2023 MASEA Annual Conference

June 7-9, 2023 | Chicago, Illinois

 Keynote Speakers

Wednesday, June 7th 

Dr. Chad Berry

VP for Alumni, Communications, and Philanthropy | Berea College

Dr. Chad Berry most recently served as the Academic Vice President and Dean of the Faculty for eight years after serving for five years as Director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. During that five years he also served one year as Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning through Service. Prior to coming to Berea in 2006, he was a member of the faculty at Maryville College.

Dr. Berry has authored, edited, or co-edited four books. He is the author of Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles, published by the University of Illinois Press, which examines the migration of millions of white southerners to the Midwest during the twentieth century. The book was inspired by his paternal grandparents, who reluctantly left Tennessee in the 1940s, going first to Akron, Ohio, and ultimately settling in Mishawaka, Indiana, where they found jobs and the economic opportunity that had eluded them in the South. He is the editor of and a contributor to The Hayloft Gang: The Story of the National Barn Dance (Illinois, 2008), an important radio program from Chicago that was instrumental in the development of country music. The book is a companion volume to a PBS documentary of the same name. He is the co-editor, with Deandra Little and Peter Felten, of Looking and Learning: Visual Literacy across the Disciplines, a volume of New Directions in Teaching and Learning from Jossey-Bass, published in 2015. He also is the co-editor, with Phillip J. Obermiller and Shaunna L. Scott, of Studying Appalachian Studies: Making the Path by Walking, published in 2015 by the University of Illinois Press. He is a board member of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and is a former board member of the Hindman Settlement School and the Pine Mountain Settlement School. He also serves on the Press Board of the University Press of Kentucky.

Dr. Collis Robinson

Dean of Labor | Berea College

Dr. Collis Robinson is a native of Greenville, South Carolina.  He graduated from Berea College in 2013, earning his Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and teaching. He earned his Master of Arts degree in education from Georgetown College and an Ed.D. in educational leadership at the University of Kentucky. Collis began his service as the Dean of Labor in May 2022. He is passionate about the Labor Program and takes pride in celebrating students as they discover and integrate their work skills with their learning in the classroom.

Dr. Robinson has worked within the Labor Program and the Student Life Division since returning to Berea College in 2016, most recently as the Associate Dean of Student Life and the Director of Student Labor. Prior to returning to Berea for work, Collis taught third and fourth grade at Mount Sterling Elementary. Collis is an educator and life-long learner committed to service and community building. He continuously looks for innovative ways to enhance systems and processes to support the student experience. As a believer in the power of mentorship, Collis works hard to inspire others and support those with whom he works. 

Thursday, June 8th 

Nathan Minns

Founder | Green Light Improv

Nathan Minns is the founder of Green Light Improv, a professional training company that uses improv comedy as a tool for innovators to develop their entrepreneurship & communication skills. Beginning as an actor in 2015, Nathan soon realized that his acting training was positively affecting other work skills. From improving his creativity and confidence, to becoming a better communicator, entrepreneur, and team member. Ultimately, the change he saw in himself led him to create Green Light Improv in 2019. The company doesn't teach improv comedy, but instead uses improv comedy as a tool to teach other work and life skills. In 2022, Nathan quit his corporate innovation job and is now working full-time to spread applied improv training. An Ohio State University graduate, Nathan has previously spent most of his career in the startup ecosystem as an employee and a 3x founder.

Friday, June 9th 

Donovan Nichols

Speaker & Consultant 

Donovan Nichols is a self-proclaimed recovering workaholic with a renewed dedication to living a fun, values-balanced life. After serving for 15 years in various student activities roles at three diverse institutions (University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Georgia, and The University of Toledo), this former Assistant Dean for Student Involvement and Leadership retired from student affairs to become a professional speaker, consultant, and photographer. In addition, this passionate educator is a current Doctoral Teaching Assistant and Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Program at The University of Toledo. Donovan is aptly writing his dissertation on work-life balance and loves utilizing his research to help people improve their lives. As a professional speaker since 2008, Donovan has inspired thousands of people across the country to see the world from a different perspective, discover solutions to their challenges, and unlock their potential. This 2020 winner of the prestigious “20 Under 40” award for distinguished leaders has a proven track record for transforming groups into high-functioning, award-winning organizations. Through overcoming his learning disability and mental health challenges, this optimistic innovator has gained effective life tools and a unique outlook that he loves to share with others. This devoted family man says his greatest accomplishments in life are (1) marrying an incredible woman who makes him a better man every day and (2) tag-teaming with his wife Alycia to raise two joyful and loving sons, Sawyer and Knox, and two cuddly dogs, Duce and Chloe. Donovan is a servant leader with a focus on helping people live happier, healthier, and more balanced!


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