Keynote Speakers

The Academy is proud to announce its 2020 International Leadership Conference keynote speakers.  These feature presenters represent the best in transformational leadership, offering inspirational messages of positive change, leadership best practices, and opportunities for reflective thought and curiosity.  Most presentations will feature a short Q&A segment. 

2020 Conference Speakers

Rita Cheng - Karla Fisher - Cheryl Hyman - Lee Lambert - Mark Milliron - Stephen M.R. Covey - Mark Taylor - Alonzo Kelly


Mark Milliron

Award-Winning Leader, Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Mark Millrion will be speaking at 8:15am, on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

About Mark Milliron
Dr. Mark David Milliron is an award-winning leader, author, speaker, and consultant, who works with universities, community colleges, K-12 schools, foundations, corporations, associations, and government agencies across the country and around the world. Mark co-founded and serves as the chief learning officer of Civitas Learning. He also serves as Executive Director of the Next-Generation Leadership Academy (NGLA) and a Professor of Practice in the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education. In addition, Mark helps catalyze positive change in education through his service on the boards and advisory councils of leading education organizations, including the Trellis Foundation, the Global Online Academy, the Mastery Transcript Consortium, the Hope Center for College, Community, & Justice, and ISKME/OER Commons.

In previous roles, Mark served as the Deputy Director for Postsecondary Success with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; founding Chancellor of WGU Texas; Endowed Fellow and Director of the National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development at The University of Texas at Austin; Vice President for Education and Medical Practice with SAS; and President and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community College. Past board service includes the American Council on Education (ACE), Western Governors University (WGU), and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

In 1999, The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education named Mark a Distinguished Graduate for his service to the education field. In 2007, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) presented him with its prestigious  National Leadership Award. In 2013 he was inducted into the United States Distance Learning Association’s Hall of Fame. In 2016 he was chosen by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the “Top Technology Innovators” in higher education; and in 2018, Mark was listed by EdTechDigest as one of the Top Influencers in the education technology field.

Regardless of all of his activities and accomplishments, he will quickly tell you that the most important job and the greatest blessing in his life is serving as Julia’s husband, and as father to Alexandra, Richard, Marcus, and Max.


Plenary Panel: Rita Cheng, Karla Fisher, Cheryl Hyman,
and Lee Lambert

Rita Cheng, President, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
Karla Fisher, Provost, Maricopa County Community College District, Tempe, AZ
Cheryl Hyman, Vice Provost for Academic Alliances, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Lee Lambert, Chancellor, Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ

Rita Cheng, Karla Fisher, Cheryl Hyman, and Lee Lambert will be speaking at 9:30am, on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

About the Plenary Panel Session:
Summary coming soon

About Rita Cheng:
Rita Hartung Cheng serves as the 16th president of Northern Arizona University. As a first-generation and non-traditional college graduate, Dr. Cheng firmly believes in making higher education accessible and affordable for all students.

Under her leadership, NAU has embarked on an aggressive agenda to thrive in the fast-changing environment of higher education. She has amplified the university’s strengths and set forth a vision of excellence in education through student-centered teaching, a robust research environment, an extensive global engagement program, and inclusive support services focused on success measured through retention and graduation rates.

Prior to NAU, Dr. Cheng served as chancellor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She previously held positions on the faculty and various administrative roles including, provost and vice chancellor, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Dr. Cheng earned a Ph.D. in management from Temple University's Fox School of Business and Management, an MBA from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s in business administration with honors from Bishop‘s University in Quebec.

About Karla Fisher:
Dr. Karla Fisher is the District Provost of the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), where she oversees curriculum; academic research and assessment; student affairs; strategic planning and institutional effectiveness; university relations, transfer, and articulation; grants development and management; international education; faculty professional growth and development; marketing; high-school-to-college pathways and outreach programs; integrated student support; and guided pathways. In addition, Fisher leads the Maricopa Transformation to fundamentally transform the student experience to meet the education and employment needs of the community.

