Special Guests

Special Guests

While study abroad returnees are the real conference VIPs (obviously), we are so excited to have so many talented speakers, professionals, and panelists joining us. The full roster of 2017 speakers, experts, and other visiting dignitaries will be posted soon. In the meantime, check out last year’s featured guests!

Brooke Roberts

Brooke Roberts for Speaker PageBorn and raised in a sleepy farm town in rural Kansas,
after high school Brooke Roberts set out to explore the world and never looked back. She’s the founder and CEO of Yoga Travel Tree and the “Yelp for yoga” retreats, adventures, and teacher trainings around the world; the founder of Inside Study Abroad, a professional development resource for international education; and the co-founder of The Study Abroad Journal, a guided journaling experience for students abroad. Over the course of her career, Brooke has managed study abroad at a Division I university, consulted for institutions such as MIT, developed internship and academic programs abroad for universities and program providers, served as faculty for short-term international programs, and was one of the youngest female executives in the meaningful travel industry, serving as Senior Vice President of GoAbroad.com. After rising to the top of the youth travel industry, Brooke left it all behind to become a serial entrepreneur and to inspire would-be travelers and entrepreneurs to explore the road less traveled. Brooke is the host of the podcast The New Dorothy where she interviews inspiring travelers, careerists, entrepreneurs, and generally awesome people on finding your own path and choosing your own adventure. Connect with Brooke on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat as @thenewdorothy.

A preview of Brooke’s talk:

Building a career you love is tough, but study abroad program alumni have the upper hand. To land your dream job and build an exceptional career means you’ll need to be a bit of a rockstar though. Brooke outlines the key characteristics and skills of the most successful people in the world and how study abroad alumni can use their time abroad to stand-out, skip to the front of the job application queue, and build a kick ass career they love.

Congressman Chris Gibson

Bio from Congressman Gibson’s congressional website: https://gibson.house.gov/

Chris Gibson grew up in a working class family in Columbia County, in the town of Kinderhook.  The son of a union man, Chris attended Ichabod Crane public schools and was the point guard and co-captain of the high school basketball team.

At 17, Chris enlisted in the New York National Guard and later earned an ROTC Commission at nearby Siena College.  The first in his family to go to college, Chris graduated magna cum laude with a BA in history.  He later earned an MPA and PhD in government from Cornell University and is the author of Securing the State, a book on national security decision-making published in 2008.

Over the course of his 24 year Army career, Chris rose to the rank of Colonel and deployed seven times.  This included four combat tours to Iraq, and separate deployments to Kosovo, the Southwestern US for a counter-drug operation, and most recently – just prior to his retirement – Haiti where he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) during the opening month of that humanitarian relief operation.  The Secretary of the Army awarded the BCT the Superior Unit Award for their actions in Haiti.

Chris earned two Legions of Merit, four Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, the Master Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab. For their actions in Mosul in support of the first national election in the new Iraq, his Battalion Task Force earned the Valorous Unit Award. For their actions in Tal Afar during the 2nd and 3rd national elections in Iraq his Battalion and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were recognized for excellence by President George W. Bush and earned a 2nd Valorous Unit Award.

Other key assignments included tours teaching American Politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point, serving as a Congressional Fellow with US Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and completing a Hoover National Security Affairs Fellowship at Stanford University.  Chris was also the Distinguished Honor Graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College.

After retiring from the Army in 2010, Chris and his family returned home to Kinderhook and now live around the corner from where he grew up and his mom still lives.  He was elected to represent the 20th Congressional District in 2010 and re-elected in 2012 and 2014 to represent the 19th Congressional District.

In Congress, Chris serves on the House Armed Services, Agriculture, and Small Business Committees.

Chris has been married to Mary Jo, a NYS Licensed Clinical Social Worker, for 19 years and they have three children: Katie (18), Maggie (16), and Connor (14).

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