Judy is on a mission to rid the world of boring training!
Heide Abelli is senior vice president of Skillsoft’s training and development content and is also responsible for its leadership and business skills content portfolios. She joined Skillsoft last year and is responsible for driving innovation across those content areas.
Abelli has extensive experience in the publishing, media and educational technology and corporate training sectors. Prior to joining Skillsoft, she spent almost a decade working at Harvard Business Publishing, where she developed award-winning e-learning products in the leadership and business skills content areas, including interactive simulations, video-based courses, case studies and interactive learning solutions. Prior to that, she held several roles at the global publishing and media giant, Bertelsmann.
Abelli is passionate about leveraging technology to improve the practice of management. She is also a thought leader in the areas of training and development and management and leadership. She has been quoted in numerous publications including Chief Learning Officer, HR Drive, Business Insider, INC,, Deal Crunch and Learning Solutions, to name a few. She is also a frequent participant in panel discussions and presenter at leading industry conferences. Because Abelli has also held leadership roles in product development, innovation and product management at Fortune 100 companies, she truly has her finger on the pulse of what organizations need to train and develop today’s workforce, especially in an era of digital transformation.
Abelli holds an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School and is on the faculty of the Management and Organization Department of Boston College’s School of Business.
Leland Melvin is an engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on mission STS-122 (2008) and STS-129 (2009), helping to construct the International Space Station.
Leland served co-chair of the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM Education Task Force and as NASA Associate Administrator for Education.
“Houston, we have a problem.” Leland Melvin was 25 feet under water in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, a 6 million gallon pool, training to perform spacewalks as a NASA astronaut when he called the test director and asked him to turn the volume up in his headset. He never heard a reply and was immediately hoisted out of the pool to learn that he was deaf. Emergency surgery resulting in only partial recovery to his hearing led him to being medically disqualified to fly in space by NASA flight surgeons.
This is just one of the many career ending challenges Leland has overcome in his life. Before becoming an astronaut Leland was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1986 College Draft to play professional football but a hamstring injury thwarted his NFL career with Detroit and then later with the Dallas Cowboys. Through determination and perseverance Leland ultimately traveled off-planet twice on Space Shuttle Atlantis to help construct the International Space Station, logging a over 565 hours in space. Leland is the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space. The Pro Football Hall of Fame honored his athletic and academic accomplishments by placing his Detroit Lions jersey under glass in Canton, Ohio. Through these professional experiences working on high stakes teams he developed a deep and nuanced understanding of effective team dynamics.
Leland has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in materials science engineering. He worked at NASA Langley Research Center in the area of nondestructive testing creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles resulting in publications in numerous scientific journals. After hanging up his space boots he was appointed head of NASA Education and served as the co-chair on the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Task Force developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan. Leland was the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB), a global collaboration in space. He uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) careers. Leland was also recently seen as the host of the Lifetime competition series “Child Genius” and as a judge for ABC’s robot competition series “BattleBots.” He was featured on National Geographic’s “One Strange Rock”, hosted by Will Smith, where he explained how his brain repaired itself after an injury that left him deaf and almost stopped him from ever going to space. Leland was also a consultant for the second season of National Geographic’s “Mars.”
Leland holds four honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences, and philanthropy. He was chosen as an ICON MANN with Quincy Jones, Forrest Whitaker, Steve Harvey and 24 other men selected for their ability to inspire people of all ages through their vision and commitment to creating positive change throughout the world. Leland has been honored with the NFL Players Association “Award of Excellence” for inspiring athletes to pursue excellence on and off the field.
He has written a chapter on the power of visualization in Venus Williams’ book “Come to Win.” Leland has appeared on “Top Chef” as a celebrity judge and “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman,” while Cesar Milan helped him with his unruly pooch Jake on an episode of “The Dog Whisperer.” He was featured in a Sci Fi Channel program documenting the making of the “Reach for the Stars” will.i.am song, which was transmitted to Mars and back to inspire students to pursue STEAM. After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut, and Senior Executive Service leader, Leland looks to share his stories of perseverance and excellence to inspire communities for lasting positive change.
In May, Leland released his memoir, “Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances.” In “Chasing Space,” Leland shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, and examine the intersecting roles of community, perseverance, and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.
Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, a chair established to support the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful enterprises that contribute to the betterment of society. She is an expert in leadership, teaming, and organizational learning, and her new book, The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth (Wiley; November, 2018) summarizers her two decades of pioneering research on psychological safety. With articles in Harvard Business Review and California Management Review, and in academic journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly and the Academy of Management Journal, she has been recognized by the biannual Thinkers50global ranking of management thinkers since 2011 (#13 in the most recent ranking). Her prior books – Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate and compete in the knowledge economy and Teaming to Innovate (Jossey-Bass, 2012, 2103) – explore teamwork in dynamic work environments. Before her academic career, she was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked on transformational change in large companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller, and her book A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (Birkauser Boston, 1987) clarifies Fuller’s mathematical contributions for a non-technical audience. Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, AM in psychology, and AB in engineering and design, all from Harvard University.
Priya Parker’s bold approach to gatherings redefines the ways people connect, learn, and develop relationships. The founder of boutique advisory firm Thrive Labs, she helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and philanthropists create transformative, unforgettable gatherings that allow them to step back from their daily routine, rediscover their motivations, and develop strategies for innovation.
In The Art of Gathering, Parker combines fascinating case studies culled from an international cast of characters with practices to follow—and rules to break— to connect more meaningfully with friends, colleagues, and strangers. She includes examples from her attempts to create connections, illustrating which tactics worked and which ones failed. Included among her success stories are “#IamHere Days,” self-organized adventures in which a group of people unplugs and explores a neighborhood, and “15 Toasts,” dinner parties where each guest has to toast to a common theme (the twist: the last one has to sing their toast). Parker’s interactive talks are both a demonstration of the techniques described in her books and a guide on how to implement her strategies.
Parker has helped numerous clients develop better gatherings, including the Museum of Modern Art, LVMH, the World Economic Forum, meetup.com, and Civitas Public Affairs. Trained in conflict resolution, she has worked on peace processes in the Arab world, Southern Africa, and India, and is a founding member of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, where she worked on race relations on American college campuses. She has been appointed as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Values and the New Models of Leadership Council, and is also a senior expert at Mobius Executive Leadership. Her TEDx talk on purpose has been viewed over one million times. Parker studied organizational design at M.I.T., public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and political and social thought at the University of Virginia. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, Anand Giridharadas, and their two children.
Mike Prokopeak is vice president and editor in chief for Human Capital Media, publisher of Chief Learning Officer, Talent Economy and Workforce magazines. In that role, he directs content for the magazines as well as the company’s online and in-person events including the CLO Symposium and CLO Breakfast Club.
Prokopeak has a proven track record of editorial achievement over nearly two decades in journalism and publishing. Under his direction, Human Capital Media has won more than two dozen awards for editorial excellence.
Prior to joining Human Capital Media, he held a number of roles with leading publishing companies such as Houghton Mifflin Co. and the Great Books Foundation. He began his career in journalism as a reporter for Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine in Flagstaff (Arizona) and worked his way up to editor in chief, eventually taking on general manager responsibilities for the magazine and its sister publication, Flagstaff Live, both owned by Pulitzer Newspapers Inc. In that role, he directed the editorial, design, advertising and events departments. A former high school teacher and U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Prokopeak brings in-depth experience in publishing as well as continuing education to Human Capital Media.