She began her higher education career in 2001 as an administrator at Salt Lake Community College. After working at the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) while completing her Ph.D. at The University of Texas, she went on to serve as Vice President of Academics at Butler Community College (KS) from 2010 to 2016, serving as interim President from January to July 2013. Her tenure at Butler included: the launch of four award winning Early College Academies; introduction and development of faculty-led faculty development; establishment of scholarship-based peer tutoring; a successful ten-year HLC accreditation site visit, transitioning from AQIP to the Open Pathway; and several significant donations and grants including TRIO, TAACCCT, and AVID for Higher Education.

Previously, She was Chancellor of Arkansas State University-Beebe, an independently accredited and operationally-separate multi-campus two-year institution in the ASU System. Under her leadership, the institution engaged in an inclusive college-wide strategic planning process, centralized administration, and combined Student Services and Academics silos under a Provost model, significantly reducing administrative overhead while increasing efficiency and effectiveness. She has taught in campus, online, and blended learning environments since 1996.

About Cheryl Hyman:

Hyman is Vice Provost for Academic Alliances at ASU.  She is leading academic partnerships between ASU and the community colleges and other educational institutions both locally and nationally, ensuring that students who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree have the resources and a pathway to successfully transition to ASU. Prior to joining ASU Hyman served as the Chancellor of the City Colleges of Following her tenure as chancellor, Ms. Hyman authored Reinvention: The Promise and Challenge of Transforming a Community College System (Harvard Education Press, 2018).

Before being appointed chancellor in April 2010, Hyman served as vice president of operations strategy and business intelligence at ComEd, an Exelon company. She joined ComEd in 1996 and held positions across the company during her 14-year career, including in the areas of information technology, transmission and distribution, community and economic development, and government and legislative affairs.She served on the Illinois Community College Board and now serves on the boards of Complete College America and previously the Chicago History Museum. She is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago, and The Urban Institute’s U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty. She also previously served on the board of directors of The Night Ministry of Chicago, whose mission is to work to provide housing, health care, and human connection to members of the Chicago communities struggling with poverty and homelessness and previously served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Illinois children who were wards of the court.

Cheryl was once a City Colleges student herself:  she is a graduate of Olive-Harvey College.  She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a Master of Arts Degree in Community Development with a certification in nonprofit management from North Park University, and an Executive Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Hyman is a Chicago native who grew up on the city’s West Side.

Hyman continues to speak nationally about higher education and leadership issues.  To learn more visit

About Lee Lambert:
Lee D. Lambert has been Chancellor of Pima Community College since July 2013.

Under Chancellor Lambert, Pima is focusing on student success, partnering with employers to create programs leading to relevant careers and regional economic development, and fostering a multicultural world that honors our differences as well as the values that unify us.

Chancellor Lambert received a Juris Doctor degree from Seattle University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. 

A U.S. Army veteran, Chancellor Lambert was born in Seoul, South Korea, grew up on three continents, and graduated from high school in the Olympia, Wash. area. He likes for people to call him Lee.


Stephen M.R. Covey

Best-Selling Author of The Speed of Trust, Top Business Advisor and Thought Leader on Ethics, Trust and Leadership

Stephen M. R. Covey will be speaking at 8:15am, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

About Stephen M.R. Covey:

Stephen M. R. Covey is a cofounder of CoveyLink and the FranklinCovey Global Speed of Trust Practice. A sought-after and compelling keynote speaker and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance, he speaks to audiences around the world. He is the New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The SPEED of Trust, a groundbreaking and paradigm-shifting book that challenges our age-old assumption that trust is merely a soft, social virtue and instead demonstrates that trust is a hard-edged,economic driver. He and business partner Greg Link recently coauthored Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World,which shares enlightening principles and anecdotes of people and organization that are achieving unprecedented success from high-trust relationships and cultures. Stephen advocates that the ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders is the critical leadership competency of the new global economy. He passionately delivers this message and is dedicated to enabling individuals and organizations to reap the dividends of high trust throughout the world. Audiences and organizations alike resonate with his informed, practical approach to real-time issues that affect their immediate and long-term performance.

