Scott Duncan, Creator and Chief Agitator, Keynote Speaker: Imagine That!

Virginia Damron, Senior Career Counselor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Learn to Interrupt: Effective Communication Strategies for Women in the Workplace.

Tamice Spencer-Helms, Learning Facilitator, Mentor Virginia, All In: Empowering Inclusive Leadership

Meghan Jester, Director of Career Exploration, Roanoke College, Unveiling the Future: Leveraging AI at a Small Liberal Arts College

Mary Ann Gilmer, One-on-One Professional Development Sessions.

Dan Gonazlez, Co-Founder and CEO, District C and Jessie Vernon, Program Manager, Institute for Advanced Learning and ResearchTeamship: Internships Reimagined for Modern Work.

Camica Credle, Chief Equipping Officer, Credle Consulting, Understanding the Impact of Psychological Safety to Achieve Peak Performance.

Philip Heavilin II, Director for Internships and Applied Learning, William and Mary Kathleen Powell, Chief Career Officer and Associate Vice President for Advancement, William and Mary.  Transforming Federal Work Study for Career Equity and Access

Jeffrey White, Director of Career and Life Design, Hollins University Amber Becke, Associate Director of Career and Life Design, Hollins UniversityThe Career Workshop Is Dead: Shifting to Content and Experience Design.

Breona Walker, Assistant Director of Career Education, VCU, Breaking Barriers: Redefining Professionalism for Inclusive Workplaces.

Caleb Simon, Community Relations Coordinator, University of Lynchburg Kara Douglas, Career and Internship Counselor, University of LynchburgDemystifying CPT and OPT When Working with International Students.

Laura Faulcon, Director of Career Exploration and Development, Reynolds Community College, Faculty Learning Opportunities Incorporating NACE Competencies in the Classroom to Help Students Become Career Ready.

Derek Chen, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, James Madison University, Equity Audits: A Process for Self-Assessment and Improvement.

Suzanne Shelburne, Asst. Director of Career and Professional Development, VA Tech, Optimizing Professional Development Workshops Through Active Learning Strategies. 



Imagine That!
Scott Duncan, Creator and Chief Agitator

Jump start your VACE 2024 Conference experience with this interactive exploration of creativity, teamwork and fun in game show fashion! Be an onstage contestant or active audience participant. Engage with each other in a setting that requires quick thinking, imagination, and stepping outside of the box. Be surprised and delighted by what your collective imagination can come up with under pressure. Get energized by this springboard to learning, networking, and inventive thinking at the Conference!

Scott has led teams and created best-in-class leadership development programs for 30+ years. He has traveled the globe engaging leaders in leading universities, financial services and entertainment organizations. Geeking out on leadership earned him powerful insight: having creative fun with your teammates is incredibly surprising and rewarding -That’s how Imagine That! was born.

The Learning Journey: Self-Development, Team Development, Student Development
Mary Ann Gilmer, Founder ▪ GROW Leadership

Understanding the life experiences that shape who we are and how we learn is critical to future self-development. Learn how to identify those aspects of your life that have shaped your career development and how to craft learning experiences that accelerate your learning, the learning of your team members, and the development of students.

Inspired by the belief that everyone deserves to achieve their fullest potential, Mary Ann formed GROW Leadership, a leadership coaching and organizational development company serving the public, non-profit and private sectors. Mary Ann’s professional experience includes thirteen years of executive nonprofit leadership encompassing organizational development, community impact, human resources, and strategic planning. She has served on the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce and Education Committee and as an Advisory Board Member for the University of Richmond Distinguished Women in Leadership Program. Current service includes leadership in the Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition in the Charleston SC region. Mary Ann has been a keynote speaker, presenter and panelist with The Federal Reserve, Brookings Institute, Google, American Association of Community Colleges, National Association of Workforce Development, Goodwill Industries International, Virginia Community College System, and the Virginia Department of Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from James Madison University and an MBA from Louisiana State University.

