About our Speakers

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Mercedes Ramirez Johnson

Keynote Speaker

In 1995, Mercedes Ramirez Johnson narrowly survived a commercial airplane crash that killed 160 people, including her parents. She presents her proprietary Second Chance Living concept, an innovative mindset and approach with a proven track record, to organizations such as General Electric, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, NASA, Chevron, and the various branches of the US Armed Forces. Before becoming a speaker, Mercedes spent nearly a decade in high-level sales in the pharmaceutical and medical software industries. A record-breaking, multimillion-dollar producer, she became the youngest female and sole Latino account executive at Cerner Corporation. She is an active leader in philanthropic organizations advocating for children and children’s health initiatives, notably for Make-A-Wish and The National MPS Society.

Mercedes and her story have been the subject of considerable national and international media coverage. Her extensive media experience includes appearances on The BBC, National

Geographic Channel, Discovery Health Channel and as a recurring guest on numerous nationally syndicated daytime talk shows on NBC and ABC. In addition, numerous national magazines and major-market newspapers have run cover stories and special-interest pieces about her, and she was recognized as one of the country’s top young Hispanic up-and-comers by People Magazine’s Spanish edition, People en Español. Mercedes and her husband live in the Dallas area with their four sons.

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Dr. David Michaels

David Michaels, PhD, MPH is Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of George Washington University. From 2009 until January 2017, he was United States Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, the longest serving Assistant Secretary in US OSHA's history.

As Assistant Secretary, Dr. Michaels worked to strengthen the agency's enforcement in high risk industries, improve OSHA's whistleblower protection program, promote common sense worker protection programs and standards, expand compliance assistance provided to small employers, and increase outreach to the vulnerable populations who are at greatest risk for work-related injury and illness. He also increased OSHA's focus and capabilities in the areas of data analysis and program evaluation.

Under his leadership, OSHA issued new health standards protecting workers exposed to silica and beryllium, and new safety regulations on fall protection, confined spaces, cranes and derricks, shipyards and electricity generation and distribution. Dr. Michaels updated OSHA’s injury and illness surveillance and tracking requirements, making workplace amputations and hospitalizations sentimental health events that now must be reported to OSHA.

From 1998 to 2001, Dr. Michaels served as Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety and Health, charged with protecting the workers, community residents and environment in and around the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities. He was the chief architect of the historic initiative to compensate nuclear weapons workers who were sickened by exposure to radiation, beryllium and other hazards. Since enactment in 2000, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program has provided more than $15 billion in benefits.

In 2006, Dr. Michaels was awarded the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, and, in 2009, the John P. McGovern Science and Society Award given by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, for his work in scientific integrity and for gaining compensation for nuclear weapons workers.

He is a graduate of the City College of New York, and holds an MPH (Master of Public Health) and PhD from Columbia University.

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Adele Abrams

Adele Abrams is an attorney and Certified Mine Safety Professional who heads the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC, a multi-attorney firm with offices in the DC area, Denver and WV. The firm represents employers nationwide in OSHA and MSHA litigation, and also provides consultation services on safety and employment law. Adele is a graduate of the George Washington University National Law Center and is admitted to the state bars of MD, DC and PA and multiple federal courts including the US Supreme Court. She is on the faculties of University of Colorado, and Catholic University of America, where she instructs on Employment and Labor Law. She is also the co-author of multiple books on occupational safety and employment law.


Cheryl Ambrose

Cheryl Ambrose has served as the United Association’s Health, Safety and Environmental Administrator since May 2017. In this role, she helps safeguard the health and safety of all UA members through shaping and influencing training, policies, and regulatory standards to promote a strong health, safety, and environmental culture on an industry-wide level. She serves on various national safety and health committees including the North America’s Building Trades Union (NABTU) Safety and Health Committee, ANSI A10 Committee, National Safety Council Labor Advisory Committee, AFL-CIO Safety and Health Committee, and the NABTU Opioid Task Force, to name a few.

Cheryl has over 24 years of safety, health and risk management experience in the commercial/industrial construction field. She has developed and managed safety and health programs for numerous contractors. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Columbia Southern University, where she graduated with highest honors. She holds both CHST (Construction Health and Safety Technician) and OHST (Occupational Health and Safety Technician) certifications through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP), as well as many other industry credentials. Cheryl is an active member of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP). She also served on the Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Construction Safety Association.

