Fall Conference Speakers & Schedule

Keynote Speakers

Wellness at the Worksite-Critical! Stress Management is Key!
Tom Kidd, Balanced Wellness Services

This presentation will address the critical need for wellness programs at the worksite, their benefits, and their ROI (return on investments). Specific examples of what activities can be done will also be shared! One major key to ALL worksite wellness programs is stress management. Tom will share the imminent dangers, although sometimes silent, of stress on one’s body. He will also share specific relevant and practical coping skills to deal with the mental, emotional, and physical stressors so we can be even more effective employees and much less stressful in their personal lives.

Tom Kidd is an educator, author and speaker from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He publicly speaks to students/parents/community organizations/employees and managers from companies as he provides health/wellness related topics through his own business called, “Balanced Wellness Services” www.kidd4kids.orgAs an author, Tom has written and published two books: “Raising Pre-teens? Don’t Freak…Tweak and Empower them for Life!" and “What…I’m the Pilot Flying the Plane?” 

The Time is Now for Leadership
Dennis Cooley, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College     

Cooley will be presenting on four topics:

The Power of Storytelling: Communicating with others is critically important to a leader’s success. We will discuss the importance of storytelling and the impact a leader’s or manager’s message can have on the people around them.

Customer Service in Times of Stress: The need for high-quality customer service has never been greater and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to provide excellent service in an era where workforce is becoming more difficult to find and when so many are leaving service industries.

Partnerships in the Telecommunications Industry: When WSTA Leadership Academy participants share information across regions, states and customer bases, magical relationships can result. See how one Midwestern private telecom has forged partnerships with other industries to become an even stronger community leader.

Core Values and How to Let Them Help You Grow: When we live in accord with our Personal Core Values, our work and private lives thrive. When our core values are threatened, it is very difficult to find this balance. This interactive discussion lets participants define their personal values and how they can intentionally use them to help them grow stronger.

Dennis Cooley is the Director of the Charger Leadership Program and Business and Industry Services at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. He has facilitated leadership trainings for thousands of professionals, including more than 1,300 who have graduated from the Leadership Academies he’s presented at over the past four years. Of the 65 Leadership Academies held over the past three years, 10 are specifically for the telecommunications industry. Cooley has worked at Southwest Tech for four years and worked 16 years at UW-Platteville, the final 12 as Assistant Chancellor for University Advancement. He is committed to community service with a variety of local and regional organizations. Cooley lives in Platteville, Wisconsin and is married with three children and has three grandchildren.

General Sessions
Monday, October 3

General Session: 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM 

Wellness at the Worksite-Critical! Stress Management is Key!
Tom Kidd, Balanced Wellness Services

Session description and bio listed above under Keynote Speakers. 

How Being Community Minded Can Help Market Your Build
Sarah Pieper, Pinnacle Marketing Group

Our business is all about connections. Fiber Connections, Phone Connections, Cable Connections. But what about Community Connections? 

Having a vision that is community minded is essential in making your business a leader in your community. Putting a plan in place for community involvement for you and your employees can have a positive impact on your culture, customers, and communities, with the added benefit of allowing you to market your future fiber builds easier. Hear why making Community Connections are necessary for your business, gather ideas on how to make those connections happen, and learn how that can play into marketing your upcoming builds.

Sarah Pieper has been with Pinnacle Marketing Group for 14 years. She has been an integral part of the PMG team as a Project Manager. Sarah has a proven track record with broadband companies in regard to digital advertising, promotions, social media, and of course websites.

Tuesday, October 4

General Session: 8:00 PM - 10:00 AM 

The Time is Now for Leadership
Dennis Cooley, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College     

Session description and bio listed above under Keynote Speakers. 

Visions for a Multigig Future

Greg Luhman, Adtran
Dave Warnke,

10G XGS-PON deployments are growing 500% year over year as operators of all types prepare their networks for the broadband battles coming to their markets. Hear about the key factors driving Broadband Service Providers to re-architect their network. Bundling new applications with Multi-Gigabit line rates will help Broadband Service Providers own their market for years to come.

Greg Luhman has been working in the Telecom industry since 1999. Starting out as a sales rep for a Fortune 500 distribution firm he quickly migrated to a technical advisory role, supporting network planning and roll outs for the Tier 3 ILECs across the Midwestern United States. In 2011 he was recruited out of that role by ADTRAN. Greg is currently a Business Development manager working with Service Providers of all types across North America.

