Monday Speaker Bios

Jill Byrd
Jill Byrd is a PR veteran with experience working on both the client and agency side. She understands the nuances of effective communication whether the method be print, spoken, electronic or across social media, yet knows that public relations is still about relationships. Jill gets to know her clients, their issues and their audience in order to help direct effective pitching that hits the target each time. She is currently the director of public relations at KGBTexas.communications.

Jonathan Carroll
Jonathan Carroll has been at Gowalla for the last two years, working as Community + Music Manager and helping build a service which inspires people to discover and share amazing places with their friends. His current projects for Gowalla include working with a number of musicians and bands to integrate fan experiences into Gowalla, and also working with universities to enhance student and alumni involvement. Prior to Gowalla, Carroll was the Director of Communications & IT at a private energy company and also consulted on new media for a variety of businesses. He is completely obsessed with music and writes about music news for the OneThirtyBPM. He has a penchant for all things fun, including helping Tony Hawk hide skateboards in random places. Jonathan is married and has two children, who have been certified as the cutest on the planet by an independent research council.

Cheryl Lacey Donovan
As an Award-winning author, Bible teacher and licensed evangelist, Cheryl Donovan’s books, CD’s, and devotionals are not meant to only entertain, but to also minister to and encourage others. Founder and President of Worth More Than Rubies Ministries in Houston, Texas, Donovan is the author of two award winning books. Speaking to more than 100,000 people in over 20 major cities, Donovan is an evangelist who has the privilege of being part of the ministerial staff of Jones Praise and Worship Center in Houston, Texas. She is also a 17 year teaching veteran. Social media has been an integral part of her success. With networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others Donovan has managed to saturate the Web with her message of inspiration and empowerment. She shares her methods of social networking with groups interested in developing an online presence.

John Garrett
John Garrett was raised in Austin and is a Pflugerville High School graduate. He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Radio and Television from Sam Houston State University in 1997. While at Sam Houston, he was awarded the Craeger Award – given to the male student who contributes the most to overall student life. After graduation, Garrett moved to Houston and began his career at the Houston Chronicle. Returning to central Texas, Garrett became the advertising director at the Austin Business Journal in 2002 where he helped turn the publication into one of the top performing American City Business Journals. While at the Austin Business Journal, Garrett noticed a lot of development activity in Round Rock and Pflugerville was going largely unnoticed in the media. He felt the average citizen and business owner would appreciate a newspaper that focused on business and development activity at the hyper-local level. After finding research that showed that nearly 80% of the residents in Central Texas did not subscribe to a newspaper, he determined that he would create a monthly publication with free distribution to all and would be delivered through the mail. In September 2005, Community Impact Newspaper was launched in Round Rock and Pflugerville. After an overwhelming positive reception of the newspaper and its’ concept, a second edition was launched in April, 2006 in Cedar Park and Leander and new editions have been added about every six months. Nearly 450,000 households and businesses seven Central Texas areas now receive their own Community Impact each month – making it the largest distributed newspaper in Central Texas. In September of 2009, Community Impact Newspaper launched its first edition outside of Central Texas with the Northwest Houston edition that covers the CyFair area. Garrett also serves as a board member for the Round Rock Chamber of Commerce and is President of the Round Rock Area Serving Center Board of Directors. Recently, Garrett was named the 2010 Concordia University Excellence in Leadership Honoree and will be honored this October as the 2010 Sam Houston State University Distinguished Young Alumnus.

Melinda Maine Garvey
Melinda Maine Garvey is regarded as one of the most dynamic women in the greater Austin area for her work as a successful female entrepreneur, community philanthropist and role model. As founder and publisher of austinwoman Magazine, she is responsible for leading one of the fastest-growing niche publications in Central Texas dedicated to promoting women-owned businesses and causes. As a community leader, she is a powerful contributor to many Austin organizations and serves as a mentor for young organizations and businesses. Garvey launched austinwoman Magazine in 2002 shortly after arriving in Austin from the Washington, D.C. area. There she enjoyed an eight-year career with the well-known, award-winning Journal Newspapers. During her company tenure, she launched several specialty publications, as well as a newspaper of record for the fastest growing county in North Virginia. With proven publishing and marketing expertise, Garvey has guided austinwoman Magazine to become the first successful women’s business publication highlighting entrepreneurs and causes in the greater Austin area. The magazine has become highly recognized for its in-depth profiles and success stories on distinguished, educated and interesting women, with well-remembered covers on Susan Dell, Luci Baines Johnson, Jody Conradt, Liz Carpenter and many others. Aside from her professional accomplishments, Garvey has helped many organizations in greater Austin also achieve success. She has served on numerous boards and committees and managed countless community projects. Of her work, Garvey has helped the Women’s Chamber of Commerce expand its membership benefits, developed a teen publication for the Girl Scouts, been part of a team for the Department of Labor to evaluate flexible workplace policies, and provided consulting to help build a new cancer-support organization Wonders & Worries. Garvey also has been very active with Ballet Austin, Austin Symphony, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She has led austinwoman Magazine to sponsor events for the Junior League, First Night Austin, Caswell House, Women’s Advocacy Project and many others. Garvey and her austinwoman team also are currently implementing the local GO RED campaign for the American Heart
Association. In 2006, Garvey was one of nine women nationwide selected to receive Office Depot’s “Businesswoman of the Year” Award. She also is the 2006 winner of BIG Austin’s “Most Creative Company Award” and the Greater Austin Business “Community Advocate Award.” Garvey is a graduate of DePauw University and holds an MBA from the University of Maryland University College. When she’s not selling the publication or buzzing about the community, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful New Zealander husband, walking her two beloved Wheaton Terriers, and running her new women’s gym, a Liberty Fitness franchise.