Mary Ann will be holding individual professional development sessions on Thursday for individuals who are interested in advancing in their careers. See SCHED for the sign up sheet.

 Breakout Sessions

Tamice SpencerAll In: Empowering Inclusive Leadership
Tamice Spencer-Helms, Learning Facilitator, Mentor Virginia

An immersive workshop emphasizing the crucial role of connection in successful mentorship. This program equips participants with essential knowledge and skills for fostering inclusive, equitable, and culturally relevant mentorship. Through dynamic exercises, critical consciousness development, and hands-on learning, attendees gain insights into inclusion, equity, and cultural sensitivity. Unique to this program is its emphasis on mentor well-being, recognizing that authentic connections are the backbone of effective mentorship. By nurturing a supportive community of practice, participants are empowered to guide young adults with cultural sensitivity, fostering personal growth and well-being. This initiative celebrates the transformative impact of genuine connections.

Tamice Spencer-Helms is an accomplished author, speaker, and trainer based in Richmond, VA. She holds two master’s degrees in Contextual Leadership and in Theology, and currently pursues a doctorate in Social Transformation. Her credentials include Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and LGBTQ+ Gender and Sexuality Studies. Tamice is recognized as a thought leader in culturally relevant and critically conscious campus engagement, particularly among Black College students. She has served as Senior Director of Student Leadership and Engagement at Virginia Union University. She teaches religious studies and is actively developing curriculum and facilitating training for youth and young adult mentors in best practices and integrated leadership. She holds certifications in LGBTQ+ sexuality and gender identity studies, Religious Trauma, and is a green belt in Lean Six Sigma. In 2018, Tamice founded Sub:Culture Incorporated, a nonprofit dedicated to providing holistic support and crisis relief for Black College Students. Her unwavering commitment to empowering and inspiring young people in her community and beyond is evident through her impactful work.

BreonaWalkerBreaking Barriers: Redefining Professionalism for Inclusive Workplaces
Breona Walker, Assistant Director of Career Education, VCU School of Business

Explore the historical roots of professionalism and its impact on marginalized groups in contemporary workplaces. Discover how this concept, originally designed for ethics, perpetuates hierarchies that disproportionately disadvantage workers of color, non-binary, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and other underrepresented groups. Uncover the Eurocentric norms shaping a narrow definition of "professionalism" and excluding diverse perspectives and address the impact of professionalism as a racist social construct, tackling implicit biases in hiring, promotions, and workplace dynamics. Discover the importance of creating inclusive cultures that actively dismantle oppressive structures, benefiting workers and enhancing productivity and innovation.

Breona Walker, Assistant Director of Career Education at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business, brings seven years of experience in K-12, higher education, and nonprofits. Breona guides students through career development, emphasizing internships, jobs, and graduate school opportunities. Dedicated to fostering an inclusive mentoring environment, Breona uses counseling theories to support students in navigating career paths and life transitions, considering intersectional identities and cultural influences. With a B.B.A. in Marketing from James Madison University and an M.Ed in Counselor Education from Virginia Commonwealth University, she is committed to student success through open, challenging, and supportive guidance.

Jeffrey White The Career Workshop is Dead: Shifting to Content and Experience Design
Jeffrey White, Director of Career and Life Design, Hollins University Amber Becke, Associate Director of Career and Life Design, Hollins University

Explore innovative approaches to career services in higher education in this interactive session. Addressing the post-pandemic decline in workshop attendance, Jeffrey White and Amber Becke share insights into shifting from traditional methods to content and experience design, anchored in design thinking principles. Engage in creating your own content using real-life examples and tools, culminating in a hands-on activity to build and refine prototypes, like a card set or slide deck. This session promises practical skills and insights for enhancing student engagement and learning through creative content design.

As a strategic and collaborative leader in higher education Jeffrey White facilitates the active learning potential of college learners by designing peer educator and career development programs and learning communities, engaging faculty in professional development opportunities centered around career integration and learning design. Jeffrey is an experienced educator, program director, and internal consultant who seeks to transform higher education through strong collaboration, continuous improvement, effective teams, and use of technology platforms.

