Dr. Cassandra LeClair is an author, professor, communication consultant, and motivational speaker. Cassandra’s mission is to educate individuals on how to have effective and healthy communication to enhance their relationships. She works to help others gain understanding of their communication practices to improve their connections with friends and family members, in the workplace, and beyond. She recently published her first book Being Whole: Healing from Trauma and Reclaiming My Voice.
Erin Cargile is passionate about digging into problems, uncovering the truth and educating the public through the power of storytelling. She is an award-winning investigative television news journalist at the NBC station in Austin, Texas. For the last 15 years, Cargile’s passion for putting the spotlight on issues that matter has prompted public officials, political leaders, companies, organizations, individuals and school districts to change decisions and rethink how they do business.
Dr. Hector Ruiz, an accomplished chief executive and technology luminary, has always been driven by the idea that technology and education have the potential to dramatically improve people's lives. Hector has helped build and guide top-tier global technology companies (including Texas Instruments, Motorola, and AMD) while also promoting exploration of technology's ability to address social issues. Given the rapid acceleration of technology and its consequences, today Hector sees two possible futures emerging – one bright and inclusive, the other dangerous and divided. Which world comes to pass depends on the conviction of technology leaders to not only ask “how” or “what” to build, but “why.” It also depends on the courage of consumers to hold industry and government accountable.
Jessica Soukup is a Texas-based advocate and educator, working to bring equal rights and social justice for transgender and non-binary people to the forefront of our social consciousness. Jessica is a frequent keynote speaker and educator on women’s empowerment, transgender rights, and LGBTQIA allyship. In 2017, she published her first book He/She/They - Us: Essential information, vocabulary, and concepts to help you become a better ally to the transgender and gender diverse people in your life. Jessica currently serves as vice-chair on the board of the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) and is a co-chair for Austin Pride. The vulnerability with which she shares her personal story, and her commitment to building and developing allies, has made her an indispensable force within the queer community.
Floral Artist and Entrepenuer
Kayli Head is a wedding and event florist in the Austin, Texas area. Her company, The Bloom Bar, produces floral designs for more than 100 events a year. After almost two decades of experience in floral design, she reflects on shifts in the wedding industry and its effect on both couples and wedding professionals. She is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, where she studied public relations and marketing, and launched her own company in 2015.
Sociology Graduate Student
Maria is a master's student at Texas State University and is pursuing sociology. Her academic interests include cultural sociology, and race/class/gender studies. She is passionate about social justice and activism and spends her free time reading, writing and browsing Twitter. After completing her master's degree, she intends to get a Ph.D. in Sociology and become a professor, or enter politics. Her goals are to inspire those around her and help enact lasting social change.
Social Worker and Activist
Mueni Loko Rudd is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at Texas State University. She identifies as a scholar advocate focused on creating safe spaces to discuss the state of race relations from multicultural points of view. She hopes this can produce cross-cultural communication, awareness, and healing in communities of color. Her research interests include identity, internalized racism, and white supremacy.
Conspiracy Theory Researcher
Rachel Runnels is a self-proclaimed conspiracy theory enthusiast. In 2019, she graduated from Abilene Christian University with an MA in Communication. Her graduate research focused on the language of online conspiracy rhetoric, specifically by official conspiracy organizations. Her thesis, similarly titled "Conspiracy Theories and the Quest for Truth," analyzed what communication methods make conspiracy theories so persuasive.
Raymond P. Fisk is a service scholar at Texas State University. His research focuses on transformative service research and service design. He has published numerous journal articles and six books including Serving Customers: Global Services Marketing Perspectives. In 1993, he founded the AMA Services Marketing Special Interest Group (SERVSIG), which is the only organization serving the service research community. He received the Career Contributions to the Services Discipline Award from SERVSIG 2005 and the Grönroos Service Research Award from the Hanken School of Economics in Finland in 2012. In Fall 2020, he returns to Finland to be the Fulbright-Hanken Distinguished Chair in Business and Economics. Recently, he founded ServCollab, a service research collaborative for diagnosing and treating humanity’s service system problems.
Dr. Russell Lang is the Executive Director of the Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation and Support (CARES) at Texas State University. He has authored numerous books and over a 150 scientific peer-reviewed articles. This research focuses on the identification of evidence-based practices for the education and treatment of people with neurodevelopmental disorders. He is the recipient of Texas State University’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Research and the Association of Positive Behavioral Supports Ted Carr Initital Research Award.