Dave Warnke is a Senior Solutions Engineer with Calix. Dave has 20+ years of experience in the Access Market with companies such as Calix, Occam, and Paradyne. Dave has a BS degree in Computer Science from Minnesota State University Mankato.

Breakout Sessions
Tuesday, October 4

2:00 PM - 2:50 PM 

Customer Engagement Through Your Website
Ryan Thompson, Mid America Computer Corporation (MACC)

Your website needs to be more than just an online brochure. It needs to be easy to find, fast to load, and packed with features to boost user engagement. Attend this session to learn 10 steps you can implement to ensure your website is meeting the demands of today’s consumer.

Ryan is the Creative Services Manager at MACC (Mid America Computer Corporation) where one of his roles is leading a team that helps clients with a wide range of marketing and communication activities, including web development. With more than a decade of experience, he has built almost 100 telecom websites for clients across the United States.

What You Need to Know with Cybersecurity Risk - A Panel Discussion
Chris Danielson, UNITEL Insurance
Panelists: Jacob Secor, WIN Technology & Tracy Tobin, 3RT

Presentation will go over the basics of what we are seeing in cyber risk management, what the insurance carriers are asking about and why, and things that technology companies can do to lower risk and exposure. A tech panel will join me for this session to share recent examples of threat, best practices and a look into the future.

Chris Danielson works with UNITEL Insurance providing risk options for over 100 communications companies. He is in his 31st year working in the industry. He lives with his wife Kelly and their four children Max, Zack, Oliver & Poppy in Woodbury , MN They spend a lot of time Scouting, Baseball, Hockey and Gymnastics.

Jacob Secor is a Cyber Security Engineer with WIN Technology/Airstream Communications, LLC. He has been working in cybersecurity for the about 6 years in a variety of industries including Higher Education, Manufacturing, and Banking. In his current role at WIN, he works to support Airstream Cyber Security Services (ACSS), an offering of security analysis, tools and support to Airstream members. Prior to cyber, Jacob worked in Software Development and Project Management. He currently lives in Portage, WI with his wife, Emily and his hobbies include the creative outlets found in guitar playing and photography.

Tracy Tobin is the Executive VP of Operations at 3RT Networks, an IT solutions and service provider located in the La Crosse area. 3RT Networks has been in business since April of 2007. Starting small with 2 engineers we now have a team of 22 employees. Our mission is to provide secure and reliable IT services for our clients through our proven proactive processes. We have a diverse customer base across many industries including but not limited to construction, K12, health care and manufacturing.

2022: The Year of Broadband Grants
Matt Macdonald, FORVIS

This presentation will focus on all the broadband grant opportunities in Wisconsin including federal programs sponsored by the Rural Utilities Service and National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The presentation will discuss the business opportunities, application processes, and focus on the post award compliance and reporting requirements of the various programs.

Matt Macdonald has been working in public accounting since 1984. His telecommunications related experience includes financial reporting and auditing, regulatory filings, business planning and broadband grant applications, reporting, and compliance. Matt also has performed numerous due diligence engagements in connection with mergers and acquisitions and has assisted client companies on business opportunities and financial projections.

He serves on the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association’s Accounting and Regulatory Committee and the National Exchange Carrier Association’s (NECA) Cost Issues Task Group.

LEO Satellites: Serious Broadband Competitor or Inevitable Space Junk?
Seth Ritter, Nex-Tech

It seems like LEO satellites are everywhere when you look at news from the broadband industry – but will their longevity live up to their hype? Join Seth Ritter as he takes a deeper dive into the players in the LEO industry and whether or not this type of broadband deployment looks to be feasible in the long term.

Seth Ritter has deep roots in Rural Northwest Kansas and offers a unique perspective on the telecommunications industry having served in various capacities at Nex-Tech. As a CALEA compliance and Network Monitoring expert, he works with hundreds of broadband service providers throughout the United States. Seth holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and as a former small-town city council member and farm laborer, he understands the challenges rural America faces and its need for good broadband services.

