speakers

See how MFG Works!

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speakers

See how MFG Works!

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meet our 2024 speakers

Christopher H. Barlow

Christopher H. Barlow

Director of Corporate Engagement & Career Management, Joseph M. Katz School of Business, University of Pittsburgh

Christopher Barlow is the Director of Corporate Engagement & Career Management at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). As a department lead, he works to create value-added partnerships between the university, corporations and other community-based partners such as governments, associations, and NGOs. Specifically, Christopher supports to promote the talent pool graduating from Katz, to build industry ecosystems, and to create and manage skill development programs. Since joining Pitt he has introduced and co-organized new active skill development programs such as the Super Analytics Challenge, the Bridge Program, and the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Advisory Fellowship (PA-MAF) and the Pennsylvania Robotics & Technology Fellowship (PA-RTF).

Prior to joining Pitt, he served as an executive with Thomson Reuters in Washington D.C. for more than 10 years working in marketing leadership, strategic relations, and project management roles. He promoted land administration and property tax solutions for governments worldwide. Prior to Thomson Reuters, he worked in global marketing for Esri Inc, a geographic information system (GIS) software corporation headquartered in Redlands, CA.

Christopher had also worked in the Asia Pacific region for more than eight years, including in China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Mongolia on land information systems and mapping projects. This includes serving as a Project lead for a USTDA project in Anhui Province, China. He began his career in Shanghai, China, working in marketing including with Hewitt Associates (now AON).

He received his M.B.A. and also M.A. in geography from the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo. He also holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies with minors in Chinese language, economics, political science, and geography from Western Washington University.

Chris Czarnik

Chris Czarnik

Author, Coach, and Trainer | chrisczarnik.com

Chris Czarnik (Zarr-Nick) has spent the last 20 years figuring out why people go to and leave organizations. As one of the most accomplished career coaches in the country, he has helped thousands of job seekers figure out how to identify organizations and jobs that are a great fit for them. As one CEO said, “If you are fishing for talent…he just spent the last 17 years with the fish!”

His book “Winning the War for Talent” is used by more than 3,500 organizations across the country and Chris travels more than 200 days a year teaching individual companies to recruit, retain and develop great employees.

He is an avid basketball and tennis player and is drawn to anything that is daring, exciting, or challenging. His love of teaching process-based solutions is known to more than 1,500 CEOs across the country.

His greatest joy however is knowing that when he helps companies find great employees, he is also helping his job seekers find work that is meaningful and fits their natural skills and abilities. When this happens, everybody goes home a winner!

Emily Jones

Emily Jones

Human Resources Manager, Kurt J. Lesker Company

Bio coming soon.

Tim Kaulen

Tim Kaulen

Executive Director, Industrial Arts Workshop

Executive Director Tim Kaulen has 25 years as a working artist and educator and is a well-known community advocate with a commitment to arts, education, and real-world business strategy. Widely recognized for his large-scale, public artworks, Tim has a high-profile network of colleagues, students, and mentors. He founded and led the Mobile Sculpture Workshop, which for each of five summers brought together 10 high school students from the Pittsburgh area to learn safe welding and metal fabrication techniques, the artistic process, community engagement, and team building. With the success of this volunteer endeavor, he garnered supporters to found Industrial Arts Workshop as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and has raised more than $1.5 million to outfit a former Hazelwood facility as a welding training facility and create an organization with 4 FT staff. Through his leadership, IAW has launched two core programs since starting programming in 2021 whose value is recognized by the Steamfitters, Catalyst Connection, and Iron Workers Local #3, among others. Tim’s passion for teaching the arts and his compassion for students who struggle during their high school years has helped many students gain confidence, increase their communication skills, and even find welding jobs.

Maddy McGrady

Maddy McGrady

Supervisor of Employment Services, Hello Neighbor

Maddy McGrady is Supervisor of Employment Services at Hello Neighbor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that works to improve the lives of recently resettled refugee and immigrant families by matching them with dedicated neighbors to guide and support them in their new lives. Prior to joining Hello Neighbor in 2023, Maddy worked at Auberle as a Housing Program Supervisor and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Master of Social Work, specializing in Community, Organization and Social Action and earning a certificate in Human Services Management. Outside of work, Maddy enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Brianna McMeekin

Brianna McMeekin

VP, Head of PartnerUp, Talent Programs, PNC Financial Services

Brianna joined PNC in 2017 to build out and oversee the PartnerUp® program. Prior to PNC, she had a 10+ year career in counseling, focusing primarily on career education and early career talent development in higher education, online coaching and a startup environment. She has built curriculum, taught internship seminars, and managed career coaches and industry experts, all in the pursuit of supporting the future workforce. Her background and prior experience allow her to bridge the gap between education and corporate worlds.

