2020 Conference Speakers
2016 Miss American Pageant winner and United States Army Captain
Army Captain Deshauna Barber is a former Miss USA and award-winning international speaker, coach, and entrepreneur with a bold approach to inspiring and encouraging her audience. Deshauna uses her experience as an Army officer, former Miss USA, and STEM graduate to inspire her audience. Deshauna shows the power of perseverance and tenacity to now become a top-rated speaker that is widely sought after by Fortune 500 companies.
Deshauna is currently receiving her Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion Certification at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Virginia State University and a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems and Services from the University of Maryland University College. She worked as an IT Analyst in the United States government for over 7 years being employed by agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Department of The Navy and lastly the Department of Commerce.
Captain Barber has served her country for over 9 years and now works as a cadet instructor at Howard Universities Bison Battalion during her Army Reserve commitment. When she is not serving her country, she travels the world as a full-time Motivational Speaker. She has made it her life goal to encourage, inspire and strengthen the people around her.
Deshauna has appeared on The Steve Harvey Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Fox and Friends, The Chelsea Show, Good Morning Washington, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The T.D. Jakes Show, The Nightly Show, The Source on Sirius XM, The Daily Show, Lunch Break, Live with Kelly, Good Morning America and in Glamour Magazine and Diversity Magazine.
Dr. Judy Bense
Dr. Judy Bense grew up on a farm near Panama City and earned her PhD in Anthropology/Archaeology at the age of 27. After a research position at the University of Alabama, she returned to northwest Florida in 1980 and “walked on” to the University of West Florida (UWF) with the goal of creating a progressive and nationally respected Anthropology program focusing on the archaeology of West Florida. Working her way up from the bottom at UWF, Bense established the Archaeology Institute, Department of Anthropology, and the state-wide Florida Public Archaeology Network. Underwater archaeology was added in 1989, and by 2008, the UWF archaeology program was a leader in Florida and the country. That year, Bense was appointed President of the University of West Florida, an office she held until 2017. As UWF’s first female president, she raised the university’s profile, oversaw the construction of modern academic and residence halls, increased enrollment, and started the football program. Bense has served as a mentor to many students who were fast becoming front-runners in the archaeological world. As a role-model, Bense continues to inspire women to achieve both academically and professionally.
Bense was recently inducted in 2019 into the Florida Women's Hall of Fame and is the first woman from Northwest Florida to receive this honor. She has received several prestigious awards from professional organizations, the state of Florida, and Spain. These include the Evelyn Fortune Bartlett Award, a lifetime achievement award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, the JC Harrington Medall, a lifetime achievement award from the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Senator Bob Williams Award Florida for Outstanding achievements in Public Archaeology from the Florida Department of State, and inducted into the Order of Isabella de Catholica by the King of Spain for advancing Spain's contribution to the Americas.
Bense is currently finishing a book manuscript synthesizing decades of archaeological research on the Spanish occupation of West Florida 1698-1763 and teaching archaeology.
In her free time, Bense enjoys being on the family farm in Panama City, woodworking, and films.
Betsy Bowers is Vice President for Finance and Administration at the University of West Florida and has worked in higher education for more than 30 years. Previously she served as associate vice president for Internal Auditing and Management Consulting. She has served as an adjunct professor at UWF, teaching an upper-division course on White Collar Crime.
Bowers is a past national president of the Association of College and University Auditors (ACUA) and served ACUA on the Board of Directors, as editor of the College and University Auditor journal, Awards Committee (chair), Professional Education Committee, and a track coordinator for ACUA’s Annual conferences. Recently, Bowers was honored with one of ACUA’s highest honors: Member of Excellence in Service Award. Bowers is a past president of the Northwest Florida chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) and serves now on the Board of Directors. Prior to coming to Florida, she worked at East Tennessee State University and Northeast State Technical Community College
Bowers received her BBA in Accounting and her MBA from East Tennessee State University. She holds Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), Certified Internal Controls Auditor (CICA) and Certificate in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) designations.
