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Chris Braccio, Vice President, Human Resources

Ms. Braccio joined AMERICAN SYSTEMS in 2007 and is currently responsible for the strategic alignment of human talent to achieve the corporate mission. As VP of Human Resources, she oversees the company’s entire human capital function, including talent management, compensation, benefits, HRIS, as well as community affairs and charitable programs.

Ms. Braccio has more than 25 years of HR experience and has held senior HR leadership roles at World Kitchen, StarBand Communications, and Sunrise Assisted Living, as well as HR positions at Fortune 500 companies such as GTE (now Verizon), Contel, Eaton Corporation, and National Semiconductor. She is a member of various HR organizations, including the Washington Technical Personnel Forum, WorldatWork, National Association of Professional Women, and the Society for Human Resource Management.  She has served for more than 10 years not only as a member of the Board of Directors for the Washington Area Compensation and Benefits Association but also as a Committee Member for the Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area. Ms. Braccio serves on AMERICAN SYSTEMS’ Ethics Committee and is the Chairperson of the company's ESOP Administrative Committee.

In 2014, Ms. Braccio received the Human Resources Leadership Award of Greater Washington for Innovation.She received her Master of Science, with honors, in Human Resource Management from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, in Business Management from the University of Connecticut.


Haitham Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer
Life and Success Magazine, London, United Kingdom
Haitham Ahmed is a CEO, Youtuber, Author, Certified NLP Trainer, Certified Business Coach, Certified Career Coach, Certified Life Coach, Certified Time Management Coach, Lecturer, and Instructor.  He is a founder and CEO of London Academy of Online Education and a founder and CEO of European Alliance of Certified Academies.  He is also a founder and CEO of Life and Success Magazine. Haitham has a Bachelor of Bio-Chemistry from Ain Shams University in Egypt, a Master of International Business from the University of Vaasa in Finland, and more than 70 diplomas and certificates from global Institutes around the world, such as: Coursera, Northwest Community College Initiative, U.S.A; American Management Association; Institute of Leadership and Management in the UK; Centre of Excellence, UK; Shaw Academy, Ireland; ALISON, Ireland; EduPower Nordic Institute, Finland; Gulf Innovation Academy, Kuwait; TafeSA, Australia; and International Business Management Institute, Germany.

Brad Antle, Executive Chairman
Oceus Networks LLC, Reston, Virginia, United States

Şule Hatun Avşaroğlu, Human Resources Vice President
Kuveyt Turk Participation Bank Inc., Kocaeli, Turkey
Şule Hatun has 15 years of experience in Human Resources and the banking sector.  Her main responsibilities in Human Resources Management include HR Strategy, Compensation & Benefits, Employee Engagement, HR Analytics, Internal Communication, Employee Branding, Career Management, Performance Management, Balanced Scorecards, and Payroll & HR Operations.

Sharon Bohlman, President
Strategic Benefits Solutions, Vienna, Virginia, United States
After a long career working for Government Contractors, Sharon left an executive position to start Strategic Benefits Solutions, a Human Resources and Benefits Consulting Company. Additionally, 20 years ago Sharon created an organization for HR leaders, called the HR Consortium, which has a couple hundred member companies who share best practices and support one another. The HR Consortium provides real-time, valuable information to corporate decision-makers about a wide variety of HR related topics, and continues to educate, share practices and gather pace-setting snapshots of data through immediate survey opportunities and monthly meetings.

Barry Broadus, Board of Directors
AMERICAN SYSTEMS, Chantilly, Virginia, United States
Barry Broadus joined the AMERICAN SYSTEMS Board of Directors in 2017 and was appointed the Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee. He also serves as a member of the Board’s Human Resources Committee. He has more than 30 years of financial, executive, and management experience, which includes his current position as the Chief Financial Officer of Dovel Technologies, a mid-tier health IT and solutions company. In addition, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of Constellis, a $1 Billion-plus leading security services firm. As the Chief Financial Officer of Alion Science and Technology, Barry led the financial activities associated with the sale of Alion to a private equity organization.  He has held senior financial positions with industry leaders such as SAIC and EDS after serving as a U.S. Army Field Artillery Officer. Barry holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama and is a Certified Public Accountant from the Commonwealth of Virginia (currently inactive).

