The Sky’s the Limit…

...for these fast-rising 2023 Emerging Training Leaders.


Soaring to ever-greater levels of success, the winners of Training magazine’s 2023 Emerging Training Leaders (ETL) Awards rose to the challenge of increased responsibilities; boosted their leadership skills; and inspired their learners, direct reports, teammates, and colleagues to new heights in the past year.

“It looks like L&D professionals have largely found their way back from the pandemic (where too much L&D tended to get cut) and are once again demonstrating their game-changing value proposition to learners, employees, and leaders across the globe,” notes ETL Judge Bruce Jones. “That is a very good thing, because, as we know, without continuous learning and development, there is no growth—personally, professionally, or organizationally. Go, Team L&D!”

These 25 Learning and Development (L&D) professionals have been in the industry for 2 to 10 years and have inspired and engaged their organizations with their exceptional leadership skills, business acumen, and training instincts. All Emerging Training Leader candidates had to be nominated by co-workers or industry peers.

Training Editorial Advisory Board members and I judged the 72 nominations and chose the 25 winners based on the following factors:

  • Took on at least one new responsibility in the last year
  • Successfully led a large-scale training/learning and development initiative within the last year that required management/leadership of a group of people and resulted in the achievement of a business or business unit strategic goal (with behavior change/business impact results provided)
  • Demonstrates specific leadership qualities (such as acts as a mentor/coach; adopts new technology; collaborates; embraces and adapts to change; empowers employees; innovates; and thinks strategically)
  • Has the potential to lead the Training or L&D function at an organization in the next 1 to 10 years

Below, you’ll find in-depth profiles of the Top 5 Emerging Training Leaders (in alphabetical order), plus shorter profiles of the other 20 Emerging Training Leaders. We also created a “To Watch” list, which features 5 up-and-coming professionals who are well on their way to becoming future Emerging Training Leaders.


Diane August, Chief Learning Architect, Nationwide

Brent Bloom, President, Consulting Service Solutions inc.

Douglas Bryant, VP, Training, Sonic Automotive

Alison Bundgaard, AVP, Training, United Wholesale Mortgage

Tina Claure, Senior Learning Strategist and Curriculum Manager, Booz Allen Hamilton

Judy Claybrook, Senior Manager, Training and Development, Dollar General Corporation

Lisa DeAngelis, Learning Consultant, Americas Learning, EY

Jessica Edgerton, Chief Legal Officer and EVP, Industry & Learning, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World

Genevieve Forosisky, Lead Learning and Development Specialist, Deloitte Services

Daniel J. Goepp, former Managing Director, Learning & Development, PwC

Vicente Gonzalez, CLO/Director, Enterprise L&D, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Glenn Hughes, Senior Director, Learning & Development, KLA Corporation

Bruce I. Jones, former Senior Cast Development and QA Director, Disney Institute

Meredith Maples, Senior Director, Training, Keller Williams University, Keller Williams Realty, Inc.

Michael Orth, Senior Director, KPMG Business School – U.S.

Robin Renschen, Director, Learning and Development, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

Debra Ross, AVP, Learning & Development, BNSF Railway

Ross Tartell, Ph.D., former Manager, Learning & Development – North America, GE Capital Real Estate

Catherine Rickelman, former Manager, IBM Learning

Lou Tedrick, Vice President, Global Learning & Development, Verizon

Marilyn Vertison, Assistant Manager, Learning & Development, Birmingham Water Works

Lorri Freifeld, Editor/Publisher, Training magazine



KATEY FABIAN Professional and Leadership Development Manager

Medical Solutions (6 direct reports)

Graduate, College of Hair Design; currently attending Bellevue University to obtain a degree in Business Management and Leadership

6 YEARS IN TRAINING CHILDHOOD AMBITION: “I wanted to be a journalist and work for Vogue magazine.”

FAVORITE PHRASE OR MOTTO: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” —Brene Brown

FAMILY/PETS: “Married for 6 years to my husband, Rob. I am a bonus mom to my stepdaughter, Zoey, and stepson, Owen. We have 3 dogs: Penny, Khloe, and Sunny.”

OUTSIDE INTERESTS: “Most summer weekends you can find us at the lake enjoying sunshine, fishing, and s’mores. During the winter cold months, you will find us watching any sporting event we can find on TV.”

ADVICE FOR THOSE ENTERING THE TRAINING FIELD: “Come with an open mind, stay curious, ask questions, and embrace the feeling of being uncomfortable—it means you are growing. Most of all, believe in yourself.”

Medical Solutions experienced more than 30% growth for 2 consecutive years due to acquisitions and medical staffing needs across the country. This resulted in a need to fill leadership positions and further develop the organization’s talent pool by upskilling employees with development opportunities. Katey Fabian noticed this increase in need and began to strategize how to meet it. Due to her strategic efforts and informal leadership on the team, Fabian was promoted from Professional Development facilitator to the Professional and Leadership Development (PD/LD) team lead position in May 2022. She was further promoted to PD/LD supervisor in February 2023 and has since grown the team by 50%.

