Leadership Conference Speakers

Bio: Casey O'Brien, a native of St Paul, Minnesota, is a five time cancer survivor and widely recognized motivational speaker. After being diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, an extremely rare form of bone cancer, at the age of 13, his main goal in life has become inspiring others. After having the cancer relapse in both of his lungs in high school, he made varsity football debut as a Placeholder. He checked into the hospital for chemotherapy the following morning. He later walked on to play football as a Placeholder for Coach PJ Fleck and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Casey played in his first career Big 10 football game at Rutgers on October 19th, 2019. His first play and moment shared with Coach Fleck were covered by ESPN, ABC World News, The Today Show, and more. He spoke in front of a national audience at the 2019 ESPN College Football Awards Show after receiving the Disney Spirit Award for the most inspiring story in all of college football. He was the keynote speaker in front of 2,000 people at the 2019 Big 10 Media Days in Chicago, and his speech has now been viewed over 100,000 times. He looks to spread his positivity, unbelievable resiliency, and motivation to succeed to every group he speaks to.

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Casey O'Brien

Motivational Speaker

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Sara Grafstrom


Bio: Sara is the current Director of State and Federal Policy at ARRM. In that capacity she is responsible for tracking all legislative activity and changes that impact ARRM members and advancing ARRM's legislative agenda. Prior to this role, Sara worked as ARRM's Grassroots Coordinator, organizing ARRM's grassroots advocacy efforts in support of our legislative priorities. Prior to coming to ARRM, Sara worked at the Minnesota House of Representatives as a Legislative Assistant and on various political campaigns during the 2006, 2008 and 2010 campaign cycles.

Bio: Phil Griffin began his career as a Staff Assistant during the first term of Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich. He spent the next four years as staff for the House Higher Education Division and the House Health and Welfare Committee before taking a position lob-bying for the Minnesota Medical Association. Phil was then hired by Physicians Health Plan (PHP) where he worked for the health plan, its management company UnitedHealthcare and PHP’s successor Medica. From 1993 to 2001 Phil was Vice President of Public Policy for PreferredOne. As the principal and owner of Griffin Government Consulting Phil represented American’s Health Insurance Plans, Johnson & Johnson, Minnesota Association of Community Health Centers, March of Dimes and others for 18 years. In January of 2019 Phil brought his current clients to Ewald Consulting where he joined the Government Relations Group. Phil is a graduate of Hamline University and William Mitchell College of Law.

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Phil Griffin

Ewald Consulting

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Donna Martin


Bio: Donna Martin has worked in the field of providing supports and services to people with developmental disabilities for over 30 years.  She began as a weekend DSP while in college and over time, she has held positions at every level of service provision.  Most recently, Donna had been serving as the Executive Director of Community Provider Network of Rhode Island for the past fourteen years. CPNRI is an association of twenty-two member agencies that provide supports and services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Donna is a long-standing member of ANCOR and most recently has served as the State Association Executives’ representative to the Board of Directors. Donna has a BA from Providence College and a M.Ed. from Rhode Island College.  She is also a graduate of Leadership RI – Epsilon II, Class of 2009.

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Jason A. Hunt

Eye Squared Leadership

Bio: Jason Hunt makes it easier for people to like and follow their leaders. He is the founder and CEO of Eye Squared Leadership and he has had the pleasure of working with companies large and small. Jason's first major leadership role was to run a branch of 100 church members in outer Siberia when he was 19. Since then, he has served in a number of leadership positions, including principal of a school. He has a master’s degree in leadership, is certified by the John Maxwell Leadership Institute, and is the author of The Other Side: 5 Rules for Leading with Influence. Jason lives in Owatonna, Minnesota with his wife and four kids.


  • Becoming a Person of Influence| July 14, 2021 @ 11:00am - 12:00pm
  • Lead from Where You Stand: How to succeed as a middle level manager| July 14, 2021 @ 1:00pm - 2:00pm
  • Leading vs. Managing: When to do what and why | July 14, 2021 @ 2:15pm - 3:15pm

Bio: Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, comedian, motivational speaker, Huffington Post Contributor, and cast member of The Fashion Hero television show airing on Amazon Prime. She is also author of Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale, The Land of If Only, The Story Formula, and The Gutsy Girls Pocket Guide to Public Speaking. She was a featured entertainer for Holland America Cruise Lines, keynote speaker for the International Toastmasters Convention, and has keynoted major conferences and corporate events from coast to coast.

Kelly’s wacky wit and powerful stories have charmed hearts and tickled funny bones for over 15 years. In addition to her role as a funny motivational speaker, Kelly teaches people how she does it by sharing what she has learned about connecting and engaging to have more influence in business, through the use of one tool – strategic storytelling. Sharing her own powerful journey through story and the formula she discovered, you come to that magical place where the art of story meets the business of persuasion.

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Kelly Swanson

Award-Winning Storyteller

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Natasha Merz

Minnesota Department of Human Services

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James Robilotta

Keynote Speaker

Coming Soon

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Joe Macbeth


Coming Soon