Masters of Ceremonies

Shawn Nason

"Much like the orchestra director, I get to help orchestrate and lead transformational and renovation innovation." -Shawn Nason

Shawn Nason is the Chief Innovation Officer at Xavier University's new Center for Innovation and holds a DBA from Walden University.  Shawn has a vast background with over 20 years of experience in innovation, technology, and accounting.  Shawn has previously worked at companies like Humana and the Walt Disney Company.  In his own words, Shawn has described innovation as "a lifestyle," and loves tapping into the creative minds of students and the people around him to "help spark ideas and solutions they never dreamed of. 


Kenisha Thompson

Kenisha Thompson was born into a military family at Ft. Benning in Georgia. Thompson lived in Alaska and Georgia in her early life as well. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Spelman College, a historically black college in Atlanta. 

Thompson has worked for Aflac as a Communications Technical Writer and for Humana as a Project Analyst. After receiving her Master of Arts in Media Communications, Thompson started First 3 Seconds, LLC, an image consulting firm specializing in brand marketing and digital strategy. The firm has a focus on developing businesses. Currently, she teaches Interpersonal Communications and Relationships & Multiculturalism at Ottawa University’s Jeffersonville, Indiana campus. Thompson’s next goal is to earn her PhD in Cultural Anthropology, and she continues to be an extremely involved member of her community. 


Dr. Helen M. Farrell, M.D.

Helen M. Farrell, M.D., is a Harvard Medical School Instructor in psychiatry and a forensic psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.  Dr. Farrell received her medical degree from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.  She has been published in many respected publications including the Journal of the American Medical Association, The New York Times and Psychology Today.  Dr. Farrell is passionate about mental health and wellness, speaking frequently on the importance of overcoming stereotypes of mental illness.  Dr. Farrell is optimistic about the progress of mental health, believing that everyone can create his or her own bright future with a little help along the way.

Dr. Farrell will be discussing the current stigma around mental health and redefining the meaning of the word "normal." 


Robert McEwan 

Bob McEwan is a Williams College of Business Executive in Residence at Xavier University. He recently retired from GE Aviation after 34 years with the company. McEwan represented GE across various media outlets. His time at the corporation was both influential and successful. Apart from his corporate career, he has participated in global technology seminars and has enjoyed the privilege of being a guest lecturer at multiple universities. McEwan considers himself a teacher at heart with a great passion for leadership.

Mr. McEwan will be talking about guiding the next generation of leaders and teaching them along their journey to leadership through organizational and personal growth. 


Nathan Pelletier 

Nate Pelletier is originally from Kennebunk, Maine.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Systems Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and is a licensed and certified Innovation Engineering Black Belt from the Eureka Ranch International.  As an Army Officer, he served as an Infantry Platoon Leader, Executive Officer and Company Commander and is a graduate of both the coveted U.S. Army Ranger and Airborne schools.  While on active duty, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III and earned the Combat Infantrymen’s badge and the Bronze Star for outstanding leadership during a combat deployment.  In 2009, he joined P&G and worked as a manager in the Product Supply function and the Global Design Marketing function where he developed his passion for branding and innovation.  While on sabbatical in 2012, he completed his certification in Innovation Engineering and ultimately left P&G to take over as the Executive Director of the Joseph House- a transitional housing facility in OTR that provides chemical addiction treatment for homeless veterans and some non-veterans.  He recently started his new company, BlueFire Innovations, LLC where he works with aspiring entrepreneurs and established companies to grow their businesses using innovation systems.  His passions are entrepreneurship, innovation, and community service focused on citizens in need and underserved youth in the Cincinnati community. Beginning in the Fall of 2015, he will be attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to pursue his MBA. 

Mr. Pelletier will be discussing turning adversity into advantage and using all of the available resources to you to achieve that transformation. 


Sara Thomas 

Sara is a Cincinnati area native and proud Xavier alum, where she first discovered her passion for merging business and social change. While at Xavier, Sara led both the Xavier Student Investment Fund and X-Action, was responsible for running Community Action Day and launched Xavier's first weekly service program. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Finance and holds an M.B.A from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Sara is an avid lover and supporter of entrepreneurs and believes in the power of business to positively change the world. She has been working with startup founders for seven years and is currently an investor at Maven Ventures, an incubator and Micro VC fund in Palo Alto, California.  Sara works hands-on with the 20+ companies in the Maven portfolio and reviews over 2,000 companies per year to find the best consumer venture deals.

Prior to joining Maven, Sara ran early-stage startup programming at The Idea Village, an entrepreneurship engine in New Orleans which has been driving the entrepreneurial rebirth of The Big Easy post-Katrina. Sara previously worked as a management consultant in the Strategy and Operations practice at Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco, where she currently resides.

Ms. Thomas will discuss finding the sweet spot in entrepreneurship and the many ways one can invest in hope from entrepreneurship and innovation to the non-profit sphere.


Seth Walsh 

Seth T. Walsh is passionate about Cincinnati.

Seth is the Executive Director of the Sedamsville Community Development Corporation and the Project Director at the Community Development Corporations Association of Greater Cincinnati.  Beyond his day job, Seth serves as a Founding Member of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Global Shapers Hub, Executive Director of the Cincy Salon, as well as a member of the WCPO-TV Community Advisory Board and Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit Planning Committee.

Originally from St. Joseph, Michigan, Seth has always been interested in politics and how one person can make a difference in a community.  A Graduate of Xavier University, he worked hard to be a positive influence to his fellow peers and in his senior year was elected Student Body President with the most votes ever in Xavier’s history.   Seth strives to be a leader in his field, a mentor to his peers, and a visionary with his efforts to make a change, one community at a time.

Mr. Walsh will discuss putting Cincinnati back on the map for natives and tourists while committing oneself to renewal and community development.