Ted Schick

Professional Speaker and Trainer
Schick Corporate Learning

Ted Schick is a retired Naval officer who rose from the enlisted ranks. He has been leading people for more than 30 years. Schick has 26 years of teaching experience, from US Navy instructor to high school teacher to corporate trainer to owner of Schick Corporate Learning.

Schick earned a Bachelor of Arts in business from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a teaching certificate from Bemidji State University. He received his Master of Education degree from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with his final thesis, “Mentoring in a Corporate Environment.”

Schick is active in his community, involved with Mentor Duluth, Spirit Mountain Ski Patrol, Animal Allies Humane Society and Cloquet’s Friends of Animals. In his spare time, Schick is a stand-up comedian, fitness instructor and triathlete.

Audrey Ayers

Founder and Head Coach
Harmony Group Consulting

Dr. Audrey E. Ayers has led conflict resolution workshops for senior military spouses in the Command and Team Spouse Development Program, Women in Construction conference, the Safety Summit, women’s leadership teams, Kappa Delta sorority’s Confident Leader Experience, the Association of Talent Development, The Leavenworth Council for Child Abuse Prevention and the Student Leadership Conference at the University of North Georgia.  

Ayers earned a Ph.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership, researching conflict resolution and has mediated small claims cases for the court system in Kansas. She is a military spouse of 24 years and is the mother of four children.  

Dawn Moninger

Director of Environmental, Safety and Health
J.D. Heiskell

Dawn Moninger is an accomplished environmental, health and safety professional who has dedicated 24 significantly impactful years to the EHS field.  
As a 22-year Air Force veteran, she has worked around the world with an extensive range of personnel, missions and environments.   
Continuing to demonstrate her commitment to the core value of environmental stewardship and sending people home safely every day, Dawn’s mission finds her at J.D. Heiskell & Co. as their Corporate EHS Director. 

May 8-9, 2024

Shannon Overland

Principal Consultant

As a principal consultant with DEKRA, Shannon Overland delivers expert leadership and management consulting services to a diverse group of leading national and multinational corporations. Through her work, she has been intimately involved in increasing productivity, improving bottom line results and enhancing client competitiveness through the delivery of best in class training and coaching programs.

For 30 years, Overland has partnered with major clients in the forest, manufacturing, transportation, utility and oil and gas sectors to deliver services in leadership development, organizational change, executive coaching and the development and implementation of safety management systems.

Sarah Fakhari

Director of Global Capital Strategy (Ag Business)
CHS Inc.

Sarah Fakhari is the Director of Global Capital Strategy (Ag Business) at CHS Inc. – a Fortune 100 company and the largest farmer-owned cooperative in the USA. She began her career in Agriculture when she started with CHS in 2017 as the Director of Terminal Operations, and has spent more than 15 years of her career working in some of the world’s busiest ports and with a variety of commodities including oil, gas, chemicals, coal, coke, fertilizer, grain, etc. Sarah has a BBA from the University of Toledo (Ohio, USA) and an MBA from GISMA Business School (Hannover, Germany).

Mark Mears

Chief Operating Officer

Marc grew up on a small family farm in New England where his passion for agriculture and a fondness of rural communities was nurtured from a young age.  He left New England at the age of 17 to attend school at Texas A&M University where he earned a BS degree in Agricultural Systems Management.  While Marc and his wife treasure their New England roots, they have lived and worked in the West and Midwest for the past 32 years and consider themselves to be Midwesterners. 

Marc is the Chief Operating Officer for AgState, the organization formed through the merger of First Coop Association and Alceco/AgPartners in September 2021.  Before joining AgState, Marc served for 30 years in various managerial, commercial, and operational roles in Cargill, including Vice President of Operations for North America Grain, Cotton, and Crop Inputs.  Marc’s additional experience includes service on numerous boards of for-profit Ag businesses, as well as volunteer service on several non-profit boards.  Throughout his career, Marc has developed a deep appreciation for the importance of values, particularly the value of Safety, in leading and building teams and organizations.

John Caupert 

Executive Director

John Caupert grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Southern Illinois. After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Agribusiness Economics and his Master’s Degree in Agribusiness Policy, John embarked on his career in both for profit and nonprofit agribusiness. 

John has more than three decades of experience in the agriculture and biorenewables industries. Under John’s leadership, as Executive Director of the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center, he directed the commercialization of more than 80 technologies into the commercial marketplace. Those technologies generate more than $7 billion per year in annual revenue. 

John’s expertise has made him a sought-after voice, conducting speaking engagements to a diverse range of audiences. John is frequently called upon to educate, motivate and inform members of academia, industry, and policymakers about the latest news, needs and opportunities in the bioeconomy. Three times John has been recognized as an industry leader in the Business Journal’s “Who’s Who in Energy”. 

In December 2023, John was named Executive Director of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS), where he provides leadership and direction, while guiding the international activities and events of the member driven GEAPS organization and the GEAPS Media Group. 

John and his wife Jodee live in the thriving farm community of Waterloo, IL where they both serve in leadership and volunteer activities. John and Jodee are the proud parents of Jaynanne, a member of the D1 Football, Basketball and Competition Cheer Team at Lindenwood University.