Fabian now leads a remote team of diverse roles that include 4 Professional Development facilitators and 2 Leadership Development facilitators, plus she informally leads a Learning and Development intern, and oversees the projects taken on by the PD/LD instructional designer. One of her employees was promoted to the organization’s LMS administrator role under her leadership, and 1 of the 2 people she mentored also was promoted.

Fabian led the PD/LD program to have its largest impact across the organization to date by facilitating cohort programs for 148 learners in Professional Development and 70 leaders in Leadership Development—a 103% increase in participation in these programs due to the new selection process and communication strategy she spearheaded. Fabian’s implementation of new technology in the selection process saves the team 28 hours annually.

“She has focused the team on defining and executing strategy,” say nominators Julia Burgess and Jess Schenck, Professional Development trainers, Medical Solutions. “Due to that, in just the second quarter of 2023, the team accomplished 11 key initiatives outside of their daily functions.”

Notes Amy Sandala, director, L&D, Medical Solutions, “Katey is a role model with the highest levels of performance, potential, and ambition to lead with a focus on the growth and well-being of others, humility, and selflessness.”


KYLE LEHEW Senior Director, Learning & Development

Verizon (managed 150)

University of Arizona


FAVORITE PHRASE OR MOTTO: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”

FAMILY/PETS: “My fiancée, Rachael, and our beloved dog, Kobi.”

OUTSIDE INTERESTS: Travel, live music, coffee, and beer

ADVICE FOR THOSE ENTERING THE TRAINING FIELD: “Never forget that you work for your learners. All the effort and curiosity you can invest in walking their path will help you immensely. Go to gemba [where value-creating work occurs].”

Kyle LeHew led Verizon’s Global Learning & Development (GL&D) Design Studio with the responsibility for the Verizon Consumer Group sales organization. His team included 2 senior managers, 4 managers, and 15 instructional design consultants. In the last year, LeHew took on the responsibility of leading the design strategy for a new companywide sales program, targeting 14,000 learners across Verizon’s national retail footprint. LeHew was promoted to senior director, Learning & Development, at the end of August 2023. His new responsibilities include leading the Verizon Consumer Group Sales Training Delivery Organization.

The Elevate Sales Program is a 6-hour face-to-face instructorled training (including video, knowledge checks, and games) for all front-line retail specialist and support teams. It was designed with an additional 2-hour face-to-face instructor-led training for leaders called Coaching to Elevate. LeHew partnered closely with the COO, SVP, and VPs of the impacted business units to gain buy-in for the training initiative and ensure alignment throughout the 6-month development process, as well as throughout the facilitation period.

Front-line retail specialists who completed the Elevate Sales Program had 110% higher accessory revenue per device and 11% higher setup and go quantities than those who did not complete the program.

LeHew’s demonstrated leadership and strong business acumen also resulted in increased performance in the area of new hires in Verizon’s retail channel. According to nominator Billy Rickman, director, Global Learning & Development, Verizon, new hires performed at or better than the embedded base at 90 days in several leading measurements in first quarter 2022: Box Productivity (new hires at 97.7% of the embedded base); Combined Device Protection (new hires at 217.7% of the embedded base); and Retail Pull Thru (new hires at 195.9% of the embedded base).

LeHew also develops the future talent of the Verizon L&D organization through his support, guidance, and leadership of the Developer on Deck program. This 6-month program affords those outside of the curriculum design team to join his team and gain experience and exposure while building design skills and acumen. LeHew has promoted 1 senior manager, 3 managers, and 3 consultants of instructional design through his coaching and development.

“As a leader, Kyle frequently and with great success takes on responsibility for collaborating with various stakeholders. His ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds while building rapport fosters a positive and productive learning environment,” Rickman notes. “Furthermore, from curriculum design to scheduling and resource management, he has shown the ability to streamline processes and maximize efficiency while returning results to the business.”


PAULA MILLER Interactive Design & Development Learning Consultant

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (managed 10 core people on a project team)

B.A., English; MA, Composition Studies, The University of Akron; Ph.D. (ABD), Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy, The Ohio State University


FAVORITE PHRASE OR MOTTO: “Bird by bird, one thing at a time.”

FAMILY/PETS: “I share my home with my spouse, John, and our 3 cats, Grendel, Mosey, and Cleo.”

OUTSIDE INTERESTS: “My hobby is collecting hobbies, and I’m an insatiable maker. Lately, I’ve been exploring digital art and writing songs for ukulele.”

ADVICE FOR THOSE ENTERING THE TRAINING FIELD: “Stay curious, ask questions, and never lose your sense of play.”

Paula Miller plays a comprehensive role in designing and developing learning experiences across Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. She has cross-functional impact across Property and Casualty, Nationwide Finance, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing and Innovation, Information Technology, and all other functional teams.

Her consistently high performance led to her being selected as the Service Line lead for the Future Ready Associate (FRA) program in summer 2022. The FRA program is a set of habit-based sprints aimed at all 25,000 Nationwide associates. It is directly tied to Nationwide’s Workforce of the Future strategy and its Future of Work Center for upskilling and reskilling. Five to 7 resources are aligned to each habit. Learners complete the learning path for knowledge awareness, followed by in-the-flow-of-work practice, finishing the week with a guided cohort discussion with 5 to 7 associates from across the enterprise. Miller leads the program sprint team, comprising 15 to 20 team members.

