Dr. Steve Swafford
, IOM, Balance Warrior + CEO, Dr. Steve Swafford, IOM, Balance Warrior + CEO, has worked more than 30 years for and with non-profits, trade associations, and professional societies in areas of strategy, leadership development, communication, membership and executive management. He brings a practical knowledge of strategy and executive leadership with past organizations such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), and American Subcontractors Association (ASA) where he most recently served as the executive director.
He is active in American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) serving in previous leadership roles on the Board of Directors; Membership Committee; Professional Development Committee; and Southern California Regional Council. He is a frequent CalSAE content leader and currently serves on the Nominating Committee. Steve also serves on the International Board for Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and Meetings Industry Fund Grant Committee. He is an ongoing university leadership advisor and volunteer staff pastor. Steve is also a 15-year faculty member for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Management and serves on the Curriculum Committee for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
A native of Kansas, Steve has a B.S. in journalism from Kansas State University; a M.Div. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC; and an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University’s School of Education & Psychology. Steve is a Full-Time Practitioner Faculty for Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School designing graduate courses on strategic change, organization design, organization behavior, and leadership. He is also co-founder of Leadership Outfitters, LLC.
Dr. Jill McCrory
, Ringleader, brings a background of interactive training, teambuilding, and leadership development to the Leadership Outfitters team. She has more than 40-years of experience working with leaders of associations, chapters, professional societies and other non-profits. This includes 17 years as an association executive at Washington D.C. associations, including her last position as Senior Director of Training at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In that capacity and as a principal at Leadership Outfitters for over 25 years, she has worked with national association boards and staff, chapter leaders, and a variety of other non- and for-profit groups in the areas of leadership, communication, and strategic conversations.
She is known for her creative approach to teambuilding and a philosophy of “leadership at all levels”. She has a passion for positive thinking, inclusion, and social justice. She has also served on a wide variety of nonprofit organizations and volunteer boards, including serving as the chair of a national advocacy organization and as a leader in a state organization. She has served as faculty for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute of Management for many years.
In October of 2017 she founded and launched a non-profit organization in Montgomery County, MD and linked this critical research with her Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. She is presently the Intentional Interim Pastor of Bethesda UCC in Bethesda, MD. Jill is a co-founder of Leadership Outfitters.
, MPH, IBCLC, Aha! Moment Maven + Facilitator, has led in equity education across a variety of fields over the past 20 years. From consumer goods to the non-profit and religion sectors, she utilized her writing and facilitation chops to impact the way that employees and volunteers approached their work and communities.
Through motherhood, Nekisha made a natural transition to focus her work in maternal and child health equity; becoming internationally board certified in lactation and launching Lioness Lactation - a comprehensive lactation support entity focused on marginalized communities. Nekisha earned an MPH from Walden University and penned the chapter titled Cultural Humility in the latest Core Curriculum for Interdisciplinary Lactation Care. She is Director of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at Lactation Education Resources, and consults numerous other organizations on creating and implementing inclusive strategies. She is co-founder of Nikki & Nikki: Lactation Career Consultants, which equips aspirants of color to become lactation professionals.
At the heart of Nekisha’s work is volunteerism. She has donated her time and strategic vision to numerous Boards of Directors, including her current term with the United States Breastfeeding Committee. In La Leche League, Nekisha was a founding member of the US Equity and Diversity Committee. She was awarded the United States Air Force 2015 Spouse of the Year honor for her groundbreaking volunteerism.
Jo Linder-Crow, PhD
is the CEO of JLC Coaching and Consulting, where she brings more than 30 years of senior executive experience to her work with individuals, boards, and organizations to achieve peak performance. She recently ended her 18-year tenure as the Chief Executive Officer of the California Psychological Association and now looks forward to focusing on her Executive Coaching and consulting practice. Jo believes that the ability to manage and leverage relationships is key to high achievement, and she brings this philosophy to her work with individuals and organizations. Using questions and conversation, she identifies strengths, uncovers opportunities for growth, and supports her clients as they work toward their personal and organizational goals.
Jo previously served as Associate Executive Director of Education at the American Psychological Association and was recently honored with an APA Distinguished Service Award for her many leadership roles at the national level. She is also the recipient of the Distinguished Contribution to Psychology award from the California Psychological Association. Jo is a former member of the Board of Directors of the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) and was the recipient of the 2015-2016 CalSAE Executive of the Year award.
Molly L. Whalen
, Creativity Connector, is currently the State Director for Best Buddies Capital Region: Virginia & DC. Her passion has long been supporting the movement for inclusion, and in her role she serves as a catalyst and connector in building collaborations to greater serve the local disability community. Prior to joining Best Buddies, she served as Executive Director of the DC Association for Special Education, where she led advocacy, outreach, and partnership engagement on behalf of special education schools. She previously held senior roles at Advocates for Justice and Education and the Ivymount School and Programs, among others.