Brianna’s career has been heavily focused on underserved populations. She has built PartnerUp®
to ensure that the program offers an avenue to long-term career success for all students.

She earned an M.Ed. in community counseling and a B.A. in psychology and sociology from Duquesne University, and holds an LPC in the state of Pennsylvania.

Tarrah Myers

Tarrah Myers

Human Resources Director, ProMinent Fluid Controls

Tarrah Myers is a Human Resources Director at ProMinent Fluid Controls with over 15 years of experience dedicated to support both her company and the employees grow. She serves as an advocate for mental health awareness and wellbeing in the workplace, Tarrah has been passionate in implementing initiatives aimed at destigmatizing mental health issues.

Tarrah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from LaRoche College and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management from LaRoche College. Certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP), she maintains the highest standards of excellence in her field.
Tarrah specializes in recruitment, succession planning, employee development, process improvements, HR Tech and workplace culture.

Tarrah is happily married to her high school sweetheart and is the proud mom of an 8-year-old boy. She also has an adorable Goldendoodle named Dutton.

Trish Parkhill

Trish Parkhill

President & CEO, MarketSpace Agency

Immediately after graduating from Penn State University with a degree in Communications, Trish launched her career in New York City at Publicis Agency. While there, she soaked up an experience in the creative and broadcast production departments, simultaneously supplementing her education with campaign courses at the Adhouse and the School of Visual Arts. In 2000, Trish moved back to Pittsburgh and took role in copywriting at MARC USA, where she worked on clients in multiple verticals, honing her skills in both the traditional and digital realms. In 2009, Trish joined MarketSpace as a Creative Director, overseeing the agency’s creative endeavors and serving as lead copywriter for all creative work. Today, Trish is President & CEO of MarketSpace, fostering a unique agency environment that makes client shine and champions its team members. She still puts her hand to use for copywriting when needed, but spends most of her time leading business development and strategy. Trish loves her MarketSpace family like an extension of her very own, which includes her husband Brett, three kids Carson, Reese, and Keenan, and three cats Ollie, Roxie and Mel.

Bryan Powell

Bryan Powell

Human Resources Manager, AccroTool

Bryan Powell has focused much of his 20-year career representing HR interests in the Southwestern PA manufacturing sector, most recently employed at AccroTool, Inc. since 2019. In this role, Bryan has introduced the company to HR leadership for the first time in its 52-year history. As a key advisor to executive management, Bryan is active in strategically shifting culture, bolstering accountability through the creation and improvement of policies, and has introduced employee services and benefits with the objective of becoming a destination employer. Throughout his career in Human Resources, Bryan has specialized in employee relations, employee development, recruiting and benefits management. Bryan holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Pennsylvania Western University – Clarion, a master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Saint Vincent College. Currently, Bryan is serving a term on the Workforce Development Committee for the National Tooling and Machining Foundation.

Dr. Geri Puleo, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Dr. Geri Puleo, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

President/CEO, Change Management Solutions, Inc.

Based on extensive scientific research and interviews, Dr. Puleo created the Burnout During Organizational Change Model (B-DOC) to describe what causes and maintains employee burnout.

As President/CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., she provides eLearning and coaching focused on eradicating the 10 workplace stressors that lead to employee burnout. Dr. Puleo has extensive experience in strategic planning, human resources, and change management as well as training and organizational development.

Full bio

Justin Starr, PhD

Justin Starr, PhD

Endowed Professor of Advanced Technologies, Community College of Allegheny County

Justin Starr, PhD is CCAC’s Endowed Professor of Advanced Technology and the Mechatronics Program Coordinator. He works to integrate advanced technology into CCAC’s course offerings including augmented reality, electron microscopy and collaborative robots, and serves as PI or Co-PI on 14 federal and state grants supporting research into effective credit-noncredit collaboration. Previously, Dr. Starr served as CTO of RedZone Robotics, a manufacturer of water and wastewater inspection robots, and a fractional COO for a number of private equity–backed firms in the high tech space. Dr. Starr holds 14 U.S. patents for inventions in robotics, artificial intelligence and automation, and was named an Engineering Unleashed Fellow and Hi-TEC Fellow for his work with high-impact technologies. Justin earned his A.S. in General Studies from CCAC, his B.S. in Engineering Science from the University of Virginia and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the University of Florida. He is the author of Water and Wastewater Pipeline Assessment Technologies, a leading text on underground inspection.