3:00 PM - 3:50 PM

Using Data Driven Results to Deliver
Joe Koheygi, Calix

Your prospects and current subscribers are bombarded by messaging that does not resonate with them. It's easy to ignore and hard for you to cut through the noise. Without data and insights to guide your marketing efforts, your first impression might ALSO be your last. Learn how using data can help you create transformational campaigns.

Joe Kohegyi is marketer, product developer and business strategist with a love for understanding consumer behavior and connecting brands and products. With over 15 years of B2B and B2C marketing experience across multiple industries including telecom, Joe helps service providers quickly go-to-market as Calix’s Director of Marketing Channel Activation. Joe came to Calix from Norvado.


All Hands on Deck: Workforce in the New Normal
Julie Darrington, Vantage Point Solutions

Retirements are looming; new applicants are slowing; and existing staff are already stretched thin, or may not be prepared to step up. Details may vary but the challenge is universal: What is your company going to do about workforce?

Julie Darrington has over 25 years of telecommunications experience, ranging from small business services, sales and marketing, and field operations to regional market management. Much of her experience was in managing operations across Great Plains states, including Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Montana, and Wyoming – where she developed an appreciation of the unique circumstances facing rural providers. She is renowned as a strategic, determined leader whose pragmatic and focused approach excels in the ever-changing broadband and telecommunications industry.

Leases - Telecommunications Companies' Newest Assets
Eric Babler & Toni Balistreri, FORVIS

Tony and Eric will discuss the new standard for handling telecom service and equipment leases which will be implemented by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). The time is now for FASB ASC 842 Lease Standards! Luckily, telecommunications companies that have a plan will be able to record and report their newest assets on the balance sheet.

Eric has served as the engagement manager for audit, tax and consulting services for telecommunications companies, including local exchange carriers and wireless and cable television entities. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Wisconsin Institute of CPAs. Eric is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a B.B.A. degree in accounting and a master of professional accountancy degree.

Tony has more than 25 years of experience providing financial reporting services for the telecommunications, manufacturing and nonprofit industries. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Wisconsin Institute of CPAs and is an active member in Wisconsin and Illinois telecommunications industry associations and serves as board treasurer for First Tee–South Central Wisconsin. Tony is a 1992 graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a B.S. degree and received his CPA license in 1998.

How to Promote Streaming Devices to Your Customers?
Josh Gillen, Innovative Systems

This presentation will focus on the user experience and what each device has to offer. Attendees will learn how these devices can control the TV, receivers, and sound bars, giving your frontline staff information they need to be resident experts.

Josh Gillen is the Upper Midwest Sales Director at Innovative Systems where he has been for over 19 years. He previously had a Technical Support role at Innovative Systems for 17 years. Josh has an undergraduate degree from the University of Sioux Falls and currently resides in the Mitchell, South Dakota area where he spends time with friends and family.

4:00 PM - 4:50 PM

What's Trending in Online Advertising and What's Up With TikTok?
Autumn Ricke, Pinnacle Marketing Group

The online world is constantly shifting and evolving. What apps that are popular, what data we have available is in a constant flux. Learn what is trending now and how TikTok is forever changing online advertising. We will cover new advertising platforms to consider adding to your marketing mix to get the most impact for your dollar. 

Autumn Ricke has been with Pinnacle Marketing Group for 4 years. Autumn's extensive knowledge of marketing and design has made her a valuable member of the Pinnacle Marketing Group team. Her creativity, attention to detail, and willingness to give anything a try, has helped PMG not only promote their own brand, but their customers as well.

USAC Audits: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Ryan Denzel, JSI

This session will provide an overview of the evolving USAC Audit process and the new Rural Broadband Accountability Plan. It will help you to be better prepared in case you are selected for one of the numerous types of audits.

Ryan Denzel has been with JSI in its Eagan, Minnesota office since September 1996. He is primarily responsible for overseeing the completion and submission of jurisdictional cost studies along with related filings and studies, including Universal Service Fund and Traffic Sensitive Tariff filings at JSI. Ryan assists companies with USAC Audits, FCC Order Impacts and compliance reporting. Ryan has served as a presenter for JSI seminars, covering the separations and access and Part 32/64 accounting. He works very closely with representatives from NECA and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). Ryan received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in August 1995.

Technology Roundtable
Shane McCann, Marquette-Adams Telephone Cooperative, Inc


Wisconsin State Telecommunications (WSTA)
122 West Washington Ave, Suite 1050
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-256-8866


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