BREAKOUT 1    -    10:30 a.m.

Breakout 1: Session 1 –Discussion with the Keynote

Bonnie St. John

Paralympic Athlete and Bestselling Author




Despite having her right leg amputated at age five, St. John became the first African-American to win medals in Winter Paralympic competition, taking home a silver and two bronze medals in downhill events at the 1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria. In recognition of this historic achievement, St. John was quoted on millions of Starbucks coffee cups and was honored at the White House by President George W. Bush.

Today, St. John travels the globe as a leadership consultant, keynote speaker and facilitator for international summit conferences for senior-level executives. In 2010, St. John once again represented the United States as a member of President Obama’s official delegation to the Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

The author of seven books, St. John's most recent book, Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive and Energy, outlines a quick, easy and immediately effective program of tools and techniques to give readers a competitive edge in today's dynamic world of changes and challenges. Read more.

Breakout 1: Session 2 – EMBA Panel: “Connections with Clout – The Importance of a Career Sponsor”

As the presence of women at higher management levels continues to lag that of men, we find men more likely to have career sponsors than women. At the same time, women are more likely to have mentors. This discrepancy is critical, given that a career sponsor is a highly-placed person with the ability to influence placement in strategic assignments and advancement opportunities, while a mentor typically provides career guidance without influence.    

In this panel session, Executive MBA alumni offer insights regarding the process of finding a career sponsor and the roles expected for both the sponsor and the person who is being sponsored.

Laurie Walker

(Panel Moderator)
EMBA Program Director, Kent State College of Business Administration



Laurie Walker has worked in engineering and/or marketing roles with British Petroleum, General Motors and Nestle. In 2001, she launched a consulting practice that specialized in business plan development and marketing research. Her consulting involvement with the creation of the Kent State EMBA for Healthcare Professionals program led to an avid interest in education and lifelong learning. As director of EMBA Programs, she focuses on facilitating a learning environment that prepares business professionals for advancement in leadership positions.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School.


Marta Blase, Global Director

Marketing Communications, The Sherwin-Williams Company







Marta Blase is a multilingual marketing and sales leader with global business management experience in a variety of customer-facing functions.


A natural collaborator and consensus builder, Blase has held numerous roles of increasing management responsibilities within complex, matrixed structures in multinational organizations.


Blase has experience in a variety of functional areas, including marketing and sales strategy and operations, content marketing, digital, brand, communications and PR, customer service, and product and vendor management. Prior to her current role, she led and managed B2B marketing and sales functions at KeyBank, Diebold and Timken, in addition to her account management roles at Edward Howard & Co., the oldest U.S. public relations agency. Early in her career, she was a writer and translator for the Polish National Radio Network.

A native of Poland, Blase moved to the United States after having been awarded a Rotary Foundation Scholarship. She is a summa cum laude graduate with a Master of Arts degree in Journalism and PR, and an MBA in International Business from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.



Catherine Cook, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE


Chief Medical Director, MAXIMUS Federal Services




Cook is the Chief Medical Director at MAXIMUS Federal Services, a health and human services company, where she provides leadership and support to thousands of healthcare professionals. She helps grow lines of business providing subject matter expertise in areas such as population health, telemedicine and alternative payment models. 


Cook joined the company eight years ago as associate medical director and advanced to chief medical director. Prior to this, she began the first decade of her career as a family medicine physician and then partnered with a Massachusetts-based practice management consulting firm for the next several years serving as their medical director. She provided business expertise to physicians and hospital boards as hospital systems merged.


Cook earned a medical degree from Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton. She earned a Healthcare Executive Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Health degree from Kent State University in 2016 and 2017 respectively. She is a member of the American Association for Physician Leadership, a certified physician executive and is transitioning to a chief medical officer role for company based in Washington, D.C.



Veronica Cook-Euell


Supplier Diversity, Program Manager for Kent State University 





At Kent State, Cook-Euell is responsible for developing strategies to increase minority business representation in securing contracts, driving supplier diversity initiatives and serving as advocate and a liaison for diverse suppliers. 

She has over 14 years of experience in the area of Diversity and Inclusion working in various leadership positions in federal and local government and the non-profit sector. Cook-Euell is a recent award recipient of the 2018 Professional Perspectives Award from NAEP. Cook-Euell received an Executive MBA. from Kent State University, a Master of Arts degree in Psychology specializing in Diversity Management from Cleveland State University and a Master’s Degree from Kent State University in Special Education with specialization in American Sign Language.



Margaret Sweigert, RN, BSN, MBA









Sweigert earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Kent State University College of Nursing and a Master of Business Administration degree from Kent State University’s Executive MBA program.


Sweigert has been in healthcare more than 30 years, working in multiple facets of inpatient and outpatient care both clinically and administratively. Over the last 20 years, she has taken on increasingly complex leadership roles leading to her current role of Vice President of Service Lines in the Ambulatory Care and Clinical Service Lines Division at Summa Health System. Overseeing four Service Lines (Oncology, Orthopedics, Neurosciences and Women’s Health), Imaging Services, Rehab Services, Laboratory Services, Corporate Health Services, Weight Management Services, and the Wellness Institute - she is responsible for strategic planning and program development as well as operational efficiency and growth initiatives across the spectrum of ambulatory care services.


Breakout 1: Session 3 – “What Managers are Thinking About You”

Managers are always watching and observing you for your potential. This session gives powerful insights and practical tools about behaviors that make you hirable and promotable.  Like opening a secret file filled with intelligence, Okey shares the unwritten rules and insights she learned and observed that can make or break your career. She was the first woman to hold the position of Associate General Counsel at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company since its founding in 1898 and to serve on the leadership team of North America, the company's largest strategic business unit, with roughly $9 billion in sales. Throughout her career, Okey learned how managers evaluated an employee's potential and learned what could hold them back.  She now reveals the unwritten and subtle behaviors that managers look for when making decisions about you.


Deborah Okey


President of Professional Presence






Okey is president of Professional Presence and is an impactful speaker, coach and author. She was the first woman to serve as Associate General Counsel for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company since its founding in 1898, and she held three such roles in her 20-year career at the company. 


Okey started at Goodyear as a litigation attorney and then became the first woman to hold the position of Associate General Counsel for Litigation. In 2010, she became the first woman to serve on the leadership team of the largest strategic business unit of Goodyear – North America. She joined with the leadership team in achieving the impressive turnaround of the North America business from a $300 million loss in 2009 to nearly $1 billion in segment operating income in 2014.


In each of these roles, she learned valuable insights and gives practical tips and tools for success and for advancing and managing a career path. She has long been committed to helping and mentoring people at all levels to achieve success and advancement in their careers. She has been a keynote speaker in areas such as Developing Your Professional Presence, Demonstrating Strategic Thinking, Creating Relationships, Managing Your Own Career and Being Aware of Your Brand.