Agenda & Session Descriptions

Access the full agenda or read about the sessions below!


  • Strategic Session: Leadership Progression | Angela Cusack, Igniting Success

Moving successfully through levels of leadership can often be a challenging endeavor. The excitement of the new opportunity often blinds leaders and they fall into the taken for granted assumption that “what got me here is indeed what will keep me here”; a false and incomplete narrative of what is really true. Leaders, at every level, must be constantly evolving their leadership competencies in a thoughtful and planned way in order to be ready for the next step in their careers. Human Resource professionals can be the catalyst for creating the “readiness” for successful transitions; this is often a blind spot in organizations that ultimately creates frustration, disappointment, and overwhelm leading to lackluster results.  In our fast-paced, hurry-up, got-to-get-it-done world that is ever changing, leaders—who have the most impact—are those that understand where they are today and are willing to go deep into their own discovery of self, discern ways to self-regulate when triggered, and self-author the leader they wish to be.  This takes time and commitment to becoming a different observer of self and the world they live in. Knowing, understanding and embracing key competencies that are necessary at various levels along one’s chosen career path is a critical step toward leaders who thrive and produce beyond expected results.

  • Amazon Prime Effect | Dave Defazio, strategycorps

Subscription services are quickly becoming the dominate strategy of today’s best retailers and have caused a monumental shift in the way people buy. More than 50% of all American households now subscribe to Amazon Prime, and more than 200 million people subscribe to this and other retail services such as Netflix, Spotify, Dollar Shave Club, Costco and AAA. Bank marketers have a duty to understand these trends and drive their financial institution beyond just transactions to connect better with the lifestyles of today’s modern consumers. 

  • Industry Update | Bruce Whitehurst, Virginia Bankers Association

Virginia Bankers Association’s President & CEO will provide a brief update on the most pressing issues facing the banking industry at the state and federal level.  

  • The SENSEI LEADER: Effective Leadership Through Courage, Compassion and Wisdom| Jim Bouchard

THE SENSEI LEADER is a transformational leader–one who Inspires, Empowers and Guides people to their highest levels of productivity, creativity and performance. Using his own powerful story of personal transformation through martial arts, Jim shares the strategies and tactics he used to transform himself from loser to leader–from drug abuser and dropout to black belt and Sensei. This highly interactive program will engage and challenge you to think about essential leadership strategies. Learn how to apply them in your life, in your business – and with the people you serve.


Human Resources:

  • Legal Panel

– Christy Kiely, Hunton & Williams
– Steven Brown, Isler Dare
– Tevis Marshall, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C.
– Erika Winter, Law Offices of Erika Winter

  • Hot Topics In Employment Law | Steven Brown, Isler Dare

During this presentation we will discuss current trends in labor and employment law and how they impact the workplace. Attendees will also learn how to conduct a workplace investigation. The investigation topics will include witness interview techniques, evaluating credibility, making a determination, writing the report, and taking appropriate action to protect the financial institution.

  • Creating a Total Rewards Strategy that Works | M. Bryan Delong, FHLBank Atlanta


Getting rewards right means the difference between competing effectively in the market and being left behind.  To become an employer of choice, companies need to take a holistic view of their total rewards program which goes beyond the normal, “Salary and benefits” approach to include performance-based rewards, career development and mobility, and flexibility in working arrangements.  During this workshop we will focus on:

Why you need a total rewards strategy- What are employees trying to tell us?

What’s in the toolkit? – I can’t do it all so where should I start?

How are we doing? Leveraging communications and technology to collect actionable feedback

This workshop will also include a group discussion where you can learn from your colleagues about what’s working and what’s challenging in the employment market.

  • Creative Ways to Engage Employees | Roundtable Discussion
  • Recruiting & Retaining the Right Employees | Mark Faircloth, Faircloth Performance Partners

As the banking industry becomes more complex and competitive, community bank leaders report their concern about not being able to find and keep talented employees.  This session presents specific steps and skills which help managers to be effective in these areas:

1 – Attracting employees who fit the job and the bank culture

2 – Proactively managing people on a daily and long-term basis

3 – Creating job and career paths for all performance and motivation levels

Based on research and lessons learned in real-life situations, Mark Faircloth presents practical solutions that go far deeper than resumes and performance appraisals.  Bankers leave with a better understanding of where to find talented employees (even in the smallest communities), how to keep star performers motivated and loyal, and how the right culture increases profitability while reducing turnover.


  • Digital Marketing: Measuring & Evaluating Impact & Effectiveness | Jeff Thompson & Brittany Heare, Feedback
  • Data Mining: Why Collect, What to Compile, How to Use | Vida Williams
  • Building & Living Your Brand | Ellen Schafler, Electrum Branding

An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets and a well implemented strategic branding plan will enable you to increase the return on your branding investment. What many people think of a “brand” is only a small piece of the puzzle.  It should include how to live and breathe the moving parts.

– Conduct a brand audit
– Optimize how people perceive your brand
– Measure your effectiveness along the way and adapt as needed
– Understand who your best customers are and find others like them
– Streamline your delivery of products and services
– Ensure that your team reinforces your brand at every opportunity

  • Managing Your Bank’s Digital Footprint | Drew Darman, Yext

The way customers interact with your brand online has drastically changed over the past few years. We are starting to witness a major platform shift with the rise of Artificial Intelligence services like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

For the last 20 years your brand’s digital presence started on your website. This is typically where the facts about your brand are going to live.  Whether it be your hours of operation, your loan officers detailed bios, or even reviews from satisfied customers.

Today, 73% of high-intent traffic is happening off of your website on other digital services like Google, Bing, FB, Yelp, Alexa, etc.  Search engines, maps, directories, & voice activated devices have created a new channel where customers can engage with your brand.  And now, it’s just as important to manage your business data on these other digital services as it is on your own website!