Patti Kelly
Patti Kelly has extensive experience in public relations, legislative communications/advocacy and media relations. She has PR agency, non-profit association and corporate communications experience, and has orchestrated proactive (positive) and reactive (crisis) communication campaigns, with proven results. As a spokesperson for various clients, Patti has been featured on the NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX affiliates throughout California, Nevada and Texas. She has been quoted and published in the Dallas Morning News, Sacramento Bee, Sacramento Business Journal, Austin American Statesman, San Antonio Express-News, Fresno Bee, San Diego Union-Tribune, and Outword Magazine, among others. In addition, Patti has worked “behind the scenes” and placed media coverage on behalf of clients and executives in countless media publications. Patti currently works in the public affairs function at State Farm Insurance in Texas. She oversees media relations and external communications for the state, and manages online and social media functions.

Pat Niekamp
Pat Niekamp is the Publisher of Texas CEO Magazine. Texas CEO began publishing in May, 2010. Prior to launching the magazine, Niekamp was General Manager of ABC-TV affiliates in Youngstown, Ohio, and Austin, Minnesota. Pat has spent her career in management, sales and marketing in national and local media organizations. In non-profit work, Niekamp recently completed two years as President of the Austin Advertising Federation and was the National President of American Women in Radio & TV. In addition, Niekamp was Volunteer of the Year for the First Tee of Greater Austin, and a board member of the United Way, several Chambers of Commerce, and the Youngstown Hearing and Speech Center.

Elizabeth Qunitanilla
Elizabeth Qunitanilla is not just your average Austin girl. As a business detective focused on determining why customers don’t buy products or services or finding waste through inefficient operations, she focuses on understanding the customer perspective and bringing that to businesses. Additionally, she founded EQ Consultants Group, LLC, a City of Austin certified woman minority owned business. Currently, she independently consults on a variety of topics, which include social media, product management, marketing, as well as government procurement. Qunitanilla was the 2010 sponsors lead for ProductCamp and actively volunteers as a Social Media Ambassador for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC), and attends a variety of other Austin business and tech events.

Armando Rayo
Armando Rayo is the vice president of engagement at Cultural Strategies. Rayo’s experience is deep rooted in the community and nonprofit sector. He specializes in building capacity & creating change with a focus on Hispanic Engagement, project management, leadership development & social innovation. Rayo has over 12 years experience in community engagement, volunteerism & social media, and has developed innovative engagement strategies (grassroots to social media) & cultural programming for many nonprofits & businesses including, MPower Foundation/RISE Entrepreneurship Conference, Hahn,TX, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, CASA of Travis County, OneStar Foundation & Active Life Movement. He serves on the national Points of Light/Hands On Network’s Neighboring Taskforce, is a frequent panelist/presenter at local & national conferences (United Way of America, Points of Light Institute/Hands On Network, OneStar Foundation, United Neighborhood Centers of America, Keep Texas Beautiful), and has been recognized in Austin American-Statesman’s Texas Social Media Awards, Top Blogs & the Austin (Twitter) List, Austin Social Media’s Top 100 List and Austin Under 40 Awards. Rayo writes for GivingCity Magazine, blogs at ElMundodeMando.com & TacoJournalism.com and has been featured in the New York Times, Chronicle of Philanthropy, NPR’s MarketPlace, Austin American-Statesman and Austin Monthly.

Simon Salt
Simon Salt is CEO of Marketing Communications Agency IncSlingers. He is a blogger, writer & Entrepreneur – though not always in that order. He has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web & others. His book on Social Location Marketing will be published by QUE a division of Pearson publications in January 2011. He speaks nationally on the topic of Social Media and works with major brands as an online brand advocate.

Evan Smith
Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, has interviewed everyone from national leaders to celebrities, journalists to sports stars, and everyone in between. Whether he’s sitting across from Hillary Clinton or Ted Nugent, Smith has ten tips for conducting great interviews. He’ll also share some behind the scenes moments including his best and worst interviews, the one interview that he almost couldn’t finish and the one person he’d most like to have on Texas Monthly Talks. Smith was named Austinite of the Year Under 40 by the Young Men’s Business League and was also honored with the induction into the Medill School of Journalism Hall of Achievement.

Aaron Strout
As the head of marketing at Powered, Aaron Strout focuses not only on day to day marketing activities but also provides a social voice for the company. In this role, Stout continues with his speaking, blogging, podcasting and social networking activities with an eye toward creating awareness and lead generation for the company. Prior to joining Powered, Stout was the Vice President of Social Media at Mzinga, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based provider of online communities and social networks for businesses. In this role, Strout focused on tapping into the power of social media for business. In addition to his knowledge of the interactive and new media landscape, he has more than 15 years of online marketing and advertising experience, with a strong background i
n integrated and online marketing. Before joining Mzinga, Strout worked at Fidelity Investments in their retail division, with a focus on online and acquisition marketing. His work at Fidelity revolved around Web strategy & marketing, as well as the development of interactive and print campaigns, including direct mail, e-mail, banner & print ads, and event marketing. Strout is a founding member and former president of (BIMA) and a member and former board member of the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX). He was also recently elected an interim board member for the prestigious Social Media Club. Strout will be part of a team responsible for creating standards around social media and community.

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