A past president of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) chapters in Tennessee and Florida, Bowers serves on the Board for the Northwest Florida Chapter and is an instructor for IIA seminars. In 2008, the Northwest Florida chapter established the Betsy Bowers Scholarship for UWF students who pursue internal auditing careers.
Sheila Carpenter is the Chief Information Officer for Zix|AppRiver, a worldwide cybersecurity, productivity and compliance services provider headquartered in Dallas, Texas but with strong roots on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida. As CIO, Carpenter oversees security, IT, business applications and compliancy for the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider.
Carpenter has worked in the software IT space for over 25 years, helping bring cloud services and security to many different industries. She began her career working with business information systems at Mitel Networks, and worked with many startups to implement SaaS offerings, introduce security frameworks and IT service management capabilities. In 2001, she joined Entrust Inc. to lead the company’s IT, security, cloud services, as well as the compliancy and risk programs for SOX and Webtrust certifications. Since then, Carpenter has worked as the Director of Global IT and Security for Entrust DataCard, and spearheaded the integration between the two companies, establishing necessary certifications for the security team. In 2016, Carpenter became the VP of Cloud Services and led the migration of production workloads to a cloud-based platform with continuous delivery and automation. She also was instrumental in obtaining CPI-CP certification for credit card creation. In 2019, Carpenter joined Zix |AppRiver as CIO.
With a strong commitment to promote diversity in security, Carpenter launched the Women’s Network of Ottawa for Entrust DataCard and has also implemented the Women in Security group at Zix/AppRiver. She also continues to actively mentor four to five persons per year. In her free time, Carpenter enjoys running, yoga and being on the water at her cottage in Ottawa, Canada. As an empty nester, Carpenter and her husband of 32 years enjoy their two dogs and visits from both of their children
Laura Gilliam joined United Way of West Florida as President/CEO in January 2018. She works with the volunteer board of directors and 25 member staff to further the mission of the organization by addressing the community’s most critical issues by distributing funds, developing key strategic partnerships, and supporting innovative approaches to problem-solving.
Gilliam began her non-profit career in 1996 with Faith in Action of the River Cities. She served as Executive Director of United Way of the River Cities in Huntington, West Virginia for 12 years.
While in West Virginia, Gilliam served on several boards, and as the President of the Board of WV 211. She has presented at local and regional meetings and was a member and past president of the Huntington Rotary Club, her church, and local non-profit organizations.
Gilliam is a member of the Downtown Pensacola Rotary Club; the Institute for Women in Politics of Northwest Florida; and the Transportation Disadvantaged Board in Santa Rosa County. She is a member of the United Way of Florida State Association Board of Governors and the Pensacola Opera Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the National 211 CEO Partnership for United Way Worldwide.
Gilliam graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.
She and her husband have two children. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, spending time at the beach, and exploring the many wonderful restaurants in the area.
Janice P. Gilley serves as the county administrator. As the chief administrative officer of the county, the county administrator is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Escambia County Board of Commissioners; implementing the day-to-day operations of county government. In addition, this position must work closely to develop and cultivate resilient relationships with our state, federal, county, municipal, for-profit and nonprofit community partners.
Before joining the county as county administrator, Gilley served as the associate vice president of external affairs for the president at the University of West Florida. There she oversaw the management of special projects and governmental relations and served as the liaison to the university’s board of trustees. Prior to that, Gilley served in the governor's office, held positions with the Florida Legislature and was appointed to the Santa Rosa Island Authority. She served as an Escambia County Commissioner, Escambia County School Board member, as well as a member and vice-chair for the Three Rivers Conservation and Development Council. Her volunteer services include working with the Pensacola Opera Board, American Cancer Society, Leukemia Society, Children's Home Society, and Trinitas Christian School.
Gilley earned her master's degree in public administration from the University of Florida and a bachelor's degree in journalism, public relations and communications from the University of Southern Mississippi. She and her husband live on a farm and have two sons who attend Samford University.
Julie Griffin is the Senior Vice President of Contact Center Operations in Pensacola, Florida for Navy Federal Credit Union. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of more than 2,900 front-line member service representatives.
