Stacey Nybeck – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

Chief Operating Officer, Serve, Inc.

Presentation: Let’s Talk About YOU!

Diversity is more than just the law and HR; race and ethnicity. It includes culture, religion, age, gender, orientation, and abilities. Understanding your role in EVERY environment is essential to bringing about lasting change in our workplaces and our world. This discussion will help you self-identify your roles to better understand how every individual is an integral part of the bigger picture.


Stacey Nybeck lives in the small town of New Albany, Pennsylvania…known for being the wreath capital of the world, and most recently, famous for when its library was washed into the middle of the road due to a flood that struck most of the town and local area.

Currently, Stacey is the chief operating officer at Serve, Inc. – a day training facility for individuals with varying disabilities. Her ultimate goal is to add value to people to help them see their own value. She has worked for Serve, Inc. for 32 years, proud to have worked her way up as the secretary and now the chief operating officer. Stacey earned her bachelor’s degree and MBA while working full-time and raising kids. She loves learning new things and recently became a certified leadership trainer and coach, as well as a certified diversity trainer.

Stacey’s proudest achievement (along with her husband of 31 years) is raising two boys who have become wonderful human beings and are now adding value to other people. She’s also proud to be a Mimi to four beautiful grandchildren.

Sarah Effertz – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

Owner, Blu Elefante Events

Presentation: What is Your SPARC? Using Your Unique Passion to Make an Impact Where Your Feet Are

Have you ever thought: “I wish I felt more fulfilled in my job” or “I don’t have time to do what I love”, or even “I wish I could take the risk to start my own business someday”? We will explore what makes you passionate, how to discover new joy, and renew the belief in yourself for a fulfilling career and life!


Sarah Effertz, owner of Blu Elefante Events, has a passion for creating unforgettable experiences! With over 18 years of event planning and marketing experience, Sarah has helped create powerful and profitable fundraisers for community partners, helped companies celebrate key milestones with cocktail receptions and golf tournaments, gathered like-minded individuals for intimate dinner parties, blown the roof off of venues for concerts and music festivals, and glammed up the runway with striking fashion shows. Blu Elefante Events has also helped families and friends come together to celebrate some of life’s greatest moments! What makes Blu Elefante stand out is Sarah’s passion and creativity, her love of community, and seeing the magic that happens when everything comes together to give you and your guests an amazing experience that you won’t soon forget!

Sarah is a dynamic professional with a bachelor’s in business administration, with a focus on marketing and finance, along with a master’s degree in project management. Her home base is Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, and services the greater NEPA region, along with Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York. Her history of service includes: past board of directors for Dress For Success Lackawanna, past regional director for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and past school board member for Summit Christian Academy. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Scranton Jazz Festival, a Director of Community Relations for Here 4 A Reason, a worship team vocalist at The Grove Church in Scranton, a wife and mother to three wonderful children (and 4 dogs, 1 cat)!

Michele Morgan – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

Executive Director, NiUG International

Presentation: Productivity and Efficiency Even in a Remote Work Environment

Statistics report a significant increase in productivity while working from home, but how? Kids are crying, dirty clothes need to be washed, there is a sink full of dishes, and there is no food in the house! How can you think about work with so much on your mind? Join Michele as she shows us how to be more productive with her methods, tips, and tools to help you meet deadlines and not be sidetracked by life.


In association management for over 25 years, Michele began her career first with a trade association – the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) – and then as an association manager and executive director of NiUG International. Little did Michele know her career at NKBA would give her the foundation needed to run NiUG International.   

Michele worked in a hands-on environment within several areas of the business, including; meeting/conference planning, membership, production, accounting, customer service, marketing, database management, reporting/analytics, and content/website management before becoming the Assistant Director of Operations. All of that experience and motivation, as well as her move to learning more about database management, set her up to become the first employee of NiUG International, as their association manager and then executive director beginning in 2004 where she continues to run the company today. Needless to say, association management has NEVER been a dull moment and she continues to learn as she wears the many hats needed as the ED!