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Mike deSimon

Mike deSimon is the President and co-owner of Mosaic Learning, an interactive online education and training development firm specializing in interactive media,  virtual simulations, and online learning systems. Mike is also a hands-on multimedia expert with years of experience designing and programming for the web, producing video, and developing interactive computer-based learning experiences for adult students in all areas of life, from government and defense industry clients to corporate, Union, and non-profit agencies. Mike has presented at many conventions and conferences on subjects including active learning environments, blended learning classrooms, computer mediated learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, and other technologies in online learning.


Rick Devine

Rick Devine has an extensive background in mechanical work that has involved design engineering, manufacturing, pre-fabrication, shipbuilding, nuclear, power generation, water utility and heavy construction programs since 1983. His experience base ranges from project preplanning to facility and site operations. He has supported programs with varied roles as a team member and leader. Rick is an advocate for workplace safety at local, regional and national levels, serving our industry’s people as an instructor and mentor.


Peter Guske

Peter Guske is a licensed physical therapist with 24 years clinical experience treating back injuries in the hospital, out-patient and home care setting. He is a former competitive bodybuilder and founded his own fitness gym before obtaining his BS in Physical Therapy from Wayne State University, Detroit. He worked in Los Angeles developing the first rehabilitation protocols for Nautilus Sports/MedX Industries and then opened his own rehabilitation clinic in Florida. He has gone on to build The Back Saver System, the only comprehensive, low-cost, single-source, employee wellness training program, which actually demonstrates how you can put your own back, “back in” and he has instructed over 21,000 individuals across the nation for a multitude of employers.

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Chris Haslinger

Christopher Haslinger is the Director of Education and Training for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union. He is responsible for the administration and development of all UA training initiatives, certification programs, training department staff and related activities.  Chris served his apprenticeship as an HVACR technician with Local Union 50 in Toledo, Ohio.  Chris joined the UA Training Department in 2009 as a Training Specialist.  He was appointed as the UA Director of Training in 2012 and has led the department since then. He serves as the Chairman of the International Training Fund, the President of the International Pipe Trades Joint Training Committee Corporation and Committee Director on the Apprenticeship and Training Committee for the North America’s Building Trades Union.  Chris also serves as a Board Member on the Local Workforce Development Board. Chris has an Associate’s degree in Industrial Training, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Labor Education and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.


Anthony Huey

Anthony Huey is a highly-rated speaker who offers session attendees pragmatic communications tools, tips and techniques they can use immediately. Anthony’s 20-year career includes tenures as a news reporter, magazine senior editor, crisis management specialist, media relations consultant and executive speech coach. He owns Reputation Management Associates, one of the nation’s leading communications training and crisis consulting companies. Anthony has presented more than 2,500 media, crisis and presentational skills training workshops, seminars and speeches in his career. His past client work includes a wide variety of advertising, public relations and communications initiatives for hundreds of trade associations, municipalities and companies, including Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Eli Lilly, Nationwide Insurance, The Kroger Company, and Procter & Gamble. Anthony holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University.


Don Jackson

Don Jackson is the Corporate Safety Director for W. Soule & Company. As a member of the Company’s Executive Management Team he provides corporate leadership for both SH&E and Human Resources. Don obtained his BS (Industrial Health and Safety) & MS (Safety Management) from Oakland University in Rochester, MI and a MBA from Western Michigan University.

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David Kaz

David Kaz is Director of Sales for CareOnSite, a Tang & Company occupational health services company that has delivered injury care for manufacturers, refineries, utilities, and other businesses for 40 years. In addition to physical clinics, medical department staffing, and telephonic nurse triage and case management, CareOnSite is a pioneer in the use of telemedicine for occupational health. Prior to David joining CareOnSite in 2015, the company had grown almost exclusively by word of mouth through its unparalleled reputation as a leader in occupational health. David’s expertise is in helping companies bring their products and services to new markets and has helped CareOnSite expand its client base in new vertical industries as well as broader geographical locations. In his 25+ career in sales, David has helped startup companies (including his own for 11 years) gain customers and assisted mature companies in launching new products and services. David is excited to be a team member at a company of the caliber of CareOnSite that consistently delivers high quality injury care services to workers while at the same time, helps companies reduce workers comp costs and unnecessary OSHA recordable injuries.

