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Executive Leadership Conference 2024 Speakers


Dr. Melissa Furman - Career Potential

Dr. Melissa Furman’s passion for guiding individuals with career, professional, and leadership development inspired her to launch Career Potential to help individuals achieve and organizations succeed. As the owner of Career Potential, Dr. Furman delivers highly engaging sessions at state, national, and international conferences in in addition to providing consulting and training services. Dr. Furman is not your usual “academic”. She utilizes her research and subject-matter expertise related to generational diversity, unconscious bias, career and leadership development, and emotional intelligence to have a positive, practical impact on organizations and individuals alike. Dr. Furman served as the assistant dean and currently serves as a faculty member atthe James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. She also serves as an affiliate faculty member for the Professional Education division at GA Tech and the Kenan-Flagler Executive Education division at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Furman has previously served in a variety of career services roles at other universities such as Emory University, The University of Georgia, and Johns Hopkins University. She obtained her Doctorate of Business and Masters of Science in Professional Counseling from Georgia State University and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Susquehanna University.


Mary Marshall VanSant - University of North Alabama

Mary-Marshall VanSant, CCP, holds the position of the Director of the Center for Learning and Professional Development at the University of North Alabama (UNA). The Center serves as the University’s primary means of extending its educational and training resources to the non-traditional and to employers seeking updated workplace skills and the improvement of productivity knowledge.

VanSant has been involved with Strategic Doing since 2014 and serves as both a Certified Strategic Doing™ Workshop Leader and a Certified Strategic Doing™ Fellow.  She has led or been a part of numerous Strategic Doing workshops, trainings and speaking engagements throughout the region.  VanSant the Chief Doing Officer for the core team of the Shoals Shift pathfinder project which leverages assets to grow local industries such as software, ecommerce internet selling, information technology and industries based on the use of digital technology.   She is also an AEM Cube certified practitioner.

Prior to joining the staff at UNA, VanSant served as Vice President of Investor Relations and Public Policy at the Shoals Chamber of Commerce.  At the Chamber she successfully led a capital campaign “The Rhythm of Commerce” raising 2.3 million dollars.  Prior to her Chamber position she had a successful career in pharmaceutical and corporate sales.

VanSant graduated Cum Laude from the University of North Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Communication.


Teri Smiley, IOM, GCCE - Starfish Partnerships, LLC

Teri Smiley, Owner of Starfish Partnerships, LLC has had a career at the Walton Chamber of Commerce serving as President for over 28 years.  She began this side business three years ago and officially launched in late 2022.   The name inspired from an Alex and Ani bracelet featuring a Starfish emblem.  The card with the bracelet read “The starfish is a resilient creature that constantly regenerates, intuitively navigates the sea and directly impacts its ecological community.”

Just like the Starfish, we must have the intuition and attentiveness to lead ourselves and those around us.  Leadership demands resilience, continuous personal and team development and growth.  It is imperative that we dedicate time for this development through self-discovery and training.  Teri genuinely cares about you, and knows that building robust communities, organizations and businesses requires great leadership and a collaborative team.

Experience & Skillsets Include: 28+Years as President of a local chamber, Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach, Certified John Maxwell Team Member, Team Building & Facilitation, Leadership Training and Management, Coaching & Consulting, Past Chair, 2021 US Chamber Southeast Institute, Past Chair, 2010-2011 GACCE, IOM Graduate Year 2000, Georgia Certified Chamber Executive Designation 2008 and one of the greatest honors, GACCE Executive of the Year Recipient 2015.

Teri is married to Kenny Smiley, has 3 adult children, 4 beautiful granddaughters, and a super cute grandson. The oldest granddaughter, Cali, has been with Teri and Kenny since birth and is now a bonus daughter after Kenny & Teri adopted her.  In Teri’s spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, learning, training and traveling.