She truly enjoys what she does, but when not working, she fulfills her role as a mother of three amazing boys (now men) and a grandmother of seven beautiful grandchildren!  Life is a blessing, be thankful for what you have and never take it for granted! And always remember… you are in charge of your own destiny, so dream big and work hard!

Marianne Gilmartin, Esq. – EMPOWER Conference Panelist

Shareholder, Stevens & Lee

Presentation: Managing Conflict Panel

The ability to resolve conflict in the workplace is an essential ability for leaders in any organization. When there is open and transparent processes for identifying, resolving, and managing conflict, it is proven to improve productivity and job satisfaction of employees. In this session, our panelists will discuss techniques on how to engage in meaningful conversations and manage conflict in the workplace.


Attorney Marianne Gilmartin focuses her practice in litigation issues in the areas of construction, toxic torts, product liability and catastrophic casualty, banking, insurance, manufacturing and complex commercial litigation. She represents public utilities, owners and developers, contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers, as well as colleges and universities, utilities, banking institutions, local government, manufacturers and insurance companies in a wide range of litigation matters. She is board-certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy as a civil trial advocate and is a Fellow of the Construction Lawyers Society of America. Marianne serves as a commercial and construction arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

Attorney Gilmartin counsels clients regarding risk avoidance and manages construction litigation and dispute resolution proceedings, including mechanics’ lien claims. She has tried and mediated dozens of significant catastrophic casualty cases throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, including some at the appellate level. Marianne has tried cases involving shareholder disputes, commercial transactions and trade secrets and proprietary information. She also has experience with real estate litigation, including eminent domain/condemnation, quiet title and oil and gas lease litigation throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, including the Marcellus Shale Region, where she litigates federal claims under the Natural Gas Act.

As published in Philadelphia magazine, Marianne was recognized as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer from 2009 through 2020 by being selected by her peers as among the top 5 percent of lawyers in the Commonwealth. She also was a Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal’s Top 25 Women in Business Honoree for 2010.

Attorney Gilmartin is the recipient of Marywood University’s Award of Excellence in Liberal Arts and Sciences for 2016.

Lisa Rigau – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

Registered Nurse & Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional

Presentation: Learning to Surf the Waves of Life: A Mindfulness Approach to Cultivating Resilience

Mindfulness is an inherent quality that we all possess. Paying attention without judgment is a skill that can be learned and practiced so that we can better care for ourselves. During the presentation, you will practice mindfulness, cultivate qualities of being present, attentive, and curious, and learn about simple opportunities to foster self-awareness, wellness, and resilience.


Lisa Rigau is a registered nurse, nutrition counselor, and community educator of health, wellness, mindfulness, and nutrition. She is a diplomate of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and a Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Delaware. Lisa received her master’s degree from Marywood University in Sports Nutrition and Exercise Science. Since 2003, she has been the owner of Healthy Lifestyle Management where she provides private and group nutrition counseling and educates clients on the six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine: Plant-Predominant Nutrition, Exercise, Stress Management, Sleep, Social Relationships, and Avoidance of Risky Substances.

For the past eighteen years, Lisa has worked as a private contractor for the University of Scranton as a health and wellness professional. Currently, she is teaching mindfulness meditation classes for the weekly, Wellness Mindfulness Meditation Classes for faculty, students, and staff provided by The University of Scranton’s Center for Health Education and Wellness.
Lisa is a certified Mindful Eating-Conscious Living™ teacher & certified mentor through UC San Diego.

She is a qualified teacher of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction through The Center for Mindfulness at UMASS Medical School & the Mindfulness Center at Brown
University. Lisa teaches the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course and the 8-week Mindful Eating- Conscious Living Course to the community. She regularly teaches Drop-In Mindfulness classes in person and online.

Lisa is a regular speaker of mindfulness for corporate groups, physician and healthcare professionals, and the community. Her passion is to help people to gain awareness and empower their own optimal health
and well-being.