With more than 30 years of experience working in the financial services industry, 28 years of that have been spent at Navy Federal. Griffin previously held positions at Defense Mapping Federal Credit Union, State Department Federal Credit Union, and E*TRADE Bank.
Griffin is passionate about service and takes pride in creating the best member service experiences, regardless of the channel. Prior to relocating to Navy Federal's Greater Pensacola Operations in 2013, Griffin served as the Vice President of eChannels at the credit union's headquarters located in Vienna, VA. She was responsible for redesigning Navy Federal's online banking platform from the ground up and launching a robust line of mobile banking solutions which included Navy Federal's first iPad app.
A native of Northern Virginia, Griffin attended Marymount University in Arlington and is a 2005 graduate of the Navy Federal Executive Development Program. In 2017, Griffin received the Samuel R. Pennestri Memorial Award, Navy Federal's highest honor, for her devoted and loyal leadership throughout her career. Griffin is committed to supporting the Pensacola community by serving on the board of Pensacola Habitat for Humanity and being a member of IMPACT 100.
Pam Hatt has more than 31 years of experience in the financial industry with more than 23 years in marketing and communications. She currently is Vice President of Marketing at Pen Air Federal Credit Union, managing all aspects of marketing and public relation operations of the mid-size credit union with assets of $1.5B, 16 branch locations, and over 107,000 members throughout Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties in Florida and Baldwin and Mobile Counties in Alabama. Hatt oversaw the re-brand of Pen Air Federal Credit Union in 2015 and leads an empowered team of individuals that passionately pursue and advocate Pen Air’s brand, culture, values, mission, and vision.
Hatt participated in the Greater Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Pensacola Program (LeaP). As a Class of 2012 LeaP, she had the honor of working with 50 local leaders in the Pensacola community. The pinnacle of the experience was working on Operation HOPE – an extreme makeover project of the Pensacola International Airport and Naval Air Station Pensacola USO locations. The class raised more than $221,000 in cash and in-kind donations to see the project through in six short months.
Actively committed to her community, Hatt volunteers on the advisory board for the USO of Northwest Florida, is an advisory board member of the Pensacola Chapter of the Navy League, serves as a board member for the Jerry Maygarden Center for Financial Literacy at the University of West Florida, a UWF Executive Mentor for the College of Business, a Big with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Northwest Florida School to Work Program, a Pensacola State College Foundation Board Member, past Treasurer of the Florida Public Relations Association - Pensacola Chapter and Board of Trustee for ARC Gateway, and actively supports and promotes Financial Literacy and her community wherever she goes. In her free time, Hatt enjoys biking, sewing, painting, gardening and being Grammy Pammy.
Ildi Hosman serves as the Executive Director of Junior Achievement (JA) of Northwest Florida. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring financial literacy programming from Pensacola to Okaloosa County, fundraising, special events, and actively works in JA classrooms as a volunteer mentor.
Hosman’s professional background includes her role as Marketing Manager at IMS ExpertServices working for the Economic Development Council of Santa Rosa County Florida as Public Affairs Director, as Senior Health Educator for the Escambia County Health Department, and teaching as an adjunct instructor of Communications at the University of West Florida and Pensacola State College.
Hosman’s volunteer and community involvement includes serving as the Chapter Advisor for the Alpha Gamma Delta Women’s Fraternity at the UWF and as a board member of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. She is also a sustaining member and past president of the Junior League of Pensacola and is a member of Impact 100.
She has also been involved in as a volunteer and board member for the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce, CareerSource Escarosa, Manna Food Pantries, Saengar Theatre, and Santa Rosa Young Professionals. She is a proud graduate of the Leadership Pensacola Class of 2008 and Leadership Santa Rosa Class 24.
Hosman has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a master’s degree in Communications, both from the University of West Florida. She is a life-long resident of the Pensacola-area. She and her husband, James, have two children.
Tia Robbins is the Co-founder and Director of Development for Mr. Robbins’ Neighborhood, a non-profit organization serving underserved student-athletes in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. In this role, she executes Mr. Robbins’ Neighborhood’s annual fundraising plan, which includes securing financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations, and oversees the organization of special events.