Amber Becke, Associate Director of Career and Life Design at Hollins University, brings over a decade of experience in event planning, program development, and customer service to her role. She specializes in designing student experiences through experiential learning, career coaching, and interactive sessions to empower students in their professional paths. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, cooking, video gaming, and spending time with family.

Optimizing Professional Development Workshops Through Active Learning Strategies
Suzanne Shelburne, Asst. Director of Career and Professional Development, VA Tech

Learning occurs when students actively practice, process, and apply information. Formative assessments and deliberate practice are two impactful approaches for engaging students and fostering critical thinking. These strategies help students to practice and process information and skills from professional development workshops. Students can receive constructive feedback and reflect on learning. This session will showcase practical examples of formative assessments and deliberate practice activities for topics such as resume and cover letter writing, interviewing techniques, leveraging AI in job searches, and effective networking. 


Caleb SimonKaraDouglasDemystifying CPT and OPT When Working with International Students
Caleb Simon, Community Relations Coordinator, University of Lynchburg Kara Douglas, Career and Internship Counselor, University of Lynchburg

This program addresses the complexities of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students, targeting local employers and career services personnel. It offers crucial insights into the legal, administrative, and compliance aspects of CPT and OPT employment, fostering a deeper understanding among participants. By equipping both employers and career services staff with essential knowledge, the program aims to facilitate the successful integration of international students into the workforce, thereby enriching the professional landscape with diverse talents and perspectives.

J. Caleb Simon, the newest addition to the University of Lynchburg's career services team, holds a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University, a M.Ed. in Counselor Education from the University of Lynchburg, and a National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Prior to the Career and Professionalism Center, Caleb worked as a Mental Health Associate and School Counselor assisting students with socialemotional counseling and academic and career planning, ensuring smooth transitions between placements and supporting post-graduation goals. As Community Relations Coordinator he facilitates immersive learning experiences that impart academic knowledge and essential life, employability, and technical skills, preparing students for success beyond graduation.

Kara Douglas, Career and Internship Counselor at the University of Lynchburg, earned her B.S. in Psychology from James Madison University and her M.S.Ed in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. With a passion for career education, she impacts students' lives by teaching essential career skills. Before joining the Career and Professionalism Center, Kara excelled as an Instructional Designer, creating training workshops for government employees and veterans in financial management, leadership, and project management. This background made her transition into career counseling seamless. She now educates students through workshops, classes, and oneon-one sessions, focusing on resumes, cover letters, job and internship searches, and aligning majors and careers with personal values. Her goal is to guide students at the University of Lynchburg towards a clear and successful career path post-graduation.

 DerekChenEquity Audits: A Process for Self-Assessment and Improvement
Derek Chen, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, James Madison University

With the increased need for evidence and data-informed practices, departments need to develop processes for self-assessment. To enhance the University Career Center’s work from an equity-minded lens, an internal Equity Audit was completed by examining ongoing professional development for staff, the effectiveness and accessibility of programs and services and articulating action steps to meet diverse students’ needs. Join Derek for an inside look at how the Equity Audit was conducted, how it has supported the office’s goals, programs, and evaluation— and more importantly—how it can be implemented in professional spaces.

Born and raised in Roanoke, VA, Derek has over five years of experience in higher education and student affairs. He has worked in areas including service-learning, leadership development, community engagement, and equity and inclusion. Within career services, he serves as a career coach and liaison to identity-based groups—supporting students’ career journeys while also strategizing ways to engage more with historically underrepresented student populations. Outside of work, you can find Derek testing out recipes, doing arts and crafts, playing video games, and binge-watching reality competition shows with his partner.

 lAURAfALCONFaculty Learning Opportunities Incorporating NACE Competencies in the Classroom to Help Students Become Career Ready
Laura Faulcon, Director of Career Exploration and Development, Reynolds Community College

Reynolds Community College' Career Services Team trained their faculty through eight professional learning sessions to incorporate NACE standards with local employer feedback to improve student outcomes.