Karen Darby – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

Wealth Management Advisor, Jacobi Capital Management

Presentation: Take Up Space

In this session, Karen focuses on you and how you show up in the room. Are you present and part of the conversation? As women we need to get out of our own way and go after what we want. Join Karen to learn about the past, evaluate today, and create our tomorrow with all our voices. Your voice is special and deserves to be heard.


Karen joined Jacobi Capital Management in 2021 following an eight-year career in the financial services industry. Her natural interest in helping people led her to pursue a career as a financial advisor. Karen started her career as a financial advisor at MassMutual Eastern Pennsylvania focusing on helping families that have a loved one with special needs plan for their futures.

Karen works with individuals, families and business owners who are often too busy and overwhelmed with all the decisions that go into building and preserving wealth. She is passionate about educating her clients and being a resource for them. As a single mother to 2 young boys she understands the challenges her clients face especially during a time of transition. When working with her clients she takes them through a simple process to uncover their goals and help them automate their savings so they can focus on what’s important to them.

Karen is very involved in her community and enjoys donating her time to various causes and nonprofits. She is a member of the Pittston Rotary Club and the 2020 Women on Boards Wilmington Leadership Committee. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, yoga, and her favorite, Friday date nights with her sons, Levi and Tyler.

Elika Almeida – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

Motivational Speaker & Life Coach

Presentation: Am I in Burn Out? Understanding the Stress Cycle and Breaking the Patterns that Lead to Burnout

Burnout is the state of mind that comes with long-term, unresolved stress that negatively affects your work, your health – including mental health – and your life. Understanding when you are in burnout, accepting that you are in burnout, and learning how to manage it is the formula to a more fulfilling life. In this session, Elika shares strategies to help you understand burnout and how to come out on top. You’ll be surprised at how simple it is.


Elika Maria Almeida is a motivational speaker, life coach, and advocate for women and youth with a mission to help them find and use their voices to create and drive positive change in their communities and the world at large.

As a young mom at the age of 18, Elika knew that she would one day be a business owner. In 1999, she realized that goal by launching EA Wedding Planner & Elysian Events, which still thrives.  Her love and passion for helping youth comes from her own experiences of not feeling seen or heard. In 2009, Elika co-founded a non-profit called Youth Infusion, focusing on service-learning, social-emotional learning, and school-based youth programming fulfilling her philanthropic heart and commitment to providing youth with a platform to be seen and heard.

Her move to the Pocono Mountains, PA, from New Jersey left Elika looking for employment in the corporate world, while remaining involved with her philanthropic endeavors, and her passion for helping youth and women in business was always at the forefront.

A significant life setback put Elika on her current path as a motivational speaker and life coach. In 2019, she thought she was entering the next stage of her corporate career but was unexpectedly fired. Simultaneously, she suffered the loss of a wonderful young woman and friend to leukemia.

It didn’t take long to realize it was time for her life to go in a new direction. She was burnt out and had spent years in the corporate world being mistreated as a woman. Being fired at such a critical point in her life was a true blessing in disguise. “What am I going to do next?” played on a loop in her mind every single day for months. She was free to do anything; the world was her oyster.

Throughout her journey of self-reflection, she found consistent love and support through a circle of strong women. One day, she had an “Aha!” moment. When women speak, change happens. Her new mission was going to be using her voice. There is tremendous power in connecting, engaging, and supporting other women.

This moment led to the H.E.R!, Heal. Empower, Rise! podcast and her new life goal to use her voice to connect with and support other women. After launching the podcast, she began speaking at community events like Women in Business luncheons and serves as the Pocono Mountain Chamber of Commerce’s Chairwoman for the Women in Business Council. Since then, she hasn’t stopped speaking up for women and youth. Elika lives in Monroe County, PA with her summer love, her husband, Jorge. They have two grown children, Angelika and Jorge, a strong-willed little chihuahua, Belle and a flock of 11 chickens, who brought them so much joy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Katie Leonard – EMPOWER Conference Speaker

President & CEO, Johnson College

Presentation: Wanted: Women Who Work

This session covers topics that are close to Dr. Katie Leonard’s heart, including how women affect the workforce, how the workforce affects women, what or who sabotages your success, how to overcome obstacles, and most importantly, how to mentor others and help yourself, so you stay in the workforce and thrive. A lot goes into empowering oneself, and during this session, you’ll learn how to rock it!!!