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Chad Lingerfelt

Chad brings to Werner 30 plus years of expertise in the Safety field.  He retired with over 20 years in the Air Force where he received his initial training in Ground (OSHA), Weapons and Flight Safety.  He has a vast amount of knowledge and experience with Fall Protection, NFPA 70E ARC Flash, Lock-Out/Tag-Out and Confined Space.  Chad is highly qualified in management, training and building customer relationships. He spent the past 10 ½ years as the Safety/Sales Manager for Ensco Supply (Construction) in addition to being the Branch Manager of the Raleigh, NC office.  Chad has provided training to many large companies across the US, Canada and Mexico.  His work ethics are held in very high regards along with his moral values.  Working with and helping people both in a business environment and in the community has always been a success, and more importantly, something he enjoys.  He always asserts himself to his fullest potential in all he does. Chad resides in Spring Lake, NC with his wife Tammie.

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Jim Maddux

Jim Maddux is the former Director of Construction Safety at OSHA.  He helped write many OSHA standards and has a lot of experience with all of OSHA’s programs.  He is now working part-time providing training, consulting and coaching for industry and government.

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Michael Melnik

Michael Melnik is an occupational therapist with a master’s degree in exercise physiology.  He is the owner and president of Prevention Plus, a company that focuses on helping organizations “Energize” their people, their workplace and their safety programs.  For more than 30 years he has presented his practical, high energy and humorous approach to more than a half million participants around the world.  He is the author and talent in several award winning injury prevention videos. Clients include Best Buy, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Coca Cola, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, PetSmart and many more. His goal is to work with companies that want to create a safe, healthy and productive workplace AND who want to enjoy the process of making it happen.

Mike Perozek

Mike Perozek

Mike Perozek heads up Smartvid.io's sales, marketing, partner, and customer success programs. Mike is passionate about helping customers adopt new technologies that directly impact the bottom line. Prior to Smartvid.io, Mike built sales and customer success teams at leading vertical SaaS companies Buildium LLC (real estate) and Bullhorn (recruiting/CRM). Mike has degrees from Stanford University and MIT Sloan and when he's not working he's hanging out with his family, friends, and dog and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

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Erica Poff

Erica Poff, MA, CAE, IOM, is the Strategic and Global Relations Director for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). In this role, Erica works closely with professional safety organizations, industry and labor groups, trade associations, schools and universities, and government agencies to increase BCSP’s recognition and influence in the certification of occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) practitioners worldwide. Erica brings experience and leadership in not-for-profit advocacy, organization management, and international relations. Erica holds bachelor's and master's degrees in Political Science from Ohio University, and is a member of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), the Indiana Society of Associate Executives (ISAE), and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).


Josh Rizzo

Josh Rizzo is an energetic leader who works with Werner Co (global manufacturer of climbing, safety, and storage products) where he has North American responsibilities in leadership, sales, and marketing. Josh believes in bringing people together, building teams, and building culture. Josh has built and led successful teams in Division I Sports, the military, combat, and business — he believes all teams thrive with diversity and rest upon three equal pillars: preparation, communication, and fun. In addition to Josh’s success in business, he is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal; serving in Iraq as a Company Commander in 2005 and 2006. Josh was also the recipient of the 2015 Invisible Hero award for PTSD United, the 501(c)3 he founded with his wife to help people dealing with post traumatic stress. Atop Josh’s accolades is the Doubleday Society Award for Leadership, which he received as a senior at West Point; an award given only on an honorary basis. Josh lives in Bend, Oregon with his wife, Brittney and their two dogs Bixby and Benham. They enjoy nature, sports, creating, and most importantly time outdoors with friends.


Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts is National Director Workers Compensation and Ergonomic Services, CNA Risk Control. He is an experienced presenter and facilitator of seminar and webinar based education processes.  He has authored many articles and white papers that have appeared in various magazines and websites on ergonomics, lean, safety, and process improvement methods.  He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Safety and Health from West Virginia Institute of Technology.  Mr. Roberts is a Certified Safety Professional by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Certified Industrial Ergonomist by the Oxford Research Institute and a Registered Risk Engineer by Underwriters Laboratory.