In 2022, the overage of hours for the 8-hour performance management goal jumped from 33% to just shy of 50% over goal (147% total, compared to goal hours). This increase correlates to the expanded offerings through FRA.

When comparing participants in the Courage sprint cohort (fourth quarter 2022) with overall Nationwide associate respondents to the pulse survey, the cohort’s score was .11 higher for the statement: “I feel safe to try new ways of doing things and learn from them.” (This aligns with Habit #2: Step into the Unknown.)

Miller used her business acumen related to automation to partner with a digital learning consultant to create automations for e-mail communication to participants, cohort structure-team membership, and the FRA screening process for eligibility and availability. This resulted in cost savings of $5,340 in 2022 and $2,820 for the first half of 2023. With four sprint sessions a year, Nationwide projects this automation will save more than $20,000 a year for FRA alone. It is being used for 3 additional programs.

“Paula is strong in setting a vision, inspiring others, managing teams, and driving performance,” says nominator Kathy Clevenger, AVP, Enterprise Talent Development, Nationwide Insurance. “She brings cutting-edge areas of expertise such as user experience, empathy skills as part of design thinking, and agile project management.”


KARA WORRELL Senior Manager, Training Development

Appian (15 direct reports)

B.A., English and International Studies, Virginia Tech

9 YEARS IN TRAINING CHILD AMBITION: “Vet (doesn’t everyone?).”

FAVORITE PHRASE OR MOTTO: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” —Richard Branson

FAMILY/PETS: Husband, Jonathan; children: Noelle (7) and Wade (1.5); pets: Augie Doggie (Peekapoo, 12)

OUTSIDE INTERESTS: Audio books, podcasts, movies, walks and bike rides, exploring Northern Virginia, crossword puzzles, Wordle, and classic board games


“1. Give yourself grace. You learn so much through experience and trial and error, and these things take time.

2. Never undervalue a professional connection. Often it’s the people you don’t expect who become the helping hands you need later on.

3. Don’t assume that because things have always been that way that they always will be. Usually, the longer they’ve been that way, the more they need change. Asking questions and challenging the status quo may very well lead to a great, new opportunity.”

Kara Worrell joined Appian in 2014 as a technical trainer in the company’s Customer Success organization. From there she was promoted to senior trainer in 2 years and then was tapped to lead the Training department and started to build it up. In her short time building and leading the Training Development program and team, she has overseen the creation of 9 persona-based, certification-aligned learning paths; 75+ individual courses; an in-product learning experience; and a YouTube channel that’s seen 2,500 subscribers and 75,000 views since it launched in July 2022.

The in-product training established a just-in-time (and first-time) learning opportunity within the Appian product, so nearly 23,000 users can get help, learn concepts, and be exposed to new features without leaving the platform. Using digital adoption platform Gainsight PX, learners can view conceptual videos, tutorials, and tips right from a sandbox environment. Since the launch of the platform, the team has increased completed engagements from 35% to 85%. And active time in the sandbox increased 24% from 5 days to 6.21 days.

Worrell leads and manages North American-diverse managers, instructional designers, learning experience designers, operations analysts, and media producers in a hybrid environment. In the past year, Worrell doubled the size of the team, enabling the exploration of additional innovations in learning and technology. “A fierce advocate for her team, Kara is diligent in developing career plans for her team,” says nominator Jeanine Signorelli, senior director, Product Enablement, Appian. “She provides immediate and effective feedback and supports her direct reports in their career aspirations.” In the last year, 6 of Worrell’s team members have been promoted, and in the last 2 years, 6 team members received quarterly corporate awards.

“Kara is a dedicated servant leader, a knowledgeable instructional design leader, and a collaborative strategic leader who focuses on projects that deliver the greatest impact for our learners, as well as our company,” Signorelli says. “She is respected at Appian for far more than that and would excel at any organization.”


JIAO ZOU Former Senior Manager, Learning and Development

PwC (2 direct reports and managed 5 project members)

Now Talent Development Partner, Adobe

Master’s, Columbia University


FAVORITE PHRASE OR MOTTO: “Live boldly. Love boldly.”

FAMILY/PETS: “Mother of 2-year-old identical twins. We have 2 cats.”

OUTSIDE INTERESTS: Hiking, cooking, star gazing, trying exotic foods

ADVICE FOR THOSE ENTERING THE TRAINING FIELD: “Take the time to know the business needs and your learners. Prioritize learner feedback and move with agility to continuously improve the learning experience.”

Jiao Zou joined PwC in October 2022. She led a team of 5, responsible for supporting the diverse digital upskilling needs across 5+ segments within PwC. These trainings were delivered globally, spanning the Americas, APAC, and EMEA regions. She recently started a new position as a Talent Development partner at Adobe.

