We Move Forward 2018 Speakers

Want to know the magic ingredient that has women returning year after year to We Move Forward?  They get the opportunity to meet and hang out with the keynote and daily featured speakers, facilitators and movement practitioners, who all engage in the 3+ full days –always a highlight for participants!

In 2018, we have an amazing line-up of new faces, along with some conference favorites. And, for the first time ever, WMF has made participants an integral part of the program by inviting 12 of them to share their 12-minute story. There will be a one-hour segment each day where four women will share their ‘Say Si Story’!

Together, these women will serve up a delicious 3 days of inspiration, insights, fun and tangible takeaways:

Ismet Mamnoon

Ismet Mamnoon (Izzy) will open We Move Forward 2018 and speak to the “The Power of Yes” and the story of “survivor-hood”. All of us are familiar with this story – the chips are down, the odds stacked against us, and all seems lost, until we get to the place of “Saying Si/Yes.” In the space of “yes” we gain control and move forward. An engaging storyteller, TEDx Speaker, keen observer, and exceptional facilitator, Izzy will take us on her personal and professional journey, and then introduce us to tools that build empathy, compassion and acceptance – key ingredients that generate and sustain forward momentum. Izzy draws from her Masters degree in creativity and change leadership, and the work she does with diverse clients ranging from NASA to the Chinese Government. Izzy has authored several books and self-development aids in the field of creativity, and was awarded both the President’s Medal for Outstanding Graduate Student at Buffalo State and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for her work.

Janeen Halliwell

 Janeen Halliwell is the Founder of We Move Forward. As a young girl she was gifted with a ‘wake-up call’ that made her determined to live an extraordinary life – creating WMF is at the heart of her quest. “My goal was to design a welcoming space where good-spirited women form community, and support one another to live their best life.” As has become tradition, Janeen will kick-off WMF 2018 with a heartfelt talk that participants describe as “setting the tone for the three days – one of sincerity, openness, insight and humor.” She will also facilitate one session that will have participants connecting and forming community on Day One. Outside of WMF, Janeen is a consultant, facilitator and trainer to organizations focused on improving people’s lives. She has a MA in Leadership and is a principal consultant with People Minded Business www.peoplemindedbusiness.com Janeen has worked on five continents, taught for two universities, and is passionate about learning through travel, having explored 35 countries and sailed 9000 sea miles, so far. Janeen received a certificate of recognition from the United Nations WOMEN for the positive impact We Move Forward is having on women’s lives.

Teresa Kruze

 Teresa Kruze will wrap-up the WMF 3-day experience with a powerhouse talk sure to spur on forward momentum for months to come. A trailblazing female sports-reporter in the 1980’s, Teresa has worked with TSN, CP24, City-TV, and Chatelaine Magazine. She co-authored and published “The In-Credibility Factor,” and it soon became an Amazon best-seller. The book not only tells riveting success stories, it shares tools and strategies you can use to steer your life and business in one direction – forward. Teresa has some exciting news to share, which WMF will feature in an upcoming newsletter. Stay tuned, and sign-up for WMF newsletters.

Nicole Dobinson

 Nicole Dobinson is an international coach, trainer and spirited guide who works with individuals and senior executives in dynamic and embodied ways.  Increasingly, her work is focused on helping women step into a new and truer form of feminine leadership that supports our natural way of being in the world.  With a background in International Relations, and years of experience working in Europe, North and South America, she combines a global outlook and strategic know how with shamanic teachings, creative based tools and somatic mind-body practices.  As the leader of a women’s circle in Toronto, she believes strongly in the healing power of women to share, dream and intend together in community.  A Canadian by birth, this Northerner has always been moved by the spirit of the South and can most often be found dancing to the beat of salsa, tango or bachata in Toronto. Having previously called Mexico home, she holds a deep affection for the country and its people and is excited to share in its rich culture once again at this special event.

Jerusha Akatzin

 Jerusha Akatzin will once again speak and perform a Mayan blessing at We Move Forward. She will speak to the ambitions of Mayan women, and all women, – educational, cultural, social, environmental, and economic. Through her work with Consejo Maya Nuevo Sol (Mayan Council of Grandparents of New Sun), Jerusha promotes respect for the traditions of grandparents and the protection of Mayan history, art, culture and communities, and works against the discrimination and marginalization of indigenous people and communities. She has a university diploma in Feminine Psychology. Jerusha’s work has taken her to Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, and Guatemala, and Isla Mujeres. Each year, Jerusha arrives with family and friends who join her in providing WMF participants with a unique blessing that is always a highlight. Christy Dix will translate for Jerusha. The two of them have found a wonderful rhythm in what will be their 4th year presenting together at WMF. We are thrilled to have Jerusha her friends, family, and Christy join us on the Sunday, March 6.