Jean Cain, Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Talent Development
Northwest Federal Credit Union, Herndon, Virginia, United States
As Senior Vice President, Jean Cain is responsible for  for leading the Human Resource and Talent Development division, which encompasses increasing employee engagement, retaining and developing talent, delivering cost effective and competitive benefits and compensation programs, and supporting work/life balance and wellness programs. She delivers these high-impact results by building strategic partnerships, and maintaining the highest standards of customer service and compliance. Prior to joining NWFCU, Jean held leadership positions in Human Resources and Leadership Development at Noblis, MITRE, MCT Federal Credit Union, and Sallie Mae. She holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and SHRM-SPC designation.

Gerald Calhoun, Founder & Managing Director
Silver Tree LLC, Arlington, Virginia, United States
Jerry has over 30 years of experience as a Human Capital Leader extending across the public and private sectors to include 10 years at the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Labor followed by extensive experience at private and publicly traded companies in the U.S. government marketplace with annual revenues ranging from $100m to $4B. He has also led IT, Security and Facility organizations, in addition to being the HR leader. With his broad experience, Jerry brings a unique blend of skills and insights to his leadership style which has been instrumental in providing critical focus to leaders and organizations during a dozen successful mergers and acquisitions. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of New York at Albany.

Dr. Armann Ciccarelli, Physician-retired
Wells, Vermont, United States

Maureen Clayton, Founder and President
Nest Egg Communications, Roswell, Georgia, United States
Maureen Clayton is president of Nest Egg Communications, a full-service communications agency located outside Atlanta. She has more than 20 years’ experience delivering business and internal communications for public and privately-held companies. Maureen is a frequent speaker at national conferences on the topics of communications strategy, employee engagement, and leadership communications.  Maureen earned BA and MA degrees in journalism from the University of Georgia, where she serves on the university’s Entrepreneurship Program Board of Directors.

Lisa Colten, Founder and Managing Principal
Exzeto, LLC, Fairfax, Virginia, United States
Lisa A. Colten is Founder and Managing Principal of Éxzeto!, an HR and Coaching Consultancy. She is a versatile senior-level Human Resources Leader and Executive and Career Transition Coach. Her corporate experience includes HR leadership roles at American Express where she partnered with business leaders in multiple functions and business lines to drive and implement measurable change and achieve performance results through collaboration, communication, and strategy planning. She is known as a strategic, intuitive thinker in varied industry environments, including both for profit and non-profit organizations. Lisa has an MBA and MA in Organizational Communication from SUNY/Buffalo.

Kay Curling, Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Deployed Resources LLC, Rome, New York, United States
Kay has a diverse business background that includes building and leading HR teams that transform cultures and enhance business operations. She has extensive experience in all aspects of human resources including leading more than 30 acquisitions. Her professional contributions have garnered national and regional awards for her employers and for herself. She is a frequent guest speaker at conferences and forums and proudly serves as a mentor to rising HR talent.

Ceyla Durgun Akdağ, Managing Partner
Feedback & Beyond, Istanbul, Turkey
Ceyla is a Co-founder and works as a Managing Partner at Feedback & Beyond and conducts employee experience and assessment projects. She started her corporate career at Eczacıbaşı Group where she managed a wide range of talent acquisition and retention projects. Then she started her consultancy career where she has been involved in the development of various psychometric tools, designed and conducted assessment center processes for leading companies. After graduating from Marmara University Business Administration in the German language, Ceyla completed her master's at Istanbul University. She is currently working on her doctoral thesis in the area of organizational behavior.

