrace the messiness, move beyond the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, commit to action and stand firm in our values

Why participate in this event?

I enjoy sharing space with people who are interested in connecting, growing and learning

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I hope attendees build connections that are meaningful and intentional. In 2021, everything seems more complex and nuanced; we all need people who meet us in the messiness of it all and I hope this event brings people together who are committed to that growth.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

The identities of people in our communities, schools and workplaces is becoming increasingly diverse. The fear of saying or doing the wrong thing exists in all aspects of our lives. I believe we can all take actions that will help others feel celebrated, heard, and seen

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/business community members can do right now to perform better?

I don’t believe there is one thing we can do to perform better, it is a combination of many things. To be successful moving forward, we all need to work on organizational cultures that are more inclusive, adapt and pivot with ease, appreciate and value people as the heart of the organization and are laser-focused on the mission and vision of the organization. This shift occurs in every conversation and interaction-culture change occurs in moments,

How do you “Disrupt HR”?

Disrupting HR occurs when we examine the systems, policies and procedures that have led to some people finding great success and others not being able to get their foot in the door” or a ‘seat at the table.” It is both an individual examination of bias and an organizational review of equitable outcomes. What worked in the past may not work in 2021; disrupting HR is a mindset that recognizes and embraces that reality.

Bradley Aune, Veterans Employment Advisor

Bradley Aune works with transitioning service members, homeless Veterans and specializes with assisting disabled veterans in overcoming barriers to employment. She served 22 years in the military as an active duty Marine Corps (85-89) Infantryman, and as a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard (89-07). She is a member of the FMWF Chamber Military Affairs Committee and a Chamber Ambassador. She is a past Commander and current executive board member of the Fargo Legion Post #2, a past Commandant of the Red River Raders Marine Corps League Detachment, a service connected Combat Disabled Veteran, a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal for her leadership in Iraq, a member of the National American Legion Employment and Education Commission. Aune has also been active in diversity education for 25 years presenting at universities, community, state and national events. She is also a founding member of the TriState TG, Transgender Support Group.

Aune is a volunteer Peer Mentor at the Fargo VA. She is the 2015 recipient of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Employment Service Award. She received the 2016 American Legion State and National award for veteran’s employment at the National Convention in 2017 and is the 2019 ND Human Right Coalition Arc of Justice award recipient.

Why participate in this event?

To educate others on how gender-based dress codes are outdated and can be detrimental to productivity and workplace culture.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

That everyone should be able to express their authentic self at work. It will make them a more productive person.

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/ business community members can do right now to perform better?

Reevaluate why you have a dress code. Is it discriminating? Do you have a real reason for your dress code or is it because this is how it has always been?

How do you “disrupt HR”?

I have been challenging the “Norm” for over 25 years.

Melissa Drewing, Senior Compensation Partner, Marvin

Melissa Drewing is a Strategic HR Professional with a focus on connecting the dots between business and talent. Her passion for continuous growth and improvement has led her to the path of helping others and organizations experience growth and empowerment through transparency and change. Melissa has an Associate’s degree in HR Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Business, which has continued to empower her to think differently and never stop learning in her eight years of working directly in Human Resources. She has helped businesses with cost savings by creating internal efficiencies, policies and people-related strategies.


What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

Embracing common sense and effectiveness with psychological safety.

Why participate in this event?

Now more than ever, we need to focus on other means for creating a great working environment. Retention isn’t just created through great benefits and a few good people. Retention is the job of everyone in the organization and when leaders make psychological safety a priority, everyone is truly a part of that family-like feeling that most organizations strive for For this reason, I feel that my message can help leaders think differently about how to create a more effective and safe working environment.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I want the attendees to be able to see that there are different ways to create a better working environment for employees and that not every engagement strategy has a cost and can have more to do with happiness and respect.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

Psychological safety is something that everyone can participate in at any level and in any department. Having awareness will empower them to create a better working environment for themselves and their coworkers which will not only create efficiency, but also build trust and authentic engagement with less effort than throwing a party to get employees energized.

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/ business community members can do right now to perform better?

The biggest thing is to be okay with not being perfect and not expecting perfection from others. We need to realize that we are all human and learn from being empowered to make mistakes and trusting others to take the lead and to speak up without fear.

How do you “Disrupt HR”?

If you asked my boss or even the VP of HR this question about myself, they would probably say that I always push them to think differently and never shy away from sharing ideas or new ways to improve things. I am a learner at heart and will always continue to research new information that can be used to make a difference in my life and that of others.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Just know that you can make a difference and help others no matter your level in an organization, and no one knows all of the answers. If you have a message to share or a calling, then don’t let others discourage you from what you know you can achieve.