One of Zou’s notable projects at PwC included leading the Power Platform Train-the-Trainers initiative. The primary objective was to upskill 500+ trainers in both technical expertise and facilitation skills. These trainers are responsible for educating 5,000+ learners across the organization on the 6 Power Platform tools. The program combined personalized self-paced online modules, interactive virtual sessions, hands-on exercises, and practical application opportunities within a cohort-based learning structure. As the project lead, Zou managed a team of 5 individuals, oversaw a stakeholder group of 10 members, and coordinated with external vendors. By streamlining processes, automating tasks, and optimizing workflows using Power Platform tools, participants experienced a 12% increase in productivity, resulting in more efficient operations and improved output. The acquired skills and knowledge enabled employees to leverage Power Platform tools effectively, leading to 15% enhanced customer engagement.

Additionally, Zou spearheaded the planning of 13 learning podcast episodes and the creation of 5 episodes. “These podcasts serve as a vital component in driving Web3 and generative AI learning adoption throughout the entire organization,” notes nominator Michael Opielski, director, Learning and Development, PwC. Zou also supported the testing and adaptation of a cutting-edge tool from Serious Factory that enables metaverse-type immersive learning experiences for Web3 eLearning content.

Demonstrating strong leadership and mentorship skills, Zou coached her 5 project members and new hires on the team. All individuals she managed embraced increased responsibility, with 100% of them taking on additional tasks in the last year. In addition, team engagement soared 20%.

“Jiao’s coaching and mentorship have fostered an environment of collaboration and high performance, enabling her team members to grow both personally and professionally,” Opielski says. “Her dedication to creating meaningful experiences and driving organizational success positions her as a valuable asset in any organization she leads.”



VALDETA ADEMOSKI Training & Development Coordinator

Weston Forest Products Inc (managed 120+)

Bachelor of Commerce, Toronto Metropolitan University


In her role as Training & Development coordinator at Weston Forest Products Inc, Valdeta Ademoski helps support and service multiple departments, including Sales, Purchasing, Credit, Finance, IT, Operations, and HR. In the last year, Ademoski spearheaded an initiative to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace; remodeled Weston Forest Products’ new hire orientation processes; and developed a company training manual that has saved 30 hours of training per new hire. She led the Weston Forest Product Knowledge Project, which included creating videos to teach staff about hardwood and softwood products. As a result, management reported a 30% increase in productivity for their team/new employee. Since 2022, Ademoski has mentored and guided 50 employees; 10% of individuals from this cohort have been promoted to higher-level positions. “Valdeta creates an environment where team members can collaborate effectively,” says nominator La-Tasha Morrison, Training & Development manager, Weston Forest Products. “She builds relationships and trust, which has assisted our team in maintaining an inclusive, barrier-free culture.”


LIEZELLE “LIZ” AGUSTIN Senior Learning Specialist

PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific (7 direct reports)

Diploma in Workplace Learning and Development, De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, Philippines


In the last year, Liezelle Agustin led the Learning Management System Sustainment team function of PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, assuming the role immediately and unexpectedly when her manager went on personal leave. In that role, she manages 7 direct reports and oversees 50+ functional learning management system (LMS) administrators and training leaders across the global organization. Agustin played an active role in developing a new revenue-supporting function, which enables clients to use the LMS to receive the training necessary to become part of the company’s client network of sites. Under her leadership, through 2022, the LMS Sustainment Team eliminated nearly 6,000 non-billable hours of work for the business, further increasing capacity to support revenue growth. “In her time as manager of her functional area, Liezelle has shown she has the business maturity and confidence to handle the position,” says nominator Alisha Talley, Learning strategist, Enterprise Learning, PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, “addressing both the people and process sides of the business in a professional manner and with effective results and positive team feedback for her methods.”


NATHAN BECKER Training and Development Specialist

Intek Plastics (currently training 8 emerging leaders and mentoring 2 supervisors)


Nathan Becker says he got the job as a training and development specialist at Intertek Plastics due to being a subject matter expert on extrusion and then he taught himself the rest of the skills he needed via YouTube and the company’s LMS. He now supports an employee base of approximately 250, managing training programs across 8 business units. He spearheads the 12-month Emerging Leaders program, the On the Job Training Program for the machine operator position, the Departmental Teambuilding program, and Extrusion 101 and 201. In the past year, the company tracked 69 production level-ups (promotions) as a direct result of the Training department’s efforts. Furthermore, employee retention improved by 10% in the past year, a result the company attributes to overall employee job satisfaction that is affected by its leveling system and career pathing programs. “Beyond the hours of self-improvement Nate takes upon himself to ensure he delivers the best training experience to all those he is responsible for, Nate demonstrates great heart,” says nominator Sonya Prange, VP of HR & Service Operations, Intek Plastics. “He wants to grow others, to see them shine and achieve their greatest potential.”