Clara Kluk

 Clara Kluk was born in Mexico City, and continues to call it home. A renowned artist, her work is on display in 17 museums in various parts of the world. In response to an unexpected turn of events, Clara redirected her creativity from that of artista to partner of PIENSA, a consulting firm in México City, USA, Central and South America, China and Spain. She works with organizations across Latin America, Europe and China facilitating creativity and innovation to guide change, enhance teamwork and foster leadership. Through her corporate career, she has seen how barriers to creativity are also barriers to success — for individuals and for groups. At We Move Forward, Clara will share her heroic ‘Say Si Story’ and share tools that will enlighten participants on ways to unleash creativity to manifest their dreams, and live their best lives. Clara holds a Master of Science degree in Creativity from the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University. In 2011 she received the Creative Studies Alumni Foundation Achievement Award. www.grupo-piensa.com

Beth Slazak

Beth Slazak is a “Levity Specialist’ whose work as a teacher focuses on using creative tools to bring fun, laughter, and the occasional snort into our life-space. When she isn’t teaching on campuses, Beth spends her time playing at Buffalo ComedySportz, and she is completing work and will soon be a Certified Humor Professional standing. We Move Forward 2018 participants will be treated to Beth’s talk and interactive workshop on the value of laughing through challenges. http://thehahamoment.weebly.com/


Raychelle Heath

 Raychelle Heath is returning to WMF, and will be facilitating yoga sessions on Days 2 and 3 and will once again be facilitating the Setting of the Daily Intention. Ray has studied yoga in Hawaii, The Marshall Islands, Bali, and the Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, where she received her yoga teacher certification. Ray has also studied meditation at the beautiful Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In addition to being a yogi, Ray is a poet, artist, and teacher. Originally from Winnsboro, South Carolina, her many travels have made her a citizen of the world.

Sandra Herrera

Sandra Herrera was sponsored to attend her first We Move Forward in 2012 and spoke at WMF 2013. She told her courageous story of traveling to Isla Mujeres as a young woman of 19. Sandra had heard of opportunities for employment on Isla, and travelled by bus through Mexico to explore possibilities. Her family living was living in Taxco where work was drying up and eagerly awaited to hear from Sandra. She quickly got a job as a waitress and enrolled in English classes at the former La Gloria English School. She found an apartment and over time her entire family joined her on Isla. After attending WMF in 2012 Sandra took a big step forward and founded her own art business, “Yesterday’s News.” We are very excited to share that Sandra will be offering an artisans workshop to participants at WMF 2018!

"Say Si" Speakers

We Move Forward is pleased to include twelve women who will share their 12- minute ‘Say Si Story’ – four speakers will share their story on each of the three days. We will be announcing and adding the speakers to this list as we get closer and closer to WMF 2018. Stay tuned….

Danielle Blugrind

Danielle Blugrind is a relaxed, converse-wearing animal lover from California who’s terrified of heights. She was once a shy, studious Virginia girl who spent over 30 years not knowing who she really was, at the core. Her lacking “sense of self” led to a disastrous, destructive relationship that lasted more than two decades – it nearly destroyed her. At WMF 2018, Danielle will share how she went to the depths of hell and back, before choosing to “Say Si/Yes” to life again. She now knows, and likes, who she is. Danielle earned her MBA from Claremont Graduate University, and is a market researcher by vocation.  She is on a mission to better and soften the lives of herself and other women, by avocation. www.whenlifestartsover.com


Jamila Aisha Brown

Jamila Aisha Brown is an Afro-Latina womanist and mujercista who is a child of the Americas and a global citizen of the African diaspora. Jamila is an activist who works to amplify the voices of women and girls of color in the Global South. She is a writer, albeit reluctant, who is passionate about amplifying voices from the global South and challenging white supremacy and imperialism. Jamila is a digital strategist by day, an Assistant Adjunct professor at NYU by night, and radical fashionista 24/7/365… and sometimes 366. Her ‘Say Sí Story’ focuses on how we move beyond the resistance to create a more equitable and inclusive world via our passion projects and unique talents. She believes that it is time to create the world we are fighting for.


Alison Sawyer Current

Alison Sawyer Current is the founder of Isla Animals www.islaanimals.org, a non-profit organization that sponsors spay and neuter clinics, vaccinations, animal care, adoptions and education.  She won “The Doris Day Animal Kindred Spirit Award,” in 2005 for her work with Mexican dogs.  With the help of her husband, and WMF sound man, Jeff, they established a shelter where they have rescued over 6000 animals.  Alison recently completed her second novel about her animal rescue work.  Her first novel, NO URN FOR THE ASHES, was published in 2008, after which she was invited to participate in the bestselling novel “How Did You Do That.”  A passionate and lively story teller, Alison’s story will have you laughing, smiling and caring.