Laura J. Faulcon, Ed.S. has been a career educator for 25 years. After teaching and serving as a high school administrator for many years, her love of helping students along their career trajectory continued to a central office position supervising Adult Education, CTE, and School Counseling. Since July 2023, Laura has been the Director of Career Exploration and Development at Reynolds Community College. Here, she has built a comprehensive mission and vision for one of Virginia's largest community colleges and is working to help connect the dots for students for college transfer or employment. Follow on Instagram @reynoldscareers.

 VirginiaDamronLearn to Interrupt: Effective Communication Strategies for Women in the Workplace
Virginia Damron, Senior Career Counselor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Communication is the bedrock of effective relationships, personally as well as professionally. There is no best communication style for all workplace interactions. It's important to adapt your language to your audience. Yet in all of the professional development trainings that exist for workplace communication, one blind spot is overlooking the different styles between women and men. Discover how these differences can cause miscommunication and what you need to know before walking into a meeting. Learn practical tips on how to project confidence, reframe your words, and speak with purpose. In this interactive session, participants will have the opportunity to role play and practice these new techniques and receive constructive feedback from each other in a supportive environment.

Virginia earned her B.A. in Religion from William and Mary and M.Ed in Counseling Psychology concentrating in College Student Personnel Administration from James Madison University. With eighteen years of higher education experience in career and academic advising, Virginia has worked at four universities: Allegheny College in Meadville, PA; The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC; William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, and for the past five years, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA. Virginia started at VCU's School of Business as an Academic Advisor and then as Associate Director of VCU's Business Career Services. She transitioned to her current role of Senior Career Counselor for Health Sciences with VCU Career Services. Married to her husband of twelve years, Virginia is a dog mom and loves to bake and read.

DanGonzalez Jessie VernonTeamship: Internships Reimagined for Modern Work
Dan Gonzalez, Co-Founder and CEO, District C Jessie Vernon, Program Manager, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

Work is changing. Automation is impacting jobs across all industries. Employers are looking for a new kind of talent prepared for the uniquely human job description of the modern economy: work in diverse teams to solve complex problems. Teamship is a reimagined team-based internship model that provides students with an opportunity to build the skills employers are looking for while solving real problems for real businesses. As we work to diversify and scale high quality work-based learning opportunities for students, Teamship addresses the challenges of traditional internships: equitable access, meaningful work, and high-quality mentorship.

Dan Gonzalez studied engineering at Dartmouth College before becoming a high school physics teacher. After teaching, Dan joined Manhattan Prep, a global leader in test preparation and became company president shortly after it was acquired by Kaplan. Dan led the company as its 185-member team achieved over 50% revenue growth and market leadership as the world’s largest GMAT test prep provider. After Manhattan Prep, Dan joined Kaplan Test Prep’s leadership team where he oversaw an operations division that worked to deliver education services at scale. In 2016, Dan and co-founder Anne Jones started District C to prepare the next generation of diverse talent for modern work.

Jessie Vernon, Program Manager with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), manages IALR’s EmPOWER framework- an employer-driven system to empower and connect students to careers. Jessie joined IALR in 2012 after teaching biology and anatomy and physiology at middle and high school levels. In 2011, Jessie, along with students and educators from throughout the James River watershed, participated in the inaugural James River Expedition- paddling all navigable sections of the James River (340 miles). Jessie became a District C Certified Coach in 2019 and has been implementing and advocating for Teamship ever since.

 PhillipHeavilinKathleenPowellTransforming Federal Work Study for Career Equity and Access
Philip Heavilin, II, Director for Internships and Applied Learning, William and Mary Kathleen Powell, Chief Career Officer and Associate Vice President for Advancement, William and Mary

We are seeing a focus on internships in higher education, in the media, and through our own professional association. There are inequities between paid and unpaid internships, students with and without career capital. This presentation will engage participants in how to transform federal work-study positions on their campus into internships.