Learn how the Digital Knowledge Management allows you to control the public facts about your brand, loan officers, financial planners, & branches everywhere they appear online, so you can drive face to face interactions that boosts customer engagement & overall brand awareness.

  • Breaking Down Product Marketing Assumptions During Banking’s Great Transition | Hunter Young, Mabus

Banks are firmly entrenched in The Great Transition. Customers young and old now engage their banks digitally, but there still exists a significant demographic divide in how and why customers interact with their financial partners. While banks continue to scramble to develop the right balance of online and offline interactions, the customer is still figuring out how they like to manage their finances in a modern world. A lot of confusion and many assumptions are hurting customer experiences and product adoption in branches and on the web. How do banks effectively navigate this enormous transition and manage the variety needs across these unique generational groups?

This session will walk through:

– Gen Z to Baby Boomers, their current financial needs and buying behaviors.
– How to move beyond demographic data to deliver behavioral marketing.
– An approach to develop stronger messaging and engagement across channels.
– A list of assumptions that are hurting financial marketers’ approach to customers young and old.

As an added bonus, attendees will be provided a free digital guide that furthers the discussion.

Retail Banking:

  • Strategies/Coaching Retail Teams to Grow Client Relationships | Vicki Kraai, VK Solutions, LLC

This session will focus on best practices for leading and managing the customer experience.  We will focus on relationship and business development by looking at our competitive landscape, our culture, our own customer experiences and how we focus on approach and execution to grow client relationships.

  • Data Mining: Why Collect, What to Compile, How to Use | Vida Williams
  • Getting More Efficient: Benchmarking and Other Ways Banks are Improving Performance | Dave Keever, Crowe Horwath

Trends in customer behavior, technology, products, economic conditions and competition are changing the economics and costs of many bank functions.  With continued pressure on profit growth, it is increasingly important for banks to operate more efficiently and stay ahead of the competition.  Like successful athletes, successful bank teams must regularly measure their performance to analyze their progress and motivate improvement.  Comparisons of key metrics over time and against peers can help identify opportunities for improvement and encourage greater team effort.  During this session Crowe consultants will:

– describe how metrics and benchmarks can be used
– share several operating benchmarks drawn from Crowe’s database
– describe ways banks can improve performance
– give examples of what banks are doing

  • Business Development for the Non-Business Employee | Mark Faircloth, Faircloth Performance Partners

Bank branch staff often report that one of their least productive activities is making business development calls.  Focused on outreach to small businesses, this session provides a blueprint for better results.   

1. Identifying and contacting the right company/individual
2. Gaining agreement to meet
3. Conducting a mutually beneficial conversation
4. Following through on opportunities

After a step-by-step review of the process above, the group will take a deeper look into the conversation – what to talk about, how to respond to questions, how to establish next steps and more.  Critical questions are answered, such as “How do I explain my role when I’m not a decision maker?”  “What do I say when the conversation goes deeper than my limited business knowledge?”  “How do I coordinate with lenders and other partners?”  Bankers leave with a better understanding of what business owners expect from their banker, and more confidence in asking (and answering) business banking questions.

  • Selling to Customers Under New Tax Laws | George Noonan, Elliot Davis


  • Building a Training Program from Scratch | Brian Washburn & Tim Waxenfelter, Endurance Learning

Some organizations have long neglected a formal training program that strategically runs across all departments and teams. Other organizations have small training teams, but with more requests for training than there is time in the day, even organizations with training staff are sometimes missing a more intentional, strategic approach to training initiatives. This session is designed to allow participants an opportunity to take a step back, look around at their whole organization, and begin thinking through how to build a comprehensive, strategically-focused training program from the ground up.

  • (Low Cost) Training Tech Tools | Christina Holloway, Senoble Consulting, LLC

There are many design considerations to consider when developing a course–for example, how to sequence content, what types of activities to include to promote learning transfer, the layout of the user interface, and how to measure learning. Put this process into a high-pressure context with an aggressive deadline and a minimal budget, and you can quickly conclude that good enough is as good as done. Maximizing learning efficacy with a simple, cost-effective design may seem difficult to do on a budget, but there are ways you can take a “good enough” course to great. In this workshop, we will explore different technologies and design approaches you can employ to incorporate meaningful engagement with the learners in synchronous or asynchronous online learning. As an active participant in this session, you will develop a sense of how effective using these resources can be in improving the course experience by reviewing before and after examples of course elements to see how simple changes can improve the course experience. You will gain new ideas to add to your toolbox and a list of resources to consult after the workshop.

  • 3 Ways to Communicate the Value of Training to the Rest of Your Organization | Brian Washburn & Tim Waxenfelter, Endurance Learning

Designing and delivering training initiatives is only part of what we do as learning professionals. We’re also in the marketing business and it’s essential that we can communicate the value we provide to individuals, departments and the organization. Otherwise, it’s very easy for decision-makers to decide we’re simply an additional cost to the business… and when the economy is struggling, this can mean bad things for both our job security as well as the potential to build and expand necessary professional development opportunities across the organization. This session will offer a variety of ideas on what you can be measuring and how you can communicate your value to the rest of the organization.

  • Trends in Bank Training | Brian Walker, Learning Dynamics

Learning Dynamics Vice President Brian Walker will examine the latest training trends in banking, including micro-learning and mobile learning as well as dive into best talent management practices from other industries will be discussed.  Additionally, using Kirkpatrick’s model for evaluating training will be reviewed.       

  • The Cobbler’s Children: Shoes for Trainers | Donna Highfill

Other Agenda Items:

  • Two networking receptions
  • Spark presentations
  • Industry challenge table top exercise



*Topics subject to change