Keynote Presenters


Richard Sheridan
2017 Opening Keynote Speaker
“Build a Workplace  People Love – Just Add Joy”

Richard Sheridan is the CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations. Richard spends the majority of his time sharing the Menlo Way through teaching classes, leading tours, speaking at conferences, and mentoring entrepreneurs in the community and sharing joy! As the Opening Keynote Speaker for Leadership Connections 2017, Richard will explore how an intentionally joyful culture is central to a learning organization. He will discuss what joy looks like, feels like, and how it is organized. Along the way, attendees will consider workplace productivity, how transparency conquers fear, and how quality can be a natural result of a team built on trust. As Richard suggests, “Companies fail to innovate because they fail to drive fear out of the workplace.” Join us in thinking about how to replace fear with joy!

“To truly run an experiment, you need to try something out more than once, because at first—no matter what you try—it will probably be bumpy.”

— Richard Sheridan


Linda K. Smith

2017 Visionary Leadership Award Winner
Public Policy Forum panelist

Each year an exceptional pioneer in the early childhood education field is presented with the Visionary Leadership Award at Leadership Connections. This year’s recipient is Linda K. Smith, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). In this role, she lead policy efforts and coordination of agency priorities for children from birth to five years old, including the Head Start, Early Head Start, Child Care, and serves as the liaison to other federal agencies, including the Department of Education, DoD, and USDA.

Connect with Linda at the following events:
Opening Keynote Luncheon  |  Thursday, May 18
Join us for a plated luncheon as we kick off the conference by celebrating the significant contributions of Linda K. Smith.

7th Annual Paula Jorde Bloom Leadership Colloquium  |  Thursday, May 18
Join us for wine and dessert as Linda K. Smith discusses her journey of visionary leadership. This is an opportunity to dialogue with a renowned leader in the field of early care and education while considering your own visionary leadership journey.

Public Policy Forum: “Early Childhood Policy with Lasting Impact: Embracing Short- and Long-term Strategies”  |  Friday, May 19
A new administration means new policy direction. What will make past innovations in early childhood policy stick, consensus building or advocacy? What are the best strategies moving forward to sustain an integrated and coordinated early childhood system? Audience questions and participation are strongly encouraged! Teri Talan will facilitate this conversation with Linda K. Smith.



Toni Christie
2017 Closing Keynote Speaker
“First Love Yourself: Rituals of Self-care”

Leadership in early childhood is both rewarding and challenging. When we make time to nurture our own spirit, we will be far better equipped to serve others. In this closing keynote, Toni Christie, from Childspace in New Zealand, will share what we all need to know about looking after our own mental health. Toni will also share some simple ideas for ensuring we work smarter not harder, keep things in perspective, and be great self-mentors. 

See all the presenters


Thanks to our generous 2017 Leadership Connections sponsors

Sponsorships and exhibit booths for this year’s conference are still available!