2019 AWI Annual Convention


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Mike Russell
Mike has been with Federated Insurance for 34 years and serves as vice president - surety marketing manager for Federated/Granite Re. He oversees the marketing of surety products across the U.S., focusing on the contractor marketplace. Federated’s acquisition of Granite Re has resulted in a surety direct approach, which is unique in the industry.

Mike oversaw the development of Granite Re’s team of surety marketing specialists and the establishment of the surety support center which delivers client services for established surety accounts. Mike is a Minnesota native and a proud graduate of Winona State University, where he currently serves on the board of trustees.
Pete Smith
Pete Smith is an international speaker and trainer in the fields of leadership, management, personal growth and development. His energetic, witty, and conversational style is complimented by his ability to provide practical takeaways that actually work, all while having a little fun in the process.

He is the author of Dare to Matter, the #1 Best Seller in the Human Resources and Personnel Management category #2 Best Seller in the Business Motivation and Self-Improvement category.

Prior to launching SmithImpact in 2011, Pete was the Operations Executive at one of the largest nonprofit, alternative schools in Northern Virginia. During his tenure, he helped increase the organization’s total income, employee base and client base by over 102%.

Additionally, by focusing his efforts on creating an engaged and productive workforce, Pete helped increase the average employee tenure by 74% in just three and a half years, all while saving the organization over $420,000 in turnover costs during that time.

As the Director of HS Programs for the Mid-Atlantic Region for a for-profit education university, Pete took a historically underperforming team to the top 5 nationally in just 2 years. Upon his departure, his regions of New Jersey, Atlanta, and Washington DC ranked #1, #2, and #4 in the country.
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Connor Lokar
Connor has been working side-by-side with our President, Alan Beaulieu, at various events from large association meetings to smaller business settings. His dynamic approach to a speaking engagement has been enjoyed by thousands of business leaders as he provides a fresh look on how to make economic intelligence applicable and

Connor specializes in the Construction Industry as well as his work on our monthly publication, the ITR Trends Report. Connor’s ability to relate to the next generation of business leaders, while helping current C-Suite executives has allowed attendees to walk away with a better understanding of their employees and the ability to plan for the future with confidence.
Sebastien DesMarais
Sebastien DesMarais is the President at Hollywood Woodwork, an employee-owned architectural millwork company based in Hollywood, Florida since 1968. After graduating from the University of Florida with majors in Computer Engineering and Finance, Sebastien joined General Electric where he travelled globally and worked in Information Technology for 3 years and then in Corporate Finance for 3 years. He joined Woodwork in 2010 as CFO, with responsibilities in Finance and Accounting, Risk Management, Human Resources, and Information Technology. In 2015, Sebastien became the Company’s 4th President.

Sebastien became an active member of AWI in 2010, joining both the Marketing and Finance Committees. In 2011, he developed and chaired AWI’s Financial Management Team, with responsibilities of managing the annual AWI Cost of Doing Business Survey (CoDBS), and also in delivering Financial Management Seminars to the AWI community.

Since its creation, the Financial Management Team has delivered over 10 seminars to AWI Chapters, AWI National Convention, IWF and AWFS. In 2015, Sebastien was elected into AWI’s Board of Directors, and in 2019 became the Vice President on the board..

Sebastien loves to speak to and help AWI members in any way possible, believing that stronger members will create a stronger association and a stronger industry. He believes in the collaborative advantage that AWI offers its members. Although his seminars typically focus on financial management, he often delves into the benefits of open-book management, employee ownership, linking finance and operations, and technology.
Marc Sanderson
Marc Sanderson is President & Owner of Wilkie Sanderson, a custom manufacturer of architectural millwork. Wilkie Sanderson has been creating unique wood products since 1975, when former owners founded its predecessor company. In 1997, Walter Wilkie and Marc Sanderson purchased the company and began a gradual shift in focus to serve the commercial market exclusively through the Wilkie Sanderson brand. Today, the firm is the largest custom AWI member company in MN, with 87 skilled workers.

Marc Sanderson has been a frequent education session presenter at AWI seminars, workshops and conventions for many years. In addition to Wilkie Sanderson, Marc is a product advisor to INNERGY, an ERP software firm devoted to driving the complete business process of custom woodworking shops.
Matt Light
Matt Light is a true team player and champion. Drafted out of Purdue University by the New England Patriots in the second round (48th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft, he retired after 11 seasons with the team. During his career, he’s played in nine division championships, three Pro-Bowls and has helped the team win five conference titles and three Super Bowl crowns. Matt was also named to a spot on the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team.

Light, who has always made a practice of giving back to the community, dreamed of creating a charitable organization that would work with children of different backgrounds to help them reach their highest potential.

In 2001, he formed the Light Foundation, which strives to instill and develop the values of responsibility, accountability and hard work by providing youth with unique outdoor learning experiences that assist them in meeting, and exceeding all of their goals. Matt hopes these opportunities will lead them down a path to becoming responsible members of their communities who are capable of passing on the torch of leadership and achievement to their friends and families.
Greg Hawks
As a Corporate Culture Specialist, Greg shapes environments where everyone gets to contribute their best daily! For two decades he has mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture and and empowered employees. He is intensely motivated to grow high capacity performers who work, serve and sell with excellence, consistently. 

As a Keynote Speaker, he is an enthusiastic character. His style, wit and energy consistently capture the attention and imagination of audiences. His forward thinking contributes fresh perspectives that work. He’s annoyingly optimistic, contagiously energetic and slightly mischievous. People tend to like him.

Through Hawks Agency, he originated the Like An Owner® platform. Compelled by the principle that individuals who Think, Act, Lead and Create Like An Owner® will be more fulfilled and productive. Organizations who commit to implement an Ownership Culture will find deeper loyalty, stronger results and rapid growth consistently.