Dr. Katie Leonard joined Johnson College in January of 2007 as the College’s Coordinator of Grants and Annual Fund. From there, she had continued success in fundraising and community outreach, which led to several positions within the College leading up to her becoming Executive Vice President, overseeing all campus operations.

In her time with the College, Dr. Leonard formed industry relationships, reestablished the alumni program, increased annual giving, and initiated the College’s rebranding in 2011. She executed the College’s first-ever capital campaign in 2013, which raised, comprehensively, over $5 million to build the new Health Science Technology Center on campus, the College’s largest building project to date. After a nationwide search, Dr. Leonard was selected Johnson College’s 8th President & CEO in January of 2018.

Under Dr. Leonard’s leadership as President & CEO, Johnson College joined the rankings of premiere technical education in 2018 by being ranked #10 on Forbes Top 25 Two-Year Trade Schools. Two new programs, Heavy Equipment Technology and Building Property Technology, have been developed and have started accepting students. Total donor investments in the College have reached over four million dollars, and the College has received over 2.8 million dollars in grants awarded. The College continues to enhance its relationships with new and long-standing industry partners and continues to develop ways to get students into the workforce faster through programs like Industry Fast Track and Industry Immersion. In 2021 the College reached record enrollment numbers for the third year in a row and was granted accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The College will launch four new academic programs during the 2021-2022 academic year.  

Dr. Leonard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from York College of Pennsylvania, a Master of Arts degree in organizational leadership from Mansfield University, and a doctorate of education from Capella University. Before bringing her talents to Johnson College, Dr. Leonard held multiple positions in York, PA, working with government officials and non-profit organizations. In York, she was the Executive Director of Downtown Inc., York’s Main Street Program. Dr.  Leonard has also made significant contributions to the community outside of her roles with Johnson College. She serves on the board of directors of NeighborWorks of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Outreach Center for Community Resources, Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, and serves as a Trustee for her undergraduate alma mater, York College of Pennsylvania.

Marywood University Welcomes the Catholic Women’s Conference

Marywood University will host the Catholic Women’s Conference on the University’s campus on Saturday, June 19, 2021, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The cost of the conference is $40 for in-person attendance or $20 for virtual attendance. To register, please visit

The Catholic Women’s Conference titled; “Refresh your Faith with Merciful Love” will feature various speakers including:

  • Father Chris Alar, MIC, reveals the beauty and powerful message of Divine Mercy. He wrote and produced the popular “Divine Mercy” 101 and “Explaining the Faith” DVD series. Father Alar explains the “merciful love” that comes from the Divine Mercy feast, image, novena, chaplet, and hour of mercy, and how to incorporate them into your spiritual life.
  • Theresa Bonopartis will bring attendees on her personal healing journey through Divine Mercy. Her reflections will help attendees through issues of their own healing journey.
  • Sister Virginia Joy will illuminate how much God loves you with His Merciful Love. She will help attendees to look deeper and re-encounter their own goodness in the ups and downs of life.
  • Music finale with Taylor Tripodi. Taylor grew up in a small suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She is the oldest of nine children, who taught her that you have to speak up in order for your voice to be heard. Taylor uses her voice to bring God glory and praise, inspiring all who hear her to praise Him with her.
  • Celebrant for the conference is The Most Reverend Bishop Joseph Bambera, D.D., J.C.L. Bishop Bambera will celebrate the Mass for the Refresh Your Faith Catholic Conference for Women.
  • Jeannine Lesante, vice president of marketing for SamSon Productions/SSPTV, will serve as the Hostess for the Catholic Women’s Conference. Ms. Lesante teaches Public Speaking at King’s College, from which she also graduated in 1997. Jeannine’s nonprofit, “Making A Difference,” has raised thousands of dollars for worthy events in NEPA.

For additional information about the Women’s Catholic Conference or its featured speakers, please visit