Philip Heavilin II, Ed.D. serves as Director for Internships and Applied Learning for William and Mary’s Office of Career Development and Professional Engagement. In this inaugural role, Dr. Heavilin oversees internships and applied learning, the Funding for Unpaid/Underfunded Student Experiences (FUSE) program, which includes over $1 million in funds for students. He leads initiatives to establish internships, micro-internships, shadowing, and mentorship experiences with alumni and professionals. Dr. Heavilin holds a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Arts (MA) in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) from Michigan State University, and a Bachelor of Science (BS), magna cum laude, from Western Michigan University.

As Chief Career Officer and Associate Vice President for Advancement, Kathleen has 35+ years of progressive experience in higher education career services. Recognized nationally and internationally for leadership, strategic vision, and external review practices, Kathleen serves on the Board of Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) and as a member of The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Kathleen is a past president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), past president of the Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers (Midwest ACE), and the Illinois Small College Placement Association. Powell has authored chapters in several different publications and served as an academic advisor and adjunct faculty member teaching career planning, leadership development, and communication. Powell holds a Master of Science in Student Personnel Services from Miami University of Ohio and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Akron.

 CamicaCredleUnderstanding the Impact of Psychological Safety to Achieve Peak Performance
Camica Credle, Chief Equipping Officer, Credle Consulting

In this interactive and engaging session, explore the powerful impact of psychological safety on achieving peak performance in the workplace. Psychological safety plays a crucial role in creating an environment where individuals can perform at their best, innovate, and excel. Explore the connection between psychological safety and peak performance, including increased employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction. By fostering psychological safety, organizations can unlock the full potential of their teams and individuals, leading to higher levels of creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. Gain insights into how psychological safety drives peak performance and discover practical strategies to cultivate a psychologically safe culture that nurtures and empowers employees to reach their highest levels of achievement.

Camica Credle is the Chief Equipping Officer of Credle Consulting, President of Evolve YOUth, and Chief Executive of Credle Insurance Solutions Group. Camica is a certified inspirational speaker and trainer. She is a certified Human Behavioral (DISC) Consultant. A Pioneer and champion for social equity, her mission is to eliminate barriers, create opportunities, and positive outcomes for youth to older adults from all backgrounds to succeed, flourish, and serve as community leaders. She is driven by a passion for connecting people to resources and bridging gaps in access to communities. Camica practices advancing equity by creating awareness, nurturing relationships, and focusing on holistic community collaboration and connection among generations.

 MeghanJesterUnveiling the Future: Leveraging AI at a Small Liberal Arts College
Meghan Jester, Director of Career Exploration, Roanoke College

Discover how AI is transforming job search and career growth in this presentation, which covers three key areas: an overview of PLACE at Roanoke College, an innovative Career Services office; AI-driven resource development and promotion, including career assessments, personalized job search platforms, and resume optimization; and the practical application of AI in one-on-one career development sessions, unlocking tailored recommendations and a more personalized approach. By harnessing AI, you can modernize your career trajectory and contribute to enhancing student success and outcomes. The presentation equips entry and mid-level professionals with the knowledge to navigate the ever-evolving job market with confidence and efficiency.

Meghan Jester is Director of Career Exploration at Roanoke College. Meghan came to Roanoke from Virginia Tech, where she served as Assistant Dean of Student Recruitment and Career Development for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Her portfolio there included managing student recruitment, building employer connections, providing career advising and developing career programming for 4,200 undergraduates across 42 majors. At Roanoke, Meghan creates and implements programs, services, resources, and engagement opportunities that support Roanoke students as they explore and prepare for their chosen career paths. That includes partnering with faculty and staff to integrate career development opportunities directly into the classroom. Jester holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Lynchburg. In education, she has experience working with students both inside and outside the classroom, having started her career as a K-12 teacher