ELIZABETH BLANCHETTE Instructional Designer

AAA Northeast (served as project team leader for benefits team of 7-10 people)

B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastern Nazarene College; M.A., Executive Leadership, Liberty University


In the last year, Elizabeth Blanchette assumed the role of chief instructional designer for all learning interventions across AAA Northeast, spanning just under 3,300 employees. Her new responsibilities include all factors of design, deployment, and evaluation of learning programs in addition to the formal mentoring and coaching of other design team members. She was the key designer and project manager for a new partnership with Au Pair America to create learning modules for new au pairs driving in the U.S., resulting in both increased revenue and brand awareness. Blanchette also designed a workshop to help managers increase employee performance. Some 60 days after completing the workshop, team members of 64% of managers who attended reported that their manager was consistently holding 1-on-1 meetings that included time to discuss their future career path and opportunities for development. Notes nominator Alicia Williamson, director, Talent Development, AAA Northeast: “Elizabeth’s passion and excitement for new ideas and new ways of thinking, combined with her commitment to the development of those around her, make her an excellent Learning and Development leader.”


BECKY BURKE VP Learning & Strategic Development

BankWest, Inc. (5 direct reports)

B.S. and M.S., Banking & Financial Services, Northern State University; currently working on a Doctorate in Business Administration, Capella University


A few years ago, Becky Burke submitted a proposal to BankWest, Inc.’s management to pull training out of HR and make it a standalone department. Under Burke’s leadership, the department was reimagined in 2022 from training to BankWest Learning and Development. It now includes a robust onboarding experience; expanded teller function training; account opening training; and other training such as soft skills, technical, supervisor, and business development officer training. In 2023, Burke led the training for 260 employees for a massive banking core system software conversion. As a result, every customer was serviced on day 1 of the conversion. Due to the overall transition and profit generated, every employee in the organization received a bonus based on more than 10% growth. “Becky is always looking for ways to improve her department and the learning experience for all,” says nominator Jennifer Baloun, VP, Sales and Marketing, BankWest Inc. “She is a coach, mentor, and leader of her personal team—and she herself is a continuous learner as she currently is working on her doctorate. L&D is her passion.”


JANE CROWE EMEA Revenue Enablement Manager

SAP Concur (leads 2 field enablement managers)

B.S., Psychology, Oxford Brookes University


Jane Crowe is the team lead of the Small Medium Business Europe Enablement team at SAP Concur, leading a team of 2 field enablement managers. Her team looks after the UK, Ireland, France, and the Benelux region and supports more than 9 different roles. In 2022, Crowe took on the responsibility for the Tool Utilization project to determine how account executives could most effectively use available sales tools. Crowe led the initiative to train 40 members of the sales team to use digital video tools to increase the average deal size. As a result of the training, the average deal size increased by 45% from first quarter 2022 to first quarter 2023. When a core product was not selling well in the UKI space, Crowe analyzed why this was and put together a multi-faceted enablement success program. Post-training, the company saw a 75% increase in unit sales quarter over quarter, and annual recurring revenue increased by 44.5%. “Jane has strong leadership skills,” says nominator Christine Gauthreaux, senior director, Leadership & Field Enablement, SAP Concur. “She is an excellent communicator, with the ability to articulate complex ideas clearly and concisely.”


KELLY DICKENS Senior Instructional Designer

CNO Financial Group (co-managed nearly 30 subject matter experts as part of the national leader’s recruiting program)

Attended Columbia College with a major in Screenwriting


Kelly Dickens was promoted to senior instructional designer at CNO Financial in 2022. Dickens proposed a solution to define the company’s recruiting training vision and led the resulting new blended Personal Referral Program, designing and implementing the P-R-P conversation model to establish structure and confidence when approaching candidates. The training includes teambuilding exercises, role-play activity, and testimonial videos. As a result of the training, the company exceeded its personal referral recruiting goal by 13% and saw a 26% increase in higher average branch personal referral submissions after the training was delivered in 54 branches. Dickens also has been hands-on as a mentor with the onboarding of 4 instructional designers over the past year, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity. He oversaw designers who were involved in several product training modules. Following his guidance, these courses resulted in a 22% increase in average commissions for the Life Insurance Certification compared to non-certified producers, notes nominator Michael Catania, director, CNO Financial, who adds, “Kelly’s vision, exceptional instructional design skill level, and desire to develop others will continue to be a valuable asset for the company in the future.”


AUDREY ERKER Corporate Trainer

Nelnet (coached 300+ Nelnet associates through CliftonStrengths program; trained 1,500+ in nGage: The Nelnet Experience)

Bachelor’s, Business Administration, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; pursuing a Master’s in Management, Colorado Technical University (anticipated graduation August 2024)


Audrey Erker started as an intern on the CliftonStrengths project team at Nelnet before becoming a full member of the team and then taking on the CliftonStrengths program leader role last year. She develops customized training plans to help leaders integrate strengths into their teams, manages coaching assignments for the CliftonStrengths coaching team, and onboards new CliftonStrengths coaches. This past year, Erker also became the program lead for Nelnet’s Leadership Program and new hire onboarding program, nGage: The Nelnet Experience. Erker created and leads an Associate Resource Group (ARG) called Young Associates Community, which served as a blueprint for other ARGs at Nelnet. “Audrey was instrumental in standardizing the process of creating and leading ARGs at our company. She never rests on her laurels and always looks for ways to innovate whatever she is working on,” notes nominator Nycci Jones, director II, Corporate Training and Organizational Development, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Nelnet. “Some 16.8% of participants in ARGs have been promoted since joining, and 91.8% of participants are still actively employed at Nelnet.”


