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 2021 Virtual Conference Featured Speakers

Paul Long 

Keynote Virtual Conference Speaker

Paul J. Long travels the world delivering high-content keynotes and training to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and trade associations. His engaging, inspirational and unbridled energetic style is unlike any speaker you’ve experienced before. Paul’s thought-provoking content, tactical solutions for growth and humor that rivals that of a stand-up comedian consistently generates outstanding feedback from participants.

Paul is the author of Fundamism: Connecting to Life Through F.U.N. which guides you on how to live your whole life—at work and at home—with FUN, joy, and fulfillment as the driving force. The book also features the story of Noah Wilson, a boy who changed the way hospitals order supplies at the age of 6 after being diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Noah created a 501C3 called Noah's Bandage Project (NBP) that collects FUN bandages for kids battling cancer and funding for pediatric cancer research. As the president of the board for NBP, Paul proudly shares the legacy of Noah in every engagement and donates a portion of every product sold to the cause.

Paul challenges audiences to move beyond the traditional avenues of achieving happiness — money, title, status — and develop their own core values that create fulfillment both at work and home. So... Are you ready to have some FUN?!

Autumn Saxton-Ross

Autumn Saxton-Ross, Ph.D., joined the National Recreation and Park Association in 2020 becoming its first Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer. Saxton-Ross most recently served as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director and Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Lead for NatureBridge, the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service.

Autumn Saxton-Ross began her career as an elementary school health and physical education teacher for D.C. Public Schools and has since consistently worked in positions placing her at the intersections of health, equity and the outdoors. While at NatureBridge, Saxton-Ross oversaw programs at Prince William Forest and Shenandoah National Parks in Virginia. Her previous position as Program Director for Place-based Initiatives at the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) saw her encouraging the use of policy and environmental change as a solution to health inequities, focusing on communities of color. It was here that she managed the Kellogg-funded PLACE MATTERS initiative — a national learning laboratory that builds the capacity of local leaders to identify and address the social, economic and environmental conditions shaping health, opportunities and resources.

Before NCHE, Saxton-Ross was Program Specialist at the D.C. Department of Health and the Assistant Director for Health in Parks for Washington Parks & People. In each of these positions, she focused on environmental and policy approaches to healthy eating and active living and on promoting the natural connection between parks, recreation and health. Prior to receiving her doctorate, she was the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Montgomery County and D.C. Recreation departments and taught Women’s Health for Howard University. One of her many key accomplishments has been that of founder and program director at Green Spaces for D.C.

Saxton-Ross, a D.C. resident and mother of two, received her Ph.D. from the department of Sociology at Howard University, preceded by a master’s degree in Public Health Education and Promotion from the same institution and undergraduate work in exercise science through The George Washington University. First developing a love of the outdoors through her grandmother’s yard and city parks in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, Saxton-Ross’s research, academic and professional interests continue to focus on social and physical environments and their influences on physical activity, opportunity and resources — specifically in Black and urban populations — along with the health benefits of parks and green spaces. Her life’s work concentrates on improving the health of communities through engagement, activity, education, exposure and opportunity, truly believing that “a healthy life is lived better outdoors.”

Jo Burns

Jo Burns is widely known for her work in bringing together professionals from parks, recreation and public health. She is the co-founder of the Public Health/Parks & Recreation Collaborative of Colorado. Over the past several years the collaborative has focused on common interests and mutual impact areas, such as reducing obesity and chronic illness, increasing opportunities for physical activity, improving access to healthy food and beverage choices, and developing walk-able communities.  Jo is a Parks & Recreation professional with over 20 years of experience in community, camp and association settings, and continues to be a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. Jo is an affiliate faculty member at Metropolitan State University Denver teaching Leisure, Health and Wellness. With numerous public speaking engagements, and critically acclaimed workshops, Jo is a recognized expert in parks and public health arenas.  https://joburnsconnects.com/

Mea Austin

As an Executive Advisor, Mea Austin will help you turn talent into performance to drive profit and reduce cost. She works with owners and C-level managers who are struggling with employee performance to help them understand what drives their people, their motivations, strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this understanding they can better manage the bottom line while maximizing top line growth.

Mea is known for her high-energy, humor, and her ability to captivate listeners as a Motivational Speaker. She has been inspiring and encouraging audiences as a Keynote Speaker for over twenty years. Her current affiliations include the Worldwide Association of Female Professionals (WAOFP) and the National Speakers Association (NSA).  She is a licensed Culture Index Advisor, a certified Life Coach and Time Management Expert.  She studied business at Washburn University in Topeka Kansas and is a degreed Paralegal. Mea offers individual and executive life coaching services. http://meaaustin.com/

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