Louis Thon

Louis Thon

Job Developer, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

Louis has been a Job Developer with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) for the past 2 years. Louis has worked with hundreds of individuals seeking employment with a criminal record with job readiness skills, trainings and job placement assistance. He has developed hiring relationships with various employers in the Pittsburgh community, increasing their inclusive hiring.

John Tkach

John Tkach

Executive Director, Keystone Development Partnership (KDP)

John Tkach, Keystone Development Partnership (KDP), Executive Director, specializes in managing Pennsylvania Industry Partnership (IP) workforce development projects since 2005.

John is currently working on several projects in concert with the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship and Training Office and the US Department of Labor’s, Office of Apprenticeship to promote the acceleration and expansion of Registered Apprenticeship programs.

John and his organization provide technical assistance to employers, unions, and other organizations to develop, register, and implement registered apprenticeship programs.

John also has extensive experience managing data-driven training programs and providing programmatic and fiscal oversight on federal, state, and local projects. He is able to monitor, document, and coordinate training programs, develop community partnerships, and coordinate with regional workforce agencies, Local Workforce Development Boards, and training providers.

KDP develops and manages workforce programs that help ensure businesses have the talent they need to thrive. We bring together employers, unions, training providers, industry associations, community-based organizations and public agencies to collaborate on initiatives that strengthen communities.

John Wheeler

John Wheeler

UAA Consultant, Uniquely Abled Project

John Wheeler has over 40 years of experience in industry and post-secondary education. He is currently advising developing Uniquely Abled Academy institutions as a UAA Consultant for the Uniquely Abled Project and is a member of the UAP Board of Directors.

While serving on the Workforce Development and Innovation staff at the James A. Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio, John served as the Project Coordinator for their first Uniquely Abled Academy cohort.

While in the industrial sector, John worked in various Process Engineering, Quality Engineering, and Training positions in the Micro-Electronics and Automotive industries.

Bonny Yeager

Bonny Yeager

Senior Manager of Industry Solutions, Partner4Work

Bonny Yeager is the senior manager of industry solutions with Partner4Work, the workforce development board for Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh. She has spent over fifteen years working for community-centered non-profit organizations taking on a variety of roles from direct public service to coordinating organizational systems change. In her current role, Yeager leads Partner4Work’s strategy for increasing job quality in the Pittsburgh region by implementing promising practices with local employers and within the workforce system itself. She is additionally the lead for the emerging clean energy industry partnership aimed at engaging employers and stakeholders to meet employer workforce demand, build equitable recruitment and training pipelines, and connect job seekers with high quality, family-sustaining jobs.

MFG Works event photo
MFG Works event photo
MFG Works event photo
MFG Works event photo

what they’re
saying

The summit really put a focus on what we are trying to as educators...create the pipeline of talent to be successful in the workforce. This event allowed me to reflect on what we are offering our students and how to align them with the ways to obtain the necessary skills to be successful in this region. The event was well planned out and allowed for everything to learn from one another. Keep up the great work!|Listening to all speakers to begin to broaden our horizons as we develop a dynamic workforce! Great work by all involved!!|We appreciated the quality of networking and speakers at the event.|Overall it was a great experience for me not knowing what it should be I was very happy with everything|Excellent event. You would never know this was the inaugural summit, it was so well planned and executed. I'm looking forward to seeing how the work the US Navy has asked my company to do in the Western PA region can learn from and support the amazing work that is being done through Catalyst Connection.|Great lineup of speakers, the media was spot on no issues around that. The conference was run very efficiently so people stayed engaged. I thought it was really well done from the speaker/attendee point of you. I think the piece I was disappointed in was that at lunchtime we weren’t sitting at large round tables so that you could at least exchange cards and information with 8 to 12 people from the conference. It’s always challenging to just try to mill around and find people especially without an attendee list ahead of time.|Great opportunity for in-person networking|Let’s do this more often than once per year!|Love it - one of best conferences I have attended.|This was terrific! Would love to bring this to Fayette County or virtually to reach more employers.|The content was great, very useful information. Really liked the panel discussion.|I liked the number of speakers and ability to learn about all of the opportunities. Thanks for allowing us at LifesWork to participate.