Andrew Young, Creative Director, Abovo

Andrew J. Young is a North Dakota native and resident of Fargo, North Dakota. He’s lived and worked worldwide from Fargo to New York City and from Los Angeles to New Zealand. His experiences in New York included interning for ABC Network News and working for World News with Diane Sawyer. In Los Angeles, he worked as a producer for the Academy of Country Music Awards Show. There, he interviewed and worked with country stars such as Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift and more. In 2012, Young started work with a sporting goods retail store, Scheels, helping launch their internal media production department. After two years with the retail company, he moved to New Zealand for one year with his partner (now husband), where he worked to organize TEDxQueenstown. In January 2017, Young co-founded and launched Abovo, a marketing and design agency located in downtown Fargo. Team members include Andrew Young, Jennifer Hicks, Allyson Gaughan, Jack Winders, Kristen Kjellberg, Jonathan Calix and Tristan Pfaff. In his personal life, Young loves anything to do with a Minnesota lake, karaoke, traveling, a good party and attending the concerts and shows of his husband’s choir program at Northern Cass Public School.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

I’m looking forward to taking some more time to fully reflect on what the title and core topic of my presentation will be, but at this moment, I’m reasonably confident the title of the presentation will be: THE I’M-NOT-SURE EFFECT

Why participate in this event?

Human Resources may not be two words, or a department, that resonates with everyone, it may not even seem essential. However, what is necessary is surrounding yourself with teammates and coworkers that lift you, encourage you to grow, challenge you and respect you. HR leaders and departments are vital in ensuring the culture, standards and best practices of a company are upheld and create these environments, but their work doesn’t end with them. Each person (you!) within an organization is responsible for the climate of your team, department or workplace. What a gift we can give to each other: The gift of helping others genuinely love and enjoy their job and career.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

I don’t enjoy conferences and events that are only motivational or theory-based. I want to walk away with a skill or lesson, or tool can use immediately. I hope attendees learn at least one thing they can actually implement or do in their work or lives tomorrow. I am excited about my presentation, knowing that I will be attempting to do this for attendees.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

We aren’t simply going to get out doing many things in life, one of which is having a job and career. We owe it to ourselves and others to create a life where we enjoy getting up and out of bed every morning and going to work. Create a job and workplace that you and others love being at each day. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this gift and opportunity for how much time we will spend in our careers. I know this is easier said than done and there are many layers and complexities within each person’s workplace; a conscious effort and learning from others is a great place to start. I believe this event will be wildly impactful for anyone and everyone wanting to create a positive environment to spend their days working each day.

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/business community members can do right now to perform better?

Take time to-genuinely-understand and listen to those around you. The folks around us have a lot to say, and we all-will always have a lot to learn.

How do you “Disrupt HR”?

I guess I wouldn’t qualify myself as someone who is disrupting” HR. I simply want to create a workplace my teammates and coworkers look forward to coming to every day. Perhaps this is disrupting? If so, we all have a lot of disruption to do.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Shop local! Especially now. Your neighborhood and local businesses need you; they need us. If there is a business, restaurant or service you love having around, support them to make sure they continue to be there for you.

Danielle Woodard, Director Of Human Resources, Flint Group

Danielle Woodard is Flint Group’s Director of Human Resources. An employee relations expert, she says the best part of her job is getting to know her employees because they are some of the best people out there. Bringing more than 12 years’ experience, Danielle oversees all aspects of human resources, including recruitment, retention, employee engagement, culture, benefits and compensation.

What will you be presenting on at Disrupt HR?

A unique approach to the everchanging benefits package we offer our employees, specifically focusing on our newest sabbatical offering.

Why participate in this event?

Flint tries to be very forward thinking in our benefits offering to attract and retain employees. I look forward to collaborating with other HR professionals who are facing the same workforce challenges our region is seeing

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

Flint invested a great deal of time and resources into investigating the point in tenure when employees left the organization. We developed the sabbatical to counteract those findings. In addition, this benefit will allow a necessary break from Our fast-paced environment and place a strong priority on mental health. Flint also benefits from a sabbatical offering by encouraging delegation and facilitates succession planning.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

We find thinking outside the box to provide unconventional benefits based on generational preferences results in a happier and higher-performing workforce.

Calli Adamson Bakken, Director Of Outreach And Engagement, Wanido Workforce Well-Being


Why participate in this event?

I love our community and want to help it flourish. Figuring out what connects Our employees to the work that they do and feeling supported as human beings is instrumental in growing our local economy.

What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

The way we’ve always done it’ isn’t cutting it. To stay relevant and to attract/ retain high-quality talent we need to redefine our business and people practices to see our employees as people first and employees second. This is a constant growth and development opportunity for all businesses.

How is your message applicable to those outside of the HR workforce?

People are complex. What motivates, inspires and supports one person is not universal. We are all better for taking a compassionate and specific approach toward those we encounter both personally and professionally.

In your mind, what is one thing our business community/ business community members can do right now to perform better?

Learn from your employees. They have wonderful ideas of how to make your work place stronger, your processes more efficient and your customers happier. It’s important that they have the tools and support they need in order to share this insight

Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Be engaged with the opportunities your company provides for offering feedback. Employers can’t improve if we don’t tell them what they need. If you don’t trust that you can give honest feedback, make sure they know that too-especially HR.

What do you think?

Written by Brady Drake

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