AMANDA W. HALLOCK Senior Learning Specialist

PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific (led 24)

B.A., Interpersonal and Organizational Communication Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; M.Ed., Educational Technology, James Madison University


Recently promoted to senior Learning specialist in the Enterprise Learning (EL) team at PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, Amanda Hallock manages a cross-functional group called ID&D Community with 176 members from within the 20+ departments of the business and members from other business units across the company. In 2022, Hallock assumed large-scale client-facing and billable projects European Union Clinical Trial Regulation and the Continuous Learning and Improvement Program. She also assumed the responsibility of leading EL’s monthly development clinics (turning them into 3D virtual experiences and saving 300+ hours of non-billable time for the EL team), took on additional mentoring responsibilities, and overhauled a business-wide curriculum for novice designers. “Amanda demonstrates leadership, identifies and explores opportunities, serves as a role model, and inspires others in the field. Her manager describes her as having the creativity of a designer but the analytical skills of a mathematician,” says nominator Alisha Talley, Learning strategist, Enterprise Learning Company, PPD, part of Thermo Fisher Scientific. “These attributes drive Amanda to find new ways of doing things, partly explaining why she won 3 internal recognition awards in 20 months.”


DEKEL LEVINSON Senior Corporate Trainer

KLA Corporation (mentored 2 new trainers)

Bachelor’s, Haifa University, Human Services and Political Science; Graduate, Program for Organizational Consulting and Development, Tavistock Institute for Human Relations and Ofek


Dekel Levinson took on a lead role in the cultural acclimation of leadership and employees of acquired companies, as well as developing a new training course covering KLA Corporation’s leadership competencies. The program trained 350 global managers and individual contributors and aimed to increase the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) by 4 points for 2 recently acquired companies. As a result of the training, eNPS increased 8 points for 1 and 7 points for the other. Levinson also assumed a lead/mentor role for new trainers in 2 of the Corporate Learning Center’s new sites (Shanghai, China, and Ann Arbor, MI). Levinson currently provides 90% of the training and facilitation for all KLA employees based in Israel, Europe, and India (approximately 30% of the company). “Dekel is a trusted partner of KLA’s business leaders at all levels,” says nominator Glenn Hughes, senior director, Global Learning and Development, KLA Corporation. “She very quickly establishes rapport and trust with those she meets and works well at all levels. Individuals and teams naturally gravitate to her. She has the ability to think through a problem, ideate on solutions, and operationalize those solutions. She’s all about results…with a human touch.”


MATT MANZER Senior Manager, Learning Operations

KLA Corporation (led 3 during a training initiative)

B.S., Physical Science, California Polytechnic State University


Matt Manzer now owns all daily operations of KLA Corporation’s Corporate Learning Center, including budgeting, supplier negotiations, LMS management (including choosing KLA’s new LMS and chairing the 2023 integration of it), user content supervision, Webbased training guidance, and the recent adoption of Semi University. He also took on the New Manager Curriculum consisting of 5 programs: NeMO (New Manager Orientation), Situational Leadership II, MoVVeRRS, BME, and Engaging with Engagement. The Engaging with Engagement program aimed to help 400 managers worldwide better understand and utilize KLA’s engagement platform and improve employee engagement scores. As a result of the training, the employee Net Promoter score (eNPS) rose from 28 in August 2021 to 38 at the end of 2022 and 44 in May 2023. “Matt is already doing 90% of the work that 80% of Learning leaders in the U.S. do. That is, he manages the LMS, manages the vendors, and puts together programs that solve problems while keeping scope and scale in mind,” says nominator Glenn Hughes, senior director, Global Learning and Development, KLA Corporation. “He has a business mindset, a leadership mindset, an engineer’s mindset, a learner’s mindset, and a learning mindset.”


ANDREW McCALLISTER Learning Experience Designer

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (trained 1,757 learners)

B.S., Business Administration and Management, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology; M.A., Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in Technology, Ashford University; Postgraduate Certificate, Education, University of Nottingham


In January 2022, Andrew McCallister was promoted to instructional designer II at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). He took on an increased leadership role and more complex responsibilities within the learning experience and design team. McCallister created a bestin- class instructional design rubric, developed a cinematic universe to house assets for use within training products, managed the team’s first-ever intern, and improved upon his original course design and development for the NFPA’s Fire Prevention Program Manager (FPPM) online training course. That enhanced training program has become the 2nd highest grossing product from the NFPA, producing a 99% increase in unit sales and revenue from January-May 2023. “Andrew is a critical thinker and always seeks to align his ideas and work with the association in parallel with the team’s mission, vision, and strategy,” says nominator Jennifer Santos, senior manager, Education and Development, NFPA. “With his technological knowledge and hands-on approach, he has demonstrated the skills needed to advance training programs alongside a rapidly changing industry and increasingly technical world.”