Jim Page serves as Executive Vice President of MartinFederal Consulting (MartinFed), a Huntsville-based government contractor that provides advanced technical solutions to federal agencies such as NASA, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. He leads the company’s government relations efforts, manages corporate, community, and organizational partnerships, oversees strategic marketing and communications, and provides leadership for mergers, acquisitions, and integrations. Jim also serves as President of XCEL Engineering, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of MartinFed located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Prior to joining MartinFed, Jim spent more than 20 years in the chamber of commerce industry, most recently as President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Under his leadership, the chamber was named the 2021 Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Jim served as Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and is a past recipient of both the Alabama Chamber Professional of the Year Award and the Jamie Wallace Award. Preceding his tenure in Tuscaloosa, he served nine years as Vice President of Public Policy and Business Development at the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.

Jim is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management (IOM) and holds the professional designations of Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) and Alabama Accredited Chamber Executive (AACE). He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and marketing from the University of North Alabama and serves as a member of its Board of Trustees.


Craig A. Johnston, AMLA Director of Workforce Development Training & Advocacy

Craig is an experienced senior leader in various areas of corporate and community leadership, leadership coaching, training & development, and business & quality management.  Craig is driven by the idea that training builds knowledge, knowledge builds power, and knowledge with action builds success. His passion for the growth, development, and success of people within their role, their community, and beyond is what drives his success. Prior to joining AMLA, he served as President & CEO / Executive Director of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and continues to serve the Chamber and community as a member of the Chamber Board of Directors. His passion and work ethic are clearly shown through the various programs, community events, training activities, and leadership development he has delivered throughout his career.  Craig is also Senior Pastor of Life Center Fellowship church in Moulton, AL, which he founded in 2020.

As Director of Workforce Development Training & Advocacy for AMLA, Craig is focused on setting and achieving the organization’s long- term vision to help develop the workforce within the tourism industry. He is responsible for the development and implementation of various training programs and certifications to help improve the overall competencies, effectiveness, and behavioral results that directly impact the tourism industry in North Alabama.

Craig attended Mobile University and has achieved numerous training certifications/designations over the years. He received his Flawless Delivery certification from Calhoun Community College.


Morri Yancy, IOM, President & CEO - Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce

Morri Yancy has served as the leader of the Lake Guntersville Chamber of Commerce for over 24 years and has over 28 years of Chamber of Commerce experience. As the President of the Chamber, she is passionate about growing her community and organization through strategic planning, creating a strong network of community connectedness, and goal setting for continual growth opportunities.

Morri is a native of Guntersville and began her Chamber of Commerce career in 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University and an IOM designation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Morri has experience in leading classes, seminars, and small group facilitation in the areas of Leadership, Management, Strategic Planning, and Event Planning. In 2017 Morri was awarded the Jamie Wallace Award from the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA), the highest honor given in the Chamber of Commerce profession in Alabama.  The award is presented for outstanding service, dedication, and professionalism.

Morri is a Past Chair of CCAA; a Past-Chair of the Curriculum Committee for the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM); she also served as a Board member and faculty member for IOM; she is a member of the Business Council of Alabama Board of Directors; a graduate of Leadership Alabama Class XXIX; a graduate and Board Member of the Marshall County Leadership Challenge; and Board Member of the Marshall County Tourism & Sports Office.

Morri is married to David Murphy; a Chief Warrant Officer in the US Army and they reside in Guntersville with their cat (Cammie) and 3 dogs (Scrappy, Rosco, and Sadie).

Adam Burchell

Adam B. Burchell, Partner - Johnson, Paseur & Medley, LLC

Adam B. Burchell joined Johnson, Paseur & Medley, LLC, and became a partner in 2013. Adam brings a variety of skill sets to his clients, and his diversity serves his clients well in the courtroom and the board room. Adam maintains an active contract-based practice that ranges from transactional work and entity formation and governance to litigation. Before entering the practice of law, Adam served in a management role with a local healthcare company.

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