Molly brings over 30 years of experience in the Capital Region as a nonprofit executive and education and disability advocate. She is a passionate advocate for students, parents, and families of children with special needs, drawing from her personal experiences as a parent of two young adults with autism. Her commitment to service in supporting people with disabilities was recognized by the 2011 St. John’s Community Service Advocacy Award. A dedicated volunteer, her board service includes: DC Special Education Cooperative, SchoolTalk, Quality Trust for Individuals for Disabilities, DC Family Support Council, and VSA program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and a seasoned facilitator and presenter, who has presented hundreds of leadership and development workshops nationwide, and led strategic planning, mission clarification and development analysis discussions for numerous nonprofit organizations. She lives with her family in her hometown of Washington DC.
Dr. Kent Rhodes
, Senior Strategy Advisor, serves as core faculty with Pepperdine University’s Master of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) and the Doctoral Program in Organization Leadership. He is also a consultant with the Chicago-based Family Business Consulting Group. He has served as an Ombudsman for Pepperdine’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) and is a guest lecturer for Pepperdine’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution and the Institute for Conflict Management with Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Kent founded and served as Chief Executive Officer of OnCourse Network, Inc., an Internet Education Company. He negotiated the sale of the company to a Silicon Valley publicly traded corporation and subsequently, served as Managing Director with that company in San Jose, California until successfully completing its acquisition and integration growth strategies in 2001. Shortly after that, he accepted an appointment with Pepperdine University. Raised in Lubbock, Texas, Kent currently makes his home in Orange County, California. He is a member of the International Ombudsman Association, the Family Firm Institute, the Academy of Management and the AOM Conflict Management group. He is lead author of "Managing Conflict in the Family Business: Understanding Challenges at the Intersection of Family and Business", published by Palgrave-Macmillon.
Dr. Bridget Cooper
is a cage rattler. Change strategist. Thought shifter. Dr. B sculpts the leader in all of us by making us better people first. She does this through coaching, corporate consulting, and leading workshops that guide and inspire people to live more authentic, peaceful, and powerful lives. Her mission is to change the world, one life at a time. She also works one-on-one with clients to overcome the attitudes, tactics, and patterns that derail their success.
Bestselling author of seven books [“Feed The Need” (2013), “Feed The Need: Teen Edition” (2014), “Stuck U” (2015), “Power Play” (2016), “Little Landslides” (2017), “Pain Rebel” (2020), and “Unflappable” (2023)], she brings her groundbreaking ideas and down-to-earth insights and action plans for effective communication, conflict, and mastering change to clients and audiences, facilitating powerful change and transformations in life and work satisfaction. Dr. B has conducted seminars and retreats and delivered keynotes for numerous associations and organizations including: Aetna, United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), Girl Scouts of CT, Vietnam Veterans of America, Aurora Foundation for Women & Girls, Ohio Bankers League, Conference of Court Public Information Officers, CT Department of Correction, NH Bankers, Ohio University, Gateway Financial Partners, MA Association of Realtors, ComputerShare, Harris Computers, Governor’s Prevention Partnership, The Phoenix, EMJ Construction, Junior League of Washington, Department of Defense, Goodwin College, Kansas Judicial System, Allied World Assurance Company, CT Society of Association Executives, Orthopedic Associates of Hartford, Glastonbury Chamber of Commerce, WirelessZone, CT Association of Boards of Education, American Massage Therapists Association (and their CT chapter), CT Apartments Association, Metacon Gun Club, CT Associated Builders & Contractors, Hartford Dental Society, Tree Care Industry Association, Clark Lavey, Bethany College, Draeger Medical Systems, The George Washington University, USA Weekend, TANGO, L-3 Communications, American Case Management Association, Greater Hartford Women’s Conference, Business Women’s Forum, Women in Business Summit, eWomen Network, Senior Executive Women’s Network, and the UConn Foundation.
She’s currently an adjunct professor in the graduate program in Organizational Leadership at Goodwin University. Raised in New England, she earned her B.S. with a concentration in human resource management from the University of Massachusetts, her M.A. in marriage and family therapy at the University of Connecticut, and her Ed.D. through the educational leadership program at the George Washington University. She worked as a professor at both The George Washington University and Goodwin University. Experienced as a volunteer-leader, she served as PTO President for four years, Girl Scout Leader for six years, and coach and coordinator for her town’s recreation soccer league for a decade. She routinely volunteers for Junior Achievement, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Lasagna Love, and other causes near and dear to her heart. Dr. B’s powerful TEDx talk, “The Secret to Making Life Hurt Less,” debuted in Newport, RI in March, 2018.