Customized each year to have our panel of experts discuss the most impactful issues affecting lodging properties. This year's updated format features four experts who will each address a specific hot topic.
Learn the latest on hotel development, human resources, company culture, and education. 
Dr. Lynea LaVoy
Madison College

Dr. LaVoy is the Program Director and full-time instructor for the Hospitality Management program at Madison College and a doctoral liaison with Edgewood College. She also leads the Hospitality Service Champions and Leadership Academies through Madison College.
Skip Harless
Hilton Madison Monona Terrace

Skip Harless is the General Manager of the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace.  Skip joined Marcus Hotels in May 2014 as the resident manager of the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa after more than 24 years with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.  

Brandon McConnell
IDM Hospitality 

Brandon McConnell is the VP of Human Resources and Legal for IDM Hospitality. His experience with both branded and independent properties has afforded a unique perspective of the operational challenges faced on a daily basis to an array of business models. 
Jonathan Webster
Geronimo Hospitality Group

Jonathan Webster is the VP of Lodging at Geronimo Hospitality Group, where he oversees hotel operations for all Geronimo Hospitality lodging properties including Hotel Goodwin in Beloit, the Delafield Hotel, Ironworks Hotel in Beloit and Indianapolis, and Bottleworks Hotel in Indianapolis. 

Lodging properties contend with an ever-changing legal landscape at the federal, state, and local level which impact a wide range of workplace issues. Employment law expert Andria Lure Ryan will share her knowledge and expertise in providing legal services to hospitality clients, focusing on the most pressing legal issues. 
Andria Lure Ryan
Fisher & Phillips LLP 

Andria Lure Ryan is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP and serves as the chair of the firm’s Hospitality Industry Practice Group. She represents employers throughout the United States in defending discrimination and harassment cases, as well as handling traditional labor matters. 


Discover how to accelerate your thought leadership and inspire others toward greater success. In this executive-level keynote, change and leadership expert Robert Ian will discuss how to crystalize your focus and succeed in challenging times by learning to anticipate the future–and act on it in advance. Awards luncheon attendees will learn to embrace, conquer, and lead change during this entertaining and magical keynote. 

Robert Ian
Change Management International

Robert is CEO of Change Management International, a research, consulting, and marketing firm that monitors business, economic, and world changes to help clients align and redirect the forces of rapid change into solution-based outcomes. He helps individuals, teams and organizational leaders embrace, conquer and lead change.


There are many points in the legislative process at which you can become more involved – from drafting of a bill to its passage and enactment into law. Our panel of experts will share tips on how to be an effective advocate for your industry and answer questions about the most pressing issues impacting lodging properties. 

Travis Cutler
Marriott International

Travis Cutler is a Government relations professional with nine years of experience representing Fortune 500 companies before government officials, industry,  and community leaders. Currently, Travis serves as Senior Manager of State Government Affairs for Marriott International. 

Troy Flanagan
American Hotel & Lodging Association
Troy Flanagan serves as Vice President of Government affairs and industry relations for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. He brings over 15 years of experience to the role as a policy advocate who works closely with AHLA’s partner state associations and industry allies on issues critical to the hotel industry.
Kathi Kilgore
WH&LA and Swandby/Kilgore Associates

Kathi Kilgore has worked as the contract lobbyist for the WH&LA since 2002. She has worked on key issues including room tax reform, school start date protection, protecting the Tourism Budget, short term rental compliance, and more. 
Scott Nowak

Scott Nowak is Senior Manager of State and Local Government Affairs for Hilton. Since joining the company in 2017, Scott has managed Hilton’s corporate legislative and regulatory advocacy priorities, as well as government and industry relations efforts, at the state and local level throughout the United States. 


Tourism is an integral part of the Wisconsin economy – generating millions in tax receipts, and its broad range of employment creation provides jobs that support the state’s economic health. Wisconsin’s Tourism Secretary-Designee Sara Meany will be presenting the state of the Wisconsin tourism industry, her goals for the Department of Tourism, and how she’s leveraging her background to raise Wisconsin’s profile as a destination.

Secretary-Designee Sara Meany
Wisconsin Department of Tourism

Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney built her marketing and leadership expertise through a wide variety of industries and global experiences. In 2019, Meaney was appointed as Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.


In this talk, Paul takes you through a journey to understand the hotel industry from the perspective of the Customer Journey. He will explore in great detail what is working and what is not for Hotel Owner/Managers based on actual evaluations. Plus, Paul will provide an exclusive look into his new model TotalCX, and use it to compare the hotel industry experience to other great experiences outside the hotel industry... while uncovering the secrets you can use to create that added advantage in your business!

Paul Cardis
The Cardis Group 

Paul Cardis is an author and Founder of CX Thought Leader and the Cardis Group. Paul's work has been highlighted in a variety of publications including Time, MSN, Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch and Yahoo.



Preparing employees for an active threat situation can appear to be a daunting challenge. In the current political landscape, it is more important than ever to know how to respond to an active threat incident – including active shooters and workplace violence. Learn to recognize and understand the current threat environment, identify pre-incident indicators, and develop a safer environment for your employees and guests. 

John E. Busch
U.S. Department of Homeland Security 

Mr. Busch serves the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the Protective Security Advisor (PSA) for the State of Wisconsin. Prior to this appointment, he served for 3 years as the PSA for Northern Illinois and the City of Chicago. 


Flat organizations are all the rage, but are they truly effective? What is the ‘right’ way to structure your team? In this session, we will present findings of a cutting-edge meta-analysis of hierarchy and team performance. Dan Ritter and Stephen Utech from Ilumyx will incorporate this analysis into real-world, data-driven examples of organizations that have successfully built cultures on a foundation of team and collaboration. Learn from their ground-breaking research and leave with tips on how to create teams that are built to work for you.

Dan Ritter

Dan is the Director of People Analytics at Illumyx. He uses data to bring people together, understands how teams get work done, and optimizes workplace culture. Dan is a former logistics manager who led operations from last place rankings to top of class. 
Stephen Utech 

Steve’s background in the hard sciences and family dynamics inspired him to combine data and people as he entered the field of culture development 10 years ago.  An entrepreneur at heart, he has spent the past 5 years developing Illumyx.


After the closing session of the 2019 Wisconsin Conference, join the Wisconsin Women in Lodging to connect with your industry peers and learn from our panel of industry leaders. Meet women who are excelling in our ever-changing industry! Learn how they gained the confidence, ability, and passion to thrive within their organizations.

Shawn Dortman
American Club & Carriage House and Inn on Woodlake 

Shawn is a hands-on leader who delights in delivering gracious experiences. She began her career at Kohler Co. more than two decades ago as a team leader in international customer service. In her current role she oversees housekeeping, front desk, and guest services for all three Kohler properties.
Erin Levzow
Marcus Hotels & Resorts 

Erin is responsible for providing executive leadership and management of divisional strategies to include marketing, e-Commerce, customer insight, loyalty, and PR. Erin was honored with the 2015 Top 25 Women to Watch in Mobil Marketing Award.
Brooke Turner
North Central Group 

Brooke started as an intern with North Central Group in May 2014 and worked her way up to her current leadership position. As the Regional Digital Sales Manager, she assists hotels with achieving and exceeding budgeted top line room revenue.
Peggy Williams-Smith
Marcus Hotel & Resorts

Peggy Williams-Smith is Senior Vice President of SafeHouse Restaurants.Williams-Smith joined Marcus Hotels & Resorts in 1997 as a Catering Manager with the Hilton Milwaukee. During her career with the company, she served in a variety of positions, and most recently, Corporate Vice President of Food & Beverage.