Matthew Goedert, Counsel
Nixon Peabody, San Francisco, California, United States
Matthew's practice is focused on ERISA, Executive Compensation, M&A, and Employee Benefits with an emphasis on the structuring and implementation of leveraged and non-leveraged employee stock ownership plans involving privately held companies.  He regularly counsels employers on design, drafting, compliance, and fiduciary issues for all plan types, including 401(k), ESOP, 403(b), 457(b)/(f), and cash balance. He helps boards of directors, committees, and HR/payroll personnel on compliance with ERISA, Internal Revenue Code, Treasury, and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations and other guidance regarding retirement, executive compensation, and other benefit plans. He assists fiduciaries to understand their roles/duties and corporate governance practices. Matthew also defends employers in IRS and DOL audits and enforcement actions, and helps correct 409A failures in executive compensation and non-qualified deferred compensation plans.

Dawn Goestenkors, Executive Vice President
TI-TRUST, Inc., Quincy, Illinois, United States

Joanne Hickman, Business Control Manager
Merrill Lynch, Wallingford, Connecticut, United States
I am an associate at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch with over 32 years’ experience in the Trust and Financial Services Industry.  Over my career, I have experienced many changes within both my industry and our company, including the evolution of our Human Resource Teams and our benefits offerings.  As a mom, with grown - or mostly grown – children, I welcome this opportunity to add my voice and experience in awarding excellence in achievement.


Mike Innella, Executive Consultant
Strategic Results Consulting, Reston, Virginia, United States
Mike is an experienced executive with extensive success in leading government contracting organizations. He is a results-focused strategic visionary and business change leader who leverages technical expertise and business acumen to institute initiatives which create positive change, efficiencies, and increased profitability. He is noted for building and motivating highly competent teams to implement his vision and initiatives. Mike views HR organizations as a strategic business partner and works closely with them to drive employee engagement, career development, and rewards and recognition programs to provide for a positive company culture. This partnership has resulted in "Best Workplace" recognition at two different companies.

Asli Tas Kayabas, Awards Consultant, Clinical Psychologist, Speaker
Kuzey Academy, Istanbul, Turkey
In 2012, Asli founded her own company, Kuzey Development Academy, which provides services in corporate soft-skills training, leadership development programs, and in awards consultancy. She is the first awards consultant specializing in HR expertise in Turkey. Asli combines her knowhow in psychology and HR and is unique in her field as an award consultant. She was honored as Learning and Training Professional of the Year in the first Stevie Awards for Great Employers Program in 2016 and was also named Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2016 Stevie Awards for Women in Business. She is regularly invited to speak at keynote sessions all over the world.

Ihsan Mert, Employer Branding Manager
Turkcell, Maltepe, Istanbul, Turkey

Özge Otmanbölük, Learning & Development Manager
QNB Finansbank (Finansbank A.Ş.), Istanbul, Turkey

Steven Parker, President
HR 3D/Solutions, Littleton, Colorado, United States
Steven Parker currently holds the position of President at HR Solutions, a compensation consulting company specializing in providing market based comp programs that are EEO, DCAA and DOL compliant. His prior positions include Vice President at Orbital Sciences Corporation; Director, Compensation and Benefits at Martin Marietta Corporation - Information Systems Group; Director, Compensation and Benefits at M/A-Com DCC (now Hughes Network Systems); and Manager, Compensation at Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT). Mr. Parker holds a BS from the University of Maryland and an MBA from American University.