He is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which, under his stewardship, became the largest leadership development company in the world. Covey personally led the strategy that propelled his father’s book, Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to one of the two most influential business books of the 20th Century, according to CEO Magazine. A Harvard MBA, he joined Covey Leadership Center as a Client Developer and later became National Sales Manager and then President & CEO. Under Covey’s direction, the company grew rapidly and profitably, achieving Inc. 500 status. As President & CEO, he nearly doubled revenues to over $110 million while increasing profits by 12 times. During that period, both customer and employee trust reached new highs and the company expanded throughout the world into over 40 countries. This greatly increased the value of the brand and company. The company was valued at only $2.4 million when Covey was named CEO, and, within three years, he grew shareholder value to $160 million in a merger he orchestrated with then Franklin Quest to form FranklinCovey.

More About Stephen M.R. Covey

Over the years, Covey has gained considerable respect and influence with executives and leaders of Fortune 500 companies as well as with mid- and small-sized private sector and public sector organizations he’s consulted. Clients recognize his unique perspective on real-world organizational issues based on his practical experience as a former CEO. Covey currently serves on the board/advisory board of several entities, including the Human Performance Institute—the leader in energy management technology—where he serves as Advisory Board Chairman. Covey resides with his wife and children in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains.

Twitter: @stephenmrcovey

Mark Taylor

Researcher, Educator, and Speaker

Mark Taylor will be speaking at 3:00pm, on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

About Mark Taylor:

Dr. Mark Taylor is an award winning speaker recognized internationally as an educator, expert and consultant who is on the forefront of transformations in educational practice and workplace management. As an authority on the traits, developmental issues and learning outcomes of today’s young people, he is dedicated to helping colleges, universities, schools and professional programs better understand and serve our students for learning, development, persistence and successful integration into the “after college” world. His work with organizations and companies focuses on helping people understand and work more effectively with the generational groups, especially our young people from "Generation NeXt". 

Building on over 30 years of experience in higher education, management and the helping professions, including as a psychotherapist, professor, and in academic and student services administration, Dr. Taylor has worked with over 500 organizations, businesses and schools in 47 states, and made presentations at numerous state, regional, national, and international events. Publications include numerous book chapters, invited pieces, and articles in professional journals including his recent articles on "Teaching Generation NeXt". Business clients have included Boeing Aerospace, 20th Century Fox Motion Pictures, Wal-Mart, FEMA and the U.S. Army. Dr. Taylor holds graduate degrees from the University of Arkansas and academic appointments at Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Graduate School.

Alonzo Kelly

Speaker, Coach, Educator, and Author of Dare to Succeed and The Ultimate Success Guide 

Alonzo Kelly will be speaking at 3:30am, on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

About Alonzo Kelly:

A dynamic Executive Coach, Professor, 3x Best Selling Author, and Radio Host, Alonzo Kelly has gained international and global attention as a premier consultant and strategist. Alonzo is recognized as one the nation’s leading experts on leadership development, strategic thinking, planning, and acting which results in individual and organizational goal achievement. He has appeared on America’s Premier Experts which airs on major networks across the country including ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Alonzo has served over 1,000 individuals through personal and professional development, delivered training to a plethora of Fortune 500 Companies, College and Universities, Institutions of Higher Learning, Foreign Countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Canada), nonprofit organizations, and is consistently retained to be the keynote speaker at large and small events across the country.

He holds a bachelor’s in Accounting, three master’s degrees (Public Administration, Human Resource & Labor Relations, Business Administration), and is nearing completion of a PhD in Multidisciplinary Human Services.  He is also currently in the process of obtaining his Doctorate in Business Administration.

He currently serves on the State Board of Directors for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), and the National Board of Directors for SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted).

Twitter: @KLGLLC

How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class


Coming Soon



About XXXX


Conference Sponsors

Recognizing our Conference Sponsors. Without their contributions we would not be able to bring you the high level speakers, and continue keeping our registration costs at a participant friendly rate.

Special thanks to the Maricopa Community Colleges and to Mesa Community College for all of their amazing support!!