Keynote Speakers

Sunday, Oct. 20 - Tia McNair

Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the TRHT Campus Centers at Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC.  She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, inclusive excellence, high-impact educational practices, and student success, including AAC&U’s Network for Academic Renewal series of yearly working conferences.  McNair also directs AAC&U’s Summer Institute on High-Impact Educational Practices and Student Success. McNair serves as the project director for several AAC&U initiatives: "Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Centers," "Strengthening Guided Pathways and Career Success by Ensuring Students are Learning," and “Purposeful Pathways: Faculty Planning and Curricular Coherence.” She directed AAC&U's projects on “Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: Campus-Based Strategies for Student Success,” "Advancing Underserved Student Success through Faculty Intentionality in Problem-Centered Learning,” "Advancing Roadmaps for Community College Leadership to Improve Student Learning and Success,” and "Developing a Community College Roadmap”. McNair chaired AAC&U’s Equity Working Group that was part of the General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) project that represented a large-scale, systematic effort to provide “design principles” for 21st-century learning and long-term student success. She is the lead author of the book Becoming a Student-Ready College: A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success (July 2016). McNair is a co-author on the publication Assessing Underserved Students’ Engagement in High-Impact Practices

Prior to joining AAC&U, McNair served as the Assistant Director of the National College Access Network (NCAN) in Washington, DC. McNair’s previous experience also includes serving as a Social Scientist/Assistant Program Director in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Director of University Relations at the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia; the Statewide Coordinator for the Educational Talent Search Project at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; and the Interim Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment Services at West Virginia State University. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at several institutions where she taught first-year English courses.

McNair earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and English at James Madison University and holds an M.A. in English from Radford University and a doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University

Monday, Oct. 21 - Adam Peck

Dr. Adam Peck currently serves as Interim Vice President for University Affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA). He previously served as Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs for 11 years at SFA. He is the author of more than forty scholarly publications and has presented more than 100 national and international webinars. He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and on campuses around the United States and internationally. He served as editor and co-author of the book, “Engagement & Employability: Integrating Career Learning Through Cocurricular Experiences in Postsecondary Education” (NASPA Press, March 2017). He recently co-edited, “Leadership Development in Student Employment, New Directions for Student Leadership” with Kathleen Callahan. 

Dr. Peck is actively engaged in a number of professional associations. He is a former president of the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators, the former Texas State Director for NASPA and currently serves as Corporate Sponsorships Liaison for NASPA Region III. He serves as editor of the Scholarship to Practice section of the Journal of Campus Activities Practice and Scholarship. He has been named one of the “Champions of Assessment” by Campus Labs and received the “Founders Award” from NACA for contributions to the field of student activities.

Dr. Peck earned his bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Lewis University, a master’s degree in Communication Studies from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.

Tuesday, Oct. 22 - KEVIN O'CONNELL

Part futurist part digital storyteller, Kevin O'Connell has become a rising voice in the digital marketing space. After working eight years in Student Affairs & Higher Education, Kevin founded FYN Creative based in Arlington, VA where he partners with organizations to employ disruptive digital marketing tactics that combine time-tested storytelling techniques with the latest technology and digital media channels. FYN's clients span from education and non-profits to small business and startups. A few include American University, American College of Personnel Association (ACPA), George Washington University Business School, National Education Association, Millennial Action Project, and U.S. Department of Commerce. When it comes to delivering speeches, Kevin loves working with audiences of all shapes and sizes—ranging from a room of 20 leaders looking to increase profits and drive results to 1,000 individuals ready to tell a story and build a community. In addition to O'Connell's role in digital marketing, he is a TEDx speaker and author of The Niche Movement: The New Rules to Finding a Career You Love. In 2013, Kevin joined a national conversation about how the millennial generation is disrupting the status quo in their career choices and approach to employment. His passion is to end employment unhappiness for this generation. The Niche Movement has become a grassroots movement with over 30 contributing editors, a dozen fireside chat events, and a global reach of 5,000+. The core message of this community has spread through keynotes and training at several organizations including American Disabilities Association, APCO Worldwide, MACUHO, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Virginia Tech.

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