JAMIE McKINNEY President (trained 113)

B.S.B.A., Ohio State University; MBA, University of Colorado at Denver


Jamie McKinney launched a self-built online course called Speak UP to Level UP, the 3-Part System to Unleash Your Power and Confidence at Work. Since the inception of her company, 7,500+ people have been empowered through her keynote talks, workshops, coaching, and book club sessions. Her mission, says nominator Will Matthews, president, Matthews Performance Group, is to empower women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) industries to “ditch doubts, speak up, and achieve the careers they deserve and desire.” The content from McKinney’s 3 Pillars of Leadership Professional Development Program for Women – Building Confidence and Boosting Careers is derived from her book, “Speak Up, Sister! The Professional Woman’s Guide to Confidence and Success,” and delivered via live virtual sessions or in-person over 13 weeks. The program has resulted in 80%+ of 113 participants reporting promotions or expanded scope of responsibilities within 3 months to 1 year of program completion. “Jamie possesses an irresistible energy that ignites others in ways that are awe-inspiring,” Matthews says. “Her remarkable talent lies in creating a nurturing and empowering environment for women, resulting in immediate surges of confidence and an eagerness to embrace bravery at work.”


TANYA MISAJLOVSKI Regional Training and Development Manager

Brose North America, Inc. (7 direct reports)

Bachelor’s, Business Administration, University of Michigan – Dearborn


Tanya Misajlovski took on the responsibility for learning and development for the North American region, including the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, at Brose North America, Inc. She expanded the team by 3.5 full-time employees, including 2.5 team members in Mexico to complete a centralized learning and development concept between the U.S. and Mexico. Misajlovski was nominated to lead the global director leadership development program, which prepares top talent potentials for director-level positions. This program required her input for the program development and to lead the program over 2 years. She traveled extensively to lead this leadership development program, serving as a coach and mentor for the global participants. Some 80% of employees who go through Brose’s leadership development programs are promoted/transferred into higher-level positions. Misajlovski also oversees the apprenticeship program, whose cohort doubled in size last year. “Tanya brings a creativity and an energy to her function that is unmatched,” says nominator Lisa Basila, vice president, Human Resources, Brose North America, Inc. “She drives and embraces change, and this role is offering her the ability to use and expand her strengths.”


DAMARSHALL NICKERSON Talent & Development Advisor

Gainwell Technologies (managed/led 10 people during a training initiative)

B.A., Psychology, The University of Texas at Dallas; M.A., Organizational Management, University of Phoenix


In the last year, Gainwell Technologies Talent & Development Advisor Damarshall Nickerson launched the Early Career Professionals (ECP) Academy, led the implementation of live-virtual New Employee Orientation (NEO) class delivery, and implemented a Training Design and Delivery Community of Practice. In those roles, she coordinates crossfunctional teams of 200+ trainers, communications reps, and LMS administrators. She also manages the Opportunity Knocks program, a monthly live-virtual employee development series designed to provide learning opportunities and resources. The ECP Academy is an 8-week program designed for Gainwell Technologies employees who have less than 2 years of current experience in the business environment. The voluntary attrition rate of ECP Academy graduates was only 4%, which was significantly lower than for associate professionals who did not participate in the academy. “Damarshall is devoted to the development of others, balances stakeholder priorities, collaborates effectively, and inspires others to innovate and grow,” says nominator Wes Schouten, senior manager, Talent & Development, Gainwell Technologies. “She is a strategic thinker who champions our company culture and approaches her work with enthusiasm and excellence.”


KENNETH ORTIZ Manager, Learning Technologies

KPMG (managed 15)

B.A., Anthropology, Montclair State University; M.S., Instructional Technology, Saint Joseph’s University


For many years, Kenneth Ortiz has created high-quality technologybased learning for KPMG, addressing a variety of priority learning needs. Last year, Ortiz was asked to think beyond individual courses and create a near-shore/off-shore team that could function as a single go-to source for all graphic design and development needs for 39,000 learners. In response, Ortiz created a Digital Learning and Media Specialists (DLMS) team that includes 1 U.S. professional, 6 professionals in India, and 2 in Jamaica. “His leadership has integrated this small group of professionals working in locations around the world into 1 high-functioning team with a shared vision and a tremendous collective impact,” says nominator Mike Rosenberg, Learning architect, KPMG, who notes that Ortiz’s DLMS team is projected to reduce development costs by more than $140,000 in 1 year. “Despite being established in the middle of the Great Resignation, the team so far has seen no turnover—voluntary or involuntary.” Ortiz also took the lead on assessing the capabilities of a new AI-enabled tool for converting text to speech. “Ken has a knack for building rapport,” Rosenberg says, “clearly seeing a current need and future potential, and adapting as necessary to a changing landscape.”