Before joining the non-profit world, Robbins began her career in public relations and marketing in the music and entertainment industry in New York City. In 2002 she worked at Clive Davis’ J Records as a Publicity Coordinator. In 2004, she was Executive Assistant to Alicia Keys’ Manager at MBK Entertainment. In 2007, Robbins pursued her passion of entrepreneurship by co-founding T3 Agency, a boutique PR Agency, with high profile clients like Swizz Beatz and Monster Cable. In 2009 she founded Off the Market, LLC in New York after relocating to Gulf Breeze, FL, she founded Bombshell Moms, Inc. in 2012 (Gulf Breeze), and in 2017, she co-founded, I Love My Girlfriends Closet, LLC.
Robbins serves on the Executive Board for Jack and Jill of America, Inc.- Pensacola Chapter, and serves on the Board of Directors for Creative Learning Academy, The Studer Community Institute, and the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. In 2018, she was honored as a Living the Dream Award recipient, named Volunteer of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals-West Florida Chapter, and inducted into the Pensacola Sports Hall of Fame, along with her husband, Fred Robbins. In 2019, Robbins was named Junior League of Pensacola’s Philanthropic Woman of the Year, honored by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc- Pensacola Alumnae Chapter for outstanding commitment to educational awareness, and received Out Front Magazine’s Youth Development and Education Award.
In her free time, Robbins enjoys traveling and spending quality time with her husband and two sons.
Laurie Rodgers is Director of the North Region of Pace Center for Girls overseeing centers in Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Orange Park in Florida and in Macon, Georgia a new Reach Program. She is also part of the Senior Leadership Team with the Pace National Office.
Rodgers has served Pace girls for 25 years in the roles of Teacher/Advisor, Social Services Manager, Program Manager, Executive Director and in her current role as Regional Executive Director.
Rodgers is a graduate of Pensacola Catholic High, Pensacola Junior College, the University of West Florida and Troy State University - Florida Satellite. She has a bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s degree in Counseling and Psychology. She is married and has one son.
Dr. Martha Saunders
Martha Dunagin Saunders has held leadership roles in higher education for nearly 35 years. She began her career at The University of West Florida as a faculty member in the department of communication arts. She rose through the faculty ranks to the rank of professor, and moved into administration – leading to three university presidencies. She was the first woman chancellor at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and the first woman president of The University of Southern Mississippi, her alma mater. She assumed the presidency of the University of West Florida in 2017.
Her training and experience in the field of communication have led to numerous publications on crisis communication and public relations; widely anthologized published speeches; and two Silver Anvil awards, the Public Relations Society of America’s highest national honor. She is a 2011 national winner of the Stevie Award for Women in Business.
A native of Mississippi, Dr. Saunders earned her B.A. in French from The University of Southern Mississippi; her M.A. in journalism from the University of Georgia; and her Ph.D. in communication theory and research from Florida State University. She is a Fulbright Scholar.
She resides on Pensacola Beach with her husband, Joe Bailey. They have seven children and eleven grandchildren.
Paula Shell is the President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, serving the areas of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay Counties. In this role, she ensures the mission, strategy, values and goals of the organization are achieved by the agency. This includes producing positive outcomes in the following areas: leadership, vision, fundraising, marketing, client services, community awareness, volunteer relations, and coordinating relations with the Board of Directors.
Shell has worked in the area of Child Services for 32 years. She began her career at Lakeview Center, Inc. managing group homes for adolescent boys and girls and in 1997 she started at Big Brothers Big Sisters where for the past 22 years she has served as the President & CEO. Shell holds an AA degree from Pensacola State College and a BA degree from the University of West Florida in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology.
Shell is a graduate of the 2003 Leadership Pensacola Class, a member of IMPACT 100, and serves as the lead staff member to Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida’s legislative direction. She also served on initial Ministry Village Project Board of Directors at Olive Baptist Church, and on the Florida Chapter Board for the Arthritis Foundation.
Going on 6 years, Shell serves as a Big sister to Hope. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and has trained and completed seven marathons through the Joints In Motion program having personally raised over $30,000 for Arthritis research.