KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Conference Home
GEOFF AKINS has been entertaining and educating children for over 25 years. His gentle humor and gift of rapport with children have delighted audiences worldwide. His life-altering experiences as a teacher in Waldorf and Special Education inspired him to create The Bubble Wonders Show. Presenting over 300 times a year Akins travels all over the world as a motivational speaker, author and edu-tainer.
The Bubble Wonders Show broke all previous attendance records at science museums in both Hong Kong and Israel. At home, he has been seen on ABC, CBS, NBC or on Comcast Cable Television. Clients include IBM, Toyota, Macy's, Allstate, Whole Foods and the National Geographic Channel. Akins is the co-author of Empowered: Wake Up and Live the Life You Love!
Motivational speaker and "Bubble-ologist" Geoff Akins uses ordinary soap bubbles to do some incredible bubble tricks. And he does it all to encourage and entertain people of all ages. Akins says it's all about following your dream and using persistence and optimism and humor to keep you on a path towards making your dreams come true.
KATY FRANCO is a Latin American actress, celebrity, screamingly funny stand-up comic, and now a Certified Laughter Leader with World Laughter Tour.
Performing in English and Spanish, she has entertained in the United States, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Argentina.
Her acting credits include dramatic and comedic roles in the theater, soap-operas, films and mini-series (with an award for "best supporting actress"). She has hosted a children's television series and HBO Latino in Hollywood, and has been an entertainment reporter at Telemundo in Los Angeles. As a comic, she performs throughout Puerto Rico and tile USA, and in Hollywood's most famous nightclubs (including the Laugh Factory on Sunset Strip, where she is a regular, the Improv on Melrose and the Ice House in Pasadena).
In 2006 Katy stepped into a very different spotlight when she announced that she was a breast cancer survivor. Appearing on stage and in countless news programs, magazine articles and newspaper stories, she devoted the past two years to educating Latinas about early detection. Her experiences became a one-woman show called Sacando Pecho about overcoming the disease.
Since 2006 her breast cancer awareness campaign has enjoyed extensive coverage in the media. She created a one-woman show about her fight against the disease, and wrote “Chemorella” with her husband. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she has the experience and talent to enlighten and entertain women about breast cancer.
JASON KOTECKI, known as “The Champion of Childhood,” is an artist, author and speaker, as well as the creator of the internationally known comic strip, Kim & Jason. He is widely regarded as an expert in helping people to “escape adulthood” and “return to childhood.”
His book, Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up, outlines simple ways for adults of all ages to reconnect with the qualities that come naturally to children in order to reduce stress and live more fun and fulfilling lives.
He met his wife Kim way back in 1995. It wasn’t long before the two realized they shared a kindred childlike spirit. One day, Jason sketched himself and his girlfriend as young cartoon characters, and they began appearing on all kinds of homemade (cheap) cards and gifts designed to win her heart.
Jason’s efforts were not in vain, as the couple was married in May 2000. Since then, the characters have taken on lives and personalities of their own and the “real” Kim and Jason have built a company (JBiRD iNK, Ltd.) to promote and distribute the Kim & Jason comic and share the spirit of childhood.
MARK LE BLANC, President of Small Business Success, based in Minneapolis, MN has special expertise on the core issues that business owners and professionals face on a daily basis. His flagship presentation and book, Growing Your Business! are ideal on addressing how to sell more products and services. People walk away feeling more focused, able to attract more prospects, stimulate more referrals, and ultimately, craft a path and a new plan for generating more business.
Mark is a member of Master Speakers International, a seasoned-veteran with the National Speakers Association, and currently serves as Past President of the National Speakers Association. He served this association as President in 2007-2008. He was inducted into the Minnesota Speakers Association Hall of Fame in 2006. His style is best described as magnetic, approachable, and laced with a unique sense of humor.
WILLIBALD RUCH, Ph.D is a Full Professor of Psychology at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. His research interests are humor and laughter, cheerfulness and smiling. He developed a taxonomy of jokes and cartoons and its relation to personality. Together with his team in Zurich he research includes humor from the perspective of positive psychology, the effectiveness of humor training programs and clown interventions, the ability to laugh at oneself, the fear of being laughed at (i.e., gelotophobia), and bringing gelotophobe-savy laughter to avatars. He developed several humor assessment instruments and published about 180 research articles or book chapters and five books. He served as a Consulting Editor of Humor: International Journal of Humor Research, on the Executive Board and has been the president of ISHS in 2002. He is coeditor (with Victor Raskin) of the Humor Research book series. In 2001 he founded the annual International Summer School on humor and laughter.
DR. JOYCE SALTMAN is a professor of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, Connecticut - she chose to receive her doctoral degree from Columbia, because she loved the color of their doctoral gown. It was no small feat that she was able to persuade her mentor to allow her to write her dissertation on “Humor in Adult Learning.” She also holds four graduate degrees in the fields of Special Education and Counseling. Joyce’s innovative teaching style has led to the development of a graduate course entitled. “The Enhancement of Learning Through Humor,” as well as a summer institute called, “Healing, Education Laughter and Play (HELP). I n h e r previous life, her spirit of adventure led her to appear as a stand-up comedienne for dozens of organizations and clubs, including Dangerfield’s and Good Times in New York City.
Unrelated to her comedic life, she is an elected member of the Executive Board of the International Society of Humor Studies. Her experience in the areas of education, therapy and comedy has provided an outstanding background for her research on “The Therapeutic Value of Laughter.” Since 1983, when Joyce began lecturing on “Laughter,” she has been interviewed by national radio and TV personalities. Joyce has appeared on ABC News in New York, P.M. Magazine, the Regis Philbin Morning Show, For Kid’s Sake, and an ABC Special entitled “The Mind As Powerful Medicine.” Her dynamic seminars and articles, always peppered with humor, address such topic as dealing with difficult people, laughter as therapy, parenting, and relationships. In addition to articles published in popular magazines, her article on “Humor and Disabilities appeared in the Disability Studies Quarterly, in 1990. Her book “Sing a Celebration” was published by Ivory Tower Press in Fall, 1988. Most recently, her story entitled, “Dearest Last Born” appeared in the 1999 book Chocolate for a Mother’s Heart compiled by Kay Allenbaugh. In addition, Joyce’s article, “Lighten up for Training” was published in the Nov/Dec 1996 Connecticut Yankee and American Society for Training and Development Most recently, her book, “I'm Changing the Locks and Cementing the Windows: How to keep the kids from coming back to live”, was published by Kiwi Publishing in Woodbridge, Ct, as well as a story in the book Thin Threads, entitled "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Library”.. Currently she doing a study on the changes in priorities for love relationships, and that should be ready in a few months.
Intermittently referred to as the “Guru of Laughter,” and “The Chubby Broad from Brooklyn,” Joyce helps people lighten up wherever she goes!
WAVELENGTH COMEDY TROUPE was created in 1980 by Jim Winter, a former high school English teacher, after sitting through one too many boring staff development days. Since then, Wavelength has won acclaim from audiences around the world for its comedic focus on the serious issues in education.
Wavelength has performed for over one million people in educational organizations worldwide, and has been a featured presenter at national conferences for ASCD, AASA, NSDC, NASSP, NAESP, NEA, AFT, NMSA, and the I.D.E.A. Fellows Program.
Featuring a diverse cast of actors, Wavelength offers a fresh perspective on the key challenges in education today. Our programs are founded on the tenet that humor heals and enlightens. Of course, we also realized that by focusing our humor on education, we'd never run out of material!