Dr. Sheila Flaherty

 Dr. Sheila Flaherty is an Army brat who grew up to be a clinical psychologist and writer. Her novel, East of Mecca, was inspired by her experiences living in Saudi Arabia. At WMF 2018 Sheila will take us on her personal journey to Saudi Arabia, and introduce us to the women that she met and whom she wrote about in her novel.  Sheila’s talk is sure to provide insight into women’s rights and gender roles in a country where women were permitted to vote for the first time in 2015. She earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University Medical School and practices psychology in the Chicago area. Sheila’s life mission is to enlighten, inspire, and empower others for the greater good.  www.sheilaflaherty.com

Brigit Kubiak

 Brigit Kubiak is a retired educator and administrator.  She was the first woman to ever register for a We Move Forward conference, and she has returned every single year.  It doesn’t take long for the other participants to connect with Brigit and become a fan of her quick and dry wit. Brigit’s youthful yet wise approach to life is refreshing for younger attendees to see, and encouraging for those of us turning the corner on mid-life and beyond. Many women have suggested that Brigit give a WMF talk, and we’re thrilled that this is the year.  Her ‘Say Si Story’ is truly about saying Si! Ita! & Oui! We’ll leave it at that and let Brigit tell you the rest at WMF 2018!

Erin MacKenzie

 Erin MacKenzie is a pharmacist, who since early childhood has felt drawn to volunteer in Africa. She made this happen in October 2016 through the Canada Africa Community Healthcare Alliance (CACHA).  Her first medical mission took place on the remote island of Ukerewe, Tanzania. At We Move Forward, Erin will describe how she made this dream a reality, her experience as a medical mission volunteer, and share what she learned about herself in the process.  Erin is from Prince Edward Island, Canada, where she is the Executive Director of the PEI Pharmacists Association and the Dalhousie University Pharmacy Endowment Fund. She maintains her direct patient care license, and has practiced community pharmacy for more than 25 years.  It is Erin’s belief that “Everyone has dreams and aspirations; it’s important to find a way to “Say Si” to the opportunity to fulfill them!”

Diane Nesselhuf

 Diane and her husband Ed have five children, two of them adopted from Guatemala.  They adopted their daughter, Ana, 30 years ago and worked with her orphanage for many years.  The Nesselhufs learned that many children were in orphanages because their parents could not afford to feed and educate them.  This knowledge spurred Diane to spend a month in Guatemala twenty years ago with the intent to try and figure out what she could do to help these families stay together. When she returned she and friends formed ‘Friends of Sharing the Dream’ in Guatemala, which promotes fair trade with groups, mostly women, in Guatemala to help them sustain their families. As of 2017 there are eight employees in Guatemala, a store in the U.S. and many projects in Guatemala.  WMF 2018 participants will delight in hearing more about Diane’s ‘Say Si Story.’

Deniece O’Leary

 Deniece O’Leary is a California girl at heart who loves the sun and wearing flip flops.  She will share with you a journey of some radical ”yes”es in her life.  First, leaving behind dreams of med school to travel across the US with a professional dance company (my family thought I was joining “the circus”!).  A second life-changing “SI!” was jumping off a cliff (metaphorically speaking) and moving with her young son and husband to Canada (Did you know it snows there?) to pursue her dream; she became one of the first professors for a newly established Physician Assistant program in Canada.  She has learned that being a trailblazer is not always easy, but after 8 years (yes, mom it was a 2 year contract – sorry!), she has accomplished more than she could have ever dreamed! 

Janet Rouss

Janet Rouss is back to speak at WMF 2018. Since her Brave New Brand talk in 2015, Janet embarked on a brave new journey. She returned home to Toronto last August from a year of travelling abroad … while running her branding business remotely. Janet covered more than 92,000km, 15 different countries and over twice as many cities. Monthly, there was a new city to explore, language to learn and country to call home. To some people this journey would be a dream – excitement, adventure and a sense of freedom beyond imagination. To others it would be a nightmare – constant change, endless challenges and a sense of falling with nothing to hold on to. Janet discovered both are true – accepting that she could both survive and thrive far outside of her comfort zone. In her talk at WMF, she will share her real-life survival guide and proven ways to thrive while you’re still alive. Get your pens ready. You’ll want to take notes!

Michelle Singh

Michelle Singh was born in Trinidad & Tobago and currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  She is deeply curious about the world and everything in it which often leads her to “Say ” without knowing what she’s getting herself into!  Her curiousity about people and faith led her to become an Interfaith Minister; her curiousity about people and culture led her from the Caribbean to North America, the Middle East, Pakistan, East Africa and the UK; her curiousity about community and connection led her to co-found a monthly Spiritual Dialogue Circle bringing together people of faith and no-faith to share their experiences.  Michelle is well known for creating safe and sacred spaces for listening and sharing stories. www.michellesingh.com

Diane Testa

Diane Testa was determined to spread her wings more than she had ever imagined, when she said YES to pursuing motherhood in an unconventional way.   Once she got beyond the naysayers and her own fear-based thoughts, her life was forever changed in significant and beautiful ways.  Diane is a heart-centered business, career and leadership coach in the Chicago area.  She has a successful track record in helping clients find dream jobs, start meaningful nonprofits, create thriving businesses, make significant career transitions, better navigate the corporate world and more.  Diane also works with a team of amazing people in the field of creativity.  She holds a Master’s in Sociology from DePaul University.  We Move Forward participants are sure to be stirred when Diane shares her ‘Say Si Story’ at WMF 2018. www.DianeTesta.net