Bürra Pekak, Regional Human Resources Manager
Mayr-Melnhof Graphia İzmir Karton San. ve Tic. A.Ş., Izmir, Turkey
Bürra Pekak is an HR professional with more than 20 years of experience.  She has a demonstrated history of working in different sectors such as production and banking.  Currently, she is Regional Human Resources Manager at Mayr-Melnhof Graphia İzmir, Turkey, which she joined in November 2012. She is responsible for managing and improving human resources, industrial relations, and organizational support functions and their maximizing value to the company. She has knowledge and experience in SAP, Oracle and Link-based HR ERP systems. Bürra worked as Human Resources Director at Aktif Investment Bank between 2008 -2012 and also worked in HR business partner roles at TEB/BNP Paribas, Garanti Bank, Humanitas and Etibank A.Ş. between 2000-2008. She is a graduate of Bogazici University, Department of Philosophy with a Bachelor’s degree and received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from İstanbul Bilgi University.

Kerry Ross, Director of Benefits
Perspecta, Chantilly, Virginia, United States
Kerry Ross, CCP, CBP is an experienced Human Resources professional with particular expertise in Compensation and Benefits. Ms. Ross served as Treasurer for the Washington Area Total Rewards Association for more than 10 years.

Eric Shimits, Senior Partner Success Manager, Rentals
Zillow Group, Denver, Colorado, United States
Eric has spent most of his career in sales, working for a broad range of companies from brand new start-ups to household names such as The Hershey Company and Zillow. Most recently, he joined Zillow in 2017 and has held positions in 3 different organizations within the company. He is currently a Senior Partner Success Manager, responsible for overseeing and maximizing the partnerships between Zillow and multifamily property management companies. Eric graduated from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University with a double-major in Marketing and International Business.

Lynne Sport, Senior Director, Human Resources & Administration
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Lynne Sport is the Senior Director, Human Resources & Administration at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank specializing in international affairs with offices in the US and abroad. She oversees the full range of HR functions and building management services. Lynne has served in several volunteer capacities for the Society for Human Resources Management and on the board of directors of the Human Resource Association of the National Capital Area (now DC-SHRM). She was the Association’s president in 2002-2003. Lynne has also led in several HR initiatives in the think tank community. Prior to joining Carnegie, Lynne held various positions in private sector companies: Connie Lee Insurance Company, RJO Enterprises (a technology firm), Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin), and Sovran Bank (now Bank of America).

Valerie Utsey, Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer
T-Rex Solutions LLC, Greenbelt, Maryland, United States
As the CHRO for T-Rex Solutions LLC, an IT services firm in the DC Metro area, Valerie is responsible for aligning and executing the human capital strategy to the business strategy in order to maximize organizational effectiveness. Through this role she leads HRIS, total rewards, benefits, talent management, and corporate philanthropy. Valerie has been in the Human Resources field for over 20 years and has held senior HR leader roles with other government contractors in the area. Valerie currently serves as a Board Member of DC SCORES and supports multiple non-profit organizations that support STEM in underserved communities. She has a Master's degree in Labor and Human Resources from The Ohio State University and holds Professional in Human Resources and SHRM-PC designations, and a Strategic Workforce Planner certificate.

Dr. Valerie Vitale, Retired Otolaryngologist–Head and Neck Surgeon
Wells, Vermont, United States
Life outside of my former career as a surgeon has been very exciting and spent exploring the world with my husband and three daughters.

Cyrill Wiget, Executive
Bayonne, New Jersey, United States
An Investment & Wealth Management Executive with more than 25 years of extensive experience leading business growth and development around the world, establishing key relationships with ultra-high net-worth clients and family offices in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.  Proven track record of spearheading financial management offerings for clients, identifying opportunities within the market to provide value for clients.  Adaptable leader leveraging strong interpersonal and communication skills to drive engagement with clients and internal teams, establishing and cultivating positive relationships globally.

Jen Zanone, Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Rockville, Maryland, United States
Jen currently serves as the Area Senior Vice President in the Rockville, MD office and has over 20 years of and health and welfare program experience. She assists middle market employers throughout the region with their overall program strategy, including cost containment and employee engagement.  She is very active within the human resource community by attending various SHRM (Society for Human Resource) events, serving on HR Alliance's program committee, hosting relevant seminars and/or roundtables and networking discussions.