BOB PANTALONE Sales Enablement Director

Hayes Locums (3 direct reports; managed 60)

Bachelor’s, Acting and Interpretation, Central Michigan University


Bob Pantalone created and managed several new training programs that allowed Hayes Locums to grow and expand its Sales Department, including: the D.R.I.V.E. Sales Enablement program, Onboarding, Sales Enablement Focus Groups, iSpring Learning Management System, Career Development, Technology Implementation Training, and Sales Enablement Training Specialist Coaching. Pantalone introduced new elements into the sales coaching experience, reorienting it toward honing raw communication skills and recognizing emotional intelligence (EQ). Besides incorporating successful talk tracks and role-play techniques, the program offers learners the opportunity to delve into DISC personalities and Myers-Briggs concepts. Since July 2022, Sales consultants have increased their “Apping” key performance indicator from an average of 5.5 per consultant to 10.5 within their first 90 days of employment. This led to 1,127 provider “presents” (proposals) and 5,649 booked days for these providers. “Bob has established himself as an exceptional leader and driving force for success at Hayes Locums,” says Corey Self, vice president, Operations, Hayes Locums. “With his expertise and dedication, I am confident in his ability to excel and continue to contribute critically to the organization’s success.”


ROBERT ROBERTS General Manager (GM) Training Manager

AutoNation, Inc. (led 3 and trained 7,000+ during a training initiative)

Associate of Science, Fire Technology, Mission College


Robert Roberts recently transitioned from his position as an L&D Training manager to a GM (General Manager) Training manager, where he supports and develops AutoNation, Inc.’s 261 general managers in 314 locations, 18 states, and 119 cities and is responsible for training content and delivery for the company’s General Manager University. He also became the lead trainer for AN GPS, a role that gave him the responsibility of training the entire variable operations side of the company (7,000 sales associates, sales managers, and general managers) on a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software after 20+ years of using the previous software. The resulting seamless transition meant an estimated 0 loss in sales due to the new system coming online and directly contributed to a 4% increase in sales in 2022. Managers reached the desired proficiency level within 30 days instead of 90+ days after initial training provided by the product vendor. “Robert’s leadership with AN GPS was instrumental in the quick adoption of this CRM,” says nominator Bob Clark, senior manager, Career Development, AutoNation. “And in his new role of Manager, GM Training, he has continued to influence and make decisions that will help better develop our new general managers and our much-needed bench.”


JESSICA SIEMINSKI Director, Learning and Performance

Nationwide (10 direct reports)

B.B.A., Marketing, Ohio University; M.S., Management, The American College of Financial Services


In January 2023, Jessica Sieminski stepped up from manager to director of Learning and Performance at Nationwide Financial Services. In this role, she oversees the sales training content development for the division, which has a diversified portfolio of products across 5 profit centers and 2 shared services organizations with 500+ sales associates. Sieminski’s lead role in the Internal Sales and Service New Entry Training Transformation resulted in validated metrics that showcased increased transparency in learner performance and increases in learner satisfaction and associate confidence. Level 4 results for the instructor-led onboarding program that heavily focused on posttraining resources and follow-up included a 1-month reduction in time to proficiency and a 6 percentage point increase in readiness for associates who participated in the initiative. “Jessica has a passion for learning and development and embraces innovation in her solutions,” says nominator Zenniere Bowry-Thomas, AVP, Sales Development and Training – Financial Services, Nationwide Financial. “Jessica believes in empowerment and shared leadership to create strong associates and teams. She is collaborative and showcases a growth mindset with a lens for strategic visioning.”



AbbVie (managed 3)

B.A., Columbia College; M.A., Industrial Organization (IO) Psychology, Chicago School of Professional Psychology


Last year, Marie Corchado-Stewart took on responsibility for leading the Training team to reimagine AbbVie’s global healthcare compliance training curriculum to make it more digestible and engaging while ensuring it addresses all requisite and emerging topics for compliance to meet Department of Justice guidelines. Corchado-Stewart and her team re-evaluated the entire global training curriculum, eliminating redundancy/duplicate training and refreshed training material by creating 10 new training modules in the last calendar year. Courses now are staggered over a multi-year cycle to prevent over-training on topics and ensure all content is updated and refreshed for each training cycle. Training seat time for 50,000 employees was reduced by 10 hours per annual cycle. Additionally, learners expressed 95%-99% satisfied or highly satisfied on surveys across all courses. “Marie is forwardthinking in her approach to all things related to policy and training,” says nominator Shana Fried, Ethics and Compliance officer, Enterprise Compliance, Policies, Governance, AbbVie. “Other teams at Abbvie that conduct training look to Marie for leadership and guidance in further enhancing other functional-owned training approaches because of her unique experience and her knowledge of training implementation.”


MATTHEW A. BECTON Senior Manager, Learning & Development

Verizon (6 direct reports; managed 10-12 during a training initiative)

B.S., St. John Fisher University; MBA in progress, Strayer University/ Jack Welch Management Institute



AMANDA FULLBRIGHT Senior Vice President, Learning and Performance Development

BlueSprig Pediatrics (3 direct reports; led 12 during a training initiative)

B.S., Applied Behavior Analysis, and M.Ed, University of North Texas



JAMIE M. HILL Senior Program Manager

Booz Allen Hamilton (5 direct reports; managed 3)

B.A., Spanish and History, and MBA, Augusta State University



TIAJA SABRIE National Sea Logistics Training Manager

Kuehne + Nagel (managed project teams of 10)

B.A., Theatre Arts, Wayne State University



KARIN SPRINGER Manager, Talent Strategy

Huntington Bank (3 direct reports; managed 5 in most recent training initiative)

B.S., Business Administration, Capital University


Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.